Nestled at the foot of the imposing Quantock Hills lies the popular course of Cothelstone and this Saturday sees the first of three meetings to be staged there this season. Traditionally run as a tonic for those recovering from the excesses of the Cheltenham week by hosts, the Quantock Staghounds, it has once again attracted a good entry of 125 horses. Sponsored again by local veterinary practice Evolution Farm Vets, there are 6 races to win back any losses accrued over the past week.
The first race, the Hunt Members has attracted 9 which include the useful Kinari now with Tracy Parker and co-owned by Barry Fowler. Previously a 4 time winner for Peter Bowen, he spent last season pointing with Peter's son Micky without success. A change of stable could work although he may prefer faster conditions. Another to have changed trainers is Redmond Hall (now with Camilla Scott) who so nearly won at Bratton Down last season. Charlotte Budd has three entered including Rien du Tout who gave French jockey Nathan Vergne his first ever winner at this course last season. Jade Barber purchased Oscar Mor a point winner in Ireland on his debut from the Warren Greatrex yard. He should improve on his first run for her last month at Buckfastleigh. Mujadel won his maiden nicely for trainer Teresa Clark and owner Ray Barrow at Wadebridge in January. He didn't build on that next time back at the course but could be forgiven that run with the yard now in such good form.
The organisers have been rewarded kindly for staging a Mares Maiden with a strong 28 horse entry. Caroline Keevil has A Tipple or Two in good form and she has three placings to her name including a second here last season. She was no match last time for the Lacey hotpot, Ramillies but could go one better here. Askphilmor could be strongly fancied on her second here two season ago which was then followed by a head second in the Champion Point to Point bumper at Stratford for Sheree Embley. Still owned by Sheree's mother Janette but now trained by Alex Gibbons, a return to that form would see her hard to beat. Claire Hardwick has the debutant Maid O'Malley who is by Black Sam Bellamy out of a winning mare and she could be worth a look at in the paddock. Graceful Sound also by Black Sam Bellamy is a half-sister to Philip Hobbs' useful War Sound. Ed Walker's Rosie Present however won a pointing bumper at Great Trethew and is the selection.
The Evolution Equine Mixed Open too has a healthy entry of 21 with the Ed Walker trained Kernel Victor included. A dual winner at this course, he probably wasn't disgraced in either run so far this term and could run well here. Jack Snipe has proved that a switch to pointing well within his range notching a victory at Chipley Park followed by a demolition job at Badbury Rings. Nathan Vergne has an interesting recruit in Hello George, a 4 time winner when formerly with his boss, Philip Hobbs. He was going well last time at Bishops Court until badly hampered after a lengthy absence and could give Nathan some fun as both rider and trainer. Moscow Prices showed his Larkhill run to be all wrong when making amends at Badbury Rings in the Ladies Open and this consistent gelding should again go well for regular jockey Lucy Mager having already won at the track. The well-travelled Western Diva has also won here but may find a couple too strong for her while her conqueror Bankhall in a Ladies Open here last season, was no match for Moscow Prices at Badbury Rings. Don Bersy is only a 6yo but he won as he liked last time in a Men's Open at Howick under Bradley Gibbs. Formerly with Tom Symonds, he rattled up a hat-trick under Rules before showings signs of temperament but he could still be worth a look in the market. Willem ran at all three meetings here in 2017 notching a third, second and win. He finished last season with a nice win at Barbury under Bryan Carver and could run well.
The Restricted Race has some progressive types including some already mentioned in the first race. Trainer Dean Summersby saddles the former Gordon Elliot trained Soul Kaliber who just held on last time at Bishops Court in the Open Maiden and could progress. Mary Sanderson's Gask Ridge has fair form including a second here and could be placed while Gracious Prince won well for trainer Harriet Brown last season and may have found the ground last time out too testing. Manofmanywords won an eventful maiden at Bishops Court for Camilla Scott.
The Conditions Race gives those chances who have found some grades more challenging. Mister Serious has returned to George Hiscock this season having been running under Rules. He should enjoy the easier company. Admirable veteran Mic's Delight has done connections proud with 6 wins and multiple placings. Always consistent, he should again give rider Millie Wonnacott a good spin. The Honeyball yard has Chill Factor who was returning after two years off in a Novice Riders event at Chipley Park. A 6 time winner under rules, he could easily return to form here and would be a strong fancy. Fly West for trainer Ed Walker should come on for his second to Templebraden at Barbury last month and can go one better. How About It was deemed good enough to run at the Cheltenham Festival three years ago and his shrewd trainer Alex Dunn may yet rejuvenate him pointing.
The finale is a Maiden for all ages and of the 24 entries Ed Walker has three of which Rare Oul Times is interesting. Just headed at Wadebridge by Cloudy Music, he may have found the ground too testing next time. Long-standing maiden Ballyjim is frustrating while Ivebeentold outran his odds at Badbury Rings last time when a decent second to Hon the DJ. Long Mile Road would enter calculations if reproducing his Lower Machen form last season.
Cothelstone is 2 miles NE of Bishops Lydeard off A358 –Postcode TA4 3DT. First race 12.30pm. Entrance costs £10 per person with a maximum of £30 per car.