EATON Hall, near Chester, is the venue of the first Cheshire-based fixture of the point-to-point season on Sunday over the traditional long course.
The popular Wynnstay Hunt meeting, which starts at noon, has attracted a total of 179 entries resulting in the Maiden race being split into two divisions offering an attractive card of eight races that concludes at 4.15pm.
The feature of the afternoon is the Men's Open Race for the Anne, Duchess of Westminster Cup. Involved, trained by Sheila Crow and a winner of five races last season, is likely to head the market.
Assistance with the fences and ground preparation has been under the expert eye of Andrew Malam, the head groundsman at Bangor-on-Dee racecourse.
Local point-to-point trainers are already in form with a trio of winners at the Tanatside Hunt meeting last Sunday. Steve Wynne, of Malpas, recorded his first winner of the 2005 season when Scarlet Gunner, featured in last week's Racing Diary, won the second division of the Open Maiden by three lengths, giving jockey David Greenway, 19, of Northwich, the second leg of a double.
Wynne explained: 'The horse needs to be ridden prominently, he keeps galloping and wants soft ground.'
Now based in new premises Wynne is hoping to expand his string of 12 and four youngsters but appreciates he needs success to achieve this aim.
The North West Area Point-to-Point Championship at Bangor-on-Dee in May is the likely end of season target for Cassia Green, trained by Peter Morris at Carden. The gelding was the 20-length winner of the Tanatside Members race and began the sequence of winners for our local trainers.
Braeburn, the winner of Division One of the Open Maiden, also belongs to a Cheshire yard. The gelding was ridden by Gemma Swindells, of Willington, and is trained by her father John.
Finally, there is a midweek meeting at Bangor-on-Dee next Wednesday when the first race is due off at 2.10pm. One of the feature races is the £10,000 handicap hurdle named after a village in Anglesey with the longest name in Britain.
Roughly translated into English the name of the race means St. Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave!
Other races are the Wrexham & North Wales LVA Beginners' Steeplechase and the JPCS Mares' Only 'National Hunt' Novices Hurdle. The card concludes at 5.10pm with the Hugh Peel Challenge Trophy Hunters' Steeplechase.