Grafton Point-to-Point at Edgcote Preview
Sunday 15th May 2022
First Race 2.00pm
Written by Jake Exelby
The Grafton point-to-point at Edgcote on Sunday 15th May – sponsored by Michael Graham – has attracted an entry of 67 for the seven races on the card, which start at 2.00pm. Clerk of the Course Graham Tawell reported on Sunday evening that the going remains Good to Firm and that the course is being spiked and watered this week with the intention of achieving Good ground for racing on Sunday.
Centrepiece of the card is the Beachborough School Novice Riders Championship Final, with £1,000 total prize money and £500 to the winner. 11 have been entered, including Captain Bucks, the mount of Freddie Gordon. The pair won at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday – another winner at the weekend taking 16-year-old Freddie into clear second in the national novice riders title – and the quirky ten-year-old looks rejuvenated under his young handler and is clear top on ratings. Toby McCain-Mitchell, nephew of trainer Donald McCain and grandson of the legendary Ginger, is another youngster enjoying a great season and he has the choice of either Slievagar or Vango De Vaige, both trained by mother Joanne.
Murray Dodd, who may ride Ellipsism, Billy Chatterton (Francesco Du Clos) and Megan Fox (Bentons Lad) are all in contention for their respective novice riders’ titles, while local hopes rest with Max Comley’s multiple winner Knockaderry Flyer, who was outclassed at Cheltenham last time, and Alan Hill’s consistent Craigmor – second on both his last two starts and aiming to be a first winner for owner-rider James Hayward.
“I think we’ll run him again,” Alan told me about Craigmor. “He didn’t have a hard race on Sunday and he’s come out of it fine. He ran well at Edgcote last time and I’m keen to support this race.”
The highest quality contest of the day is likely to be the John White Funeral Directors Mixed Open. It has attracted 13 entries – among whom are some of this season’s most prolific winners. Sara Bradstock’s front-running veteran Southfield Theatre currently heads the National Leading Horse standings with seven victories, but is more likely to go to Tabley this weekend, while Highway One O One, trained by Jenny Gordon, has scored four times and Virak – another veteran – thrice.
Four trainers are responsible for ten of the entries, so the race will probably cut up. Jenny Gordon also has the ex-rules Commanche Red, who finished his professional career with a rating of 135 and was third on his pointing debut. Alan Hill is likely to run two of the three he has entered – Diplomate Sivola won at Guilsborough last month but is another not running as well overall as he did last year, while his Port Of Mars is an interesting newcomer, having shown good form under rules for Olly Murphy. Phil Rowley also has the choice of three – including the consistent 13-year-old Vivaldi Collonges and Dragon D’Estruval, a dual winner this term but disappointing in a Hunter Chase last time – while neither of James Henderson’s pair are likely to take up their engagement here.
“We were going to run Diplomate Sivola at Dingley last weekend, but the ground wouldn’t have suited him,” admitted Alan. “There’s a very good chance we’ll run at Edgcote and I’m also planning to run Port Of Mars, who would be a likely first ride for Clemmie Jackson, who works for us. He’s a big strong horse with a bit of form but who was too high in the handicap under rules – Olly rang me about him as he knew Clemmie was looking for one to ride.”
Seven entries have been received for the Savills Owner-Trainer Conditions Race, which looks a tight contest with all seven in with a chance. The more likely runner of James Henderson’s two entries is Frisson Collonges, who has already won twice this year. Another winner this campaign, Jane Burton’s Earlshill – who scored at Revesby Park in November – has run consistently since, but also unseated twice. Bentons Lad and Gold Mountain (both entered in the Novice Riders race too) have also been running well recently and Direct Flight is on the upgrade after a recent Godstone victory. Finally, Billy Aprahamian’s Bayley’s Dream may not be in the form of old but ran well enough here last month and has claims if returning to his best.
James Henderson said earlier, “Frisson Collonges will probably run in this, with Fixe Le Kap going in the last. He’s a big horse, who needs good ground and it’s so firm at home that we can’t do much with him so we’re taking him to Lambourn this week. The ultimate aim is the Restricted Final at Stratford – that will be a fun night out.” Plans for Nigel Padfield’s Direct Flight are ground dependent. The eight-year-old’s owner-trainer advised, “He’s also in at Peper Harow but won’t go there as it’s my niece’s wedding, so I’m not allowed to miss that! It’s the firmer the better for him, so I’m not sure if he’ll run.”
The Jackson-Stops and Staff Restricted Race has eight entries and two – Chasing The Dream and Magnetic Zero – come here on the back of a victory last time out, the latter at the last meeting at this venue. Alan Hill’s Mythical Prince (who I used to own) won on his seasonal debut but was last of seven at Mollington earlier in the month, behind both Philippa Taylor’s Idee De Garde, who has been running well in this grade – with three seconds in points in the last two seasons – without getting his head in front and Joan Johnston’s Irish import Access Granted, who can be expected to step up on his third place there for shrewd handler Joan Johnston.
Nigel Padfield intends to run Magnetic Zero, with champion jockey Gina Andrews again hopefully in the plate, telling me, “He needs good ground – so if he runs, Direct Flight won’t, and vice versa. We haven’t done a huge amount with him since his last race, but – touch wood – he’s fine.” Alan said of Mythical Prince, “The ground was great at Mollington, just too wet for him, and he’s fresh as a daisy. However, he’s more likely to run at Peper Harow.”
The card opens with the Heygates Country Foods Members Race, which has attracted four entries and was won last year – albeit rather fortunately – by Station Yard Racing’s Ange Des Malberaux. The 12-year-old is entered again and comes here fresh from a Hunter Chase third last week. She has been keeping good company this season and looks the most likely winner although Richard Pringeur’s popular mare Aunty Joan (second here last year) has returned to form this campaign and won at Dingley on Sunday. Jonjoela has been running consistently for owner-trainer-rider Ellie Holder, but looks to have something to find, as does Access Granted, who probably has a better chance in the Restricted.
Station Yard Racing’s Charlie Poste – WhatsApping me from Majorca, where he and his wife Francesca are enjoying a well-deserved short break – confirmed they are keen to run Ange Des Malberaux, saying, “He’s run some good races for owner-rider Amy Cox this year and we’d like to drop him into calmer waters!”
The NFU Mutual Open Maiden Race has 15 entries, the highest of the day and, on form, it looks a three-horse race. Monmouth Hill has been second four times from eight starts in points, including on both his last two runs, Flashy Kate has been placed four times this season – two of which were very competitive contests at Horseheath – and four-year-old Talkingtothemoon, who will benefit from a weight allowance, was second when joint-favourite on his pointing debut. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that Charlie Marshall is the usual rider of both Flashy Kate and Monmouth Hill, so it is unlikely that both will run, and Chris Barber – trainer of Talkingtothemoon – has also entered two unraced youngsters, Andy Du Pierres and Papa John. Another four-year-old newcomer well worthy of consideration is Station Yard Racing’s La Gomera.
Charlie Poste said of La Gomera, “She’s a filly bred by Robert Chugg, who goes nicely at home. She came in late, but seems in good order and we’d like to run as long as the ground is safe.”
The final race of the day – with nine entries – is the Framptons Planning Conditions Race, for veteran horses ten years old and over. Master Sunrise won this last year, is definitely in with a chance again and jockey Freddie Philipson-Stow will be hopeful of landing a first success. This is the preferred option for James Henderson’s useful Fixe Le Kap, while Monbeg Legend, Shanoule Wood and Welsh’s Castle have all been placed on more than one occasion this campaign. Multiple winner Neumond does not look the force he was, but would be a shoo-in on his old form and Station Yard Racing’s Dounikos’ form figures look uninspiring, but he has been running in stronger company this season and a first winner for jockey Carlos Baird wouldn’t be a total shock.
Fixe Le Kap was an unlucky loser last time at Lockinge, where rider Fred Henderson lost an iron and was just beaten after riding the final circuit with only one stirrup and father James laughed, “I blame myself for that. He was then below his best when fifth at Cheltenham, but we’ve been struggling at home with the dry ground.” Charlie Poste remained non-committal about Dounikos, saying only, “If he runs this weekend, it is more likely to be at Edgcote as it looks the easier of his two options.”
In addition to the seven point-to-point races, there will be two pony races, starting at 12.45pm. There will be a big screen to watch the racing, hosted by Sam Davies-Thomas and Charlie Poste. A parade of hounds will take place between the third and fourth races and other attractions include vintage cars, birds of prey, plenty of trade stands, a childrens’ area and a bucking bronco, with proceeds going to the Ukraine Appeal.
Entrance is £15 per person and tickets can be purchased in advance here or at the gate on the day. Under 16s go free. There are also a few reserved spaces remaining in the VIP car park at £50 per car. Applications should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 10th May.
Edgcote is about six miles north east of Banbury, near the A361. The postcode is OX17 1AG but this covers the whole estate. The best way to arrive is to come off the M40 at junction 11, follow the A361 to Wardington then turn right at the Hare & Hounds pub and follow the road round to the right. Cross the pond then turn right at the electric gates for Lodge Farm and Trafford Bridge stables. It is also possible to arrive coming from Culworth or Eydon. Horseboxes will be signposted to a different entrance, postcode OX17 2ER
Feature image for illustration only and not representative of the event.
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