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01 March 2012 Preview: Duke of Beaufort's - Didmarton

by Peter Mansell

SAGALYRIQUE: Could earn his owner Angela Rucker more points in the AGA 'Total Control' series
photo: Phil Britt

Point-to-Point racing returns to Didmarton on Saturday afternoon and for many people this fixture is one of the highlights of their social calendar.

The tented village has a variety of stalls and pony racing will precede the normal racing at 11.30am.

The Members race used to be a Bush family benefit but the family have struggled to maintain their grip on the trophy in recent years and that may be the case again on Saturday as neither Forgive The Past or Sueski have been in top form this season.

Twocute won his Maiden at Dunthrop. He stayed on resolutely in the closing stages on that occasion and that attribute will stand him in good stead if it's a close finish.

The Dando family are based at Old Sodbury so will not have far to travel and should arrive fresher than most while Victory Parade could be one for the forecast .

Chippenham farmer Mike Hawker took last year's Members with Sheknowsyouknow but the mare has not been seen out so far this season. Simply Game is his likely representative in Saturday's contest and it would be unwise to write his chances off.

Many will fancy Hawker's entry Where's My Slave to take the Restricted. She has been placed twice in similar company and she jumps well which has to be a bonus as she steps up in class.

"Horses for Courses" is a well-known racing adage which it could pay to follow in the Ladies and Mens Open.

Double Mead ran his rivals ragged in the Ladies 12 months ago and connections will be keen to complete the double at a prestigious meeting such as this.

Owner Katherine Smith-Maxwell and her daughter Alex Dunn have a useful second string in Picaroon who has not been seen out since running disappointingly at Chaddesley Corbett just after Christmas.

Smith Maxwell's sister Angela Rucker is one of the leading contenders for the AGA Lady Rider Championship and Mrs Rucker could team up with Sagalyrique who got up in the dying strides when winning at the Albrighton two weeks ago.

Skyhawk has changed stables since winning for Dick Baimbridge, while the chances of Swift Counsel have to be respected after his success at Overton earlier in the month.

The West Midland Area Club race throws together three horses of great potential. Flying Gnu was the Leading Horse in this area 12 months ago but this will be her seasonal debut and others will have the upper hand in the fitness stakes.

Harlaxton seems to have benefitted from his move to Dene Stallards stable at Little Shurdington. He is another for the short list, but all the runners will have their work cut out to match strides with Jason Warner's Nobby Kivambo.

He absolutely annihilated the opposition at Chaddesley Corbett two weeks ago and it is confidently predicted that whatever finishes in front of him will have to be a very good jumper and a very quick galloper.

Stallard could double up in the Mens Open with the useful Nomadic Dreamer, who had all his rivals beaten until falling at Larkhill. A repeat performance could be enough to secure victory in this contest.

Raleagh House won over course and distance in 2011 in a record time but he may lack race fitness after time on the sidelines, but he is sure to finish in the first three.

For going updates and meeting information, call Talking Point on 09068 44 60 61. For a list of entries via fax, call 09068 44 99 88. All calls cost 61p/min plus network extras.

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