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Ratcheugh Racing Club By Peter Burgon, Sunday 17th December 2023
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The 13 entries for the Restricted Race include Duke Account (Left), Endless Adventure and Monknash who got the mark last season at Mosshouses, Alnwick and Hexham respectively. The one to beat under a 5lb penalty is Welsh raider State Of Fame who formed the second leg of an Ed Vaughan treble when scoring with plenty in hand in a Great Trethew Restricted four weeks ago. The main danger is Jay Bee Whiskey who landed a Badbury Rings Maiden on November 12 and that form was franked when the runner-up Horizon D'Ainay went one better at Larkhill last Sunday.

A six race card starts at 12.00pm with the 2m4f Goffs 4 & 5 year olds Maiden which marks the welcome return of racing over this trip at Alnwick for the first time since February 2017.
The 16 entries are evenly split between the two age groups.
Just A Rose made a winning debut for the Tom Ellis yard at Chaddesley Corbett on December 3, and unraced 4-year-old stable companion Occupied Territory looks the one to beat here. The unraced trio of Mount Denali, Follow The Leader and Jourji Borget all merit consideration. The former would be a first runner at Alnwick for Francesca Poste, Follow The Leader is related to prolific winner Vodka Bleu, while the dam of Jourji Borget is a full sister to 2014 Grand National winner Pineau De Re.
Of those already seen in action, Bryman's Moon and Buy Some Time  made promising debuts last season when placed at Hexham and Alnwick respectively. Red Delta caught the eye on her second start when runner-up to Definite Call at Witton Castle; The Last Tooth, a half-sister to Does He Know, finished ten lengths 4th to Workhardplayhard in a Duncombe Park Flat Race on debut; Welsh raider Holeshot finished four lengths 5th in a Great Trethew Flat Race last month, while Foxylee has joined Kelly Morgan's yard since finishing runner-up on both starts in Irish Maidens last season and it's worth noting her yard has sent out 6 winners from 9 runners at Alnwick in the last 2 seasons.

The 20 entries for a competitive-looking Conditions Race, of which 11 are doubly engaged, are headed by dual course winner Overworkdunderpaid who loves soft ground and landed the Men's Open on the corresponding card in December 2021. Poli Roi, a 4-year-old Maiden winner on debut in November 2016, completed a hat-trick in Irish Opens in 2021; Ryans Fancy scored first time out in two of the last three seasons for his previous yard; Wagner has fitness on his side after finishing one length 2nd to Captain Woodie in a Badbury Rings Conditions contest five weeks ago, while the same comment applies to Siberian Star who finished one length 3rd to Teescomponentsfly in a 2m4f Larkhill Open three weeks ago.
The local challengers include former 139-rated chaser Bavington Bob and Frankies Fire (Right). The latter, a six-time winner between the flags since January 2019 is much better than her recent form figures under Rules might suggest, while a change of scenery and drop in grade might revive the fortunes of Bavington Bob who ended last season under Rules with form figures of PP64.
Bavington Bob also figures among the 12 entries for the Ladies Open in which I expect the other principals to be Ballydonagh Boy, Oscar Wilde (Left) and Fightfortheroses. The ultra-consistent Ballydonagh Boy, who has won 5 and been placed 11 times from 19 Pointing starts since December 2021, ended last season on a high by landing the Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso. Oscar Wilde was in great form at the start of the 2022/23 campaign, scoring first time out at Hexham before following up at the West Percy fixture, while Fightfortheroses only finished out of the frame once in his last seven outings but may prefer better ground.
The 12 entries for the Men's Open include the aforementioned quintet of Overworkdunderpaid, Poli Roi, Ryans Fancy (Right), Siberian Star and Wagner. The headline act is Fiona Needham's stable star Sine Nomine. This proven stayer was a dual Stratford winner last season, including the Champion Novices' Hunter Chase. Of the others, West Lawn is fit from a spell under Rules following her easy win in the Tynedale equivalent on Easter Monday, and Torygraph was always in the mix last term but kept finding at least one too good.

There are 11 entries for the concluding 3m Maiden Race, including Heathrow, Jean Genie and Ocojohn from Tim Vaughan's Cowbridge yard. 106-rated chaser Where's Hector, a half-brother to Does He Know, deserves to get his head in front after being placed in 9 of 11 starts under Rules. The former Stuart Crawford-trained hurdler Bellaney Lord has scope for improvement, while Burtown and Turnthelightsoff have been placed in this grade in Ireland. Of the Welsh raiders, this race might come too soon for Ocojohn who finished runner-up at Wadebridge last Sunday. Former 117-rated chaser Jean Genie shaped well when eleven lengths 3rd to Jay Bee Whiskey at Badbury Rings on November 12 and that form has subsequently been franked, while 105-rated hurdler Heathrow has been off the track since May 2022.

The Northern Area Point-to-Point season is scheduled to start on Sunday 17th December with the Ratcheugh Racing Club fixture
at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2024.

It has attracted 84 entries, the highest total for any meeting in the Area since December 2021, including plenty of long distance travellers
with the yards of Max Comley, Joseph Drinkwater, Tom Ellis, Fred Hutsby, Kelly Morgan, Francesca Poste and Tim Vaughan all represented.

Admission is 15 per person, with U16's free. (Cash only at the gate) The post code for SatNav users is NE66 3AD.