The biggest field of the day is likely to be in the Maiden Race (17 Entries). Tony Ross usually has his 4-year-old debutants fully tuned up first time out and so any market moves for Buy Some Time or Keep The Cool should be noted. Tanora was in touch for a long way in the Hexham Maiden won by Andy Du Pierres before being pulled up at the last, Roan showed promise over hurdles at Ayr in April and May, the former Nicky Henderson-trained gelding Moonlight Flit will appreciate the drop in class, the former Shark Hanlon-trained chaser Crobally Boy was narrowly beaten at Roscommon and Kilbeggan in August, while Glory also enters calculations if reproducing the form that saw him finish five lengths 3rd to Johnson's Blue over hurdles at Hexham in March.
That form has been franked with Johnson's Blue winning 5 of his 6 subsequent starts.
Coole Hall heads the ratings in the opening NPPA Conditions Race (8 entries). Will Ramsay's mount has been placed on all 5 Pointing starts in the last 12 months and lost nothing in defeat when going down by one-and-a-quarter lengths to Ballydonagh Boy in the recent Border equivalent in the best time of the day. Of the others, Cool Desire was runner-up to Cimetta here last December before landing a Berwickshire Restricted on heavy ground in February. All of Dream Over's 3 Pointing wins to date came on soft ground, So Satisfied (Left) was beaten a maximum of eleven lengths when finishing in the first four in 3 Ladies Opens last season, while Scorpo landed 3m2f Class5 Handicap Chases at Sedgefield in April 2019 and April 2021 off a mark of 73.
Recent Hexham scorers Ballydonagh Boy and Oscar Wilde are set to clash in the Ladies Open Race (11 entries). Oscar Wilde (Right) was a comfortable winner of the Border equivalent by five lengths from Billy Bronco and must go close again under Amy Coltherd. Ballydonagh Boy looked as good as ever when recording his fifth success of the year in the Border NPPA Conditions Race and has the scope to make his presence felt in this higher grade. The ultra-consistent Matts Commission also holds an entry in the Men's Open. He has won 10 of 15 Pointing starts since December 2017 and boasts form figures of 1212 at Alnwick. The dark horse is Chahuteur who won 5 times in France
(3 Chases and 2 Hurdles) his last win coming at Auteuil in November 2018 where he beat 2021 Cheltenham Foxhunters' Chase hero Porlock Bay by one-and-a-quarter lengths. Thunderosa and Supremely Lucky finished 5th and 6th respectively in Oscar Wilde's race at Hexham, while Shropshire raider The Dellercheckout is quite capable of being in the mix on his day.
There is plenty of quality in the Men's Open with 10 of the 15 entries rated 105 and above. The class act is Mighty Stowaway who finished twelve lengths 3rd to Billaway in the 2022 Cheltenham Foxhunters' Chase when trained by Gordon Elliott. Now with Alan Hill, the gelding is also entered in the Wadebridge equivalent on Sunday. Go Go Geronimo ended last season on a high when runner-up at Cheltenham and Stratford. He was only beaten a neck by Latenightfumble in the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham before posting a career best effort in Stratford's Champion Hunters' Chase. Overworkdunderpaid landed the 2021 renewal and followed up in the West Percy equivalent before finishing two lengths 3rd to the highly rated Cousin Pascal in a Haydock Park Hunters' Chase. The progressive Sine Nomine landed Maiden, Restricted, Intermediate and Conditions contests last season and has no stamina issues. Exod'ela (Left) won last month's Border Open with plenty in hand on his first start for owner/trainer Mary Sowerby, while Nick Orpwood has been booked to ride James Cookson's exciting front-runner Global Racing.
The aforementioned Go Go Geronimo heads the 12 entries for the Conditions Race in which Ask To Dance, Chahuteur, Diable De Sivola. Path To Freedom and Willewonga are also double-entered. The latter has won 4 of his last 10 Pointing starts since March 2021 including
a Knightwick contest on his reappearance last month. Path To Freedom finished runner-up on his only previous visits here in December 2016 and February 2020, Ryans Fancy (Right) drops down in grade after finishing eleven lengths 3rd to Oscar Wilde at Hexham, Champion Chase won his first 3 starts last season up to Intermediate level, while proven stayer Clondaw Anchor landed the Holderness Mixed Open last time out.
Cheshire trainer Joe O'Shea has made a great start to the new season with 6 winners from
10 runners and should add another one to that tally with Rabble Rouser in the concluding Restricted Race (9 entries).
He was an easy first time out winner of a Larkhill Maiden on November 27 and is open to further improvement. No Filter finished seven lengths 3rd to
The Wise Traveller on his reappearance here last December in Maiden company. No Promises won a Chaddesley Corbett Maiden in June and may have needed the run when pulled up two out on his seasonal debut at Larkhill, while the promising Feel The Breeze (Right) jumped well when landing the Buccleuch Mares Maiden in March before twice finishing third behind Macavity and Ardbruce. Victor Thompson's latest recruit Dave The Russian should be tuned up after a couple of recent outings in Irish Maidens. He finished twenty five lengths 6th to Flash In The Park at Knockmullen House on November 13 and the winner was sold for £350,000 at the Goffs UK Tingle Creek Sale last Saturday.
The Northern Area Point-to-Point season continues on Sunday with the Ratcheugh Racing Club fixture at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick. It has attracted 72 entries on a six race card which starts at 12.00pm.
Hopefully the course will escape the worst of the frost and wintry weather that is forecast for the second half of the week.