1.00 Conditions (Novice Riders) – 16 entries
A decent field of 16 runners for this opening novice riders contest and Vivaldi Collonges shouldn’t be faraway. He won at Cottenham on the opening day of the season when beating the useful Now Ben in the Men’s Open by ¾L however he’s not been seen out since which is a negative but he’s due to be ridden by Ben Bromley who looks a more than competent addition to the riding ranks. Perfect Pirate pulled up in the Novice Rider’s race at Ampton in January but then won at 33/1 at Bangor point to point a week later when beating Irish Anthem by 10 L. He’s down to be ridden by Paige Topley who’s currently leading in the National Novice ladies championship. Susquehana River represents Francesca Nimmo’s yard and won 4 times last season but refused when tailed off at Cocklebarrow in January on his seasonal reappearance. The Tom Ellis trained Earlshill won at Charing last month when beating Cooladerry King by 6L with a possible rival today Chicoria a further 4L back in 3rd. Enjoy Responsibly finished 4th to Just Cause at Cottenham last month beaten 14 ½ L and could run into a place. Seasonal debutant Supreme Danehill represents Alan Hill’s yard but no jockey was listed for this horse so punters should check the declarations board before backing but he’s more than capable of going well and is an 8 time pointing winner. Despite his long absence since winning at Cottenham, we will side with Vivaldi Collonges as our selection with Perfect Pirate our alternative.
Selection: Vivaldi Collonges Alternative: Perfect Pirate
1.35 Restricted (2m 4f)– 20 entries
A plethora of 20 entries but looking for soft ground form. Alfie Corbitt is new to the Turner yard following a hurdling career in 2018/2019 with the Bailey yard, 2nd in his last run at Wetherby in a 3m Handicap but has pu on his 2 runs this season. Bold Gesture from the Pennock yard has progressed from a 2nd to Oscars Fame in the short Maiden at Cottenham in Dec to an unchallenged win in the Higham Maiden in Jan and was looking promising when ur 2 out at the last Cottenham Restricted and should make the frame. Bonamargy from the Peters yard pu in the Feb Brockesly Restricted following 2 placed runs and should again make the frame here. 7yr Fiddler of Dooney from the Owen yard held on well to beat the Rowley runner Quinto Do Mar in the Dec. Cottenham Open Maiden and went on to run 3l 3rd to Getting Closer in the Horseheath Restricted but fell when struggling in the Feb Higham Restricted and may find this company too strong. Josh The Plod comes of a short Maiden win at Cottenham in Feb on good ground but will need to improve in soft ground but the same distance. 9yr Rebel Collins from the York yard has his first Point run but with little rules form is probably one to just watch. Rivercourt Guy from the Kemp yard 6L 2nd in the Feb Cottenham short Restricted but this ground won’t suit. On home ground the Marriage’s Sandygate was 8l 2nd to Racing Eagle in the Maiden at this meeting last season but neither have much form since. 6yr The Triple Pillar from the Bailey yard came good to win the 14 runner Garthorpe Maiden in March 2019 but pu when well behind in the Feb Higham Restricted. Tiger’s Song from the Ellis yard last ran to win the short Maiden at Chaddersley in Dec 2018 and could make the frame here even after the long layoff.
Selection: Bold Gesture Alternative: Fiddler of Dooney
2.10 Mixed Open – 21 entries
An interesting list of entries for this mixed open race, which includes three who were successful at Thorpe Lodge at the end of January. Volnay de Thaix, who was returning to the track following for the first time since being unplaced in the 2018 Cheltenham Foxhunter, had an easy task against two others and ultimately finished alone, thus maintaining his unbeaten run in points since moving from Nicky Henderson’s yard. Early Retirement who had been running under rules for Caroline Bailey, was making his pointing debut at Thorpe Lodge, won with little fuss after taking the lead at the third last. His next appearance was at Higham, but after some indifferent jumping, he eventually fell at the 5th last. The third winner at Thorpe Lodge was King of The Clothe who also finished alone after the opposition had pulled up before two out. Unlike the other two who were winning on their seasonal appearances, King of The Clothe had previously finished 5th at Larkhill behind Shantou Flyer, and has subsequently finished a very close 2nd to Duhallow Tornado at Brocklesby Park. Dale Peters has both Benefit Of Luck and Rocklander entered. Benefit Of Luck will be returning to action following only one run last season, when winning at Sheriff Hutton in January, having previously shown a progressive profile in 2018. Rocklander, who had finished 3rd at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 for Tom George, was running in point for the first time when making an encouraging debut at Sheriff Hutton, finished 2nd behind Hazel Hill.
Don’t Do Mondays a dual course winner, will have benefited from a seasonal reappearance at Charing when finishing a close 2nd to Darius des Bois.
Selection: Volnay de Thaix Alternative: Benefit Of Luck
2.45 Veteran Conditions – 28 entries
How satisfying it must be for this “Jockey Club & Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Race” series to receive the highest entry of the day, totalling 28. Rocklander finished 2nd (15 lengths adrift) to none other than Hazel Hill at Sheriff Hutton in mid-January, hence being given top-rating. Blackwood Rover won the 2 ½ mile Restricted race at the corresponding meeting last year whilst Thetalkinghorse won four Open races in a row during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. On his seasonal debut finished 3rd (beaten 27 lengths) behind Law Of Gold and Tullys Touch at Horseheath at the beginning of February with Silvergrove a further 10 lengths back in 4th. Tully’s Touch won at Ampton last weekend and Law Of Gold lines up in the Cheltenham Foxhunters. Nigel Padfield’s Quick Oats has won eight races during his career but appears to prefer firmer conditions whilst Zeroeshadesofgrey flatters to deceive these days.
Selection: Rocklander Alternative: Thetalkinghorse
3.20 Club Members Conditions (3m6f) – 16 entries
Many of those entered in this race have similar ratings and with very few exceptions any of them could win, no one horse stands out so it should be very competitive. King of the Clothe has won five of its nine races in Points, last time was 2nd in a Mixed Open at Brocklesbury Park and prior to that won as the only finisher on very soft ground at Thorpe Lodge. Has the great benefit of having the National Men’s leader Jack Andrews in the saddle. Man of Steel has been a consistent performer in previous seasons but has shown little form this season and could possibly be on the downward slide. Is however from the Alan Hill yard who managed 1st and 2nd in a Hunter Chase at Ffos Las last Friday. Perfect Pirate won a Veteran and Novice Riders race at Bangor-on-Dee in late January. This followed two disappointing outings, the latter being at Ampton in mid-January when pulled up at the ninth fence. It will be interesting to see if this vast improvement in form continues here. Spanish Fleet’s form looks good on paper but both wins were in small fields, one a two-horse race and the other a four-runner race. Was successful under rules when ridden several times by leading National Hunt jockey Brian Hughes. Sugar Baron finished 2nd to Just Cause at Ampton in January but was some thirty lengths back, a further six lengths back was Zeroshadesofgrey.
Selection: King of Clothe Alternative: Perfect Pirate
3.55 Open Maiden – 21 entries
An exciting number of entries for this competitive High Easter Maiden. Bertie’s Escape is an unraced 4-year-old by Getaway, he gets an 18lb allowance and could be interesting but best watched on this occasion. Howitsdone was quite exposed under rules with a rating of 80, made a bright start to his English pointing career, he was giving 21lbs to the winner Kenyan Cowboy that day at Charing and was 25 lengths clear of the 3rd. Luscious Lilly ran a cracking race at Revesby Park when not beaten far by Benefaktor who was just touched off in an Intermediate, the form is rock solid and the Pennock team are starting to find form after a slow start to the season. By Appointmentonly is a lovely stamp of a horse, ran a massive race when 3rd at Horseheath and only beaten 6 lengths from two smart horses. Needed the run and with normal improvement should be hard to beat and is our selection. How To Get Away ran twice last year coming 2nd both times, he makes his seasonal debut here this year and with the Kemp horses possibly needing the run on their 1st starts is best watched on this occasion. We’re not sure if Jo Mahler will turn up after the antics at the weekend at Twickenham facing a disciplinary and could be banned, if he does keep your hands in your pocket’s boys.
Selection: By Appointmentonly Alternative: Luscious Lilly
Race 1: Vivaldi Collonges / Perfect Pirate
Race 2: Bold Gesture / Fiddler of Dooney
Race 3: Volnay de Thaix / Benefit Of Luck
Race 4: Rocklander / Thetalkinghorse
Race 5: King of Clothe / Perfect Pirate
Race 6: By Appointmentonly / Luscious Lilly