Barbury International Point-to-Point: record entry includes 14 from Irish trainers & a three division 'bumper'
The second running of the Barbury International Racing Club meeting at Barbury Racecourse, on Saturday, January 20, will score in three important and innovative ways.
Horses and riders are entered by British and Irish trainers - with more horses from Ireland than last year. The list of entries includes National Hunt names Paul Nicholls and Tim Vaughan - as races are open to licensed trainers, provided horses have not run under Rules for 50 days and have a hunt qualification certificate.
And thirdly there is the 'bumper'. Last year Barbury International saw the first ever 'bumper' (or National Hunt Flat Race) at a UK point-to-point and it proved popular - with 22 runners. This year’s card sees the first of six bumpers across the point-to-point calendar, all sponsored by the JRL Group. Barbury's has attracted 48 entries - necessitating a three-way division.
The organisers are delighted with a record entry of 177 – including 14 from two Irish trainers with Shark Hanlon joined by Eugene O’Sullivan.
On Monday, Clerk of the Course John White checked the course: “The going remains Good to Soft following 7mm of rain this morning. The fences have been moved to fresh ground since the last meeting and the course is in very good condition.”
. With a minimum of nine races on the day, the action has been brought forward half an hour and now starts at 11.00am, with races at half-hourly intervals.Cold, sunny weather is forecast between now and the weekend
The racing highlight of the day looks likely to be the Weatherbys Hamilton Mixed Open with 29 entries, including Eugene O’Sullivan’s Oighear Dubh, the only Irish-trained entry outside the Maiden and 'bumper' races. His Irish form leaves him, on paper, with something to find on the best of British.
Cheltenham Foxhunters third and Timico Final winner Barel Of Laughs stands out for in-form Philip Rowley and Alex Edwards. He will be carrying the colours the Alan King trained stalwart Smad Place runs in - for Mrs Peter Andrews.
Local trainer Laura Thomas’ Aintree Foxhunters hope Full Trottle – “He runs if the ground is not too soft” – looks next best for this race. It's a strong field with, among others, Tor Collins’ mare Queen Olivia (progressive last season) and Paul Nicholls’ Port Melon (with useful form under rules since graduating from the pointing field.)
One of the many innovative events on the card is the three mile six furlong race for 'veteran' horses aged ten and over, for the Greatwood Trophy. Among the 21 entries are prolific winners Universal Soldier and Horsham Lad. Colbert Station and Ericht are two old-timers who have prolific form in the professional sphere – Nicky Henderson is likely to be present to watch his daughter Camilla ride the latter.
Highflyer Bloodstock again sponsors the 22-entry Novice Riders race. So often in these contests, it pays to focus on the jockey and 16-year-old Connor Brace, aiming to follow his Welsh compatriot James Bowen as National Novice Champion, has made a flying start to his fledgling career with two wins and six seconds already. He has two potential mounts here for his grandfather David - Colorado Doc and William Money.
As well as the Bumpers, the card includes three Maiden races, framed to promote young pointing talent on both sides of the Irish Sea. The Irish dominate this contest, with Shark Hanlon having three entries and Eugene O’Sullivan two, but none of them have shown any rateable form. So the best advice is to check out the jockey bookings.
Goffs UK and the Jockey Club sponsor the Mares Maiden, also for four to six year-olds over the shorter distance. Twelve have been entered, among them Jemma’s Gift for Eugene O’Sullivan and Whistling Dolly for Shark Hanlon.
It may prove best to follow trainers who do well in these events: Tim Vaughan’s Drumsheil and Tim Underwood’s placed Irish import Thirdtimeben should be considered.
The third non-winners contest is an Open Maiden over the full three-mile trip, and is sponsored by Albert Bartlett, who also support a Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. With 29 entries, it may well be split on the day and – being open to older horses – there is more form to go on, both in British and Irish points and in National Hunt racing.
The JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race - 'bumpers' - for four, five and six-year-olds has already been split, with three divisions of 16 entries each. Form in the 'bumpers' is not just thin on the ground, but non-existent as conditions state that horses may never have run over fences in the UK or Ireland.
In division two, Laura Thomas is keen in the chances of her Bright Voltage: “We like him and hope he’ll go well.” Shark Hanlon relies on Ocean River. Sophie Lacey’s Maidens are carrying all before them again this year, so take a good look at her Colorado Gold, and Philip Rowley’s representative Nobby is another to bear in mind.
Meeting Chairman Nigel Bunter is pleased the Barbury International is going from strength to strength: "As always we could not have put on this valuable meeting without the continued support of our sponsors and I am especially grateful for the staff at Barbury, who have prepared this wonderful course for this prestigious meeting to such a professional standard. We look forward to welcoming everyone for a great day’s racing."
Entry is £10 per adult on the day (children under 18 go free). Advance tickets can be bought for £8 until 6pm January 19 by visiting the Barbury website.
With marlboroughequestrian.news' thanks to Jake Exelby - without whom...