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.