Cothelstone belatedly opens its gates for its first fixture on Wednesday evening after the earlier meeting succumbed to the wet spring deluge. The Weston & Banwell Point to Point has a bumper entry of 168, it looks to be a case of trainers' eager to run at this popular Somerset course and take advantage of the fresh ground.
The Confined Race boasts 17 entries amongst which Crackacan is the top rated. He was favourite to win at Holnicote but despite rallying from the last couldn't reel in old rival Angles Hill. High Priority ran well last time when second to Hinxworth at Vauterhill. A course winner last season he should enjoy the quicker ground while It Has to Be has two wins to his name this season already including a Restricted at Larkhill. My Legal Lady ran an improved race when 3rd at Holnicote in a competitive Hunt Members. Louise Cabble's Roseyroo would be of interest if recapturing her form from a few seasons ago when a dual course winner here. She was getting into contention when unseating last time in a mare's Hunter Chase at Cheltenham. Trueflyingcolours has been a good servant to trainer Stuart Penny and it was good to see him back in winning form last time at Larkhill.
The young horse maiden has several unraced entries including Caroline Keevils' A Tipple or Two out of winning pointer, Play with Fire; Enhancia for the Lacey team whose half-brother Sky Pirate won for them before being sold to Jonjo O'Neill for £150,000; Kayley Woollacott has the 4yo filly Waypoint. Of those to race, Beauchamp Monark ran a fair race in 4th last time while the well-bred My Dixie should improve on her debut 4th placing. Paint The Dream fell two from home when leading last time out at Pyle for trainer David Brace while Redmond Hall was unlucky not to win when second to The Coffee Hunter in a tight finish at Holnicote.
The Novice Riders could be set to be a thrilling Welsh showdown. Jockey Connor Brace has been carrying all before him this season and grandfather David has the season's leading scorer William Money, and the improving Pink Eyed Pedro entered as well as the classy Robin des People, a dual winner this season. The first two continued their successful seasons by winning again at Holnicote ten days ago. However Mickey Bowen has Sir du Bearn who opened his account with an easy win at Pyle. He has now won 11 of his 15 points. Throw into the mix another Welsh raider, Repeat Business who took the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow last year and may not have been seen to his best this season on the softer ground. He also claimed the scalp of Sir du Bearn at Howick last season. Robin du Souza hasn't quite fired since winning back to back at Wadebridge while Larkhill specialist Subtle Sovereign may appreciate the drop back from hunter chasing.
The Restricted race has some interesting entries including Canada Kid for the Chanins who slipped up on seasonal debut before regaining his confidence with an easy win last time at Trebudannon. Luke Price has Mister Buddy who fell first time out but made amends at Lower Machen in April. Emma Moseley's Design Plan looked unlucky first time out when hampered and unseating but made amends last time to win nicely. Similarly Earthly Reason who many thought had won in a photo on debut at Wadebridge, made sure his second outing was a winning one. Imogen's Thunder put in an improved run when winning his maiden at Stafford Cross two weeks ago. Legendara beat subsequent winner, Gerties Garter at Flete Park but didn't build on that back at the same course next time. Pointview Gale looked to have some potential when trouncing his rivals on debut at Ottery in November but hasn't progressed as expected. Camilla Scott's Tree Sparrow could enjoy the quicker ground judging on his win at Bratton Down while The Coffee Hunter gained a gritty win at Holnicote last week for trainer Colin Heard.
The Men's Open has several entered in other races and are already mentioned. Beat The Tide was possibly lucky to win at Lockinge when his rival ducked out near the line while Jade Barber has the rejuvenated Golden Hoof who easily won his final two starts last season. Mickey Bowen's Kelsey is probably better judged on his 10 length win at Lydstep than last time at Cheltenham when he pulled up. Likewise the former Donald McCain inmate Shantou Tiger beat Frelia in a Mixed Open race at Hereford before finding Cheltenham too hot. Ed Walker's ultra-consistent mare The Flying Doc doesn't know how to run a bad race and could well figure while Uppertown Hawk only just got beaten at the course last year and should improve on his seasonal debut.
The Ladies Open again includes several with multiple entries. Bankhall who got his act together in an all-the-way win at Maisemore last time. Good ground could be the key to him. Florence Mary has the form figures 1,2,3 in this race for the last 3 seasons and could also appreciate a quicker surface. La Madonnina had two wins on good ground under rules for Caroline Keevil. Now with Ed Walker, she broke her duck pointing under Will Biddick last time at Stafford Cross. Ni Sin E Mo Ainm showed a liking for this course when taking a Mixed Open two years ago. He won a Ladies Open on seasonal debut and would be of interest. However Claire Hardwick's mare Western Diva took this race last year and could not have been more impressive. She comes here after an easy win at Edgcote and is strongly fancied.
The finale is the Open Maiden has 43 entries so a division could be likely. Mickey Bowen has Awesomedestination who finished a good second last time at Pyle while Harriet Brown's Country Legend has had two fair seconds recently. Dragon de la Tour must surely break his maiden soon after some good runs this season. Ivebeentold put in a much improved display last time when 3rd at Stafford Cross. Pancrace has shown fair form this season as has Shanoule Wood while The Dartmoor Rose comes here off a good second at Flete Park and would be the selection.
Admission is £10 per person (max £30 per car) Bar and Refreshments available. The course is situated north of Bishops Lydeard TA4 3DT. Pony Racing is set to start at 3.15pm preceding the main events. The first main race is scheduled for 4.30pm and preliminary weather forecasts look set for a dry evening.