The second and final all Hunter Chase card of the season takes place at Fontwell on Thursday night. With a number of the leading jockey’s engaged and racecourse regulars such as Start Royal, Foundry Square and Double Mead all engaged it looks set to be a cracker. This is the Pointing To Winners race-by-race guide:
The race looks likely to revolve around the Gerald Bailey-trained Gunmoney for jockey Johnny Russell. The gelding stays well having won over four miles already in his career and was narrowly touched off in a stamina test at Garthorpe at the end of April. The nine year old will be one of the more familiar names in this field thanks to his Hunter Chase exploits this season, which have included a victory at Leicester in a maiden event in February while his outing at Cheltenham just over a year ago is the strongest form on offer in this field. Supreme Regime represents the small yard of Katy Price and is a recent import from Ireland. He looks an improving sort having taken his Restricted at the third attempt at Cold Harbour in the Welsh Borders earlier in the month having previously finished runner-up in the prestigious Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow, an event in which he proved no match for the useful winner. Of the local contenders Crazy Eyes has decent form in South East Ladies Open’s this season, most notably when finishing runner-up to Rear Gunner having finished strongly at Penshurst on his latest outing. Regular pilot Hayley Moore takes the ride again here though backers would surely appreciate a stronger pilot at the business end of the race. Showman has been in decent form taking a Restricted and a Club Members event this season in addition to finishing runner-up in the area feature Kent National at Charing in early April though he steps up in grade while Wor Rom scored in a Ladies event at the first Godstone meeting in March, though he’s subsequently disappointed twice and is held on a second Godstone run by Crazy Eyes and Country Foolery showed some fair Maiden form as a youngster and came good at the third time of asking in a small field at Peper Harow for trainer Sarah Hall over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Mizen Mix brings easily the strongest form to the table here having been victorious in a Maiden and a Club Members event already this season. His most recent success came over 3m2f at Marks Tey so this drop back in trip may not prove wholly suitable for Andrew Pennock’s charge and he did pull up on his most recent outing at Intermediate level when sent off favourite at the start of April. I’m Not Telling was the easy winner of what looks a poor enough two and a half mile Maiden event run on good to firm ground at Larkhill a month ago. That was the geldings first sign of any real ability having pulled up on his previous three outings and the form of that Larkhill victory is held down by Ditto Prosecco who was beaten just two lengths on that occasion and has pulled up on his only outing since. Tompatpeg has always threatened to win a race and he finally came good at Parham last time out when seeing off three rivals (including today’s rival Big Kev) in a moderate event run on good to soft ground. Prior to that the ex-Irish gelding had finished fourth at Penshurst and given his style of racing and the way in which he weakens out of proceedings late on he looks likely to be one who will appreciate this drop back in trip. Ashanti Moon is the most interesting contender in this given the eight year old has had just the one career start, that came when runner-up behind the promising He’s A Black Sheep at Parham in March. Rose Grissell’s charge looked likely to benefit from the experience on that occasion and travelled like a horse who’d be more than capable of taking his Maiden and Restricted event and as such he’d be of interest with Hannah Grissell in the plate. The rest look unlikely to play much of a part though it’s worth noting that a big run from Country Foolery in the opener would be a decent pointer to Big Kev’s chances given they filled the first two placings in a Maiden at Peper Harow earlier in the month while anything that the Alan Hill yard sends out has to be respected despite Hill Forts Gloria’s form looking moderate at best.
This is one of the races that is now opened up to one and all and the course has been rewarded with a fantastic turn out. In my eyes this race boils down to three horses – Bedrock Fred, Galbally King and John Daniell. The first named has made a decent name for himself racing on firm ground at Larkhill in recent starts, the latest of those came last month where he justified odds-on favouritism to see off Theatre Evening and co by two and a half lengths in a decent time. Sam Painting’s mount’s last five outings have all come at Larkhill while his two previous ones where at the short-track at Cottenham so today’s drop in trip is likely to suit the gelding. In truth though Bedrock Fred hasn’t been taking on the best of the South’s Open horses and looks vulnerable to an improver in this. Galbally King represents the Andrew Pennock yard having already had chasing experience when runner-up at Huntingdon in a Novices Hunter Chase in May last year and when runner-up behind the multiple point scorer It Was Me in a similar event to this in 2012. Galbally King was beaten first time out at Cottenham prior to rattling off a double at Intermediate and Club Members level in February and March. His latest defeat came at Marks Tey which will be a totally different test to today’s and it did come at the hands of course specialist Cheyanwe who is unbeaten around the Essex venue which preceded a walkover in the Essex & Suffolk Members race at Higham over Easter. John Daniell has been contesting Mixed and Ladies Open events in recent seasons with his most recent outing resulting in a runner-up spot behind the prolific Byerley Bear at Holnicote earlier this month. Prior to that Grant Cann’s charge had rattled off two Mixed Open victories under regular pilot Amanda Bush. While Miss Bush isn’t the best of the Lady riders in action this evening a first rules success is surely not far away, particularly if taking the ride on useful horses like John Daniell in races of this nature.
The feature of the night and with the formerly useful Benheir headlining the field it looks likely to be a cracker. Sadly Simon Stearn’s gelding has shown little in three starts in this sphere, including when runner-up at Fakenham last time out to suggest that he can be a force against speedier and more enthusiastic rivals here. Start Royal is a regular winner between the flags and while his Hunter Chase results have yet to yield the successes of his outings between the flags (his record is currently sixteen wins in twenty three starts in that sphere) he has shown solid form behind Tricky Trickster and behind Hawkeye Native here last year while he took the Maiden Hunter Chase on this card at Folkestone in 2012. Chief among his rivals here should be the Sarah Ashby-owned, trained and ridden Masked Man who won at the staying track at Aldington in Kent on his most recent outing on Easter Monday. This followed up a decent Club Members success at Penshurst in early April in which he had subsequent winners Corporate Account and Frankie Anson in behind. Of the remainder Theophrastus came was a fair chaser on his day including over marathon trips such as when third in the Devon National at Exeter in 2011 and he recorded his first pointing success at the second attempt when taking his Members race at Parham in March under trainer Jody Sole. Sole is one of the more experienced jockeys in the race having ridden over the Aintree National fences and for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls in recent times. Kornati Kid is worth noting due to the jockey booking, as mentioned in the weekly columns here in the past Charlie Marshall is a highly promising young rider from the South East and it will be interesting to see how he fares on the old boy Kornati Kid trained by his mother for whom the partnership won a Novice Riders event at the start of the season in this competitive contest.
This competitive Lady Riders event looks likely to centre around multiple Hunter Chase winner Foundry Square, Rossmore Lad for trainer Richard Bandey and the locally trained Rear Gunner. Foundry Square easily saw off Shrewd Investment (runs in the finale here) on his penultimate outing at Ludlow and seems fairly versatile in terms of trip having then gone to Cheltenham over three miles two furlongs to run the useful mare Chosen Milan to two lengths. Steve Flook’s charge has been in and out at times in the past and flopped in spectacular fashion at Ludlow in February just three weeks after winning what looked at the time to be a useful Hunter Chase at Newbury. Regular pilot Gina Andrews is again in the saddle here and backers will at least know they have one of the best girls in the country doing the steering. Rossmore Lad hasn’t been seen over fences since easily taking a Novices Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter on good to firm ground for former trainer Charlie Longsdon last June, the nine year old has been kept busy this winter having had six outings between the flags for just the one win. That win came at Milborne St Andrew in March, a race in which the gelding saw off two other finishers on fast ground. A fall at Penshurst last time out when leading at the second last against today’s rival Rear Gunner won’t have helped his confidence but he showed no ill effects of that fall when finishing runner-up at Kimble behind Start Royal last time out and Claire Hart is one of the strongest girls riding with the five pound claim a handy bonus for his supporters. The final one of the trio to mention is Rear Gunner, already a seven time pointing winner and a winner over fences at Kempton in January 2011. The now twelve year old gelding has been a grand servant for the Grissell’s over the years and it would be unwise to take his heavy defeat at the hands of today’s rival Rossmore Lad in a Handicap Hurdle at Towcester in March 2012 too literally in relation to today’s event. Rear Gunner does most of his racing in the weak South East area so it should come as no surprise to find that the gelding has won his last three outings including at Penshurst when left clear by Rossmore Lad’s fall. Prior to that Hannah Grissell’s mount had seen off the veterans Freddies Return and Master T amongst others in a Mixed Open at Parham and a touch of overnight rain would aid the son of Pistolet Bleu’s chances in this.
Another race that has attracted a fair field numbers wise for one of its nature but is likely to boil down to just two contenders. Last years winner Double Mead has been a real star for the Dunn team winning on thirteen occasions in points and in three Hunter Chases last season, including in the previously mention renewal of this event. That came in a three runner field and in truth she’s had little of note to beat in recent outings but she’s done it well enough and should take some stopping here. Main market rival Champagne Rosie already has a verdict over Double Mead to her name this season, that coming in a Mares event at Cothelstone a month ago. It would be wrong to read too much into that run from Double Mead given the horses who finished in front of her would be at least a stone worse than the twelve year old in ability terms but Champagne Rosie is a young progressive mare who has won three times already this season including in Open company last time out and given she receives weight from Double Mead and in Will Biddick has the superior jockey she looks the one to be with in this Mares Hunter Chase.
The concluding short Hunter Chase has attracted an eleven strong field headed by recent winners Utopian and Warwickshire. The former proved to be a useful horse under rules for the Dunsdon family and scored in impressive fashion at Fakenham on his most recent outing, already a course winner here over hurdles he looks a worthy favourite as a youngster with rock solid rules form to his name. Warwickshire put in a bold front running performance to take a two mile event at Towcester on his penultimate outing, ideally suited by sub-three mile courses and fast ground he should run his race here having finished back in fourth behind Foundry Square at Ludlow last month. Warwickshire is held by Shrewd Investment on that running with the latter another who’s better suited to shorter Hunter Chases than racing in points. Already a winner over two and a half miles this season he looks unlikely to be inconvenienced by dropping back further and his handy style of racing should suit the figure of eight course here with Sam Painting in the saddle. Of the remainder What Of It is a regular in this sort of race and took a weak renewal of this race in 2013 from a very slow starting rival and could well struggle in a better contest here with the inexperienced Lucy Docker on board.