Sunday 15th January 2017 @ Ampton near Bury St Edmunds
12.00 Club Members Conditions – 22 entries
As you would expect there are many horses in this race that have a great deal of experience. Abbey Lane from the Pennock yard has had two outings this year both at Cottenham finishing 2nd to Lough Inch and a very close 3rd to Porlock Bay. He did have some useful form in Ireland, once winning a race for Willie Mullins at Leopardstown. Amigo had 32 starts under rules winning five times although last win was in 2013. Finished 5th at Cheltenham this season in Amateur’s Faulke Walwyn when trained by David Pipe and with Gina Andrews on board, expect to go well here. Brian Wells looked a bright prospect when winning a Maiden at Cottenham and although winning a couple of others has failed to reach the heights. Court Red Handed won this race last year from Carlanstown, both very experienced and very capable and we wouldn’t expect the order to change here. Citizens Arrest was also a course winner in 2015 has won seven points and seventeen other placings, he did miss 2016. Colonel Iain is rated at 106, highest in this race and although missing 2016 has won four of its six outings and surely will start as favourite. Loch Ba has been running under rules and did win a Chase at Newbury when trained by Mike Channon. Mister Bricolage is trained by Nick Wright but so far has looked moderate, he won a Maiden and Restricted in 2015 but has not progressed; keep an eye on the prices. Many of the others have won the odd race and much will depend on fitness on the day. This really should be an exciting race to start a wonderful days racing.
Selection: Colonel Iain Alternative: Amigo.
12.35 Open Maiden – 23 entries
This is a tantalising race with many of the entrants new to the British pointing scene. Your scribe remembers Ollie Vaughan-Jones words of advice which went along the lines of never trust a maiden in a maiden so this season we will always be looking for established jockeys to help their maidens over the line! Allie Beag, from the Alan Hill yard, has some reasonable form in Irish pointing and will be ridden by, the now seasoned, Joe Hill. This pair should give a strong account of themselves. Brogheen Boy, ran prominently at the last Cottenham meeting before falling five from home. He is however a nine year-old maiden which in itself is something of a warning. Top rider Gina Andrews looks likely to ride De Pilgrim which pulled up last time out at Chaddesley. Whilst improvement is very likely we’re not sure there will be enough to trouble the judges. Phil York has a couple entered, Earl the Pearl had bits and pieces of form last season but never managed to get his head in front – more promising might be Miss North Light. The former Irish NH hurdler lost nothing in her defeat by the impressive newcomer Mr Maclennane at Cottenham and reproducing that form could be good enough to take this race. Magic Symphony ran encouragingly last season after a couple of opening runs. If turning up at Ampton it will be interesting to see who gets the mount. If either Davies-Thomas or Nugent are booked this one might also be in with a chance. Pettistree only ran three times last season but improved with each run. Disappearing early last season it is to be hoped full fitness has now been achieved and further progress can be maintained but there must be doubts. One dark horse may be State Department. Ex Philip Hobbs inmate he has clearly been difficult to train over the years. He has run a total of 14 times under Rules and between the flags but this has been spread over more than 5 years. He ran very encouragingly when 1 length second in an Open Maiden at Holnicote in May 2015 – just might be worth a very small each way flutter having had a pipe opener at Cottenham. Back to reality – as is always the case a lot depends on who turns up but if running we take the Alan Hill runner Allie Deag as our selection with most to fear from Miss North Light.
Selection: Allie Deag Alternative: Miss North Light
1.10 Mixed Open – 18 entries
A strong entry for this Timico-sponsored race including recent NH recruits Benvolio - 2nd in the Welsh Grand National in 2014, Amigo - 5th in the Fulke Walwyn at the last Cheltenham Festival and Loch Ba who ran in the Hennessy Gold Cup back in 2013. With four highly-rated pointers also entered this one is very difficult to call. Benvolio was with Paul Nicholls until November and won a Class 3 Chase at Newbury last April. Given his official rating of 145 his pointing career got off to a modest start with a 3rd at Black Forest Lodge and a 4th at Chaddesley Corbett last month. If he can regain his rules form then he should take this but now has something to prove. Ex-David Pipe Amigo ran well at Cheltenham last March with Gina Andrews on board. He subsequently dropped 16lb in the handicap but if he takes to pointing has every chance. Loch Ba was still with Mick Channon until earlier this month. He’s been lightly raced over the last two seasons and has clearly had problems but showed he still has ability when 5th in a handicap chase at Ascot last April. Trafficker was a modest handicapper with Dr Richard Newland until November but finished just ahead of Benvolio at Chaddesley last month even though he’s officially rated 50lbs lower. If he can repeat that form he shouldn’t be far away. Of the proven pointers: Current Exchange won an Irish point last season but otherwise found things tough in top-class company in Hunter Chases when trained by Gordon Elliott pulling up on his last two starts. He should relish the step-down in class and clearly has a good chance though new connections may prefer the Novice Riders; Man of Steel won three Hunter Chases last season and is probably still improving plus Alan Hill’s horses are in great form so it would be no surprise to see him take this though carrying top weight will clearly count against him; Durban Gold won two Hunter Chases at Kelso last season and has plenty of ability. She has since changed hands and it might be best to watch her first start for new connections; Porlock Bay is owned and trained by ITV pundit Luke Harvey and has already notched up two wins and a 2nd this season. He won impressively at Cottenham last time out and it will be interesting to see how he handles the step-up to Open company. The rest realistically only have chances if the race cuts up.
Tricky to call - whether to go for high-class past NH form or more recent pointing form...?
Selection: Man of Steel Alternative: Benvolio
1.45 Restricted –15 entries
15 entries but nothing really standing out. Annie Moyles comes from a flat racing background but no real form and has not run since 2010 with ur at the 1st on his pointing debut so well left. Banned in Bhutan pu on his recent run in the Cottenham Restricted and no past form to recommend him. Rated 86 is Barrafohona who ran 7 times in 2016 and looked to have won his Restricted(2m 5f) at Whitfield in May but was placed 2nd – is he up to 3m? Brianogue ran 9 times last season and placed in 3 and was 8L 2nd to Bingo Star in the Dec Chaddesley Corbett Restricted and will have come on from this run – possible place finish. Cresta One won the Mares Maiden at Dingley last May but pu here in March and may struggle in this company. Escapefromthedark was a distant 9th in the Novice riders at the Dec. Chaddesley Corbett meeting following 3 runs at the start of the Irish season in Oct./Nov the best a 2nd in a Mares Open – the 7lb allowance may help and the early runs will be a benefit. Forrardon Xmoor won his Maiden at Buckfastleigh last season but did not troubled the winners in subsequent races last season. Hi Lucy Lou from the Pennock yard with a 7lb allowance won her Maiden at Godstone in March and was 8L 2nd to Sava Bridge at Dingley in May but was pu in the Restricted at Kingston Blount later in the month – a place is probable. Pride of Parish from the successful Hill yard will probably go of as justified favourite having comfortably won the Kimble Maiden in March but a fairly slow weak race so watch the market for pointers. The Master Remover won his Maiden on this track in 2015 but has had mixed fortunes in Restricted races since (but placed twice on this track) and was well outclassed in the Ladies Open at the recent Cottenham meeting but could run into a place as the track seems to suit.
Selection: Pride of Parish Alternatives: Hi Lucy Lou/Brianogue
2.10 Intermediate – 12 entries
This is one of the first intermediate races of the season, but none of the entries are stepping up in class following wins this season. Samarnni heads into the race on the back of three consecutive wins last season. An early faller on his seasonal reappearance, Samarnni then won his maiden and restricted at Garthorpe, beating large fields in the process, but only had two opponents to overcome when winning the hunt race at the Atherstone meeting at Clifton-on-Dunsmore. Young QC also won at Clifton-on-Dunsmore on his final outing of 2016, although it was a fortunate victory as the clear leader unseated his rider at the last. Young QC had previously won his maiden at Hereford after being place on several occasions. An outing over the Christmas period at Chaddesley Corbett in a novice rider’ race saw him being pulled up, whereas Bravehearted Harry was up amongst the leaders until leaving the back straight on the final circuit and eventually finished a well beaten 7th, behind Executive Benefit. Bravehearted Harry chased home Gunmoney at Dingley on his final start last season, having earlier won a club member’s race at Garthorpe and a veterans and novice rider’s restricted at Andoversford. Another to run at Chaddesley Corbett was Danners, who was pulled up having crept into contention going out onto the second circuit, but then made a mistake at the fence leading into the back straight. Placed on several occasions last season, it is likely Danners will visit the winner’s enclosure at some time during the season. It has to be seen whether Executive Rights truly stays 3 miles since her best runs last season were over shorter distances. A restricted win at Kingston Blount over 2 miles 5 furlongs was set amongst 4 pulled ups, but then a promising run behind Curraigflemens at Whitfield followed soon after. It was however her final run over 2 ¾ miles at Stratford where we were to witness her best performance, finishing 2nd to Our Chief, only being denied victory by ½ length. Of the two Andrew Pennock horses, Counting Stars could still have improvement, but did disappoint on his 2nd visit to this course, whilst Black Glen Boy was placed several times last season in Intermediate company.
Selection: Bravehearted Harry Alternative: Samarnni
2.55 Club Members Conditions (Novice Riders) – 13 entries
A reasonable entry of 13 for this closing race on the card. Bincombe, the mount of international showjumper Tim Gredley was 3rd at Cottenham on the opening day of the season but was 48 lengths adrift of the winner Consigliere. A return to Cottenham on New Year’s Eve saw him finish 5th in a novice riders contest beaten just over 31 lengths behind Lough Inch. He was a 6 time winner under rules and won as recently as July 2016 when landing a 2 mile 7 furlong Worcester handicap chase. My Dad’s Horse, the mount of the highly promising Rory Bevin was 4th on his last outing at Alnwick in a men’s open when beaten 28 lengths behind Ardea in December 2016. He won at Dingley last season in a novice rider’s contest when beating Icthec by 3 lengths. Irish Anthem represents the yard of Sheila Crow and he scored on his final start last season when winning a confined at Bitterley by ¾ of a length from Minella Friend in April 2016. The jockey Henry Crow boasts a 100% strike rate having won on his only ride to date. Current Exchange’s last three starts have been in championship hunter chases at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown respectively. Formerly trained by Gordon Eliott, he is now trained by Francesca Nimmo and last tasted victory in a point at Farmaclaffley in February 2016 when beating Carsonstown Boy by 3 lengths. Festival Bound represents the combination of Sandra Fryer and Kate Gowing. They scored at Dingley in May 2016 when beating Susquehana River by a head in a novice riders contest. My Dad’s Horse was 12 lengths adrift that day in 4th. Lauberhorn was 4th on his final start last season when beaten 33 lengths at Pyle by Watch The Birdie in a ladies open in May 2016. Citizens Arrest landed this race two years ago when beating Hunter’s Lodge by 1¼ lengths but missed all of last season. If fully wound up after his lay off he can be given a chance. Current Exchange has top class form and represents a very shrewd yard but has pulled up on his last two starts albeit in championship grade. We will take a chance with Irish Anthem as our main selection and go with Festival Bound as our alternative.
Selection: Irish Anthem Alternative: Festival Boun