Season under starter’s orders

THE Northern Area Point-to- Point season gets under way at Ratcheugh Farm, Alnwick, on Sunday. A tremendous entry of 106 runners is scheduled for a six-race card with the first race under starter’s orders at noon.

The course has been carefully maintained throughout the summer to provide an excellent grass cover with additional drainage works being undertaken to try to ensure good going.

The committee is highly grateful to the tireless work of Alan Wilson throughout the year to enable this.

The first race at noon, The Banks Group-sponsored Northern Area Club Members Race, has attracted an entry of 14.

Interesting runners here could prove to be French-bred Qolliuire, former chasers Harmony Brig and Rathowen.

However, preference may well go with the locally-trained Sacred Mountain from Jimmy Walton’s Flotterton stables. This horse has form on the course, being a winner here in January at the first time of asking.

The second race, the UAP-sponsored Open Maiden Race is run over the shorter distance of 2m4f. A tremendous entry of entry of 30 may mean that if they all stand their ground then this race may need to be divided on the day.

This race, for horses yet to win, will be a starting point for a lot of runners that have never seen the course before.

Paddock notes should be made of horses looking fit, ready to run and key observation should be given to those that have travelled from a long distance. Interesting local runner is Morpeth-based Claire Moore’s Coole Murphy, a big horse who has not had the best of luck yet looks sure to have the ability to score in the near future.

The third race, the Aga-sponsored Ladies Open, has attracted 13 entries.

Interesting ones to note here are the Victor Thompson-trained Anns Benefit, sure to be fit for the early season or the Russell Ross-owned Sea Scout, a horse that enjoys good ground.

The fourth race, the GA Smith Bulk Haulage Open Maiden, is again for horses yet to win a race, however, run over the longer distance of 3m.

Again a lot of these will be having their first outing and at this stage of the season, this race is surely one for paddock judges.

The fifth race, the Blackshaws of Alnwick Men’s Open, goes to post at 2pm.

This race, with 13 runners, consists of a number of pointers making their way through the ranks and a number of former chasers. Interesting ones to note here would be Edmo Yewkay and Rakerin Lad.

The final race of the day is the Thornton Hickey-sponsored Restricted Race, where 16 go to post. Merry Eric could provide a nice conclusion to the day for the Walton family while Rapidolyte De Ladalka will no doubt prove a challenge for the commentator.

Entry, at £10 per head (children free), includes race card. Full bar, betting and catering facilities are available.