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Russell Smith previews Young Riders Final, centrepiece of 7 race card at Edgcote

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YOUNG riders will get the chance to showcase their talents at the Grafton Point-to-Point meeting at Edgcote, near Banbury, on Sunday (2pm).

They take centre stage in the PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 2), for Novice Riders Championship Final, sponsored by Savills, which has attracted 13 entries.

Imperial Esprit would be a poignant winner with Robert Varnham's charge running in memory of Keagan Kirkby, the gelding's former partner who had his sights on this contest before dying in February aged 25 while riding at Charing.

Seb Mead was aboard the 10-year-old when he won at Mollington this month and takes the reins again, but his mount will have to carry a 10lb penalty, which gives runner-up Premier d'Troice and James Earnshaw prospects of gaining revenge.

Muckamore and Harry Arkwright were fifth that day for Francesca Poste's Ettington stables, near Stratford, and the trainer's husband, Charlie, said: "I think this track will suit him better. He didn't finish off his race. I don't see why he can't get closer to the ones that finished in front of him."

Olive Nicholls reported Ballyadam Destiny a more likely runner than All Loved Up from her two contenders and is hoping Daniel Williams's mount can turn the tables on Eyton-on-Severn conquerors Runwiththetide and Aimee Jones.

The Kingston Lisle trainer said: "It was his first run for us, so we had to see what we had. It was Daniel's first completion and hopefully both of them will come on a lot."

The seven-race card has received 101 entries, with clerk of the course Graham Tawell reporting a decision will be taken on Thursday whether to start watering, if the forecast rain doesn't arrive, to achieve Good ground.


Connections of Grace A Vous Enki are set to make a late call on whether to let their prolific winner take his chance in the Mixed Open, sponsored by John White Funeral Directors.

Eastnor trainer Nickie Sheppard's eight-year-old heads the Champion Horse standings with six successes after regaining the winning thread at Mollington.

And her husband, Matt, said: "We are definitely looking to top that. There is a good chance he will run as long as it is on the slow side of good. There are not many horses that can beat him when he turns up. When he was beaten at Chaddesley he had puss in his foot."

Gina Ellis is hoping Jetaway Joey will benefit from returning to point-to-points and a sounder surface after finishing fourth to What A Glance at Cheltenham.

The trainer-rider said: "I think the ground went against him, but back in a point-to-point and being down in grade will help him."

Caryto des Brosses, who was pulled up at Cheltenham but had previously won at Garthorpe for David Kemp, is another looking to bounce back, while Barry Denvir's Golan Fortune is chasing a four-timer.

The Postes plan to run Russian Diamond with Charlie stressing that the 10-year-old is being used to provide members of their team with race-riding experience.

The move to open up the Grafton Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, sponsored by Heygates & Sons, to allow horses qualified with the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt to run has paid dividends with 10 entries.

Seven of those hold Bicester certificates, including the Postes' pair of Fakenham hunter chase winner Trevada and Nasee, who was third at Kingston Blount on Sunday.

Charlie said: "Nasee is being used like Russian Diamond. Jack Cater went well on him then and Ellie Miller will ride this time.

"Trevada is going to be entered in a novices' hunter chase at Huntingdon and we will make a decision after that."

Well P finished second to Trevada at Guilsborough in March before giving trainer Dawn Ball her first winner for nine years when scoring at Mollington under Ellie Holder, who suffered a broken collarbone in a fall in the following race.

The Cropredy Lawn handler reported: "We have in her place Ellie Callwood, who rode Well P at Guilsborough. She is booked in and coming in to have a sit on him."

Having attracted 25 entries, the Maiden Race, sponsored by a Gentleman, could divide on the day.

The Postes have four contenders with Charlie reporting: "Mount Vinson was disappointing at Kimble. He was not prepped enough, got stage fright and was babyish. He has learnt from that and sharpened up.

"Tinker Two has done everything nicely here and is one for the future.

"If it divided, Scarlet Jet would run in the other division to Mount Vinson. He goes nicely enough at home and is really coming forward. Jullou De Grissay could go to Cothelstone."

Ellis is looking to Schiapars Magern to progress after finishing third to Premier Fantasy at Kimble, saying: "It was a pleasing debut and hopefully she should build on that run and take another step forward."

Ball has an eye on the weather for her Mollington third Billy Two Rivers, who also holds an entry at Huntingdon.

She said: "He definitely wants some fairly decent ground, and everyone says it is going to pour down on Thursday."

Calidad is clear top-rated in the Restricted Race, sponsored by Towcester Vets, following his close third to Drakes Well at Mollington for trainer Christopher Clarke.

Charlie Poste is hoping conditions will be testing enough for Capparattin to take his chance after the nine-year-old ploughed through the Mollington mud to break his duck.

"The harder work it is, the better his chance," he said. "He stays very well, and fingers crossed we get the ground."

Ellis, riding under her maiden name Gina Andrews, ended last weekend one winner behind Izzie Marshall in the race for the ladies' championship, and is undecided whether to run Tiger's Song, who is also entered at Hexham, having bled when pulled up at Overton.

Marshall has the choice of the Alan Hill-trained pair Soldier Unknown, who is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Paxford and Godstone, and Learntalot, second to Ryans Fancy at Kingston Blount last month.

Secret Cargo could bid to follow up his Godstone win for Kathryn Featherstone in the Owner-Trainer Conditions Race (Level 2), sponsored by NFU Mutual.

Nick Wright's Mount Pleasant has won three of his last four starts and is a big danger, while Thomas Murray could run Farrants Way, who was third to Perfect Pirate at Paxford, here or in the veterans' race.

Old favourites Step Back and Sametegal are set to do battle in the PPORA Club Members Veteran Horse Conditions Race (Level 3), sponsored by Framptons Planning.

Now 14, Step Back won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2018 for the late Mark Bradstock, and is set to represent his daughter, Lily. He was last seen finishing fourth to A Jet Of Our Own at Larkhill on New Year's Eve.

Sametegal, one year his senior at 15, captured the Greatwood Gold Cup winner at Newbury in 2016 when trained by Paul Nicholls.

Now with Belinda Keighley, he finished a neck second to The Creadan Rogue at Eyton-on-Severn last time.

If younger legs are required, then the 11-year-old Benefaktor could be the answer for Ellis, who said: "He got his head in front at Godstone. He is a fun, consistent horse."

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