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College Valley and North Northumberland preview By Peter Burgon, Sunday 8th March 2015
Pictures -

The Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick hosts point-to-point racing for the third time in five weeks on Sunday 8th March with the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture taking centre stage. It has attracted 74 entries, including 9 previous winners at the track this season, on a six race card starting at 12.30pm.

The two and a half mile Open Maiden Race for 4,5,6 and 7 year olds may chiefly concern Lady's Favourite (right), Captain Redbeard and Anddante. The former deserves a change of fortune after being carried off the course after a circuit by two loose horses in the Percy equivalent last month before rejoining to finish a distant 2nd behind Damiens Dilemma. Anddante has been placed on all three starts this year and his winning turn cannot be too far away, while Captain Redbeard showed promise when thirteen lengths 2nd to the David Pipe-trained Skylander in a Sedgefield Bumper three months ago and is sure to have been well schooled by Stuart Coltherd ahead of his hunt racing debut.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders has 18 entries and the main contenders are likely to be Darsi Dancer (left, noseband), Mister Splodge, Pyjama Game, Rosie Du Berlais and Soul Angel. Darsi Dancer is unbeaten in his last three starts between the flags and drops back in class after a couple of runs in hunter chases at Kelso and Haydock Park, finishing runner-up to Nowurhurlin at the former venue in January. Course winners, Mister Splodge (Percy Open) and Pyjama Game (West Percy Members) are also entered in the Men's Open. Rosie Du Berlais landed a Catterick Hunters' Chase twelve months ago and shaped well when twelve lengths 4th to Sportingfriendship at Mordon last time. Soul Angel led until four out in the Percy Ladies Open, eventually finishing twelve lengths 4th to Beggar's Velvet and a similar effort here would put him right in the mix.

Beggar's Velvet fell at the seventh at Corbridge last Sunday where he was sent off favourite, however, he has the chance to recoup losses in the Ladies Open Race. The other 16 entries include Call Me Mulligan, Keeverfield (left), Sharivarry, Tipsy Dara and Whiteabbey, who are all proven performers in this grade.

Bafana Choice (right) was an impressive winner of last month's Percy Members Race from Ballyvesey and Pyjama Game in a good time and a follow up is on the cards in the Subaru Restricted Race. Of the other 8 entries, Chanceofa Lifetime was twelve lengths behind Bafana Choice in 4th that day but is open to improvement. Kilmacallogue Bay caught the eye when two lengths 2nd to TC Spitfire on his first run for almost nine months at Mordon with Friars Haugh Maiden winner, Rush House a further twenty lengths away in 4th place.
There is plenty of quality among the 15 entries for the Men's Open Race with the likes of Ballyvesey, Crazy Diamond, Gunner Jack, The Falklander, Mister Splodge (right), Tommysteel and Know The Rules. However, Gunner Jack and The Falklander must be doubtful runners as both of them need soft ground to produce their best. Former eventer Crazy Diamond had plenty in hand when accounting for Senor Alco and Durban Gold here last time and has the scope to complete a four-timer. Mister Splodge got his own way out in front under Tom Hamilton when making all to beat Tommysteel and Know The Rules in the recent Percy equivalent and is certain to be in the thick of the action once again.

The 7 entries for the concluding Open Maiden Race include Yorkshire raider, Scuderia. Three years ago he was only beaten a short head by Patsys Castle on his debut in a Dungarvan Maiden. He failed to build on that promise when sent under Rules but hinted at better things to come when runner-up to Stonefield at Brocklesby Park four weeks ago. Dun Faw Good is better than last season's form figures of PF52P might suggest, Nelly La Rue has finished in the first four on numerous occasions, while Mordon runner-up, Heckley Herbert (left) was pulled up on both outings at Alnwick earlier this season.
The course is located 3 miles NE of Alnwick, easily accessible from the A1 and signposted from there. For those using SatNav, the post code is NE66 3AE.