Following 11mm of rain on Saturday evening, the going was perfect for the Ratcheugh Racing Club fixture at Alnwick on Sunday with 63 runners on a six race card.
The opening E.F.Brown & Son NPPA Conditions Race (8 runners) featured a clash between Pieceoftheaction and Matts Commission - the two highest rated five year olds in the country last season. After being held up in the early stages by Jack Teal, Matts Commission took closer order on the final circuit before disputing the lead with Pieceoftheaction (Jack Andrews) from four out. There was still nothing much between them approaching the last but Teal's mount was more fluent than his rival and quickened away on the flat to score by four lengths.
Malton-based Teal, who also trains the youngster, said, "He's surprised me a bit as I thought he would need the run and he had a good blow afterwards. The Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso is a possible target later in the season."
There was a popular success for the Waugh family in the Park Farm Development Ladies Open Race (12 runners) as Winged Crusader repeated last year's victory in the hands of Amie, who also trains the ten-year-old for her father, Simon. He maintained a relentless gallop from the outset and had most of his rivals well strung out with a circuit remaining. The odds-on favourite, Knocklong (Charlotte Crane) held every chance from four out but Amie's mount forged clear going to the last and had ten lengths in hand at the line. Iron Chancellor (Jess Bedi) was a further half length away in third. This was Amie's 30th career victory between the flags and the partnership could return to Alnwick on January 6 for the West Percy Ladies Open Race.
Connections of Financial Climate were rewarded for making the 300 mile journey north from Andoversford near Cheltenham as the former Oliver Sherwood-trained chaser proceeded to make most of the running in the Geoff Allan Catering Men's Open Race (8 runners) in the capable hands of Major Harry Wallace. Back Off Terms (Jack Andrews) threw down a big challenge from three out but Wallace's mount asserted again going to the last and kept on strongly up the run-in to score by four lengths. Prior to Sunday, the gelding had recorded seven career wins under Rules but the most recent was in March 2015. One of his best efforts under Rules came when finishing five lengths 6th of 17 to Highland Lodge in the 2015 renewal of the 3m2f Becher Chase over the Grand National fences off a mark of 132.
Duncan and Sarah Davidson's home-bred mare, Worcester Pearmain (Nick Orpwood) followed up her recent Border Restricted success in the PJR Blewitt Ltd Conditions Race (10 runners). The favourite, Black River, Game As A Pheasant and Worcester Pearmain were in the air together two out but it was the latter, carrying 7lb less than her rivals, who found another gear in the closing stages to secure a two lengths verdict over Black River.
Justin Landy is always the trainer to follow at Alnwick and made it 11 winners from 14 first time out runners at the track since December 2015 with Monte Alban in the Imperial Racing Syndicate Open Maiden Race (14 runners). Confidently ridden by Joe Wright, the five-year-old gradually warmed to his task and had just taken the measure of long time leader, Flamingo Lane (Christy Furness) when the latter departed two out. Wright's mount was allowed to come home in his own time, fourteen lengths ahead of Major Minus (William Easterby) with Dressedforsuccess (Rory Bevin) a similar distance away in third place. The winner carries the colours of Landy's mother, Pauline Southerington and looks to have a bright future.
Having got off the mark on her final start of the 2017/18 campaign at Mosshouses, Ailsa and Ben Speke's lightly raced home-bred mare, Coomacarrea kept the bandwagon rolling when making a winning reappearance in the Cook and Barker Inn Restricted Race (11 runners). Given a peach of a ride by Gillon Crow, the seven-year-old was always lying handy before being produced to lead after three out. She outstayed her rivals down the home straight and had a comfortable three lengths to spare over Monsun Storm (Joe Williamson) at the line with Templenaboe (Joanna Walton) a further half length away in third.
The Northern Area season resumes in the New Year with the West Percy fixture at Alnwick on Sunday 6th January.