COCKLEBARROW POINT-TO-POINT PREVIEW – SUNDAY 12TH JANUARY 2014

 

By Andrew Norman

 

A mammoth 234 entries have been received for the Savills Heythrop Point-to-Point meeting, to be held at the brand new purpose-designed Cocklebarrow Racecourse, on Sunday.

Situated near Northleach, this much anticipated addition to the Cotswolds received rave reviews from jockeys and trainers when the course was opened to the public on December 29th.

The venue is the brainchild of John Wills, on whose land it is sited, while Nick Phillips (below) is Clerk of the Course. The track is free draining and has taken the recent bout of rainfall exceptionally well, with near perfect ground expected for the meeting. Phillips, also set for two rides on the card, said on Wednesday evening: “At present we’re good, good to soft in places and, given the forecast, I expect the ground to be similar on Sunday.” Seven races are scheduled but with the inevitability of divisions due to the high number of entries, the first race will now be run at 11am.

 

 

Gold Cup-winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen could ride Rumbavu in the feature race, the Lord Ashton of Hyde's Cup, over 3m 6f. The Overbury gelding took his winning sequence between the flags to four at Larkhill on Sunday and could regain the trophy for the Waley-Cohen family six years after Irilut carried their chocolate and orange silks to victory in 2008. Charles Bruce was no match for Penmore Mill on his seasonal debut last month but proved his stamina when scoring over 4m 1f at Cheltenham in May. Minella Stars, another with form over an extended three miles, jumped and travelled impressively when scoring at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas and should go close.

Grade One-winning hurdler Khyber Kim looked in rude health on his Pointing debut at Cottenham a fortnight ago and can follow up in the PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders. The 12-year-old, a former runner-up in the Champion Hurdle, bolted up under Camilla Henderson carrying Caroline Mould’s red and blue silks, the very same worn by Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre.

2013 AGA Ladies Open Final winner That’s Rhythm will bid to qualify for this year’s renewal in the Ladies Open race. The 14-year-old is unbeaten under rider Page Fuller and will have no problems seeing out the 3m 3f trip.

Fred Hustby-trained mare Tempered Steel, last year’s South Midlands Area Champion after a hat-trick of wins, will bid to retain the Heythrop Hunt Members race. However, the useful Chiquilline is back in the care of Chipping Norton trainer Tom Lacey after a spell under rules and is handed the vote.

The Chris Loggin-trained Bit Of A Barney has not been seen since second in last year’s Restricted. Competition in that contest this year includes recent Maiden winners Burtolli Boy, Fine Resolve, Pampelonne and RomassorDbobe, Iberico and Minella Fifty have each found one too good in this grade of late while Oh Toodles, second in a Ludlow Hunters’ Chase last term, is another to note. Irish Maiden Point winners She’s Real and Devils Boys, who realised £15,500 and £20,000 respectively when put through the ring in May, are other candidates. The last mentioned is now in the care of Zara Phillips, who has two other horses entered on the card.

Both Open Maiden races are likely to be divided as 57 horses have been entered for the 3m event, with the closing 2m 4f contest attracting 59.

The track is left-handed with gentle bends and two long straights, with the home straight having a gentle incline. Spectators can enjoy excellent viewing from the grass bank, with every inch of the track.

The Savills Heythrop Point-to-Point will be a fun day out for all the family. Children's entertainment will be provided in a heated marquee featuring two mechanical horses, on which children can experience their first taste of race-riding. Former National Hunt jockey Ollie McPhail, now Lead Education Officer for the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust, will be on hand to answer any questions as well as guiding technique. Attractions also included the acclaimed The Ace Of Diamonds Magic Company, face-painters from Cheltenham Face Painting, and the unique fancy-dress experience Bizarre Bazaar. A well-stocked bar and hot food will be available on site.

Admission is £20 per car, £10 for single occupants. Post Code for Sat Nav: GL54 3PU. Punters are advised to arrive via the A40.