Aldington Races host their annual Easter Monday fixture on April 10th with six races starting at 2pm. The course is a left-handed track which sees the runners complete two full circuits of the track allowing the public to see the start and finish clearly. The going is currently soft but with sunshine and a drying wind forecast the team are working hard and are confident of providing safe racing ground.
Aside from the racing, there is a dog show starting at 12pm at £5 per class (dogs must be kept on short leads at all times), funfair, local arts and crafts, falconry display, gun dog demonstration, a toss the sheaf challenge, tug of war and food and drink to purchase so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Gates open at 10am, advance tickets can be purchased up to Sunday or tickets can be purchased on the day. Further information can be found at aldingtonraces.co.uk
The meeting starts with the maiden race. Local trainer David Phelan has two entries, Lou Cristiano and Panorama Ridge. Lou Cristiano made his debut at Parham on March 25th where he pulled up at the penultimate fence having lost touch with the other runners but he should have learnt a lot from that race. Panorama Ridge was fourth in the maiden at Ampton in January and was fifth in a maiden over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Charing in February but then pulled up on his most recent start at Kingston Blount at the end of February but he cannot be discounted. Another local trainer, Steve Spice has Jasmin des Bordes entered. He was a last fence faller when in contention at Parham in 2022 and finished third on his reappearance this season at Charing in February in the maiden race. He again was in contention in the Restricted race at Penshurst on March 12th before unseating at the third fence from home but most recently finished third in the maiden at Parham where Lou Cristiano pulled up. He definitely has the ability to win a race and has the potential to be involved if he lines up here. East Sussex based Hannah Grissell has Gold Bandit entered who finished seven lengths behind Why Didn’t Ya at Penshurst in the maiden on March 12th and is another with who has the ability to win a race. Hannah also has Westtara entered, Westtara came close to losing his maiden status last season so he is one who could make the winner’s enclosure, but he pulled up in the 2 mile 4-furlong maiden race at Charing in February and ran out when still in contention in the same maiden race as Gold Bandit at Penshurst. However, there are several challengers from outside the south east area who will be looking to take away the trophy. Jenny Gordon trained Don Carlito finished ten lengths six in his latest start at Charlton Horethorne on March 5th and should improve for that run. Pam Tetley trained Del Amitir is yet to race in a point-to-point in England, but she finished fourth in an Irish point-to-point in February so clearly has some talent and she may find this a slightly easier option so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her in the winner’s enclosure. Alan Hill often takes trophies back to his Oxfordshire base and he has No More No entered who has yet to race but shouldn’t be ignored if he lines up. The last two entries come from Nigel Padfield’s stable. Super Dawn finished third behind Dash Full of Cash at High Easter three weeks ago where she was sent off the bookies favourite. She should be involved in the finish if she lines up and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her take the trophy. Vango Vick was fourth in an Irish point-to-point at Boulta in December but pulled up in two subsequent starts at Carrigaristig in January and at Castlelands on March 5th.
The restricted race follows and is an option for both Jasmin des Bordes and Panorama Ridge. Local owner, trainer, jockey William Rekert has Why Didn’t Ya entered. He won the maiden race at Penshurst on March 12th but was an eighth fence faller in the restricted race at Parham two weeks ago but could bounce back here to take the victory. Sarah Ashby now owns and trains Imperial d’Ainay who won the maiden race at Badbury Rings on February 19th for trainer Chris Barber and jockey James King. He was second in the restricted at Parham on March 25th finishing twelve lengths behind the winner Penniless. Alan Hill trained Highland Glory finished fourth in her first start this season in the Restricted at Ampton in January and was ahead of Imperial d’Ainay and was challenging Penniless for the lead in the restricted race at Parham when running out at the penultimate fence so it would not be a surprise if she was involved in the closing stages if she takes her place here. Hill also has Serenisa entered, she won a mare’s maiden on her debut at Ffos Las in November and has finished second in two restricted races run over the shorter 2 mile 4 furlong distance at Kingston Blount and High Easter earlier this year so again clearly has a lot of potential in this company. Simon Stearn’s Dash Full of Cash will also be looking to follow up on his maiden success at High Easter in March where he finished strongly to win by three lengths and again cannot be discounted if he lines up here.
Elizabeth Feakes Fayre Enough finished fourth in the restricted race at Penshurst in March but was tailed off from his rivals and may once again find this happens too quickly for him. David Phelan trained Ivebeentold won a maiden at Mollington in May 2021 but has pulled up in both starts in restricted races at Garthorpe in May 2021 and at High Easter in March 2022 and he may need the run but he clearly has the ability to win at this level. Nigel Padfield has the final entry in this race with Padjoes Legacy who won a maiden race in an Irish point-to-point at Bartlemy in May 2022 but has not raced since but that doesn’t exclude him from those with a chance of victory.
The men’s open has only attracted five entries, four of which are trained in the South East area. However, despite the low entry this could still produce an exciting race. Hannah Grissell trained Ballintara is a course winner having dead heated in the mixed open at this fixture in 2022 with Alan Hill trained Getting Closer and was third on his seasonal reappearance at Charing in February but has pulled up in two recent starts in men’s opens at Penshurst and Parham so he will need to be at his best to repeat his course victory from last season.
Hannah Hickman-Jones trained Buffalo Sabre is another course winner having won the Intermediate race in 2022. He was second in a level three conditions race finishing thirty lengths behind Loughan at Parham two weeks ago and also finished well behind Rob Varnham trained Trappist Monk at Charing in February who also holds an entry here. Following his victory at Charing Trappist Monk has won a Hunter Chase at Fontwell Park in February and may be the one to beat in this race. However, Andrew Coveney trained Definite Dilemma could be looking for a hat-trick of victories having won the men’s open at Penshurst on March 12th beating Jack Dillinger by twenty-five lengths and then winning the Ineos Grenadier mixed open at Parham two weeks ago beating Red Maple by two lengths. Alan Hill has the only entry from outside the area with Polydora. He finished second in a four mile Ineos Grenadier mixed open race at Kingston Blount in February, a race which he won in 2022. He has also been fourth in two starts in men’s opens at Larkhill and Cocklebarrow in January so he could steal the victory.
The ladies open has also only attracted five entries where again Alan Hill has the only horse trained outside the South East area with Getting Closer who dead-heated in the mixed open here last year. He was second in a ladies open at Horseheath in December and again at Ampton in January before finishing third in two subsequent starts in Hunter Chases at Leicester. Sarah Ashby owned and trained Monkey Puzzle finished second to Getting Closer in the level two conditions race at Penshurst in March 2022 and was twenty-four lengths behind Thegallantway in his latest start at Penshurst on March 12th in the level two conditions race weakening over the final stages of the race. He is not without a chance here and neither is Margaret Howie trained Jackfield who finished sixth on his first start of the season at Parham in the mixed open and was in contention until the finishing stages of the race and should improve for that run. Hannah Grissell has Just A Sting entered. He won a National Hunt Chase in December 2019 when trained by Harry Fry but has not raced under rules since December 2021. He like others may appreciate the drop to the point-to-point sphere and should not be ruled out despite his lack of recent race experience. David Phelan has the final entry with Fox Valley who was previously trained by Tom Ellis. He pulled up in his first start for his new trainer at Ampton in January but was fourth in the ladies open at Charing in February but was almost fifty lengths behind the winner.
The fifth race is for veteran and novice riders, and this is an option for Fox Valley, Monkey Puzzle and Why Didn’t Ya, whose jockeys all qualify under the novice category. Phil York who qualifies under the veteran section has two options here with Happy Larry and Touch Tight. Both won on their previous starts at Penshurst in March, Happy Larry finished alone in the intermediate race having been in command from early in the race whilst Touch Tight won the 2 mile 4-furlong restricted race by seven lengths. The second placed horse Wireless Operator trained by Andrew Coveney and ridden by Harvey Carrington also has an entry here and subsequently won his last start at Parham in a level one conditions race beating Buachail Dana by thirty lengths. Elizabeth Feakes owned, trained and ridden Oscar O’Scar was third in a level two conditions race at Penshurst in April 2022 but pulled up on his debut this season in a level three conditions race at Parham and may find this a struggle too.
Rob Varnham trained Count Simon finished seventh in a Hunter Chase at Newbury two weeks ago but he was second in a level three conditions race at Charing in February beaten by only a head by Master Templar and then reversed the placings at Didmarton on March 4th beating Master Templar by eight lengths in a level two conditions race so he could bounce back to winning ways here. Cheque En Blanc has had two starts in point-to-points since moving from Gary Moore’s yard to Joseph Akehurst. He finished fourth at Horseheath in December in a novice riders race and was sixth on his most recent start at Ampton in January in a level two conditions race although he has the ability he may find one or two to good here. Jenny Gordon trained Conrad Hastings for owner, jockey Stuart Robinson has failed to complete in his last three starts which includes a Hunter Chase in March 2021 and point-to-points at Higham and Penshurst in February and March so he too may struggle here but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him getting involved.
The meeting closes with the hunt members race with ten entries. This race is an option for Why Didn’t Ya, Touch Tight, Ivebeentold, Wireless Operator, Just A Sting, Happy Larry, Ballintara, Buffalo Sabre and Fox Valley who all have the ability to win here but may take their chances in previous races. The only other entry is Katie Featherstone’s Imperial Acolyte, he finished third in a novice riders race at Garthorpe in February but then pulled up at High Easter in a level two conditions race. He was in contention in his latest start in a level one conditions race at Parham on March 25th until falling three fences from the finish but he has the ability to get involved and the potential to win in this company.