THE DUNSTON HARRIERS – AMPTON
Sunday January 12th 2020
12.00 Jockey Club & ROR Veteran Conditions – 17 entries
These veteran races are extremely popular and competitive on professional courses and here, by the number entry alone, looks to be in the same category. Horizontal Speed won a similar race at Barbury in mid-December, by 25 lengths, with three others entered here, After Hours, King Willie and Wood Pigeon, “out with the washing”. Alan Hill has booked Charlie Marshall again and see no reason why the Barbury form would be reversed. Just Cause ran in both Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters last season and is now owned by Ampton’s Clerk of the Course, Simon Stearn. The gelding has a four from nine record in points and remains in James Owen yard, who had a winner at Cottenham a fortnight ago. Rupert Stearn’s mount will be there or thereabouts. Knight Bachelor, another Alan Hill entry had one point win from three races when with trainer Philip Rowley. The Cranfield family now own this capable gelding, who will give Henrietta Cranfield some fun this season. Generous Ransom, won of the older entries at 12yo, was way behind Laser Beam at Cottenham but has shown really good form on soft ground, winning three races in similar conditions in 2018. Jack Andrews is booked to ride and they have paired up before. Minella Friend is certainly consistent and won the Novice Rider’s race at the corresponding meeting last year but does seem to prefer a sounder surface than he will encounter this weekend.
Selection: Horizontal Speed Alternative: Just Cause
12.35 Open Maiden – 11 entries
After the excesses of the last two Cottenham meetings we are now back to more humble racing reflected in the 11 runner Open maiden. Mount Corbitt has had the benefit of a 2 mile flat race at Barbary where he ran creditably to finish 5th of 11 without being pushed too hard after racing prominently throughout most of the race. Owned by Gearoid Costelloe, one of the leading Irish pinhookers, (a nephew of Tom Costello although the names are spelt differently) the Lambourn based handler would not be coming to Ampton to make up the numbers – surely this one, if turning up, will be hard to beat. Of the rest On Parole has already run twice this season and whilst his first outing was an encouraging 2nd in a Larkhill Maiden his second appearance petered out rapidly and he pulled up at the last fence. Ridden by the capable Alice Stevens would be in with a shout but seems to struggle to get his head in front at the vital moment. We commented at the Cottenham meeting that Don Cantillon’s horse, Huntsmans Jog, might be something special but in truth it disappointed at Cottenham when unseating at the last – no doubt he will have come on for the race but at this stage doesn’t look a world-beater. Andrew Pennock seems to mop these sort of races up in East Anglia and with two entered he could be the one to follow. No Gale would seem to be the number one from the yard but we notice his success in Ireland was achieved in May last year so we would not be investing our shirt on this one. Jack Andrews seems to have a choice of two, Ballydorn for brother in law Tom Ellis, close third in a 6 runner Maiden at Barbury back in April or Red Vita for Ampton stalwart John Ibbott. This one came second in a modest Maiden at Goggins Hill when a well-beaten second of four. Last week after much research my selection fell at the first so perhaps I’m not the best to follow however if running I can look no further than Mount Corbitt with On Parole for the forecast.
Selection: Mount Corbett Alternative: On Parole
1.10 Mixed Open – 10 entries
A select group of ten have been entered for this years renewal headed by the leading point to pointer/hunter chaser of last season and victor of the Cheltenham Foxhunter, Hazel Hill. This admirable horse, who usually runs just four times each season has only tasted defeat on one occasion since crossing the Irish Sea. His victory in last seasons Cheltenham Foxhunter was defined by his strong finish ahead of last weeks Larkhill winner Shantou Flyer. Hazel Hill returned to Cheltenham seven weeks later for the Timico Mixed Open Final and was given a stern test by locally trained Caryto Des Brosses, prevailing by a neck. Having missed a couple of engagements it would be a thrill to see him turn out at Ampton.
Without his presence this race looks an open affair. Inchcolm previously in the care of Tristan Davidson was the winner of 5 chases since November 2018. A recent run at Barbury for his new connections saw him finish a close third in the mixed open behind TheDellercheckout. Sonneofpresenting ran in three early season opens last season winning one and placed in another at Barbury, but did run out whilst leading at Larkhill. The locally trained Chosen Rose has finished either first or second on all runs in British points, won the intermediate race at the corresponding meeting last season, and ran well in defeat in her next two starts, but she was disappointing on her final appearance, finishing a long way behind Postbridge in a match at Higham. Tullys Touch also finished either first or second in 4 races last season, and also won at the corresponding fixture in the restricted race. Having been touched off by Tricky Silence on his next outing, victory in an intermediate race at Garthorpe followed. Another close fought finish ensued, this time with Sa Kaldoun at Fakenham in the ladies open, but he was denied by a short head. Just Cause was in good form early last season, finishing 2nd in a point and a hunter chase, and winning an open at Cottenham. However when contesting the two big hunter chases at Cheltenham and Aintree he could not cope with Hazel Hill nor Top Wood in either race.
Selection: Hazel Hill Alternative: Inchcolm
1.45 Restricted – 8 entries
A rather poor 8 entries. Crazy Penguin off all last season was a distant 2nd to Fox Valley in the Nov Cottenham Restricted and fell when well behind in the recent Cottenham Restricted – unlikely to trouble the judge. 6yr Hard Ground comes off a win in an Irish Maiden in October and should be the one to beat if he’s still in form. With a prolific 12 runs to date 7yr Love Around does not lack experience and from the Crowe yard with a 7lb allowance a frame finish is feasible. Another with chances is 6yr Normofthenorth from the Hill yard -making all to win the Kimblewick Maiden in April following a place in an Irish Maiden in March. Occupied slipped up when prominent in the April Kimble Restricted and was placed in both his Maiden runs before winning at Edgecote but weakened quickly to finish 4th in the recent Cottenham Restricted – will have come on from the run. Shark Saurez is also entered in the Intermediate and is lightly raced but could be placed – which race to chose? A 7lb allowance for the veteran 11yr mare Taboo, and if looking for experience then 22 runs under rules and already 2 runs this season fits the bill – an unchallenged Short Maiden winner in soft ground at Ffos Las in Dec following a 1L 3rd to Frank and Honest in the Nov Cottenham Maiden so a frame finish is not out of the question.
Selection: Hard Ground Alternatives: Taboo / Normofthenorth
2.20 Intermediate – 6 entries
Intermediate races do not attract many entries and most of these horses have been competing in this grade without much success. Form shows placings but there have been few runners. Not much between all the entries as they are all rated at a similar level. Dream Doc has had seven outings in two years, last three races there have only been three runners, so placings mean little. Good trainer but moderate performances. Fox Valley won a three runner Restricted at Cottenham in November last year. Pulled up in a Restricted in December 2018 and did appear again for the remainder of the season. Glory Hunter, a very experienced horse who won its Maiden at Higham in 2015. Last win was in a Restricted in 2017 and been placed in Intermediate races since but in small fields. Last race was at Clifton-on Dunsmore when pulled up in December 2018. Shark Saurez is lightly raced. Won a Maiden in Ireland followed by a 3rd in a Maiden Hurdle in 2017. Only had four outings as a nine-year-old but looks as if has some ability and competition not that hot here. Both Somme Boy and Sommervieu have very similar history in races, the latter having marginally better form.
Selection: Shark Saurez Alternative: Fox Valley
2.55 Club Members Conditions (Novice Riders) – 15 entries
An entry of 15 for this contest, bang on the safety factor. Trojan Star could be the answer to this tricky novice riders race here. He won earlier this season when beating Little Windmill by 3 ½ L at Barbury Castle in December. He was also 2nd in this race last season when beaten 2 ½ L by Minella Friend. Minerfortyniner was a six-time winner when owned and ridden by David Maxwell but pulled up last time out at Cottenham for new connections two weeks ago. Emerald Chieftan was 7th in this race but carried 13 Ibs overweight. Perfect Pirate was a two time scorer under rules when trained by Ben Pauling but his last win came at Towcester in November 2017 when he beat Hogan’s Height by 2 L in a 2 ½ Mile novice chase and he unseated for new connections at Barbury Castle in December when making some headway. Ballycahane pulled up in this race. Ballycahane is a five time point winner, his last win coming at Maisemore Park in March when he beat Gadrose by ½ L. Abbey Lane is now well into the veteran stage but he’s a course winner and will find this race easier than the men’s open he contested at Cottenham a fortnight ago when he was 54 L 7th to Art Mauresque. Knight Bachelor represents Alan Hills yard and he was a three time winner under rules and won a point when trained by Philip Rowley when accounting for Hidden Charmer by a head at Brampton Bryan last March. Like Ballycahane, After Aspen hails from the Laura Horsfall yard. He was 2nd to Zeroeshadesofgrey in a two horse contest at Horseheath last March, beaten 3L and 2nd again at High Easter when going down by ¾ L to Big Georgie in a 3 mile 6 furlong men’s open but he has pulled up on his last 3 outings so a watching brief is advised if running today. Global Power pulled up on his seasonal debut at Barbury Castle but could figure if the race cut up badly. Amigo scored at Aldington last season when beating Knockedoutloaded by 1 ½ L and now trained by James Owen he can’t be discounted here. Groundunderrepair could make his pointing debut today. He was a two time scorer under rules when trained by Warren Greatrex, his last win coming at Hereford in April 2018 when he beat Game On by 6 L in a 3 mile hurdle. Trojan Star is already a winner this term so he is our selection today ahead of the Alan Hill trained Knight Bachelor.
Selection: Trojan Star Alternative: Knight Bachelor
Race 1: Horizontal Speed / Just Cause
Race 2: Mount Corbett / On Parole
Race 3: Hazel Hill / Inchcolm
Race 4: Hard Ground / Taboo / Normofthenorth
Race 5: Shark Saurez / Fox Valley
Race 6: Trojan Star / Knight Bachelor