MEETING ABANDONED DUE TO EQUINE FLU OUTBREAK PREVIEW: Barbury Racecourse is clear of snow & ready for season's second Vine & Craven point-to-point
THIS MEETING HAS BEEN ABANDONED DUE TO THE EQUINE FLU OUTBREAK *** The second Vine & Craven point-to-point of the season takes place on Sunday (February 10) at Barbury Racecourse and the eight scheduled races, which kick-off at 11.30am, have attracted an excellent 161 strong entry.
Clerk of the Course John White reported on Monday morning that the snow on the course had almost gone and that the going is Good to Soft, Soft in places.
The Meeting Secretary Karen Hobbs told me: “We're looking forward to another great meeting at this very popular venue, which always attracts a good quality entry. As well as the racing, we have a shopping village in which to browse between races, where you’ll find some great gifts and a sophisticated selection of catering options."
Two national sponsors are represented on the day. On paper, the highlight of the card is the Timico Mixed Open, with £1,000 worth of added prize money, for which 25 entries have been received. With 2017/2018 Hunter Chase winner Bally River Boy a potential runner, along with Sonneofpresenting – impressive here in December – it looks like an intriguing contest.
Dual Coronation Cup winner Brackloon High is also entered at Cottenham, but may take his chance here. Joan Johnston explained how she came to be training the gallant 14-year-old this season: “He did some showing in the summer, but it wasn’t his cup of tea, so the Barlows kindly let me have the old boy for a season to run with Jennifer Harbison under lighter weights in Ladies and Mixed Opens!”
The latest in the series of JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Races has attracted 38 entries and has therefore been divided in advance - making two contests with 19 entries in each. Form in the first division is virtually non-existent, with only the unplaced M’Lady May having run before, so it may pay to back the trainer rather than the horse!
Phil Rowley has a good record in this type of race and is represented by I Will Follow Her, while other handlers to note include Mickey Bowen (Apple Bank), Joe O’Shea (Blaster Yeats) and representatives from licensed yards Gogetthat (Tom Weston) and Loco Coco (Tim Vaughan).
Ciaran O’Brien may not be as well known yet but he has a 100 per cent record between the flags after Hudson Yard’s success at Chaddesley Corbett, the result – apparently – of some intensive schooling by a certain A P McCoy! So keep an eye on his This Might Work too.
Division two is slightly less opaque to the form student, with Churchtown Girl and So Socksy both having been runner-up in similar contests here in December.
“I’ve never had a runner in a bumper before,” laughed James Henderson, the owner-trainer of Bespoke Cave. “We bought him as a three-year-old and, while he’s not overly big, he’s a nice horse who we’ve hunted quite a lot.” James’ son George, who is impressing this season on his comeback after a four-year absence through injury, will take the mount.
Lambourn trainer Jamie Snowden sponsors the Novice Riders Race, for which 24 have been entered. Plans for some of the trainers I’ve talked to are fluid, with Joan Johnston hoping to run Flicka’s Witness subject to the ground not being too soft and the right jockey being available.
Barbury trainer Laura Thomas definitely wants to run Earthmoves: “I’m quite hopeful. He’ll come on from his Wadebridge run, where Miles Osborne – who was making his debut – rode him well.”
The Open Maiden for four, five and six-year-olds over about two-and-a-half miles, is supported by Ramsbury Vodka and has 17 entries. Promising Chaddesley Corbett second Terrierman heads the ratings, followed by two locally trained hopes in James Henderson’s Order In Court and Tim Underwood’s Streets Of London.
Tim is keen on the chances of Streets Of London: “I like him. I hoped he’d win at Cocklebarrow, but he’s a bit of a thinker when he hits the front and he probably ran out of petrol. He’ll come on a bundle for that and the softer ground will suit.”
The Jockey Club Estates sponsor the all-aged Open Maiden over three miles and have been rewarded with an entry of 32. Peter Mason relies on the unraced Bonanza Sam: “His owner bought him as a foal and he’s a bit of an unknown. But he’s straightforward, he’s schooled well and we think he’ll stay.”
Another (even more) local handler, Laura Thomas, has one of the highest rated entries in the field in the shape of Captain Cuckoo, who will bid to atone for a Wadebridge fall in the hands of Sam Lee. “I’m hopeful of a good run,” laughed Laura. “But then I was hopeful when he fell last time and when he was beaten the time before that!”
Twenty-one have been entered for the Magee Equine Restricted Race and the leading contenders are likely to feature a couple with useful form under rules – Everybody’s Talkin and Tossapenny.
The card closes with the Sporting Agenda & Wimbledon Debenture Tickets Vine & Craven Hunt Members Race, which has four entries.
Princely Player would be a popular winner for Meeting Secretary Karen Hobbs: “We’d love to run, but the going would have to be better than Soft.” Tim Underwood has entered two – wide-margin Cocklebarrow winner Timmie Roe and the consistent Golden Crisp, who won twice last season.
Entrance is £15 per person on the day and tickets can be bought in advance at the “early bird” price of £10 at www.vineandcravenhunt.co.uk/ticketing/
For more information, visit www.vineandcravenhunt.co.uk/about-us/point-to-point or follow us on Twitter @VineCravenPtP