There is an excellent entry of 131 runners for the seven races at the Meynell and South Staffordshire meeting at Garthorpe this Saturday commencing at 2.30. Additionally, there are 47 entries for seven pony races starting at 12.15 so a long and excellent day is in prospect for the North West Area finale for 2016.
The Mixed Open looks a very competitive affair with Battle Range, Champagne Rian, King’s Legacy, My Old Piano, Say No, Time Gentlemen and Thetalkinghorse amongst the entries. Last year’s winner Time Gentlemen disappointed when favourite at Chaddesley Corbett recently whilst King’s Legacy was impressive over a shorter 2 ½ miles at Tabley. Battle Range and My Old Piano have been running well in the Yorkshire area of late. However, the Gerard Bailey trained Thetalkinghorse has won on his last two visits to this track and is taken to shoulder a 10-pound penalty and win here.
The PPORA Novice Riders sees course specialist Lough Inch who also has an entry in the Intermediate. He was outstayed on softish ground by Western Promise at the recent Knutsford Races meeting at Tabley, but should gain his revenge over that rival with the expected quicker ground here. Champagne Rian has struck up a winning chord with Hugh Nugent and won a similar race for the third time in a row at Chaddesley on Monday and will be competitive if running here instead of the Mixed Open. However, if the prolific Tempelpirate runs, he should have too much class for the opposition.
The Intermediate has some interesting improving types but if they turn up here the race should be between the aforementioned Lough Inch and Proximo, who both have excellent winning form for a race of this nature. Proximo from the Stuart Morris yard has won his last two Club Members races at this venue and is slightly preferred.
Dica, Mattara, Niki Royal, Say No and Twentypoundluck look the ones to concentrate on in the opening Club Members Race. Dica was declared for the Cartmel Hunter Chase on Wednesday so may not turn out again so quickly. Mattara has some excellent placed form under Abbie McCain this season but usually finds one too good at the business end.. Say No has only run twice this season and was a well beaten third in an Open behind Thetalkinghorse. Twentypoundluck won a similar race at Heslaker and would have a chance here. Niki Royal may be good enough having run really well of late under his owner/rider David O’Brien, winning at Andoversford and Heslaker before coming second last time out at Tabley to the prolific mare Fruit Fayre.
The Restricted over the shorter trip of 2 ½ miles is a very tricky contest and a case can be made for many of the runners. A sporting each way chance is taken with the easy Higham Maiden scorer Torran Na Dtonn who was a good second subsequently in a Restricted at Kingston Blount to Emgee.
The Maiden for older horses is another competitive affair and Sand Artist ran really well in third behind Shempas Iron at the last meeting here. The Fred Hutsby trained five year old Overly Cautious ran with great promise in a hot Maiden on Monday at Chaddesley Corbett chasing home the runaway winner Cracking Find and if he is turned out again he is likely to prove hard to beat.
The concluding 2 ½ mile Maiden for 4, 5 and 6 year olds features a number of unexposed types who may show improvement. The pick of those on known form is Holy Dancer who was a good runner-up to Odds On Oscar in a similar race here last month.