Pointing in Yorkshire 2017
Middleton Point-to-Point

Sunday 31st March

By Will Milburn

The Middleton Hunt point-to-point takes place at Sheriff Hutton, by kind permission of Mick Easterby on Sunday 31st March. The prestigious Grimthorpe Gold Cup, sponsored by Timico is the highlight of the Yorkshire pointing calendar. A total of 152 entries across 7 races have been received. 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 138cm ponies over 5 furlongs, followed by a seven furlong race in the Open Race. Public admission is 12.50 per adult. There will be a licensed bar and refreshments. The postcode for Sat Nav is YO60 7TN The point-to-point races begin at 1pm

The opening race is the Hunt Members and the in form horse looks to be Six A Side, he won at this track earlier in his youth and he narrowly won the novice riders event at Askham Bryan, he looked to be only doing enough there and could have more to offer. Nautical Twilight is yet to get her head in front pointing but has run some nice races including a third behind Pass The Hat in a Carlisle Hunter Chase last time but is best suited at two to two and half miles and is yet to be seen if she can fully see out this full trip, whilst Cherry Coward has the option of Wizadora and Game As A Pheasant, the former would prefer some cut in the ground and the latter has travelled well in his races but found very little at the end. Aphaea was a flat winner round Wolverhampton for Mick Easterby and won the Restricted at Duncombe Park at the first attempt, taking to fences well but hasn't been seen since, however been a 4 year old filly receives all the weight allowances. The most interesting contender is the Nicky Tinkler trained Armaans Wish, a debut bumper winner back in 2016 and went on to be runner up in his three starts since, including a novice hurdle in July last year, clearly looks to have plenty of ability and will no doubt catch the eye. Selection - Six A Side

The second race is a Club Conditions race with riders who are not defined as a novice rider receiving a penalty, this gives an advantage to horses ridden by the more experienced novice riders such as Alex Fielding who could partner Nautical Twilight, Sam Burton has the choice of Lauberhorn who hasn't shown a great deal in this area, whilst Tom Broughton has a huge amount of experience in the pointing field and has Maguires Bridge who progressed nicely last year and was a good second on his last start. Craggaknock was a decent hurdler when with Mark Walford but his best form is on soft ground, Foxrock is a multiple hunter chase winner in Ireland and was sent off just shy of favourite for the 2018 Cheltenham Foxhunters, he's had a bit of a layoff and may need this return but could be the class act. Path To Freedom is very progressive and his last start saw him go down by a nose to Diplomate Sivola in a Catterick hunter chase. Ravished bolted up in a modest Open at the Hurworth but is clearly in good heart, whilst stablemate Young Hurricane could make his reappearance but tends to need his first run but will have ground to suit. Cup Final was a former Ben Haslam and J P McManus recruit where he contested races such as the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, he has been off since 2017 and now joins Sarah Dent but could have a say in these types of races later in the season. Selection - Path To Freedom

The Restricted has attracted plenty of runners from far afield, Dale Peters has done well at this track before and could saddle Omar Maretti who was an easy winner of a Duncombe Park maiden, the form doesnt look anything special and its hard to know what to expect. Tunder Strike finished behind the highly progressive Absainte at Brocklesby and was an impressive maiden winner in Ireland, he is lightly raced and could progress further, whilst Ericsbar got off the mark at the second attempt this season and is another who can do better for a top yard. Frangeliko won only a two runner Members race, whilst Impulsive Act put a made run behind him to win at the Hurworth, these are different conditions and may find one too good. Hafajay is on the improve and has gone from strength to strength including pulling well clear last time with a potentially useful 4 year old debutant. Armaans Wish is the most interesting contender with his form under rules, whilst Alright Marlene could be the pick on her run at Corbridge, but pulled up at Dalton Park so needs to bounce back from a disappointing run. Super Lunar won at Askham Bryan and it's hard to know how far the 10 year old can go. Selection - Hafajay

The Grimthorpe Gold Cup is the feature race on the card and some old rivals will no doubt turn up including Monsieur Jourdain who has won this race three times in the past although at the age of 13 he may not be the force of old after finishing a well held second at Charm Park last time, whilst One Conemara looks to equal Jourdain's tally after winning this prestigous race twice, he was second over 3m 5f at Corbridge but won at this track back in January and can be forgiven been outclassed in the Cheltenham Foxhunters recently. Foxrock is the class act in the race but it is a big ask for him to give pilot her first winner at the first ask, Rattle The Cage looks a thorough stayer for Will Easterby after winning the Confined at Duncombe Park and looks to have a lively chance and can improve for this trip, whilst Wizadora looks a strong stayer along with Big Sound who would have a big chance if the rain were to come. The one that could continue to progress over trips of this sort is Streets Of Milan who has been running well over extended trips, however he finished behind One Conemara at Corbridge and both contenders may benefit from some ease in the ground. Selection - Streets Of Milan

The first maiden is an Open Maiden run over 3 miles and all eyes will no doubt turn to Roger Marley's string, a yard whose known for getting winners in these races he has the option of three contenders, A Little Early finished down the field in a Chepstow bumper and no doubt there is more to come, Epson Roque is a 34,000 son of Irish Wells and is brother to winning French chaser Siam De La Roque, and Withoutmoreado is a 30,000 euro import by Shantou and is full brother to Semper Invicta who has performed well for Paul Nicholls. Sir Apollo is another newcomer for Pete Fahey who purchased this son of Westerner for 30,000 euro last summer and is brother to the three time winner Spring Steel, Fahey could also saddle the promising 4 year old Artoff who was just touched off at Dalton Park on his debut. Steph Easterby also has a brace of interesting maidens although these have experience, Coniston Spa was an encouraging third on debut at this track back in January but hasn't been seen since, whilst Kimberley Boy went down by the narrowest of Margins at Duncombe Park where the winner has come out and won again since. As for the rest Almagiyr could get competitive although may found a couple too good, Master Thyne should of come on for the run at Dalton Park so can expect more, Scarlett Peak went down by a neck last time and looks to be heading in the right direction now, Solitary Shore stayed on well when the race was over at Charm Park, whilst Whistling Dolly has been running well without threatening the judge and will have to step up further to figure. Selection - Withoutmoreado

The Intermediate is a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham and Joe O'Shea will be keen to get Mr Muldoon out again, he has a big reputation following him and has done nothing wrong so far but he has beaten very little and this should prove his class. Rob The Getaway was hugely impressive when winning his Restricted here, Royal Chant was given a cool ride to win at Charm Park and is well thought of by connections, Snow Castle, Summervieu and The Unmentionable are all progressing well but may just lack the class of a couple of these. The two class pair could include Armaans Wish and Aphaea, the latter travelled sweetly at Duncombe Park and took to fences very well and this looks the logical next step. Selection - Aphaea

The final race is another maiden but this time run over 2m 4f for horses who have not run under rules. There is less form to go on in this race with several more 4 year old newcomrs been entered, the eye catching ones include that of Francesca Nimmo, Imperial Hill is brother to the 56,000 purchase Donladd who is yet to show his potential, stablemate Mister Moretti is a 13,000 euro son of Masterofthehorse, whilst the more interesting pedigree comes from that of Switch Hitter who is by Scorpion and was purchased for 26,000 euro and is brother to winning chaser Conna Cross and recently placed pointer Frank And Honest. Philip Rowley is a yard everyone respects in the South and he could make a journey North with his The Grey Scholar, a son of Oscar he was secured for 22,000 euro last June and is brother to winning Irish chaser All The Way Home. Elusive Package may be the most interesting newcomer from the yard of Joshua Guerriero who bought this son of Presenting for 45,000 euro last year, he is out of Charyan who was a five time winner including been a dual bumper winner. But the race could go to the one with experience and the son of Notnowcato Artoff was only just touched off at Sheriff Hutton and he is thought to be in the top ranks of Fahey's string. Selection - Artoff

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