Saturday 31st March @ Horseheath -

Puckeridge

1.30 Conditions – 13 entries

A decent entry here to start the day.  Welsh’s Castle is only 6 but has showed great promise and importantly a liking for this course when winning at the previous meeting, that form would be enough to go close but he does have an entry in the Intermediate too.  Knockedoutloaded’s best form seems to be on a firmer surface when running last season, although he was 2nd to the smart Hawkhurst at Ampton on a softer surface.  Kashmir Peak has options over the weekend but if he runs here he would have a chance, especially if returning to the form when he won at Cocklebarrow in January.  He was 4th at Brafield only last weekend (meeting was postponed a week from original date).  Ignite A Light has run here 4 times and has won once and been placed on each of the other 3 occasions so he clearly likes the course but he would need to run better than he did at Garthorpe last time.  We will give him a chance to do so here.  Galros Lady returned to pointing after an unsuccessful stint under Rules with victory in a 3 runner Members race at Ampton.  She is very game and that run will have done her confidence a lot of good so she is an interesting contender.  Gowanauthat from the powerful Francesca Nimmo yard has been running in hunter chases with credit over very different trips – 1m 7f and 3m 1f.  Before this he was running an excellent race when unseating at Charing two from home, he would surely have gone very close that day.

Selection: Ignite A Light                     Alternative: Gowanauthat

 

2.05 Open Maiden – 16 entries

With 16 entries for this race it could provide an interesting competition with a couple of newcomers that really catch the eye.  Battleofthesomme, an unraced 5 year old trained by Tom Ellis and owned by brother-in-law Jack Andrews, could be anything. Paddock viewing is strongly recommended. But perhaps the most interesting of the newcomers is Pelegrine Falcon who has had 4 runs between the flags in Ireland culminating in a 4 length second place in a Maiden at Tinahely back in November last year. Now in a top-pointing yard it will be interesting to see if the new trainer can extract further improvement.  Of the more established horses last time out Latenightpass came a close second to Caryto des Brosses who franked the form last weekend with victory in a Restricted Race at Penshurst. In the very capable hands of Gina Andrews this will more than likely be the race favourite and should deliver.  Age of Heroes, who ran encouragingly last season, has had a lack-lustre start to his 2017-2018 campaign. A disappointing run earlier this season, when possibly needing the race, he tipped up at High Easter last weekend. This was early in the race and if the horse came out of the race in good order he could well appear again this Saturday and if recapturing last season’s form would not be out of it. Another from the same yard of David Kemp, Law of Gold, has also had four runs between the flags in Ireland. This one, however, has not run since May 2017 so may need the race to bring him on.  Finally there is the Pennock entry Master Jeweller which was last seen when in 3rd place at Horseheath behind Keel Over and Midnight Bliss. Midnight Bliss has run encouragingly since the race and won last time out at High Easter franking the form of Master Jeweller. If improvement is maintained it may have a shout.  On form we will select Latenightpass to further enhance Gina Andrews’s quest for another Ladies Championship but we would expect a strong showing from Pelegrine Falcon so she may not have it all her own way.

Selection: Latenightpass                    Alternative: Pelegrine Falcon

 

2.40 Ladies Open – 9 entries

With only 9 entries this is disappointing however if all 9 turned up it could be a highly entertaining and competitive race.  Top Smart, from the leading yard of Jenny Pidgeon, has already shown East Anglian pointing enthusiasts what he is made of with a comfortable win in the Ladies Open at Higham in January.  The only doubt would be his age but the ease with which he won at Higham would tend to suggest he’s kept his form.  At the opposite end of the age spectrum Blue Mountain Boy has gone from strength to strength although in fairness his latest victory saw all his three rivals failing to compete. Already a winner at Horseheath when getting the better of another race entrant, Goodnight Vienna we see no reason why those placings would be reversed.  On the other hand Oh Toodles was back in third place on what was his first run of the season. Further progress does seem probable.   Bavard Court has been on the scene for many years but has not got his head in front since April 2016. The Turner’s other entrant, Sa Kaldoun comes alive when the hooves make the ground rattle so will be best to follow toward the end of the season.  Selection probably depends on Gina Andrews choice. Top Smart would seem the logical choice but if she chooses Blue Mountain Boy we would see Oh Toodles as a lively contender.

Selection: Top Smart                          Alternative: Oh Toodles

 

3.15 Mens Open – 8 entries

Counting Stars, the winner of two races last season, including a 6 length beating of Franks A Million at Ampton.  He returned to Ampton in January for his first and only run so far this season where he was having a tussle with the winner Warden Hill when he stopped very quickly before the second last fence and was immediately pulled up.  Franks A Million pulled up on his first three starts last season, before finishing 2nd to Counting Stars.  He has started this season a lot later than last, with an outing at the second Ampton meeting. In a four horse men’s open he could not match the pace of the two favourites, Midnight Cowboy and Consigliere and was eventually pulled up.  Ardkilly Witness has run more than most this season, with five runs under his belt. The winner on his initial outing in a men’s open at Alnwick in December, was then 5th at Chaddesley Corbett, and then three placed efforts, including once around this course behind Hazel HillWoodfleet, the winner of the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham last season has yet to be competitive in two runs around Larkhill, finishing 6th to Caid Du Berlais in early January, and then being pulled up behind Brackloon High in February.  Pair Of Jacks, was a useful performer for the late Malcolm Jefferson back in 2015/2016, being campaigned as a summer jumper.  With only one outing under rules in 2017, he changed hands to go pointing and had his first and only outing on ground probably softer than wanted, when pulled up behind Volnay De Thaix at Thorpe Lodge.  Connections hope Curraigflemens will run in the Aintree Foxhunters in a couple of weeks, and had a prep run last week. Having made a promising reappearance behind Ivy Gate at Charing last month, a closer fought contest between the two was expected last week, but they watched each other whilst Jack Andrews’ enterprising ride on Follow The Paint won the day.  Broken Eagle has missed engagements waiting for better weather, especially 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, in a quick time.  It is unlikely that he will turn out on a stayers track especially with the likelihood of softer ground.

Selection: Ardkilly Witness                                Alternative:  Woodfleet

 

3.50 Intermediate – 16 entries

Allie Beag from the well known Hill yard was off the pace last season but a Restricted win at Ampton and 2nd by 1L to Mr Maclannane with Ignite a Light a weakening 12L back 3rd, in the Intermediate on this track in Feb and the 3rd in the Ampton Intermediate so a frame finish is possible. First run of the season for Dream Doc who ran 4th out of 5 in the same race last season – one to watch only. Fortune Bound favours good ground and if the ground is soft another to just watch. From the Ellis yard Ginuwinefizz’s - 3rd Intermediate run this season twice 5th and falling at the 15th on this track in Feb. – probably unlikely to trouble the judge.  On his only run this season the Turner family’s Haut Bages ran 5L 2nd in the March Ampton Intermediate behind Summer Sounds but beating Allie Beag by a nk and Ginuwinefiz by 26L and could repeat here. Irish Legionnaire won Maiden and Restricted earlier this season but struggled in the Intermediate on this track in Feb – again may struggle at this higher level on a stiff track. Knockedoutloaded had run 12 times in Points winning 3 and 3rd twice but since winning at Dingley in 2016 had not beaten anything of note but a prominent 2nd place run at Ampton in the Conditions race showed more promise. The Pennock yard will be hoping to do well with Mahlers Spirit – won 3 in succession last season and then 2nd in the Thorpe Lodge Intermediate but although placed in 2 runs this season an ur in the March Ampton Intermediate when prominent does not inspire confidence. Seamusjay won the Chaddesley Corbett Restricted in Feb but then pu in the Kingston Blount Intermediate in March both on soft ground – will he struggle again in this higher grade? The other Pennock entry is Steeles Terrace, with E.David up looks promising –fav and a comfortable 12l win in the Jan Ampton Maiden Div.1 followed by a comfortable 8L Restricted win at Higham in Jan – 2 months off and in a higher grade on a testing track but should be there or thereabouts. Teeton Cato was 2nd on his only run on this track to Curraigflemens in 2015 but has pu on his last 2 runs and is probably best just watched. Needing a run another to just watch on his first run this season is The Drone but he won the May Restricted at Kingston Blount. Another to run in the Ampton Intermediate earlier this month was Virgo The First but 30L back so unlikely to improve to make the frame here. Welsh’s Castle from the Kemp yard won or 2nd on his last 4 runs with a Restricted win here in Feb. beating This Breac 2l so good form for a repeat but a place is more likely.

Selection:  Haut Bages                       Alternaive: Allie Beag/Welsh’s Castle

 

4.25 PPORA Club Members Conditions – 9 entries

As usual with these races, jockeyship plays an important part in this sort of contest. Only three of the seven booked jockeys have ridden a winner and two of them have only ridden one each. The winning most jockey is Will Thirlby with 5 winners to his name who is jocked up on Ginuwinefizz. On his most recent outing at Ampton earlier this month the horse was 5th and last behind the progressive Summer Sounds in the intermediate when ridden by Georgina Andrews. He was a two time winner last season with wins at Kingston Blount and Mollington. Kashmir Peak holds several entries over the Easter weekend. On his last outing at Brafield last Sunday he finished 4th behind Bayley’s Dream beaten 5 ½ lengths. Penelope Pips unseated when going well in the ladies open at Ampton three out and if granted an error free round should go close in this weaker race. She was placed in two ladies opens last year and has won one point at Whitfield in 2013, an intermediate. Finnegan’s Hollow won the novice rider’s race at Ampton in January when defeating William Money by 1 ¼ lengths. He was a creditable 4th at Charing when finishing 16 lengths adrift of Ivy Gate earlier this month but ran out and unseated Hector Barr on his most recent outing at High Easter last Saturday two fences out. Ballybough Gorta has been placed 3rd on both starts this season for Noah Brazg, on his most recent outing he finished 57 lengths behind Just Cause in late December at Cottenham. Trafficker a three time scorer under rules and also has a point win to his name. His last rules win was in May 2015 by a length from Mission Complete. On his sole start this season he finished a well-beaten 7th at Ampton in January. Garstin pulled up in this race and has failed to complete in his last 5 starts. Legend To Be won twice last season in small field contests but achieved very little when contesting national hunt races subsequently and this looks to be his rider’s first outing. Zagmeister is a 5 time point winner, his last win coming at Whitfield in April 2016 when he beat Shakalakaboomboom. On his sole start this season here in early February he was 12th in the race won by Bayley’s Dream on jockey Francesca Flinton’s first ride. This is a trappy race to call and one thing we can recommend is that you keep any betting stakes to a bare minimum. We will tentatively side with Penelope Pips to give Charlotte Wyatt her first winner. Kashmir Peak has multiple entries over the weekend but we will select him as our alternative ahead of Ballybough Gorta.

Selection: Penelope Pips                     Alternative: Kashmir Peak