THETALKINGHORSE (Sam Davies-Thomas)

The Meynell and South Staffs at Garthorpe – preview

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The penultimate race meeting of the Midlands area Point-to-Point season is hosted by the Meynell and South Staffs at Garthorpe on Saturday 2nd June, with the first race starting at 2.00pm.

Since the last meeting at Garthorpe all the fences have been moved to fresh ground on the inside of the track. All bends and the racing line all are on fresh ground too. The downhill fence, fence 8 , has been moved to be at the end of the back straight.

The course had 19mm rain on Saturday night and the course will be watered if necessary to provide safe jumping ground. The going was reported as Good to Firm at 2.00pm on May 28th.

As usual at this course there are seven races on the card, beginning with the PPORA Club Members Conditions race at 2pm. 19 horses are entered for this opener, with a number of in-form horses among them. Francesca Nimmo has Derksen down for this one, as well as the Novice Riders race which is third on the card, so the jockey might ride Rendezvous Peak here instead. Dersken has won its last three races and will be a contender in either race. Presenting Beara has won on their last two outings, but is also down for the Novice Riders race. Alan Hill brings Velvet Cognac who was second last time but won the time before that. Lots of other horses in this field are well-rated so declarations for this and other races will give us a better idea on the day.

The Intermediate race is second to go and this has 14 horses entered. Max O is ridden by Philip Armson, one of the area’s most in-form jockeys, and is one of three horses to have won their last two races. The others, Kinlochspelve and Heated Debate, are also likely to feature strongly. Other well-rated chances could be Alottamo, Haut Bages, Lake Ballaton and Mirs Choice but this is likely to be a well-contested race.

At 3.10pm we have the PPORA Club Members Conditions race for Novice Riders, a race which normally features talented and in-form horses being ridden by jockeys with less experience. To illustrate the point two of our entries this year, Bayley’s Dream and Robin Des People, have four and five wins respectively this season. In addition to these, Derksen, Kashmir Peak, Presenting Bear and Tempelpirate have all had successful seasons, so this could be a fabulous field.

The Mixed Open (3.45pm), which follows this also has some talented entries, with five of the 14 horses entered rated at 100 or better. The best two horses on paper are Now Ben and TheTalkingHorse and they will be carrying 12lb more than many of the other horses. Both have multiple wins this season with the latter winning when the two last met head to head. Green Winter has won a couple this season and and Lough Inch loves this course when it is fast. She’s Real has a seven-pound allowance here and that might put them in real contention.

The Open Maiden is always a tricky race to predict, especially towards the end of  a season. Some of these horses have raced a lot without winning, some have not raced at all. In this race, at least,  there are no four-year-olds with big weight allowances.

Restricted races generally pitch a number of similarly-rated horses against each other and this is no exception. Maiden winners last time out include Brereton, Kalinite, Mackie Dee and Sinour but this is a step up in company too. Dulwich Hill could feature in this one for local owner John Chatfeild-Roberts who supports our region so strongly.

The final race of the meeting, and the Garthorpe season, is a conditions race for horses who have not won races other than Members’ or Maidens since November 2016, over 2m 4f rather than the usual three. Oscatara has a string of places this season and will be looking to take advantage here. Bavard Court was promising when second to Rendezvous Peak last weekend at Dingley. Blackwood Rover had a good second to She’s Real over this course and distance earlier in the season. Dulwich Hill may choose this one instead of the Restricted.

This promises to be a great day’s racing on one of the top courses in the country. As usual there will be a strong showing of trade stands of all types and styles; caterers and bars to keep us fed and watered, and bookmakers to try our luck against. Tickets are available in advance for £10 via our website at midlandspointing.com, or for £15 on the day (including a free racecard).

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