The 2020 season will probably define the sports future and the coming months provide challenges for everyone involved. Point-to-Pointing showed great resilience to overcome the Equine Flu outbreak, and needed the same resolve when Corona Virus first struck a year later.
There was optimism over the summer the sport could return with limited restrictions so plans were made for an earlier start, but the second wave of the virus which now hangs like the sword of Damocles over our daily lives.
Plans for the sports resumption under strict guidelines have gone through numerous drafts, but just when the situation looks as though it has stabilized, further restrictions are put in place, which requires further amendments and the process goes on.
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved events have been called off at the last minute which has proved frustrating for all concerned, however in typically British stoical manner people have adopted the attitude that “life has to go on”.
Some meetings will be better prepared than others to weather the problems of Covid but big challenges still lie ahead.
We now know that all meetings prior to December 31st 2020 will be held behind closed doors and arrangements are now being put in place to provide a viable fixture list for the remainder of the season should that prove necessary. This allows owners and trainers the opportunity to run their horses on a regular basis, but national and local lockdowns could still make an impact – Flexibility will become a key phrase over the coming months.
The Devon and Cornwall Area have used part of a £10,000 grant from Totnes and Bridgetown Racing Company Ltd to purchase live steaming equipment. This will initially be free to view, but it is unlikely the remaining 13 Areas will have the financial resources to follow suit.
The Ledbury fixture are Maisemore Park on 25th October will also be live streamed and these trials will provide useful information regarding the viability of these projects and any potential revenue streams in the future.
Point-to-Point Racing has always provided a proving ground for aspiring trainers and jockeys, and this has led to Ryan Potter and Max Young making the decision to pursue careers under N.H. Rules.
The sport faces many problems but indications are these early fixtures will be well supported with Mel Rowley one of those priming her horses for these events.
Successful in the 2019 Cheltenham Foxhunters HAZEL HILL was denied a run in 2020 following his last-minute withdrawal due to an irregular heartbeat. He had shown good form prior to Cheltenham and will be aiming to retain his perch at the top of the tree.
WISHING AND HOPING was touted as a Festival hopeful in some quarters after wins in a Ffos Las Open and Hunter Chase victories at Taunton and Catterick and is ready to step into his stablemates shoes if required.
SALVATORE recorded successes at Larkhill, Chaddesley Corbett and Didmarton where he left Ballybroker Breeze and Barney Dwan trailing in his wake.
Ben Bromley is still eligible for Novice Riders events and looks well placed to take advantage of that situation with the likes of BALLYKAN, UCELLO CONTI and VIVALDI COLLONGES in his armoury and will have more fire power than most in this category.
Ben Bromley receiving his TCEH Novice Riders prize from Judith Healey at Didmarton
The former was beaten twice by Call Me Vic before scoring at Larkhill, while Vivaldi Collonges beat stablemate Now Ben at Cottenham. Ucello Conti won 11 races under Rules and should have no difficulty adding to that total.
ANOTHER BROWN BEAR carries the Barlow family’s colours, while BURNDOWN was sourced from Gigginstown but his last win was back in 2016. CALIENTE three runs last year yielded just one place when third behind Teeton Surprise at Larkhill.
DRAMATIC PAUSE is back with Rowley after a spell under Rules with Tom Symonds. The 7-year-old won a Bumper for the Ross on Wye handler but subsequent wind surgery may indicate why he was unable to build on that success.
Both FOREST CHIMES and GOLDENBRAVE ran unsuccessfully between the flags in Ireland, although the latter did subsequently win a Bangor Maiden.
KILLINEY COURT is a multiple winner under Rules and finished second to Thumbstone Blues at Cothelstone. Owned by Michaela Tallett, he may be able to provide her with that illusive first winner.
TROOPER JONES was prominent until weakening three out in a Chaddesley Maiden, while stablemate UNDISPUTED won a 2-1/2 mile Cottenham Conditions and a similar event at Badbury Rings.
MY BOBBY DAZZLER and MY BOY OLLIE are both out of winning Point-to-Pointer Ease and Grace. The former needed two runs before getting his act together, while his brother has yet to see the course.
LILITH was second on her debut but had just one run last year and was 12-lengths behind Organised Solution before falling at the last at Chaddesley, while SULU MAGIC has a long absence to overcome.
“Can do better” was the post-race comment after TAQUITO’s his racecourse debut in a Horseheath Maiden, while OPTIMISED was placed on three occasions and it is hope he will break that sequence.
AUTUMN EQUINOX, CASTLE KEEP and GUNPOWDER RUM will benefit from their experiences at Rowley’s Bridgnorth academy and if they have any ability, they are in the best place to maximize it.
THE ODYSSEY was successful as a 4-year-old while HE’S A KNOWALL a 5-year-old by Oscar, HEERATSUNSET is owned by breeder Ray Bailey, MALAITA, THE PLAYER QUEEN and THE WREKIN are ones for the future.
Another Shropshire resident Caroline Robinson is busy preparing six horses. ALLBLAK DES PLACES three outings last year resulted in one placing and it was a similar situation with RULES OF WAR.
SAMBREMONT’s form pails into insignificance behind his brother Djakadam, but connections may be able to squeeze a little win out of him. EMERALD CHIEFTON struggled in the closing stages when finishing just behind the leaders on three occasions last season.
RYANS FANCY won on his debut at Dowth Hall in 2019 and finished third and fourth in “winners of one” races later in the year, and with that profile should be able to succeed this side of the Irish Sea.
THE DELLERCHECKOUT started the year by beating Don Bersy in a Men’s Open at Barbury and followed that by defeating Haymount in a Sheriff Hutton Ladies. Success in a Ludlow Hunter Chase followed before a poor run in the heavy at Haydock.
The Dellercheckout winning at Sheriff Hutton
Congratulations to Phine Banks who married Richard Woodward in September, but will continue to ride under her Maiden name in Point-to-Points.
Phine Banks winning the first of last seasons Oriental Club Races
Phine will be sharing rides with her sister Abbi with the latter reunited with old favourite ARTHURS SECRET who finished third behind Ravished on his only run last season.
On past form Arthurs Secret is vulnerable on his seasonal debut but is likely to click into gear after that and his trainer Martin Weston also has a plethora of 3-year-olds to run in the spring with the law of averages suggesting one of them could prove useful. DIAMOND KING is rarely out of the frame as he showed by finishing third to Barney Dwan at Cocklebarrow.
After multiple placings ROUND ROBIN finally opened his account in 2019 but struggled when upgraded to Restricted’s finishing fifth at Cottenham, second at Bangor and fourth at Didmarton. The Easter period may provide him with a winning opportunity.
Christine’s sister Angela Rucker and husband William have two horses for the new campaign. GOLD OPERA ran 34 times under Rules for six successes and performed well by finishing second of nine in a Haydock Hurdle back in December 2019. That should provide the Worcestershire stable with some fun when they are not following their “Saturday” horses under Rules.
PAXMAN, a 6-year-old by Jeremy won an Irish Maiden at Inchydoney in impressive fashion in May 2018. Three runs over Hurdles for Evan Williams proved disappointing but he has a good chance of finding winning opportunities between the flags.
Pat Tollit’s HIDDEN CHARMER beat Tb Broke Her at Chaddesley and on that form further successes should be forthcoming.
Will Gaskins mare is trying her luck under Rules this year with Tb Broke Her recently joining Ryan Potter’s yard at Caradoc from where “she might be able to sneak a low-grade handicap” according to her owner.
Gaskins’s R BREN is now trained by Potter’s neighbour Jo Priest. She has been in since August and is being targeted at the Restricted at an early Chaddesley meeting. BALLYBROKER BREEZE looked the winner until outpaced by the race fit Salvatore at the Albrighton (North) fixture and could return to the Worcestershire venue or Maisemore to make his seasonal debut.
CHU CHU PERCY won a Cold Harbour Ladies two years ago beating Cloudy Joker and Cheltenham de Vaige and is being aimed at similar events this season, while ALFSTAR sprang a surprise by beating Optimised at Bangor so it could pay to follow him if he makes a return visit.
Dymock based trainer/rider Sam Jukes and Clive Bennett have been a formidable combination over the last decade and their Blackland Farm stables is set for another successful season.
MARCLE RIDGE ran well in last year’s Foxhunters and is likely to follow a similar path and could be seen out at the first Maisemore fixture. The horse is named after a local landmark near Bennetts yard as is newcomer MISS MAYHILL who is related to Nicky Henderson useful hurdler Shiskin.
MISS SEAGREEN is rarely out of the frame, puts her best work at the finish and that should carry her to further victories. SHOMETHEWAY was impressive on both his runs last year which saw him record victories at Ffos Las and Buckfastleigh.
Shometheway and Sam Jukes winning at Ffos Las
THE WELL ROAD, CHASFORGOLD and STONE are not the force they once were but placed in the right races all are capable of enhancing their records.
Jake Slatter record in recent years matches those of many bigger yards as he extracts success from previously modest performers.
Slatter is preparing two young horses for Jim Collett who has made a welcome return to the sport. ROSE ILLAND finished 30-lengths second to Organised Solution at Chaddesley Corbett and if she continues to improve a Maiden is hers for the taking.
ASK THE LADY’S form in Ireland was nothing to shout about but the experience gained in those outings is sure to stand her in good stead in the future.
The Toddington trainer also has LESA’S OSCAR but she is a few weeks behind the others and will probably not be ready until the Harkaway meeting at the end of December.
Jake’s father Nick has a 4-year-old called DRAGOON SPRINGS and he is likely to make his debut in a Maiden restricted to his age group at Chaddesley.
WATERLOO WARRIOR’s training was disrupted when Angela Slatter broke her arm recently. He impressed last year with two victories from five runs, in a Dunsmore Intermediate and Brocklesby Conditions. An early Intermediate or Oriental Club Conditions have been pencilled in as potential targets.
Waterloo Warrior jumps the last on his way to victory at Dunsmore
Area Secretary Nickie Sheppard has had her hands full in the lead up to the new season ensuring that all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed as the sport negotiates it ways through the minefield of Rules plus protracted negotiations with local councils to ensure our meetings can take place – that has been no easy task.
RISK AND ROLL and ORGANISED SOLUTION did connections proud last year and it will be interesting to watch their future progress.
Risk and Roll went into the notebook after finishing fourth to Shantou Flyer at Larkhill and his followers were rewarded when he took a Leicester Hunter Chase on his next outing.
Organized Solution and Milo Herbert on their way to victory at Badbury Rings
Despite the shortened campaign the stable managed to get five runs into Organised Solution. Fourth on his debut at Larkhill and second behind Goldenbrave at Bangor. This was followed by impressive wins at the Albrighton and Woodland (North) and in a Badbury Rings Restricted. He was still in a prominent position when unseating at the 9th in a Didmarton Intermediate.
The 4-year-old ONE FER MAMMA is an un-known quantity and his first run will provide some indication to his ability.
Julie Mansell’s has seen some of her pointers go off to see if they are good enough to race under rules, but the Hasfield trainer retains DIVA DU MAQUIS who was well supported when she made her debut in a Mares & Fillies Maiden at Barbury. She was still in contention until blundering badly at the 11th. It is harsh to judge her on just one performance.
Mansell has taken responsibility for SHAMILAN. Louise and George Daly’s 7-year-old used to carry Heather Haddocks colours under Rules, where Tom George saddled him for two places.
Starting any new venture is challenging and even more so in these corona virus driven times, but Max Comley’s set up at Brockhill Quarry seems to provide a perfect location for the trainer to enhance his growing reputation.
CLOUDY JOKER finished third on his only outing in 2019/20, but the previous season he had unseated when leading at the last in the Skinners Ladies Final at Stratford. If he can reproduce that form, he will give his supporters a great deal of fun in the coming months.
KNOCKADERRY FLYER has a Cheltenham Hunter Chase success to his credit but was one of those affected by last years shortened season. The Allsop’s have MADAMME HANNAH and MADAME VOGUE. The former had one run as a 5-year-old so is open to improvement. Madame Vogue had two runs for Suzy Smith and was pulled up when last seen at Huntingdon.
CLONDAW BUNNY came from Dean Summersby’s yard in the West Country and the new yard will do well to match his exploits which included three wins, three seconds and three thirds from fifteen runs between the flags.
BIT OF BLINDING was pulled up at Sheriff Hutton before finishing grabbing a minor placing at Cottenham so his reappearance will be watched with interest, while PAUL’S HILL finished third to Chameron in the Coronation Cup.
BERNARDELLI came from Nicky Richards and should be able to maintain a consistent level of form in this grade, whereas PROVE ME WRONG is highly rated by connections which seems at odds with his form as sixteen runs in Ireland provided just one success in a 4-runner Maiden back in 2017.
CRANBROOK CAUSEWAY was placed under Rules before finishing last of two in atrious conditions at Cocklebarrow, while owner Tom Jones has PERISHING MISSILE and DARA’S PRESENT.
James Ridley has moved from Kinnersley to Ketford near Bromesberrow Heath where he is preparing CHASE ME who scored a hard-fought win over Coco Live in last seasons R.A. Conditions and that indicates he is continuing his upward progression.
Chase Me heads Coco Live at the last at Larkhill
TEMPLEBRADEN and GREEN WINTER are stalwarts of Ridley’s stable, the former having won a multitude of races between the flags although he only managed one outing last year.
Stablemate Green Winter did well to divide Shantou Flyer and Salvatore at Larkhill, and finished in a similar position behind Cameron in the Coronation Cup. Both are capable of winning further races before the season is out.
CASHMOLL won a Bredwardine Maiden in 2019 and looks a progressive type while HURRICANE HARRY won a Maiden for Max Young before finishing third in a Haydock Hurdle. His form fell away subsequently but it would not take much to revieve his fortunes. NO PROMISES had a couple of runs in Ireland and still has time on his side.
On the face of it WHAT’S THE PROBLEM third place in a 2019 Stradbally Maiden does not look very inspiring but he was only beaten a neck and half a length and should be up to Maiden class at the very least.
CREWS PITCH is joined by a 3-year-old by Schiaparelli and a 4-year-old by Valiran, out of Fairy Dawn (which means that he is closely related to Kicking King).
Katherine Smith Maxwell reports her horses are not as forward as normal as she had to spend a few days in hospital.
SILVERGROVE ran well until weakening three out in a Horseheath Open but his subsequent run can probably be ignored as he was pulled up with a badly twisted shoe at Charing.
There was much to admire about SAUSALITO SUNRISE’S 10 length success in the first of last season Point-to-Point Classics The Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup and he will be hard to beat if maintaining that level of form.
Sausalito Sunrise plough through the mud to score at Cocklebarrow
BLACKWATER BRAMBLE returns after winning three consecutive races in 2019 and may be able to run up a similar sequence in the coming months.
Geoff and Tracey Barfoot Saunt have four “possibles” to run pointing, although any or all of them might shift to Rules if the situation dictates.
TENSION TIME came from Lucy Wadham after running third in a 3-mile hurdle in the soft so has a hint of ability.
BOMBAY BASIL seven runs in Ireland went unrewarded but he could make the grade in the right company. TWICE THE MUSTARD finished a long last in a Wolverhampton Bumper so the Wotton-under-Edge stable have their hands full turning his form around.
EARTH SPIRIT has changed stables a couple of times and that is never a good sign which means connections may have to go back to drawing board.
Barfoot Saunts son Harvey has three for Pony Racing including Shoot the Stars and Brooks Spring and can’t wait for the season to commence.
Shelfield Park Clerk of the Course Nick Pearce has several young horses he might Point-to-Point in the Spring but admits nothing is set in stone. WORKBENCH is reportedly heading to Maisemore with the rides this year shared by Murray Dodds (who recorded his first winner on this horse at Higham last year) or newcomer George Cowley.
Tor Collins and Sarah Dawson have enjoyed numerous successes in the past and the latters horses make up the majority of the occupants at Collins’s Broadway stables.
ZAMPARELLI was prominent for a long way in a Skinners sponsored Ladies Race at Badbury Rings and can build on that performance, while TOWER VIEW was pulled up on both his 2019/2020 outings. Dawson also has LITTLE PRETENDER and FLICK THE SWITCH but both may need further experience before showing their best. GALAVANTIN was pulled up at Barbury and made mistakes on his next outing and will need to cut out those errors.
Down in the Beaufort country, Charlie Dando and partner Brooke Gardener-Wallen are busy preparing ACCORDING TO HARRY who beat Fly West in their Members race 12 months ago and must go close if aimed at the same event in March.
Charlie Dando and According the Harry after their win in the Beaufort Members
Dando jointly owns RAVENSDALE with Steve Bush but connections have their work cut out based on his performance at Badbury Rings. EVERYBODY’S TALKIN also ran at his home meeting and was 7-lengths clear of the field at one point but weakened in the closing stages in the race won by Miss Seagreen.
CARRIG DUBH always seems to make the frame but got his head in front when winning a Knightwick Confined on the Clifton-on-Teme’s new course. BRASS IN POCKET also runs consistently but does not win that often and was last seen when falling three out at Didmarton.
LOODEEN was prominent for a long way at Milbourne St Andrew but seems to be one of those horses that is difficult to place.
Charlie’s father David has two horses at their home in Little Sodbury. KIT BARRY would be the best known of them but he made no show when pulled up in a Mens Open at Badbury Rings, while stablemate. JACK MORGAN has had a number of runs between the flags the best of which was fifth place in a Berkeley Maiden in 2019.