Barbury International Point-to-Point affirms its international status
There will be Irish participation at the second Barbury International Point-to-Point at the Barbury Racecourse on Saturday, January 20. And there will be a continental element there as well in the form of top French amateur jockey Guillaume Viel.
Irish trainer John Hanlon - known to many as 'Shark' - has told marlboroughequestrian.news that he hopes to bring over seven horses. So watch out for Whistling Dolly, Glenrua, Bartizan, Ocean River, Delighful Dame, Night Writer and Newlands Cross.
Hanlon was a key part of the inaugural Barbury International in January last year. Had it lived up to expectations? "Yes it was certainly a good experience, we were really well looked after by everyone and felt very welcome." And he sold some horses.
Hanlon trains at Court Stud in County Carlow. He started out as a livestock farmer, but horses had been an interest since childhood and he took out his full trainer's license in 2007 - and has since had many winners: "But we won't just train anything. I f I think a horse isn't going to make it and give my owners a chance of getting into the winners enclosure, I like to let them know sooner rather than later."
His team at Court Stud has included rising Irish female jump jockey Rachael Blackmore - and she rides for him at many meetings. Does he think point-to-pointing should become more international? "It would be very good if the Irish were invited over to more British point to points and vice versa, it makes a great atmosphere and a great day out. It will bring bigger crowds and hopefully better class racing."
The Barbury International Racing Club is investing in an incentive for participants travelling more than 200 miles to the event - in the form of travel grants of £75 per horse. Runners must be declared to run and come under Starter's Orders to comply.
Visitors to the Barbury International on January 20 will also see French and Irish jockeys in the innovative Gentlemen's League which concludes at the Barbury fixture.
This brings top French amateur Guillaume Viel (22), and Irish challenger Dean Sinott (27) to England. William Easterby (23) represents Great Britain. He is currently assistant to his father, successful Yorkshire trainer Tim - part of the Easterby racing dynasty.
The Gentlemen's League, in association with Connolly's Red Mills, is a six leg challenge that started last Spring at Cork, and has included legs at Lion d'Angers, Vaumas, Jersey, and Craon. Amateur riders from across Europe have participated, and the League Champion will be crowned at Barbury - from amongst the three riders.
Guillaume is a sales representative in Certivet and has ridden 23 winners. The Irish are represented by 27 year old Dean Sinott, assistant to trainer Dermot Weld, with two winners under his belt, including his first ever ride for his governor in 2015.
Dean leads the Gentlemen's League table at 28 points, two ahead of the British and French representatives. So Barbury could decide the outcome in one of three ways.
There is still time to buy discounted tickets for the Barbury International - though the price has now risen from £5 to £8. Tickets are selling well.
Last year 500 point-to-point fans booked in advance - and this year's sales are so far level with that. Tickets can be bought online here.