Aldington Races host their annual point-to-point fixture on Easter Monday (April 18th) where on April 8th the going is Good to Soft with excellent grass covering. The team expect to have good ground by race day with drying weather forecast.

The first race of the day is the maiden race which has attracted twelve entries. Local trainer David Phelan has two entries here, Motdepas and Storm Ciara. Motdepas pulled up on his debut in a 2 mile 4 furlong maiden at Charing in December 2021 but then finished fifth in a 3 mile maiden at Cocklebarrow and was in touch until the final stages of the race on that occasion. Since then he was sixth at Larkhill in February, and again was in with a chance until the penultimate fence. He was leading at Ampton in March until a blunder at the fifteenth fence and pulled up on his latest start at Kingston Blount where a blunder hampered his chances. If his jumping holds together he is definitely capable of winning on his local track. Storm Ciara pulled up in a 2 mile 4 furlong restricted race at Charing in December and then fell three fences from the finish at Larkhill in December but was out of contention at the time and may find this race too competitive. Hannah Grissell based in East Sussex also has two entries, Robin Is Ready was fifth in a competitive maiden race at Horseheath in December but subsequently pulled up in a Hunter Chase at Fontwell Park and in the maiden race at Penshurst on March 20th before finishing second in the restricted at Penshurst on April 10th. Westtara was third at Penshurst on March 20th in the maiden finishing nine lengths behind the winner Calvic and was third again at Penshurst on April 10th finishing five lengths behind Bolamore Bridge. Aimee Rowe’s Nicklass finished fourth in the maiden at Penshurst on April 10th but was fifteen lengths behind Westtara and again is likely to struggle if she lines up here.  Paula Sarzi-Braga trained Muddled Up is a former runner under rules who showed very little form over hurdles however he may find the drop in class to his liking and it will be interesting to see how he copes over the larger fences on his debut if he starts. The other South East owned and trained entry is Connor Gary’s Argentoratum who has had five starts this season and has only finished on two occasions. He unseated early in his debut race at Ampton in January and the pulled up on his next start at Higham in January. He finished seventh on his next start at Larkhill in February but was well detached from his nearest rival and then unseated at a further fixture at Larkhill in February in a race in which Motdepas was sixth. Argentoratum was sixth in his latest start at Edgcote on April 3rd but again was well behind his rivals so this would be a tough challenge.

Albert Huckleback for former area champion lady jockey Jenny Gordon finished seventh on two earlier starts this season at Chipley Park and Badbury Rings and he pulled up in his latest race at Charlton Horethorne, but he should not be discounted if he is a runner here. Dorset based Hannah Clarke has two entries, Right Hand of God and Timino Road. Right Hand Of God has had five starts in point-to-points. He finished second on his debut at Barbury Racecourse but subsequently pulled up and fell until finishing fourth behind Calvic and behind Westtara at Penshurst on March 20th. He unseated four fences from the finish on his latest start at Mollington and was in contention at the time so he could be one to beat if he lines up for the starter. Timino Road has had three point-to-point starts, she was eighth in a point-to-point bumper at Barbury Racecourse in 2020 but was then fourth on her debut over fences at Kingston Blount in February and was sixth last time out at Kingston Blount and this could be in her realm too.  John Wright owned and trained Longtide was second at Charing in December 2021 having not raced for over two years but then pulled up at Horseheath in December in a race in which Robin Is Ready was fifth. His latest race was in a 2 mile 4 furlong hunter chase at Leicester in March where he was fifth of the five runners and was tailed off so he may also struggle here.  The other entry is Ghostship from James Owen’s yard in Suffolk, he will be making his debut but is a half-brother to The Dubai Way and point-to-point and hunter chase winner Lord Schnitzel, so should not be discounted.

The Southern Novice Champion race has only attracted four entries and Alan Hill trained Whatya On About looks the one to beat, having won his maiden at Cocklebarrow in January and then following up with victory in the restricted at Penshurst in March so he will definitely be looking to make it three wins from three starts. Tom Malone owned and trained Jeremy Central has also won a maiden and a restricted this season at Buckfastleigh and Great Trethew respectively and was second in a conditions race last time out at Buckfastleigh beaten only by a neck. Nigel Padfield’s Magnetic Zero pulled up on his debut in a maiden at Horseheath but was then second in a maiden at Guilsborough and won the maiden last time out at Edgcote on April 3rd beating All The Ammunition by ¾ of a length. The only local entry in the race is David Phelan trained Buachaill Dana who was fifth on his debut in maiden company at Ampton in January and was then second behind Finistere at Charing in February. He won the maiden at Kingston Blount at the end of February beating Keaden Hill by two lengths and was a comfortable winner of the restricted at Parham on March 26th beating Big Dawg by four lengths. This could be an exciting race if all four runners line up as they are all very capable.

The Intermediate race also has only four entries and Hannah Clarke trained Shanoule Wood looks the one to beat if he travels to Kent. He was third in a level three conditions race at Badbury Rings in November but pulled up in the race won by Voie Dans Voie at Wadebridge in December. He finished third at Penshurst in March behind Fiddler of Dooney and was second last time out in a conditions race at Parham where he finished ten lengths behind Count Simon. This might prove to be an easier task however his rivals also all could have a chance if they line up. Nigel Padfield’s Direct Flight finished third in the restricted at Parham behind Buachaill Dana and ran out in his latest start at High Easter when a blunder saw his jockey lose his stirrups, so it is unknown how he would have faired in that race. Hannah Jones trained Buffalo Sabre has been running in conditions races this season. He finished fifth at Charing in December and then made an uncharacteristic mistake at Charing in February unseating his jockey. His latest race was at Parham on March 26th and he pulled up at the penultimate fence having lost touch with his rivals, but this might be more to his liking. Max Comley’s Clondaw Bunny has some interesting form this season with more letters to his name than numbers but he was fourth in his latest start in a Men’s Open at Andoversford so he should not be discounted even though on paper this looks a tough task.

The mixed open has attracted fourteen entries of which Jenny Gordon trained Highway One O One is the pick. Highway One O One gave Jenny’s son Freddie his first point-to-point victory at Charing in February and this was followed up with further victories for the pairing at Larkhill on February 27th, at High Easter on March 12th and more recently at Penshurst on April 10th where he finished alone in the men’s open. Highway One O One previously raced under rules for Jenny’s husband Chris Gordon, and was regularly placed in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and seems to be relishing running now in point-to-points. Jenny also has another formed star of husband Chris’s entered for this race in what could be his debut in a point-to-point. Commanche Red has respectable form under rules with five wins from twenty five starts. His last victory came in April 2021 at Plumpton and his last start under rules saw him finish seventh of nine runners over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Newbury. Much like Highway One O One, he may enjoy the drop in class running in point-to-points and if he lines up over his stable mate he should not be discounted. The Alan Hill trained duo of Sir Mangan and Getting Closer could provide a threat to either of Jenny Gordon’s runners. Getting Closer has won three level two conditions races this season at Charing, Milborne St Andrew and most recently at Penshurst. In his other start in a level three conditions race at Horseheath in December he was second beaten three lengths by Kaproyale. Sir Mangan is a multiple point-to-point winner, he won a veteran horse conditions race at Ampton in January and was third in his latest start at Kingston Blount in a men’s open. James Owen trained Just Cause has won a Veteran Horse conditions race at Parham in March beating Cheltenham Mati and then had a walkover last weekend at Penshurst in the conditions race.

The remaining entries all provide the local hopes in this race and include Rob Varnham’s Trappist Monk. He was second on his most recent start at Parham in March beaten by half a length by Jenny Gordon’s Captain Buck’s. On that occasion Hannah Grissell trained Ballintara finished third six lengths behind Trappist Monk, he holds an entry here and may struggle to reverse the form with Trappist Monk again. Sarah Ashby’s pair of Monkey Puzzle and Whatsinthecorner also have the potential to take victory with daughter Mary Ashby taking the ride on the preferred runner. Whatsinthecorner pulled up in both his starts at Charing and Kingston Blount in February but was then fourth in a conditions race at Parham on March 26th and ran his best race at Penshurst last weekend finishing second six lengths behind Cheltenham Mati. Monkey Puzzle won a novice riders race at Ampton and then finished a head behind Getting Closer at Penshurst in March and was two lengths behind Foreign Secretary in the ladies open at Penshurst on April 10th and could also be one looking to keep the trophy in the area. Margaret Howie trained Jackfield finished only a neck behind Monkey Puzzle in the ladies open at Penshurst on April 10th and he also holds an entry here. He might find one or two slightly too good here but is capable of causing an upset. Katie Featherstone owned and trained Imperial Acolyte was a length second to Tullys Touch at High Easter in March but unseated last time out at Parham in the mixed open when in contention. He could definitely be involved at the finish here. Alyce Fisher’s Jac The Legend finished behind Imperial Acolyte at High Easter and was behind Jackfield in his last start at Parham in March in the mixed open so this may well be a tough ask for him. Alison Rountree trained Not Another Muddle has had two starts in ladies open’s at Ampton and Fakenham finishing fourth and third respectively. He is another who has come to the point-to-point sphere from racing under rules where he was trained by Gary Moore. His last victory came in April 2019 and he has yet to prove himself in a point-to-point. The remaining entry is Sebastian Mead’s West Lake. He finished fourth in the novice riders race won by Monkey Puzzle at Ampton and was third in his latest race at Parham in the level one conditions race which was won by Tangoed. He was ahead of Whatsinthecorner on that occasion so cannot be discounted even though this might be a tough task.

West Lake is also one of the six entries for the veteran and novice riders’ race, which might be a better option for him. Whatsinthecorner , Monkey Puzzle and Not Another Muddle also have this as an option and if Monkey Puzzle takes this route would be the one to beat, although he may have to face Rob Varnham’s Tangoed. This nine year old mare fell at the last in a hunter chase at Stratford in March, but was beaten at the time, but she returned to form in the level one conditions race at Parham on March 26th comfortably beating Doldido by four lengths with West Lake a further thirty lengths behind in third and Whatsinthecorner back in fourth. The other entry here is Hannah Grissell trained Cooladerry King. He pulled up in his first start this season at Charing in February and then unseated in a conditions race at Parham in March, but was leading at the time and looked to be enjoying himself before the mistake. He might struggle against younger rivals here but is not incapable of springing a surprise.

The meeting concludes with a level three conditions race which sees eleven entries. This is an option for Cooladerry King, Buffalo Sabre, Direct Flight, West Lake, Not Another Muddle and Trappist Monk who would also be dangerous if choosing this option. Ed Turner has two entered here, Aigle de La See and Take To Heart. Aigle de La See was third on last two starts in the hunt member’s race at Ampton in March and in a level two conditions race at Fakenham earlier this month. Take To Heart has been well beaten on both starts when finishing second in men’s open races at Ampton and Fakenham, but this could be an easier task and he could definitely be in the mix if he lines up. Nigel Benstead owned and trained Thomas Junior is capable of making it into the winner’s enclosure and was unlucky to unseat in the veteran horse conditions race at Parham on March 26th. This is a tough ask for him but Will Hickman has been booked for the ride so he could be involved at the finish. The other two entries come from East Anglia based  Emily Peck and are Calin du Brizais and Groundunderrepair. Groundunderrepair finished third in the novice riders race won by Highway One O One at High Easter in March and unseated at the final fence last time out at Fakenham. Calin du Brizais last ran at High Easter on March 12th where he finished fifth in a veteran horse conditions race won by King of The Clothe. Again both of these have the potential and ability to involved here and are not without a chance of making it into the winner’s enclosure.

There will be a fun dog show and lots of trade stands for visitors to browse between races. Gates open at 10am and the course can be found in Church Lane, Aldington, TN25 7EJ. Advance tickets via the Aldington Races website are £12:50 and on the day the cost of admission is £15 per person (cash or card) with under 14’s admitted for free. Bring your picnic and enjoy a great day out.