The Northern Area Point-to-Point circuit heads to Scotland for the 3 scheduled meetings in the second half of March, starting with the Duke of Buccleuch's six race card at Friars Haugh, Kelso on Sunday.
The opening Conditions Race at 1pm has 12 entries and the one they all have to beat is Eco Warrior, who has won on 3 of his previous 5 visits to the Friars Haugh course. He had a bit in hand when taking the Jedforest equivalent by two lengths from Wayupinthesky on his seasonal debut in January and is unpenalised for that success. Of the others, Shantou Magic (5lb penalty) won impressively at Hexham in early December but has been below-par on his last two starts. He is also entered in 3 of the other 5 races on the card. Damiens Dilemma (7lb penalty) has won here three times and his good form under Rules last summer from Stuart Coltherd's yard included a Cartmel Handicap Chase victory in June.
There are 11 entries in the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Race, one of 14 nationwide qualifiers for a £8000 Hunters' Chase Final at Cheltenham on Friday 3rd May. Shropshire raider, Beggars Bush was always prominent when landing the Jedforest Restricted and then finished twelve lengths 4th to Absainte at Askham Bryan. The improving Frankies Fire is chasing a hat-trick following recent wins at Corbridge and Alnwick. Hardrock Davis beat subsequent Brocklesby scorer, African Belle by four lengths in a 2m4f Jedforest Maiden before finishing eight lengths 2nd to Buck Dancing on quick ground at Corbridge. Lord Usher has finished in the first four in good company on his last three outings and deserves to get his head in front again. Nick Alexander's Kinneston yard has sent out 4 winners under Rules this month and is represented here by ex-hurdler, Moores Novelty, while Takethepunishment won twice in 2017 but has been off the track for more than twenty two months.
There are more letters than numbers in the recent form figures of most of the 8 entries for The Jockey Club Mares Open Maiden Race. The one that stands out on the ratings is the locally trained Steel's Cotton, who finished ten lengths 3rd to Costly Dream on her reappearance here in January and, last week, only weakened approaching the last when eight lengths 3rd to Specialarrangement at Alnwick. Midnightmistress was placed once in her previous yard in 2017, while Shelter Belt, a half sister to Frankies Fire, finished twenty two lengths 4th to King Erik on debut in a 2 mile Flat Race at Alnwick last Sunday.
The 8 entries for the Ladies Open Race include the locally trained quartet of Damiens Dilemma, Molten Brown, Shantou Magic and Sorcier, who have all won over course and distance, as well as Nick Alexander's evergreen Fife raider, Rossini's Dancer, who finished four lengths 2nd to the useful Nicki's Nipper in the Jedforest equivalent.
Purcell's Bridge beat Killer Crow by half a length in the Jedforest Men's Open and the pair might well renew rivalries on the same terms in Sunday's equivalent, although the former is also entered in a Carlisle Hunters' Chase later in the afternoon. Local jockey, Will Ramsay, who finished third on Mr Mercurial in the prestigious Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown Park last Friday, has a choice of rides on stable companions, Relax and Shantou Magic.
The concluding NPPA Riders Conditions Race has 11 entries, including the aforementioned quartet of Killer Crow, Relax, Shantou Magic and Wayupinthesky. Former eventer, Beyond Gold made a belated winning debut at Corbridge last month for Melrose-based owner/trainer, Charles Robson but faces a much stiffer task in either of the Conditions Races.
The Friars Haugh course is situated alongside the A699, quarter of a mile west of Kelso. The post code for SatNav users is TD5 8LS.