Saturday 11th March @ Ampton
1.30 Club Members Conditions
After the hiatus of the past few weeks this contest will hopefully get the season back on track in the area. Hawkhurst looks the horse to be on in this race. He won at the previous meeting here by 15 lengths beating Robin des People. On his most recent outing at Higham in late January he was 2nd to Karinga Dancer, beaten 6 lengths. Rendezvous Peak finished 6th in this race. The Andrew Pennock trained Steele’s Terrace could give Hawkhurst the most to worry about. He is unbeaten in both starts this season and won his maiden at this course in January before scoring again at Higham in the restricted when beating Mountain Eagle by 8 lengths in a quicker time than Hawkhurst’s race on the same card. Oscar Vespasian won a Tramore maiden hurdle in August 2104 when beating Alileo by 2 lengths. He was 4th at Brocklesby Park on his UK pointing debut in February, beaten 18 ¾ lengths behind De Blacksmith. Rendezvous Peak was 3rd on his latest outing at Brocklesby Park last month beaten 9 lengths behind Kings Lodge. Otis Tarda is a three time winner but his last win came in May 2015 when he beat Dancing Solo by 4 lengths. On his final outing last season he was 6th, beaten 26 ½ lengths by Lough Inch at Bratton Down in a ladies open in June. Knockedoutloaded was placed on all his 7 starts last season including a win at Peper Harow in May when beating Lake Balaton by 4 lengths. The Turner stable run Curraghbower in this, he was placed on all his 3 completed starts last season and did win the members race here last season. Benheir is returning after a long layoff. On his latest run in April 2015 he was 2nd to the very useful Moroman in a Fakenham hunter chase beaten 14 lengths. We will make Hawkhurst our selection as he was impressive here at the previous meeting. Steele’s Terrace is our alternative given trainer Andrew Pennock’s fine record here as well as him being another previous course winner.
Selection: Hawkhurst Alternative: Steele’s Terrace
Only nine entries but all are very similar in the ratings and any of them would be in with a great chance. Allie Beag was 2nd last month at Horseheath to Mr Maclenname and had previously won at this course at the last meeting here. Won its Maiden here in January 2017 but then took a further six races to win the Restricted, is from the Alan Hill yard had so further improvement should be expected. Chipmonk won two races on the bounce last season, a Maiden at Alnwick and a Restricted at South Wold. Has had two outings so far this season but fell once and pulled up on the other occasion. Ginwinefizz like Chipmonk won two in succession, a Maiden and Restricted last year but has disappointed on two outings this year finishing 5th at this course to Hawkhurst and fell at Horseheath last time. Haut Bages won a four runner Restricted at High Easter but has done little else and although on the home course would not be expected to be quite good enough. Mahlers Spirit won three in succession last year and was then 2nd out of four at Thorpe Lodge. Finished 3rd here at six weeks ago to Hawkshurst and is from the Andrew Pennock yard and we would expect further improvement here. Knockoutloaded has had twelve outings in Points, winning three, 2nd three times and 3rd twice but since winning at Dingley in May 2016 has not beaten anything of note. Summer Sound won its maiden here in January and then 4th at Thorpe Lodge where tired quickly. Followed this up by the winning the Restricted at Charing in mid February, certainly one to note.
Selection: Mahlers Spirit Alternative: Allie Beag.
2.40 Ladies Open
Top rated entry Man of Steel won 3 hunter chases and a Ladies Open last season. On his best form he’s well clear of the rest but he’s been beaten by 20+ lengths on his two starts this season and may be vulnerable. Another slight negative is that he pulled up when tried here last season. Alan Hill’s other entry Court Dismissed won chases at Fakenham and Worcester for Donald McCain last summer but disappointed on his first start in GB points when only 6th at Charing two weeks ago. He’s capable of a lot better and should come on for that run. Recent recruit Blue Mountain Boy came to the UK with a strong record in Irish points. After being brought down at Higham he won nicely at Horseheath staying on well under a determined ride by Gina Andrews. He avoids the weight penalty and has every chance. In contrast Sa Kaldoun disappointed at Horseheath on his first start this season. He should come on for the run and has place chances. The other Turner entry Bavard Court usually takes a few runs to get fully fit. Penelope Pips was only 3l behind Top Smart in the corresponding race here last year (carrying 19lbs less). The weights are not so favourable this time (e.g. she carries only 7lb less than Blue Mountain Boy), she hasn’t been seen since last April and may need the run. Always A Chance won 4 races last season but has been a little disappointing this time around finishing a distant 5th at the last meeting here and could only manage 20l 7th in the race that Blue Mountain Boy won at Horseheath. Taunton Vale qualified Otis Tarda put in some decent performances last season but hasn’t been seen since June and is another who may need the run.
Selection: Blue Mountain Boy Alternative: Man of Steel/Court Dismissed
3.15 Mens Open
A very disappointing number of entries for this race, and it is hoped that we do not have a repetition of last year’s renewal, when Broken Eagle walked over. Broken Eagle once again appears amongst the six entries, has missed engagements at both Cottenham and Higham at which he has a good record. He has just had the one outing, at Higham, where he finished alone, albeit in a quick time. He is joined by his stable companion Consigliere amongst the entries. The 15 year-old has not yet had a run this season, but has won on his seasonal debut for the three seasons he has been pointing, one of those being around this course back in 2015. The James Owen trained/Tim Gredley ridden combination also hold two entries. The likeable Just Cause has won two races this season, at Cottenham and Higham, however in between these wins he unseated his rider at the open ditch at the end of the first circuit around this course. On his most recent outing he could not get on terms with the well-ridden Bayley’s Dream at Horseheath, who has won again since then. He was 3rd at Catterick on Wednesday in a Hunter Chase so he might not run again so soon. His stable companion is the ex Alan King trained Midnight Cowboy having finished only once outside the first four, and won as recently as August last year. Franks A Million pulled up on his first three starts last season, before finishing 2nd in two intermediate races behind Counting Stars and Neumond. He then showed his wellbeing by finishing the season with three consecutive victories, culminating in victory in the men’s open at Peper Harow. The final entry is Weather Warning, who surprised Lough Inch in a ladies open at Fakenham last season, but has unseated his rider twice this season and most recently has finished 6th to Ivy Gate at Charing.
Selection: Consigliere Alternative: Midnight Cowboy
Bearing in mind weather etc perhaps 9 entries is all one can expect. Cresta Run was t.o. and p.u.in the Restricted on this track in Jan. and again at Horseheath in Feb. so may struggle here again. 6yr Kalabaloo from the Ellis yard won his Maiden in Ireland last season by 6l. but ran 16l 5th and was never near at Chaddesley Corbett in Dec. then was progressing to finish 2L 3rd to Welsh’s Castle in the Feb Horseheath Restricted – a frame finish is possible. Another from the Ellis yard - Kings Walden won the Puckeridge Maiden at Horseheath last season but was only placed 75L behind Bay Sly in the Sandon short Restricted and pu on his last run at Garthorpe last season on his 2018 run he finished 23l 3rd to the progressive Steeles Terrace at Higham in Jan.– no positives here and one to just watch. Muchadoaboutnothing from the Ward yard ran 8l 2nd in a 3 horse Restricted behind Beat the Index at Higham on good to firm ground in April and tried her hand in a ladies Open at Northaw but ref when well behind and may struggle in this company. Shamat another Ward yard entry, won the March Garthorpe young short Maiden and followed with 2 place finishes in 4 Restricted runs – best at High Easter when 7l 2nd to Haut Brages, beating The Master Remover 1l – will need to have come on to repeat here. Somme Boy from the Pennock yard beat Kev the Car (Maiden winner at Higham in Jan) to win a Dec 2016 Cottenham short Maiden on good/firm ground but has struggled in subsequent Restricteds - this track and ground may not suit. Ex. Skelton trained Stage One now in the Hill yard looks a promising addition to the PtP tracks, last ran 11l 4th in a Class 4 Handicap Chase at Ffos Las in April and placed 3rd in 5 previous rules races but all at shorter than 3m – will the longer distance find him out. The Master Remover won his Maiden at Ampton 3yr ago but struggled in his 10 runs last season and then came 20l 2nd to Hill’s Allie Beag on this track in Jan. but well behind Kalabaloo and This Breac in the Horseheath Restricted and is unlikely to reverse this result. The 2015 maiden Irish point winner This Breac from the Pennock yard has had 5 runs this season with a win in the early Cottenham 3m Maiden and 20l 3rd to Allie Beag and a nk behind The Master Remover on this track in Jan. then 2nd to Welsh’s Castle at Horseheath in a competitive 13 runner Restricted but was t.o and p.u on his recent run in the Charing Restricted – too many runs?
Selection: Stage One Alternative: Kalabaloo
4.25 Open Maiden
Training at the bottom of the Ampton hill Andrew Pennock’s horses have a good strike in Maidens on this course. Staple Head looks the likeliest of Pennock’s 4 entries. Last time at Horseheath in February he finished a close second when just going under by ½l to the improving Tricky Silence. This was a good effort and he should be thereabouts at the finish. Pennocks other runners, Chosen Rose, Master Jeweller and New Tarabela all have massive question marks, the latter for example has raced no less than 29 times under rules, on the all weather and on the flat without getting his head in front – even Pennock might not be able to work the magic here! Age of Heroes shaped well last season but looked as though in need of the race when last seen coming 8th in a Maiden at Horseheath last month. Will surely come on for that run. Desert Hill from the all-powerful Alan Hill yard seems to be progressing nicely and if continuing in the same direction should feature in the finish. Perhaps foolishly we tend to steer clear of older maidens in a race like this with so many young pretenders but the pick of the veterans would be Iwillifiwant who ran well at Higham last time out. Midnight Bliss and Master Jeweller were well beaten 2nd and 3rd behind the useful looking Keel Over. This wasn’t bad form but both will have to improve significantly to take this race. One interesting contender is the 5 year old Act Like You Know who is likely to be re-united with the talented Tabitha Worsley – this is an interesting selection as back in November Ms Worsley implied, after a bad fall at Ludlow, that she would be out for at least 6 months having broken the T12 vertebra in her lower back. If she is back we will all be delighted and wish her well. On balance we take Andrew Pennock’s Staple Head to take the spoils but like the look of Act like You Know for an each way punt.
Selection: Staple Head Alternative: Act like you Know
5.00 Hunt Members
A small but select entry here. The Turner family have been very successful in their ‘home’ Members race in recent years. The weather has impacted and none of these have run yet this season, which is a shame. Therefore fitness could be a major factor and Andrew Pennock will often get his runners fit for their seasonal debut. He has Galros Lady here; this game and consistent mare was a multiple point winner for this yard in 2015, she has been running under rules for Tim Vaughan – most recently seen in November. It will be interesting to see if she can get back to winning ways. The Turner family have 3 possible runners, Bavard Court is consistent, Haut Bages is young and improving but still inexperienced, Curraghbower won this race last year – he seems to prefer a firmer surface than he might get here though. Benheir has not run since being 2nd to Moroman in a Fakenham Hunter Chase in 2015 and may need the run.
Selection: Galros Lady Alternative: Curraghbower