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College Valley and North Northumberland preview By Peter Burgon, Sunday 5th March 2017
Pictures -

The Northern Area season continues on Sunday 5th March with the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture
at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick, where a six race card starts at 1pm.

All the fences, apart from two, have been moved to fresh ground since the Percy meeting four weeks ago.

The opening Bond Dickinson Intermediate Race has 7 entries, headed by Oxfordshire raider, Exclusive Rights, who finished runner-up in last year's Subaru Restricted Final at Stratford and filled the same position in the recent Brocklesby Intermediate, however, Pauline Harkin's charge also holds an entry much closer to home at Kingston Blount on Saturday. The useful Five Piers, who hasn't been seen since scoring at Aspatria last May, might run at Charm Parm on Sunday. The three in-form horses are Bafana Choice, Ballingarrow and Indigo Island. The former secured a fifth course win in the Percy Members under Richard Smith and must go close again, the lightly raced Ballingarrow (right) can prove that his Percy Restricted victory was no fluke, while Indigo Island was rewarded for his consistency when landing the Sir W W Wynn's Restricted contest at Bangor-on-Dee.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders has 10 entries. Nick Alexander's Kinneston yard sent out a second winner in three days at Ayr on Monday with Craiganboy and stable companion, Rossini's Dancer (left) looks the one to beat here. He ran a blinder on his reappearance when only beaten half a length by Always Tipsy in the Percy Men's Open and, on paper, this is a much easier assignment. Shannon Silver has been knocking on the door this term but is more effective over an even longer trip. Fever Pitch and Kilcross Boy are two of the three highest rated entries but could bypass this race for the Ladies Open.
The UBS Wealth Management Ladies Open Race could turn into a match between Fever Pitch (left) and Kilcross Boy. The former scored five times under Rules in Ireland between April 2011 and October 2014 and hinted that a return to winning ways was not far away when finishing runner-up at Alnwick and Askham Bryan this term, while Denbigh raider, Kilcross Boy has been running much better than recent form figures of 453F might indicate.
The 10 entries for the Lloyds Bank Restricted Race include this season's maiden winners, Chipmunk, Lord Usher and Takethepunishment. The former returned from a lengthy lay-off to beat Path To Freedom by two lengths at Alnwick in December; Lord Usher deservedly opened his account at Corbridge last Sunday, while Takethepunishment (right) struck gold on his second Pointing start at Friars Haugh in January. The improving My Lady West has found only one too good on her last two outings at Alnwick and Corbridge, while the former Alexandra Dunn-trained gelding, Lough Derg Island was last seen finishing a close second in a two mile Wincanton Novices Handicap Hurdle on Boxing Day.
The 4 entries for the Saffery Champness Men's Open Race have already clocked up 190 career outings between them. Allthekingshorses has shown his best form on a sounder surface; Klepht landed a Musselburgh Hunters' Chase on his reappearance last year; Senor Alco was pulled up on his 60th career start last Sunday, while the evergreen Wicklow Lad (right), who finished one length 3rd to Premier Portrait in a Kelso Hunters' Chase last time, is still a force to be reckoned with when underfoot conditions are testing.

The concluding 2m 4f Collingwood Arms Open Maiden Race has 23 entries, headed by Teviot Prince. He was only beaten a neck by Sir Watty over this trip at Hexham last May and was prominent to four out in the recent three mile Alnwick Maiden won by Active In Milan. Of the others, Clara Peggotty ran well for a long way at Corbridge last Sunday, Doesn'tbotherme twice finished a close second in Ireland last season under Jamie Codd, while Matthew Man (left) and Simply Lucky also make the shortlist.

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.