There has been plenty of activity at Andoversford in recent weeks in preparation for the Cotswold Point-to-Point on Sunday week.
British Horseracing Authority Course Inspector Peter Hobbs, brother of successful Minehead trainer Philip, walked the course yesterday in company with his opposite nuimber for Point-to-Points inthe area, John Trice-Rolph, Chairman of the Stewards' Panel and former Gold Cup winning jockey Jim Wilson, Clerk of Course Jim Squires and Race Committee member George Dowty. The group expressed themselves very pleased both with the state of the ground and the quality of the fences, which are in better shape than for many years.
For spectators, the Village Eatery offers quality food with carefully selected concessions including organic hog roast from Ye Olde Hog Roast, familiar to all racegoers at Cheltenham, pizza variations from Delvita Catering, traditional burgers from WJ Catering, and foods from the sub-continent from Gurdev's Indian and Diamond Delis, whilst those that want a more traditional Sunday lunch can sit down to a splendid two course meal in a trackside marquee right by the winning line.
Runners in the both the Mens and Ladies Open have their entry fee returned on declaration and the Robert Hitchins Group Andoversford Grand Annual (A Men’s Open) has a prize found of £1,000 as does the Martin and Co Ladies.
In addition, there will be an award for the Leading Trainer at the meeting while Dubarry sponsor an Outstanding Achievement on the day Award. In addition, owners with runners are invited to refreshments in the Brewin Dolphin Owners’ Lounge adjacent to the Weighing Tent. Collectively these initiatives add up to a prize money investment nearly double the average for meetings of this genre.
The past two years has seen a rigorous reinvestment in the fences and course, reclaiming the reputation for stoutly made fences that command respect earned under the able direction first of Ken Dodwell, George Excel and Ted Nugent, and more recently by Bob Hartop, George Dowty and Kim Bailey. Most recently, Jim Squires, Clerk at Chaddesley, has picked up the challenge.
This season, one fence per circuit has been removed, making a total of 17 fences in each race. The fence at the end of the back straight has been removed whilst the second last has been moved forward nearer the final bend to make a better spectacle and fairer position.
“We believe in rewarding connections of horses running at this level,” commented Peter McNeile, Chairman of the Race Committee. “Andoversford is the most valuable Point-to-Point fixture in the UK Springtime calendar, and this year, with better grass cover and first class fences, we can illustrate first-hand how we want to look after connections.”
The course will be chain harrowed and rolled next week and the current going is Good, with a excellent covering of grass.