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Battle for Ladies Championship intensifies at Mollington on Bank Holiday Monday

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GINA Andrews will be looking to boost her ladies' championship hopes on home territory at the Warwickshire Point-to-Point meeting at Mollington, near Banbury, on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6 (2pm).

Going into the weekend one winner behind Izzie Marshall, the 10-time champion rider, who trains at Marton, near Rugby, under her married name, Gina Ellis, is set to field a strong team at her local track with 15 entries.

She said: "I have got a challenger for the first time in God knows how many years. Izzie is giving it a hell of a go. I am one behind and it is everything to play for. Hopefully, I will get plenty of chances."

With four of the eight entries in the opening Butler Sherborn Warwickshire Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, she is set to partner Captain Biggles, who has found just Law of Gold and Clara Sorrento too good on his last two starts.

Andrews, who reeled off a fantastic five-timer at this fixture in 2017, said: "He has had a really good season. He won well first time and then has been beaten by some good horses."

Clerk of the course Fred Hutsby reported the going to be Good, Good to Soft in places on Monday evening, and he is set to saddle Shoal Bay, winner of his last two starts at Ampton and Lockinge under his son, Tom.

The Wellesbourne trainer said: "He is a class horse on his day. I think he will take a bit of beating. He is our best chance."

Muckamore has the option of running here or in the veteran and novice riders' race for Francesca Poste's Ettington stables, near Stratford.

The 10-year-old was third to One For Rosie at Garthorpe last time and Poste's husband, Charlie, said: "It will be nice to run somewhere where he is not carrying a penalty. I see no reason why he would not run very well."

The meeting has attracted 119 entries, and Hutsby is hoping Drop Him In can bounce back in the Ray Randerson Carpets Mixed Open after being pulled up at Lockinge.

"He had puss in his foot and was sore in his shoulder," said the trainer. "He was not right that day. He is a lot better than that."

Russian Diamond, purchased by the Postes to help members of their team learn the ropes, is set to be a first ride for Flora Lindsay.

Charlie explained: "His job is to look after them and give them a nice experience. He will win races in the spring."

Ellis has the option of running Dundrum Wood, a close fourth at High Easter last time, here or in the veteran and novice riders' race with Martha Reeve on board.

"He is very consistent and is a good schoolmaster for Martha," she said. "The ground was too firm for him last time."

Grace A Vous Enki, whose winning streak ended when third in the Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett, is top-rated, but also holds an entry at Eyton-On-Severn.

Hutsby is expecting a bold showing from Drakes Well in the HFN Landscapes Conditions (Level 2) Race over 2m 4f.

The 11-year-old chased home Loughan at Kingston Blount, and the trainer said: "He should run well. He ran well last time, and this is his trip."

Ellis has the choice of three entries. I'm Spellbound is top-rated but will be on a recovery mission after finishing sixth at Chaddesley Corbett, Benefaktor ran a cracker to be third to Pym at Kingston Blount, while Lunar Contact was a comfortable winner at Fakenham.

The Marton trainer-rider said of the latter: "He had been very disappointing until last time. I think the sharper track and better ground played to his strengths."

Bradley Gibbs is leaning towards running My Little Toni here rather than the mixed open and said of her last run when pulled up at Kingston Blount: "She was in season and is out the other side of that now, so it's fingers crossed."

Janika, a close second to Bothwell Bridge at Garthorpe last time, holds the same two entries and Ed Turner's 11-year-old also comes into the reckoning.

Hopping Mad Wife, beaten a head by Premier Fantasy at Kimble, is worth noting in the Tattersalls Cheltenham Four and Five Years Old Maiden Young Horse Series Race as David Kemp's only entry this weekend.

Line Em Up is an interesting contender in the 2m 4f contest for Dale Peters, having finished second in an Irish point-to-point.

The Postes have entered three unraced geldings with Charlie saying: "Kirsch de Cotte is a really tough horse with a great constitution. He is probably the most likely to run. There is no reason why he shouldn't run well."

Gibbs plans to run two of his three entries with Ask Elli, described as a 'nice, big filly', and Avril Star more likely starters than Pluto's Gate.

Ellis will assess the going before deciding whether to give a debut to Soldier's Leap or Codetalker. "Soldier's Leap needs better ground than Codetalker," she said.

Hutsby is hoping for an improved show from Gallyhill in the F N Pile & Sons PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 3), for Veteran & Novice Riders.

The 2019 Tattersalls Cheltenham December sales topper at a whopping £450,000, the nine-year-old joined the Wellesbourne trainer this season after failing to fulfil his potential under rules with Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott.

However, he has yet to shine between the flags, and Hutsby said: "He has been a most disappointing horse. We will see if Tom can get a tune out of him. He had a huge price tag on his head and has never shown it on the racecourse."

The consistent Imperial Esprit is joint top-rated with Muckamore, while Port of Mars, a neck second at Kimble for Dale Peters, also holds strong claims.

Peters made no secret of the high regard he holds Cash Or Card in following his impressive win at Brafield-on-the-Green, and the six-year-old could bid for a hat-trick in the Sir James Shuckburgh Bt. Restricted Race.

Court Cian is also chasing a third straight win after scoring at Kingston Blount and Garthorpe for Michael Kehoe, while Gibbs said of his Garthorpe maiden winner Tiger Tobin: "I think he is a nice horse. He is the obvious one from our entries on the day."

High Easter runner-up Main Stage or Kingston Blount second For One Night Only could represent Ellis.

She said: "Main Stage won a maiden at Horseheath. The ground was too quick for her last time, but she looks progressive. For One Night Only just bumped into a better horse on the day."

The Postes are set to run Culverwell, with Charlie non-plussed why the 13-year-old has a rating of just 7.

"I think it is unjust on what he has shown at home," he said. "He deserves a higher rating than that."

Capparattin finished fourth for the Postes in the restricted 12 months ago and is set to tackle the Walnut Hill Equine Veterinary Clinic PPORA Club Members Maiden Conditions Race.

Charlie said: "The ground was too quick when he ran at High Easter last time. He was always in top gear and did well to keep galloping. I'd be hopeful of a good showing."

Occupied Territory could bid to make it third time lucky for Ellis after finishing second at Alnwick and Garthorpe.

She commented: "He is just getting the hang of it. He needs a nice cut in the ground."

Graveside Lad will be fancied to go one better after finishing second at Fakenham for Ed Turner, while Myles Osbornes's Just A Mystery has claims on his Higham third.

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