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.