Cheltenham star set to point way on debut

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SON OF FLICKA will look to save the best until last in South Durham on Sunday – continuing the theme of Yorkshire Area point-to-point races being snared by former heroes of the Cheltenham Festival.

Ridden by Jason Maguire, Son Of Flicka landed the 2012 Coral Cup in the care of Cheshire trainer Donald McCain and was later switched to Norton handler Tony Coyle.

The 11-year-old gelding will make his point-to-point debut in Sunday’s Club Members’ Conditions race finale at Howe Hills, Mordon, organised by the South Durham Hunt Farmers’ Club.

The meeting marks the second instalment of the Yorkshire Area Point-to-Point season, two weeks on from the curtain-raiser held at Sheriff Hutton,

Junior, another former Cheltenham Festival winner, lit up that fixture when landing the Browns Department Store Men’s Open under jockey Richard Smith for trainer Nicky Tinkler.

Max Johnson, who rides out at Coyle’s yard in Norton, will be bidding for a similar outcome on Son Of Flicka this weekend, though the pilot insists his mount will blossom later in the season on better ground.

“I’m looking forward to riding him,” enthused Johnson.

“But I think he’ll come into his own later in the season. He’ll need the run and prefer better ground.”

Opposition could come from Forge Valley – placed twice in Open company last season – and Ballyboker Boy, who has gone well at the course before.

Sunday’s fixture is the first of three meetings to take place at the Sedgefield course with the first race – a Maiden for four-, five-, six- and seven-year-olds, over the shorter distance of 2m 4f – due off at noon.

Later on the card, a big run is expected from the Cherry Coward-handled Gansey, formerly in training with High Eldwick Grand National winning trainer Sue Smith.

Gansey should face tough opposition in the shape of Oaklands Bobby, Scots Gaelic and Royal Deal in the Ladies Club Members’ race, but the Coward team say Smith’s former inmate has come on for his recent run at Sheriff Hutton.

“He could run a big race,” said Coward’s daughter and Jacqueline’s sister, Sam.

“He ran better than we were expecting at Sheriff (Hutton), but we have since found out he doesn’t have a reputation for working well at home, which seems about right.”

Elsewhere on the card, the restricted race will see Six A Side bidding to follow up on last year’s Maiden win over an easy three miles. Jockey Will Milburn said: “He’s more relaxed than last year and seems a bit more settled. I just hope I haven’t chilled him out too much. He’ll run as long as the ground doesn’t go soft.”

Admission is £10 per person, with under-16s free. The postcode for satellite navigation is TS21 2HG.