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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Haydon fixture brings season to a finale

THE Northern Area point-to-point season draws to a close on Sunday with the Haydon fixture at Hexham Racecourse. It has attracted 95 entries, including 26 from Yorkshire, on a seven race card starting at 2pm, with the main action preceded by pony racing at 1pm.

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Newyearsresolution (left) is carrying a hefty penalty for victory in the Border meeting at Hexham two weeks’ ago.

The opening South Northumberland Hunts Club Members Race could feature a repeat of last year’s contest in which David Carr’s lightly raced ex-hurdler, Coastley beat Awman by six lengths. Coastley looked as good as ever when making a successful reappearance at Corbridge three months ago and can strike gold again.

Of the other seven entries, Steel Law and Wave Power are the only ones with winning form this term. Steel Law stayed on well to get off the mark on only his second career start at Aspatria, while Tranwell and Hexham scorer Wave Power has a 14lb penalty to carry as a result of two previous wins in 2012.

The Open Maiden Race over two and a half miles has 11 entries. The aforementioned Awman was only headed inside the last 50 yards by Winces Well at the recent Border meeting and deserves to go one better. Dun Faw Good has proved costly to follow so far, failing to finish in three of his five outings, while Heckley Herbert and Running Brook have both been placed in two of their last three starts.

Half of the eight entries for the Open Maiden Race are also entered in the preceding shorter version, namely Berrysmart, Dun Faw Good, Heckley Herbert and Rselves Alone. Of the others, Ath Dara Boru made the frame on his last two outings at Mordon, Raasay finished very tired when fourth to Steel Law at Aspatria, while Senate Law should appreciate this longer trip after finishing fifth behind Winces Well at Hexham last time.

The Restricted Race has 22 entries and, on paper, looks a tricky puzzle for punters to solve.

Totom Chief scored with plenty in hand at Mordon but his stamina is unproven over this trip. Kilmacallogue Bay rarely runs a bad race and has finished out of the first four only once in his last nine starts. Chosen Keys stayed on well to beat the favourite, Four Oceans over course and distance in the Border Maiden and is still on the upgrade, while Baileys Benchmark opened her account on the corresponding card in May 2013.

The 17 entries for the Maling Trophy Mixed Open Race have already recorded 25 victories between them this season, with the list headed by Cave Hunter, Gunner Jack and Ocarina.

Cave Hunter made all the running when beating Ocarina by a couple of lengths in the Border Men’s Open last time and a repeat performance is on the cards.

The evergreen Gunner Jack won’t run unless the mud is flying, ex-chaser, Beggar’s Velvet was an easy winner of a Kelso Hunters' Chase last Sunday, while Cherry Coward’s Dalby yard is represented by Bitter Blue and course specialist, Narciso. The latter landed this prize in 2007 and 2011, and is unbeaten in five visits to Hexham.

Newyearsresolution will have to defy a 8lb penalty in order to follow up a recent course win in the NPPA Club Members Race, which has 15 entries. Silk and Roses has won her last three starts between the flags; The Brig At Ayr, successful in Maiden and Restricted company at Friars Haugh, is still on an upward curve and should be in the mix. Marfleet reserves some of his best form for Hexham, while the ultra-consistent Have One For Me scored by 20 lengths at the Border meeting and needs to finish either first or second to clinch the Northern Area Novice Horse Championship.

The concluding Intermediate Race has 13 entries, including the aforementioned Have One For Me and The Brig At Ayr. Beverley Beck stayed on well when beating Whiteabbey in last year’s Border Restricted and again finished strongly when not beaten far by Newyearsresolution at the recent Border fixture.

Billing has won two of his last three starts in lesser company, while stable companion, The Wayward Lord, finished well when a close third behind subsequent Cartmel Hunters’ Chase winner Sposalizio and Sharivarry at Witton Castle on May 5.

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