Quality shines through big entry at Larkhill

The Avon Vale hold their meeting at Larkhill on Easter Saturday and with good going currently forecast there should be some very competitive racing amongst the seven race card, writes Bob Bracher. In addition to the racing there will be a lot of Easter activities including an Easter Egg Hunt for under 16s at 12 noon, a Fun Dog Show from 12.30pm and an equicizor on site with tutoring from a professional rider. There will be a race (the Veteran and Novice race) to celebrate the life and sporting endeavour of James McNeile who tragically lost his life at this meeting last year and 50 members of the recently formed Fan Club will be in attendance. There will be an exit collection and a donation made by the Hunt for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The first race, the Confined, has attracted fourteen entries with previous course winner Sarazen Bridge likely to be one of the fancied horses. Other course specialists include Hincheslea Moor, Sidbury Hill and Impact Area and their chances should be respected. Carrig Dubh won an Intermediate at Didmarton for Charlie Dando and is clearly improving. Punter Friendly won his Hunt race at the same meeting and may be the one to chase Sarazen Bridge home. Billy Two Tongues won two chases for Jeremy Scott and will be partnered by Luca Morgan following his purchase.

The Open Maiden over two and half miles features a number of horses yet to make their racecourse debuts. The Sophie Lacey trained pair of King Roland and Muse of Fire should be watched with interest as well as the Ed Walker trained pair of Foxworthy and My Dixie both owned by Richard Kelvin-Hughes. Gypsy Charm another 4 year old from Ian Chanin’s yard should be noted and of those that have raced Hugos Horse and Sixteen Letters have the best form. The Sophie Lacey selected representative may come out best.

The Conditions race for horses aged 9 and over which has been sponsored by Johnnie Boden who knew James McNeile well, has received an entry of 22 horses with a number entered in the Confined race also holding an entry in this race. Broadway Symphony was a good winner at Ampton in January and should have chances as well as Colbert Station who finished fourth at Ystradowen last Saturday. Crackacan was only seen once last season when finishing second at Kingston St Mary but clearly retains some ability. Bellenos won two chases for Dan Skelton but has not been seen since October 2015. If Punter Friendly swerves the Confined race then he might the answer to a tricky looking race.

The Mixed Open race sponsored by the Westons of Goodman Nash has a quality looking field of 15 entries with Broken Eagle and The Wealerdealer the standout horses. Broken Eagle the winner of 13 of his 16 point-to-point races has a choice of four races over the holiday period so The Wealerdealer might be a more likely runner. Different Gravey won on his point-to-point debut at Didmarton and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm won the Ladies race at Chaddesley Corbett on his seasonal debut. Thereyarsee did not enjoy going left handed at Charlton Horethorne and returns to his favourite course at Larkhill. Hard Station the winner of two Hunter Chases in Ireland and Woodfleet are both trained by Richard Bandey and his preferred runner comes into the mix. The Wealerdealer is slightly preferred over Ni Sin E Mo Ainm.

The Open Maiden race also contains entries for the Sophie Lacey pair as well as Hattie Hopkinson from the same yard who finished second at the Brocklesby meeting. Of the others that have raced Loodeen was second at Larkhill earlier in the season before falling at Charlton Horethorne and Hugos Horse fell in that same race. River Wye had form from last season but has not been out yet in 2018. If Hattie Hopkinson is the selected Lacey representative then she will be the choice.

The Veterans and Novice Riders race with a brand new trophy to commemorate James McNeile’s life has received 15 entries with Woodfleet the classy entry. The winner of the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham last year he has been taking on much better company and this might be an opportunity to give him some confidence back. Potential rivals include Adrenalin Flight who gave Matthew Fielding his first winner, The Caller narrowly beaten at Bangor-on-Dee by Barel of Laughs and Minellahalfcentury who is the last horse still owned by the estate of James McNeile. Woodfleet is selected for this race.

The meeting concludes with an intriguing Intermediate race which may see a clash between the unbeaten Silent Warrior, the impressive Charlton Horethorne winner Swincombe Toby, the equally easy winner Blackwater Bramble who won at Milborne but disappointed at Charlton Horethorne and the fragile but talented V Neck. Richard Bandey has two entries Fortune Bound and Irish Legionnaire but they may not be good to halt the upward progress of Swincombe Toby who is narrowly preferred.

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