The Midlands Area Club meeting marks the start of the point-to-point season in the Midlands Area and will take place at Thorpe Lodge (4m SW of Newark, off A46 – NG23 5PY) on Sunday 28th January. The first race will start at 11am.
Club fixtures are traditionally held to provide trainers with an opportunity to run their horses at a time of year when other fixtures are not scheduled. This fixture has attracted 142 entries with two races which may to be split depending on declarations on the day.
The Midlands season begins with a PPORA Club Members Conditions race at 11am, a race with 35 entries. The top-rated horse entered is Battle Dust, trained by Philip Rowley for Mr & Mrs Laws, but this horse is also entered in the Mens Open so may run here. This nine-year-old was a winner on soft ground last time out at Chaddesley Corbett at the end of December, beating Lilbitluso, also entered in this race, into third. Similarly rated is Mr Madeit, trained by Gerald Bailey for Countess Cathcart, who will be starting for the first time this season. The Mythologist returns to the track after a couple of seasons off and carries a 7lb penalty. Successful local owner John Chatfield-Roberts has She’s Real and Love Manhattan entered in this race but the former is also down for the Mens Open later on the card. Love Manhattan won here in April last year so is one to watch. Stuart Morris has entered Judy Wilson’s Neumond here too: a prolific winner in the past, second in his last run at Guilsborough, last season. The Bevin family have three horses entered here, and elsewhere on the card too, and if any of them run in this then they stand a chance. Bravehearted Harry was beaten last time out by Dido, another entry here, but that was on good ground at Garthorpe at the end of last season. Nick Wright has had an excellent start to this season and he has Burtredgipandgump in this – second last time out at Cottenham – but may choose to go to Higham instead. Sheila Crow may bring Irish Anthem, but is also entered at Larkhill. A lot of horses and a large number of multiple entries in this field. Even if the race is split (the safety factor is 18) we could have some excellent racing.
Twelve entries may contest the Intermediate race which follows and, as usual, many of these are similarly rated. The first two to finish here will qualify for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham in May. Macs Gift looks a good prospect in this one, with Alex Edwards on board. This six-year-old won last time out at Tabley (May 17) with the same jockey. Teeton Power is another contender in this race. Sam Davies-Thomas is in the plate and will hope to take advantage of the 7lb allowance. Another to watch could be Zandino, a winner last time out at the end of last season (on good ground). The Bevins have two entered here. Dynamic Island won his maiden and restricted races in consecutive outings last season so must be worth a look here too. The other, Wayupinthebox, has won this season already, on good ground at Alnwick. Both of these are also entered in the first.
The Novice Riders race follows. This race carries point towards the Harley Racing National Novice Riders Championship and also qualifies the first four horses to finish for the Dodson & Horrell Novice Riders Series Final at the Quorn meeting at Garthorpe on 29th April. The Gredleys’ Just Cause is the stand-out horse among the entries, although it is also entered at Higham so may choose the closer meeting. It has already run three times this season, notching up a second (Barbury) and a first (Cottenham) before unseating his rider at Ampton earlier this month. Challenging Just Cause will be L’Eldorado, another horse with a win already this season, in a great finish at Larkhill. Open Hearted is another promising runner but is also entered in the Mens Open so may not declare here.
The winner of the Mens Open, which follows, will qualify for the Mixed Open Final at Cheltenham on 4th May. The mount of Jack Andrews, last ridden by Nico de Boinville, is Volnay De Thaix, a horse which won £115,000 under rules. He is also entered at Larkhill on Saturday but rumours are he will start here. Also entered are some other excellent horses. Mr Mercurial lacks recent point-to-point form as his last seven runs have been in hunter chases but has to be a major contender for this race. The aforementioned Battle Dust is also entered here, as are Grandturgeon, Thetalkinghorse, Lilbitluso and She’s Real; all rated above the 100 mark. A fabulous contest in prospect.
The first two horses in the Ladies Open will qualify for the Skinner’s Ladies Open Final at Stratford-upon-Avon on 8th June, while the winner also qualifies for the Timico Mixed Open Final at Cheltenham on 4th May. It could be another very competitive affair. Knocklong will be the best horse on paper if they prefer this meeting to that of the Jedforest the day before. Jockey Lottie Crane has two rides booked for this race. For them to win they will have to beat Popaway, the extraordinary mare who, now 13, has won here several times and must consider it as one of their favourite tracks. Challenging them could be Siro Demur, one of a number of Philip Rowley-trained horses on this card, second at Sheriff Hutton a fortnight ago at big odds. On that occasion he was beaten by Global Power, also entered here and another one who should be challenging, as could be Ericht, for the Hendersons, although they have several options here and elsewhere.
The last two races on the card are the restricted and maiden races, both hard to predict at the best of times. The Restricted features Summer Sounds who made all the running last time out to win at Ampton. Merrydown Black should be there or thereabouts and local boy Tom Strawson brings Aldergale who might attract some interest too.
The Open Maiden has 33 runners so will likely be split into two races. There is little form to help us here but two likely candidates could be Act Like You Know and Master Hide but you might do as well to throw a dart at the long list of runners for an each-way punt.
With the numbers of horses entered for the first race and the last it is possible, or even likely, that a race will be split. In this situation race times will be adjusted accordingly but we will communicate any decision as soon as possible via the Midlands Pointing web site, social media or via the public address system on the day.
There will be the usual array of trade stands at Thorpe Lodge, including catering and bar. Tickets are available from the website at a price of £10 per person. Tickets on the gate will be £13 with under 16s admitted free. No race cards are included in the price this year.