Garthorpe point-to-point: Who to look out for at season opener

Garthorpe Racecourse EMN-180221-140037002
Garthorpe Racecourse EMN-180221-140037002
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Point-to-point racing returns to the area on Sunday when Garthorpe Racecourse hosts the first of five meetings this season.

There will be at least seven races on the card for the Cottesmore meet, with 160 entries taken and 22 horses rated at 100 or better which hints at high-calibre action.

Punters take a final look at who to back in the Garthorpe parade ring EMN-180221-154032002

Punters take a final look at who to back in the Garthorpe parade ring EMN-180221-154032002

The opening race, the Garthorpe Hunts Conditions, is scheduled for a noon start, with the last race, the Open Maiden, provisionally due off at 3pm.

The going at the course, which is situated on the B676, five miles east of Melton, was rated as soft on Monday, but temperatures are forecast to drop sharply for the weekend.

The Garthorpe Hunts Conditions race is for horses qualified with the hunts with Garthorpe meetings, and several trophies will be up for grabs.

Top-rated of the 12 entries is the Chatfeild-Roberts family’s Love Manhattan which is one of three horses carrying a 5lb penalty.

Race action at Garthorpe EMN-180221-154043002

Race action at Garthorpe EMN-180221-154043002

Nick Wright has Burtredgipandgump and In a Blue Dust, but the latter may run in the nine-year-olds and up race later in the day.

Extreme Appeal will represent Johnny Weatherby and Waltham-on-the-Wolds trainer Kelly Morgan, and with two wins last season they will be one to watch.

* The PPORA Club Members race for Novice riders which follows is a qualifier for the Novice Rider Series Final at the Quorn meeting at Garthorpe in April.

Among the 21 entered are 13 horses with entries into other races so the final line-up will be unknown until declarations are closed on the day.

The best horse on paper is You Too Pet, which won last time out at the Sinnington meeting, but they may run in the nine-year-olds race instead.

The same applies to the Aprahamians’ Bayleys Dream, also a winner last time out.

Competition at the front will likely include L’Eldorado, twice a winner already this season, but they, too, might choose the Ladies’ Open.

Nicky Shepherd may declare Ballycahane which has two firsts and a second this season and should be happy with the ground.

* The winning horse in the Men’s Open will qualify for the Timico Mixed Open Final at Cheltenham on May 4.

The race also has 21 entered, 12 among them rated at 100 or above.

The Rowleys have Now Ben and Temple Grandin, but the latter may well run in the following Ladies’ Open race.

Lotus Pond won over three-and-a-half miles at Barbury in January, but is also entered at another meeting so may not declare.

Robert Waley-Cohen’s Facile Bien hasn’t run at Garthorpe before, but won last time out at Milborne St Andrew so should be expected to feature strongly if the conditions are right.

Cousin Pete also has a win this season and was second last time out in a hunter chase at Market Rasen, carrying 11st 9lb.

Warden Hill was third in that Hunter Chase, and before won the mixed open at Ampton and only has this entry so will probably run.

Course specialist Thetalkinghorse beat Warden Hill here last season, but would prefer faster ground.

* The Ladies’ Open holds a double qualification with the winner qualifying for the Timico Mixed Open final at Cheltenham, and the first two eligible for the Skinner’s Ladies’ Open Final at Stratford, in June.

Fifteen horses are entered and four stand out.

Popaway was looking set to win at Thorpe Lodge in January when she fell at the second-last, and Temple Grandin was pulled up last time out, but has the class to perform here.

Top Smart will likely be Gina Andrews’ ride here, having won last time out in January, and boasts several wins at Garthorpe, while Queen Olivia has beaten Gina here before and will hope to do so again, with Leanda Tickle.

* That Nine-year-olds and over race has 40 entries, many of whom are entered in other races and meetings, with nine rated at 100 or better.

The safety limit is for 20 horses so the race could easily be split.

Of the horses not already mentioned there are plenty with form. Trainer Gerald Bailey has Mr Madeit, while Ardkilly Witness is also entered following his second place to Hazel Hill last time out.

His Excellency is a good chance for the Dawsons, and Gunmoney is another who might represent the Bailey yard. The Paulings’ En Passe has an entry at Badbury Rings on the same day but will be a strong contender if running.

* The Restricted race has 19 entries, several with recent wins.

Damby’s Star and Silent Warrior won at Cocklebarrow in January, Keel Over won at Horseheath earlier this month, and Teeton Turnip did the business at Thorpe Lodge at the Midlands Area Club meeting.

Max O won at the end of last season, in his last run, but may choose the second race here. Tom Ellis will bring Kings Walden, third in the last run, as was Lord’s Park Star.

Mountain Eagle and Urban Storm will both be looking to go one better than their second places last time out, while Castle Cheetah and What A Joke make their point-to-point debuts after careers under rules.

* The last scheduled race on the card is the Open Maiden which, with 32 entries, may also require a split.

There are many unraced horses in this line-up, ranging considerably in age, some having run under rules and others in Ireland.

Aint No Limits tops the list of rated horses, while Jaffna Queen and Cruisinforabruisin, will be carrying a stone less than other horses thanks to allowances.

There is local interest, including the Chatfeild-Roberts’ Dulwich Hill, the Bevins’ Light And Easy, and Laura Pomfret’s Pentridge Hill. One-eyed grey

As well as the races, there will be trade stands, catering, bar, bookmakers and a Tote.

* Advanced tickets are available from midlandspointing.com at £10 per person, or £13 on the gate, with free entry for under 16s.