Point-to-point: Swincombe suited by stamina test

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The Independent Online

With all three weekend fixtures taking place tomorrow this is the last blank Saturday until 10 June, a week before the season ends.

The highlight of tomorrow's Heythrop meeting is the Lord Ashton of Hyde's Cup, a four-mile men's open (1.10), which is one of the season's four National Feature races. With Irilut likely to go hunter-chasing after two recent point-to-point wins to enable his rider, Sam Waley-Cohen, to qualify to ride in the Grand National, the marathon looks tailor-made for Swincombe. His 2005 season was curtailed after a hunter-chase fall in March, but he goes well when fresh and won in the fastest time of the day at Marks Tey on his second outing.

The ladies' open here, where the going is good to soft, is over 3m 5f and should go to last year's winner, Mrs Be, in the hands of Polly Gundry. Now 10, Mrs Be takes some time to become competitive in her races, though she is rarely out of the frame and had the soft ground and long trip she needs when signing off with a Stratford hunter-chase success in May.

The ground will be faster for the second of Cottenham's four meetings where Get Off My Cloud can confirm the promise he showed in two outings last season in the Intermediate (12.0).

The West Percy at Alnwick begins the northern season and Rose Davidson, nine winners under Rules this season, should start her season between the flags with a winner on A Boy Named Sioux (2.0), whom her parents bought during the summer.

The eight-year-old did not run until last season and followed up his maiden win at Tranwell in a restricted over the stiff Balcormo track.

FIXTURES: TOMORROW: Cambridgeshire University Draghounds at Cottenham (First race 11.30). 4m N of Cambridge, near B1049, Exit 14, M11. Heythrop at Dunthrop. (11.30). 2m NE of Chipping Norton at junction of A3400 & A361. West Percy at Alnwick. (12.0). 3m NE of Alnwick; sign-posted from A1.

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