Sunday 3rd December 2017
Cambridge University United Hunts Club – Cottenham
12.00 PPORA Club Members Conditions– 26 entries
A healthy entry of 26 for the first race of the East Anglian season. This is 10 above the safety factor of 16 so a division on the day is still a possibility. Exclusive Rights is a two time pointing winner. Her last win was in March 2016 when she beat Velvet Royale at Kingston Blount by a length. She was 2nd on her final run last season in a Stratford 2 mile hunter chase when beaten 6 lengths by Numbercruncher in June. Very Intense is one of two runners from the Laura Thomas yard. He won his final two races last season, the final win coming at Whitfield in May when he landed a 2 mile 5 furlong intermediate by 3 lengths from Pink Eyed Pedro. Exclusive Rights was a further 3 lengths adrift in 3rd place in this contest. Gallox Bridge has been placed on his last four outings, on his final appearance last season he was 2nd at Garthorpe in May beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Double Handful. Ballybough Gorta was a winner at Badbury Rings three runs ago when he beat Same Difference by 15 lengths. On his final outing last season he was 3rd at Bratton Down beaten 9 lengths by Cinevator. Swift Escape was 3rd on his final start last season when beaten 9 lengths by Spencer Moon at Clifton on Dunsmore in April in an intermediate. Derksen was a two time winner last season, both on his last two runs. He beat Too Much Too Soon on his final run by 15 lengths at Garthorpe in June. Rendezvous Peak has the advantage of a run this season when he finished 2nd at Barbury Castle beaten 12 lengths by Sentimentaljourney last Sunday so may not turn out again so quickly afterwards. I Wonder Why was 2nd in a Fakenham hunter chase on his final start last season when beaten 19 lengths by Pride Of Parish in April. Earlier in the season he had won an intermediate at Revesby Park by 8 lengths from Dynamo Frankie. Mr Syntax was placed in all his completed starts last season and won at Garthorpe in April when defeating Brave Riquet by 3 lengths. Foxcub is a 5 time winner under rules. His last win coming in a Bangor handicap hurdle when he beat After Eight Sivola by 22 lengths in November 2015. Brave Jaq won a Pau bumper when trained in France in 2014 but has achieved only one placing for Paul Nicholls and Tim Vaughan in five subsequent starts in England. Shah Of Persia has won once under rules when trained by Warren Greatrex when landing a Southwell 3 mile novice chase by 6 lengths from Castle Cheetah in October 2015. On his final rules outing he was 2nd at Worcester in July 2016 beaten 3 ½ lengths by Kalondra in a 2 ½ mile novice’s hurdle. A very trappy race to call and fitness has to be taken on trust this early in the season. Very Intense hails from a very progressive yard and he is our selection. Exclusive Rights ran very well in her final run at Stratford over 2 miles and she is our alternative choice.
Selection: Very Intense Alternative: Exclusive Rights
12.35 Mens Open – 19 entries
A good entry for this first men’s open to in East Anglia, with many having won or run well in hunter chases last season.
Broken Eagle has won many points, particularly in East Anglia, but did not have much to beat whilst winning four races last season (including a walk-over). Broken Eagle eventually won a hunter chase, beating Always Archie around Huntingdon, but did fail to finish in three other contests. Full Trottle had a much better time last season, winning three points and then went on to win two 2 ½ mile hunter chases around Ludlow, beating Creevytennant and Cheltenham where he beat Good Egg.
Pantxoa ran on the same card at Cheltenham in the 4 miler but was pulled up, which was disappointing considering he had previously beaten Colbert Station in a 3 ¼ mile hunter chase at Newton Abbot on his first start for Fergal O’Brien.
Bay Sly’s appearances on the track have been limited compared to the days when running in bumpers in Ireland. His three outings last season, his first over fences, resulted in two victories in points and then victory in the Subaru Restricted Final at Stratford where he beat Ruperra Tom. Bear’s Affair only contested hunter chases last season. A couple of placed efforts were followed with 7th place in the Aintree Foxhunter (Broken Eagle fell), and then victory in the Crudwell Cup at Warwick beating Iron Chancellor. A couple of runs followed but he fell in the first and then was unplaced in the Stratford Champion Foxhunter. Of those transferring to the pointing scene, The Caller, a half brother to Cogry, was the winner of three races for Warren Greatrex, the most recent of which was in a handicap hurdle at Perth in June, but then was well beaten on his final start. Bivouac, a three time winner over hurdles for Nicky Henderson ran in three novices chases last season over a variety of distances, winning over two miles at Leicester and finishing 2nd on the other two. He changed hands at Goffs over the summer for £72,000 is an interesting recruit. With his stable companion finishing 2nd last week it suggests that he should be reasonably straight for his first run.
Selection: Full Trottle Alternative: Bivouac
1.10 Ladies Open – 14 entries
Duke of Lucca won a small field HC at Kempton in April beating Paul Nicholls’ Caesar Milan by 21l and was not far behind when unseating at the last at Newbury. This course should suit and if he runs to his Hunter Chase form then he should take this. Bound For Glory won nicely here last November beating Sharp Suit by 5l and then put in several good performances in Hunter Chases and should be right there. Western Diva was well-beaten by Vesperal Dream and Sharp Suit when tried here last February but went on to win 3 Ladies’ Opens taking the notable scalp of Top Smart at Garthorpe. On her best form she should also go close. Ex-Ben Pauling Expedite is probably the most interesting of the new recruits. He’s only 6, has won two hurdles, is officially rated 125 and ran to that mark or better a couple of times last season including 2 3/4l 3rd behind Dell’ Arca at Ascot. With the talented Jodie Hughes on board it will be very interesting to see how he takes to pointing - watch the betting. 13 year old Qrackers has won twice here both times springing surprises at long odds but that was 4 years ago. He showed good form when beating Sam Cavallaro at Eyton last April and clearly retains ability. Sam Cavallero was mainly focused on Hunter Chases last season and wasn’t far behind Curraigflemens at Stratford in June. For ‘n’ Against ran well in Novice Rider’s and Members’ races last season but was beaten 15l by Beggar’s Velvet at Garthorpe. Letbeso runs consistently but has realistically only has place hopes. Celtic Silver ran here three times last season winning a Restricted but couldn’t get close to Lough Inch in an Intermediate. Ex-Tom Symonds Foxcub has won 5 hurdles and rated into 140s but hasn’t shown that level of form since 2015 and hasn’t raced for a year. Sand Blast won a hurdle and placed several times whilst with Dan Skelton but generally disappointed last season.
Selection: Duke of Lucca Alternative: Bound For Glory
1.45 Restricted – 14 entries
14 entries compared to 6 for this race last season – a good omen for future races this season? A competitive race in prospect - coming back after a year out Bleu et Or won the Maiden at Eggesford and was placed in his other 3 runs in 2016 and although probably needing the run should make the frame. French bred Brave Jaq is an unknown quantity so watch the market. The highly rated mare Cobajay Away with a 7lb. allowance and a 2nd place restricted run at Mollington in May will definitely be a player. 4yr Emtidaad will carry some weight advantage and won his Maiden in a 15 runner Maiden at Garthorpe in Feb. and was placed in 2 previous runs and is another to be prominent. Bolting up by 12L as a 4yr in the 2014 Boulta Maiden 7yr. Hawkhurst now runs for the Cottenham specialist Hill yard, following a string of chasing and hurdle runs with Haslam / Nichols owned by J.P. McManus - running moderately10 times in 2017 finally in Aug. at Sedgefield and 6/8 in a Class 4 hurdle at 22-1 now dropped to pointing but should be respected and maybe needs a run to fully assess potential in this field. Loveyoutothemoon won his Maiden at Dingle at the 8th. attempt in May and then pu in 2 Restricted runs but ran 4 times in a month so maybe he will come on for the rest. Middleton’s Minx stayed on well to win the Guilsborough Maiden on his last run in 2017 but not a wealth of previous form. Ourson placed in 3 out of 8 Restricted runs in 2017 and tried a Class 4 Chase at Stratford in August and well-beaten 6/7, experienced but maybe not enough for this company. Roysta’s Spirit won her Maiden on the Hereford PtP course in April 2016 and followed with a weakening Restricted 26L 3rd. at Chaddesley Corbett in Dec. and not seen since but from the Ellis yard and should be respected. Somme Boy from the Pennock yard beat Kev the Car to win a Dec. 2016 Cottenham Maiden but struggled in subsequent Restricteds. 5yr.Tick Tock Ten took the Hackwood Park short Maiden in April but struggled with the longer distance Restricted at Paxford and one to just watch.Titan’s Approach won a strong Maiden at Larkhill in Dec. 2016 but struggled in subsequent Restricteds. Urban Storm was 1st in the Thurlow Restricted in Feb. but was disq. So has the ability but somewhat erratic subsequently. Why Lie a Maiden winner in 2016 but no form since.
Selection: Cobajay Alternative: Hawkhurst - based on yard form
2.20 Open Maiden – 10 entries
My wife has handed me a pin so I now feel as ready as I’ll ever be to find a winner in the opening Older Horse Maiden of the East Anglian point-to-point season. The maiden Irish pointer This Breac has had 8 runs without getting his head in front but there was evidence of improvement as the Irish season progressed. Can the Pennock team get more out of this Carlo Bank maiden. Tom Ellis has entered his Mother’s Late Night Pass and this is sure to have been well prepared for his first ever outing between the flags. We would not be surprised to see this one take his chance in the 4 year old event particularly if Gina Andrews opts to ride the unraced Chase The Island from the highly successful Arab Racing yard of James Owen. We understand Owen will be increasing his exposure in the pointing game this season and will surely be a force to be reckoned with going forward. If Andrews does choose the Owen trained horse this might be a pointer in itself. Fair Exchange, now in the hands of the ebullient Joseph O’Shea had a rather disappointing season last year in the hands of Sheila Crow and it will be interesting if the new yard can bring more out of this Beneficial 7 year old. Gillan Crow looks likely to retain the ride. The 5 year old filly Festival Dawn acquitted herself well last season and if continuing to improve could be in the mix whilst Come on Harriet regularly flattered to deceive and for her this looks a difficult task. There are a lot of “ifs and buts” in this race so we’ll opt for the safe route and select the Andrew Pennock trained This Breac, sure to be ready and no doubt likely to be the subject of interesting betting patterns before the race! For our reserve we’ll look to Fair Exchange – O’Shea had Litbitluso in great nick for her opening run of the season so we hope all his horses are as forward which will ensure a good run for your money.
Selection: This Breac Alternative: Fair Exchange
2.55 Open Maiden (2m4f) – 10 entries
It is always difficult at the first meeting to compare horses that have not raced before against those that have either raced in Ireland or have appeared under rules. One horse that stands out is Desert Retreat who previously was with Phillip Hobbs and is now in the Alan Hill yard, has been 2nd twice in Hurdle races under rules and 3rd on three occasions in National Hunt Flat races. In total had twelve outings in two years, should perform well here and one to note, likely to start as favourite. Full Batten is an ex Gordon Elliott horse who had seven outings in Ireland and was 2nd twice in Hurdles. Ran six times in Points and was 3rd on three occasions. Last time out was in late August at Sligo. Lyre Lad showed very little in Ireland, best was 4th in a Hurdle race at Clonmel in June. Did compete in three points but never completed. Master Jeweller ran in three Irish points best was 8th out of ten but is now with Andrew Pennock so is sure to be fit. Andrew has managed in the past to turn horses with very moderate form into decent competitors. Sulamani the Late was with the Skelton’s and had eight Hurdle races, Was 2nd at Sedgefield under Bridget Andrews (our East Anglian link), also 3rd on three occasions in April/May. We just wonder if there is any further improvement to be had but this is a course which could suit. Glama, ex Nicky Henderson, ran twice in NHF races in March/April but showed very little. Lastnightpass has been mentioned in the previous race but would again be worth noting. Always hoping for a star to come out of these races, let’s hope so. Not confident on our selections.
Selection: Desert Retreat Alternative: Sulamani the Late.