PREVIEW: Barbury International Racing Club's point-to-point attracts a record entry
The fourth renewal of the Barbury International Racing Club fixture meeting at Barbury Racecourse again draws together horses and riders from the UK and Ireland on a UK point-to-point course (Sunday, December 15 - first race now 11.00am.)
The fixture is the only British point-to-point meeting open to both Irish horses, trainers and riders and professionally trained horses. Clerk of the Course John White confirmed on Monday that, following weekend rain, the going is Good to Soft, Good in places.
The organisers are very pleased with a total entry of 150 - easily the highest figure of the season so far. Ten horses have been entered by Irish trainers, including seven from Eugene O’Sullivan.
Ilona Barnett is the meeting secretary: “We are delighted to receive our largest entry to date. This has, however, meant we will be starting half an hour earlier and have divided the Novice Riders race."
"All other races are on or near the safety factor with the exception of the Conditions race. This has 32 entries, but a large number are double entered in the Novice Riders race."
"Due to the short daylight hours, we will not be able to make any more divisions on the day so would encourage owners and trainers who wish to be guaranteed a run to declare in the Novice Riders.”
The racing highlight looks likely to be the Plusvital Mixed Open with 19 entries, including useful rules recruits Thedellercheckout, now with Caroline Robinson and Chris Bealby’s consistent Inchcolm, who won six and was placed in six of his last 13 starts.Fixe Le Kap is an interesting newcomer for James Henderson while Don Poli is more likely to run at Alnwick.
Unusually for a race of this type at this time of year, the pointing and Hunter Chase form looks stronger, headed by the classy Master Baker, who won two Hunter Chases in 2019.
Phil Rowley’s Optimised was most eye-catching when winning at Cottenham first time, albeit over a shorter trip, while the Bridgnorth-based handler is also responsible for an intriguing entry in Champagne Lilly, unraced since 2018 and unbeaten in three points, but stepping up in class from Intermediates.
The most popular event on the card is the Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses Conditions race, for “veteran” horses aged nine and over. This is the first in a new sponsored series that culminates in a final at Garthorpe in May.
32 entries have been received, and, unsurprisingly, it looks competitive. Joe O’Shea’s Irish Anthem was regarded at a Foxhunters contender early last season, but hasn’t been seen for a year, while Lotus Pond won the Lady Dudley Cup in 2018 before a successful rules campaign.
The Dapper Fox won this race last year – but over six furlongs further – and Global Power and Minella Friend are consistent performers in this grade, the latter racking up three wins early last year. The two Irish entrants look to have something to find on form.
Highflyer Bloodstock again sponsors the Novice Riders race, which has already been split into two divisions, each with 15 entries, So often in these contests, it pays to focus on the jockey and Ben Bromley, who is likely to partner Ballykan in Division Two for his father – well-known bloodstock agent Anthony – is already off the mark for the season.
Call Me Vic, the likely mount of Albi Tufnell in Division Two, boasts the best recent form with his Larkhill Open third, Drumhart (Division One) wins.
Proceedings open with the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Point-to-Point Flat Race for four and five-year-olds. Surprisingly, given the popularity of this relatively recent innovation, there are just 15 entries. Form in the Bumpers is not just thin on the ground, but virtually non-existent - as conditions state that horses may never have run over fences in the UK or Ireland.
The best British form is represented by So Socksy, runner-up in two similar contests here last season. Both Irish entries are unraced and trained by Eugene O’Sullivan.
As well as the flat race, the card includes three Maidens, framed to promote young pointing talent on both sides of the Irish Sea. The first is the Goffs UK two-and-a-half mile Maiden for four and five-year-olds, which has attracted 17 entries. Like the “veterans” race, this is a new series for the 2019/2020 season, which concludes in May.
Barbury Castle's Alan King Racing and The Jockey Club sponsor the Mares Maiden, also for four to six year-olds over the shorter distance. 19 have been entered, among them recent Dunsmore second Janeslittlevoice for Robert Hawker and Les Jefford’s Arctic Milly, who has been placed three times.
The third non-winners' contest is an Open Maiden over the full three-mile trip, and is sponsored by Tattersalls Ireland. With 18 entries and being open to older horses, there is more form to go on, both in British and Irish points and in National Hunt racing. Best recent form is represented by Fran Nimmo’s close Larkhill second On Parole and Family Man, who had form in Irish points and was third on his Dunsmore debut for Ryan Potter.
Entrance is £15 per person on the day to include a race card, and tickets can be bought in advance at the discounted price of £10 at www.barburyraces.co.uk/tickets Visit www.pointtopoint.co.uk for a full list of entries for this meeting.