West Percy point to point a ‘test of stamina’
Although most parts of Northumberland were affected by heavy rain on Saturday, the Ratcheugh Farm course near Alnwick was an exception. However, with a strong headwind to face in the home straight and soft ground, it was a true test of stamina for the 59 runners at the West Percy point to point.
Last season’s Northern Atrea Men’s Champion Jockey, Nick Orpwood moved six points ahead of Will Ramsay and Isaac Woods in the 2020 title race with a double on Rio Des Echanault and Firth of Vic.
Rio Des Echanault edged in front two out in the open maiden race and eventually won by a head over Liar’s Dice.
It was good to see Ayrshire breeder/owner Robert Goldie back in the winners’ enclosure following Firth of Vic’s win in the flat race. Orpwood’s mount found another gear when it mattered to sprint away from her four rivals to take it by two and a half lengths from Maybe Murphy (Amie Waugh).
Son of Suzie was always in the leading trio in the conditions race under a typically positive ride from Amie Waugh. After taking it up three out, the 12 year-old kept his pursuers at bay, eventually beating Things Change (William Easterby) by three lengths.
Mr Pepperpot (John Dawson) showed his younger rivals the way in the restricted race. The lightly-raced 11 year-old gelding stayed on well from four out to lead at the next, winning by five lengths from Dressedforsuccess (Rory Bevan).
The remainder of the card belonged to Warkwickshire raiders Don Poli, Give Us A Swig and Kalabaloo.
Don Poli (Tristan Durrell) made it two from two at Alnwick in the men’s open race, beating stable-mate Killer Crow, to book his place in the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ Chase in March.
Last year’s champion trainer, Tom Ellis took his tally for the new campaign to six with a double, courtesy of Kalabaloo in the ladies’ open race and Give Us A Swig in the open maiden race, both ridden by wife Gina Andrews.
The next Northern Area fixture is the Jedfoirest at Friars Haugh, Kelso on Sunday, January 26.
Owners and trainers should note that fresh ground will be provided for the next Alnwick fixture, the Percy, on Sunday, February 2 as all fences are being moved onto ground that hasn’t been raced on this season.