Point-to-point racing at Charing, near Ashford, Kent resumes on February 5th with 79 entries across the six race card
Following the course inspection on Thursday the going is currently good slightly firmer in places. The course has been harrowed and rolled and the fences rebirched following the previous meeting in December.
The first race of the day is a 2 mile 4 furlong maiden race which has attracted 19 entries. The pick of the entries looks to be Call Colman for local trainer David Phelan. Call Colman finished half a length second to Bloodstone at Horseheath on December 31st and is sure to be victorious sooner rather than later. Phelan also has Buachaill Dana entered who was fifth on his point-to-point debut at Ampton in January and should improve for that experience of racing. He also has Storm Ciara entered who was third in a point-to-point bumper in 2020 but has failed to finish on both starts over the fences this season, pulling up at the December meeting at Charing and falling when out of contention at Larkhill two weeks later.
Hannah Grissell also has three entries, Robin Is Ready finished third on his debut at Dingley in May 2021 but finished fifth on his most recent start at Horseheath on December 31st and significantly behind the winner in this race. Grissell also has Gold Bandit and Westtara entered. Westtara unseated early in his race at Charing in December but was in contention in his most recent outing at Higham on the 16th January until weakening at the end of the race. He should benefit from that racing experience too and it would not be a surprise to see him involved at the finish. Gold Bandit pulled up in his last start at Charing in December but again is not incapable of winning in this company.
Of entries from outside the area, Nigel Padfield’s Howitsdone has finished second in two previous starts at Charing in February 2020 and March 2021. This would be his first start of this season and he could be the one to take the trophy out of the south east area. Alan Hill’s Santos Blue won a point-to-point bumper in November 2021 and was in contention when falling at the penultimate fence at Larkhill in December so will be another threatening to take the trophy home.
The second race of the card is a conditions race for veteran horses aged 9yrs or over and entries include Clondaw Westie from Alan Hill’s Oxfordshire yard. Clondaw Westie was fourth in the 2021 Aintree Foxhunters chase and was second at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase meeting at the end of April 2021. His most recent start in a point-to-point saw him finish second at Barbury racecourse in December so it would not be a surprise to see him going one better here with regular partner Izzie Marshall in the saddle. Roc D’Apsis has been consistently placed on his point-to-point starts and will also be a threat if he makes the journey to Charing.
Nicholas Wright’s Forever Field was consistently placed in 2021 so could also be involved in this race if he lines up for the starter. However, an interesting entry is Highway One O One, trained by Jenny Gordon who was a successful jockey herself in the south east area. Highway One O One has previously raced under rules for Jenny’s husband Chris Gordon, another former south east area champion jockey and was regularly placed in 2017, 2018 and 2019. He appeared to lose his way in 2020 before returning to better form in 2021. He may well enjoy the drop in class to the point-to-point sphere and is likely to be partnered by Chris and Jenny’s son Freddie.
Local hopes could fall to Sarah Ashby who has acquired Monkey Puzzle formerly with Oliver Sherwood. Much like Highway One O One his form appeared to wain in early 2021 but prior to this he was placed three times in five starts and he may benefit from the drop in class Sarah also has Whatsinthecorner entered who has moved from JJ Hanlon’s yard. This 10 year old has had 49 starts over fences but does not appear to have raced over the 3 mile distance so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the longer distance required here.
Hannah Jones trained Buffalo Sabre finished fourth at Charing in March 2021 before finishing third at Aldington a couple of weeks later, he was fifth here at Charing in December 2020 but might be better suited by this company.
The Men’s open race is the third race on the card and looks to be interesting despite only attracting ten entries. Highway One O One has this race as an option but Jenny Gordon also has Captain Buck’s entered who has moved to the Gordon yard from Sam Loxton. He finished second to Knockaderry Flyer at Larkhill in December before finishing third behind Monsieur Gibraltar in early January and third again two weeks later again at Larkhill. Alan Hill trained Sir Mangan also has an impressive record in point-to-points with six victories from eight starts to his name with his other two races seeing him finish second. He was an impressive winner of the Novice Riders race series final at Edgcote in May 2021 and it would not be a surprise to see him run well here. Hill also has The Brassmoulder entered who was second on his latest outing behind Pont Aven at Higham three weeks ago.
I’m Wiser Now has moved from Fergal O’Brien to Jake Slatter. He ran in Hunter Chases in 2021 for O’Brien with two victories, a second and two thirds in five starts and could be the one to beat if he makes the journey on Saturday.
Local hopes will fall to Nigel Benstead’s Streets Of London who was hampered and unseated in the ladies open at Charing in December but has subsequently pulled up at Horseheath in December 2021 but was third in the men’s open behind Pont Aven and only a length behind The Brassmoulder at Higham in January. Who’s My Jockey, half-brother to Hurricane Fly owned by The Glebe House Racing Club won a national hunt bumper in February 2021 at Newcastle and has also won a 3 mile national hunt chase at Hexham in 2019. This is likely to be a tough task as he pulled up on his point-to-point debut at Barbury Racecourse in December and unseated at Milborne St Andrew last weekend but he could make the frame with previous area champion jockey Charlie Marshall in the saddle. Andrew Coveney trained Dragon de la Tour also has potential for providing a locally trained winner, he was third in a level three conditions race at Charing in March 2021 before finishing sixth at Aldington in April 2021 which was his most recent start.
The ladies open is an option for Buffalo Sabre, Roc D’Apsis, Monkey Puzzle and Whatsinthecorner. Alan Hill has both Hawkhurst and Sparkleandshine entered. Hawkhurst has been placed twenty seven times from thirty three starts in point-to-point’s with fifteen victories to his name, including three of his four starts this season. His most recent race at Horseheath saw him finish third behind Fumet d’Oudairies but he is definitely a class entry in this race. Sparkleandshine has less experience than his stablemate but has previously finished second at Charing in a Conditions race in March 2021. On that occasion Ange des Malberaux, who also holds an entry in this race finished behind Sparkleandshine. Francesca Poste trained Ange des Malberaux finished second on his latest start at Cocklebarrow two weeks ago so is not without a chance here too.
Sara Bradstock trained Myth Buster finished two lengths second behind General Arrow in the ladies open at Higham in January but the class entry in this race is Blazing Tom from Tom Ellis’s yard. He won all four of his starts in 2021 beating both Hawkhurst and Ange des Malberaux and he also won on his first start of this season at Ampton in January.
The remaining entries in this race are Katie Featherstone owned and trained Imperial Alcolyte has come from Nigel Twiston-Davies yard. He is a dual hurdle winner who finished fourth on his latest start in July 2021 and Jackfield trained by Margaret Howie who won at Parham in 2018 beating Golden Crisp but has failed to repeat that performance again.
The Oriental Club Level Three conditions race is an option for Dragon de le Tour and Forever Field. Rob Varnham’s Scooby had a run at Badbury Rings in November 2021 where he was not disgraced when finishing fourth. He finished second behind Getting Closer at Charing in December 2021 and was third only a week later at Barbury Racecourse so is likely to be involved here. Nigel Benstead owned and trained Thomas Junior could have the benefit of Phil York in the saddle and this twelve year old definitely has the experience and class to make the frame here.
Jennifer Owen trained Net d’Ecosse failed to complete in his first two starts of this season, unseating at Higham in November 2021 before pulling up at Charing in December 2021. However he finished second at Higham in January 2021 in a race where John Whyte’s Chapelier who also holds an entry here finished fourth. Angela Slatter trained Waterloo Warrior was consistently placed in point-to-points in 2021 and finished third on his seasonal reappearance at Milborne St Andrew last weekend. He should benefit from the run and if he lines up could be in the mix at the finish. Zoe Hammond trained Ronava won two point-to-points in 2019 before running under rules in 2019 and 2020. His return to point-to-point in January at Larkhill saw him pull up but he will have benefitted from that race and it would not be a surprise if he was to get involved if he faces the starter.
The racing concludes with the restricted race in which Hannah Grissell trained Westtara and Robin Is Ready both hold an entry but this would be a stiffer task than the maiden race for both of them. Alan Hill trained Tres Francais looks to be the class entry in this race. He finished two lengths second on his racing debut to Alfoski at Revesby Park in November 2021 and then comfortably won the maiden race at Barbury Racecourse in December 2021. Nigel Padfield trained Direct Flight could be a challenger, he won a maiden race at Ampton in March 2020 and was second in a hunt member’s race at High Easter in April 2021. Jason Warner trained Best To Come won a maiden on his last start at Bratton Down in May 2021 but is yet to race in restricted company. Tom Ellis trained Precious Bounty unseated at the final fence in the maiden race at Horseheath in December but made amends for that at Cocklebarrow in January winning by four lengths and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him gain a second quick victory here.
Numbers may not be as plentiful but organisers hope for six competitive races and that some of the silverware remains within the area.
The postcode for the racecourse at Charing is TN27 0JS.