The Meynell & South Staffs at Garthorpe – Preview

Pony Racers at Garthorpe

by Emma Forman

The Midlands Area and Garthorpe season finale takes place on Saturday when the Meynell hold their annual point- to- point races. 104 entries have been taken for a 7 race card starting at 2.30pm, however racegoers are advised to arrive at 12noon, in time to enjoy a picnic and the 5 pony races starting at 12.40pm.

Pony racing is a tremendous spectacle and an opportunity to see the jockeys of the future in action. Alan and Joe Hill will take the riders, who are aged between 9 and 16 years old, on a course walk in the morning prior to racing. 36 entries have been taken in total for the pony races kindly sponsored by Treehouse Sporting Colours, Mangan & Webb Saddlery and Fergal O’Brien racing. Thomas Bradburne is a name to watch; the 10 year old son of former national hunt jockey Mark Bradburne, has won 5 times on Push the Button this season and rides Push The Button in the 138cm race on Saturday. Nia Kerslake is the Midlands Area leading pony race rider at the moment, she takes over on Pick Pocket in the first race and with Violet Barton hot on her heels, she will be hoping to pick up some more points. The Leading Midlands Area trophy will be presented by the Area Chairman Gerald Bailey at the prize giving that will take place immediately after the final pony race.

Sophie Walker looks to have the Midlands Area Point-to-Point leading lady and novice awards already in the bag, however, the gentleman rider title looks set to go to the wire. Tom Strawson is currently maintaining a 6 point lead over Dale Peters; both riders will be in action on Saturday in a bid to land the championship. Strawson who has ridden 8 winners this season in total, 2 of which came at Garthorpe, may be able to hold on the Southwell Racecourse leading rider award which will be presented after the last race.

The opening PPORA Members race may go to Change Of Luck who has enjoyed a hat-trick of wins for Alan and Joe Hill, his main danger may be Ballalough, David Kemp’s gelding won a similar race at the Melton meeting and may be able to defy the 3lbs penalty.

The Intermediate race may be won by Philip Rowley’s progressive 5 year old Mac’s Gift who won at Tabley on his latest outing. Dido holds an entry here and looks like Dale Peters’ best chance of gaining some more points in his bid for the Midlands riding title.

In the PPORA Novice Riders’ race it may be wise to side with one of the most experienced riders in the race; Rory Bevin is set to partner Toby Hunt’s Done A Runner. This horse won the members at Dingley last Saturday and prior to that was a respectable third in a Towcester Hunter Chase so comes here in good form.

A parade of hounds will precede the Mixed Open race where Michael Bowen looks to hold the aces; he has the well rated duo Universal Soldier and Flying Eagle entered. Milson Robinson’s four time winning Garthorpe specialist Panama Canal would be a hugely popular winner if he could repeat his Dingley victory with Tom Strawson in the saddle.  However, the horse they all have to beat will be the classy Temple Grandin for Philip Edwards.

Tom Strawson will be hoping that Mary Sowersby’s Frosty Dawn runs as well as she did at the Melton Hunts Club meeting if she lines up in the Open Maiden race. However, Master Hide should be able to take this contest; he has been placed on his last 5 starts and being by Stowaway, as a 7 year old should still be open to some improvement.

Racing concludes with two races over the shorter trip of a two and a half miles. The Restricted race could be between Baily Smile and Too Much Too Soon while Ask Connie should win the final Maiden race.

The course will be watered as necessary including on the pony racing track. Fresh ground will be used and the downhill fence has been moved to the top of the hill, as is usual for this meeting. There will be Children’s Amusements, a licenced bar, trade stands and food outlets. Entrance is £10 per person.

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