The South East Hunts Club kicks off the 2020 South East Area Point-to-Point season on Sunday with their meeting at Charing.
The opening race of the day is the two-mile, four-furlong Maiden, which has attracted 26 entries. South East area hopes could fall on Bit Of A Legend, trained by Cynthia Woods, who was seventh in a Point-to-Point Flat Race in 2019 and pulled up on his only start this season but should improve for that educational run in a Maiden. Francesca Nimmo is known to produce good young horses and has entered Falloway Dubreau, who was second by a length on his only start in 2019 at Buckfastleigh over this distance. One of his main rivals could be Hannah Clarke's Monmouth Hill, who was second in maiden company at Penshurst in April 2019 but pulled up at Cocklebarrow at the end of January. Andrew Pennock's Morning Smiles also has a second to her name, having finished six lengths behind Manicman at Cottenham last weekend, and will be looking to get her head in front this time if she runs here. Anabel Murphy's Doncesar De Pretot was running well at Cocklebarrow when he was hampered and unseated, so may well be looking for redemption if he lines up. Willcollins, trained by Karen York, also has a second to his name after finishing a neck behind Sandygate at Northaw last May, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he made it into the winner's enclosure. Worth Knowing, trained by Katherine Davis, finished third in the Maiden at Cocklebarrow and also isn't without a chance if making the journey to Kent this weekend. Pam Tetley has already sent out a winner this season, so it wouldn't be a shock if Flaggan was able to show the form from last May at Peper Harow and provide Pam with another trophy for her cabinet.
The second race of the day is a Veteran Conditions Race and contains horses with a wealth of experience. The Philip Rowley-trained Ballykan has this race as an option and he finished second last time out at Cottenham in December in a Novice Riders' Race, so could be looking to improve this time. The Caroline Fryer-trained Dream Doc won an Intermediate at Ampton in January but subsequently pulled up at Horseheath last time in a Conditions Race. Silvergrove, trained by James Owen, was consistently placed in 2019 and was fourth in Open company at Horseheath, so might find this easier. However, the chances of a South East area winner may be better in this race. Cynthia Woods has Florella, who was sixth at Larkhill in January but is bound to have improved for that run. The David Phelan-trained Generous Ransom knows his way around Charing and is a course winner. He was running well before weakening at Ampton to finish fifth in January and is also likely to improve for that run and could find himself back in the winner's enclosure if he is at his best. Stuart Robinson's Work du Breteau missed 2019 but was third behind Brian Boranha in a chase at Southwell in 2018 and it will be interesting to see how the bookies place him in the market if he lines up. Sarah Ashby also has a veteran hunter in Double Whammy, who was second behind Mr Mercurial at Perth in 2019 so again it will be interesting to see how he takes to racing in Point-to-Points with Sarah's daughter, Mary, in the saddle.
The Men's Open has attracted 18 entries. Silvergrove has this as an option but could come up against one of the Tom Ellis-trained pair of Haymount and King Of The Clothe. The former ran in a Ladies' Open at Sheriff Hutton in January, finishing second behind The Dellercheckout, whilst the latter finished alone in an Open at Thorpe Lodge in January but was in command of the race when his only rival fell at the penultimate fence. The Alan Hill-trained Man Of Steel has failed to complete since winning a three-mile, six-furlong race at Godstone in April 2019 but cannot be dismissed in this company if he is back on form. Philip Rowley's Undisputed won a Conditions Race at Cottenham in November and would also have a great chance of repeating that victory if they decide to travel to Kent. Nicholas Wright has this as an option for Burtredgipandgump, who was second at Cottenham in a Conditions Race in December but might finds the Charing course a challenge. David Phelan's Full Irish was third behind Tullys Touch at Ampton in January but will be much improved for that run and could be the one to provide a locally trained winner. Nigel Benstead also has the chance of getting into the winner's enclosure with Streets Of London, who was a regular race winner in 2019 when trained by Tim Underwood; it will be interesting to see if the form continues with the change of yard.
Burtredgipandgump, Full Irish, Haymount and King Of The Clothe are also entered in the Ladies' Open, so have that option available to them. Libby Lawson's veteran Dont Do Mondays is another horse that knows his way around this course and has been into the winner's enclosure; however, he might find this race a challenge. The Caroline Fryer-trained Mercers Court was third behind Latenightpass at Horseheath in a Ladies' Open two weeks ago, whilst Jennifer Owen's Darius des Bois finished second in a Novice Riders' race at Cocklebarrow three weeks ago; he'll be interesting if he makes the journey east this weekend. Another horse to note would be the Alan Hill-owned and -trained Namako, who won his last start at Bratton Down in June 2019 and was also consistently placed throughout last year.
The Conditions Race is an option for Ballykan, Burtredgipandgump, Work du Breteau, Dream Doc and Generous Ransom, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of these taking this race. The Tom Ellis-trained Earlshill could be a threat having finished third in a Novice Riders' Race at Thorpe Lodge, and Nigel Padfield's Orchard Hill won a Restricted at Aldington in April 2019 but has subsequently pulled up. Groundunderrepair, trained in Suffolk by Emily Peck, finished fourth in a Novice Riders' Race at Horseheath two weeks ago and finished strongly, which can be beneficial at Charing. Tim Underwood's Cheltenham Mati won three times in 2019 and was third in a Novice Riders' Race at Cocklebarrow in January, but will benefit from having Phil York in the saddle if she lines up. Hannah Jones's Cada Club missed 2019 but won a Restricted in 2018 at Aldington, so could also be in the mix here but might benefit from this start.
Although the concluding Restricted has only attracted eight entries, all would have a chance. Tinnehinch, from Tim Underwood's team, has come the closest this season to winning in Restricted company, finishing a neck second at Cocklebarrow behind Risky Gold, a race in which Hannah Clarke's Schiap Hill was fourth and Robert Varnham's Bulfin Island was seventh. Warwickshire-based Julie Wadland saw The Golden Rebel win the Maiden on that card and he could follow up with another victory here, although that victory came over the shorter two-mile, four-furlong distance whilst this will be run over the full three miles. Katie Featherstone has the choice of Winola and Magic Symphony. The former lost her maiden status with a walkover here in 2019 and was third in Restricted company towards the end of last year but pulled up on her only start of 2020 at Higham, whilst the latter unseated at the penultimate fence at Larkhill in January. Gemma Cobb's Iron In The Soul lost his maiden status at Parham in April 2019 and was third in a Restricted at Higham in January, so could be the best chance of a South East area winner in this race.Charing is an undulating course on quick-draining chalk that tends to suit stayers.