©  Pointing in Yorkshire 2017
Middleton at Sheriff Hutton – Sunday 2nd April

By Will Milburn & Caroline Smith

One Conemara, ridden by John Dawson will be looking for a repeat success in the Grimthorpe Gold Cup.
Credit Tom Milburn Photography

The Middleton Hunt point-to-point takes place at Sheriff Hutton, by kind permission of Mick Easterby   on Sunday 2nd April. The prestigious Grimthorpe Gold Cup, is the highlight of the Yorkshire pointing calendar. A total of 135 entries across 7 races have been received. The point-to-point races begin at 1pm with the Hunt Race.

The opening race is the Hunt Members race and the Coward team have the choice of four contenders, Botany Cove loves soft ground and was second here last year, The Mobile Man won his Restricted  at Dalton Park where the second has run creditably since, Asheanymoney won his restricted at Corbridge but has since failed to land a blow in better company, however Path To Freedom looks the best of their quartet,  he was second to the useful and subsequent winner Dance Of Time at Charm Park, he was also an impressive maiden at this track in January. Impact Zone prefers quick ground, whilst Royal Deal must carry a 7lb penalty for his laboured victory at the Holderness, he's a very quirky performer with plenty of ability. Six A Side is best on good ground but he is burdened with 13st here and it may make life hard for him, whilst Western Jo was a useful recruit when with Philip Hobbs, he has since lost his way but could be the dark horse in the race.Selection - Path To Freedom

The next is the Club Members race where riders not defined as a novice must carry a 7lb penalty and a bumper entry of 31 has been received and means there is every chance of it splitting on the day. Abbey Storm was a decent recruit for Micky Hammond when owned by the Rooney's, he has now  joined Lynne Ward and could be of interest. Auldthunder has been runner up a couple of times but he looks flattered by his results, Colorado Kid was third in the Mens Open at Holderness, he looks to prefer a good test of stamina, whilst Corrin Wood was a useful performer when with Dan Skelton contesting some top handicaps, however he has failed to get involved so far. Dica was highly capable when starting his pointing career but has been lightly raced in previous seasons and will need to be on top of his game, whilst Fever Pitch battled hard to win at the Hurworth where he beat Fairy Mix, the form of that race isn't strong and should be capable of more.
Grouse Lodge was very impressive at Askham Bryan earlier in the season and a reproduction of that could see him go close, although he also holds an entry in the hunter chase at Ascot on Sunday. My Old Piano was disappointing on his return but he is 15 now and he may not be a strong as he once was, Peter From Paris has done well this season and Jess Gillam will be hoping for a bold display from this son of Pierre "He seems in good form at home and has come back well after his Catterick run." said Jess. Prince Of Pirates returned from a lengthy absence to finish second to Monsieur Jourdain, that was a decent performance but now has to back that up, whilst Six A Side would carry less weight in this race and won his Intermediate here in good style "He's very well at home, he's been doing a lot of bronking!" said Sheriff Hutton based trainer/rider Emma Todd. The Highlander is looking a useful pointer but looks ground dependent and will need the rain to come, whilst Tasheba bounced right back to form at Charm Park, but may have alternate plans in mind "He's entered in the Hunter Chase at Wetherby, this is a bit of a back up." said an excited Amy Collier. Midnight Oscar has joined John Dawson's stable, he was previously with Kim Bailey and is a four time winner in his career, including a bumper, two hurdles and a chase, however this son of Oscar has been off the track since May 2015 so will have to be at the peak of his game. Selection - The Highlander

The Restricted could see a nice bunch of progressive horses lock horns, Crazy Penguin was a winner last time at the Holderness where he just fended off Yohoof, he looks to have plenty of stamina and the stiffer the test the better "We're hoping that blinkers can eek out some more improvement." said Will Easterby. Maguires Bridge is another exciting looking prospect, he was patiently handled by Tom Strawson at Charm Park until been produced late where he cruised clear to demolish a 16 strong field of maidens, the second from that race has won since and he looks to useful sort. Our Jj was third behind Path To Freedom at Charm Park and should be open to further improvement, whilst  Path To Freedom has always looked a decent sort, he was an impressive winner in January where the second has won and been placed since, he has strong form but could have the Peter Fahey trained and ridden Station Master to contend with, the pair were upsides when crashing out at the last at Charm Park and it's hard to know if he'd of come out on top that day, but will need to sharpen up on his jumping. Martha's benefit was not far behind three of the main contenders on her seasonal reappearance and although she will have stripped fitter for her last two efforts may have to settle for a supporting role "She's a tough, game little mare...she wants good ground ideally, but she seems in great form at the moment" said rider Will Milburn.Selection - Station Master

The feature race of the day is the Grimthorpe Gold Cup, a Mixed Open ran over 4 miles and 1 furlong. Past runnings of this race tells us that horses that have won on their previous run tend to go very well and horses in top form here include Max My Boy, he was runner up in this last year and although he finished solo last time he still is in good heart this season, Monsieur Jourdain has won this race three times, he has was his last two this season but was disappointing in it last year but it would be no surprise to see him bounce back if conditions stay dry "I'm looking forward to running him over 4 miles again, but he does prefer a stiffer jumping test." said Will Easterby . Royal Deal is a quirky type, it's hard to know how much stamina he has as he races so lazily, Solid Strike could be the main threat to the main contenders, he has proven very formidable in points and was a staying on fourth last year in the Intermediate final at Cheltenham. The obvious choice could be One Conemara, his only disappointing effort this season came in a Wetherby hunter chase where he looked to struggle with the bigger fences. As for the rest Peter From Paris looks to stay well, Prince Of Pirates returned from a huge absence to finish second to Monsieur Jourdain last time but it's to be seen whether he "bounces" after that good run. Southern raider Horsham Lad would have claims, he has 15 of his 30 point to point runs and has won over 3m 4f and 3m 6f so stamina is assured.Selection - One Conemara

The first of two maidens is a 3 miles Open Maiden and with several horses doubled up here so could cut up. About Time showed his first bit of form at the Holderness where he was third in a very slowly run race so it's hard to know how to assess that run, Clashganny is another who was running a career best last time when chasing home Monsun Storm so John Dawson will have a good idea on his mounts chances, whilst Ghetto Blaster was in second when falling at the last in Clashganny's race. Stowaway Sooty has proved very inconsistent and looks a risky proposition, Monarchs Glory is brother to winning chaser Lexicon Lad and showed his piece of form when a close third to Crazy Penguin "He's been big and backward...the penny dropped with him last time so hopefully he can do well." said his rider Will Milburn.  Pick Up Trix was well fancied and looked to hold every chance until getting outpaced late on at Friars Haugh and can go one better here.Selection - Pick Up Trix

The Intermediate is a Red Mills qualifier for the final at Cheltenham, the Cowards hold a strong hand here with Asheanymoney, R Theveryman, The Mobile Man and Game As A Pheasant, the latter was an impressive winner at Duncombe Park but has been absent since "He should run a big race if he runs, but he's missed some work so might come up short." said Jacqueline Coward. Five Piers could run a big race but will need to settle better than last time, whilst Mickey Miller improved again last time to finish a close third behind two strong open horses and could go close if turning out again after a week, however its likely to go the way of Dance Of Time, he is a strong traveller who has looked useful in his last two starts.Selection - Dance Of Time

The final race is a 2m 4f Maiden for horses who have not run under rules, About Time and Clashganny have this option as well as the 3 mile maiden. Impulsive Act made a very promising debut last year as a 4 year old but was very flat the time after. Midnight Girl is by Midnight Legend out of the prolific mare Queenies Girl, she loved soft ground and this may be one for the future, whilst Rowdy Robin will need to shape up on his jumping and could be a longer term project. Sam's Treasure is still on the upgrade and there is still better to come, however the race should be easy pickings for Ourgetaway and could give Lucy Horner a double, the son of Getaway was third at the Hurworth on his British debut, he led over the last in his Members race where he was beaten 4 lengths by two solid open horses.
Selection - Ourgetaway

Younger jockeys will get the chance to experience the thrill of racing riding, in the pony races. The first pony race begins at 12pm, a Novice Riders Race for 148cm ponies over 6 furlongs, followed by a seven furlong race in the Open Race. Public admission is £10 per adult. There will be a licensed bar and refreshments. The postcode for Sat Nav is YO60 7TN