The Cottesmore meeting on Sunday 27th February is the traditional Garthorpe curtain-raiser every season but returns this year after a two-year break having become one of the victims of the COVID lockdown in 2021.
Tickets are available online for £15 (under-16s are free) but will be £20 on the gate on the day. Dogs are very welcome as long as they are always attached to someone sensible at all times. There will be hot and cold food and drink available on the course, and the weather forecast is promising for the weekend.
The course has been set on the outside of the available track. There are some new wings and the first fence has also been replaced.
The first race, a level 3 Conditions race, will start at midday, with nine runners entered. Feuille De Lune will probably be the one to beat in this opener, having won impressively on UK debut at Revesby in the Autumn, and then again at Charing and Sheriff Hutton since then. Her trainer, Kelly Morgan, will compete against her sister in this race, as Laura saddles Skipping On, the multiple chase winner, now dropping down to race between the flags. Another capable chaser, The Unmentionable, might be the one to challenge her, with Dale Peters in the plate. Lords Park Star is the only horse other than Feuille De Lune to have won a race this season.
There are two Maiden races on this seven-race card, the first of which is the second race, over the shorter distance of two and a half miles, for horse of four and five years old. Boy de La Vis and Doctor Tom have both had second place finishes this season but they will come up against lots of promising looking four and five-year-olds from the top young horse producers in the country.
The feature race of the day, the Mixed Open, follows this, with eleven entries. Al Shahir will be one to watch here, a graduate of the Skelton yard before coming to race between the flags and a winner at this course last Season. Red Indian represents the Kelly Morgan string here having won the Ladies Open at Alnwick in January. He will also like the softer ground. Calett Mad looks to make his pointing debut here after a career over hurdles which saw him win four times. L'Incorrigible is another coming from a career under rules.
The fourth race is part of the very popular series of veteran horses races (nine years old and over) sponsored by The Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses. In many equestrian disciplines horses would only be just reaching their prime at this age so these races are very competitive. As many as seventeen could start this one, with several of the potential runners also entered in the first Conditions race or the Mixed Open. If you don’t see horses in the race you expected, they may come to post in the other.
As we would expect there is a wealth of experience in the field, with many winners between theses runners. Clondaw Rigger is the one who has won most recently, having won the Novice Riders Conditions race at Horseheath. He is similarly entered in the next here so may choose that. Others to watch among the veterans include Earlshill, Early Retirement, King of The Clothe and Minella Fair. Vinnie Lewis is a useful contender who will get the popular vote, being trained in the next village for local owners.
Another popular conditions race follows, this one for novice riders. Jockeys may not have had five winners before this season started. Some of the fourteen entries for this race also have entries in the Veteran Conditions race just before so once again keep your eye on the declarations board to see which race they choose on the day. First season pointer Moratorium has three wins already this season so will be one to beat.
Runners in the Restricted Race, our penultimate race of the day, will have only one once between the flags in their career to date but this will be a fascinating race. Many of the horses here have won recently and a lot of top yards are represented in this field.
To finish the day with a flourish, the last race is the most popular on the card with a total of 25 horses entered. In theory this would have to split but it is likely that not all these entries will travel to the course.
This one is a Maiden race for slightly older horses of six years old and over and, again, many of the most recognisable names in the point-to-point training circuit have entries here. Kelly Morgan has two here. Beauvallon Bay and Presenting Miranda. The latter, a half sister to Presenting Percy, won her point-to-point flat race at Lark Hill.
At the time of writing Garthorpe has just endured three consecutive storms but the course is set on fresh ground and the Melton Mowbray course drains very well. Clerk of the Course Brian Crawford and his team will update the going on our social media channels throughout this week.