It's all systems go for the long awaited resumption of the 2023/24 Northern Area Point-to-Point season
at Alnwick on Sunday 28th January where the Percy fixture has 73 entries on a seven race card starting at 12.30pm.
Waltham-on-the-Wolds trainer Kelly Morgan has sent out 7 winners from 11 runners at the
Ratcheugh Farm course since December 2021 and heads up the A1 with live chances in four races.
Last month's impressive pillar to post 2m4f Alnwick Maiden winner Foxylee (Right) carries her hopes in the Ryecroft Glenton Restricted Race. Subsequently, the mare only weakened approaching the last when eight lengths 2nd to the useful Paper Mill in this grade at Ampton and has come out of that race well. Of the other 11 entries, Amma Lord (5lb penalty) returned from a 428-day absence to land the Hurworth Restricted on heavy ground last March, Courting Flow returned from a 22-month absence when fifteen lengths 2nd to Fortunes Hill at Sheriff Hutton a fortnight ago with last season's Lauderdale Maiden scorer Duke Account back in 5th on his reappearance, while Shropshire raider Bestfriend Barnaby also merits consideration.
Runwiththetide can strike gold for the Morgan yard against a maximum of 5 rivals in the Hazelrigg Racing Intermediate Race. Having scored first time out at Shelfield Park last season before following up in a fast time in this grade at Thorpe Lodge, the mare gets my vote ahead of Red Opium, Cool Desire and the aforementioned Amma Lord. Proven stayer Red Opium, (Left) who has won at Dalton Park, Hexham and Overton since April 2022, shaped well on her reappearance when five lengths 3rd to Lagan Valley at Sheriff Hutton, while course winner Cool Desire finished thirty lengths 4th to Premier Magic at Sheriff Hutton.
Morgan is represented by Jumper Watt and Just Our Milly in the 2m4f Joiners Arms, Newton-by-the-Sea Maiden Race. She is looking forward to seeing Jumper Watt make his debut, while dual Point-to-Point Flat Race runner-up Just Our Milly has been schooling well at home. The 17 entries are headed by Mexican Boy who would be a first runner at Alnwick for Cheshire handler Hannah Roach. He travelled well and was still close up in 4th until weakening after three out in a 3m Chaddesley Corbett Maiden on December 3 and should be ideally suited by the drop back in trip. In a competitive-looking affair, others to note include Bryman's Moon, unraced Follow The Leader who is related to prolific winner Vodka Bleu, Slaney Opera, Something Golden, That'll Do Moss and Whatsgoingon. James Cookson's well related Slaney Opera caught the eye in the 3m2f Maiden contest at Sheriff Hutton won by Cash Or Card where he still held every chance until weakening quickly four out, Something Golden was placed in 5 of his last 6 hurdling starts for Iain Jardine, Whatsgoingon (Right) finished five lengths 2nd to Cheltenham raider Burtown over a longer trip at Alnwick's December meeting, while the promising That'll Do Moss finished nine lengths 5th on debut in a high quality 2m4f Chaddesley Corbett Maiden on December 3 and should have more to give.
There are 9 entries for the 2m JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race, including Morgan's representative Batsman Jack who will be a first home-bred Pointing runner for the Chatfeild-Roberts family. His dam Our Milly Acres may have been small in stature but had the heart of a lion, with 3 wins and 6 placings from 9 Pointing starts under Tom Chatfeild-Roberts between January 2016 and May 2018. Of the others, Austins Hill Lass is a half-sister to jumps winners Chasma and Flints Legacy, Fair Catch's dam Deckers Delight won a 3m1f Hereford Mares' Handicap Hurdle for Nigel Hawke in December 2016, Rulerofthewaves' dam Charyan won 5 times under Rules including 20-runner bumpers at Tipperary and Down Royal on her first 2 career starts, Schiavone's unraced dam April Thistle is related to Croco Bay, while locally trained Where's Willy's dam My Lady West won a Tranwell Maiden (April 2016) and Dalston Restricted (March 2017) from Victor Thompson's yard.
Champion trainer Tom Ellis boasts a 60% strike rate at Alnwick since January 2019 and is taken to enhance that record with course specialist Dundrum Wood in the Meldrum Construction Ladies Open Race. Shona Westrope's charge has tasted victory on all three previous visits to Alnwick including first time out in January 2022 and, in receipt of 10lb from hat-trick seeking Ballydonagh Boy, can strike again under Martha Reeve. In a small but select field, the other contenders are Oscar Wilde, Coole Hall and Fightfortheroses who finished 3rd, 4th and 6th respectively behind Ballydonagh Boy over course and distance in December, along with dual hurdling winner Kingrullah (Right) who lost nothing in narrow defeats at Overton and Corbridge last season.
The 9 entries for the Sintons Law Men's Open Race include course specialist Senor Lombardy and last season's Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase winner Matts Commission, dual hurdling winners Pure Surf and West Lawn, as well as 135-rated chaser Deise Aba. Senor Lombardy (also entered in Conditions Race) has won under Lyall Hodgins on all three previous visits to Alnwick including twice on seasonal debut but has been off the track since finishing 5th to Billaway in the 2022 Cheltenham Foxhuters' Chase. Jimmy Walton's home-bred mare West Lawn was an easy winner of the Tynedale equivalent last April but failed to reproduce that level of form in 7 subsequent starts under Rules, both of Pure Surf's victories came up to 2m6f when trained by Iain Jardine, dual Alnwick winner Matts Commission (Left) is sure to come on a lot for his Sheriff Hutton pipe-opener, while Warwickshire raider Deise Aba (also entered at Horseheath) needs to step up again after landing a Larkhill Conditions Race last time out on December 31.
Eight of the 13 entries for the opening Percy Hunt Conditions Race are rated 101 and above. There was only a short head between Wild Romance (1st) and Bintheredonethat (2nd) in the Ratcheugh Racing Club equivalent and the pair are set to meet again. Ex-Irish chaser and proven stayer Ask Cory is sure to be in the mix under Chloe McHattie, former 139-rated chaser Bavington Bob (Right) should appreciate the drop in class, soft ground specialist Coole Hall gave debutante jockey Abi Reid a great spin when eight lengths 4th to Ballydonagh Boy over course and distance six weeks ago but would have 22lb more to carry here than in the Ladies Open, while 6-times Pointing winner Frankies Fire goes well fresh and is much better than recent efforts under Rules might suggest.
Admission is £15 per person, with U16's free (Cash only)