The Northern Area point-to-point season resumes on Sunday after a two week break with the Braes of Derwent fixture at the
Downhills course near Corbridge. As usual, it offers the Area's best prize money with over £2500 up for grabs, including a first prize of £350 in both the Men's and Ladies' Open Races. It has attracted a bumper total of 130 entries on a seven race card, which starts at 1.30pm.
Iveston farrier, Russell Ross has sent out the winner of the Members Race for the last four seasons and, once again, he holds all the aces in Sunday's renewal with 3 of the 6 entries. Hubble Bubble (right) won this contest in 2011 and 2012, Boher Storm was successful in 2009 and 2010, while Island Punch is better than recent form figures of 8P might suggest.
The Intermediate Race looks a competitive affair on paper with 8 of the 15 entries having already been in winning form this term. The powerful Yorkshire yards of Cherry Coward and Sarah Easterby are represented by Alforone and Soleil D'Avril (left), while the local challengers include recent Tranwell scorer, Rennington Blue and Marfleet.
Tommysteel, Moon Over Miami (right) and Habbie Simpson filled the minor placings in the Morpeth Men's Open on April 6 and are set to clash again in Sunday's equivalent which has 23 entries. That was the former's first defeat in his last five starts between the flags and he is fancied to get back on the winning trail. Others for the short list are Cool Star, Gunner Jack and See You There.
The 18 Ladies' Open entries are headed by prolific winner, Sea Scout, however his participation is doubtful unless the word 'Soft' appears in the going description on Sunday. Of the others, Newyearsresolution (left) was rewarded for his consistency with victory in the recent Morpeth equivalent, while course winner, Cast Iron Casey and ex-chaser, Carters Rest should also be in the shake-up.
The Restricted Race is another potential minefield for punters with 11 of the 26 entries having lost their maiden tags earlier in the season. Border Flora had been off the track for 533 days prior to scoring at Dalston on Easter Monday, and that form was boosted when the runner-up, Darnborough got off the mark at Hornby Castle last Saturday. Clonea Power and It's Brown (right) turned in gutsy, front-running efforts when scoring at Dalston and Tranwell respectively, Job For Eric has not been seen for seven weeks since striking gold at the Tynedale meeting, Volo Mio had plenty in hand when winning impressively at Whitcliffe Grange last month, while Willie Young's progressive Crossford scorer, Raifteiri was just touched off by Tommys Lad at Dalston.
The Open Maiden Race has 23 entries and my short list comprises stable companions, Maften and Red Myst, along with Paddy The Plumber and Molten Brown (left). The latter duo posted career-best efforts when finding only one too good at Tranwell, while the Victor Thompson-trained geldings, Maften and Red Myst were placed at Dalston and Hornby Castle last time out.
The concluding Open Maiden Race for 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds has 19 entries. Big George (right) and Katies Choice are open to improvement after finishing runner-up on their debuts at Tranwell and Crossford respectively, Filbert Fox has finished in the first four on all five starts this year but may need softer ground, while Have One For Me shaped well when chasing home Clonea Power at Dalston.