The Cottesmore at Garthorpe - Preview

Claire Hart and PALYPSO DE CREEK

The Midlands Area season has got off to a flying start with two cracking meetings at Thorpe and Brocklesby, both of which have attracted rave reviews from happy visitors. This weekend sees the first of our Garthorpe fixtures, The Cottesmore meeting, on Sunday 26th February, with the first race starting at midday.

The meeting has attracted 132 entries for a seven, possibly eight-race card. The going is currently given as Soft.

The first race on the card is the Garthorpe Hunts Club Members race and several of the entries for this will be hoping for a dry week to return the ground to good running. Love Manhattan stands out as a contender here and Robin De Boss won't mind a bit of softness in the ground. Tulsa might run if the ground improves.

The PPORA Club Members which follows is harder to call. There are a number of talented horses entered but many of them will be watching the weather and hoping for quicker ground. The mare En Passe has won this year already and will certainly be a strong contender. Claire Hardwick has Golden Tobouggan, which won well last time out (on similar ground) at Thorpe Lodge, and must be a favourite. Dido was second to this one at Thorpe and will be looking to go one better this time. Another to win at Thorpe last time was the Waley-Cohen's Facile Bien and if the jumping work is going well this has to be in the frame. Quick Oats loves this track but might be unlikely to run unless there is quicker ground. Irish Anthem is another to watch, though he might be aimed at Horseheath the day before.

Nearly half the entrants for the Men's Open race have a 100+ rating so this could be a cracker but, once again the ground will be a factor in whether some run. Decade Player and Lough Inch will not run against each other (the latter also has an entry in a later race) but the distance suits them both and if the ground quickens one of these will be in the mix. TheTalkingHorse is another which is more likely to run at Horseheath on quick ground. The Vestey's Silver Roque will almost certainly race and will be a very strong contender, having won in January, and Proximo and Old Pride should be near the front as well. A great race in prospect.

The Ladies Open may see a return to the track for Palypso De Creek if the ground stays soft, and it would be difficult to look past this horse in deep ground. If the ground quickens then Claire Hardwick also has a ride on His Excellency, who won last weekend at Brocklesby. Top Smart will be one to watch but may go for quicker ground at Horseheath. The prolific Popaway is also entered but she has entries in two other meetings over the weekend. This could be a very good race but a lot will depend on the weather.

The fifth race is a Midlands Area Club Members Conditions Race for horses 9 years old or more. Cork Citizen is entered in the Ladies Open but is more likely to run in this and should feature strongly. There is also a chance that local favourite Lough Inch runs, and if he does he will probably lead the betting. Others to watch are the Chatfeild-Roberts' L'Eldorado and Grove Pride, both have recent form. Denali Highway and Done A Runner could also be in the frame in a race which features a lot of horses with similar ratings.

The Restricted Race follows and Teeton Power is likely to challenge in this one despite being beaten last time out by the talented L'Eldorado. Swivel is well rated but lacks recent form. Chipmunk won for Johnny Weatherby at Alnwick and might go well on his local track. Tom Strawson is hoping for a good run from Lord Golan who has had a season off and now returns to the fray. Merrydown Black is entered here and ran very well at Brocklesby for a good second but also in the Members and the Conditions race at this meeting. Mazurati is another to watch.

Finally the Maiden race, which has nearly 30 entries so may need to be split. Thomas Patrick looks a likely candidate here, as do Quizzacle Nomad, Le Fou Royale, Harodale, Emtidaad and Dewi's Mate who all have second place finishes and aim to go one better.

As usual there will be entertainment for all at Garthorpe and we hope for a great day's racing on this popular course, which is on the B676, 5 miles East of Melton Mowbray. The post code is  LE14 2RS. Tickets are available from where you can also read Garthorpe's photography policy.

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