PUB TEAM Review
The Thurlow at Horseheath on Friday 31st December 2021 by The Pub Team
11.00 Conditions (Level 3) – 21 entries
The East Anglian point-to-point season looks like ending 2021 on a high which hopefully augurs well for 2022. The opening Conditions Race has an entry of 21 which surely reflects the enthusiasm of those who are determined to ensure the continuing success of this great sport.
Let’s start the analysis with the 9 year old Stowaway gelding, handled by no less than Mr.Fergal O’Brien, Triopas. This one already has a couple of runs under his belt running into third place last time out behind the highly impressive Drago D’Estruval. This was at Larkhill, a stayers track like Horseheath and if running should feature in the mix, with both conditions and track to suit. Ryan’s Fancy, from the powerful Robinson yard, went up north in November to win the 2m 4f Conditions Race at the Albrighton & Woodland Hunt meeting. This one, whilst capable, might find both the distance and the soft going too much to handle although is bound to give a good account of himself. James Owen has fast been making a name for himself with his training successes in the world of Arab racing but he has a number of other strings to his bow and training winning pointers has seemed to come naturally particularly with support from the Gredley family. This has brought Pont Aven to his yard who has found plenty of success in the Irish National Hunt arena. Likely to be ridden by the very capable Alex Chadwick the horse should be fit as a flea having had his last run in a short chase at Killarney in August. Stays well, enjoys soft conditions, this looks an exciting prospect for the coming season. Alan Hill rarely leaves Horseheath empty handed and in Getting Closer has one to note. Already a winner of a Conditions Race earlier this month at Charing might find the conditions just a bit too taxing particularly the long uphill slog on the third circuit. Early Retirement from Gerald Bailey’s leading pointing yard had a hard race last month when going under by a neck to Earlshill in a Revesby Park Conditions Race. This could have put him just right but may find the underfoot conditions too taxing. Finally, from the Tom Ellis yard, Benefactor owned by the enthusiastic Keith Loads and ridden by the “Queen of Horseheath” Gina Andrews – this combination has success written all over it! Bound to be fit, won first time out last season, this looks the real deal. But this is a stiff race and the combination will need to be at their very best to succeed. A very hard race to call but we will side with the classy Pont Aven to take the prize followed home by Benefactor.
Selection: Pont Aven Alternative: Benefactor
11.35 Maiden – 16 entries
Panorama Ridge is an interesting contender on his first start in England, he ran a promising race in a point in Ireland that has worked out extremely well and he could well be up to winning this. Go Go Geronimo has been placed in all six Point to Points he has solid form but always seems to find one too good and he would not want more rain as his best form is on better ground. However, our selection is Bloodstone he has been placed in two Point to Points in Ireland, two Hurdle races and a Chase over a variety of trips, he has form on soft going and should be too streetwise for this field on his first start for Dale Peters. Of others to note to run well are Beauvallon Bay and Elevenerife in that order.
Selection: Bloodstone Alternative: Panorama Ridge
12.10 Conditions (Novice Riders) – 11 entries
An entry of 11 for this novice riders contest. Captain Bucks finished 2nd at Larkhill on his latest start when going down by 10 L to Knockaderry Flyer. Groundunderrepair is a previous course winner when he beat Way Back Then by 30 L in February 2020. He pulled up at Charing earlier this month on his seasonal debut in the Ladies open but should come on for that run. Agamemmon won on his final start last season when scoring by ½ L from Free Of Charge at Kimble in April in the Ladies open. That represents the best form on show in this race. Bawnmore is a two time pointing winner including a win at this course, both times ridden by Gina Andrews and represents the Tom Ellis yard. Natalya Irvine who is one of the more experienced riders in the race is due to be aboard and the horse should give a good account of himself today. Right Of Reply hails from James Owen’s yard. He was 5th and last on his seasonal debut at Charing earlier this month in the same race as Groundunderrepair. Mr Love is a three time hurdle winner when trained by Dan Skelton. His last rules run was at Warwick in February 2020 when he finished 5th to Fortunate George btn 15 ¼ L in a 3 mile hurdle. Now trained by Nick Pearce, any support in the betting market may give a clue to his chances. A trappy race to call but we will side with Agamemmon as our selection with Mr Love making his pointing debut as our alternative choice.
Selection: Agamemmon Alternative: Mr Love
12.45 Ladies Open – 9 entries
This could see Hawkhurst attempt to add to his current record of fifteen successes in points including three this season but trainer Alan Hill could saddle his alternative entry the Charing winner Back Bar, who also possesses winning Horseheath form, on soft ground, when beating Latenightpass. However the younger Fumet D’Oudairies stands head and shoulders above the other entries with hunter chase successes at Cheltenham and Leicester and a close 2nd at the Stratford Hunter Chase meeting together with two decisive wins at Horseheath in February 2020.
Selection: Fumet D’Oudaries Alternative: Back Bar
1.20 Mens Open – 10 entries
Pont Aven also has the option of the earlier Conditions race (see above) and clearly he will have a great chance in which ever race he runs in. From the strong James Owen yard he is clearly going to be well tuned up for his outing. Vivaldi Collonges has been, and still is a grand servant. The dead holding ground at Charing might not have suited when 3rd earlier this month so he can’t be written off. Precious Cargo was previously trained by Nicky Henderson and although he pulled up on his pointing debut at Ffos Las in November he had been rated 145 under Rules as recently as November 2020. Under Rules, his performances were sometimes hampered by untimely jumping mistakes so the smaller fences pointing will surely help. Thumb Stone Blues won his last 4 before finishing last and beaten favourite at Dunsmore. That run was under a 10lb penalty and with the very capable James King in the saddle he can’t be ruled out.
Selection: Pont Aven Alternative: Precious Cargo
1.55 Restricted – 10 entries
Ballymac Boy won his Maiden but is starting to look exposed having been beaten in his last three Restricted races since that victory. Hilnamix is a likable type that looks sure to keep progressing, he battled all the way to the line to win his Maiden and looks like he will be more suited to this galloping track with the uphill finish. He is still a young horse gaining experience and may just find something too good in this field. Destination Dylan won his Maiden in Ireland on soft going recording a decent time in the process, but has missed three years, if he has retained his potential and is fully tuned up he could go close. Mammoth is a course and distance winner managing the soft conditions, she was not seen last year but has been kept in training so obviously well thought of. We think she will pick up from where she left off and is our selection, she gets a handy 7 lb allowance and Tom Ellis is in great form so there should be no problems in her wellbeing and should not lack for fitness.
Selection: Mammoth Alternative: Hilnamix
2.30 Maiden Conditions – 14 entries
Three of the entries in this race are entered in the Maiden race so we will not know until the day in which race they will compete. Firstly, The New Kid ran on Tuesday at Chaddesley Corbett and came 2nd so unlikely to appear at this meeting. Go Go Geronimo has been 2nd five times and two of these races have been at this course, surely will go better very soon. Longtide was 2nd in a five-runner race at Charing earlier this month but only two finished. Precious Bounty is an interesting Irish import from the Tom Ellis yard, has little form but is sure to be ready to compete at this level. Robin is Ready from the Hannah Grissell yard was 3rd at Dingley to Pollards Fen. In 2019 was placed 2nd twice in Points in Ireland so has some potential. La Grand Fromage from the Alan Hill yard was 2nd at Kingston Blount last May but could only manage 7th at Larkhill two weeks ago, still not to be discounted.
Selection: Go Go Geronimo Alternative: Robin is Ready
Race 1:Pont Aven
Race 2: Bloodstone
Race 3: Agamemmon
Race 4: Fumet D’Oudaries
Race 5: Pont Aven or Precious Cargo if runs in 1st
Race 6: Mammoth
Race 7: Go Go Geronimo