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'Some opens are better than midweek handicaps'.

Matt Coleman Bloodstock agent and commentator I LIVE in Newmarket for my day job and now I've got a young baby I tend to stay close to East Anglia for commentating purposes, with one or two out of area thrown in, so I'd favour some of my local courses if I were advising people where to go for a great day out.

Horseheath is a wonderful, picturesque track and Cottenham has its own grandstand, gets excellent racing and always has a great atmosphere, but further afield Larkhill and Chaddesley Corbett stage excellent racing at nice spots.

There's plenty of choice wherever you are. Although I was born in Australia, I grew up in Surrey and my first memories are of Tweseldown - which was local but has sadly closed down - as well as the Easter fixture at Peper Harrow.

I'm 37 now and I've been going on and off for 20 years, but I still see the sport thriving. When I was young it was far more amateur and had more trainers and owner-riders, but there's no harm in it being more professional - it's become more commercial and people are using it as an advertising space for horses, the way it's happened for years in Ireland.

The atmosphere has changed but in my experience over the last couple of years the crowds are as good as ever, some of them huge in East Anglia, so although some people argue it's moved away from its roots and is run in a different way, it seems to be as popular as ever with the public.

People still latch on to good horses the way I did when Double Silk was running at the Cheltenham Festival. He was a very cool horse, just like one I bought a couple of years ago called Berties Dream. He's a former Cheltenham Festival winner who's given us a lot of fun.

The open races at some of the major point-to-points are better than the midweek handicap chases, with the formerly very smart horses and the younger up-and-coming horses moving through the ranks.

There's been a spate of good pointto-pointers winning nice races under rules recently, like Thomas Brown who won a novice chase for Harry Fry at Doncaster last month, and Village Mystic, who was with Tom Lacey and won a West Country maiden before being sold to Gigginstown. British pointing is growing its reputation as a producer of young horses and that's important if it's going to compete with the Irish as a grassroots production ground.

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Matt Coleman: commentates at point-to-points around East Anglia

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2016
Words:430
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