Category Archives: Reports

NEW COURSE OPENS AT SHELFIELD PARK

After years of time, money and effort the Croome & West Warwickshire staged their first meeting at Shelfield Park on Sunday afternoon.

While surrounding areas received copious amounts of rain throughout Friday and Saturday, it frustratingly avoided this part of Warwickshire so despite the organiser’s best efforts and continuous spiking throughout Saturday, conditions were on the firm side of good.

The new course is officially opened by Patty Allen (centre)

Despite the small fields, there was universal agreement from owners, trainers, jockeys and the general public that everyone involved with the course’s creation can be proud of what they have achieved thus far and what they will achieve in the future.

The course was level and fair and rode well according to all the participants. Due to a combination of circumstances this year’s meeting was held 3 weeks later than originally advertised, but will be seen at its best if the organisers stick to their original mid-March date.

Three horses lined up for the Members and the honour of winning the first race at Shelfield Park went to James King and Master Sunrise who proved worthy winners.

They set a strong pace throughout but could never shake off the attentions of the outsider State of Origin who led briefly going down the back straight for the final time.

Master Sunrise (James King) lead State of Origin at the last

Master Sunrise secured the inside berth around the final bend and outjumped his rival to regain the advantage at the second from home before staying on resolutely to win by 3-lengths.

The winner races in the colours of Malvern owner Mervyn Jones and is sponsored by his company Beacon Fuels. The 12-year-old had form under Rules for Alistair Ralph’s Bridgnorth stable but is now in the care of his head lad Callum Griffiths for whom this was an initial training success.

Top – Mervyn Jones picks up the Members Trophy

Bottom – James King is slowly edging towards his first riders title

This crowned a good 7 days for King. He trained his first winner the previous weekend, rode Cousin Pascal to victory in the Aintree Foxhunters on Thursday, and followed that with a double at Mollington on Saturday afternoon.

“He was caught a little flatfooted when we sprinted downhill to the final bend, but I know he stays and he found another gear when we straightened up. This is a really nice, fair galloping track but will probably be best early in the season. They have done a brilliant job and the fences are nicely positioned” stated the rider afterwards.

With this win and a second and third latter in the afternoon, King is now hot on the heels of the reigning Area Champion Alex Edwards who has now turned professional. With two meetings remaining King has a good chance of securing the required number of points to secure his first Area Title, while rivals Tommie O’Brien and Zac Baker have a lot of ground to make up.

Jockey Byron Moorcroft and Trainer Luke Price recorded doubles, courtesy of Ramble On’s walk over in the Mens Open, and Finley’s Eyes success in the concluding Maiden.

Jason Warner has enjoyed a purple patch in recent weeks and with Moorcroft and Price’s help they took the concluding 2-1/2 mile Maiden with Finley’s Eyes.

Leading owners Paul and Clare Rooney have cut down on their commitments in recent years and Warner has been able to acquire some of their lesser lights via his friendship with Jason Macguire.

Finley’s Eyes was placed several times under Rules for local trainer Dan Skelton when last seen out in June 2019. He had the habit of making the running under Rules so Moorcroft repeated these tactics but the partnership did well to remain intact after ploughing through the 9th

Finley’s Eyes (far side) and Rose Iland (yellow cap) battle for the lead at halfway

Keen to avoid another error the jockey saw a good stride at the next and fired his mount at it. While Finley’s Eyes jumping was far from foot perfect it was certainly far better than Rose Iland whose jumping was best described as slovenly.

Finley’s Eyes begins to draw clear on the flat

Moorcroft kicked on into a 3-length lead around the final bend, but then handed the advantage to his rival by running wide into the home straight, while James King stuck like a limpet to the inside rail.

Finley’s Eyes fought back and was on level terms as they jumped the penultimate before taking his rivals measure approaching the last and claiming a deserved success.

Alice Stevens was brought up in the Croome country so received a rousing cheer after Summer Sounds success in the Skinners sponsored Ladies Open.

The 12-year-old set off in front and was never headed although he fluffed his lines on two occasions at the open ditch after the finish, which the rider attributed to its proximity to the horseboxes. He had to be given a wakeup call after his second mistake but after that reminder he drew right away from his solitary rival Theatre Evening.

Summer Sounds and Alice Stephens scored an effortless win in the Ladies

Two runners contested the Conditions, with After Hours content to give a lead to his rival, but in the home straight he was able to dismiss Donjon’s challenge and provide 21-year-old Toby Steel with his 1st winner and the T.C.E.H. Novice Ride of the Day.

Toby Steel picks up his Three Counties Equine Hospital Novice Riders prize from Nicky Sheppard

Grand National winning trainer Venetia Williams, the owner of Nesterenko was on hand to see Flora Glover have her first ride in the Novice Riders. There was a ragged start to this race which was accentuated by the fast pace set by Spring Cover and Ardview Boy.

Argot took over on the final bend and lining up for the judge Lewis Dobbs kicked Argot into a clear lead and they quickly established a winning advantage over Nesterenko who stayed on strongly in the closing stages. His rider should be able to put this experience to good use in the future.

The 2-1/2 mile Print Concern Restricted went as expected to the favourite Bold Gesture, but it was no means as clearer victory as the market predicted.

Turning back towards home, Bold Gesture held a two-length advantage over Cotton Rock, while Mykonos Ammos who had been outpaced a fence earlier was by no means out of it, when Noah Brazg encountered saddlery problems at the penultimate obstacle.

Results

Members
1st      Master Sunrise                           J King                    1-2 fav
2nd     State of Origin
3rd      Phoenix Park

Conditions
1st      After Hours                                T Steele                 4-9 fav
2nd     Donjon

Mens Open
1st      Ramble On                                B Moorcroft
(Walked Over)

Ladies Open
1st      Summer Sounds                         Miss A Stevens        1-4 fav
2nd     Theatre Evening

Novice Riders
1st      Argot                                        L Dobbs                 9-4
2nd     Nesterenko
3rd      Ardview Boy

Restricted
1st      Bold Gesture                              S Lee                     4-6 fav
2nd     Cotton Rock
3rd      Long Mile Road

2-1/2 mile Maiden
1st      Finley’s Eyes                              B Moorcroft            4-5 fav
2nd     Rose Illand                               

SEVEN DAYS TO REMEMBER FOR JASON WARNER

Jason Warner has been involved with the sport as an owner/jockey/trainer and administrator for longer than he cares to remember, but he cannot recall a period that will match his run of success over the last seven days.

His colours have been seen at Charing, Maisemore, Higham, Sandon and Dingley since the sport resumed last Monday and there was no indication of what was to come as the Gloucester based owner left the first two meetings empty handed.

The tide turned with a double at Higham on Friday afternoon, another winner less than 24 hours later during the North Staffordshire meeting at Sandon before finally causing one of the biggest upsets of the season at Dingley on Monday.

“Keep yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst” is an old racing adage but one which Warner is comfortable with as he explained after French Piece had completed his hattrick following wins in a Pyle Maiden and a Llwyn Du Restricted in 2019.

“He was ready to run last year but needs good ground and then Covid struck”, Warner said later.  “He came to me from David Bridgwater about three years ago. He was very immature but Luke Price has done a good job with him and he will come on for the run. He is not the easiest horse and that is why we do not have him at home. I am not sure how long this run will last, but we will enjoy it while we can”.

The winner made the running until going a couple of lengths clear of Donjon with a circuit to jump. Byron Moorcroft quickened the pace down the back straight and the partnership had more than doubled their advantage as they turned back towards home.

French Piece leads Donjon at halfway with Master Hide struggling in third

Donjon tried his best on the climb to the second from home but French Piece had the race in his pocket despite running down the final obstacle.

Jason Warner leads French Piece into the winners enclosure

John Smith Maxwell was rewarded for an enterprising ride on Sausalito Sunrise in the Conditions. Duke of Acardio was an early casualty, after which Optimised held a narrow lead over Emerald Chieftain while Smith Maxwell was biding his time in third.

The jockey surprised his rivals by sneaking through on the inner at the entrance to the back straight and before they had time to respond he kicked his mount into a clear lead and held a 6-length advantage turning back towards home.

The opposition struggled to reduce the deficit on the climb to two out which allowed the leader to stroll home for an emphatic win.

John Smith Maxwell and Sausalito Sunrise holding Optimised challenge on the flat

Owner Katherine Smith Maxwell lavished praise on the course “It is a joy to come here, the ground is exceptional. John had not been here before but watched some old videos of the races and he said this is the way I am going to ride it. The horse is ground dependent so that will dictate his next outing”

Joe O’Shea and Henry Crow had already taken the Members with Irish Anthem when they teamed up with Williewonga in the Maiden, where they vied for favouritism with the Diana Williams owned and Phil Rowley trained Forest Chimes.

With no one willing to take the initiative the race did not develop in earnest until the runners turned into the home straight. As they met the rising ground Forest Chimes and Williewonga began to dominate and were in-separable approaching the last, but Williewonga gained a narrow advantage which he maintained all the way to the line.

Williewonga (right) is all out to hold Forest Chimes challenge as they run towards the judge

Forest Chimes jockey Ed Glassonbury told connections later “I thought I was going to win three out but I just could not catch the winner”. Honours were probably even as the runner up was conceding 4 lbs to his rival.

The latter’s trainer Phil Rowley gained some compensation in the final race, the 4-5-&-6-year-old Flat Race.

Another Brown Bear set a modest pace with none of the runners playing their cards until the final half mile.

Arcandy, Snowy Cloud and Another Brown Bear drew clear turning for home and as the former dropped away the two leaders settled down to fight out the finish.

Both battled bravely in the final furlong and neither was willing to concede defeat. They were locked together passing the judge who could not separate them and awarded a dead heat.

Snowy Cloud (nearside) and Another Brown Bear are inseparable as they approach the finish

The former had come down from the North of England while Another Brown Bear did have some racecourse experience having finished last of four in a similar event at Chaddesley before Christmas.

As the name suggests the Wheatland qualified gelding is another in the long list of George Barlow owned horses to carry the “Bear” suffix.

As well as training himself Warner has horses based with others including Thumbstone Blues who is with James King. The 11-year-old won on the heavy at Cothelstone in 2020 but was not inconvenienced by firmer conditions when he became the first leg of a double for Gloucester owner in the Essex and Suffolk Veterans race at Higham.

He was prominent throughout before leading at the 13th and had his rivals measure approaching the penultimate and had no difficulty holding the challenge of the favourite Mercers Court from that point.

Connections struck again in the Maiden, with Warner listed as the trainer of Ahead of the Game.

King was content to bide his time on the ex-Paul and Claire Rooney gelding but after leading at the 15th went away to score easily by 12-lengths.

Seven runners lined up for the start of the Higham Maiden which was won in impressive style by the Max Young owned and trained Takoda.

The Droitwich trainer cut his teeth in West Midland Area Point-to-Points before taking out a Rules licence in 2020 and the performance by this 5-year-old son of Doyen was deemed the best of the day.

Tristam Durrell sent the Radnor and West Herefordshire qualified gelding into the lead at the 14th and they went on to score impressively.

Warner seemed to ignore his own advice as he chose to take on the “red hot favourite” Fumet D’Oudairies in the 2-1/2 mile Mixed Open at Dingley. That policy paid off when Always Lion made it four wins from four runners for the owner when James King’s mount brought off one of the biggest upsets of the season.

All seemed to be going to plan for Andrews’s mount as Always Lion tracked the long-time leader Knockoutloaded before taking over the baton approaching four out, while Andrew’s was waiting to deliver his challenge.

Passing the three-mile start Fumet D’Oudairies had to be driven to maintain contact with his rival, who had secured the vital inside berth around the final bend.

They challenged again approaching the final obstacle but Always Lion was quicker away and inched clear as his rival’s effort petered out in the final 50 yards, with Andrews explaining “the horse did not like the ground”.

As well as being the winning jockey, James King is also the trainer and he went on to explain “The horse has only had 10 runs in his life. He missed 2016 and 2018 and there were no obvious excuses for the runner up. Although he is 11-year-old he is still learning and he had run well at Larkhill earlier in the year”

“I am friendly with Jason McGuire and he helped me acquire the horse” Warner stated in the winner’s enclosure “I knew about Always Lion when he won his bumper for Brendan Powell but as his record shows he is fragile so will not run on firm ground”.

Long Mile Road (pulled up) and Edabean (2nd in Mares Maiden) failed to add to the owner’s tally, but this week will live long in his memory.

 

 

SHELFIELD PARK MAKES ITS DEBUT

The Croome & West Warwickshire Point-to-Point will always be associated with Ryalls Court, Upton-upon-Severn, the meetings home for over 130 years until the course’s closure in 2017.

That venue was allowed to develop and mature at a time when fixtures were not in the public gaze, but the replacement was never going to be allowed that luxury.

The answer came at the Lawnswood Farm Shelfield, home of the Croome & West Warwickshire’s long serving Joint Master Patty Allen, which had all the attributes required for setting up a new course.

As work progressed a temporary move was made to Maisemore Park in 2018, while alternative arrangements could not be made for the 2019 meeting. The course was due to open in 2020 but suffered a last-minute cancellation when heavy rain rendered the course un-raceable.

Twelve months later and Covid cast its shadow with the 20th March meeting falling foul of Pandemic regulations, but the Croome and West Warwickshire were determined the meeting would go ahead, even if it was behind closed doors, and it was rearranged for Sunday 11th April.

New courses always encounter teething problems, but Shelfield Park received many favourable comments during its Open Day last year, so it will be interesting to hear from the jockeys regarding their thoughts and if any adjustments are required.

Seven 7 horses have entered for the Members in the hope of getting their owners names in the record books for winning the first race over the new course. These include Tom Britten who has the option of riding Orange Nassau, State of Origin or Toowoomba and claiming this honour.

Master Sunrise will relish the conditions but has to concede weight to his rivals but Mervyn Jones gelding is an experienced campaigner who has run consistently throughout his long career and could cause a surprise.

Chu Chu Percy is a consistent performer between the flags, but may be hampered by a long absence, although Jo Priest has proved she can overcome these challenges in the past.

It may be too much to hope but all the clues point in Workbench’s direction, but is it too much of a fairy-tale to expect the 13-year-old to land the spoils for two people who have been instrumental in the course’s development.

He is due to carry the colours of Clerk of the Course Nick Pearce, who works for Dan Skelton at nearby Lodge Hill and the course’s owner Patty Allen. It is a shame the public is not allowed access to show their appreciation as Workbench would be a very appropriate winner.

20 horses hold entries in the Conditions for which the Gerald Bailey trained Early Retirement is among one of the more fancied contenders. Captiva Island carries the hopes of Alan Hill’s stable, while Fox Valley and General Arrow hail from the all-conquering Tom Ellis/Gina Andrews yard.

The West Midlands have two worthy representatives in Chase Me and Waterloo Warrior but both have to concede weight to their rivals. Neither of them sparkled at Maisemore last week, but probably needed that outing to get them race fit.

Chase Me has an alternative engagement in the Men’s Open where the boot would be on the other foot and he would receive weight from the likely favourite Vivaldi Collonges.

Black River is sure to go well, while Chahuteur was pulled out of a race at Dingley on Monday and Port Melon was going well when he ran out at Sandon. Robin des People won well at Maisemore, whereas Silvergrove will benefit from a recent run at Doncaster and a liking for sounder surfaces.

Vivaldi Collonges only had to beat two rivals at Gloucester Races but did so in emphatic manner and could win despite his penalty.

Agamemmon was the surprise winner of a Kimble Ladies last weekend and could strike again in the Skinners sponsored Ladies at this meeting, where the opposition includes Changeofluck who has the advantage of being trained by Alan Hill and ridden by Izzy Marshall.

Pass the Hat could spring a surprise but Summer Sounds showed signs that he is coming back to his best by chasing home Newsworthy at Revesby Park and that horse won again at Dingley on Monday.

Potential runners in the Novice Riders include Bramble Brook and Fox Valley, but one that catches the eye is a horse called Nesterenko who is owned and trained by Venetia Williams and used to carry the colours of Grand National winning owner Vida Bingham.

Jockey plans are undecided and there is no obvious candidate but if it is anybody associated with the trainers Ross on Wye yard, they should be more than capable of steering the gelding to victory.

Gats and Co will be all the rage for the Print Concern Restricted on the strength of his recent win at Gloucester Races and it is difficult to look beyond Bradley Gibbs’s mount. Aclassagold and Love Around both have similar profiles, while Round Robin ran well on his seasonal debut.

Midnight Frensi has struggled to regain the form shown two years ago, while Phoenix Park’s effort behind Premier Magic at Didmarton 12 months ago would give him a good chance in this event.

Andrew Campbell has a Cheltenham winner to his name and not a lot of Point-to-Point trainers have that on their C.V. Mykonos Ammos struggled in two runs for Nigel Twiston Davies but Campbell has shown he is capable of succeeding where others have failed so it will be interesting to see how he fares.

This horse always holds an engagement in the concluding Maiden, but on paper this looks stronger than the Restricted.

Between You and Me and Jail No Bail are based with Chris Barber down in Dorset and come from a batch of 10 Irish horses sent over when Pointing closed down the other side of the Irish Sea. Connections have already struck winning form with three of them, so that gives you some idea about their level of ability.

Leading trainer Phil Rowley could saddle the un-raced No Authority, while Tom Weston’s Hindlip yard relies on Yellow Bay. Add Guinness Village from Clive Boultbee Brookes Herefordshire yard and the picture becomes even more clouded.

Rose Iland has been placed twice at Maisemore but has looked a little one paced at the finish, while Shamilan was beaten a short head at Chaddesley before running out at Gloucester Races recently.

Maiden races always provide this challenge, with experienced horses up against those with untapped potential and it is always a guessing game as to which one comes out on top.

 

BALLYBOKER BREEZE IMPRESSES AT MAISEMORE

Gloucester Races proved once again how safe it is to run a Point-to-Point during these Covid affected times. The sport made a welcome return with three meetings on Monday afternoon, but the large number of runners and hot conditions at this fixture presented a major challenge for all concerned.

A number of races were split at declaration which resulted in 10 races and a 12 noon start. There were doubles for owner David Brace and rider Bradley Gibbs, a winner from Yorkshire and three first time winners in Beau Morgan, Ellie Jefferson and Josh Barber and a “Members” race of open race standard, which proved the sport is back on the path to “normality”.

Temperatures reached 22 degrees by mid-afternoon which tested the skills of the Vets and their large team of helpers who constantly had to replenish the water supplies down at the finish and by the unsaddling enclosure to enable “cooling down procedures” to be carried out to maximum affect.

If the paying public had been allowed access, they would certainly have got their monies worth in the first, a Joint Members Race between four corroborating hunts (Ledbury, Cotswold Vale, Heythrop and Monmouthshire). Any horse race betting would have been fast and furious, but sadly, bookmakers are just another of the missing pieces in this Covid jigsaw.

This proved the best race of the meeting with Ballyboker Breeze and Zac Baker relishing the conditions and proving far too good for their rivals. The Joanne Priest trained 13-year-old went to the front from flag fall and established a 5-length advantage which they maintained until Robin Why Not, Trio for Rio and Chase Me moved into challenging positions with half a mile to run, while Miss Seagreen began to improve her position.

The leader’s advantage was whittled away approaching the third from home and after his earlier exertions Ballyboker Breeze looked vulnerable as Trio for Rio challenged around the final bend. His effort petered out as Baker asked his mount for one final effort and he got an instant response as they established a race winning lead between the final two fences. Miss Seagreen who had been outpaced into the home straight was putting in her best work at the finish but the winner kept up his furious gallop.

Zac Baker gets another good leap out of Ballyboker Breeze at the last

Now 13 years old Ballyboker Breeze looks back to the form he showed a couple of years ago and its testament to the training skills of Priest and the constitution of the horse who had to overcome a career threatening injury last summer.

Baker recalled afterwards his rivals had queried his tactics at the start to which he replied “Don’t worry I’ll be making it. I thought we went quick enough and he went on again when challenged in the home straight. He been off the course for a long time but I thought we would try and repeat the tactics from 2 years ago and if they caught me, fair enough. This course suits him and you can be brave on him and he sorts himself out. I thought it was a very good run”.

This success provided Jo with her first success since moving to the Caradoc stables once frequented by John Edwards where she is based alongside Ryan Potter. Like many others in the Covid Pandemic her numbers have reduced as she retains just two pointers as the others have been rerouted to race under Rules.

The only other West Midland success was provided by Vivaldi Collonges in the Men’s Open for which there was a disappointing turn out of just three runners.

The order remained unchanged for most of the race as Coningsby dictated the pace with Vivaldi Collonges in close attendance while Phoenix Rock kept a watching brief.

It proved a classic case of cat and mouse with Coningsby jumping well in the lead, while Bromley’s mount was waiting to pounce and approaching four out, they moved into the leader’s slipstream, while Phoenix Rock’s effort petered out.

Vivaldi Collonges and Ben Bromley are well clear at the final obstacle

There was little to separate the leaders over the next two fences but coming round the bend Vivaldi Collonges assumed command and sauntered home for an easy win which provided Phil Rowley with his first winner since he re-assumed command of the Pointers at their Morville base.

With Alex Edwards now professional, Zac Baker, Tommie O’Brien and James King all have the opportunity to land their first Area Riders Championship. The latter did not have a winner but three second places considerably enhanced his current score.

The market is always the best guide in 4 and 5-year-old Maidens so it would have been interesting to see how this race was priced up with runners based with Fran Nimmo, Tom Lacey plus Chris Barber’s “Irish imports”.

King teamed up with the Nimmo trained Adjournment and after some early skirmishes they secured their position at the head of affairs, but both Flaming Ambition (Barber) and Algesiras (Lacey) were in close attendance until the latter cracked half way down the back straight. Turning back towards home Flaming Ambition had got his remaining rivals measure and proved far too good over the final two fences.

A first “Irish” winnner at Maisemore as Flaming Ambition jumps the last

The winner is one of a group of horses that switched to Pointing this side of the Irish Sea when the rules were relaxed and it became obvious the UK was going to restart much quicker than their Irish Counterparts.

The winner was guided to victory by 23-year-old Tiernan Roche who has recorded 22 victories in his home country. He described his experience “He won as he liked on the ground, and was not doing a whole lot in front. He jumped well and quickened although he is still a bit green and was having a look at things”.

Officially trained by Chris Barber, Flaming Ambition came into his current trainer’s care after Barber had made an enquiry about sending some horses over to Ireland during the Pandemic, but he eventually ended up with 10 horses joining his Dorset yard.

Two races later and King racked up more points when Largy Mountain had to give best to Twig in Division II of the 3-mile Maiden.

Shamilan blotted his copybook by ducking out at the 6th, and a circuit later Post No Bills held a narrow advantage over Riding Shotgun and Twig, while King was exuding confidence and moving Largy Mountain up onto the leader’s heels.

Post No Bills maintained a narrow lead around the bend but just as King was poised to pounce on Largy Mountain, Beau Morgan and Twig opened up a race winning lead between the final two fences.

Beau Morgan rides his first winner on Twig

This provided the 16-year-old Bath Schoolboy with a first winner on his very first ride. When questioned later he recalled “I could hardly sleep last night and would have been content to get round, but coming around the final bend I thought wait a minute I could win this”.

His daily schedule involves getting up at 5-30 am. riding out 2 lots for Neil Mulholland, changing in the car on the way to school and then home for rest after lessons have been completed.

In Division III of the older Maiden, King recorded his third placing of the afternoon on the Jake Slatter trained Rose Iland.

Brother Byrne was an additional runner in this race and as he had done at Barbury earlier in the season he set a strong pace. Only two of his rivals were able to maintain contact as they raced along the riverside, but those efforts took their toll on Rose Iland whose effort petered out with three to jump.

Danny Archer and Ellie Jefferson managed to reduce the leader’s advantage turning for home but Gibbs had kept something in reserve and his mount lined up for the judge with an unassailable lead.

Ellie Jefferson and Danny Archer at the last

Brother Byrne had tipped up at Barbury with the race in his pocket and unfortunately history repeated itself because when Gibb’s mount hit the top of the penultimate and paid the penalty which allowed Jefferson to record her first win. The 20-year-old rider was recording her first success on her third ride and is currently based with South Wales trainer Christian Williams.

Earlier in the afternoon Gibbs teamed up with David Brace’s Gats and Co to take Division I of the 6-year-old Maiden. The winner had been pulled up on heavy ground at Hereford in February, but seemed more at home on this surface and was given a confident ride before catching the long-time leader Wilcox and Co at the 16th,

The first leg of a double for David Brace and Bradley Gibbs when Gats and Co takes the Maiden

Later, Brace and Gibbs teamed up to take Division I of the Veterans Race with Robin des People. A prolific winner between the flags earlier in his career the 11-year-old seemed to benefit from a return to Pointing and was one of three horses in with a chance on the final bend.

Ballykan and Model Cloud were vying for the lead at this point but Gibbs timed his run to perfection on Robin des People and the partnership swept clear of their rivals over the final two obstacles.

Robin Des People provides the second leg of a double for Brace and Gibbs

The Skinners sponsored Ladies Open went the way of Dubai Quest and Gina Andrews but it was by no means the cake walk it looked on paper. Aqua Dude and Eleonor Williams led for much of the contest but were hampered by a loose horse and lost significant ground at halfway.

The combination was back in front going out onto the final circuit but were being shadowed by Shometheway and Dubai Quest. Gina Andrews’s mount looked in trouble at the fourth from home but she galvanised her mount around the final bend and quickly opened up a significant advantage.

What looked like a comfortable success suddenly became less likely as a mistake at the penultimate put the leader on the back foot and with Aqua Dude’s departure, Shometheway was able to reduce the leader’s advantage in the final furlong.

Gina Andrews and Dubai Quest clear the last ahead of Shometheway

Jack Teal brought Daly An Sceil down from Yorkshire for the Intermediate and the long journey paid dividends when Teal’s mount hit the front at the end of the back straight and this progressive mare ran out an impressive winner. The runner up Minella Wizard would have been a lot closer if he had not made a major mistake halfway down the back straight.

Daly an Sceil and Jack Teal travelled down from Yorkshire to take the Intermediate

To crown a fine day for Welsh stables, the Mikey Bowen trained and Josh Barber ridden More Bucks took Division II of the Veterans. This partnership led from the start and jumped impeccably throughout and had sufficient reserves to hold the challenges of Oscar Lantern and Minella Friend and provide 16-year-old Barber with his first success on his fourth ride.

Another first time winner – Josh Barber and More Bucks at the last

MEMBERS

1ST           BALLYBOKER BREEZE                                       Z BAKER

2ND          MISS SEAGREEN                              

3RD          TRIO FOR RIO

12 RAN

4 & 5 YEAR OLD MAIDEN

1ST           FLAMING AMBITION                                      T P ROCHE

2ND          ADJOURNMENT

3RD          THE EMINENT GOOSE

7 RAN

6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION I

1ST           GATS AND GO                                                    B GIBBS

2ND          WILCOX AND CO

3RD          FOOTLOOSE

13 RAN

6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION I

1ST           TWIG                                                                     B MORGAN

2ND          LARGY MOUNTAIN

3RD          POST NO BILLS

12 RAN

6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION III

1ST           DANNY ARCHER                                                MISS E JEFFERSON

2ND          ROSE ILAND

3RD          PARTY TUNES

13 RAN

MENS OPEN

1ST           VIVALDI COLLONGES                                      B BROMLEY

2ND          CONINGSBY

3RD          PHOENIX ROCK

3 RAN

LADIES OPEN

1ST           DUBAI QUEST                                                    MISS G ANDREWS

2ND          SHOMETHEWAY

3RD          MASTER BAKER

8 RAN

INTERMEDIATE

1ST           DALY AN SCEIL                                                   J TEAL

2ND          MINELLA WIZARD

3RD          DR RHYTHEM

18 RAN

VETERAN CONDITIONS – DIVISION I

1ST           ROBIN DES PEOPLE                                          B GIBBS

2ND          BALLYKAN

3RD          MODEL CLOUD

8 RAN

VETERAN CONDITIONS – DIVISION II

1ST           MORE BUCK’S                                                   J BARBER

2ND          OSCAR LANTERN

3RD          MINELLA FRIEND

7 RAN

It did not take long for West Midland stables to get their name on the score sheet when the season recommenced on Monday afternoon with James Ridley carrying the Area flag at Revesby Park in Lincolnshire.

The Kempley based trainer saddled Crews Pitch in Division I of the Flat Race, and after leading on the first bend Zac Baker was content to share the lead with Escoltador for the first circuit and was able to maintain a prominent position as their rivals dropped away when they took the lead at the end of the back straight.

Jack McGrath and Sharon Wilson’s youngster looked in trouble as Granny Mags and Optical Girl moved into challenging positions with a furlong to run, but no sooner had they appeared on Crews Pitch’s girths than Baker’s mount extended his stride and drew clear to secure an impressive win.

Zac Baker and Crews Pitch after their win at Revesby Park

The 5-year-old had been pulled up at Chaddesley before Christmas, but the trainer admitted that with hindsight he had probably run him on the wrong ground. “He does everything impressively at home but I probably got that call wrong”.

Despite running a bit green the winning jockey stated “He was a different horse on this ground, and I suppose James might look at a Maiden for him now.

North Cotswold qualified horses have certainly hit the ground running since the sports resumption and Midnight Chill caused an upset in the Ladies Open at Charing. Faced with just three rivals Claire Hardwick’s mount faced stiff opposition in the shape of the Alan Hill trained Laurium and Gina Andrew’s mount King of the Clothe.

The former set the pace and the order remained unchanged until the Sam Canning trained Midnight Chill moved to challenge Laurium at the top of Charing Hill. These two quickly opened up a clear lead over King of the Clothe who was struggling to reel in the leaders.

Hardwick’s mount shot clear at the penultimate and put the issue beyond doubt by extending his advantage all the way to the line. The jockey confirmed afterwards “the horse was brought out of Jamie Snowden’s yard in the autumn with the stipulation that he only runs in Point to Points. I have been dreaming that I could have one last good one to ride and this could be it”. It is hard to believe that this was Hardwicks first success for almost two years.

Lucy Turner teamed up with the Tor Collins trained Zamparelli to land the Hunter Chase at Ludlow’s mid-week meeting to get the Broadway based trainer off the cold list. The shorter trip seemed in Zamparelli’s favour as she was last during the early stages but came through to dispute second at the third from home before forging clear to land this prize for owner Sarah Dawson.

EARLY START AT MAISEMORE PARK

The determination of the Maisemore Park race committee saw them overcome major challenges before their first fixture went ahead on 25th October.  It is hard to imagine that 23 weeks later the second meeting at this popular riverside venue faces similar problems with both National and Local restrictions still in place.

Point-to-Pointing is not alone in facing the challenges of the Covid Crisis but what is remarkable is that an “amateur sport”, run by volunteers has overcome every obstacle placed in their path to ensure it survives and emerges stronger in the future.

It is even more remarkable that meetings are held behind closed doors but this does allow the sport to emerge from its enforced hibernation. Each race committee has shown co-operation and adaptability and combined with Peter Wright’s leadership has provided a viable program for the remainder of the season.

This meeting was originally scheduled for Sunday 28th March when the meeting could not have taken place, but to provide opportunities for owners, trainers and riders that have been lacking since the New Year lockdown it was quickly rearranged for Tuesday (30th March), when the rules were relaxed.

Due to the large number of entries (187) the start time has been brought forward to 12 noon, with the first Pony Race at 10-30 a.m. Point-to-Point Races will be run at half hour intervals to accommodate potential divisions after declarations have taken place.

Four meetings are scheduled for the two-day period immediately after lockdown, but the Ledbury entry is more than double the total received by the other three meetings, Hurworth (76), Revesby (87) and Charing (79).

The programme starts with a combined Members Race featuring horses qualified with the Ledbury, Cotswold, Cotswold Vale, Heythrop and Monmouthshire and this has proved popular with 21 entries from the five organisations involved.

The Ledbury look to hold a strong hand with Ballyboker Breeze, Trio for Rio, Chase Me, Miss Seagreen and No Limitations colours nailed to that mast.

Ballyboker Breeze lack of a recent run could prove problematic, whereas Trio for Rio holds Miss Seagreen on their running in a Ludlow Hunter Chase a few weeks ago, and that form is better than most.

The Heythrop have two worthy representatives in Blackwater Bramble and Pithivier but this looks a tough race so they may struggle, while Thumb Stone Blues looks the best of the Cotswold Vale representatives.

A lot has happened since the last West Midland Area meeting on 6th December with Alex Edwards turning professional, while the Area’s leading trainer Mel Rowley now has a Rules license.

Both hold substantial leads in their respective championships, but with four meetings remaining, their rivals have the opportunity to claw back the deficits – whether they are able to do so is another matter.

Phil Rowley has reassumed responsibility for the Point-to-Pointers at the family’s Morville yard and normal service should quickly be re-established in the 4 & 5-Year-old Maiden.

This race is dominated by runners from “sales” stables who use these events to market their wares, and that includes Rowley’s representative No Authority who is sure to give a good account of himself.

Only one of the fourteen runners have any racecourse experience which means that the Fran Nimmo trained Adjournment has an advantage over most of his rivals. He sets the standard as he was narrowly beaten on his racecourse debut at Larkhill last March and looks to have a major chance.

The Lacey’s Woolhope yard took the honors at the Wiltshire venue and they also have a runner in this race. They have an impressive strike rate in this type of event but other stables have got on the bandwagon and these races have become more competitive. Algesiras could join the long list of winners to emerge from the Herefordshire yard.

Lacy’s near neighbor Clive Boultbee-Brooks has proved adept in his new role of training Pointers and will be hoping that Guinness Village proves better than his rivals with the market providing the best guide to his chances.

Tom Ellis saddles Another Mystery and any runner from this yard must be treated with respect, while West Country trainer Chris Barber has four horses entered in the Boundary Stables Partnership colours.

Hindlip trainer Tom Weston relies on Stumps or Slips and Walk in Clover, while the Peter Mason trained The Eminent Goose is another that catches the eye.

The 6-year-old and upwards Maiden has attracted 56 entries but the organizers have decided to wait until declarations before contemplating divisions.

This race is likely to prove a mine field for punters as the race looks a lottery. Most of them have similar profiles and if you ran the race 10 times you would probably get 10 different results.

Barley Hill finished second over the course in October but has been pulled up twice since, while Brother Byrne was racing prominently and going well until he fell at Barbury and must go close with a clear round.

Congalolo (Tom Ellis) has many things in his favour, while Jason Warner’s newcomer Finley’s Eyes has several placings to his credit.

Jimmy Snipe could make his racecourse debut and it will be interesting to see how he fares against these opponents, whereas Largy Mountain has been knocking at the door on his last four outings.

Master Sam Bellamy’s recent runs show that he is progressing in the right direction, while the ex-Irish Post No Bills will need to step up on recent efforts to prevail.

Rose Illand finished third over this course 5 months ago, and looks sure to be well supported, but Shamilan’s form stands up to the closest scrutiny.

George Daly did little wrong when this partnership was last seen out at Chaddesley Corbett but they came out the wrong side of a long and protracted duel with Rising Snake and were a short head behind the winner at the finish. The horse’s connections have a long association with this meeting so it is a pity there will not be a partisan crowd to cheer them home.

Entries for Open races at these early meetings have proved disappointing and only 13 horses have entered at Maisemore.

Bradley Gibbs pairing of Rio Bravo and Highway Jewel can add to their tally, although Diplomate Sivola won well for his new connections at Barbury but may not have the skill set to trouble Gibbs’s selection, while Benefit of Luck’s form has gone downhill over the last 12 months.

Mickey Bowen is a chip off the Peter Bowen block and it will be interesting to see if he can revive the careers of More Buck’s and Phoenix Rock, while Phil Rowley will be hoping to get Vivaldi Collonges back to winning ways.

The Skinners sponsored Ladies Open looks at the mercy of the Gina Andrews ridden Dubai Quest who is unbeaten in his last four outings. Master Baker had good form last season but has struggled to maintain his high rating but will be there to take advantage if the favorite has an off day.

Aqua Dude and Court Minstrel are potential mounts for Eleonor Williams but both look on the downgrade which means the likes of Hey Bill, Hit the Highway and West Hardin could pick up one of the minor placings.

Shiskin impressed at the Cheltenham Festival and her half-sister Shometheway is an interesting entry for the Ladies. She was pulled up on heavy ground at Leicester and will appreciate less testing conditions and we all know that Clive Bennett likes to have a winner at Maisemore.

Waterloo Warrior never runs a bad race but has suffered two narrow defeats this season including one over this course in October. He is sure to give you a good run for your money but a 10 lb penalty tips the scales in his rivals favour.

These include Daly An Sceil who has to be feared if making the journey down from Yorkshire, while any horse owned by Judy Wilson and trained by Stuart Morris has to be placed on the short list.

Ryans Fancy scored on the opening day of the season and is capable of taking the next step up the ladder while the odds are in No Limitations favour in connections sidestep engagements earlier in the afternoon.

The Conditions (42 entries) is another race that is likely to require division, although several entries have other options elsewhere on the card.

Big Casino scored for Emma Alvis at October’s meeting when this gallant veteran showed the exhuberence of a horse half his age and back on familiar terriority he could regain the winning thread.

Chase Me has been kept on the go in Hunter Chases while Point to Pointing has been shut down so it would be no surprise if the return to smaller obstacles proved beneficial.

Diamond King finished third behind Trio for Rio in a Ludlow Hunter Chase so he could be one to follow, while According to Harry, Azure Fly, Ballykan and Midnight King all look capable of taking a hand at the finish.

10 A.M START FOR HARKAWAY MEETING

The decision to cancel last Sunday’s South East Hunt Club meeting at Charing, highlighted the challenges facing organizing committees in the Covid Crisis, with a last-minute political decision thwarting the organiser’s efforts.

As we would expect, these rules are kept under constant review, but unless there are significant changes over the Christmas period, next Mondays (28th December) Harkaway Club fixture at Chaddesley Corbett should go ahead as planned.

Some meetings have used 48-hour declarations, but for this fixture they will be done on the day using Level 1-3 system, which means the declaration form needs to be filled in prior to arrival and handed in at least 60 minutes before the scheduled time for each race.

With 179 entries the meeting will now start at 10 a.m. but only the ROR & The Jockey Club Veteran Horse Conditions have been divided at the entry stage.

It must have been a borderline decision regarding other races because the Print Concern Supports the NHS Restricted has 26 entries and a safety factor of 16, while the Tattersalls Cheltenham Maiden has 24 entries with the same safety factor of 16.

The Novice Riders has 32 entries and a safety factor of 20 so must be in danger of division on the day, whereas the Ladies Open 25 (20 SF) and 6-year-old and upward Maiden 22 entries (18 SF) are unlikely to suffer the same fate.

With such a large number of participants it is likely to be a very busy day, so it is suggested that declaration forms are submitted as soon as possible after arrival to aid potential divisions and to avoid any unforeseen problems.

There is quality as well as quantity on show in the Men’s Open where 15 of the 17 entries have a rating of 100 or over which sets a very high standard.

Shantou Flyer finished third in last year’s Cheltenham Foxhunters but 12 months prior to that had finished runner up to Hazel Hill at Prestbury Park so the clash between these two heavyweights will be worth going a long way to see.

The latter should have a fitness advantage having finished second earlier in the month, whereas his rival may need this race to blow the cobwebs away.

Jatiluwih is in the same ownership as Shantou Flyer but he blotted his copybook at Barbury two weeks ago and may need better ground to be seen at his most effective.

Porlock Bay looked a useful recruit after an effortless win at Kimble but that was other 2-1/2 miles and this race is likely to put an emphasis on stamina rather than speed.

Beau Sancy, Black Valentine, Deans Road and Navanman will be there to pick up the pieces so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Jatiluwih and Shantou Flyer both have alternative engagements in the Ladies Open and appear to have plenty in hand over The Dellercheckout. Immy Robinsons mount was putting in his best work at the finish of the Barbury International Mixed Open and is sure to give a good account of himself, although a word of caution his worst performance last year was on heavy ground.

Allblak des Places, An Scairp, Ange des Malberaux, Pass the Hat and Sonofpresenting are others with reasonable form, while Shometheway looks to have it all to do. That remark applied to last week’s winner Miss Seagreen but she stepped up to the mark and Clive Bennetts runner could cause another surprise.

The Tattersalls Cheltenham Maiden has attracted its normal plethora of entries from the Rowley, Nimmo, Ellis and Yardley stables. The Rowley’s do not fire many duds in these types of events, but 5-year-old Francolin has to concede 7 lbs to some of his rivals and that may be beyond him at this stage of his career.

Fran Nimmo holds several entries (Gold of Win Potier, Hooky Street, Rhetoric or The Whiskey Man) and their selection will be hard to beat.

Tom Ellis broke Mel Rowley’s monopoly of these types of races at Barbury Castle and stable confidence in either The Rosary Flyer or Honestlyntrufully will no doubt be reflected in the betting.

Laura Gretton has chosen this contest for Iggy Iggins debut, while Ross on Wye trainer Emma Yardley could saddle either Guatemala Le Dun or Wudyastopasking. The former has had three runs in France and been placed on two occasions including in heavy conditions at Toulouse earlier this year.

Nicky Sheppard’s One Fer Mamma put up a workmanlike performance behind Harpers Brook at the last Chaddesley meeting and can be expected to improve, while Clive Boultbee Brookes saddled Racing Snake to win at the same fixture so the big question is can Mr Melda follow up his stablemate’s success.

The concluding 6-year-old and upwards Maiden looks tailormade for Shamilan who suffered a short head defeat to Racing Snake and with similar conditions expected next Monday should go close.

I’m Wiser Now was collared in the shadows of the post at Barbury. Hannah Lewis’s mount hit the front a long way from home that day so she may need to use waiting tactics to avoid a similar fate.

You leave any Rowley runner out at your peril and Banana Joe’s performance at Kimble 6 weeks ago gives him a good chance in this event, although the stable could run Raffle Ticket who will benefit from last season experiences.

Tommie O’Brien gave a master class when guiding Hawkhurst to victory at the Wheatland where Roc D’Aspis finished 3-lengths behind them. Alan Hill’s runner has to give another 3 lb to his rival but will that be enough for Victoria Sollitt’s mount to gain his revenge in Division I of the ROR and The Jockey Club Veteran Horse Conditions.

Barney Dwan and Diplomatic Sivola were inseparable for most of the second circuit at Barbury until the latter went clear in the closing stages. There was a lot to like about that performance and the Sally Randall trained gelding could gain compensation in this race.

Golden Tobouggan returned from a long layoff to score at Maisemore and should get the better of Bayley’s Dream and Morpet, while The Well Road may not be the force, he once was but along with Ucello Conti, both are capable of causing a surprise.

Haymount looks the one to follow in Division II of the Veteran Horse Conditions. He has finished behind The Dellercheckout and Shantou Flyer in recent outings and that form should be good enough to claim the spoils.

Midnight King also has respectable form along with Summer Sounds and Three Faces West. Gold Opera carries the Rucker colours; he has been plying his trade under Rules and this run will give us an indication of his potential between the flags.

Chase Me showed fine battling qualities to get up and share the spoils with Inchholm over course and distance earlier in the month and those traits will stand him in good stead if it is another close finish.

Fifty Shades and Hotel Du Nord have both impressed in Novice Riders events over the past month with the former winning at Barbury while the latter scored at Wadebridge.

The Cornish venue and Chaddesley are poles apart, with the former having a long uphill pull for the final half mile, while the Worcestershire course is all downhill – that may not play to his strengths.

Novice Riders by definition are still learning their trade and some jockeys have the tendency to go too early at Chaddesley while others leave it too late, so any course form is obviously beneficial.

Roc D’Aspis may have a better chance in this company than earlier in the afternoon, a remark that also applies to Barney Dwan. Sisol finished third on this course earlier in the year but preference is given to Sir Mangan who impressed with Ben Sutton in the saddle when winning at Kimble before they were beaten by Radon Top at Wadebridge.

The Restricted provides a puzzle for punters at the start of the card. So Socksy scored at Barbury and looks capable of making the step up in grade. Bold Gesture has a reasonable level of form as do Starsky, Where’s Wilma and Oscars Fame.

The Odissey missed last year and it is not difficult to find holes in his form prior to that. He has the benefit of Mel Rowley’s training and Alex Edwards in the saddle which could result in the local stable keeping up their winning run at this venue.

FIRST WINNER FOR LUCY SMITH AT LARKHILL

Miss Seagreen reserves her best performances for Larkhill as three previous visits to Wiltshire have yielded two wins and a second but despite this enviable record, she looked to have a stiff task against Southfield Theatre in the Avon Vale Ladies Open,

With a run already under their belt Lilly Bradstock adopted their normal place in the front rank but had Ueueteotl for company for most of the race.

Breasting the hill Hannah Lewis moved Clive Bennetts mare into the leader’s slipstream and made Southfield Theatre look pedestrian as they stormed into a 5-length lead.

Hannah Lewis and Miss Seagreen clear the last on their way to victory in the Ladies Open

That advantage was maintained over the next couple of fences and as they straightened up for the judge the partnership appeared to have the race in safe keeping, but the mare’s lead was challenged as Southfield Theatre renewed his effort at the final obstacle.

Miss Seagreen is challenged by Captain Bucks (left) and Southfield Theatre (right) as they approach the line

Having shown speed to take the lead, Miss Seagreen now had to display courage and she was able to pull out all the stops to hold the favourites efforts on the flat.

Miss Seagreen is accompanied into the winners enclosure by Lucy Smith

Responsibility for the horses at Clive Bennetts Blacklands Farm in the heart of the Ledbury country are split 50/50 between Lucy Smith and Sam Jukes. After landing her first win with her first runner Lucy explained this scenario had come about because Sam intends to apply for a full licence next year, while Lucy will remain in charge of the yards Point-to-Pointers.

Lucy has been assisting Jukes for seven years and while her name may be unfamiliar to some, she is in fact, the daughter of Gold Cup winning jockey Terry Biddlecombe.

With Clive Bennett unable to attend she confirmed that he had watched the race via Live Streaming and she would need to consult the planner before deciding on the mares next objective.

Connections were full of praise for Hannah Lewis (who was riding her 92nd winner) and for the horse who was making her first venture into Open company. The trainer confirmed they will do all they can to provide Hannah with her 100th winner.

The jockey enthused about Miss Seagreen “She is such a game mare and I probably got there too soon. She is so game and Southfield Theatre rechallenging on the flat probably helped my cause as I had a job to pull her up”.

Mel Rowley bounced back from last week’s disappointments at Chaddesley with Salvatore scoring an impressive win in the Men’s Open.

Several of the fancied runners including Pauls Hill, Coningsby, Trio for Rio and Salvatore came to the fore as the runners came back into view, but two fences later and Alex Edwards and Will Biddick’s mount began to open up a clear advantage.

Coningsby was unable to respond as Salvatore swept into a clear lead which he maintained all the way up the run in.

The winning jockey was impressed by this performance “He is such a legend. I think that is 10 races he was won and he is only 7. He will come on for that run. I did not expect him to win like that and he has improved again over the summer”.

Salvatore and Alex Edwards prove too good for their rivals in the Mens Open

Edwards also explained that both Hazel Hill and Wishing and Hoping who had suffered unexpected defeats at Chaddesley were both fine after last week’s exertions.

Salvatore is clear of Coningsby (centre) while the eventual third Trio for Rio is on the right

Clive Boultbee Brookes Trio for Rio finished an encouraging third a head behind Coningsby, with Tommie O’Brien reporting the horse had run well until blowing up 4 out and recommending a return visit to the course in early January.

The owner did have cause to celebration with L’Incorrigible overcoming a long absence to win a Doncaster Novice Hurdle earlier in the day.

No Limitations had a second to Miss Seagreen at Didmarton on his C.V. plus a third place behind Organised Solution at Maisemore, a level of form which his rivals struggled to match in Division II of the Conditions.

Low sun resulted in the removal of three fences on the side of the course and 6 in total, so after the fence at the top of the hill had been negotiated, jumping became an irrelevance until the final obstacle.

No Limitations was 5-lengths behind the leaders at this point where Alternatif, Thereyarsee and Minim Mouse were vying for the lead while Always Lion was creeping into contention.

Bradley Gibbs and No Limitations moved up into a challenging position two furlongs from home and saved lengths by claiming the inside berth on the final bend, which meant they were able to match strides with Minim Mouse at the final obstacle.

No Limitations and Bradley Gibbs hold Minim Mouse’s challenge on the flat

Halfway up the run in it looked as though No Limitations had claimed the prize but Chloe Emsley and Minim Mouse fought back but were still a head behind as they passed the judge.

Suitably masked up Emma Yardley (right) with No Limitations in the winners enclosure

Winning trainer Emma Yardley said afterwards “Its brilliant to get a winner on board. I have about 5 Pointers while my partner Ryan Potter has 15 to run under Rules from our yard at Caradoc near Ross on Wye.

“Owner Laurna Vaughn has been very loyal to Ryan and I, so it is nice to provide her with a winner. She has had to be very patient as the horse has taken a couple of years to come to himself. We might have a go at Novice Hunter Chases after Xmas”.

James King and Always Lion were putting in their best work at the finish to finish third after an absence of several years, which was encouraging for owner Jason Warner who describes the 10-year-old as “having legs of glass”.

Earlier in the afternoon Tommie O’Brien teamed up with the Tom Lacey owned and trained Scipion and guided him into second place in the 4 and 5 year old Maiden. The youngster acquitted himself well and was in fact disputing the lead at the third from home but they had no answer when Will Biddick and Famous Clermont claimed the lead at the next.

Cashmoll gave a good account of herself in Division II of the Restricted, but she just failed to reel in the long-time leader Happy Larry.

Zac Baker settled his mount in mid field and the partnership were 10-lengths off the pace at the top of the hill and seemingly fighting a losing battle as they had made no further progress until approaching the penultimate.

Cashmoll and Zac Baker (left) at the last, but they just failed to catch Happy Larry on the flat

The mare was now getting into full stride and passed a couple of tiring horses on the final bend and had improved sufficiently to claim second place entering the home straight.

Happy Larry still had a 2-length advantage at the last but Cashmoll continued to press her claims for victory but eventually ran out of time.

AVON VALE RESULTS

4 & 5 YEAR OLD MAIDEN

1ST       FAMOUS CLERMONT                              W BIDDICK             9-4

2ND      SCIPION

3RD      TROOPER JONES

LADIES OPEN

1ST       MISS SEAGREEN                                         MISS H LEWIS          6-

2ND      SOUTHFIELD THEATRE

3RD      CAPTAIN BUCKS

MENS OPEN

1ST       SALVATORE                                                A EDWARDS            EVENS

2ND      CONINGSBY

3RD      TRIO FOR RIO

RESTRICTED – DIVISION I

1ST       SECOND TIME AROUND                        W THIRLBY             5-1

2ND      GREY GETAWAY

3RD      MONTARLO

RESTRICTED – DIVISION II

1ST       HAPPY LARRY                                            J TURNER                14-1

2ND      CASHMOLL

3RD      THECHASEISON

CONDITIONS – DIVISION I

1ST       APPLES QUEEN                                          MISS N PARKER                  14-1

2ND      TROJAN STAR

3RD      EMERALD CHIEFTAN

CONDITIONS – DIVISION II

1ST       NO LIMITATIONS                                      B GIBBS                                 3-1

2ND      MINIM MOUSE

3RD      ALWAYS LION

MAIDEN – 6 YEAR OLD AND UPWARDS

1ST       MAITREE EXPRESS                                    S WALEY COHEN              EVENS

2ND      JASMIN DES BORDES

3RD      COTTON ROCK

 

Those who preferred Live Streaming from a comfy armchair in front of a warm fire definitely got the better of the bargain as those people who were allowed to attend the Barbury International meeting suffered with cold, damp and miserable conditions which worsened throughout the day.

Despite the presence of bookmakers in both zones, the market lacked a competitive edge and this resulted in some extraordinary SP’s, especially in the Mixed Open where Marcle Ridge, who had finished 6th in last year’s Foxhunters started at 10-1, while Jatiluwith a wide margin winner at Bishops Court was returned the odds-on favourite, and The Dellercheckout went off at 5-2.

West Midland supporters must have been astonished by the bookmaker’s generosity because Marcle Ridge was never headed, with Hannah Lewis giving the horse an exemplary ride on their first outing together.

Experience has proved that front running tactics suit Clive Bennett’s 8-year-old and apart from a couple of minor errors the performance was faultless.

As the runners emerged from the gloom at halfway, Marcle Ridge was still setting a strong pace but was being chased by Tuff Nano and Cultivator while Jatiluwith was hot on their  heels.

Will Biddicks mount lost touch as the field started the climb towards the 12th and Jatiluwith was well out of contention when pulled up soon afterwards.

Front running performances always catch the eye but make horses vulnerable at the end of a race because they have failed to maintain sufficient reserves. This was never a major cause for concern for Hannah Lewis who piled on the pressure as Tuff Nano and Cultivator continued their harrowing tactics.

Immy Robinson and The Dellercheckout moved into fourth half a mile from home but were always struggling to bridge the gap, which meant that Marcle Ridge came out of the final dip with a 5-length advantage.

The opposition began to feel the pressure at this point because the leader kept up his relentless gallop before blemishing his copybook with an error at the final obstacle.

Marcle Ridge and Hannah Lewis put their rivals to the sword in the Mixed Open

This crowned a wonderful weekend for Clive Bennett and trainers Sam Jukes and Lucy Smith, who had scored with Miss Seagreen at Larkhill the previous day.

Jukes was keen to emphasise this was very much a team effort at Blacklands Farm. “It has taken a long time to get to know how to ride him. I have known Hannah for a long time and I thought her style would suit him. She is keen to get to her 100th winner (hopefully this season) and we will do all we can to help her. He is a big galloping type and the course played to his strengths. It is sad that Clive cannot be here but he is watching at home”.

Hannah Lewis, Sam Jukes and Lucy Smith with Marcle Ridge

Lewis was unlucky not to complete a double as I’m Wiser Now was caught in the final strides of Division I of the older Maiden by Ifyoucanseemenow.

Didn’t I do well !

Clive Bennett and Jim Collett have been lifelong supporters of the sport and the latter who celebrated his 85th birthday the previous day was another to take advantage of Live Streaming, and hoping I’m Wiser Now could claim victory.

The favourite was tucked away at the back of the field for the first circuit but made such rapid progress from the 11th that they were in front two fences later.

I’m Wiser Now was battling it out with Eastern Promise and Boygochasing at the end of the back straight but had taken their measure before mistake at the second from home halted their progress.

Lewis’s mount was still in front at the last but had nothing in reserve when Nick Phillips and Ifyoucanseemenow stormed up the run in to claim the prize in the final 25 yards.

Ifyoucanseemenow and Nick Phillips (nearside) grab I’m Wiser Now in the final strides

Mel Rowley took both Divisions of the Flat Race with Autumn Equinox landing the first, while stablemate He’s a Knowall scored an impressive win in Division II.

Autumn Equinox, a son of September Storm was in the first three throughout but was caught on the outside as Rose Above it and Little Pretender battled it out turning back towards home.

That proved a benefit in disguise because the winner then had the running rail to guide him and was able to claim victory 50 yards from home.

Autumn Equinox provides Alex Edwards with the first leg of a double

He was brought for 24,000 gns at Goffs Land Rover Sales in 2018, while the winner of Division II was brought privately at Goffs Spring Sales the same year.

He’s a Knowall and Fountains Chief had the race to themselves during the final half mile, but Alex Edwards’s mount shot into a clear lead bypassing two out and extended his advantage with every stride as they raced towards the judge.

He’s a Knowall sprints to victory in Division II of the Flat Race

David Minton explained afterwards “Phil sneaked off to buy him privately from Paul Cashman. He showed us nothing last year but has filled out dramatically and has improved no end”.

Zac Baker came in for a spare ride on Ingeborg Zilling in Division I of the Mares Maiden. An inmate of Tom Ellis’s stable she would no doubt have been ridden by his wife Gina before she suffered an horrific fall at Cheltenham on Friday afternoon.

Her fractured eye socket and cheekbone are due to be assessed by a specialist in mid-week and connections will then have a better idea for how long she may have to remain on the side-lines.

Ned Fox and Diva du Maquis were vying for the lead until their challenge petered out at the third from home in the Mares Maiden and she should be seen to better effect when conditions improve.

Diplomatic Sivola and Barney Dwan started joint favourites for Division II of the Novice Riders and they proved inseparable for most of the 3-mile journey. They matched one another stride for stride during the second half of the race and it became a two horse race a long way from home.

The scales seemed to tip one way then another before Barney Dwan held a narrow lead in the home straight but Ben Sutton’s mount was soon back on level terms and with his rival tiring the partnership forged clear approaching the final obstacle.

BARBURY INTERNATIONAL

FLAT – DIVISION I

1ST       AUTUMN EQUINOX                                 A EDWARDS                        EVENS

2ND      ROSE ABOVE IT

3RD      HINTERLEITENWEG

FLAT – DIVISION II

1ST       HE’S A KNOWALL                                     A EDWARDS                        EVENS

2ND      FOUNTAINS CHIEF

3RD      STORM CIARA

MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION I

1ST       INGEBORG ZILLING                                 Z BAKER                               1-2

2ND      KATES LANE

3RD      BEES AND HONEY

MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION II

1ST       SO SOCKSY                                                 D ANDREWS                       2-1

2ND      GLIMPSE OF GLADYS

3RD      DIVA DU MAQUIS

MIXED OPEN

1ST       MARCLE RIDGE                                         MISS H LEWIS                      10-1

2ND      TUFF NANO

3RD      THE DELLERCHECKOUT

NOVICE RIDEERS – DIVISION I

1ST       FIFTY SHADES                                            D ELLIS                     3-1

2ND      AZURE FLY

3RD      CHELTENHAM MATI

NOVICE RIDERS – DIVISISON II

1ST       DIPLOMATE SIVOLA                                B SUTTON               6-4

2ND      BARNEY DWAN

3RD      MINELLA FRIEND

6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION I

1ST       IFYOUCANSEEMENOW                           N PHILLIPS              12-1

2ND      I’M WISER NOW

3RD      EASTER PROMISE

6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION II

1ST       DAWNIE BOY                                             B GIBBS                     EVENS

2ND      VAMANOS

3RD      COLLEGE FIELD

 

 

 

DAY OF SURPRISES AT CHADDESLEY CORBETT

Mel Rowley staged a major assault on Sunday’s Wheatland fixture at Chaddesley Corbett by saddling 8 runners, but the Morville trainer faced one of those character-building days with odds on favourites Hazel Hill and Wishing and Hoping being comprehensively beaten in their respective divisions of the Mixed Open, while other runners failed to live up to expectations.

There did not appear to be any excuses for Hazel Hill’s defeat in Division One of the Mixed Open at the hands of 20-1 outsider Highway Jewel.

The 6-year-old mare provided a first winner for Bradley Gibbs and partner Claire Sheriff since their move to Hertfordshire. The mare had run in Irish Point-to-Points before landing a sequence of 4 wins in the Principality last year, but no one foresaw this win as the odds indicate.

Gibbs set out his stall from the start and the partnership soon held a healthy advantage which they extended as they raced by the roadside for the final time. Jockeys can be criticised for giving the leaders too much rope, but Alex Edwards was alive to this situation and quickly moved Hazel Hill into second place.

Halfway down the back straight it was evident Hazel Hill was struggling to make any impression on the runaway leader and that fact was confirmed with Highway Jewel maintaining her advantage on the stamina sapping climb into the home straight and she finished 13-lengths clear of the 2019 Foxhunters winner.

Highway Jewel flies the last to score an upset

“She’s a machine who just keeps galloping and galloping” replied Claire Sheriff when questioned later about possible objectives later in the season “She will probably be kept pointing as connections (The Highway Partnership) are keen on the sport. We wanted to run her in an Intermediate straight after lockdown but we couldn’t find any so decided to run her here”.

Connections were back in the winner’s enclosure 30 minutes later when the winner’s stablemate Premier Magic inflicted defeat on another Rowley odds on favourite runner Wishing and Hoping.

This time the roles were reversed with Alex Edwards making the running on Wishing and Hoping while Bradley Gibbs was the tortoise to Edwards’s hare.

Wishing and Hoping has shown form in these conditions in the past and his supporters had to be optimistic as the favourite maintained a 3-length lead a mile from home, but Gibbs and Premier Magic made their move approaching three out and launched their assault early in the home straight.

They swept into the lead and had the race in safe keeping before stumbling at the last but the partnership was soon back on an even keel and eventually prevailed by 6-lengths. The winner carries the colours of Claire’s father Julian and had scored impressively at Didmarton last March.

Premier Magic doubles up for connections in Division II of the Mixed Open

The stable had further cause for celebration after Fier Jaguen’s “success” in Division I of the 5-year-old and over Maiden, but their pleasure was eventually tempered with disappointment as “the winner” was disqualified.

A host of horses held chances as the runners left the back straight. Forest Chimes and Snowy Oscar had cut out much of the running but had Eascomesbob and Black Aphrodisiac amongst others breathing down their necks as they met the rising ground.

Alex Edwards and Forest Chimes had seen off a succession of rivals up to this point but had nothing left when Fier Jaguen grabbed the lead early in the home straight. He continued to extend the advantage and was left in splendid isolation when Forest Chimes got rid of Alex Edwards at the final obstacle.

 

Bradley Gibbs efforts to keep the partnership intact at the last we all in vain as Fier Jaguen was disqualified for missing a marker

The trophies had been presented before the announcement of the result of a Stewards Enquiry which resulted in the winner being disqualified for missing a hurdle entering the back straight, so the prize eventually went to Earcomesbob from Claire Hardwicks Adelstrop stable.

Connections were hoping for a good run and were pleased with the runners up spot but equally delighted to be awarded the race. It was a first win in the colours for part owner Bob Stowe and Peter and Alison Pritchard.

The day did not start well for the Rowley’s following the defeat of Latitude in the Tattersalls Cheltenham sponsored 4-year-old Maiden. The impressive winner of a 2-mile Flat Race at Maisemore looked difficult to beat based on that performance and her jumping was without blemish.

Jack Andrews and Harper’s Brook set the pace but Latitude moved up threateningly down the back straight and it just looked a matter of time before Alex Edwards pressed the button.

The winner (a 22,000 purchase at Tattersalls Ireland in May 2019) continued to pile on the pressure and increased the tempo again during the final half mile and with Latitude weakening the runners up berth went to One fer Mamma.

Harpers Brook is clear at the last for an impressive win in the Tattersalls sponsored Maiden

The Restricted attracted 13 runners with Well Briefed setting a strong pace throughout but Cousin Pascal moved up into a challenging position and took over the lead down by the 2-mile start.

Kimble Maiden winner Killenkere and Gottagottagetaway both looked dangerous on the home turn and the latter did manage to get on levels terms with the leader at the second from home but Cousin Pascal finally got the measure of his rivals between the final two fences to prevail by 3-lengths.

Cheshire trainer Joe O’Shea explained later “He was found by Don Constable who recommended I buy him so I made a few enquires. He won an Irish Point to Point back in 2018 and has been running under Rules where he was held up and always finished well. I have him for about 8 weeks and he has improved every day. He was passed on Don’s friend Peter Clifton to run in his colours”.

Cousin Pascal provides the first leg of a double for Huw Edwards

Leading West Midland based rider Tommie O’Brien took the riding honours in the second half of the afternoon with successes on Racing Snake in Division II of the 5-year-old and upward Maiden and an easy victory on Hawkhurst in Division II of the Conditions.

Chongalolo led from the start and were still setting a strong pace going out onto the second circuit, where George Daly and Shamilan started their effort, while Tommie O’Brien was biding his time on Racing Snake.

These three dominated the closing stages and there was little between them at the second from home but Congalolo suddenly began to flounder while O’Brien’s mount inched clear approaching the final obstacle.

Tommie O’Brien (nearside) on Racing Snake recovered from this mistake to catch Shamilan in the shadows of the post

There is generally little time to recover when mistakes are made at this crucial time of a race and having gone into the obstacle with a half-length advantage Racing Snake came out of it with a 2-length deficit.

George Daly did nothing wrong on the runner up (a performance that earnt him the Three Counties Equine Hospital Novice Riders prize) but with Racing Snake now back on an even keel O’Brien refused to accept defeat and the partnership got up in the final strides to win by a short head.

O’Brien later explained to Herefordshire Businessman/Farmer and the horse’s owner/trainer Clive Boultbee Brookes. “He was tired at the last but I did not want to put him on the ground so just popped it. I thought I would get there but it was very close. He handled the ground well”. The owner is based in Tom Lacey territory at Woolhope which allowed O’Brien to help with schooling.

Misty conditions prevailed throughout the day, and were particularly testing later in the afternoon but Chase Me’s bright red cap was visible from the start of Division II of the Conditions.

Zac Baker has a good relationship with the 9-year-old son of Mahler and along with Inchcolm these two battled for supremacy from the start which resulted in their rivals dropping away at regular intervals.

The two main protagonists had the race to themselves in the home straight with George Chatterton driving his mount along to repel Chase Me’s challenge at the second from home.

Approaching the last Chase Me began to gain a small but significant advantage but once again the final obstacle proved decisive. Chase Me lost his narrow advantage due to a slightly slower jump than his rival but managed to get up close home to share the spoils.

Chase Me and Inchcolm are inseperable at the last and eventually share the spoils. Winning horse and jockey with trainer James Ridley

Inchcolm was showing improved form while Chase Me provided James Ridley with his first winner since moving to a new yard at Ketford near Ledbury during the summer.

Division II of the Conditions went to the Alan Hill trained Hawkhurst and provided a double for Tommie O’Brien. The horse came back to his best at Kimble before lockdown and O’Brien was sitting motionless as Ucello Conti cut out the donkey work.

The leader held a heathy advantage climbing the final hill, but Hawkhurst found an extra gear in the home straight and swooped past the leader at the second from home and had sufficient reserves to withstand the late and persistent finish of Roc D’Aspis on the run in.

The Rowley’s saddled two runners in the closing Highflyer Bloodstock sponsored 2-mile Flat Race, and no doubt Another Brown Bear and Heeratsunset will show the benefit of that experience in due course.

Superior Glance dominated the race from the start but looked beaten when Darren Andrews moved Lettie Lutz up to challenge in the final furlong but to her credit Hugh Edwards’s filly responded well and managed to get her head in front passing the final obstacle. Lettie Lutz’s then showed her tenacity but despite all her efforts she was still a neck in arrears as they passed the judge with this victory providing the second leg of a double for Huw Edwards.

Huw Edwards and Passing Glance (nearside) fight out the finish with Lettie Lutz

WHEATLAND RESULTS

4-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN

1ST        HARPERS BROOK                                J ANDREWS                 5-1

2ND       ONE FER MAMMA

3RD       LATITUDE

RESTRICTED

1ST        COUSIN PASCAL                                  H EDWARDS                6-1

2ND       GOTTAGOTTAGETAWAY

3RD       KILLENKERE

MIXED OPEN – DIVISION I

1ST        HIGHWAY JEWEL                                B GIBBS                       20-1

2ND       HAZEL HILL

3RD       FIFTY SHADES

MIXED OPEN – DIVISION II

1ST        PREMIER MAGIC                                 B GIBBS                       6-1

2ND       WISHING AND HOPING

3RD       NEW QUAY

5-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION I

1ST        EASCOMESBOB                                   W THIRLBY                  20-1

2ND       BLACK APHRODISIAC

ONLY 2 FINISHED

5-YEAR-0LD MAIDEN – DIVISION II

1ST        RACING SNAKE                                    T O’BRIEN                    7-1

2ND       SHAMILAN

3RD       CHONGALOLO

CONDITIONS – DIVISION I

1ST        INCHCHOLM                           G CHATTERTON                      12-1

            CHASE ME                               Z BAKER                                   5-1

3RD       DOC CARVER

CONDITIONS – DIVISION II

1ST        HAWKHURST                           T O’BRIEN                                3-1

2ND       ROC D’APSIS   

3RD       SILSOL

FLAT RACE

1ST        SUPERIOR GLANCE                  H EDWARDS                            6-1

2ND       LETTIE LUTZ

3RD       OCEANS RED

RACING RESUMES AT CHADDESLEY CORBETT ON SUNDAY MORNING

Point to Point Racing makes a welcome return following the Covid lockdown when the Wheatland stage their re-arranged fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Sunday morning.

Obviously anticipating a large entry after the enforced absence, a decision was taken 3 weeks ago to move the start time forward and that is likely to prove crucial as the Mixed Open and 5-year-old and upward Maiden have already been divided and with 46 entries for the Retraining of Racehorses and Jockey Club Veteran Horse Conditions racing is likely to continue late into the afternoon.

Chaddesley Corbett is a Tier 2 Area where updated rules allowed spectator’s attendance but as Annabel Wadlow, the Joint Secretary of the meeting explained recently “We will only just be out of lockdown, and we are too close to a Tier 3 area.”

“Live streaming will be a key element in enabling owners and spectators to follow the action. Given that lockdown will only just have ended we could not risk getting it wrong and jeopardising future meetings.”

The original meeting on the 8th November received 150 entries but Sundays re-arranged fixture has fared marginally better with 157.

Mel Rowley had won all four of the Tattersalls Cheltenham Maiden qualifying races prior to lockdown and bids to extend that sequence when a maximum of 14 four-year-old Maidens face the starter at 11 a.m.

Latitude and Wille Wonga renew a rivalry which saw them finish first and second in a Maisemore Flat Race and having been beaten 12-lengths it is difficult seeing the later turning the tables over fences.

Fran Nimmo and Tom Ellis’s stables face one another regularly in these types of races and on this occasion Nimmo appears to hold the strongest hand with Adjournment who finished a close second at Larkhill last March catching the eye, while stablemates Foxinthebox and Hooky Street provide back-up.

Ellis may have to play second fiddle with Harper’s Brook or Honestlyntrufully, while Rowley’s other potential runner Tikitov will probably struggle in this company.

Eastnor trainer Nicky Sheppard could saddle One Fer Mamma who could face the Alan Hill trained Craven Bay, The Great Phoenix has to be feared if making the journey down from Yorkshire while Emma Yardley’s newcomer Wudyastopasking has to have a chance on breeding.

The Mixed Open has been divided with 16 in the first division and 15 in the second and both races should prove very informative, as in these uncertain times owners and trainers running plans have to be constantly re-evaluated.

We are in for a major surprise if the finish of Division I is not fought out by Big Casino, Hazel Hill, Organised Solution or The Dellercheckout.

14-year-old Big Casino continues to astound and enhanced his reputation with an impressive win at Maisemore and that gives him a good chance, even in this exalted company.

Organised Solution continues his upward progression and Matt Sheppard was singing this horse’s praises after his Maisemore success but connections could have chosen an easier option because on paper he has something to find against these rivals.

Hazel Hill won the 2019 Cheltenham Foxhunters but was denied a run last year following his last-minute withdrawal due to an irregular heartbeat. At 12 years of age his form may have plateaued out, but it will still take a good one to lower his colours.

The Dellercheckout is five years younger than the likely favourite and he had beaten some useful opponents between the flags before being bogged down in the Haydock mud.

Division II throws together two potential rivals for the Cheltenham Crown in Jatiluwih and Wishing and Hoping.

The former was hardly out of a canter when opening his account at Bishops Court and his Cheltenham pretentions would be enhanced if he could get the better of Mel Rowley’s runner.

Wishing and Hoping did not look that impressive when beating Roc D’Apsis at the Ledbury but his form over the last two seasons has been exemplary and experience over fences could prove crucial.

Arthurs Secret has a chance on his best form but his opponents must ensure he does not build up an early lead because if he does, he is very difficult to peg back.

Flintham is a half-brother to Gold Cup winner Coneygree also has to be respected as do the chances of The Galloping Bear and Victarion.

Hannah Lewis got a good tune out Gottagottagetaway at the Ledbury (where they chased home Organised Solution) and on that form looks a good thing for the Restricted, where he could come up against Winter Holiday who won at the same meeting, albeit in a slightly slower time. R Bren and Phoenix Park have struggled when upped in grade, while Killinkere won easily at Kimble and could be another winner for Tom Ellis.

Division I of the Maiden looks a minefield for punters and is not as predictable as some of the other races on the card.

Most of the potential runners have already had opportunities to open their accounts and have not done so which tells you a lot about their ability.

Black Aphrodisiac finished second in a Hereford Flat Race but has a long absence to overcome, while those with placed efforts between the flags include Macs Frontier, Poncherello and Tous En Coeur.

Division II provides an opportunity for Shamilan although he has had plenty of experience under Rules and failed to get his head in front. At 7 years of age he may finally be in a position to put that record straight and provide George Daly with his first winner.

Boss Baby has several runners up spots to his credit and is one for the forecast, while Levasseur could also get involved. Chongalolo finished third at Garthorpe for Tom Ellis and will have his supporters, while those with long memories will note that Castlebawn is trained and owned by D J Tatlow, who was Champion Point to Point Rider and trainer back in the late 1960’s.

Big Casino has an alternative engagement in the Veteran Horse Conditions, but to give you some idea of the quality involved in this race he is only the third top rated horse with Grand Vision and Silsol above him.

Grand Vision is now 14 years old so his best form has to be behind him and he may have a false rating while Silsol is likely to be ridden by a novice who will be coming up against some very experienced riders.

Chase Me impressed when winning at Larkhill last season so obviously comes to hand early and gets on well with Zac Baker while Ben Bromley can choose between Ucello Conti and Ballykan and the stable selection is bound to go close.

Kaki de la Pree ploughed through the Welsh mud to score at Ffos Las last year and will probably need similar conditions to repeat that feat, while Workbench did little wrong when beaten at Maisemore and with that race under his belt could upset his more fancied rivals.

Jason Warner’s Always Lion missed last year but won a Hurdle at Musselborough prior to that and could causes a surprise if he is fit after such a long absence.

Doc Carver has a course success to his credit which counts in his favour, while Frelia would have galloped all over these rivals earlier in her career. Golden Tobouggan won impressively at Maisemore, while Hawkhurst came back to his best form with Will Biddick in the saddle at Kimble.

No Limitations ran up to expectations at the Ledbury and is another who is sure to trouble the leaders.

Just one of the thirteen entries for the Flat Race has ever seen a racecourse and you would not back Whereuwheeliebin on that performance.

Mel Rowley’s quartet of Autumn Equinox, Another Brown Bear, Fenny Brook and Heeratsunset will have been well schooled and whatever beats them is likely to win.

Arvika Royal is a half-sister to the Fullers Winter Holiday who is likely to run earlier in the afternoon and she is bound to come in for support if her stablemate runs well.

Crews Pitch is likely to benefit from the experience, while Poets Causeway is sure to have been well prepared.

 

WHEATLAND MEETING ATTRACTS 150 ENTRIES

The fate of the Wheatland Point-to-Point hangs in the balance as clarification is sort regarding the sports status during the forthcoming Covid lockdown. Until the situation become clearer it is a case of hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

Some owners/trainers may have automatically assumed that Saturday’s announcement would have resulted in the meetings demise, so it was heartening it received 150 entries which has resulted in the division of the Older Maiden and the Veteran Horse Conditions.

The meeting throws together some interesting clashes which will provide form students with clues as they try to beat their old enemy – the bookmakers.

The Mixed Open has attracted 25 entries with four of them (Barney Dwan, Big Casino, Marcle Ridge and Wick Green) rated over 120, while another 13 are rated over 100.

Marcle Ridge is a confirmed front runner who ran well for a long way in last year’s Cheltenham Foxhunters; he already has form over the course so that is a point in his favour.

14-year-old Big Casino continues to astound and enhanced his reputation with an impressive win at Maisemore and that gives him a good chance, even in this exalted company.

Wick Green is another with a lofty reputation but faces his biggest challenge to date. Barney Dwan scored an impressive win in the Heythrop Ladies and lost nothing in defeat when chasing home Salvatore at Didmarton.

Organised Solution continues his upward progression but connections could have chosen an easier race and on paper he has something to find on some of these rivals.

Roc D’Apsis chased home Big Casino at the Ledbury but that does not look good enough in this company, while Vivaldi Collonges has easier objectives elsewhere on the card.

Mel Rowley has won all four of the Tattersalls Cheltenham Maiden qualifying races this season and will be biding to extend that sequence when the next race in the series takes place at Chaddesley Corbett on Sunday morning.

This race is restricted to 4-year old’s only and the sponsors must be pleased that 18 horses have taken up the challenge.

Latitude and Willwonga renew their rivalry which saw them finish first and second in a Maisemore Flat Race and having been beaten 12-lengths on that occasion it is difficult seeing the later turning the tables over fences.

Fran and Charlie Poste, Chris Barber, Tom Ellis and Tom Lacey stables all have excellent records in these types of events but with a limited betting market confidence may be difficult to assess.

Foxinthebox, Gold of Win Potier and Rhetoric represent the Poste’s Ettington yard, with the Ellis’s relying on Harper’s Brook or Honestlyntrufully, while Tom Lacey’s sole representative Scipion who may give the Rowley runner most to do.

Chris Barbers West Country yard is another to note but Jupiter Rising did not show anything on his racecourse debut, while stablemate Miltiades had every chance until falling four out at Maisemore.

James Ridley could saddle Crews Hill and his run will be watched with interest, while Nickie Sheppard’s Eastnor yard introduces One Fer Mamma who could come up against Laura Gretton’s Passing Secrets and the Sam Stronge trained Poet’s Causeway.

Hannah Lewis seemed to get the best out of Gottagottagetaway at the Ledbury (where they chased home Organised Solution) and on that form looks a good thing for the Restricted.

At the same meeting Winter Holiday showed all the attributes which will carry him to further victories while R Bren, Phoenix Park and Pomme De Nuit have shown they are capable of winning races of this type.

The first division of the 5-year-old and upwards Maiden should concern Barley Hill who chased home Winter Holiday 2 weeks ago and Same Opinion who held every chance until making a mistake and unseating his rider at the penultimate on the same day.

Division II is another tricky contest. Rose Illand did not jump with any fluency when third to Winter Holiday, but there was much to like about her persistence which only faded over the final two fences.

Shamilan has plenty of experience under Rules but has so far failed to get his head in front. At 7 years of age he may finally be in a position to put that record straight and provide George Daly with his first winner.

Big Casino and Vivaldi Collonges both have alternative engagements elsewhere on the cards, but it would not be surprising if connections let them take their chance in Division I of the Veteran Horse Conditions.

Their form is head and shoulders above that of the opposition which includes Man of Steel, Thumb Stone Blues, Upswing and Roc D’Aspis.

Chase Me impressed when winning at Larkhill last season so obviously comes to hand early and gets on well with Zac Baker while The Well Road is sure to run his normal honest race.

The second division looks more competitive and if the connections of Ballykan and Barney Dwan opt for this engagement they might be surprised by the strength of the opposition.

Kaki de la Pree ploughed through the Welsh mud to score at Ffos Las last year and will probably need similar conditions to repeat that feat, while Ozzy Thomas races in the colours of Henry Oliver for whom he had good form under Rules.

Three Faces West, Silsol and Troubled Soul are others for the short list, but Workbench did little wrong when beaten at Maisemore and with that race under his belt could upset his more fancied rivals.

Just one of the fifteen entries for the Flat Race has ever seen a racecourse. Mrs Jones finished sixth on her racecourse debut but will be vulnerable to the rivals faced on Sunday afternoon.

If all else fails always follow stables that have a good record in these types of events.

Mel Rowley’s trio of Autumn Equinox, Castle Keep and Heeratsunset will have been well schooled and whatever beats them is likely to win.

Liberty Rock and Transition Period represent Dean Summersby’s West Country stable, while the East of England based Storm Ciara is sure to go well if making the long journey. Patch Me Up connections are Welsh but luckily Bradley Gibbs moved to new stables in the summer and his connections know how to get a horse fit.