The Leicestershire Point-to-Point season got under way with the opening meeting taking place at Garthorpe, near Melton Mowbray, when the Cottesmore held the first of five meetings to be held on this popular racecourse. The opening race was delayed owing to early morning frost in the ground but a good sized crowd enjoyed some first class racing.
The First Race, The Hunt Members Race attracted a field of five, the race being sponsored by Mallard Jewellers & Pawnbrokers of Leicester. This was won by the well fancied, Nautical Lad. Rider Joe Docker always had the fifteen year old gelding close up throughout the race and won by some twenty lengths from Cameroon with Tooley Park taking third place.
Next race up was The Confind Hunt Race and this was kindly sponsored by Cavells, Clothiers of Oakham and Stamford. Six horses were declared. This race was won by the Fernie seven year old, Zilcash and ridden by the owners daughter, Gemma Hutchinson who had suffered a fall on the gelding at Thorpe recently. Zilcash was always in touch with the early leaders and won by a comfortable margin. The Luder took second place with Liverpool Echo taking third.
The Mens Open Race also attracted a field of six horses and Marshall Land Rover were sponsors here. Teeton Bollinger, trained by Joan Tice and ridden by Stuart Morris were installed as favourite and were always in a handy position. Morris moved the Pytchley nine year old into the lead close home and won by three lengths from True Friday, the mount of Richard Armson, with early leader Braeroy the same distance away third.
The Young Spartacus Intermediate Race was kindly sponsored by the Hellyer Family and again this race attracted a field of six. For the fourth time in the afternoon favourite backers were successful. Early leaders Highland Vasco and Pharanto set the pace. With four fences to jump, On Top took up the running, however Hannah Watson brought the six year old Always Willing with a well timed run and won by two lengths from On Top, the mount of Tom Ellis, with Highland Vasco a distance away in third.
Seven horses were declared for The PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders. Sponsors here were Sturgess Volvo and seven went to post. Fancied horse here was Aztec Warrior who had been placed twice already this season. Approaching half way, rider George Henderson sent the Belvoir gelding into the lead and although challenged strongly going into the last fence by Carapuce, Aztec Warrior forged clear to win by a length with Ronan The Warrior twelve lengths further back.
The North Family kindly sponsored race six, The Restricted Race and a total of eight runners went to post. Newnham Rambo was the early leader and by halfway four or five horses looked in with a chance. However rider Adam Wedge brought Canticle with a well timed run and won by ten lengths. Newnham Rambo took second place with Delgany Gunner further back in third.
Final race of the afternoon, The Open Maiden Race, drew the largest field with fifteen horses going to post. The race was sponsored by Stonelodge Industries. The race itself provided the closest finish of the day. The Jimmy Tarry trained, Enigma Variations, who had previously ran a fine second in a similar race last month, set a strong early pace. However Moscow Mule, the mount of Peter Mann, was prominent for much of the race. Nevertheless the Jimmy Tarry horse who’s jumping was faultless had too much pace and pulled out extra coming to the last fence to win by a head. Lady Athlacca ran on well to take third spot.
Next local meeting is the Belvoir Point-To-Point which is scheduled to take place at Garthorpe, near Melton Mowbray on Saturday, 27th March.