Timico takes its series of mixed open point-to-points to West Sussex and Wiltshire this weekend when sponsoring £1,000 races at Parham and Larkhill.
Twenty-two entries have been received at Parham, including Petrou, who has already won a leg of the Timico series this season at Charm Park a fortnight ago. Rider Will Thirlby – who rides Ardkilly Witness in Cheltenham's St James's Place Foxhunter Chase tomorrow – is hopeful of doubling up here, providing the recent rain subsides. Thirlby says: "I'd say we would run at Parham so long as the ground is no worse than good to soft. He has another entry in a men's open at Hutton Rudby, but he'd need to carry 12st 5lb there and I think he'd rather the lighter weight [11st 7lb] in the Timico race.
"The final of this series is firmly on our agenda now we're qualified. Petrou will have another entry on the card at Cheltenham's hunter chase evening, but the £25,000 on offer for the Timico final could be pretty persuasive."
Top-rated in this contest (due off at 2.55pm) is Vivaldi Collonges, who gave first-season rider Ben Bromley his maiden point-to-point winner at Didmarton two weeks ago. The combination has been improving steadily this campaign and should go well again if taking their chance. Skinner's Ladies' champion rider Gina Andrews looks to have a choice of mounts, so keep an eye on her selection, and Queen Olivia has been running with credit in some hot hunter chases' this year and would be a danger to all on that form.
Twenty-four hours later at Larkhill, 11 could go to post in the second leg of the Timico double-header, due off at 1.40pm. Comfortably top on pointtopoint.co.uk ratings is Golden Doyen, who will be making his seasonal debut having been nursed back to full fitness by trainer Janet Ackner, who explains: "He pulled the tendons off both hocks on his second run for us at Badbury Rings last season, an injury which gave our vets cause for concern that we would ever get him back. If we did, they felt he would never be strong enough to last out three miles in a race, but he is doing everything right so far. We have had him hunting, schooling – including jumping him over show-jumps – and we have racecourse galloped him, so I'm very hopeful. I'm determined to prove the veterinary profession wrong."
The eight-year-old had some nice form when racing under Rules for Philip Hobbs, but never took to jumping fences, though one of the Hobbs team – who also works for Ackner – recommended him. She said: "I didn't like him when I first saw him. I felt sure that my vet would put me off, but he was positive and said he hadn't seen a sounder horse, so we took him. I hoped we could improve his jumping and so far, he has been very good for me. He is a highly intelligent horse."
Coco Live has been progressing through the ranks for Harriet Waight this season with three wins, two of those at Larkhill, but he is more likely to turn up in the conditions race on the same card. Tom Barton is likely to take his chance for Sally Alner, providing, as the trainer put it "they don't get blown away in the wind before then". The consistent nine-year-old would have a big say for leading Fuller's novice men's rider Liam Harrison, as his 5lb claiming allowance would negate the 4lb penalty the horse picked up for winning at the course in December.
The first three finishers in both contests will qualify for the £25,000 Timico Mixed Open Hunters' Chase Final at Cheltenham on Friday, May 3.