ALL roads lead to the Downhills course near Corbridge for tomorrow’s Tynedale fixture, which has 127 entries on a seven-race card starting at 12.30pm.
Admission is £10 per person, including a racecard, with under-16s free, and punters arriving early can also enjoy three pony races from 11.45am.
Sam Gawn is taken to repeat last year’s victory over Astyanax in the Members Race. Flora Blackett’s mount seems ideally suited to the stiff uphill finish and should come on a lot for his seasonal debut at Duncombe Park a fortnight ago.
Olmetta deserves a change of fortune in the Open Maiden for eight-year-olds and over, and must go close with a clear round. She finished three-lengths second to Grande Monsieur in the corresponding race 12 months ago, and held every chance when falling two out in Amulree’s race on her reappearance at Alnwick in January. Dust Packer and Sierra Peak had decent-placed form in 2011 and may give my selection most to worry about.
Keeverfield is fancied for the Ladies’ Open Race over three miles and five furlongs. At his best when racing clockwise, Sam Drake’s mount made all when beating Sea Scout by five lengths in the 2011 renewal, and did little wrong when third to The Polomoche in a Huntingdon Hunters Chase last week, where he led until headed at the last.
The main danger is the former 141-rated staying chaser Kilbeggan Blade, who won over a similar trip at Charing in January, and if sent up from his Herefordshire yard it won’t just be for a change of scenery.
Aggie’s Lad is the class act among the 16 entries for the William Bell Gold Cup Men’s Open, which is also run over three miles and five furlongs.
He was staying on well when five lengths sixth to Southwestern in Stratford’s Champion Hunters Chase over this trip last May, and should be spot on following last month’s seasonal bow at Kelso.
His in-form Hawick trainer, Alison Hamilton, has a 50% strike rate with her last four runners in February, having sent out Bow School and Winterwood to score at Kelso and Doncaster respectively.
Last year’s easy winner, Gunner Jack, looks best of the rest, even though Ed Wrigley’s mount never got in a blow at the leaders on his reappearance at Crossford.
The Open Maiden Race for four, five, six and seven-year-olds has 36 entries and will be divided on the day if more than 18 horses are declared.
The majority of these have yet to show any worthwhile form and so, by process of elimination, my shortlist comprises Sugar Sensation, Mandarin Sunset and Honest And True.
The former finished third in four of his seven pointing starts in Ireland but unseated four out at Crossford, while the other pair were placed behind Its Bobkat over a shorter trip on the same Crossford card.
Glen Lord holds a sound chance of landing the spoils in the NPPA Club Members Race. Nicola Neill’s charge returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to finish 15 lengths second to Pas de Baratin at Crossford, and that outing will have sharpened him up.
Slight preference is given to Senor Alco in a competitive-looking Restricted Race, which has 20 entries.