Three days of drying sunshine isn’t a lot to ask for after this most dismal of wet winters, so organisers of Sunday’s re-scheduled point-to-point fixture at Guilsborough are clinging to that prayer.
The meeting inevitably fell by the wayside last weekend, but hopes are high seven days will prove adequate in salvaging a once-a-year gathering of the country set which is a highlight in many people’s calendar.
It pays to have a positive outlook, even when challenged by such vagaries of the English climate, so frontman-cum-trainer Gerald Bailey has a convincing argument when he says: “Of course some people will have made other plans, but we have 105 entries which stand from last Sunday.
“If the forecast is right and we get the drying days then we should be alright.”
People have long memories and the vision of cars pulled pulled up the slopes by tractors in the mud after a deluge in the late 1990s still casts a shadow.
“People don’t forget!” says Bailey, who celebrated his 64th birthday on Tuesday.
It is important to kick on in defiance, so Bailey will be hopeful not only that the meeting survives, but also the string he combines with his wife Caroline’s National Hunt stock can pop up with a few winners on the day.
Success has blossomed recently with Global Domination and Reckless Behavior scoring under Rules at Fakenham and Market Rasen in the past 12 days and the point team of Gunmoney, Mr Madeit, Thetalkinghorse and The Glover will be bidding to extend the sequence.
Gunmoney will be ridden by John Russell in the opening Members’ contest, Mr Madeit is poised to tackle the Club Members race with owner George Greenock, while stable jockey and assistant trainer Tm McClorey will take care of Thetalkinghorse and The Glover.
The action is due to get underway with pony racing from 1pm.
Before Sunday, French-bred filly Dyliev and veteran 13-year-old Galway Jack head to Southwell on Friday for a handicap hurdle and hunters’ chase respectively.
Meanwhile, the Towcester evening fixture on April 27 (first race 4.40pm) could feature The Captain for the Baileys in a maiden hurdle, while an experiment to send Malapie novice chasing at the age of 10 could finally bear fruit.
Malapie is only a tiny individual but the logic of the plan is to at least discover whether the bigger obstacles are a feasible option now, rather than in six months’ time.
Next Tuesday evening’s Huntingdon fixture is another which could prove a target for the yard’s inmates, with Reckless Behavior at the head of the queue.
The six-year-old was gaining the first win of his career under Sean Bowen at Market Rasen last Wednesday, having previously been disappointing at Southwell.
Bailey said: “We saw another side to the horse as he won by a head in a battle against the runner-up (Potters Hedger) who had been backed.
“We employed different tactics but previously had thought he didn’t want soft ground.
“Well that theory turned out to be a load of old twaddle!”
ALEX Hales’ Edgcote stables have reached their best ever total of prize money in a season and were given a healthy nudge in that direction by grey recruit Royal Sunday at Hereford last week.
The four-year-old returned from a lengthy lay-off, having formerly been trained by Alan King, and made the running to take his first hurdle contest under Kielan Woods.
Ceara Be ran a respectable race for the Hales yard at Aintree and the stables is poised to saddle both Quarry Leader and Huntsman Son at Cheltenham on Thursday before going to Southwell on Friday with Shinooki.
Florrie Knox, successful on her previous start at Market Rasen in March, was second at Newcastle on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Hales’ neighbour Ben Case will be hopeful of a bold show from his mares Graceful Legend and Midnight Jazz at Cheltenham.