The Melton Hunt Club - Preview

Temple Grandin (Alex Edwards)

The Melton Hunt Club meeting at Garthorpe takes place on Sunday 21st May, with a series of pony races starting at 1pm and a seven-race Point-to-Point card beginning at 2pm.

There are 24 horses entered for the Melton Hunt Club Members Conditions race at 2pm, nearly half of which have multiple entries at the same meeting, so we will not know who will run until the declarations are closed on the day. The top-rated horse is Sarah Dawson's Sybarite which was second in a hunter chase at Cheltenham in early May but disappointed in its last Point-to-Point when fourth to Beggar's Velvet (see Mixed Open below) at Mollington in April. Shantou Prince is rated 106 and my pick for this race. He was fourth in the Intermediate Championship Final at Cheltenham and unlucky to be carried out in his last race before that, at the Bedale meeting. There are a slew of horses rated in the 90s and high-80s who could also feature here. Many have entries in other races but recent form would suggest that any of Ballalough, Ballingarrow, Bravo Riquet, Can Mestret, Kyles Faith, Mr Syntax, Namako, Otto The Great, Pay The King, Proximo, Shakalakaboomboom and Thanks For Coming could be in the frame, but don't discount others in this very evenly matched contest.

Distant Rain is likely to lead the market in the Restricted race which follows this. The Tom Ellis trained seven-year-old was impressive winning here at the Quorn meeting in April and will find the ground very similar here this weekend if all goes to plan. Cobajay Away has good recent form too and should challenge with a 7lb advantage. Demood is another mare who has won this season and should be a contender. Escapefromthedark, Magic Symphony and Sisco Kid are also well-rated and Claire Hardwick brings Tilinisi, which won a bumper over two miles in 2015.

The third race is a 2 mile 4 furlong race for nine-year-old horses upwards and again, several horses in this field have multiple entries at the same meeting. The Hills may bring Double Handful (it is also entered at Hexham) which is new to Point-to-Point racing but has won over £30,000 under rules, including . Ring Ben is the horse with the best recent form, having won last time out at Cold Harbour over the same distance. Nothing Personal also won on the last time out in a Point-to-Point when beating higher-rated opposition at Aldington. Can Mestret hasn't won this season but will be looking to improve on his third here, last time out, while Walkabout Creek was second at Kingston Blount in early May. Nelson's Legend will be looking for a return to the form which saw him win a race over the same distance here at the end of last season.

The feature race of the day is the Championship Final of the Dodson & Horrell Novice Riders series, and what a race it could be. Five of the eleven entries are rate at 100 or more, with all but one of the remainder in the 90s. The favourite has to be Lough Inch, in the hands of Rory Bevin. Not only does this local horse love this course but its form this season is six wins and a second. Beggar's Velvet has been hunter chasing most recently but won previous to those in the Ladies Open at Mollington. Other horses in this race with recent form include Always A Chance (wins at Whitfield and Mollington), Creepy (Kingston Blount and Revesby Park), For 'n' Against (Hunt Members at Kingston Blount), Horizontal Speed (Mens Open at Kingston Blount). Againn Dul Aghaidh was fourth last time out in a hunter chase but has won both Point-to-Points entered this season. Ravethebrave has only had one outing (2nd) this season but must not be discounted. A great race in prospect.

One good race follows another here, as the Mixed Open has attracted some quality entries among the 19 horses who may declare, although nine of these have other entries at this meeting. Four who do not are the best rated on this card. Temple Grandin has won his three Point-to-Points this season, all as hot favourite. Hazel Hill has the same impressive record this season but is also trained by Philip Rowley and entered with the same jockey, Alex Edwards. I suspect that if there is some give in the ground then this will run, Temple Grandin getting the nod if the ground is quicker. One which will definitely run is Thetalkinghorse, Mrs Moody's impressive nine-year-old who won here at the Quorn meeting, beating Warden Hill by six lengths. Numbercruncher will prefer the ground on the quick side but must also be considered a good prospect. Beggar's Velvet is in this one too, as is Conkies Lad which also has good recent form. Weights could play a part in this race, so it will be worth watching the likes of Always A Chance, Expanding Universe, Mr Syntax and Proximo who all carry more than half a stone less than the top rated horses.

Two three-mile maidens round off this interesting day of racing. The first is part of the Jockey Club sponsored series for mares and Winola and Misola Bird are the leading horses on rating in this one. They will face many unknown quantities in this line up though, including the four-year-old Gadrose, who will benefit from a 21lb advantage.

Finally we have an open maiden race with 18 entries, including Max O who has been second in his last three starts. Other options here include Arcal Fifty, Ask Connie, Big Man Doe, Conhalt, Dibble Bridge and the aforementioned Misola Bird. Philip Rowley has another four-year-old in this one, Dramatic Pause.

We look forward to welcoming you to Garthorpe on Sunday for what looks sure to be a great day's racing. There will be fun for all the family, including a licensed bar, caterers, children's activities, bookmakers and a Tote. Tickets are available in advance from our website and include a complimentary racecard.

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