Yorkshire's first point to point meeting gets under way this Sunday 12th January, as usual at Sheriff Hutton by kind permission of Mick Easterby. Yorkshire's opening event is in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and since its start has raised £118,246 for the charity, the meeting has excellent viewing from the car park, hot food and drink can be bought througout the day along with a licenced bar. The seven race card start's at 11-45am with runners travelling from up and down the country, entry is £10pp and postcode for Sat nav is YO60 7TN.
The opening race is a conditions race for 5yo's and over, it has as usual attracted a healthy field, with 28 entries been received and therefore resulted in two divisions. The local contingent will no doubt turn up in force with Cherry Coward having the option of Path To Freedom and One Conemara, the latter has a run under his belt this season after finishing a well held third behind Don Poli at Alnwick, however he knows this track well and shouldn't have anything of that calibre against him here. Guy Brewer who trains only ten minutes from the track looks to have a good chance with Snow Castle, a strong stayer who went from strength to strength last year he is another who is likely to have a say, although his Alnwick runner up Point The Way battled it out well but was narrowly denied at Alnwick, he was taking a step up in grade that day and this will require an even better effort. Will Easterby will no doubt be keen to get the Yorkshire season under way and Greensalt looks to be the better of his two, however he hasn't shown nearly the same level of form pointing as he has round Aintree where he has finished 2nd and 7th , Things Change has had a blow out at Alnwick and is likely better that effort. Lottie Crane could see one of her stable stars return to action with Ballinahow Bill, the pair put up several good efforts last year including when a decisive winner of the Open at Easingwold, Asylo also from the Crane yard is a former Dr Richard Newland inmate, narrowly beaten off a mark of 123, he has mainly been campaigned at sub 3 mile trips and could be seen to good effect on sharper tracks. Vedettariat looks the danger of the southern runners, an impressive winner of three open last term, Tom Ellis will no doubt have him primed to go at the first attempt this season.
Selection - Snow Castle
The Restricted is has received 16 entries and Buzzkillbob could give his young jockey Leah Cooper her first winner after a fast finishing second to Alone No More at Alnwick recently, Dressedforsuccess put up one of his best efforts here when second at this meeting last year so has a clear liking for the track, whilst Love Around caused a shock when winning the point to point bumper at Stratford last season and was subsequently a narrow second in a restricted, however could be more effective over a shorter trip. Taboo finally got off the mark recently and was a winner over 2m 5f last time but will need another big step forward here and at the age of 11 may not find the neccessary improvement. Panthers Creek was an Irish maiden winner and subsequently went on to finish third in an Irish hunter chase and can be forgiven a low key return at Alnwick, however the likely winner is Omar Maretti, an easy maiden winner who looked to hold every chance in a restricted at this course until falling at the last.Selection - Omar Maretti
The Ladies Open looks almost on a par with most hunter chases and what ever takes this prize could be a leading player on the big stage this season. Buck Dancing won a very competitive race at Alnwick and comes here in great form, Diamond King was an easy hunter chase winner at Worcester last time and at his best won the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, whilst Haymount won this race last year and looks a stout stayer and only below par effort last season came in the Cheltenham Foxhunters. Irish Anthem will no doubt set the pace and almost came out on top at Alnwick but was over hauled by Buck Dancing close home, he has a 3lb pull this time and it could be much closer. Stellar Notion was well held on his last start and has since changed stables, The Dellercheckout made a winning start between the flags at Barbury Castle in December since leaving Paul Nicholls and at the age of 7 could be open to further progress. One Conemara and Path To Freedom both have been effective at the track and can go well but may find one or two too good.
Selection - Diamond King
The Mens Open could see the return of last years Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Hazel Hill for the Philip Rowley team, he has won at this meeting earlier in his career and will be hard to beat if returning in that form, the leading competition looks to come from Black River and Will Easterby who were highly consistent in points and hunter chases last season but no where near the level of Hazel Hill, whilst Ballyrath took the feature event at this track last season, the Grimthorpe Gold Cup. Dark Mahler is another who was in top form last year and started the season finishing second to Don Poli at Alnwick and looks another to fight out the places. Rocklander is making his point debut after leaving Tom George to join Dale Peter's yard, his best form recently was a fourth at Haydock off a mark of 142, he clearly has ability but has been out of sorts for some time and could be one to note in the betting.
Selection - Hazel Hill
The first of the two maidens is an Open Maiden run over 3miles, Kimberley Boy showed clear ability when with Steph Easterby last year and has now joined Ian Masons team, whilst sister in law Cherry Coward has numerous possibilities including Well Afford who has form to his name but at a low level, Skegmer Hill a 5yo son of Distant Peak and Farlington who is a 4yo son of San Frontieres and was picked up in Ireland for 3000euros. Tom Ellis has three possible contenders in which Commandingpresence looks to have the nicest pedigree, he was picked up for 20,000 euros by Kalanisi, out of a four time winning hurdler who has produced Castlebawn West who was a close fourth in a grade 2 hurdle, whilst Ballygown Bay has much more experience under his built, been placed numerous times for Philip Hobbs and earning a mark of 120 at the start of his handicap career. Liars Dice is one to give a second chance too, Classical Lady could be best suited to an easier trip and has looked a weak finisher on her two British starts, whilst Onestepatatime should be noted for Anthony Ross who had a very impressive maiden winner at Alnwick. Selection - Ballygown Bay
The final race is a maiden run over 2m 4f and there is little form to go on as most of the entries are un-raced. Dragonfruit is from the family of numerous winners such as Fresh Fruit and My Dads Horse, Earcomesbob is out of Earcomesannie who competed at a low level but was a four time winner over fences, whilst Farlington is a 4yo debutant for Cherry Coward out of a mare who showed very little on the flat. Flight Wish is a half sister to Hunt Politics who made an encouraging debut here before going on to win at the second time of asking, but is likely to benefit from this experience, whilst Tom Ellis should always be respected as he has Give Us A Swig, a Trans Island gelding who is full brother to flat and chase winner Ar Eagla Na Heagla. Tom Weston looks to have several chances and Iron Port a 4yo son of Morozov is brother to several decent jumpers including recent Scottish Borders National winner Bigirononhiship. Fran Nimmo is another yard who should always be noted with her juveniles and Ripper Roo has the right profile been brother to Encantdora who made a winning debut in points. The only two with significant form is Miss Charlton and Two Florins, the former was a close third in a Hexham novice hurdle last summer, whilst Two Florins progressed nicely last year to finish third behind a useful looking juvenile. The Tom Ellis trained Commandingpresence looks to have the strongest pedigree been brother to a graded performer and will no doubt be ready to fire at the first attempt.