POINT-TO-POINT: Coombe Hill heads competitive Men's Open entry at Larkhill

FORMER Coronation Gold Cup winner Coombe Hill and Bellsinni Ron, who won four of his five races last season, are the two suggestions from the 16 entries for Sunday’s Larkhill Racing Club Men’s Open, writes Brian Armstrong.

Challengers include dual Plumpton hurdle race winner Aikideau, Who Else Knew – already the winner of seven races at Larkhill – Rumbavu, who took his win tally into double figures last season and Merry Terry, who returns to hunt racing after winning four point-to-points in 2011. Interesting newcomers to the ranks include William and Angela Rucker’s Beneficial Reform, a £26,000 May Doncaster purchase after winning three races under rules, Anthea Morshead’s four-race winner Locked Inthepocket, and the ex-Philip Hobbs-trained Marufo, the winner of five races including an October 2012 Aintree handicap chase.

Beneficial Reform may prove the strongest challenger to Coombe Hill and Bellsinni Ron.

Reigning Wessex leading horse Master Medic, who was unbeaten in six 2013 point-to-points and won Wincanton’s lady riders’ series final hunter chase, will be fancied to follow up last season’s success in the AGA Ladies’ Open. Coombe Hill must enter calculations if connections take this option.

Five to consider are Wadebridge runner-up Gwanako, prolific Irish pointing winner Gale Force Oscar, the lightly raced Hey Porter, Coombe Hill’s stable companion Parstara, and Barbury Castle runner-up Stonemaster. Quedillac has won four races at Larkhill and may give Master Medic and Gwanako most to do.

The meeting has attracted 101 entries and the maiden will be run in two divisions. Siege Of Troy was in contention when falling two out at Woodford and can make amends in Div One. Un Ami can get the better of Subtle Sovereign and The Gunner Brady in Div 2.

Andy Croskery and Lucinda Gould’s Poquelin can make the perfect start to his pointing career in the conditions race. Formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, Poquelin has won ten races under rules, including five at Cheltenham, where he finished runner-up in the Ryanair Chase at the 2010 Festival meeting.

Schindler’s Prince, unbeaten in four 2012 outings but disappointing since, is a danger if back to his best.

Cottenham winner Moscow Blaze and Little Cornham, who gave the top-class Mendip Express plenty to think about in last season’s renewal, are two more for the shortlist.

Course winners Alskamatic and Boardwalk Empire and Wadebridge runner-up Minella Fifty are three suggestions for the Restricted.

The course is found just NW of Amesbury on Salisbury Plain, easily reached off the A303, A360 or A345 (SP4 8QT). First race: 11am.

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