Point to Point Steeplechases
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Tynedale Point to Point 2012 - Preview By Peter Burgon

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The Northern Area point-to-point season continues on Sunday with the Tynedale fixture at Downhills, Corbridge. It has attracted 127 entries on a seven race card starting at 12.30pm.

The main action is preceded at 11.45am by three pony races, with 8 entries in both divisions of the 138cm and 3 entries in the 148cm. All three contests will be run left handed for the first time.
The opening Members Race has 3 entries and features a repeat of last year's renewal in which Sam Gawn (left) was produced with a well-timed run by Flora Blackett to overhaul Astyanax after the last and score by two lengths. Sam Gawn has the benefit of a recent pipe-opener at Duncombe Park behind him and that should make all the difference.
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 vast majority have yet to produce any worthwhile form and, by process of elimination, my trio to follow are Sugar Sensation, Honest And True (right) and Mandarin Sunset. The former finished 3rd in four of his seven starts between the flags in Ireland, but proved to be a disappointing favourite on his first outing for his new yard at Crossford when unseating four out. Honest And True is heading in the right direction and merits plenty of respect after finishing three lengths 2nd to Its Bobkat over a half mile shorter trip at Crossford three weeks ago, while Mandarin Sunset, on only his second career start, was a further twenty lengths away in 3rd in the same race.

Glen Lord (left) can reign supreme in the NPPA Club Members Race. He returned from a twenty months absence to finish fifteen lengths 2nd to Pas De Baratin at Crossford and is sure to come a lot for that run. Of the others, Windy Hills and Anotherbuck filled the minor placings behind Rakerin Lad in the 2011 equivalent, while Crossford Maiden winner, Its Bobkat has scope for further improvement.

The 2011 winner, Keeverfield (right) is the likely favourite in the Ladies Open Race over three miles and five furlongs. Hard to beat when racing clockwise, Sam Drake's mount made all when beating Sea Scout by five lengths in last year's contest, and proved his current well-being when 3rd 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, Kent in January, having finished 3rd in South Devon the previous month. This season's dual Alnwick scorer, Sea Scout will be praying for rain to ease the ground before Sunday.

Aggie's Lad (left) is the class act among the 16 entries for the Men's Open Race over three miles and five furlongs. He was staying on well when five lengths 6th to Southwestern in Stratford's Champion Hunters Chase last May over this trip, and should be spot on after his recent seasonal debut at Kelso. Gunner Jack never got in a blow at Crossford last month but was quite impressive when beating Rathowen by fifteen lengths in last year's race.

A competitive-looking Restricted Race has 20 entries including recent maiden winners, Rakavilee, Highland Cathedral (right), Senor Alco and Hawthorne Bay, with the under-rated Reef Dancer another one for the short list.

The concluding Open Maiden Race for eight year olds and over has 23 entries. Olmetta (left) deserves a change of fortune and must go close with a clear round. She finished three lengths 2nd to Grande Monsieur in the corresponding race last season and held every chance when falling two out in Amulree's race on her reappearance at Alnwick in January. Her rivals include Dust Packer, placed in four of his last five starts; Mersey, runner-up twice in Irish Maidens, and Sierra Peak, who was placed in three of his four outings in this grade in 2011.