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West Percy Preview - Sunday 22nd January 2012
By Peter Burgon, pictures by

The Northern Area point-to-point season resumes on Sunday after a six-week break with the West Percy fixture at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick, where all bends have been moved to fresh ground since the December meeting. It has attracted 128 entries on a seven race card starting at 12 noon.

Catherine Walton lifted her career tally between the flags to 25 with a double on stable companions, Highland Cathedral and Sacred Mountain (right) in December and will partner one of them in the opening Members Race. The other two entries are Monogram and Rakerin Lad, with the former likely to strip fitter after weakening from two out when 3rd to Sacred Mountain on his first start for Victor Thompson.

The two and a half mile Open Maiden for 4,5,6 and 7 year olds has 28 entries and will be divided on the day if more than 16 horses are declared. It may feature the reappearance of the lightly raced Coquet Head who is held in high regard by Jimmy and Frank Walton, and caught the eye when runner-up to Miss Vivian in a fast time at Tranwell last April. Others to note are Earl Grez, beaten under 5 lengths when placed in a couple of 2 mile handicap chases last January; Silent Snow, placed twice in novice hurdles last season; Northern Flame, runner-up to The Rustlin Rhino last time, and Gin Cobbler (left), who kept on well when 2nd to Ancient Times over course and distance in December.
The Men's Open Race has 19 entries and could see a repeat of the Ratcheugh Racing Club equivalent with the first three set to cross swords again. Former Carlisle specialist, See You There (right) led a mile from home that day and stayed on strongly to beat Winterwood by 3 lengths, with Victory Surge a distant 3rd. Unpenalised for that success, Dan Ockenden's mount can strike again.
Sea Scout (left) posted a career-best effort when making virtually all under a positive ride from Claire Metcalfe last month and can sail in again in the Ladies Open Race from Master Sebastian and Canada Street.
The NPPA Club Members Race has 14 entries and looks a competitive affair on paper. Course winners, Farriers Flight and Anotherbuck (right) usually go well fresh, while Commonburn ran a blinder here 12 months ago on his reappearance when two lengths 2nd to the progressive Hold On Julio. Of the others, Native Coll still held every chance when unseating three out in Sacred Mountain's race in December, while Wave Power was disputing the lead when he fell two out in the corresponding contest last January.
Recent maiden winners, Highland Cathedral, The Rustlin Rhino (left) and Tinkwood are among the 21 entries for the Restricted Race. The dark horse is Silent Cliche, an Irish Maiden winner in November 2009 before joining Howard Johnson's yard, from where he was placed in 6 of his 10 starts under Rules. Last time out, he was pulled up in the 2011 Scottish Grand National.
The concluding Open Maiden Race has 31 entries and will be divided on the day if more than 18 horses are declared. Flaming Thistle was unplaced in seven starts under Rules for Nicky Richards but has changed hands and could improve under Kit Alexander. Senor Alco (right) was beaten around 8 lengths by Highland Cathedral last month but should come on a lot for that run, while stable companion, Tommysteel was beaten under 3 lengths when placed in three of his five pointing starts in Ireland.