BRIDGNORTH trainer Phil Rowley will be looking for Lady Dudley Cup glory once again when the Worcestershire Point-to-Point comes to Chaddesley Corbett this weekend.
Rowley won this race last year with Barel of Laughs and will be keen to repeat the feat with either Grandturgeon or Now Ben on Saturday.
There is little between them on the form book and conditions will no doubt dictate which one is the Bridgnorth stables representative.
Grandturgeoon was impressive earlier in the season but then suffered two setbacks against Virak at Haydock and Lotus Pond at Bangor.
There were excuses for the latter defeat as he was attempting to concede 10 lbs to the winner, so Lotus Pond needs to have made major improvement to overcome the turn round in the weights.
Trainer Micky Bowen is keen on his chances but the form book says otherwise.
Lotus Pond has built on his defeat of Grandturgeon but like most of the runners he’s at an age when improvement is unlikely, so it just depends who performs best on the day.
Now Ben scored at Cottenham in the New Year but had been beaten on his seasonal debut at Barbury by Iberico but could be strongly fancied on last years form.
Iberico and Grandturgeon met twice last year and the latter came out on top on both occasions at Maisemore where they met on level weights and at this venue where Iberico was conceding 4lbs.
Clive Bennett’s 12-year-old has been raced more sparingly during this campaign.
He has not been out since mid-January so unlike some of his rivals has not been exposed to the worst of the conditions and that could prove crucial.
Diana Ralphs Old Pride scored at Brampton Bryan a few weeks ago but that was over two-and-a-half miles.
That might be his best distance so these extra furlongs will test his stamina.
Drumhart ran at the same meeting but a third place in a more low-level contest does not look good enough to score in this company, while Squirrel Esquire has been placed on four occasions.
The extra distance may prove to be the key to success.
Michaela Tallett forms part of the close-knit team at Rowley’s Bridgnorth yard.
Her race riding career has yet to take off but the stable has an interesting entry in the Novice Riders – Aupcharlie.
His performances in Ireland suggest a level of ability that his rivals would find difficulty matching. He has been running in the best company and with top class jockeys.
Crowded Room won over course and distance just after Christmas and he has the chance to regain the winning thread.
Ballycahane is another with a course victory to his credit, he never seems to run a bad race and will ensure that whatever wins they will not have things all their own way.
Aupcharlie also holds an engagement in the Skinners sponsored Ladies Open, but this is a much more difficult challenge with Arthur’s Secret featuring at the top of the list.
He is back on track after a hiccup at the end of last season and it will be a surprise if he gets beaten.
Maybe Plenty ran well after a long absence at Andoversford two weeks ago and she actually opened her account on this course.
She is bound to strip fitter on this occasion but will require Arthurs Secret’s connections to seek other options before she can prevail.
Pentiffic relishes testing conditions and having won this race 12 months ago, will be fancied to do so again.
Queen Olivia and Goodnight Vienna always put in solid performances in these type of races, while Vinnie Red is expected to improve for his recent run behind Hellorboston at the Cotswold.
The Conditions and four-five-six year old Maiden are both run over two-and-a-half miles.
Stoleaway sets the standard in the Conditions and it will take a good one to lower his colours, but Sam Cavallaro and Namako are capable of doing so.
Rockinrolldixie has been pulled up on three occasions this year so this shorter distance could prove beneficial, while Coeur de Fou, Carrig Dubh, Sacre Toi and Well Mett are others worthy of consideration.
Uppertown Hawk makes his seasonal debut but his best form has always been on firmer ground so conditions will need to improve for him to show his best No Likey had good form with Phillip Hobbs and ran well down at Charing in a similar type of race.
The Martin Weston trained The Late Legend holds engagements in both the two-and-a-half mile and three-mile Maiden and is capable of winning either.
Man in the Moon, Ninth Wave and The Maestro are three unraced youngsters from the Rowley yard.
With no form to go on they are un-exposed and could be potential world beaters.
This race will provide the answers.
Round Robin and Abigail Banks rarely run a bad race so it is frustrating that they have not yet managed to win a race.
They are sure to give a good run for your money and don’t be surprised if something goes past them in the closing stages.
Sulu Magic and Tekap are both capable of doing so.
The Tollit, Rucker, Smith Maxwell and Banks families are all represented in the Members and one of these stables always does well in this event.
It does not happen very often but this year, they may have to give best to Mirs Choice who stormed to victory at Garthorpe and has the mares allowance in her favour or the improving Mistercobar who has won his last two races.