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Kingston Blount provides finale to South Midlands season

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The last of three meetings this season at Kingston Blount – and the South Midlands Area finale – takes place on Sunday 28th May. The six-race card, which kicks off at 2.30pm, has attracted an entry of 86 and local trainer Alan Hill – who has nine entries and as many as six potential runners at the meeting – reported on Monday afternoon that that the going is now Good, Good to Firm in places. With a dry week forecast, light watering has started and will continue all week to maintain. Since the last meeting, the course has been spiked and rolled, the grass topped, and the take-offs and landings repaired. The bends are being moved.

Highlight of the card is the Mixed Open, sponsored by the Friends and Family of Dickie Lim, for which there are 15 possibles, headed – in terms of age at least – by 15-year-old Southfield Theatre, aka Kevin, national leading horse last season, and a winner of 27 races in his long and illustrious career. Trainer Sara Bradstock also has Myth Buster, a course winner here in February, entered. Alan Hill also has a February course winner – Reikers Island – among his two entries, the other being the consistent Back Bar.

The main dangers to the aforementioned local horses look like Highway One O One – who has been more lightly-raced this season than last – and who will be ridden by novice title-chasing Molly Landau, and two last time out winners in Imperial Esprit, who scored at Peper Harow and Master Templar, who only won a match at Mollington and has yet to prove himself in this grade, but who is improving for Tom and Gina Ellis’ G & T Racing. Gabrial The Great took a lucky fifth course victory at the last meeting here, but all have been over a shorter trip, and he may not stay the extra distance in this grade.

“They’re both entered on Monday too,” confirmed Sara of her pair. Based on the track, Myth Buster would prefer to run here and Southfield Theatre at Chaddesley Corbett. He wouldn’t necessarily like the hill – let’s call him a gentleman with a certain opinion – although he’d love the faster ground. I’m non-committal at the moment.”

“Back Bar definitely runs,” stated Alan. “He ran very well at Cothelstone, jumping as well as at any time this season before being short of room two out then making a mistake at the last. He always runs a good race here – the hill comes at the right time, and he likes the downhill finish. Reikers Island might go too, but he’s also in at Cartmel.”

13 have been entered for the Magnus Group Novice Riders Race, over the shorter distance of two miles and about five furlongs. Molly Landau will ride either the talented but enigmatic Captain Bucks, or Butte Montana for the eternally young Tim Underwood, while her only rival for the female novice title, Amber Jackson-Fennell – has the mount on Collooney for Fran & Charlie Poste’s Station Yard Racing. Alan Hill’s Craigmor gave a debut success to Walter Barnett at Edgcote recently, G & T Racing’s Walkonthewildside disappointed at odds-on at the last meeting here, while Tangoed has been consistent this year without getting her head in front.

“I’m not sure if Molly will ride mine or the other one,” admitted Tim. “He needs to be handy as he’s got a lot of pace, having won over two miles. He didn’t run his true race last time.” Amber said of Collooney, “We’re also in the Ladies at Chaddesley Corbett but I think this race will suit him better.”

“I’m more likely to run Knight Bachelor of my entries, with Harry Greasby up,” Alan told me. “He ran better than the result suggests at Peper Harow last time – Craigmor will probably go to Chaddesley Corbett on Monday.”

The Carcomm Coachworks Conditions Race has 17 entries and represents an easier option – despite their penalties – than the Open for Gabrial The Great and Imperial Esprit. Sara Bradstock’s Southfield Lily made all to win here earlier in the month and she is one of several on the upgrade, along with G & T Racing’s Imnottalkingtoyou and Kauto No Risk, who took an impressive scalp at Bonvilston recently. Tim Underwood confirmed that his Ask Nile disappointed behind Southfield Lily, saying, “He ran like a drain! He sweated up badly, which he never does but has worked well since then. My runners will like the better ground but I’m no more than hopeful about any of them!”

“The plan is for Clondaw Westie to run”, said Alan. “I was over the moon with his run (after a lay-off) at Kimble, he didn’t see out the race at Dingley, then I don’t know what happened at Peper Harow – I thought he was a good thing, but he never travelled and was well-beaten.” “Southfield Lily will run as long as she works well tomorrow,” advised Sara, “Although she wouldn’t want it too firm. I’d like to get another point into her before she goes back under rules.”

Pangbourne Asphaltagain supports the Restricted Race and has been rewarded with 14 entries, of which the top-rated is Alan Hill’s lightly-raced Tres Francais, followed by the more experienced Classic Ruler, Dondiam – who has been running under rules – and Right Hand Of God, a close second here last time. Another returning to points after a spell under rules is Station Yard Racing’s Also Known As, while three last-time out winners represent powerful South Midlands yards, Calidad (at Godstone), Crawford (Eyton-on-Severn) and Gunteur (Dingley) for Alan Hill, Sara Bradstock and G & T Racing respectively. Amber Jackson-Fennell took Queen Kalamba on the long trip to Hexham last weekend and would be hoping for an improved performance closer to home but is more likely to go to Bratton Down next weekend.

“I’m likely to run Tres Francais and send Calidad to Chaddesley Corbett,” was Alan’s verdict. “He had good form last year – he should have won first time out, scored nicely at Barbury then ran a good second to Precious Bounty before having a problem here. He had a long time out before Fakenham, where he was given a cracking ride and will come on for the run. He’s grown 3-4 inches since we first had him.”

In contrast to Alan, Sara was unwilling to be drawn on Crawford, saying only, “He’s also entered at Chaddesley Corbett and it depends on the opposition.”

The opening contest is the Little Red Owner-Trainer Conditions Race, designed to reward smaller operations and which has 12 entries. Ricky East’s Cobra De Mai (also entered in the Mixed Open) heads the ratings – along with Edgcote second Padjoes Legacy and is also leading a tight contest to be top South Midlands Area horse. Ricky’s daughter, jockey Chloe East told me about Cobra De Mai, “He’s also in the Mixed Open and they both look nice races, although we’ve got to carry a penalty in this one. He’s come out of Edgcote (where the pair were third last time) in great form and he’ll love the quicker ground – he’s been waiting for it all season.

Grenadine Save may have something to find on form, but is on the upgrade, having won three of her last four and bidding to give Amber Jackson-Fennell the advantage in the novice riders title contest, although her owner-trainer rider admitted, “I’m on the fence about running her. It’s quite a competitive race and she’s had a long season. Even if I don’t run my horses, I’m hoping to have a couple of rides.” James Henderson’s Frisson Collonges ran poorly last time but has a chance on his early season form, as does dual winner Vango De Vaige, while this race could be an option for Tangoed.

Thorn Plant Hire sponsors the closing Open Maiden, which has attracted 15 entries. G & T Racing’s Kelsey Park looked a winner in waiting here last time, running green on his pointing debut, giving lots of weight away and only just being beaten, but won’t have matters all his own way. Richard Pringuer’s Dunworley – also entered in a Huntingdon Hunter Chase this week – has been a runner-up on both his pointing starts, Whats The Solution was a good second on his British debut, while Our John has good pointing form over the Irish Sea. Of the darker horses, Blackwell Bay may make a quick reappearance after falling last weekend, and no Philip Rowley trained debutant can be ruled out, which brings Espoir Des Forges into the equation.

Finally, the legend that is Phil York could introduce the nine-year-old mare Barb Wire – named after a Pamela Anderson film and because, “She used to be known as Barbie but she’s not a doll anymore!” according to her owner-trainer-rider. Interesting, Phil not only rode her dam (Eastern Point) between the flags, but also her sire Amber Life!

In addition to the six point-to-point races, the Tyreteam-sponsored Hound Race, with the usual enthusiastic commentary by Meeting Secretary Nick Quesnel, will take place between races three and four. The South Midlands Area Awards will be presented after the final race.


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