The penultimate Northumbrian action of the 2018 Northern Area Point-to-Point season takes place on Saturday 21st April with the popular Haydon fixture at Hexham Racecourse. It has received 97 entries for a seven race card which starts at 2pm.
The 13 entries for the opening Chesterwood Bastle Holiday Cottage six year olds and over Conditions Race are headed by ex-chaser, Winged Crusader (left). He was always prominent when scoring on his first start for Amie Waugh at Alnwick in December and wasn't beaten far by Nine Altars at Overton in March. He unseated last time out in the Aintree Foxhunters' Chase and will appreciate a return to this grade. Of the others, course winners Battle Range and Oscar Stanley have shown their best form form on better ground, while Summoned and The Mobile Man, both successful on their seasonal debuts this term, also merit consideration.
The Gary Hall Building Ltd Open Maiden Race has 28 entries and will have to be divided on the day if declarations exceed the safety factor of 18. The pick of the Yorkshire raiders are Aumit Hill, Do It For Thy Sen, Miss Carney and Slanemore Hill. Aumit Hill, a 5 year old son of 2007 Epsom Derby winner Authorized, was unplaced in four starts on the Flat but shaped well on his Pointing debut when 4th to Calisson D'Alene at Charm Park a fortnight ago. In that same contest, Miss Carney was up with the pace most of the way and lost nothing in defeat when finishing three lengths 2nd. Slanemore Hill (left) weakened approaching two out when eight lengths 4th to Exit Ten at Corbridge last time. Of the Northern Area challengers, Moscow Calling and Mutdula ran promisingly at Corbridge and Overton respectively; Emory stayed on well from two out when eleven lengths 4th to Unseen at Charm Park and Flower Ball showed that he handles soft ground when runner-up to Ourgetaway at Alnwick on Easter Monday.
Local jockey, Charlotte Tailford should go close on her Tynedale Maiden winner, Exit Ten (right) in the Carrs Billington Fuels (Hexham) Restricted Race. After four non-completions in a row, Euro Bond finished 4th at Dalton Park and then led from five out when landing a 20/1 surprise at Charm Park a fortnight ago. 2011 Tynedale Maiden winner, Sorcier has finished runner-up twice in this grade in the current campaign; Worcester Pearmain got off the mark at Alnwick in February and has finished in the first four on her other 8 career Pointing starts, while 2017 Haydon scorer, Poetic Presence has run ten times under Rules since then with her most recent outing at Kelso on February 15.
Dance Of Time extended his winning sequence to six at Charm Park and can keep the bandwagon rolling in the featured Fisher German Men's Open Race for the Maling Trophy. Of the other 8 entries, Cave Hunter has won 12 of his 18 Pointing starts, including the 2017 renewal, since being bought by Niel Manning; the progressive Levelling (left) has won her last three starts on a sounder surface, while this season's dual Friars Haugh Ladies Open winner, Shantou Magic was pulled up on the final circuit in the Cheltenham Foxhunters' Chase.
Knocklong has won 10 of his 13 Pointing starts since December 2015 from Justin Landy's yard, including a Hornby Castle success last Saturday, and is the one they all have to beat in the Graham Reader Motor Engineer Ladies Open Race. The other 9 entries include last month's Overton scorer, Nine Altars (right) and 2017 winner, Oscar Stanley, who both prefer better ground, as well as proven stayers, Iron Chancellor and Settledoutofcourt. The latter landed a 4 mile handicap chase on the adjacent National Hunt track in March 2017 when trained by Lucinda Russell.
Ballinahow Bill recorded impressive victories at Sheriff Hutton and Duncombe Park earlier in the year but blotted his copybook when running out at the sixth at Dalton Park last time. He could get back in a winning groove in the Lycetts NPPA Conditions Race (14 entries). Others to consider are the aforementioned duo, Levelling and Summoned, while Lord Usher (left) and Pyjama Game rarely finish out of the frame.
The concluding 2m4f Codlaw Renewable Energy Ltd Intermediate Race is another option for Ballinahow Bill and Euro Bond. Leicestershire raider, Extreme Appeal was a dual Corttenham winner in November/December 2016 but has finished a well beaten sixth on both starts this year. Kate Leckenby's Lord Usher and Liz Nixon's soft ground specialist Roderick Random (right) are both in good form and should be in the mix. The dark horse is the former Bryan Smart-trained Alfie's Angel, a 4 year old son of Dark Angel, who was a top class sprinter as a 2 year old. This 70-rated gelding, a dual winner over six furlongs in 2017, hasn't raced beyond a mile and has yet to jump a fence in public.
As usual, the main action is preceded at 1pm by two pony races, sponsored by Shaw & Co. Solicitors. The 8 entries for the 138cm contest over five furlongs include this year's Corbridge and Overton winner, Ninfield Millionaire's Splendour ridden by Elliot Stockwell, while the 11 entries for the 148cm race over six and a half furlongs are headed by Corbridge winner, Judge Fox ridden by Archie Frank.