The Atherstone at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore

Greg Walters and MISTER PHILSON

The Atherstone Point-to-Point meeting will be at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, Rugby, this Sunday, 2nd April 2017.

The ground at the course (see below for directions) is currently good to soft, soft in places. There are over a hundred entries for what is almost certain to be a seven-race card.

The first race is the Hunt Members race which has five entries. The pick of these is probably Young QC, which won the Restricted race here last year, but might choose the Intermediate instead. The opposition is led by Martin Cash, owned and ridden by Pytchley Huntsman Daniel Cherriman, looking to improve on 4th place here  last year. Annie Moyles has had three runs prior to this, with a best result of seventh. Pentridge Hill looking to improve on a best of sixth place to date. Alburn has only run once before and didn't finish.

Following this is the PPORA Club Members race, with 14 entries. Top rated is Alfstar, who has won twice on similar ground already this season, winning by 20 lengths on each occasion. Ramble On also has recent form, having won twice this season, again on similar ground with similar going. Kashmir Peak is quite highly rated but hasn't had much luck thus far, with a fall and an unseated rider in the last two outings, but was third behind the impressive Silver Roque in January. Treacyswestcounty has had a busy season, five runs including two firsts, a second, third and fourth. He also has in-form Jack Andrews in the plate, fresh from a double at Horseheath last weekend. Mister Philson wins a race in the Spring every year and won here at this meeting last year so don't discount him. Lisnagar Star and Johnstown Castle both deserve a mention because they do know what it is like to win, they just lack recent form.

The third race of the day is the Jockey Club Open Mares Maiden (11st7lb) and this has attracted 20 entries. Auntie Joan should feature in this one, if connections choose this meeting over Kingston Blount the day before. Crockery has had time off since 2015 and is yet to find form again but has the potential on the right day. Coolagh Moll was second last time out at Parham but did have a 7lb advantage there. Gretta Rose was also second on her last run, albeit by 50 lengths, and Misola Bird would be a very popular winner, having been knocking on the door for a couple of seasons.

The Mixed Open race is part of the Timico Mixed Open Gold Cup series, with the winner qualifying for the Final at Cheltenham on 5th May, and it has attracted a suitably high quality field with over half of the entries carrying penalties. It should be pointed out, though, that many of these horses have other entries elsewhere and may not declare, so watch the board. On paper the Laura Thomas-trained Full Throttle must be a contender, with three wins and a second so far this season, but there is plenty of classy opposition in this field. Not least of these is Thetalkinghorse, who is back on winning ways after an unusually off-colour performance at Thorpe, but would prefer this ground faster and has an entry in the Hunter Chase at Wetherby on Friday. Temple Grandin also has better form on good ground than when it is softer, but has won on both. Sybarite has won in March on similar ground to this and will be carrying less weight than most of the opposition. Another with a weight advantage will be His Excellency, with two wins this season and nearly a stone less to carry. Anquetta is getting on a bit but knows how to win and finally Man of God may not have Point-to-Point form but has won multiple times under rules. Hopefully a good number of these will declare and give us a great race.

The first two horses past the post in the Intermediate race will qualify for the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham on 5th May. The Waley-Cohens' Storm Lantern will be one to watch here, although it does have other possible routes this weekend and hasn't raced this season. Another with multiple entries is Spencer Moon, in a rich vein of form this season, with two wins out of two, both on soft or dead ground.  Lively Article has only recently won their maiden and has entered both this race and the restricted and may choose the  latter. Robin De Boss was second to Alfstar (see above) at Whitfield but did appear to lose pace toward the end. Exclusive Rights was second at Brocklesby in February on similar ground to this and may fancy their chances. Woodfleet was second last time but won twice last season and can't be discounted if they choose this race. Swift Escape is another with a recent second place.

The Restricted race has 14 entries, including Lively Article, who will be a very strong contender if this is the chosen race. Demood is also a good chance, if it choose to come here rather than Kingston Blount the day before. Seamusjay is young and lacking in experience but has a lot of potential. Along with these there are a plethora of potential challengers for this race, including Fortune Bound, Billy Biscuit, Mazurati, and Sisco Kid but most of these lack recent form.

Finally the Open Maiden race is, as usual, a hard one to pick. Stowaway Sooty may choose this meeting over the Middleton and was second last time out (Bangor-on-Dee), as were Harodale (Brafield-on-the-Green) and Alittlebitless (Larkhill). The latter, though, has also been entered for a range of other race at four different venues. A number of these horses have also had recent third place finishes so we will have to see who declares on the day.

Clifton-upon-Dunsmore offers good viewing of the whole course and will have a range of trade stands and catering opportunities. A great opportunity to show your support for a local event. E-tickets (which include a free racecard, normally £3) can be purchased via the Midlands Pointing website at https://www.midlandspointing.com/shop.

The course is on the A5, 1m North of M1, Jct 18 and the postcode for your satnavs is CV23 0BB. See you there.

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