The Melton Hunt Club meeting, traditionally held in May, has moved this year to accommodate an earlier finish to the point-to-point season, and now takes place at Garthorpe racecourse, on the B676 five miles East of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, this Sunday 5th February.
Gold Cup and Grand National winning jockey Jim Culloty has taken on the role as Clerk of the Course at Garthorpe and has reported the going as good, good to soft in places. We will update the going on our website and social media channels as and when we receive updates. The forecast at the time of writing is for an overcast week with little chance of rain.
Sunday’s card has attracted 93 entries across the six races, including 22 entries for the Mens Open.
The first race of the day, though, is at 12pm and is a Conditions race for horses which are five years old or over sponsored by Alpha Drain Services. Of the 21 horses entered several have the same jockey booked so expect some decisions on the day as to who runs in what, probably dependent on the ground. Ballinagore, Clara Sorrento, Encounter A Giant, Golden Tobouggan, Largy Mountain and Smoke Man have all won at this course previously, which may give them an advantage. Ragnar Lodbrok should be one to look out for, having finished second to Fumet d’Oudairies in December, and ex-chaser One For Rosie has three entries on the card and might be a contender wherever he declares. Dale Peters trains The New Kid, one of two entered here, which had always been placed in points. Buachaill Dana is a multiple winner in points, as are Ballymac Boy and Frisson Collonges. An interesting race in prospect.
Next, over the shorter distance of two and a half miles, is a Maiden for four and five year old horses which is part of the National series sponsored by Tattersalls Cheltenham, to whom many thanks. Some of the top jockeys in the country feature in this one, including Champion James King, Alice Stevens, Bradley Gibbs, Jack Andrews and Huw Edwards.
Restricted races are for horses which have only won once to date and nine are entered for the third race on the card here, sponsored by The Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust. The stand out horse in the line up is probably Itsallintheclouds, one of two possible rides for Jack Andrews in this race, trained by Tom Ellis.
The Buscot Park Mens Open, which follows, has a potentially large and high class field. Thirteen of the 22 entries have a rating over 110 and quite a few have double entries in the first race of the day. Two of the highest rated horses entered are trained by David Kemp in Norfolk. Law of Gold is a top class hunter chaser who would excel on this ground, while Caryto des Brosses, also a good hunter and pointer, is less predictable. Premier Magic is another top class hunter, ridden by Bradley Gibbs for owner Julian Sherriff, has won on good to firm and soft ground, making him difficult to see past. Jack Andrews will either ride Al Shahir, a very useful pointer who has form on this course, or Fumet d’Oudaries, another high class hunter/pointer who won last time out at Horseheath and also has an entry there for Saturday 4th. James King has two possible rides for Francesca Poste in Kaproyale, a multiple winner last season, and Largy Mountain, also entered in the first. Others to watch include Encounter A Giant, Kilbrew Boy, Midnight Cowboy, Mighty Stowaway, Muckamore, Ragnar Lodbrok, Salvatore, Smoke Man and Twilight Girl. A feast indeed.
The top-rated horse in the Fairfax Saddles Ladies Open, next on the card, is the Tom Ellis trained Latenightfumble, a high class hunter and pointer with a win already this season. However, they also have an entry at Charing and I suspect that Gina Andrews make take this one to Kent while Jack Andrews rides the Ellis entries at Garthorpe. They also have Precious Bounty entered in this, with Ellie Callwood booked to ride. The Suffolk-based Turner family have had great success on Midlands tracks over the years and have two entries in the Ladies. No Hassle Hoff is a very capable pointer while Take To Heart has similar form. Both have won at Garthorpe previously. Chahuteur has entries in the Conditions and the Mens Open, but would be ridden by Meisha Micklewright rather than Tom Chatfield-Roberts if declared here. Barney Dwan, Golden Tobouggan, One For Rosie and For Rita are others with multiple entries. Equine allrounder Nicole Lockhead Anderson, a top class showjumper and HOYS working hunter competitor, rides her own Fox Valley.
There are eighteen entries for the last race of the afternoon, the Jupiter Asset Management Maiden race. This field has a number of runners who have second and third place finishes, looking to improve on these; others making their point-to-point debuts, having raced under rules; and one, Delta Wing, making its racecourse debut.
There is no doubt that we have some quality racing to look forward to on Sunday, and as usual we will have bookmakers on course to allow you to pick your own winners. There is also a licensed bar, food and hot drink outlets. Entry on the day is £15 via cash or card for anyone over 16.