The first of the scheduled seven meetings planned for Larkhill this season takes place on Sunday when the Hursley Hambledon holds their annual fixture. Larkhill is able to absorb all of the rain which has fallen in recent weeks and the current going report is good. There are six scheduled races commencing at 12 noon and a total of 62 horses have been entered.
The meeting opens with the Savills sponsored young Maiden over the shorter trip of 2 and a half miles. There is little form to go on but Casting Aspersions finished runner up in a Flat race at Maisemore Park to Saunton Surf who then won well at Aintree before being sold expensively to Warren Greatrex’s stable. If he jumps fences, he has to be of interest. Chris Barber has entered Two Becomes One and she was placed in a Maiden at Kilworthy last season and she would come into consideration. All Night Parking was placed in Ireland and is now in the ownership of George Beilby. Newcomers from Fran Poste’s yard are always worthy of consideration so Kneel Diamond should be looked at in the paddock as well as September First who comes from Mark Grant’s yard.
The Moore Barlow sponsored Ladies Open has attracted some high-quality Ladies horses. Olive Nicholls has the choice of the evergreen Shantou Flyer, who retains his form despite his advancing years, and the progressive Viroflay, the winner of the Coronation Gold Cup last season. Olive will be hard to beat but her main rivals may be IK Brunel to be ridden by Izzie Marshall, and Myth Buster who will be partnered by Lily Bradstock. Molly Landau has the choice of Commanche Red and Too Many Diamonds and her ride should be placed.
The Ward Thomas Removals Mens Open over 2 and a half miles has attracted seven entries with the sponsor looking to retain the prize money with his Ballotin, the most prolific winner amongst the potential runners. Already successful in 14 races, he should appreciate the shorter trip. His main rivals appear to be Siberian Star placed at Dunsmore, and the likely mount of Ed Vaughan, and Silver Sheen, now in the hands of Lee Moulson, and placed over fences for Fergal O’Brien and the winner of 3 Hurdle races.
The Botley Commercials Spraytek Restricted race looks a very interesting race with a number of promising horses entered. Alan Hill has the lightly raced Coolagh Park who has won his last two outings spread over two seasons, and his reappearance is eagerly awaited. Similar comments apply to the twice raced and unbeaten Regatta de Blanc trained by Will Biddick for the Pendil Partnership. Douglas Longbottom was placed in a Bumper at Aintree having won his Maiden before being sold at Doncaster and is now trained by Bea Coward. Whitsand Bay won his Maiden at Cotley and looks progressive, but this is a step up. Coolagh Park can defy his penalty to keep his pointing unbeaten record.
The Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorse Veteran Conditions race for horses aged over 9 years of age contains entries for Shantou Flyer, Myth Buster, Commanche Red and Too Many Diamonds already mentioned before, and this may be an easier race than one of the Opens in which they hold an entry. Imperial Esprit ran very well at Badbury Rings behind Time Leader and a repetition of that form would give him every chance. Deise Aba now with Fran Poste was placed at Cheltenham in January when trained by Philip Hobbs and if Fran has reinvigorated this Mahler gelding he could enjoy his pointing. Shantou Flyer is the one to beat if he swerves the Ladies race.
The meeting concludes with the Equestrian Fencing and Timber Limited Maiden race which has attracted 13. Down the Inner ought to improve on his seasonal debut at Badbury Rings and he is on the short list. Clapton Hill, a half brother to the classy Thyme Hill, is an interesting recruit to pointing for Sophie Pauling having been placed over Hurdles, Will Biddick has entered the ex-Irish Money from America who had a couple of runs in Ireland. Burtown was placed at Cothelstone last season and his trainer Max Comley has already had two winners this season. Tim Vaughan has two entries for his son Ed and his representative should be considered. St Patrick’s Bridge, placed in an Irish point to point, has placed form over Hurdles for Fergal O’Brien and his experience may prove significant.