Pointing in Yorkshire 2017
Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point Club at Sheriff Hutton
Sunday 14th January

By Will Milburn

The first fixture of the 2018 season is the eagerly anticipated Yorkshire Area Point to Point Club at Sheriff Hutton on Sunday 14th January by kind permission of Mick Easterby. The YAPPC donate a proportion of their profits to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and have raised in total over 60,000 since it began. Alongside the seven racecard hot food will be served throughout the day including a hog roast, a licensed bar will be available onsite too. The action begins at 12pm and a grand total of 142 entries have been received with runners travelling far from far & wide to participate. Admission is 10 and postcode for Sat nav is YO60 7TN.

The opening Club Members race has received a significant number of entries and has therefore divided, division one is a hot contest and could see the return of last season's Yorkshire Stratford hero Young Hurricane, despite several below par efforts at this meeting he seems to be in the form of his life now and will surely be hard to beat if at his best.  Battle Dust looks to be the main danger as this southern raider made an excellent start to his pointing career when winning at Chaddesley Corbett, when beating last season's impressive Cheltenham Mares Hunter Chase winner Frelia. All Great An Theory has done well here in previous seasons but looks regressive and will have to turn his form around, whilst Will Easterby is hopeful that Greensalt can give a good account of himself after a lengthy absence "we're looking forward to running him, he seems well and I think he'll run well" said Will, Easterby could also have the choice of Kings Lodge, however at his best the former would have the better chance. John Dawson will no doubt side with his Stratford winner, although could also have the choice of Dance Of Time who was very progressive last season after returning from a long absence, another string to Dawson's bow could come in the form of Mickey Miller, the 9yo made steady progress through the ranks last season and ended it with a couple of placed efforts in hunter chases, however that would still leave him short here. Love Manhattan is another southern recruit for Tom Chatfield Roberts, the pair teamed up to win some minor events last year with the latest of four runner Intermediate at Thorpe Lodge. As for the local contingent, Hindon Road, Tasheba, Replacement Plan and Saint Briez will all be popular winners, however will most likely fill the places, the latter will be giving Marcus Haigh his first ride in a point to point.Selection - Young Hurricane

The second division looks to be dominated by horses from outside the area, including last year's winner of this race Grandturgeon, where he beat the talented The Highlander, he went on to do well after that victory but was lightly campaigned and can no doubt go close again. Crazy Jack took part mainly in hunter chases last season which were run over sub three mile trips which suggests this long track and testing ground may not suit, Open Hearted is another who contested hunter chases with his most recent effort a good second to Galway Jack at Southwell, however he is another that may find the track too demanding. Path To Freedom struck up a good sequence last season and made an excellent impression for a 5yo landing a Men's Open on his final start and should of improved further with those efforts on his back. Shantou Prince would have strong claims, he won at this meeting previously and was fourth last season in the Intermediate final at Cheltenham, the only concern would be he was in need of his debut run last season and could be one to note next time. The Easterby duo include juvenile hurdle winner Two B's and Soleil d'Avril, both have been off the track for a long time and are probably best watched for now. Selection - Grandturgeon

The Restricted race is the second race on the card and the ones with a run under their belt could come to the fore here in Monsun Storm and Crazy Penguin, the former is expected to have benefited from his run at Alnwick, however is well held on that run by Crazy Penguin who was narrowly beaten and although he failed to progress as expected last season his recent form is the best on offer. Taylormade Boy brings some good course form to the table after winning the 2m 4f maiden at the Middleton meeting, he has put up some good runs since but conditions may be testing and that may not suit. Cheat Fairly was a winner at Charm Park last season where she beat subsequent winner Indian Hawk. Indian Hawk went on to fetch 110,000, if that form is taken at face value she is another that could give a bold show. Maguires Bridge made an eye catching debut at Charm Park when winning, he was highly thought of after that performance but has subsequently disappointed in a hot Restricted at this track in April. Late Romantic is the interesting contender, he is a point winner and looked set to win his restricted when falling, his three hurdles efforts have earned himself a mark of 110 and could be more than good enough to have a say, however he has been absent since October 2016 and has clearly had issues. Bi Quini Tiep is an interesting recruit from Ireland, a maiden winner there on his third start, with a strong French pedigree he should handle the testing ground. Selection - Crazy Penguin

The Ladies Open could see a very exciting clash, prolific winner Palypso De Creek despite advancing in age he relishes these conditions and has an excellent point to point record, he only raced once last year where he was well held by Popaway and despite been the class act could be vulnerable to the talented Knocklong. Justin Landy's charge Knocklong, is unbeaten in his 9 completed starts and in his most recent hunter chase win at Southwell looked very impressive. His Excellency and Cork Citizen were both formerly useful recruits under rules and have made their presence felt pointing but may find it difficult to land a blow. Rumble Of Thunder struck up a sequence of wins last season but looks most effective on fast ground and will ot get that here, whilst Executive Benefit can go well but does not look quite as good as she used to be and will need to have benefited from her recent effort where she pulled up. Selection - Knocklong

The Men's Open could be the most exciting race of the day with numerous talented performers taking part. Ardea has never stopped impressing and continues his hugely impressive strike rate in points for his trainer Justin Landy, others include Crazy Jack, Open Hearted, Grandturgeon, Battle Dust, and Greensalt, all of which would hold major claims and are double entered in other races, whilst Close House a Hunter Chase winner last season at Perth also holds an entry at Kelso. Jimmy The Jetplane started off his career in the North until been sold to Kim Bailey where he won on five occasions and currently has a chase mark of 135. One Conemara is a tough stayer who won the Grimthorpe Gold Cup on this course last season, whilst Warden Hill is another with good form, but that has been in small field races, however his form earlier in last season, where he was runner up to Carlton Ryan and 12th in the Cheltenham Foxhunters would give him a claim.Selection - Ardea

The Open Maiden has received a large number of entries and despite some been double entered in the later maiden it could split on the day. Another Day Done is one with form in Ireland when only just getting beaten on his point to point debut in October, his form has worked out well and could be one to note "he's done well since he arrived...he looks to stay well and should be a nice type" said pilot Will Milburn. Justin Landy is always one to note in these races with new recruits and despite Balinahow Bills form looking uninspiring, he could be worth a small interest, Sir Lonica is another with good Irish form and could be a more obvious choice despite not running since December 2016 where he was third, 6 lengths ahead of Kilbricken Storm who is now rated 146 for Colin Tizzard. Robin Of Sherwood showed up well in Ireland and should show up well for last season's Aintree bumper winning trainer Pete Fahey who could also saddle Bella Sophia who is brother to the talented hurdler Rock The Kasbah. Several bring English point form to the table including Emory, Biretta, Spoilt Sam The Dapper Prince and Pads, the latter was a consistent hurdler at a low level, but was an eye catching second at Alnwick recently and should only be time before he is winning. Scarlett Peak was third on his debut for Mick Easterby, he's been off the track since May 2015 and could make his point to point debut here, whilst Slanemore Hill is one to note in the betting.Selection - Sir Lonica

The final race is the 2m 4f maiden for 4, 5 and 6yo's, several of these are double entered in the previous race, but Justin Landy could land another blow here with Jaxlight, a well bred recruit from Dan Skelton's yard, this 6yo made a likeable impression on debut at Southwell where he was fourth of five and only weakened late on. Better can be expected from Mr Baresi and this shorter trip will likely suit, Pillowman showed some form of ability in Ireland, Snow Castle was previously with Evan William where he was placed over hurdles and earned a mark of 115 and could be one to rise through the ranks this season. Alright Chief has some of the better form on hand after finishing third last time when sent off favourite at Chaddesley Corbett despite only three finishers. One For Martha is a debutant for Andrew Nichols by Great Palm "she's doing everything right at home and we're looking forward to her running...she wouldn't want it too soft" said Will Milburn.Selection - Snow Castle