The Northern Area point-to-point season resumes after a five week break with the West Percy fixture at the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick on Sunday 19th January. It has attracted 104 entries on a seven race card starting at noon, and deserves plenty of support with free admission on offer for the second meeting in a row at Alnwick.
The 7 entries for the concluding Members Race are Bafana Choice, Bella Grappa, Highland Cathedral, Sacred Mountain, Duhallowcountry, Indian Print and Senor Alco. The latter was a model of consistency between the flags last season with form figures of 2222211 and a recent Ladies Open outing will have sharpened him up for the new campaign.
The opening NPPA Club Members Race has 16 entries, including four of the first five finishers in last month's equivalent contest - Page One Two Nine (1st),(right) Sharivarry (3rd), Amour Daria (4th) and Ashtonmore (5th). Others to note are the Katie Scott-trained geldings, dual course winner, Raid Stane and Ayr specialist, Sammy Spiderman. Sharivarry meets the winner on 3lb better terms this time and could launch a good afternoon for jockey, Tristan Davidson and trainer, Victor Thompson.
King Of The Dark heads the 18 entries for the two and a half mile Open Maiden Race. The 6 year old was only beaten three lengths when runner-up to ex-hurdler, Ballymartin King over course and distance in December and has the scope to go one better here. Of the others, the lightly raced Cherry Coward-trained duo, Asheanymoney and R Theveryman showed plenty of promise last season, while Central Flame shaped well when ten lengths 4th of 11 to the useful Simarthur in a Hexham Bumper last April.
The Men's Open Race has 18 entries and may feature a re-match between Moscow Menace, Lets Get Serious and Tommysteel, who finished in that order in the December equivalent. However, the one they all have to beat is 140-rated chaser, Always Right, who was set to make his seasonal debut in last Sunday's Kelso Hunters' Chase which fell victim to a frozen track. Former Royal Ascot winner and 134-rated hurdler, Drill Sergeant is an exciting recruit to the hunt racing ranks. Further spice is added by Back On The Road, Habbie Simpson,(right, red cap) Moon Over Miami and Ocarina, who were all successful in hunter chases last season.
The first three horses past the post in the AGA Ladies Open Race (11 entries) will qualify for the £10,000 3m4f AGA iTotal Control Ladies Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunters' Chase at Stratford on Friday 30th May. Radharc Na Mara (right) was sent off favourite here in December but probably needed the run and weakened from four out before being pulled up in the home straight. Sea Scout and Sacred Mountain usually go well fresh and like plenty of cut in the ground, while Narciso has been a prolific winner in this grade for Jacqueline Coward in recent years. The Katie Scott-trained gelding, Douglas Julian must go close if reproducing the form which saw beat Lie Forrit and Knockara Beau in Kelso's Champion Chase in December 2012.
The 12 entries for the Restricted Race include George White's home-bred gelding, Bella Grappa ,(left) who made a winning debut over a half mile shorter trip on Alnwick's December card. Oxfordshire raider, Champion Versions got off the mark at Cottenham three weeks ago, while Cave Hunter landed a Tattersalls Farm Maiden in May 2013. Mr Shahady is open to further improvement after finishing ten lengths 3rd to Our Sandy at Alnwick last month, while the Russell Ross-trained pair, Queen Of The West and Rock On Rodger also warrant respect.
There are 22 entries for the Open Maiden Race and it may pay to side with Moonwind, (right) who produced a career-best effort when three lengths 2nd to Bramble Vodka over course and distance last month. Chosen Keys and Hardy Oscar are capable of being involved at the business end of the contest, while the Nick Alexander-trained gelding, Present Potential, who was just touched off in a three mile Wexford Beginners Chase last July, should also be thereabouts.
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.