Melton Hunt Club Preview 2024

Caryto Des Brosses (Dale Peters)

On Sunday the 4th of February Garthorpe Racecourse will host the Melton Hunt Club fixture, with a six race card starting at midday. The Melton Hunt Club is a club fixture organised jointly by the Belvoir, Cottesmore and Quorn who have their own fixtures at Garthorpe later in the season. 

Garthorpe is on the B676, Coston Rd, a few miles East of Melton Mowbray, postcode LE14 2RS.

In addition to 6 races, with 73 entries, there will also be two divisions of a schooling race at the end of the meeting, with 14 horses in each race. These races will take place over jumps but will not be competitive. Jockeys will not wear colours, and results will not be recorded.

The opening meet the opening fixture race of the day is the Alpha Drain Services Melton Hunt Club Condition Race for 5-year-old and over horses, which has 15 entries. The top-rated entry is the Jason Maguire-trained One For Rosie which also holds an entry in the Mens Open. The Dale Peters trained/ridden Peacocks Secret brings from Hunter Chasing last season after being placed. Tom Ellis's team have 3 entries, All Is True who was runner-up at odds-on at the Thurlow fixture on New Years Eve and the talented Benefaktor who could return from nearly two years off the track. They also have Good Source.  Jacqueline O'Neils Cocklebarrow winner The Composeur is another that holds a Mens Open entry. Other interesting horses include Bothwell Bridge, having his first start between the flags after joining Kelly Morgan from Nicky Henderson, and the veteran Golden Tobouggan. 

Following this is the Goffs Young Horse Maiden Race, for four and five-year-old horses, run over two and a half miles. There are weight allowances in this race for four-year-olds and for mares so it is important to note which horses have significantly less weight to carry than others. 6 of the 10 entries have previous racing experience. Occupied Territory, a €30,000 store horse purchase, was runner-up on his only start at Alnwick in December. David Kemp's Designed to Win was 3rd on his only start for Sean Doyle before crossing the Irish Sea. Jtadore De Forgan was 4th in Ireland in May before being sold at the Goffs Spring Sale and joining Kelly Morgan. The Bradley Gibbs-trained Premier Fantasy has had two runs in Irish maidens and is fully entitled to improve on that. Of the unraced horses, Francesca Poste's He's Bresillian stands out being a son of the top sire Blue Bresil, as will Mount Mason if he makes the long trip up from Somerset.

The Intermediate Race which follows is sponsored by John Chatfeild Roberts and has 11 entries. The Ellis team have 3 entries in this one, with All Is True and Good Source also entered in the first. Their other entry Latenightrumble was upsides the eventual winner when unseated at the last fence at Sheriff Hutton. Happy Victory won a Chaddesley Corbett Restricted in December easily but has questions to answer after pulling up on his next start. Paper Mill was an 8-length winner of a Restricted at Ampton and is a previous Garthorpe winner. Back It Up, Springtime Sal, Penniless and Tenora are all set to make their seasonal debuts after ending last season in good form. 

Fier Jaguen (Bradley Gibbs) - Melton Hunt Club Preview 2024
FIER JAGUEN (Bradley Gibbs) - The Fernie and Fitzwilliam at Dingley, Sunday 2 May 2021 © 2021 Nico Morgan. All Rights Reserved

The Melton Hunt Club card has two open races, the first of which is for the male jockeys and looks set to be a rematch of the Cheltenham Hunter Chase 2-Miler with Fier Jaguen and Caryto des Brosses both looking likely runners. Fier Jaguen won the battle at Cheltenham but Caryto des Brosses has already recorded 5 wins round Garthorpe. One For Rosie is also up there in the ratings but holds an entry in race one too. Hung Jury has already picked up an Open this season when beating the talented Highway Jewel in December. Jacqueline O'Neill potentially has Joly Maker and The Composeur heading up from Jackdaws Castle. Janika won a Fakenham Hunter Chase on his last start and Red Maple won a Dingley Open on his penultimate start with a seasonal reappearance win at Ampton in the Novice Riders.

There are nine horses entered for the Ladies Open Race which follows this, and it looks like another competitive looking Open. Espoir de Teille has some good hunter chase form from last season winning at Leicester and Kempton. Precious Bounty won the corresponding race last season and should again give a bold show on his second start for Kelly Morgan. His previous trainer Tom Ellis has Loughan and Champagne Noir in this, with the latter winning at the Cottesmore fixture last season under regular pilot Ellie Holder. No Hassle Hoff was runner up behind Precious Bounty here last season and it rarely out of the places. 

The final formal jump race of the day is a traditional 3 mile maiden race for horses yet to win between the flags. There are no weight for age allowances in this race. Capman, Designed to Win, Premier Fantasy and Tiger Tobin also hold entries in race 2. Creapapy was beaten 3 lengths on UK debut at Ampton for Tom Ellis, while Deep Purple has been runner up for Francesco Nimmo on all 3 of his starts; this will be his first attempt at 3 miles. Karismatik is a 13-race maiden. Papilliondulumiere is having his first UK start. His Irish debut looked promising but he failed to complete on his next two starts. Whatwasigoingtoday has had a long break following his sole start in 2022 when he pulled up, Worth Presenting has had a couple of placings but is a 10 year old now.

As usual Garthorpe welcomes all members of the public to this race meeting. There will be trade stands, catering outlets, bookmakers, children’s amusements, and a licensed bar. Gates will open at 10am. Admission is £15 cash or cards on the gate, under 16s are admitted free. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a lead.

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