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Aintree Foxhunter winner the star of Larkhill's New Year's Eve card

26-December-2023 21:29
in General
by Kirsty Beautflower
The final meeting of the current calendar year in the Wessex area takes place at Larkhill on 31st December when the Larkhill Racing Club holds their meeting. This is an ideal opportunity to enjoy an afternoon on Salisbury Plain after all of the festivities have been completed and before the New Year is heralded in. The course is in good condition with the current going report being good and good to soft in places with the bends having been moved since the last meeting. The meeting has been rewarded with an excellent entry of 120 for the seven scheduled races due to start at 11.30am and the quality of the entries certainly gives every hope that there will be some competitive racing to view.
The opening race, the Godfrey Mandrell Memorial Conditions, remembers Godfrey who was a strong supporter of Larkhill in his lifetime and he would have been delighted with the quality of the 23 horses entered. Montanna boasts a course success from last season and if ready for his seasonal debut he could provide enthusiastic owner Reg Hopkins with another winner. Tara Storm was a revelation last season and if appearing here instead of Chaddesley Corbett where he holds another entry he should be on the short list. Deise Aba boasted good form when trained under Rules for Philip Hobbs and now with Fran Poste he should be able to show the benefit of his seasonal debut and is one to consider. Imogen’s Thunder is the apple of trainer Mary Tory’s eye and it is good to see him back after only a sole outing last season. Two ex-Paul Nicholls trained horses Duc de Bourbon and Mr Glass are worth keeping an eye on as they make their pointing debuts. Nickolson had a solitary pointing outing last season winning at Hexham and this high class ex NH individual may be another to consider.
The Ladies Open sponsored by Paul Nicholls and John Bolton may prove a battle between the sponsors own horse Viroflay and Grace A Vous Enki. Both are already winners at Larkhill this season with Viroflay winning impressively at the first meeting under Olive Nicholls and is becoming difficult to beat at the Wiltshire course. The Nicky Sheppard trained Grace A Vous Enki easily won a Mixed Open at the last meeting and looks progressive. Away from the two principals Sara Bradstock has entered her two stalwarts namely Myth Buster and Southfield Theatre and if either run, they will ensure a fast pace. Champagne Noir, a rare entry for Tom Ellis gave Ellie Holder four wins last season but this is a much together assignment. Viroflay is narrowly preferred to continue his successes at Larkhill.
The We Do Vans sponsored Open Maiden race looks a challenge to pick the winner from the 22 entries. The four-year-old Deep Purple was a promising second at Great Trethew and should be considered along with Money from America an encouraging second at Chaddesley Corbett and Dorset Diamond second at the last Larkhill meeting. Down the Inner ran well at the first Larkhill meeting and similar comments apply to Beat The Poli. Gasmani ran in two Bumpers last season for David Dennis and is one to consider. The ex- Irish Mo Chairde now with Hannah Clarke was placed in his only run in Ireland and looks one to note. Both Our John and Rocky Creed have placed form in Ireland with a single outing each in this country and are interesting prospects. Deep Purple can bring his form in Cornwall to record his first career victory.
The Southern Counties Auctioneers sponsored Mens Open race is scheduled to be the seasonal debut for Famous Clermont the winner of the Aintree Foxhunters last season as well as two other Hunter Chases and this race 12 months ago. The best horse trained in the Wessex area he will be expected to start this year’s campaign with a victory and it will be a surprise if his colours are lowered. Grace A Vous Enki contains an entry in this race as well as the Ladies Open and with his victory this season under his belt he would be a very good rival for the favourite to meet. However, he may swerve the race and, in his absence, the consistent Slievegar, Teescomponentsfly who won at the first Larkhill meeting and Coup de Pinceau might fight out the minor honours.
The Alec Jarrett sponsored Restricted race looks a very competitive race amongst the 15 entries. Of those with form this season Douglas Longbottom was a good second behind the unbeaten Regatta De Blanc and a repeat of that form may be good enough. Horizon D’Ainay was an easy winner at the last meeting but this is a much stronger race. My Lucky Star won at the first Larkhill meeting and looks progressive and similar comments apply to Potters Magic who won a Maiden at Upcott Cross at the end of last season. Trevada won a Bumper for Oliver Sherwood and was placed over fences for him and is now with Fran Poste. Miss May Hill boasts good form, and this well-bred mare should find a Restricted this season. The ex-Irish Boys Will Be Boys won a Maiden at Ballingarry and now trained by Mike Felton his appearance will be awaited with interest.
The Woolley and Wallis sponsored Conditions race for Novice Riders also holds an entry for Tara Storm and if this race is chosen, he must have a good chance. Step Back is a good ride for a Novice and Lexie New already has three career victories to her name. Millbrook Flyer has been a good schoolmaster for Ed Rees and this race looks a suitable one for him. A Jet of Our Own is very consistent and should give Fred Philipson-Stow another good ride. Franigane was second in a similar race at Wadebridge and this ex-Harry Whittington gelding should be considered. Both Captain Buck’s and Oneupmanship ought to come on for their seasonal debuts.
The Maiden Conditions race concludes the day over the shorter trip of 2 miles and four furlongs has attracted 16 entries and the standout entry is Casting Aspersions who looked an unlucky loser when travelling well until falling at the second last at the first Larkhill meeting. He went into a number of notebooks after that run and he will be strongly fancied. Deep Purple also contains an entry for this race, and he could be the main rival. All Night Parking was second at the last meeting and has chances as does the ex-Irish pair Bud Succes and Wolf Walker trained by Josh Newman and Chris Barber respectively.

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