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Annual Kimble jamboree set to launch Easter weekend in Home Counties

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The Easter Saturday point-to-point on 30th March at the historic Kimble course, where racing has taken place for over 100 years and which is the only point-to-point track in Britain to retain a water jump, is always one of the most popular in the country with racegoers and connections alike. Meeting Chairman Edward Collins confirmed on Monday morning prior to entries closing that the going is Good to Soft, Soft in places. The meeting features six point-to-point races – each with a minimum of £650 total prize money – with a parade of hounds after the third. The first race is at 1.30pm and 81 entries have been received.

Aston Rowant trainer Alan Hill and his son Joe have a fine record at one of their local tracks and have nine horses entered on Saturday, most of which are expected to run, including Polydora in the 5G Comms Mixed Open Race, the centrepiece of the card with £1,100 total prize money and run over two-and-a-half miles, that has 13 entries.

Although the distance is expected to suit, Polydora will have his work cut out against a classy field headed by multiple winner Caryto Des Brosses – three times runner-up at the Cheltenham Evening Hunter Chase meeting, including last season. Maxine Filby’s Lift Me Up took a Newbury Hunter Chase last year and is second best on ratings, but his trainer was non-committal, telling me, “He’s entered at other meetings and won’t want it too soft, so we’ll look at the weather forecast. I’m not sure if two-and-a-half miles will be too quick for him.” Janika is a useful type but is yet to show his best form this season, while the same applies to Gina Ellis’ Not That Fuisse.

Gina– who has taken over training of the pointers now husband Tom holds a Rules licence, aiming Latenightpass for the Grand National – got off to a great start at the weekend with a Garthorpe treble and runs Not That Fuisse for owner-rider Kate Gowing. She admitted, “We haven’t found the key to him yet. His form last year was strong, but he was too keen first time out, then we may have run him too quickly.”

Fred Hutsby’s Gallyhill – one of four mounts on the day for his 16-year-old son Tom – has been disappointing this season, by his trainer’s own admission. Fred, however, is hopeful of a good run, saying, “He gives me a good feel at home and has been schooling well. I’ll put cheekpieces on him,” while Station Yard Racing’s Russian Diamond – bought from Shark Hanlon for their novice riders to have fun with – is likely to be a first ride for Cerys Sheehy.

Alan Hill plans to saddle the useful Coolagh Park in the 15-entry Hildreth’s Garden Centre Conditions Race, for horses aged ten and over, that opens the card. “He definitely runs,” Alan told me. “He won the Restricted here last year in a fast time, so likes the course. If he wins, we may consider going for the Jockey Club/Retraining of Racehorses leading veteran horse award.”

Useful though Coolagh Park is, three horses have higher Pointerform ratings than him – Romain De Senam, who was rated in the 140s under rules and Fred Hutsby’s Hunter Chase winner Drake’s Well, both of whom fell in a Hunter Chase on their reappearance from a season’s absence, and Barry Denvir’s Golan Fortune who won impressively (and well-backed) on his recent pointing debut at Brafield-on-the-Green. Others to consider on ratings are Station Yard Racing’s Horseheath winner Muckamore and Thunderstruck

Fred said of Drake’s Well, “He was still going well when he tipped up at Leicester and – while that was over two miles – he won’t mind the longer trip. The ground will suit him.” “I haven’t studied the race in detail,” admitted Station Yard Racing’s Charlie Poste, “But at first glance it looks like an OK option for Muckamore. He’s getting on well with (rider) Harry Arkwright and the track will suit, so they’ll have every chance.”

Richardsons Chartered Accountants sponsor the Novice Riders race and have been rewarded with 12 entries. The best form this season has been shown by Red Maple, three times runner-up since winning on his seasonal debut and the potential mount of promising Cian Murphy, dual second Monkey Puzzle and Champagne Glory, first and second on his two starts. Phillippa Taylor’s Elmdale may have a lower rating, but has won his last two races, stepping up from Maiden company to provide George Case with a first winner last weekend. Port of Mars is improving, and the ex-Kim Bailey Mot Pour Mot is an interesting recruit from rules for Fred Hutsby, who laughed, “His French form was really good, but his English form is terrible! He goes well at home and could be anything. He’s owned by John and Marcine Marshall, who are great supporters of the yard.”

Charlie Poste said of Right To Reply, “We’ve known (owner-rider) Emma Freeman for a while as she comes to us for jockey coaching and circuit training. He ran nicely at Larkhill on his first start for us and is a spring horse.”

Alan Hill has two potential runners in the Waverton Investment Management Ltd Restricted Race, which has 18 entries, the highest of the day. “Paul Manate runs,” he stated. “He had to jump a grade to Intermediate at Horseheath last time as we wanted to go back to the scene of his Maiden win, and the winner has gone in again since, so the form looks good. Highland Glory may also take her place for the locally based Sunday Night Partnership, but we also have the option of the Members for her.”

Allowing previous winners in Restricted company to run in one again with a 5lb penalty has transformed the category this season and led to competitive racing. This contest looks no exception, and it is easy to give chances to over half the field. Back It Up was promising last year and is bound to come on for his seasonal debut, the wonderfully named Chabichou Dupoitou’s Larkhill second for Robert Waley-Cohen is the best form on display in 2024 and Dondiam won a similar event on his final pointing start last season. Largy Pearl was impressive in breaking his duck last time out, likewise Maxine Filby’s Look At Mee after her promising debut. Lunar Contact and Penniless have shown promise but have yet to display their best form this season, while Mister Splash went into my notebook when winning at High Easter in a fast time last year and was only just touched off earlier in the month. Quickcharge ran well on his reappearance against more experienced horses and Ultra Viers is ultra-consistent and has twice been second in Hunter Chases.

Maxine confirmed Look At Mee an intended runner, saying, “She’s come out of Guilsborough well. It gave her confidence and, while we’re still learning with her, she’s constantly surprising us. Jack or Gina (Andrews) will ride.” The other sibling is likely to ride the Gina-trained Lunar Contact who, according to his handler, “Needed the run first time and probably wants better ground, which is why you haven’t seen him since Cocklebarrow.” Asked if the new trainer would make a difference, she laughed, “Definitely not!”

The Elliott of London Maiden Race has attracted 17 entries. Alan Hill plans to run both Barry Scott and son Joe’s Kingston Blount, saying of the pair, “Harry’s on Barry! (the jockey is Harry Myddleton). He didn’t act on the ground at Bangor-on-Dee, and we may put headgear on him, as he’s worked well in it at home. Kingston Blount hasn’t run since Badbury Rings in November. We’ve given him time since then and hope he’s matured and benefited from his debut. Izzie Marshall will ride.”

As far as Maidens go, this one looks extremely competitive. Four of the entries – Atlantic Fleet, Fred Hutsby’s Bellshazzar, Gina Ellis’ Creapapy and Premier Fantasy – have all been runner-up in this company this season, Atlantic Fleet only beaten a short-head last time (Whwatwasigoingtosay not far behind in third) and Premier Fantasy behind a subsequent winner. Add to that two splendidly named newcomers from top stables – David Kemp’s Hopping Mad Wife and Gina Ellis’ Schiapars Magern – and it’s hard to predict a winner.

“He’s a lovely horse – big, strong and uncomplicated,” confirmed Fred of Belshazzar. “He hated the soft ground at Guilsborough and seems really well.” Charlie Poste expressed a preference for this race of Power Of The Sea’s weekend entries admitting, “We thought the world of him before his Larkhill debut, but he screamed all the way there and looked like he’d never had a saddle on him! We like him at home – although he needs to take a step forward – and he could end up a good horse under rules.” Plans are fluid for the three Ellis entries, with Schiapars Magern the most likely to take her chance.

Another entry of interest is Tim Underwood's Kedg West, a half-brother to Grand National fancy Mahler Mission (and, more pertinently to pointing fans, to Tim's prolific but ill-fated Timmie Roe). He has been leased for the day by meeting sponsors Waverton and will run in their green and white colours.

The card closes with the Fantham Family Members Race, for horses qualified with a Kimblewick certificate and this year opened to those from the Berks & Bucks and Oakley too. Six have been entered, of which four are trained by Alan Hill, who has taken the last nine runnings of this race here and at neighbouring Kingston Blount. Last year’s victor was Normofthenorth and Alan admitted, “I hope he’ll be able to defend his crown.”

The other two are both Oakley-qualified – the aforementioned Golan Fortune for Barry Denvir and Gina Ellis’ All Is True, who went through the grades last year but needs to build on this season’s form to date. He is also entered at Higham and Gina admitted, “I need to speak to the owner before making a decision.”

Before the point-to-point racing, the meeting opens with an Open pony race sponsored by Ashley Wilde Soft Furnishings.

Admission is £15 per person on the day, with under 17s free. Advance tickets are available for £13 until Tuesday 26th March via the Kimblewick Races website here. Most of the Premium Reserved parking is already sold out, but fourth row parking is available at £20, also at the Kimblewick Races website. This does not include admission.

For entertainment, there is face painting for children from 11.00 and a family-friendly dog show with eight classes from 12.00. These can also be purchased in advance via the website.

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