Huge entry heads to Friars Haugh for cross-country action

POINT-TO-POINT racing returns to Friars Haugh on Saturday when the Kelso course hosts its second meeting of the season with a 103-strong Duke of Buccleuch’s fixture, writes Hilary Mactaggart.

Racing comes under orders at 1pm, preceded by an action-packed cross-country ride.

Raid Stane was victorious last weekend at Alnwick for Galashiels trainer Katie Scott and Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton, and is one of six entries in the opening members’ race.

Laura’s Light, who gave last season’s champion novice rider Blair Campbell a winning pointing debut, bids to defend her 2012 title for Hawick owner Alan Brown.

There are 13 entries in the Connolly’s Red Mills intermediate race, including course victor Beverley Beck, trained at Bonchester Bridge by Di Walton for Northumberland sheep farmer, Barry Wharf.

The home-bred 10-year-old landed last year’s mares maiden race.

Battle Range is another to have shown a liking for the track – the six-year-old gelding winning the Jedforest restricted race last month for Middleton trainer Cherry Coward.

The Jockey Club PPORA mares maiden race had attracted 10 entries.

Hawick farmer Alastair Bell and his wife Rachel pin their hopes on Adderstonlee, a half-sister to an Irish bumper winner, while Galashiels teenager Emma Dunkley bids to go one better than last time with Polobury, beaten by just half-a-length at the Jedforest.

Morpeth joint MFH Val Jackson was beaten a similar distance when finishing runner-up on Cast Iron Casey in the Jedforest ladies race, and should go close in the Buccleuch equivalent, which has 18 entries.

The 53-year-old took her career tally to 91 when partnering the former 124-reated winning chaser to success at the Corbridge meeting.

Opposition includes Highland Cathedral, already victorious this term for reigning ladies champion Catherine Walton; Kirsty Brown’s Sam McCoombe; and Open De L’Isle, previously trained under rules by Langholm handler James Ewart.

Gunner Jack has proved a force to reckon with on the point-to-point circuit, and bids to add to his impressive tally, hot on the heels of last weekend’s success, in the men’s open race.

The gelding is trained at Yetholm by Clive Storey for Jockey Club senior steward Nicholas Wrigley, whose 23-year-old son Ed takes the ride.

Native Coll is one of 16 entries in the men’s open, but also holds an entry in the following 17-strong NPPA Club members’ race at 3.30pm – won last year by the Clive Storey-trained One Black Cat.

Wendy Hamilton from Hawick saddles her grey mare Silk and Roses, who finished in the frame at the track last time, in the hands of younger son, Tom.

Largest entry of the day is 23 in the concluding open maiden race.

Danebrook Lad carries the colours of Jedburgh-based John Szkudro, while Otter Mist represents John De Geir, and former Jethart Callant Raymond Shiels bids for success with Tomzatackman.