12.00 Jockey Club & ROR Veteran Conditions – 10 entries
A different type of race for the area with this conditions race for veteran horses, horses that are 10 years or older. Midnight Cowboy might be the answer here. He’s a previous course winner albeit that was back in March 2018 when he won the men’s open. His last win was at Kingston Blount in May 2021 when he beat Newsworthy by 5 L. Subsequently he finished 2nd in a 2 mile Stratford hunter chase when going down by 15 L to Creative Inerta later that month. At 14 Sir Mangan is the oldest runner in the contest but as he showed on his latest start he still has the spark for racing. He was 2nd at Wadebridge last month beaten 1½ L by Sykes in the men’s open. Knight Bachelor is a stablemate of Sir Mangan and he’s also a previous course winner. That win was in a novice rider’s race in March 2020. He was novice ridden last season and won at Cothelstone in May when beating Alternatif by 5L. The extremely capable Izzie Marshall is booked for the ride today. Chase Me was 3rd on his seasonal debut at Larkhill in November when going down by 12 L to Knockaderry Flyer. Earlshill won on his first start this season when beating Early Retirement in a conditions race at Revesby Park by ½ L in November. Subsequently he finished a well beaten 4th at Charing last month in the ladies open. First Time Drift is a six time rules winner when trained by Ben Case. His last win came at Newbury in March 2019 when he defeated Betameche in a 2 ½ mile hurdle race. The betting market may give the best guide to his chances today. Midnight Cowboy is our selection and would be an appropriate winner being owned by the hard working Clerk of the Course Simon Stearn. Although well in the veteran stage Sir Mangan is our alternative just ahead of stablemate Knight Bachelor.
Selection: Midnight Cowboy Alternative: Sir Mangan
12.35 Open Maiden – 19 entries
A competitive field lined up for this Maiden and with no standout contender and double handed entries from trainers makes it tricky to assess. Out of the Andrew Pennock‘s pair we like the look of High Street who ran in a couple of points in Ireland, he showed promise in his second run and the form is working out well. Don’t Ask Fitz ran a promising race on debut finishing 2nd over 2m 4f, he was keeping on well all the way to the line and the step up in trip looks sure to suit. Master Templar has started to look exposed over Hurdles, nevertheless he has run to a decent level when completing. He is running in his first chase and his first start for Tom Ellis and looks sure to be involved. Albert Hucklebuck has been placed in a Bumper and a Hurdle race, he ran respectively on his last two starts and this is his first try over fences, he looks to stay the trip judging from his Hurdles form over 3m and is a solid contender. But the most interesting contender is Buachaill Dana, I am told this translates into Bad Boy! so we hope he is on his best behaviour! He ran respectively in a couple of Hurdle races in Ireland, he is young and shapes as though he is improving and in a race that will not take much winning.it is our selection. Trained by David Phelan has started the season very well and hopefully that will continue.
Selection: Buachaill Dana Alternative: Albert Hucklebuck
1.10 Ladies Open – 6 entries
This looks a race to savour by the calibre of entrants. Back Bar’s consistency was rewarded with success over current Aintree Foxhunter’s champion, Cousin Pascal. With regular partner Izzie Marshall aboard, their 10 length victory at Charing was convincing enough to suggest they will go on from that performance.
Blazing Tom has turned into a winning machine since joining Tom Ellis’ stable with four consecutive successes last season, all with Natalya Irvine in the saddle. Tullys Touch is unbeaten around Ampton in three contests and Alice Stevens has the ride.
Back Bar gets the vote over Blazing Tom but don’t discount Tullys Touch in what could be a cracking contest.
Selection: Back Bar Alternative: Blazing Tom
1.45 Mens Open – 7 entries
Sir Mangan has the option of the veteran’s race, thus leaving the way for stablemate Diplomate Sivola to contest this contest and with the likelihood of Tullys Touch running in the ladies open it will be a small field that goes to post.
Diplomate Sivola who won 3 races last season, including the beating of Minella Friend, finished 3rd on his seasonal reappearance at Alnwick behind Overworkdunderpaid. Minella Friend, who has won around Ampton, either won or finished 3rd on his six outings last season. The victories came at Dingley in a 4 mile mixed open, where he beat Spanish Fleet and at Garthorpe in a novice riders race beating Attention Please. Midnight Cowboy, who also holds an entry in the first race, has needed an outing for the past two seasons. His one victory last season at Kingsont Blount was at the expense of Newsworthy (who had beaten him on that seasonal debut).
Selection: Diplomate Sivola Alternative: Minella Friend
2.20 Restricted – 6 entries
Rather a sad 6 entries for the first EA Restricted in 2022 but from some eminent yards. Alan Hill’s Bucaneros with unimpressive past form travelled to Pyle and won the Maiden in October. Struggled in the Restricted at Alnwick in Dec. both in soft ground and may find the same here but an easier race is in prospect. Castle Trump unimpressive in 2020, but took the 12 runner short maiden at Charing in Dec. making all – the longer distance and testing conditions may not suit but he should make the frame. Destination Dylan from the Owen yard with Rupert Stearn up cannot be discounted but sketchy form and a pu in last weeks Horseheath Restricted does not inspire confidence but he will have come on for the run. Multifactorial has run twice on better ground this season but not in contention on either occasion. Previous form is all hurdling in Ireland first with Gordon Elliot so maybe he needs some more Chase races to bring out the best in him. Ninth Wave fell at the 14th when making headway in the recent Chaddesley Corbett Maiden but with only an easy 5l win in a 2m Bumper back in 2018 probably one to just watch this time. A youngster by 3yrs. + on his rivals 5yr. Outlaw Dream from the well known Rowley yard catches the eye. A place in an Irish Maiden last spring does not impress but a 25l. win in the Dec. Maiden at Charing meeting (albeit in a fairly weak race) shows he has some potential.
Selection: Outlaw Dream Alterrnative: Castle Trump
2.55 Club Members Conditions (Novice Riders) – 9 entries
Having already run competently round the undulating Ampton track, Fox Valley, from the inform Ellis yard looks to have a great chance, particularly with the benefit of her 7lbs Mare’s Allowance. Earlshill has already run a couple of times this season but seemed to struggle last time out and it may have been that the horse was unsuited by the soft Charing going. It is likely that Ampton will be similarly challenging so whilst likely to be one of the favourites we would look elsewhere. The same could be said of the James Own trained Perpignan, who, whilst eminently capable might find the likely soft ground too much to handle. Three Ways is an interesting contender – a former 3-mile Chase winner under rules back in 2018 when trained by Jamie Snowdon and ridden by Gavin Sheehan. Switched back to hurdling for the last couple of seasons with little success the horse can clearly jump and it will be interesting to see who gets the ride. This one is certainly worth a look both in the parade ring and in the market. Overall we will side with the Ellis trained Fox Valley but an E/W punt on Three Ways might be a bit of fun.
Selection: Fox Valley E/W selection: Three Ways
Race 1: Midnight Cowboy / Sir Mangan
Race 2: Buachaill Dana / Albert Hucklebuck
Race 3: Back Bar / Blazing Tom
Race 4: Diplomate Sivola / Minella Friend
Race 5: Outlaw Dream / Castle Trump
Race 6: Fox Valley / Three Ways