The next point-to-point in the South Midlands Area is the North Warwickshire Club fixture at Mollington on Saturday, with the first of six races at 1.45pm.
Joint Clerk of the Course Fred Hutsby confirmed on Sunday in advance of entries closing that the going is currently Good and that the course is being spiked and watered to maintain Good ground.
While the fixture will be taking place behind closed doors and there will be no public admission, owners who have entered a horse will be admitted as a pilot subject to a £5 per person charge. Everyone attending must register and purchase a ticket in advance - owners should buy tickets for the Amber zone while officials and participants should register for the Green zone.
Owners and keepers should remember that declarations to run close on Thursday 8th April at 12 noon.
120 horses have been entered for the six races, of which 19 are in what is likely to be the highlight of the card, the Hatton Arms sponsored Mixed Open. Champion trainer Tom Ellis, who has fired in an incredible 12 winners since pointing restarted last week and looks likely to retain his crown, has entered the aptly-named Blazing Tom here for novice rider Natalya Irvine at his local meeting. He told me, “We got him from Jonathan Tudor and he’s had some time off. He’ll appreciate the drying ground and is for Nat to learn on.” Another local trainer, Alan Hill, has two entries and confirmed he is more likely to run veteran Velvet Cognac, who has won under Rules since last being seen in points. “He likes Mollington and has being second here twice before,” said the 13-year-old’s handler.
However, South Midlands horses may have to give best here to raiders from further afield. Dale Peters’ Kilkishen is top-rated following his Kelso hunter chase success, the Welsh-qualified (but Hertfordshire-trained now) Rio Bravo has won a hunter chase and an Open this season for Bradley Gibbs and Nick Wright’s Sugar Baron won well at High Easter last year – while he lacks a run this campaign, his trainer can get them ready first time out.
National sponsors The Oriental Club are supporting the Conditions race (Level 3), which is limited to horses owned and trained by immediate family members in yards of five horses or fewer. This popular initiative has been rewarded with 14 entries and, with top rated Golden Tobouggan going for the Aintree Foxhunters, one of the leading contenders on form is Charlotte Fuller’s recent Charing second Our Three Sons. “He’s also entered in the opener, which would suit him better distance-wise, but he’ll probably go for this race as long as there’s not too much cut in the ground, as he wants it quicker,” advised Charlotte.
Jake Slatter’s Waterloo Warrior has a strong chance if putting a disappointing Maisemore Park run behind him, Spanish Fleet (who runs in the Tony Collins colours made famous by Gay Future) may find this coming too soon after a good Dingley second on Monday while Max Comley’s Knockaderry Flyer and the Tom Chatfeild-Roberts trained Love Manhattan would come into consideration on their old form.
Racing commences with another (Level 2) Conditions race, sponsored by NFU Mutual, which has attracted 22 entries. Events of this nature are usually competitive and 14 of the 19 with recent point-to-point form are rated over 100. Tom Ellis has entered two and is more likely to run Celtic Silver, saying, “He’ll run as long as the ground’s right. He’s been off for a while but goes really well here and two-and-a-half miles suits him. He seems to retain his ability and I’m looking forward to running him for local owner Jenny Hayward.”
Plenty of the entries look to have a good chance here and recent Maisemore Park form – where David Brace’s Robin Des People returned to form when beating Ballykan (Phil Rowley) – could hold the key. James Henderson’s Order In Court ran well for a long way at the same meeting and should come on for the run, while Argot has winning hunter chase form for Jonathan Barlow and Dale Peters’ The Unmentionable also comes into contention on his Kimble win in November – he was unsuited by the ground at Sheriff Hutton last week.
Farol sponsor the 17-entry Restricted, in which Tom Ellis plans to run Bawnmore, a Horseheath winner last season before finishing second to the impressive Minella Wizard on a return visit. “He’s part-owned by our Maiden race sponsor and Warwickshire MFH Ray Randerson,” confirmed Tom. “He’s settled in again well this year, I think he’ll improve in his second season and we have high hopes for him.” Charlotte Fuller is targeting this contest with her Charing third Winter Holiday, who “Has come out of her race fantastically. Everything was wrong for her there – she has bags of stamina and it turned into a sprint on quick drying ground. She’s bouncing and will run as long as it’s not too fast.”
Chief opposition to the top-rated Bawnmore could be another David Brace Maisemore winner, in the shape of Gats And Co, while another who scored last time out at Ampton (and on his racecourse debut) is Nigel Padfield’s Direct Flight. And, of those with more experience, Fran Nimmo’s Irish import For Rita, Peter Mason’s Frank And Honest (who scored first time out last year) and Rivercourt Guy for Dale Peters catch the eye.
The first of two Maidens is the latest in the Tattersalls Cheltenham young horse series and, with 16 of the 17 four- and five-year-olds entered yet to see a racecourse, the advice here is to follow a trainer in form. Tom Ellis said, “While I think the world of Scotch On Da Rocks, a lovely four-year-old by Fame And Glory, he’ll only run if it comes up Good to Soft, so I’m more likely to run Itsallintheclouds. He’s a year older, works well and is a sound jumper. He’s owned by Stephen Howlett and isn’t a sales horse.” Alan Hill is starting to make his mark with young horse maidens – alongside his confreres Ellis and Nimmo – and intends to run Hilnamix here, telling me, “Owner Graham Henderson bought him as a store and he’s a nice horse.”
Since the restart, Tom Ellis and Chris Barber have taken each other on four times with their young maidens – the latter, of course, is looking after a number on behalf of Irish trainer-jockey Tiernan Roche – and the score is currently two-all. Chris has two entered here and his selected from Hermes De Gouet and Jail No Bail is worth watching in the market. Other keepers with a good record in this type of race are Phil Rowley (represented by No Authority), Fran Nimmo (Dondiam), Tom Weston (Blackwell Bay and Yellow Bay) and Clive Boultbee-Brooks (Guinness Village).
The second Maiden – and final race of the day – is for six-year-olds and over and is sponsored by Ray Randerson Carpets. With 31 entries, it may well be divided on declaration. There is more form to go on here (29 have run before) but Tom Ellis is keen on the chances of newcomer Wideopenspaces, saying, “It’s no fault of his own that he hasn’t run. He’s related to (prolific winner) Bertie’s Dream, we really like him, his work’s been good and we hope he runs well. He’s a horse for the future.” Tom is also likely to run Millstone or The Rosary Flyer.
The David Kemp yard always gets going in the spring and he has two entries, Ballinagore and By Appointmentonly – a good run from Bawnmore in the Restricted will be a pointer to the chances of the latter. Peter Mason’s Barley Hill was a good second at Maisemore Park in October, Fran Nimmo’s Fan Club Aulmes likewise on his recent pointing debut at Revesby Park and her Largy Mountain has good placed form and seems to be improving. Heidi Brookshaw’s You Too Bonny Lass created a good impression when winning a Hereford point-to-point flat race and the one with the best form of all between the flags is Go Go Geronimo – trained by Gerald Bailey – who looked to get up on the line on his last run at Horseheath, but was placed second by the judge.
The day’s racing will be live streamed on YouTube at We Stream events with pre- and post-race interviews and the Grand National will be shown live on the big screen after racing.
The link for the live streaming will be made available on the Mollington Races website and Facebook pages. Please give generously on the Mollington Races Just Giving page to help support the sport of point-to-pointing.
A digital race card with the declared runners, colours and form guide will be available here from lunchtime on Friday 9th April. Two bookmakers will be taking bets on course and Mark Hill is providing a telephone betting service. To open an account beforehand, visit Mark Hill Racing or call Mark on 07831 293363.
Mollington is a wide, undulating, galloping track with four long, sweeping bends and a stiff uphill finish. It is on the A423, five miles north of Banbury. Postcode OX17 1QE
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