Last weekend saw a successful point-to-point meeting at Brocklesby Park, with good crowds enjoying racing which, despite new requirements for equine flu vaccinations, still provided runners across the card.
This week the Midlands Area horse racing season continues with the Cottesmore meeting, on Sunday 24th February. This is traditionally the first of five meetings at Garthorpe racecourse, between Melton Mowbray and the A1, on the B676 (LE14 2RS). The course is in superb condition and the going at the time of writing is good everywhere on the course and a sunny weekend is predicted.
There is a full card of seven horses races starting at midday. Gates will open at 10am to provide access to the trade stands and catering offerings, the bar, and bookmakers. There will be entertainment for children (under 16s are admitted free), and dogs are welcome provided they are kept on a lead at all times.
There are 21 horses entered for the first race, kindly sponsored by Frank Hutchinson Horse Transport and Folk2Folk. Blackwater Bramble stands out from the crowd with three wins in similar races this season, most recently at Larkhill on 26th January, Burtredgipandgump won at this meeting last year and also won in January this season, at Higham.
Lily’s Got Wings won at Barbury at the very start of this season, and the promising Lucarno Express won their maiden at Cocklebarrow three weeks ago. There are a number of winners in this race. Gina Andrews has the choice of three rides in this one, including dual Garthorpe winner Samarnni, while brother Jack has two.
The second race is one for Novice Riders and is generously sponsored by Dickinson & Morris. Of the 17 entries there are runners who have good recent form and others who are returning the track after a break. Locally-trained Minella Friend has two wins this season under jockey George Chatterton. Silvergrove was a four-time winner in the 2017 season before having a season off. Storm Lantern won a race in this series in January at Larkhill.
There are twelve possible runners for the Men Open which follows, sponsored by Saffery Champness. James Henderson may declare Abricot de L’Oasis for this one, though he would probably prefer half a mile shorter in distance. They were beaten at Barbury last year by Cousin Pete, the highest rated horse on this card – he should love the undulations of the Garthorpe course. Facile Bien is a quality horse on good ground, second last year to TheTalkingHorse when it was softer. Net D’Ecosse is another accomplished performer in this field.
The Ladies Open is sponsored by Rutland & Cotswold Builders and could include several of the horses entered for the Mens Open previously. Connections will wait for declarations to decide which they will choose. Gina Andrews has three possible rides here. Haymount is the best rated of these and was victorious over Golden Tobouggan, also entered in this, at Sheriff Hutton. Can Mestret and Blue Mountain Boy are options for Gina, while Claire Hardwick has Golden Tobouggan or Midnight King. Brackloon High is another quality entry for this race.
The 9-year-old and over Conditions race is sponsored by The Retraining of Racehorses and has 25 entries. Once again a number of these horses have entries in other races so keep an eye on which are declared for which race on the day. Aunty Joan had a great season last year and will carry slightly less weight than anyone else. Bertie’s Desire has had a break but shouldn’t be discounted. Burtredgipandgump, recent winner, has the option of this race too. Gina Andrews must choose between three runners in this: Celtic Silver, won last time over 2m4f but stays 3m, Hawkhurst, useful pointer with two wins this season, and KnockedOutLoaded, with good form last season. Nick Wright may run InABlueDust, a previous winner here. Karinga Dancer has won this season but lost to Hawkhurst last time out. Minella Friend may choose this race over the Novice Riders Race (2nd) and will have strong local support, as will the grey, Unseen, with Rory Bevin in the plate.
The Restricted, our penultimate race, is supported by Robert Loomes & Co. of Stamford and brings a possible 17 starters to post. Three runners here had their maiden win recently: Classico Dais (at Chaddesley Corbett in December), HadMeAtHello (at Thorpe Lodge in January) and Lucarno Express (Cocklebarrow, also in January).
The last race of the day is the Open Maiden race, sponsored kindly by Stamford Garden Centre and Cafe. The 29 possible runners include some racecourse debutantes, some coming to point-to-point racing from a career under rules, and other seasoned maiden pointers. Perhaps worthy of note is Rapaport, winner of one of the point-to-point flat races at the Quorn meeting on this course last year, and recent debutante at the Brocklesby meeting. James Henderson may declare Bespoke Cave, full brother to Invincible Cave, for its racecourse debut. Notorious Connor and When I’m Ready are also first-timers. The horses with half a stone advantage in this race may have the edge.
Tickets can be purchased on the gate at £15, £13 if purchased in advance via the MidlandsPointing.com website where you can also read more about individual races. Children under 16 are admitted free.