Point-to-Point enthusiasts can look forward to some top quality action at Alnwick's third meeting of the season on Sunday 5th February,
with 107 entries on the Percy Hunt's six race card, which starts at 1pm.
For the record, this is the biggest entry for any Alnwick fixture since 2012.
The 5 experienced campaigners entered for the Andrew Robinson Farming Ltd Members Race have a combined age of 61. Bafana Choice secured a 4th course win when making all in the recent West Percy equivalent and must go close again under Richard Smith. Dual course winner, Highland Cathedral was pulled up last time on his comeback after a 27-month lay-off. The veteran Fine Parchment, a winner of 8 Chases, is now with Drew Holmes but has to overcome a lengthy break and a losing run stretching back to December 2013. The latter's stable companion, Klepht, probably better suited to a flatter track and shorter trip, is also entered in a Wetherby Hunters' Chase on Saturday, while Senor Alco (right) has won 3 times at Alnwick and posted his best effort for a while when 4th at Friars Haugh last time.
The 22 entries for the Warcup Law Firm Men's Open Race are headed by Justin Landy's stable star, Ardea, who has yet to taste defeat at Alnwick, however the 9 year old might well take up an alternative engagement in the aforementioned Wetherby contest. Will Ramsay's ex-chaser, Shantou Magic (left) was only beaten a length by Ardea at Alnwick in December and is well treated here as he receives 7lb from his main rivals. Conservative MP for Hexham Guy Opperman should be in the mix on 120-rated chaser, Auldthunder; Always Tipsy, 2 from 2 at Alnwick this season, is still on an upward curve, while the evergreen Rossini's Dancer also warrants respect.
Two of the three highest rated entries for The Skinner's Ladies Open Race, Damiens Dilemma (right) and Nowurhurlin hold alternative engagements on Saturday at Musselburgh and Wetherby respectively. In their absence, it is hard to see Knocklong not getting back in a winning groove. He had the West Percy equivalent in the bag when falling three out and should not be troubled to defy a 7lb penalty. Yorkshire raiders, Peter From Paris and Trop Fort could make the frame, while Kilcross Boy ran much better than his 5th place at Sheriff Hutton might indicate.
The Northern Area's leading mare, Weston Flame (left) looks the one to beat in the Stockdale Reid NPPA Club Members Race. Joe Wright's mount was very impressive in both course wins earlier this term and is well treated by the race conditions as she receives a minimum of 7lb from all of her main rivals. Jamie Alexander can choose between Allthekingshorses and Royal Chatelier; the ultra-consistent Great Gusto is guaranteed to be thereabouts under Will Ramsay, while Highpower and Summoned also enter calculations.
The two and a half mile Ryecroft Glenton Restricted Race has 19 entries and, on paper, promises to be a very competitive affair with 15 of them rated between 80 and 88. Dual Flat winner, Eco Warrior (right) caught the eye when 3rd to Dynamic Island at Friars Haugh and can step up again on that effort. Beyond The Glen is better than recent form figures of P6 might suggest. Minellaforlunch also makes the short list along with the promising Robin De Boss, who finished three lengths 2nd to Facile Bien at Thorpe Lodge last Sunday and could be the first runner at Alnwick since December 2014 for Melton Mowbray handler, Tommy Morgan.
The concluding Apartment Group Open Maiden Race has 25 entries. Crazy Penguin finished 3rd to Ballyandy on his debut for Charlie Longsdon in a Worcester Bumper in October 2015 and is a potentially exciting new recruit to hunt racing in Sarah Easterby's colours. Wendy Hamilton's home-bred 5 year old gelding, Diamond Brig (Black Sam Bellamy-Lady Brig) is sure to have been well schooled ahead of his debut. Matthew Man (left) shaped well on his recent debut when 4th at Friars Haugh. Towerburn might well have beaten Takethepunishment at Friars Haugh with a better jump at the last, while Neil Mechie's 5 year old newcomer, Steel Run and Lord Usher also enter the reckoning.
The Alnwick Races Champion Horse Award, sponsored by Imperial Racing, will be decided this weekend
and the current leaders on 10pts are Always Tipsy, Ardea and Weston Flame.
The course is located 3 miles NE of Alnwick, easily accessible from the A1 and signposted from there.