The Harkaway Club will be serving up their traditional post-Christmas treat for Point-to-Point enthusiasts at next Friday’s meeting at Chaddesley Corbett.
This is the first of five fixtures to take place at the Worcestershire venue and it also heralds the beginning of a thirteen-meeting programme that takes place in the West Midlands over the next 6 months.
The 2019/2020 season is still in its infancy but the Mens Open has the potential to be a real cracker as the entries include last year’s Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Hazel Hill and Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley used this race as a stepping stone to festival glory last March.
The 11-year-olds place in the history books is assured but Diana Williams gelding will have to be at his best to see off the challenge of David Maxwell’s Shantou Flyer who finished 4-lengths behind him in the Cheltenham Centrepiece.
Big Casino chased home Earth Leader at Larkhill and the latter is being touted as a potential winner of the big race at Prestbury Park, so Big Casino’s proximity to the two major contenders will provide another piece in the jigsaw for form students to digest.
Bishops Road presence shows the race has strength in depth, while others who could feature include Facile Bien, Navanman, Port Melon and Waterloo Warrior.
Bishops Road has an alternative engagement in the Ladies Open and his rating puts him on a par with Thomas Campbell and Virak. Bishops Road had his colours lowered by Don Bersy at Dunsmore while Thomas Campbell got up near the finish to land a Ladies Open at Wadebridge. Vedettariat managed just one outing last year, but was in good form prior to that and could prove difficult to beat if back to his best.
The likely favourite Ravished scored an impressive win on his seasonal debut at Cottenham but was unable to peg back Southfield Theatre at Larkhill. This course is not dissimilar to Cottenham and that has to be in his favour.
Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley has made a flying start to the season and the stable should add to their tally in the Goff’s sponsored 2-1/2 mile Maiden.
My Bobby Dazzler was beaten a long way on his racecourse debut last year but will have benefitted from that experience, while Goldenbrave finished 4th in two Irish Point-to-Points. The trainer does not fire many duds in these types of races and the horse should give supporters a good run for their money.
Commanding Presence and Kynance Cove both come from stables who do well in these types of races, while those searching for something at longer odds may side with Organised Solution. His form in Ireland is nothing to shout about but connections have done well with horses from the same source in the past.
Goldenbrave and Organised Solution both have alternative engagements in the 3-mile Maiden, so their chosen objectives must provide them with their best chance of success.
Jason Warner’s Best to Come started a hot favourite for a Barbury Maiden prior to Christmas and had opened up a 25-length advantage before falling at the 10th. He took some liberties with his fences that day but must go close with a clear round.
Diva Du Maquis also ran well at Barbury and was still in contention until blundering Dave Mansell out of the saddle at the 11th. She had jumped well up to that point and Mansell’s Hasfield stable has a good record over this course.
Droitwich trainer Max Young has his stable in fine form so keep an eye out for Final Sting and Windy Writer although at 9 years of age the latter has yet to break his duck.
A 3 lb penalty is unlikely to stop recent Ffos Las winner Kaki De La Pree who has a choice of engagements in the Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Conditions or the Novice Riders.
The manner of his success in Wales suggest that he and Alexandra Ingram may well have found races to which they are particularly suited and they are expected to add to their winning tally.
They share top billing in the Novice Riders with Port Melon while others to note include Darius Des Bois, Just a Par, Call Me Vic, Doc Carver and Little Windmill who finished second recently and both horse and jockey will have benefitted from that experience.
With 30 entries the Veteran Conditions may well require division on the day and if that proves necessary Lotus Pond and Vedettariat may provide the answer if they are kept apart in the balloting process.
Drumhart jumping needs to improve on the evidence of his recent effort at Barbury, while this course may not play to Magheral Express’s strengths. James Ridley’s Kinnersley stable is still searching for its first winner of the season and with Pearls Legend finishing down the field at Cottenham it is difficult seeing him providing the breakthrough.
The meeting opens at 10-30 a.m. with the 2-1/2 mile Restricted. Past experience has proved an early start is necessary as a combination of divisions on the day and fading light could pose problems at the end of the day and being pro-active rather than re-active means they can easily be overcome.
West Country challenger Sylvies Dance has the top rating in this race but may be hampered by the lack of a run but the same cannot be said of Voie Dans Voie who has already run twice this season.
Chief Sittingbull represents the Bowens Worcestershire stable but his only success was a course success over a solitary rival last May. Round Robin took several years to break his duck although he did so at the end of last season but it is difficult making a case for him in this race. R Bren joined Dymock trainer Sam Jukes halfway through last season and although he may figure in the shake up, victory might prove elusive.
The Max Young trained Taboo made all the running when winning at Ffos Las and seems to have turned over a new leaf since joining his Droitwich yard. Ryan Potter nominated Family Man for a 2-1/2 mile Restricted after his recent Maiden success and the manner of his victory a couple of weeks ago suggests he has the speed to cut down his rivals in the closing stages.