The majority of the 21 entries for the concluding Open Maiden Race have yet to produce any worthwhile form, with the exception of Anddante, (right) The Brig At Ayr and Themanfrommurroe. The former was only beaten around eight lengths when twice finishing in the first four at Easingwold last season, and made an eye-catching reappearance when four lengths 3rd to Spruce Up at North Carlton a fortnight ago.The Brig At Ayr posted his best effort between the flags when only beaten a couple of lengths by Blue Bertie at Corbridge last week, while Themanfrommurroe is better than this season's form figures of 3U7 might suggest.
Victor Thompson always has plenty of runners at Alnwick and that will be the case again this Sunday in the College Valley & North Northumberland fixture at the Ratcheugh Farm course, with 14 of the 82 entries coming from his Newton-by-the-Sea yard.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders has 14 entries. The list is headed by ex-chaser, Tipsy Dara, (right) who provided Gemma Cochrane with her first winner in the recent Dumfriesshire & Stewartry Ladies Open. It is worth noting that all of the mare's victories in recent years have come on soft or heavy ground. Management might well have been placed in the opener at Corbridge had he not unseated two out, while course specialists, Raid Stane, See You There and The Rustlin Rhino add further spice in a competitive-looking affair.
Chanceofa Lifetime was a rare first time out winner for Victor Thompson on his debut for the yard at Hexham last May and could stage a repeat performance on his reappearance in the Restricted Race. Stable companion, Mr Shahady also merits consideration. Hardy Oscar (right) finished in the first four on both starts at Alnwick earlier in the season before scoring at Corbridge last week and is still on the upgrade, while either one of the Jimmy Walton-trained geldings, Central Flame or Job For Eric should go well.
Thompson holds a strong hand in the Men's Open Race with Monogram, Senor Alco and Tommysteel making up a quarter of the entries. Course winner, Ocarina and Noir Et Vert represent the in-form Kinneston yard of Nick Alexander, while Victoria McKie's impressive West Percy Open winner, The Falklander (right) could also line up if none the worse for his last fence fall at Corbridge.
Six of the twelve Ladies Open entries, Accordingtotheboss, Beverley Beck, Non Dom, (right) Radharc Na Mara, Sacred Mountain and Tipsy Dara are doubly engaged. Of the others, course winner, Supreme Plan also landed a Catterick Novice Hunters' Chase in March 2012. Scarlet Fire scored over hurdles at Carlisle in March 2013 and was still running under Rules until early December, while ex-chaser, Shake The Barley has failed to add to his winning tally in he last thirty four months.
Fife trainer, Nick Alexander has sent out seven winners in the last four weeks, including six under Rules, and his yard's impressive strike rate can be improved still further by the progressive Present Potential (right) in the opening NPPA Club Members Race at 12.30pm. Already successful this year in testing conditions at Alnwick and Crossford, Kit Alexander's mount should be even more effective on better ground. The main dangers are Cool Star, Sharivarry and Accordingtotheboss. The latter goes well fresh and got off the mark on the corresponding card in March 2012.
Admission is £10 per car, with racecards £3.
The course is located 3 miles NE of Alnwick, easily accessible from the A1 and signposted from there. For those using a SatNav, the post code is NE66 3AE.
College Valley and North Northumberland preview By Peter Burgon, Sunday 9th March 2014