With an excellent 133 entries and title honours at stake, Sunday’s meeting at Kingston Blount promises a cracking finale to the season.
The Oxfordshire course stepped in to hold the fixture after the traditional curtain closer at Umberleigh in North Devon was called off due to Covid restrictions, and owners and trainers have given the rearrangement a thumbs-up.
James King and Gina Andrews – who have already secured the senior men’s and Skinner’s women’s championships respectively – are both booked for rides, while Tattersalls Leading Owner winner Jason Warner has entered several runners. Also assured of championships are Tom Ellis and Luke Price, who have won the Foran Equine leading trainer awards – both men have made entries at Kingston Blount. Rose Iland, who has won the Jockey Club’s maiden mares’ title, and Famous Clermont, successful in the Print Concern Restricted Championship, are not entered.
Yet title races for novice riders and the leading horse remain up for grabs.
In the Highflyer Bloodstock Novice Men’s championship Conor Houlihan leads Ben Sutton by a score of nine to eight. Houlihan, who works for Somerset-based Will Biddick, is currently booked for rides in two races but has four horses to call upon. Sutton, who works for Alan Hill, is effectively enjoying a home game, for Kingston Blount is his local course. He has three possible rides on the Hill-trained Diplomate Sivola, Sir Mangan and Festival Dawn.
Conor Houlihan (left, red blue check) on Finley's Eyes at Bratton Down
If Sir Mangan wins he would take the lead in the Connolly’s RED MILLS leading horse award with five wins. If Sir Mangan fails to score, but Diplomate Sivola wins the last-named would draw level with Sir Mangan and Thumb Stone Blues (who is not entered on Sunday) on four wins.
However, further permutations are possible, for Blazing Tom, Normofthenorth and Hawkhurst – who have each won three times this season – are all entered at Kingston Blount and could force their way into a share of the top spot. Therefore countback of placings (2nd-4th) could be needed to decide this season’s champion pointer.
Blazing Tom’s performance will have a bearing on the Highflyer Bloodstock Novice Ladies’ Championship, for he will be ridden by Natalya Irvine, who shares the championship lead with Rosie Howarth, the pair having ridden three winners. Georgie Benson is one winner behind in joint-second, but a double on Barney Dwan and Knight Bachelor could see her snatch the title.
Blazing Tom (Natalya Irvine) winning at Dingley
Racing at Kingston Blount gets underway at 2pm and there are seven races. Limited numbers of spectators will be in attendance, but they must pre-register to comply with government track and trace requirements. For ticket sales click here.