Reigning champions set for point-to-point battle at Chaddesley Corbett
Two reigning area champions set out on their quests to retain their titles at tomorrow's point-to-point Harkaway Club meeting at Chaddesley Corbett, writes Peter Mansell
Fossebridge trainer Jelly O'Brien and Coln Rogers-based Mark Wall are expected to be in action at what promises to be the best meeting of the season.
O'Brien attempts to open her account in the race for the trainers' title with Made in Japan in the opening Conditions race.
He is taking the step down from racing under Rules, but this race looks one of the most competitive on the card and he will do well to overcome the challenges of Hazeldene, Keel Road, Le Burf, Nobby Kivambo, Oedipe and Up There.
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Jason Warner's Nobby Kivambo was cannoned into at Barbury and was an early casualty.
The Upton St Leonards duo had their finest hour at this meeting 12 months ago and they will need to show that level of performance to repeat that success.
O' Brien has entered Mr Trump in the Restricted and he was prominent for a long way at Barbury.
Mark Wall is likely to team up with Tim Sage's Irish Lace in this contest and this could be the start of a good season for this partnership.
Gioiello and Just Dave are the two form horses in the Restricted, but Music of the Morn, Pillbox, Rosemore Déjà Vu and Prof D'Isle are ready to step up to the mark if others fail to make the grade.
The AGA Ladies' Open features two potential runners from the O'Brien yard – Horsham Lad and Stratford Stroller.
Horsham Lad could find that he is taken off his feet, while Stratford Stroller is sure to benefit from his run.
The race is loaded with quality including Billyvoddan, the winner of the AGA Final in 2011 and runner-up last year, while Lady Myfanwy has form over the course and is always hard to beat in Ladies' Opens.
Both Overlut and Picaroon are prolific front-runners so their rivals will need to ensure they do not give them too much of a lead.
Vic Venturi had top-class form in Ireland and should have no problems adjusting to the pace of racing in point-to-points, while Promising Anshan's success at Barbury puts him into this race with a big chance.
Kicks for Free has been absent since sustaining an injury at Larkhill last January, but the Rucker's runner is sure to be in good shape.
There have to be fitness doubts but this course plays to his strengths.
The Men's Open has attracted 45 entries and the Cheshire raider Cottage Oak will be fancied to follow up his win in Wiltshire.
However, he faces strong opposition from Ashtown Boy, Current Exchange, Dammam, De Forgotten Man, Findlays Find, Ice Cool Benny, Offshore Account and Rumbavu.
When eventing goes into winter hibernation Zara Phillips turns her hand to her point-to-pointers.
She has a respectable record so a Royal winner could be on the cards in the Non-Rules Runners Maiden.
Her mother The Princess Royal's Fiddle Faddle made his debut over this course last June and was still in second place when he fell at the 12th.
The afternoon finishes with the Open Maiden, where First Watch's Royal connections will be hoping that he can follow in Fiddle Faddle's footsteps, although he will be hindered by the fact that he has not seen the racecourse since the middle of 2010 when he was in Martin Keighley's care.
Cap Falco has been a disappointment under Rules but could make amends, while No Idea was favourite for a bumper at Plumpton in March 2011.
He must have been showing his connections something at home and Maiden races should offer easier opportunities.
Racing is scheduled to start at 11am, but several races could require division on the day.
Entry is £10 per person, but it is free for under-16s.