Saturday 11th February @ Cottenham near Cambridge
Cambridge University Draghounds
12.00 Hunt Members – 10 entries
On first view, this race looks to be a match between the up and coming Torann Na Dtonn and the more experienced Can Mestret. The in-form yard of Andrew Pennock run the former who won at Higham on quick ground so the course and conditions should suit. Torann Na Dtonn was possibly fortunate to win at Higham as stablemate Scorpion Star fell at the last but the two had pulled clear of the rest. Can Mestret has won 3 times at Cottenham, he was highly tried last season running in some classy ladies opens and hunter chases. He was last seen on a racecourse in March when pulling up in a Leicester hunter chase, if in-form jockey Gina Andrews and her father, trainer Simon Andrews can get him back on form and fit for his debut he will surely enjoy an easier race than some he has contested. Virgo The First must also be mentioned. He improved a lot throughout last season and ended with a 3rd in a Huntingdon hunter chase. He might need his first run of the season as he seemed to improve for a couple of runs last season but there is an interesting form line with him and Torann Na Dtonn through Nelson’s Legend, who Virgo The First beat at Dingley but Torann Na Dtonn could only finish second to at Garthorpe. These 3 seem to have the best chances. It is difficult to choose our selections, we go for the fit Torann Na Dtonn simply because Can Mestret might need a run to get back to his best but it could be close.
Selection: Torann Na Dtonn Alternative: Can Mestret
12.35 Intermediate – 13 entries
A modest entry of 13 for this contest and standing dish Lough Inch looks the one to beat if running today. He has won 6 times at this venue and has scored twice here this season, his last win coming in the novice rider’s race on New Year’s Eve when he beat Vesperal Dream by 15 lengths. Exclusive Rights was 2nd in the Subaru Restricted final at Stratford in May last year when beaten ½ a length by Our Chief. She was 6th on her seasonal debut at Black Forest Lodge last month when beaten around 18 lengths behind The Mexican Bandit but she should come on for that run. The rider Mrs C Hardwick may appear an unfamiliar name but she is in fact Claire Hart who got married last year and who was second last season in the national ladies championship to Georgina Andrews. Superior Fire finished ahead of Exclusive Rights when he finished 2nd at Black Forest Lodge to The Mexican Bandit, beaten a neck. Proximo won twice at Garthorpe last season, including a win in the Melton Hunt conditions race when beating Alwaystheoptimist by a length in May. He finished 4th at Larkhill on his seasonal debut when finishing 16 ¾ lengths adrift of the winner, Rye Cross. Swift Escape won at Hereford point to point course on his final start in the 2014-15 season when he beat Spit by 10 lengths but his best run last season was a 4th placing at Howick when beaten 10 ½ lengths by Real Milan. Push Ahead was 7th on his seasonal debut at Thorpe beaten 34 lengths by Golden Tobougan. He was last victorious in a Tabley restricted in April 2015 when he beat Cooladerry King by 6 lengths. Franks A Million won a Peper Harow restricted last season when he beat Letskeepit Simple by 6 lengths but has pulled up on both starts this season including last weekend at Horseheath. Bit Of A Barney finished last season with a win when beating Deise Vu by 6 lengths in a Whitfield restricted in April. Dream Doc is a two time winner in Ireland. Her final win gained at Dromahane was by 10 lengths from Scamaill Liath. Lough Inch loves this course and it’s very difficult to get away from him here and he is our selection. Superior Fire finished about 17 lengths ahead of Exclusive Rights at Black Forest Lodge last month and he is our alternative choice.
Selection: Lough Inch Alternative: Superior Fire
1.10 Mens Open – 16 entries
Cottenham stalwarts Consigliere and Broken Eagle appear amongst the entries for the third and final meeting at the course this season. Consigliere took the honours in the men’s open at the first fixture, beating Never Complain by 8 lengths. Consigliere then took a trip to the West Country for his next race, where he encountered Premier Portrait in an open at Wadebridge, only to come off second best. Broken Eagle, who has Aintree as his target this year, annihilated the field at the second Cottenham fixture, beating It Was Me in a hack canter by 25 lengths. Broken Eagle clearly likes a flat track as he also romped to victory in 4 points around Cottenham and Higham last season. It Was Me was completing the course for the first time since winning a ladies open around this course last season. Hopefully his jumping frailties have been ironed out. Now Ben is another course winner, having taken the men’s open here in January 2016, when he beat Consigliere by 10 lengths. Slightly disappointing thereafter, although he did win a four runner open, Now Ben started this season a close 4th behind Vincitore at Barbury Castle in January. Decade Player took a few runs before winning last season. He was beaten a very long way by Broken Eagle at Higham, then finished 3rd, 11 ¼ lengths behind Delta Borget in a 2 mile hunter chase at Taunton. Decade Player fell 4 out, whilst leading, in a 2 ½ mile mixed open at Dingley. Thereafter he went unbeaten, starting off with a pillar to post victory in a 2 ½ mile club members race at High Easter. He then won a 2 mile 3 furlong hunter chase at Wetherby, beating Klepht by a length, and finally he won a 2 mile hunter chase at Stratford where he beat Mr Sawyer by 13 lengths, with Delta Borget well behind in 5th. Brody Bleu won a 3 runner maiden at Barbury Castle back in 2012. Since then he has won seven races under rules. He changed hands in the summer having won a 2 mile 7 furlong handicap chase at Worcester on his penultimate start. Creepy was a useful individual for Martin Keighley running against the likes of Coneygree and Faugheen, but has not won since 2014 and was pulled up on his last two outings under rules. Since turning to pointing this season, Creepy has run twice, finishing 3rd on both occasions, the latest behind Executive Benefit at Chaddesley Corbett in late December.
Selection: Broken Eagle Alternative: Decade Player
1.45 Ladies Open – 17 entries
It’s great to see 2010 Aintree Hurdle winner Khyber Kim and 2011 Peterborough Chase winner Gauvain continuing their racing careers at the age of 15. Both have course form: Khyber Kim winning here back in 2013 and again in 2016 when 6l ahead of Bound For Glory whilst Gauvain won a Conditions race here in 2014 and then placed 3rd behind Sharp Suit a few weeks later. The two met at Eyton-on-Severn in May Khyber Kim triumphing by 40 lengths. Khyber Kim has been disappointing this season finished well behind on both starts so time may have caught up with him whilst Gauvain won his last start a Hunter Chase at Fontwell last May when he finished an impressive 12l ahead of Paul Nicholl’s Polisky. In their prime these two were both rated 160+ and would have left the rest of this field at least 30-40 lengths behind but neither possesses the speed they once had and we prefer the chances of Alan Hill’s five-time course winner Sharp Suit who ran well behind the speedy Bound For Glory here in November and then won convincingly at the December meeting. There should be plenty of competition for the minor places: Green Bank won three staying chases whilst with Charlie Longsdon. He unseated when returning in December after a year on the sidelines but won a modest 3-runner Men’s at Higham last month so it’s not clear how much ability he still retains; Hill of Gold has run consistently well in points but has only won once in 11 starts. He showed improved form when winning a Hunter Chase at Huntingdon last May; Victoria Pendleton’s Vesperal Dream won 3 hurdles and 3 chases for Paul Nicholls but finished 15l 2nd behind multiple course winner Lough Inch at the last meeting here. He unseated 2 out at Larkhill two weeks ago but should hopefully be none the worse for that. Sa Kaldoun won a Maiden here 5 years ago but hasn’t been back to the course since whilst Bavard Court has perhaps surprisingly never been tried at Cottenham. Both horses showed some decent form at the end of last season; Bit of a Barney won a Restricted at Whitfield and this will be a big step up in class; New recruit Limpopo Tom was a moderate 2-2.5 mile handicap hurdler/chaser most recently with David Rees. He last won at Ludlow back in 2015 but has been firmly under the handicapper’s thumb since and is probably best watched.
Selection: Sharp Suit Alternative: Gauvain
2.20 Restricted – 14 entries
An average 14 entries for the 3rd meeting at Cottenham. Rated 86 is Barrafohona who ran 7 times in 2016 and looked to have won his Restricted(2ml.5f)at Whitfield in May but was placed 2nd and pu at the recent Horseheath meeting when well behind – is he up to 3ml.? 6 runs for Condorman in 2016 with a 2nd on his opening run but was a long way back 4th at Higham in Jan. and probably won’t trouble the judge here. Emeralds Choice won a Maiden in 2015 and placed on 4 out of 11 runs in Irish points but one to just watch here. Love Tangle has been off the track for a while and comes from a U.K. flat and hurdling background without any great success but ran prominently here in Dec. then blundered and ur at the 13th - may well improve. With a 14lb. allowance Mere Detail has to be considered following a cosy win in a Mares Maiden in Ireland in May and then ran a 14L. 3rd. behind Extreme Appeal in Dec.and improved to a 6L. 2nd. at Higham in Jan. Nandini with a 7lb. allowance from the Kemp yardhas hada series of pu’s but won the Kingston Blount short Maiden in May on fast ground but is best watched here. Pride of Parish from the successful Hill yard will probably go of as justified favourite having comfortably won the Kimble Maiden in March and then ran as fav only just touched offat Higham in Jan and was running prominently at last weeks Horseheath meeting when the saddle slipped – will he run again so soon, but if yes, one for the frame. 9yr Solar Sky has won over £27K mainly on the flat but not been on a track since 2014 and nothing over jumps and only 2 hurdle races (breaking a blood vessel on his last run) – interesting form for a Restricted runner - watch the market. Somme Boy 3rd to Kev The Car at the Nov. meeting here the reversed the placings to win the short maiden for the in form Pennock yard at the last Cottenham meeting on similar ground and a frame finish is on the cards. Thinking out Loud was well behind when pu in the May Chaddesley Corbett Restricted but won his Maiden in March on soft ground. Well Said has only run in short Maidens but was unchallenged when winning at Garthorpe in June – can he make the longer trip? Why Lie weakened in his last run at Chaddesley Corbett in Dec. and may do so here but will have come on for the run.
Selection: Pride of Parish Alternative: Somme Boy
2.55 Open Maiden – 20 entries
With 20 entered, selection is a tad difficult, however we will concentrate on a few horses who we feel have the best chances but with a number entered who are new to pointing a surprise would not be surprising! Nick Wright has entered two and it is likely Le Fou Royal will be made favourite. Just touched off by Mahler’s Spirit at Higham there is every chance he will go one better in this race. There other runner, Balkato des Bois should not be ignored. Favourite for his first two races between the flags he only ran 4 times and in three of his appearance there seemed to be a problem between horse and rider with two U/Rs and one F. Now in the Wright yard it remains to be seen what he will offer under the new regime. Entidaad ran most encouragingly when 2nd in a Barbary maiden earlier this year. It appears that he has since changed hands and moved to the powerful Julie Mansell yard and continued improvement is expected. Gets plenty of allowances so will probably feature prominently in this race. Kev the Car seems to like Cottenham and has performed well twice this season. With just a modicum of improvement he will be involved in the finish but it remains to be seen if he will go on from his last race. The in form Ellis yard have two entered, Bilzic a well beaten third behind the classy Neumond in a Chaddesley short maiden, and Distant Rain who ran very encouragingly in two Class 4 Novice Chases last year. The question mark for Distant Rain is distance. Both chases were two mile races and apart from two fairly weak runs in long distance hurdles early in this one’s racing career connections seem to have concentrated on short chases and hurdles. Demood has come third twice and has featured prominently in both his Maiden races just failing to see them out over the last half mile. He will win but today may not be his time. This is a smart maiden race and the victor is likely to go on to better things. Based on this we feel that Emtidaad possibly has the greatest long term potential and gets our selection with Le Fou Royal as our reserve horse.
Selection: Emtidaad Alternative: Le Fou Royal
3.30 Open Maiden (2m4f) – 9 entries
On what is forecast to be a very cold day there may be many who may feel like making an early exit. With this type of race you are always looking for a newcomer who could rise to the stars, who knows maybe there could be one who starts here, unfortunately wedon’t think that will be the case here. Balkato Dois Bois missed 2016 and form before that was very moderate, is now in the Wright yard so will need watching. Bilzic was 3rd in the race that Neumond won at Chaddesley Corbett in December and we saw how impressive he was at Horseheath last week so that was good form and Tom Ellis is enjoying a fantastic season. We mention Joys Spirit, was 5th in a Club Members Bumper race at Barbury in mid-January, owned by David Minton, a fair judge of horses. Le Fou Royal is entered in the Open Maiden race but if connections fancy a win he would be in with a good chance here. Was one length 2nd at Higham two weeks ago and prior to that 3rd here to Somme Boy when starting as favourite, may just be a bit one paced. Royal Bookerkeeper was outpaced on last appearance and unseated rider. Crack on Jack was a long way 5th at Barbury in mid-January and it’s a long way from Carmarthenshire to Cottenham, would have to be pretty confident to travel that distance. A very moderate race and could be run in front of a diminishing crowd. With Gina Andrews on Bilzic just gives the advantage here and Le Fou Royal will have to wait a little longer.
Selection: Bilzic Alternative: Le Fou Royal.