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Grafton Point-to-Point Horse Races & Family Country Day at Edgcote, near Banbury, Northants
Sunday 19th May 2019

by Russell Smith

BUDDING young jockeys will battle it out for the prize of a one-to-one masterclass with Sir AP McCoy when the Grafton Hunt Point-to-Point and Family Country Day takes place at Edgcote, near Banbury, on Sunday.

The once-in-a-lifetime experience with the 20-times champion jump jockey at his stables near Lambourn is up for grabs in the Dunraven PPORA Novice Riders' Championship Final, which carries owners' prize-money of £1,000.

It's the culmination of a series which has been running throughout the season for the PPORA Road To Stratford Champion Novice Rider Award. Treble points will be added to the pre-final scores of the first four riders past the post at Edgcote.

The national award and the Sir AP McCoy masterclass, which will see the winner accompanied on the day by ITV Racing's Luke Harvey, will go to the jockey with the highest points score from among that quartet.

In the event of riders being tied on points, finishing positions in the final, which is sponsored by Dunraven Stud and Beachborough School, will decide the winner.
Fifteen entries have been received for the decider with ten jockeys already booked up to ride.

Luca Morgan is set to partner Holnicote scorer Gingili for his boss Johnny Farrelly, who trains at Upper Twinhoe, near Bath, while Luke Scott's mount is course winner Summer Sounds for Francesca Nimmo's Ettington yard, near Stratford.

Harry Homer and Black Jack Rover ran out on their last visit to Edgcote, before posting a 15-length win at Chaddesley Corbett from You're The Man and Sam Canning, who could renew rivalry.

Pytchley huntsman Dan Cherriman, on board the Elisabeth Collins-trained Garthorpe runner-up Spanish Fleet, is another contender.

Gina Andrews broke Polly Curling's record of 40 winners in a season by a lady rider with a thrilling victory on King Of The Clothe at Edgcote last month, and the combination are set to return for the Mixed Open, sponsored by John White Funeral Directors.

The seven-year-old, trained by Andrews's husband, Tom Ellis at Marton, near Rugby, beat subsequent winner Wick Green by a head, before suffering misfortune on his next start.

Ellis explained: "He was unlucky at Dingley last week when he unseated on the bend when one fell in front of him."
Claire Hardwick, who is on 99 career point-to-point winners, has the choice of either Western Diva from her Adlestrop yard or Midnight King, trained by Julie Wadland at Leamington Hastings.

Clerk of the course Graham Tawell reported on Tuesday that he plans to water to maintain good ground, and has entered Hellorboston from his Lidlington stables in Bedfordshire, but said: "He is a staying horse and needs soft ground."

Ellis, the country's leading trainer, also has Blue Mountain Boy in the line-up. However, the seven-year-old is more likely to run in the Grafton Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, sponsored by Heygate & Sons, which opens the card at 2pm.

Owned by Grafton huntsman Micky Wills, the gelding won at Parham before finishing third to Wick Green at Mollington.

Ellis commented: "Mollington probably came a bit quick for him. He had run three weeks on the trot, but seems really well now."

Richard Pringeur's Greens Norton stables, near Towcester, are responsible for the three other entries, including Aunty Joan, winner of this contest when it was run at Whitfield two years ago.

Ellis believes the track will bring out the best in Forgiving in the 2m 5f Intermediate Race, sponsored by Savills (Banbury).

He said: "She is improving all the time and did it nicely at Dingley the other day. I think Edgcote will suit her. She is a strong finisher."

The seven-year-old is among 15 entries, headed by Cold Harbour winner King Willie, from Max Young's Snead Green yard, near Droitwich Spa.

Holdenby trainer Gerald Bailey could run Northaw second Spring Cover, while Parham third Platinum Ben also comes into the reckoning for Nigel Padfield's Abridge stables, near Epping.

Tawell has entered Midnight Monkey, but feels the 11-year-old needs three miles, so has given him the option of the mixed open and the veterans' conditions race.

Ellis is looking forward to finding out more about You Know The Story, who is entered in the Restricted Race, sponsored by Jackson-Stops (Woburn), having triumphed on his only start for the yard after previously being with Martin Wanless.

The Marton handler said: "He won quite impressively, although I don't know that he beat a lot."

Potential rivals include another Dingley winner in Charles Brown, from Jack Wallace's yard ,and the Sarah Braclik-trained Peper Harow runner-up Blueball Sally.

Ellis is hoping Get The Gate can step up on his promising debut third at Parham in the Open Maiden, sponsored by Bagforce 2 Ltd.

"He made an awful lot of ground up after it took time for the penny to drop," said the trainer.

Chief dangers could be the Nimmo-trained Kimble second Hereditary Rule and Fred Hutsby's Butter Hill Boris, who had to settle for the runners-up spot behind Schiap Hill at Mollington after sprawling on landing after the last.

The day's biggest entry of 22 is for the Ten-Year-Olds and Over PPORA Club Members Conditions Race, sponsored by Framptons Planning.

Free Of Charge, second to Back Bar at Kingston Blount last Sunday, could represent Ellis, although his wife, Gina, has the option of riding last year's runner-up, Knockedoutloaded, for Nigel Padfield.

The Bailey-trained veteran Gunmoney may bid to follow up his Guilsborough win, while other likely contenders are Vasco Du Mee and Blackwood Rover.

The seven-race card has attracted 99 entries, and is preceded by two pony races, sponsored by Kandu and Ben Case Racing, starting at 1.15pm.

Entry is £10 per adult and children under 14 go free. For 20 per cent off ticket prices, visit https://graftonhunt.ticketsrv.co.uk/tickets/

Edgcote is situated six miles north east of Banbury. Postcode OX17 1AG (this covers the whole estate). The best route is from the M40 at junction 11. Follow the A361 to Wardington then turn right at the Hare & Hounds pub and follow the signs to the course. It is also possible to arrive from Culworth or Eydon.

For more information, visit www.graftonhunt.co.uk/point-to-point or Facebook @graftonraces.

 

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