Enthusiasts attending next Friday’s Harkaway Point-to-Point at Chaddesley Corbett should prepare for a long day.
The meeting has attracted a massive entry of 182 with the 2-1/2 mile Maiden (34 entries and a safety factor of 16) and the 3-mile maiden (37 entries and a safety factor of 18) facing division on the day.
The meeting commences at 10-30 am with the final race scheduled for 1-30 pm so there is scope to fit in any extra races before the light fades.
Successes at Chaddesley Corbett 12 months ago provided the basis for Phil Rowley’s assault on the National Trainers Title and he will be hoping that history does repeat itself.
The Bridgnorth handler looks to have chances in several races, with Levasseur and Mr Knowitall carrying the stables hopes in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden and the selection is sure to give a good account of themselves. Both horses suffered narrow defeats on their racecourse debuts last year but will know what is expected of them on this occasion.
Beat Star started favourite for a Point-to-Point Flat race last week and will have benefitted from that experience and must go close. Fitness is critical at this stage of the season and chances have to be given to The Triple Pillar and General Arrow who both represent top class yards.
The meeting opens with the Restricted where Caliente is the Rowley representative and could come up against another trainer based in the Bridgnorth area. Caroline Robinson has a good record over this track and Myoldman is sure to make his presence felt.
Wylde Magic had useful form under Rules and Worcestershire based Angela Rucker will be hoping that he puts his best foot forward. Others to note include Antiphony, Equus Leader and Buffalo Sabre.
Arthurs Secret and Abi Banks will start favourites for the Ladies Open and on recent form they hold a big chance. Golden Tobouggan and Western Diva always run well in these types of races, while TB Broke Her has finished third at Buckfastleigh and second at Larkhill so should now be coming to peak fitness.
Clive Hitchings has had many useful horses over the years and this continues with Virak who won a Hunter Chase for Paul Nicholls in the past, while Josephine Banks could challenge her sister with either Ckalco des Loges or Well Mett.
The Men’s Open has all the ingrediants for the race of the season so far, with prolific winners Bally River Boy, Bear’s Affair, Chasforgold, Hazel Hill, Premier Portrait, Robin De Boss, Rye Cross and William Money likely to challenge one another.
Bears Affair scored a facile win at Leominster a couple of weeks ago but has much more to do in this contest which means that Rowley could turn to Hazel Hill to deliver the goods. Sam Jukes has the difficult choice between Chasforgold or Rye Cross, while Robin De Boss’s chances have to be respected if he comes up from the West Country.
William Money was successful 6 times last year including a victory over course and distance, while Premier Portrait won his first two outings in 2017/2018 including a Taunton Hunter Chase so obviously comes to hand early.
Two recent course winners take their chances in the Novice Riders. Crowded Room recorded a faster time than Ballycahane 12 months ago and he will also be getting 3 lb from his rival so that is another point in his favour. The latter has had two outings in recent weeks while his rival will be making his seasonal debut.
Global Power has the best form but will be anchored by several penalties and that puts him out of the equation, while Summer Sounds paid the price for a strong early pace at Larkhill and if ridden with more discipline could score.
Abi Banks and Round Robin could be reunited in the concluding Maiden, but the front running 7-year-old always seems to get outpaced at the finish as evidenced by five placings last season.
Chase Me does not have much form to recommend him but his connections always get the best out of their horses so it would not be surprising if he ran into a place.
If Levasseur bypasses his engagement earlier in the afternoon he stands a big chance although the stable may opt to run Stereo Sound.
The Conditions looks a difficult race to unravel, with He’s A Bully, Robin de Boss, The Jaffna Queen and Optimised all potential winners.
The race sees the return of Sybarite, who won a Dudley Cup over this course a few years ago. He was retired after several lacklustre performances in 2017/2018, but connections eventually found out what was troubling him. He does have two ways of running but it would not be a major surprise to see him doing all his best work at the finish.
Clive Bennett’s Marcle Ridge scored twice over this course at the tail end of last year where he used front running tactics to good effect. This is a major step up in class but one he is capable of making.