PREVIEW – THE OAKLEY – BRAFIELD – SUNDAY 23RD MARCH 2014

 

By Andrew Norman

 

A sizeable entry for Sunday’s annual Oakley meeting at Brafield-on-the-Green, near Northampton, has resulted in a division of the Open Maiden, making an eight-race card.

The Marcus Foley-trained five-year-old Tigeralley looked a winner waiting to happen after keeping on well behind Mizen Mix at Higham in January and should give a bold bid in the first division of the Open Maiden. Starsky Des Mottes, a £5,000 acquisition for owner/trainer Michael Peters last summer, found one too good at Cottenham and should go close again. However, €17,000 Highflyer Bloodstock purchase Katkolys, who has been exclusively campaigned at Auteuil during his 13-race career, is an interesting recruit for the Stuart Morris yard.

 

Squirrel Esquire - Looked one to follow when scoring at Dingley (www.graftonwood.co.uk) 

 

Morris is also represented in the second division by the unraced Biddles Bedouin. Owner/breeder Sue Welch has transferred Stoney Silence to Marcus Foley after the son of Generous disappointed over hurdles but he should play a part if taking to this discipline while Alfstar held every chance in a 14-runner Larkhill Maiden in January before falling at the final fence. North Carlton runner-up Turtle Too is another entitled to respect.

Lincolnshire trainer Jill Dawson holds the key to the Ladies Open. Her two entries – Minella Class and the prolific Palypso De Creek – both require soft ground and conditions at other venues across the weekend will dictate if either of them makes the trip down to Northamptonshire. If both defect their engagements, Sagalyrique, Invisible Man and Saveiro can pick up the pieces.

Ashfield’s Dream can put a disappointing run at Ampton behind him in the Mens Open. Noakarad De Verzee and Blarney Highwayman may find this company easier after being outclassed at Garthorpe while hunters’ chase winner Realt Ag Leimt can fare better than when fifth on his seasonal debut at Cottenham in February.

The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for Novice Riders looks competitive. What Of It landed three hunters’ chases last term and the useful Corkage drops down in grade after plying his trade under rules. Locked Inthepocket and Sizing America went close in similar events last time but Stonemaster and Say No, both seeking a hat-trick, set the standard with the latter given marginal preference.

Cool Klan (4) - Had no trouble opening his account at Cottenham (www.graftonwood.co.uk) 

 

All eyes will be on Celia Plunkett's Squirrel Esquire in the Restricted. The six-year-old son of Kayf Tara went in several notebooks after quickening clear on his second career start at Dingley last May. His opposition is fierce. The form of Cool Klan (one from one in Points) would be boosted if Starsky Des Mottes obliges in the opener, Kazuri Kate arrives on the back of a 12-length score at Kingston Blount and Star Of Massini went close in Restricted company last time.

Andrew Pennock has two lively contenders in Uber Alles, fresh from hosing up at Higham, and Warwickshire, third in a novices’ hunters’ chase at Stratford. However, five-year-old The Gunner Brady split a pair of rivals at Larkhill in January who have since won five races between them and arguably has the strongest form on offer.

Popaway could prove good enough to carry a 6lb penalty in the Confined.

The meeting commences with Pony Racing at 12 noon, followed by the first of eight Point-to-Point races, the Hunt Members, at 1pm. 179 entries have been received with the course in excellent condition. The going is set to be on the soft side of Good. A big screen to enhance viewing will be stationed on-site together with a wide variety of trade stands.

Admission is £10 per adult with U16s admitted free.

Brafield-on-the-Green Racecourse can be found one mile south of the village adjacent to Horton Road on the A428, six miles south east of Northampton. Postcode code for Sat Nav: NN7 1BJ.