THERE is a feast of action in prospect tomorrow at the Downhills course near Corbridge, where the Tynedale fixture has 95 entries on an eight-race card starting at 12.30pm.
The main event is preceded at 11.45am by a couple of pony races, in which Donald McCain’s daughters, Ella and Abbie, will feature on Honky Tonk Girl and Little Bull respectively.
Gunner Jack comes into his own when stamina is at a premium and tops the list of 15 entries for the William Bell Memorial Gold Cup Men’s Open Race over three miles and five furlongs.
Ed Wrigley’s mount looked as good as ever when galloping his rivals into submission at Crossford last month.
And he is a confident choice to land the prize for the third consecutive season.
The main dangers are See You There and Fiftyfive Degrees. Six years after scoring on his debut at Crossford, Sea Scout is still a model of consistency and fancied to take his career tally into double figures by repeating his 2012 success in the Ladies Open Race over three miles and five furlongs. Proven stayers Marfleet and Desert Tommy have place claims, while the fly in the ointment could be the veteran Teenando, who has won six times over fences at Carlisle but drawn a blank elsewhere.
The promising Coquet Head was never headed on the final circuit when taking the West Percy Restricted on his reappearance at Alnwick four weeks ago. However, Jimmy Walton’s charge was slightly disappointing at the same venue a fortnight later when failing to peg back Tommysteel in a slowly run affair. The seven-year-old can be excused that reverse, and a return to winning ways is on the cards in the South Northumberland Hunts Club Members’ Race from Viking Rebel and Charming Knight.
Some of this term’s Maiden winners, including Raid Stane and Miss Chatterbox, are set to cross swords in the Restricted Race. However, the one that takes my eye is Tim Brockbank’s Cumbrian raider, Nickwillis. He finally got off the mark in testing conditions at Corbridge last April and a recent pipe-opener at Alnwick behind Know The Rules will have blown away the cobwebs.
The Open Maiden Race for eight-year-olds and over looks a weak affair on paper, with the likes of Polobury and A New Rising still searching for that elusive victory after more than 65 attempts between them. Former Irish pointer Tom’s Pride has very few miles on the clock and will not need to be cherry-ripe to make his presence felt in the hands of Tristan Davidson.
Chosen Keys has the right combination to land the spoils in the first division of the younger horses Open Maiden. She ran a blinder when runner-up in better company at Crossford on her first start since December 2011. Sure to come on a lot for the run, Victor Thompson’s charge gets my vote ahead of Job For Eric.
The locally-trained Filbert Fox would be a popular winner of the second division. The gelding first showed potential when runner-up twice in Ireland in 2010 and caught the eye when placed at Alnwick on his first two starts from Paul Brierley’s yard in February.