The Northern Area season gets back on track on Sunday 10th February with the Percy fixture at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick. It has attracted 72 entries on a six race card starting at 1pm and features the first of two Northern Area qualifiers in the Skinner's Pet Foods Ladies Open Point-to-Point Series, which culminates in a £12,500 Final at Stratford's Hunter Chase evening on Friday 31st May.
The 5 entries for the Newton Hall Hunt Members Race include this season's leading mare, Worcester Pearmain as well as ex-Irish chasers, Back Off Mate (right) and Tom Horn. Worcester Pearmain completed a hat-trick in the corresponding contest at the West Percy meeting and ran well again last time when three lengths 3rd to Sorcier in the Jedforest Intermediate Race. Back Off Mate (7lb penalty) chased home Financial Climate here in December before finishing 5th behind the highly rated Haymount at Sheriff Hutton. Tom Horn (7lb penalty) recorded the last of his five wins under Rules at Sligo in October 2014. His best effort last year came when finishing eight lengths 4th of 12 in a Stradbally Open in April, which earned an Irish rating of 92.
Recent Jedforest scorer Sorcier (left)could make a quick reappearance in the MKM Building Supplies Conditions Race which has 15 entries.Lord Usher and Roderick Random finished 3rd and 4th respectively behind Kalabaloo in the West Percy equivalent and that form was franked when the winner followed up at Thorpe Lodge. Exit Ten won first time out at Corbridge last season under his owner/trainer, Charlotte Tailford before outstaying his rivals in a restricted contest at Balcormo Mains. Former Irish chaser, Killer Crow is top rated and looks the one to beat if reproducing the form which saw him find only Purcell's Bridge half a length too good in the Jedforest Men's Open.
The Sintons Men's Open Race has 10 entries headed by the former Willie Mullins - trained chaser, Haymount, who landed a Sheriff Hutton Ladies Open on his first outing for the in-form Tom Ellis yard. The North's leading stayer, One Conemara is likely to bypass Alnwick and wait for the 3m5f Tynedale Mens Open on February 24th.Cave Hunter should come on a lot for his recent fifth place effort at Friars Haugh after being off the track for eleven months. Warwickshire raider, Ardkilly Witness (right) scored here in December 2017 and finished six lengths 3rd to Gran Paradiso in the last months West Percy equivalent. Ardea has won on all three previous visits to Alnwick but is likely to run next in the the valuable Walrus Hunters' Chase at Haydock Park on February 16.
There are 15 entries for the Skinner's Pet Foods Ladies Open Race and the list is headed by the aforementioned Haymount. Charlotte Crane has a choice of rides on course winner, Knocklong or Ballinahow Bill. The latter finished five lengths 3rd to Haymount on his seasonal debut at Sheriff Hutton and must go close if reproducing that level of form. Abbeyview and Slim Pickens both ran well when 3rd and 4th respectively behind Nicki's Nipper in the Jedforest equivalent; Scarlet Fire (left) is better than recent form figures of 5P might suggest, while this season's dual course winner, Winged Crusader faces a stiff task with a 8lb penalty.
The Ryecroft Glenton Restricted Race has 9 entries, including 6 from Yorkshire. However, 4 of these, Eden Collonges, Cheat Fairly, Monsun Storm and Mr Pepperpot are more likely to run in the Sinnington equivalent on Sunday. Not Far Wrong landed a Middleton Maiden and was runner up twice in 2017 but has been off the track for almost twenty two months, while the consistent Oakham raider, Templepoint (right)was beaten three lengths by Beggars Bush in this grade at Friars Haugh. Hardrock Davis got off the mark in good style in a two and a half mile maiden contest at Friars Haugh but usually needs more time between races.
The concluding Lycetts Open Maiden Race has 18 entries. Sheperds Cave (left) kept on well in the closing stages when six lengths 4th to Donnie Brasco in the West Percy equivalent and the third that day, Costly Dream, got off the mark at Friars Haugh last Sunday but the first division of the Sinnington Maiden looks a more likely option for Jack Teal's mount. Jupiters Way produced her best form last season on her reappearance at Corbridge, where she was only headed near the line by Exit Ten. Ex-hurdler, Hooligan Jack shaped well when 4th here in December and will appreciate more cut in the ground. Emory was not beaten far in his last three outings of the 2017/18 campaign at Easingwold (twice) and Sedgefield and should go well on his reappearance, while Alamgiyr was still in touch with the leaders when falling five out on his recent comeback outing at Thorpe Lodge.
The course is located 3 miles NE of Alnwick, easily accessible from the A1 and signposted from there.