The second Garthorpe meeting of the season will be hosted by the Belvoir, this Saturday, 25th March.
The going at the course, five miles East of Melton Mowbray on the B676, is currently soft. The weather for the weekend is forecast to be clear and crisp and we have over one hundred entries for the seven-race card.
The first race, sponsored by Teigh Old Rectory Bed and Breakfast, is the PPORA Club Members Race, which starts at 12.30pm and has 15 entered runners. The first three to finish this race will qualify for the Novice Rider Final which takes place at the Melton Hunt Club meeting in May. The top-rated is local favourite Lough Inch but he has two entries at Askham Bryan on the same day and will go for the quicker ground which is likely to be in Yorkshire. Another with multiple entries is Beggar’s Velvet who has the Mixed Open here as an option as well as two races at the VWH meeting. Irish Anthem is also entered in two other meetings and will be looking to atone for unseating his rider last time out at Revesby Park. The winner of that race at the South Wold meeting was Tallow Fair, one of the few horses entered to have won this season so far. Current Exchange has run four times this year so far, most recently finishing second in a Hunter Chase at Fontwell Park. It carries a 7lb penalty and has lots of other entries to choose from. The Gunner Brady was also second last time, but also has a lot of options on Saturday, including the Mixed Open here at Garthorpe. Arkose is one of two possible rides for Will Thirlby in this race and also has the Mixed open option so Will may ride Bertie’s Desire in this one. All things considered we won’t really know what to expect until declarations are made on the day.
There are eight entries for the Garthorpe Hunts Club Members race which follows, kindly sponsored by W. Spence and Son. On recent form the Kelly Morgan-trained Chipmunk is likely to be a leading contender for this one, having won a Restricted race last time out at Revesby. She does also have the option of the Intermediate race here, however, and would carry less weight in that one. Love Manhattan, trained by Helen Connors, has two recent second place finishes which he will be aiming to improve on, under Tom Chatfeild-Roberts. Also in with a shout are Ignite A Light, from in-form Gerald Bailey’s yard, and Merrydown Black, ridden by Sophie Walker for her Grandfather Alan Godrich.
The third race is the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate race and the first four past the post will be qualified for the Championship Final of this series at Cheltenham at the beginning of May. 20 horses are entered, including several entered in other races at this meeting. In theory we could see a sibling head-to-head at the front of this race as Gina Andrews could ride essex raider Quick Oats while her younger brother Jack has the ride on Judy Wilson’s Neumond. The latter won at Horseheath at the end of February so may opt for faster going there, while Nigel Padfield-trained Quick Oats hasn’t run since last June (here at the Meynell meeting) and will also prefer quicker ground under foot. Gina could ride Celtic Silver instead but it also has Horseheath entries. Nelson’s Legend, trained by Pauline Harkin, may run and could be a serious contender under Sam Davies-Thomas although he hasn’t run since last Summer. The Harkin yard also has Exclusive Rights (Claire Hardwick) which has been a little inconsistent but has a second this season. We could also see local interest from previously mentioned Chipmunk, Ignite a Light and Love Manhattan as well as Dream Mistress from the Chris Bealby yard.
The feature race of the day is the Timico Mixed Open race at 2.15pm, which has a prize fund of £1000. The winning horse will be eligible for the Timico Mixed Open Final at Cheltenham on 5th May, while the first two past the post qualify for the Skinner’s Ladies Open Final which is held at Stratford on 9th June. A quality field of 18 could line up for this one. Penmore Hill is top-rated here and likely to be a contender, but it is His Excellency, with Claire Hardwick on board, who has the best recent form with two wins this season on good to soft ground. Other horses with recent form include Hazel Hill, who won at Sheriff Hutton in January and I Wonder Why who won at Revesby for the Bailey yard. Curraigflemens and Numbercruncher are also looking to return to the previous winning ways. As ever the male jockeys will be working hard to get down to the 11st 7lb weight for this race.
The restricted race which follows has been sponsored by Roythornes and has attracted a possible field of 8 runners. Top rated of these is Merrydown Black, if the Walkers choose this race over the Hunts Club Members. Recent form has been there or thereabouts so perhaps the time is right. The form horse in this field is Milson Robinson-trained Hurricane Vic, who won his maiden as recently as 11th March at Revesby Park and will be looking to quickly step up the divisions under in-form Tom Strawson.
The card ends with two maiden races. The first, an Open Maiden, sponsored by Melton Mowbray Tyres, has 17 entries with a number of horses also qualifying for the last race of the day which is a maiden for younger horses. Semper Invicta has had a second this season on similar ground, but did not impress last time out. David Kemp’s Age Of Heroes is eligible for the shorter maiden but is entered here as the owner has another horse of the same age in the next. With a second and third in two runs this season he may well be ready to win. Quizzacle Nomad is another to keep an eye on.
The final race of the day is a shorter, 2m4f, maiden for horses 4,5,6 and 7 years old and is generously supported by M. K Bailey Ltd. Horses who could feature here are Roll Of The Dice, unlucky when hampered at Charing in February; Shamat, third at Ampton last time, and King’s Walden, third at Hackwood Park a fortnight ago. Top-rated Dulwich Hill was second favourite when third at Brocklesby Park behind Demood and Quizzacle Nomad.
As usual at all Midlands courses there will be a range of trade stands of all sorts, including catering outlets and a licensed bar. There will also be plenty of opportunity to have a bet! Entrance is £10 per person. If you purchase an e-ticket in advance from https://www.midlandspointing.com/shop then you will get a free racecard (£3 on the day). The postcode for your satnav is LE14 2RS.