Connolly’s RED MILLS are delighted to once again be sponsoring the Larkhill Racing Club point-to-point fixture. 

The meeting ushers in the New Year and this is an ideal opportunity to enjoy an excellent day’s horse racing on Sunday in the wide -open spaces of Larkhill. As it is January it is advisable to take suitable clothing for a winter afternoon but with the mild weather forecasted to continue all looks set fair for the meeting. The current going is good and all of the bends have been moved since the last meeting.  A total of 108 entries have been received for the seven scheduled races which is due to start at 11.30am. In view of the current Covid situation please continue to protect one another by social distancing, wash or sanitise hands and continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where contact may take place with other people you do not normally meet.

The meeting’s overall sponsor is Connolly’s RED MILLS and they also sponsor one of the feature races, the Men’s Open, where a high-quality entry of 14 horses has been received.  All of the entries have a rating in excess of 100 bar one so this will be a race to savour. Igor brings the most recent course form having won the Mixed Open at the last meeting in December. He will certainly be on the short list as will Salvatore who has a good record at Larkhill but needs to step up from his seasonal debut in November. Chameron, a previous winner of the Coronation Cup at the course, unseated his rider in Igor’s race but with a clear round he should give Ben Sutton a good chance of another winner. Moratorium has won both of his last two races but this is quite a rise in class for him. Dream Conti should improve for his second at Hexham but a greater threat to Igor may come from Gran Paradiso trained by Bea Coward who was an easy winner of an Open at Charing in December. Previously the winner of two chases under Rules he looks a useful prospect for his Racing Club and will be partnered by the in- form Tommie O’Brien. Rio Quinto was travelling well at Barbury Castle until a bad mistake at the 14th fence stopped him and he has each way prospects. Igor and Gran Paradiso may fight out the finish.

The Woolley and Wallis sponsored Ladies Race is another good quality race and, following her initial success on Virak at Chaddesley Corbett, Olive Nicholls will be fancied to follow up on Monsieur Gibraltar now owned by her father Paul and John Bolton. A close 5th behind Igor at the last meeting he is due to reoppose Ballymoy who finished the runner up to Igor. Likely to be ridden by Immy Robinson he certainly has benefitted from a wind operation and may prove superior to Monsieur Gibraltar again. Southfield Theatre is a grand campaigner and is likely to be taken to the front by her usual pilot Lily Bradstock. As he will celebrating his 14th birthday the day before his younger rivals may have too much speed for him. Paul Nicholls has entered Sametegal the winner of a Hunter Chase at Wincanton last season and last seen running in the Aintree Foxhunters. Tom Barton won a Ladies race at the first Larkhill meeting but this looks a much stronger race. Ballymoy is the chosen selection.

The meeting commences with the Godfrey Maundrell Memorial Conditions race. As well as being a highly successful point to point rider Godfrey was the Chairman of the Larkhill Racing Club for several years before his untimely death in 2018. His widow Angela has kindly sponsored the race and this has attracted 17 entries. This looks marginally easier for the likes of Moratorium and Dream Conti mentioned previously but they may not be good enough to beat Beau du Brizais the winner of a similar race at Barbury Castle last month. Now trained by Teresa Clark he stayed on strongly for Will Biddick. Fishy Story is a game mare but may need her first race of the season whereas another mare Feuille de Lune trained by Kelly Morgan is taking a large step up in class having won a Maiden at Revesby Park and a Restricted at Charing this season. Maitree Express was a well beaten third at Barbury but that was respectable form and he may give Beau du Brizais the most to do,

The Southern Counties Auctioneers Conditions Race for Novice Riders has attracted the largest entry of the day with 18 horses. If Monsieur Gibraltar swerves the Ladies Open race this would be another opportunity for Olive Nicholls who could also switch to Sametegal. Both would be fancied as would Captain Buck’s who ran well for Freddie Gordon at the first meeting at Larkhill this season. It would be a fairy tale start for Freddie Gingell if he were to win on his riding debut over point- to- point fences. The grandson of Colin Tizzard, Freddie has been a prolific winner whilst pony racing and is scheduled to ride his grandfather’s horse Molineaux. The winner of two Hurdle races and two Steeplechases he looks a suitable mount for a novice rider. Wagner recently trained by Anthony Honeyball was acquired at the November Ascot sales and is now in the care of Matt Hampton and likely to be ridden by the promising Beau Morgan. Footloose won his Maiden in good style at the last meeting to give his rider Arron Butterfield his first winner but this is a step up in class. Fleur du Pommier runs well at Larkhill but may need her first race of the season.

The Alec Jarrett Limited sponsored Restricted race features two horses who have already won their Maiden races at Larkhill. One of these the previously mentioned Footloose has shown his liking for the Wiltshire course being second to the progressive The Big Sting and then easily winning at the last meeting. He is in good form and must go close. Olly Norse won a two runner Maiden at the first meeting and is difficult to evaluate but looks a promising sort. Southfield Lily won at Badbury and then then was runner up at Charing and should give a good account of herself. Forty Acres won well at Holnicote last season and was then runner up at Bratton Down. Bennys Miracle was third at Wadebridge and ought to come on for that run.

The meeting is completed by two Maiden races, the first being the WeDoVans five-year-olds and over race for which 17 horses are entered. The best form this season has been shown by Monty Searle trained by Chris Barber for Robert and Tigger Pudd who was runner up at Badbury on his debut and looks a progressive sort and Right Hand of God runner up at Barbury Castle for trainer Hannah Clarke. They may fight out the finish between them. The ex-Dan Skelton trained Frisson Collonges has placed form over Hurdles and Chases and could be the biggest threat to the two principals. The ex-Irish Hugueneau is now trained by Bradley Gibbs and he should also be considered.

The meeting concludes with the Clarke Willmott sponsored Maiden race for horses that have raced at least twice in point-to-points. Frisson Collonges also holds an entry in this race based on two runs in Irish races in 2019 and may choose this race. Satellite Receiver a half brother to the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere has had three runs in Irish point-to-points finishing third in one of these. Now in the capable hands of Chris Barber he is likely to be fancied to score on his English debut. Both Be One and Le Grand Fromage should come on for their seasonal debuts behind Footloose.  He’s My Shadow placed at Ffos Las is another for the short list with Bradley Gibbs’s horses running so well.

Larkhill Racecourse is to be found 5m NW of Amesbury, Nr A303, A345 and A360 – Postcode SP4 8QR. .  First race 11. 30am Etickets can be purchased at Entry Costs on race day £12.50 per person by cash or card, race cards £3, children go free