PREVIEW - PPORC – BARBURY RACECOURSE – SUNDAY 8TH DECEMBER 2013

BY ANDREW NORMAN

 

The Point-to-Point Owners & Riders Club meeting at Barbury Racecourse has a reputation of being one of the most competitive in the Point-to-Point calendar and that looks set to continue with a star-studded entry of 140 horses for Sunday’s six-race card.

Contenders for the some of the season’s Championship races are likely to be revealed in the Open races. AGA Final winner That’s Rhythm will bid to remain unbeaten under Page Fuller in the John Toomer & Sons Ladies Open. The 13-year-old, a course winner in 2012, faces competition from several high-class performers including Cottage Oak, a winner on this card 12 months ago who subsequently finished third in the CGA Foxhunter Chase. Two others to contest races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – Berties Dream and Khyber Kim – are interesting recruits to this sphere while Martys Mission won a Ludlow Hunters’ Chase last term.

National Champion Will Biddick has three possible mounts in the Jockey Club Estates Mens Open with multiple Point scorers Bellsinni Ron and Certain Flight entered in addition to ex-Colin Tizzard inmate Song Sung Blue, now stationed with Charlotte Davis.

Lorikarad, who won his Restricted at the venue, looked useful when winning two hunters’ chases in 2012 but missed last season through injury and may find it difficult to carry a weight penalty after a long absence. Five-year-old Otto The Great could be a force at this level having changed hands for £25,000 at Doncaster in August following novice chase and hurdle triumphs this year.

Ninetieth Minute represents the rider/trainer combination of Paddy Gerety and Joe O’Shea, bidding for back-to-back victories in the race. Veteran Offshore Account, third last year, is a consistent performer at the track while Shy John is yet to prove he can compete at this level having taken last year’s Intermediate.

Ex-Paul Nicholls inmates Rebel Du Maquis and Tricky Trickster, hunters’ chase winners in 2013, both escape penalties in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for Novice Riders. Series Final Champion Bleuvito, conceding 5lb to the pair due to his exploits between the flags last season, faces a daunting task. Useful rules performers Sona Sasta and Stonemaster, the mounts of James Jackson-Stops and Emily Rucker respectively, are two others for consideration.

Trainer/rider Mark Wall has had the opening Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Qualifier in mind for unbeaten Theatre Queen for months in the hope of qualifying for the series final at Cheltenham. The six-year-old looked a very smart mare when completing a hat-trick in April and may be difficult to catch. The pick of the remainder may be another mare with a trio of wins – the champion-powered Champagne Rosie. The progressive Turtle Boys, now partnered by recent Cheltenham winning-rider Michael Legg, conquered the re-opposing Kostaquarta at Milborne St Andrew in April and the latter has franked the form since.

Marcus Foley, who trains a stone’s throw from the course at Wickdown Stables, is double-handed in the Jockey Club Open Mares and Fillies Maiden – a race he won two years ago with Kahlua Cove. His pair, Lamplight and Tigeralley, are owned and bred by Sue Welch. Northamptonshire trainer Sylvia Edmunds has two entries, with seven-year-old duo Grand Exit and Pampelonne having placed form over hurdles.

The closing Barbury Castle and Alan King-sponsored Four & Five-year-olds PPORA Club Members Maiden is one of the most hotly contested races of the season. Futurestars are likely to be on show with no fewer than 14 subsequent winners being yielded from the last two renewals. It is worth noting any representative from Tom Lacey’s stable – a trainer who is flying the flag nationally selling young British Pointers. The Chole Roddick-trained Romassor, runner-up to Lumpys Gold (runs in 1:40 Wincanton on Thursday) at Chaddesley Corbett in April, sets the standard.

The first race is scheduled for 12 noon. Admission is £10 for adults with children under 16 free.

Location: 3m NW of Marlborough. Main entrance off Marlborough to Broad Hinton Road (10m from Exits 15 & 16, M4). Postcode: SN8 1RS.