The Melton Hunt Club at Garthorpe 22/5 - Preview

Jack Andrews winning on Al Shahir

Watering is under way at Garthorpe ahead of the Melton Hunt Club's annual fixture there on Sunday 22nd May. The course has been moved inwards by ten metres to provide new racing ground and we will water to achieve good ground for Sunday. We will update the going tomorrow night, Wednesday 18th May.

The Melton Hunt Club meeting offers a seven-race card including a point-to-point flat race to end the afternoon.

The first of these races, at 2pm, is a Members Conditions race with 14 entries. Among these are two identically-rated horses in the shape of veteran pointer Vivaldi Collonges, trained by Philip Rowley for Anthony Bromley and ridden by Ben Bromley, and James Henderson's considerably younger Epi Sacre, ridden by Fred Henderson. Aigle de La See, Ballinagore, Clara Sorrento, Commanche Red, Kashmir Peak, Ridelonglivelong and Santon also all have wins across the levels this season so depending on who declares this could be a very interesting race indeed.

Straight after this we have the Restricted race, for horses with a single win in point-to-points. Red Opium is the only one to win last time out and therefore new to this level. Kelly Morgan-trained Beauvallon Bay was second on their first run as a restricted horse, while Outlaw Dream, trained by Philip Rowley, and Young Rich, trained by Tom Ellis have both come had recent second placed finishes too. Others to watch could include Caballo Diablo (literally translated as "Devil Horse"), Design Plan and Longtide.

The Novice Riders Conditions race, next, has an encouraging 13 entries, including Grageelagh Girl who won the equivalent race at the Fernie meeting at Dingley on 8th May under a different jockey. Aigle de La See, Ballydonagh Boy, Direct Flight, Lip Service, Santon and Special Buddy all have recent winning form and a number of top trainers have representatives in this line-up.

Next is the Final of the Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Series where Al Shahir and Pillowman have entries as well as in the next, the Mixed Open. Al Shahir would start as the top-rated horses, but every one of the five entries here has recent winning form so this could be one to very much look forward to.

The feature race of the day is the Mixed Open, next, its 15 entries making it the most popular race on the card. James Owen trains Pont Aven for Tom Gredley, last seen in the Aintree Foxhunters, while the prolific Al Shahir, trained by Tom Ellis and ridden by Gina Andrews, has won twice between the flags this season. Badbad Leroy Brown was a walkover winner here last time but has only finished first or second in his last six outings while Early Retirement was impressive winning at Dingley last time out. Just Cause is another trained by James Owen and comes here three wins in point-to-points and a second in a hunter chase. Pillowman, Vivaldi Collonges and Epi Sacre all have entries in other races but would be competitive if running in this one.

The penultimate race is the Maiden, with ten entries, all of which have racing experience. Tom Creen, Doctor Tom and College Field are probably the ones to watch here but maidens can throw up unexpected results.

Finally, nine horses could contest the point-to-point flat race which closes the meeting. These runners have a combined total of three races between the flags so there is very little form to compare. Four-year-old geldings get a 4lb allowance, while four and five-year-old fillies/mares get 11lb and 7lb respectively.

The forecast for the weekend is currently dry with temperatures in the high teens, so bring friends and a picnic and enjoy a day of racing on what is sure to be some of the best ground anywhere in the country. Bookmakers will be at Garthorpe and there will be the usual licensed bar, catering outlets and trade stands to browse between races. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Midlands Pointing and Garthorpe websites or you may choose to pay on the gate on the day. Under 16s are admitted free of charge and the gates will be open from 11am.

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