Past winners aplenty ready to line up at Friars Haugh

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RUNNERS and riders are gearing up for the Berwickshire Hunt Point to Point which takes place on Saturday at Friars Haugh.

The first of seven races is at 1pm. Race day is forecast to be dry, but the course should benefit from some showers on Thursday and Friday and as a result the ground should be good and the races run at a faster pace, providing perfect conditions for both horses and spectators.

The card looks to be very competitive with many of this season’s previous winners entered. The day starts with the Berwickshire Hunt Members’ race. This is always a competitive event with numerous owners bidding to put their name on the silverware. The cup itself is splendid and even though it is not made of gold a number of owners and trainers consider this to be their version of the Gold Cup.

Baligha is the only horse to have won between the flags this season, but the ground was soft that day. Jacksonville is the veteran contender with six wins to his name, but may now be getting a little long in the tooth.

Knockaboul King is the most experienced of Doreen Calder’s three entries. He has ability and good form this term when coming a very credible third over course and distance last time out and would be a popular winner.

Last year’s winning owner and trainer Ailie Tullie is hoping to retain the cup with Hathamore who is the younger sister of last year’s winning horse Ashtonmore.

Both Hathamore and Exciting Car have been placed this season and are sure to be fit for the occasion. With so many yards in good form and a fine combination of up-and-coming horses, as well as some highly-rated older horses, this is sure to be a great race to start the day off with.

The 1.30pm Open Maiden race also looks to be highly competitive, with 25 horses entered. This event is for horses which have not won before, hence they are usually less experienced. Maiden races can provide a real adrenaline rush to ride in and are exciting to watch.

This one will probably provide plenty thrills and spills for the connections. It is well worth a look at the runners in the paddock prior to the race to see which youngster might go on to greater things.

The Intermediate race takes place at 2pm and all the horses entered have displayed ability.

Between them they can boast five wins already this season with Lewesdon Tom claiming two of those. Silk Parasol has won over this course on both previous appearances at Friars Haugh in 2011 and may be considered by connections to be a course specialist.

The Men’s Open is another race with experienced horses in it. Badgerfoot won here a fortnight ago in a very close finish, in which Gunner Jack was only a length behind. The majority of the horses in this one have won this season, meaning this, too, will be a fantastic competition.

The Ladies’ Open is next on the card. The horses carry slightly less weight compared to the others and as a result it can often be the fastest of the day. Doc Row and Tiger Billy have both won here this season, but don’t rule out the others such as Optimistic Harry, who has won twice this season elsewhere.

Point to points are a good stepping stone for those with ambitions to become professional jockeys, so take a look at the penultimate race specifically for Novice Riders to see if you can spot the next A. P. McCoy.

The last race has 16 entries and will be a competitive event to conclude with.

One thing is certain, it’s going to be a great day out with fast horses, a magnificent setting and a wonderful atmosphere.