The Northern Area Point-to-Point season draws to a close on Sunday 20th May with the Border fixture at Hexham Racecourse, which has received 100 entries for a six race card starting at 2pm. Most of the Northern Area meetings attract plenty of runners from Yorkshire and this one promises to be no exception with almost one third of the entries coming from the White Rose County. The track is being watered all week with the aim of providing good ground.
The opening NPPA Conditions Race has 16 entries, including last month's Haydon scorers, Pyjama Game (9lb penalty) and Sorcier, however those wins were on heavy ground. The top-rated Nicki's Nipper has other options on the card with much less weight to carry than he would here, while Lough Derg Island's best form is on soft going. Whiteabbey was not beaten far when placed at the Haydon and Fife meetings before his consistency was rewarded with victory at Mosshouses earlier in the month. Amie Waugh's mount only has a 3lb penalty for that success and should go close again in his follow-up bid.
The 13 Restricted Race entries include the ultra-consistent mare, Worcester Pearmain, who finished a close 4th behind Streets Of Milan in the Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase on the adjoining National Hunt course a fortnight ago. Afterclass and Ripstick both finished runner-up in this grade last time at Balcormo Mains and Mosshouses respectively; Fife Maiden winner, Treliver Manor and Poetic Presence should be suited by a sound surface, while Aine's Choice could also be in the mix if reproducing the form shown when getting off the mark at Witton Castle last month.
Proven stayer, Iron Chancellor (4lb penalty) beat Oscar Stanley by four lengths in last month's Haydon Ladies Open Race and they are set to meet again in Sunday's equivalent which has 19 entries. Nottinghamshire raider, Argot (7lb penalty) made virtually all the running when scoring at Witton Castle recently but this track will provide a much stiffer test of stamina. 2018 Tynedale Ladies Open winner, Scarlet Fire and the aforementioned Nicki's Nipper finished 2nd and 4th respectively at Mosshouses behind Nine Altars, while Abbeyview, Rumble Of Thunder, Viacometti and Winged Crusader add further spice if taking their chance.
Argot and Winged Crusader are also possible rides for Rory Bevin in the Men's Open Race (13 entries). The former Donald McCain-trained gelding, Rolling Thunder has shown his best form on a sound surface and was disputing the lead with Nicki's Nipper when falling two out on his belated seasonal debut in the £1500 Fife Mixed Open. Pyjama Game, Viacometti and Whats Left all hold other engagements on the card.
There is plenty of quality in the 2m4f Conditions Race with two thirds of the 18 entries having a Pointing rating of 90 or above. The list includes Abbeyview, Crazy Diamond, Nicki's Nipper, Sam's Treasure, Viacometti and Winged Crusader (11lb penalty). In addition, See Mores Finale ran well behind Six A Side and Shantou Prince on his latest starts at Easingwold and Kelso respectively; Extreme Appeal scored over this trip on heavy ground at the Haydon meeting, while former 154-rated chaser, Fago ended a barren spell in a 2m4f Conditions Race at Overton two months ago.
The concluding Open Maiden Race has 21 entries, including 9 from Yorkshire. Peter Fahey sent out both Maiden winners at Easingwold last Sunday and his representative here is the unraced 4 year old Shirocco gelding, Dipsophobia. Nicky Tinkler has entered a couple of unraced 6 year old geldings, Moorsholme (by Westerner) and Niteinshininarmour (by Scorpion). Celtic Symphony caught the eye when only beaten two lengths by Coomacarrea at Mosshouses and should go well again for Jack Teal. Others to note are Call Zac, who finished two lengths 3rd to Slanemore Hill in the Haydon equivalent; Eden Collonges is heading in the right direction; Steel's Cotton should be suited by this stayers track on better ground while the lightly raced Simon Waugh-owned youngsters, Maybe Mostley and Royal Flush both hinted last time that their winning turn cannot be far away. The former finished 3rd behind the useful Financier in the recent Zetland Maiden and Royal Flush finished well when just failing to reel in Treliver Manor at Balcormo Mains.