Border at Hexham
The 2021/22 Northern Area Point-to-Point season gets under way on Sunday with the Border Hunt fixture at Hexham Racecourse. It has attracted 86 entries on a six race card starting at 12.30pm, with many of the top Southern yards represented at Hexham for the first time.
Cooking Fat (Charlotte Dun) can make his fitness count in the opening NPPA Conditions Race after finishing four lengths 3rd to Earlshill on his seasonal debut at Revesby Park three weeks ago.
Of the other 8 entries, Frankies Fire posted a career-best effort when four lengths 2nd to Gold Time over course and distance in May. Alone No More won first time out at Alnwick in December 2019 under Will Ramsay and finished three and a half lengths 4th to Rio Des Echanault in last season's Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunters' Chase at Kelso. Takethepunishment has a good strike rate for a lightly raced eleven-year-old and goes well fresh, while the Rose Dobbin-trained mare, Worcester Pearmain scored first time out at this meeting in December 2018.
There are 21 entries for the Maiden Race, although 11 of them are also entered in the concluding 2m4f Maiden.
Ardbruce has changed hands since finishing five lengths 3rd to Rintulla in a 2m4f Worcester Chase in July. Calypso Storm caught the eye when four lengths 3rd to Alfoski in a Revesby Park Maiden three weeks ago and is open to further improvement. Francesca Poste's well related four-year-old gelding, Haitien De Thaix holds options in both Maidens and is also entered at Larkhill. Don Constable's Mind The Child is sure to be fully tuned up for his Pointing debut, while the Kelly Morgan-trained Santon, a 112-rated hurdler, should make his mark in this grade.
Our Percy showed promise when placed twice over hurdles over a shorter trip than this earlier in the year, while the Tom Ellis-trained duo, Loughan and Nothin But Thieves hold options in both Maidens on the card. Loughan, a 115-rated hurdler for Dan Skelton, was placed in 6 of his 9 starts under Rules over two miles and must go close here.
Southern raiders, Activial and Hawkhurst are the pick of the 9 Ladies Open entries.
The former Tom George-trained chaser, Activial, who was rated 151 in March 2019 and ran at 2 Cheltenham Festivals, finished three lengths 2nd to Bbold in a Class 3 Southwell Chase in July and is now with Francesca Poste. The ultra-consistent Hawkhurst has won 14 times since joining Alan Hill's Aston Rowant yard four years ago. He made the perfect start to the new campaign at Pyle on October 31 and will again be produced as late as possible by Izzie Marshall.
The other 7 entries include dual Witton Castle scorer, Argot as well as 123-rated ex-Irish chaser, Demain Des L'Aube, who was an easy winner of a 2m4f Kilbeggan Beginners Chase in June. The lightly raced Dream Over landed an Alnwick Restricted first time out in December 2020 before following up in a Carlisle Bumper on heavy ground, while Nine Altars usually goes well at Hexham.
Rewritetherules, who was formerly with John Joseph (Shark) Hanlon, has joined David O'Brien since registering a 7th career win in a Novice Riders Open Race at Moira in October. The former Emmet Mullins-trained Rocket Lad recorded all 3 career wins under Rules in 2019, while 123-rated chaser, Dream Conti, formerly with Noel Meade, secured the last of his 3 wins under Rules in October 2019.
Of the others, Ask To Dance won a Maiden over this trip in a good time in May and has scope for further improvement. Dropping back in trip should suit the former Dan Skelton-trained Azzuri, who had a pipe-opener at Knightwick a fortnight ago.
Dimple, a multiple winner in his younger days, lost his form under Rules in recent seasons but a switch back to Pointing might spark a revival. Show And Go and Mr Witmore both won at Sheriff Hutton in this grade last season, while Ryans Fancy scored first time out at Bishops Court in October 2020.
Normofthenorth landed all 4 Pointing starts for Alan Hill's yard earlier in the year and a 3lb penalty is unlikely to prevent Izzie Marshall's mount from completing a five-timer.
The concluding 2m4f Maiden Race has 19 entries, including 6 unraced four-year-olds.
Cimetta, a half-sister to the talented I Like To Move It, who has won 5 of his 7 career starts for Nigel Twiston-Davies in the last 12 months, should go well in the hands of John Dawson. Missthecuddles was placed twice over hurdles for Graeme McPherson's yard, while the useful Santon, a 112-rated hurdler for Alan King, was beaten a maximum of twelve lengths in two Class 4 contests at Newbury in March.
In addition, Stolen Shoes (Jack Teal) and Wereinthistogether (Dale Peters) are both from yards with a good record for first time out winners and should be in the mix.
The Tony Ward Memorial Trophy will be presented after the last race to the leading rider at the Haydon and Border meetings in 2021. Rosie Howarth is currently in first place on 10pts, with William Easterby in second place on 6pts and John Dawson in third on 5pts.
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