Saturday, 4 October 2008

Hexham - October 3rd

Going – Good To Soft (with subtle variations!)

The first in the back straight was missed out in all chases.

2.50 3m 1f Novices’ Chase

An interesting staying novices’ chase.

Allowing for the fact that the second, That’s Rhythm, had already raced over fences then the performance of the first two probably reflected their hurdles level of form.
ACCORDING TO PETE, a decent handicap hurdler rated 132, won nicely here. Jumping neatly and taking the lead at the twelfth, was joined by the second at the next but went on two out and pulled away from the second approaching the last. Though being chased determinedly, he stayed on plenty well enough and is an interesting prospect.
THAT’S RHYTHM lost nothing in defeat, being outpointed by a performer rated 8lbs better over hurdles. His was brought steadily into the picture down the back for the last time but was outpointed in the straight. He jumped well enough and stays well so there are races to be won.
ZITENDA apparently had a fair bit to find with the leading two. He found it hard work from 3 out having raced prominently, but he’ll find easier opportunities. He just held on in a battle for third with Belon Gale.
BELON GALE, an Irish point winner earlier in the year, was beginning to progress when making a blunder at the thirteenth. From then on it was a tough job and he never got to the leading two. Given that it was a first outing under rules it’s likely there’s more to come.
CHARMING KNIGHT hit form in Northern points toward the end of last season, and recorded a decent second in a novice hunter chase at Perth in May. He led or was prominent up until the thirteenth but then found more accomplished opponents had too much and was outpaced. He probably paid the penalty for being raced prominently, but this was a promising effort and I suspect there is better to come.
OMIX D’OR found this tougher than his Perth race and fell away from the twelfth before pulling up. He needs a drop in class.
CHARLIE CRAB is reportedly considered a bit “old fashioned” and “ignorant” by his trainer, so it would seem he will need a bit of time. He departed at the eleventh having jumped a bit stickily. I’d keep him tucked away in the mind for the future.
SUPER BOSTON was prominent for a way but had not an earthly in this company.
The Mulhall pair of CLOISTERS HILL and PENDLE FOREST were out of their depth here.

3.55 3m 1f 0-95 Handicap Chase

The eleventh fence was missed as a jockey was receiving treatment, which reduced the contest to 16 obstacles.

I felt that HUCKLEBERRY’s performance at Cartmel had shown a good deal of promise. As on that outing he raced prominently, was untidy at a couple but basically jumped well enough. Having led or disputed he went on from 3 out and ran on well after the last. He’s improving with experience and I’m sure there’s another win or two in him given his current mark.
ALTO STRATUS didn’t do much wrong in second. He challenged two out but was just outpointed. He saw off the rest well enough. The trip clearly holds no terrors and the hill didn’t stop him which augurs well for staying chases at this level.
PRESENTING ALF ran a fair race in third. He stayed on from 4 out, and had a chance travelling up the hill, but could offer no extra. Given an uninterrupted campaign he should find a small race.
TULLY CROSS moved into second at the twelfth. He was still there two out but got tired and only just clambered over the last. This could be the limit of his ability.
HIGH FIVE got closer than at Cartmel, chasing the leaders but eventually weakening into fifth. He has won in this class, though it was in heavy ground which may blunt the speed of the opposition.
GREAT GRIMSBY was disappointing and failed to repeat Sedgefield form.
TOY GUN fell at the second, having departed at the first here last time.
GOT THE GIFT fell there out but was never in with a chance.
JETHRO TULL coming back from a break after a period of injury, wasn’t put into the race and the impression was it was just a try out to see if he could stand the race. He pulled up 4 out but seemed sound.
MR TWINS raced prominently but predictably fell away and pulled up. PANTHERS RUN and SAM CRUISE didn’t figure and both pulled up.

5.05 2m ½f 0-95 Handicap Chase

A pretty dire looking contest with clear reasons to oppose practically everything in the race. Ninth fence was missed due to an injured jockey meaning only 10 fences were jumped.

NORMINSTER was dropped down in distance here. He had shown glimmers of promise at times, but recent form over longer trips of PFP and 31 runs without a win didn’t augur well However he provided Rayson Nixon with a welcome winner. He was prominent by the seventh, challenged two out and battled hard to see off the pacemaker. He may win again, but will need another soft contest.
EBORARRY made the pace until before the last. He jumped better than most but lacked the pace at the business end. His best chance might be to find a small field contest where he can dominate the opposition.
TIN HEALY’S PASS plodded into third late on. This was a better run than he’s produced recently, but more is required to have a winning chance.
RECKLESS VENTURE finished fourth and that was as far forward as at any time in the race.
EARL SIGURD made some progress three out but didn’t get to the leaders. He’s not own since 2001, and would need a pretty dire event to break the losing run.
WOODY VALENTINE got reminders early and was never a threat.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS ran slightly better than last time, but faded to seventh in the latter stages.
TERMPTING PARADISE, a Plumpton winner last time, was prominent for a long way but weakened and pulled up 2 out. Although he hadn't hit the stiffest part of this track he's not run well at Exeter or Towcester either and the evidence suggests a sharper track would help.
CHUKCHI COUNTRY ran prominently early but fell in a heap after halfway and pulled up.
HARRY MAY raced prominently to 4 out but was then outpaced and pulled up 2 out.
CROFTON ARCH and DOUBLE PASTwere briefly prominent but pulled up. ROMAN ARMY was never going and pulled up early, and 67-rated I’M GUNNER BE FINE was foiled by the first.

In the hurdle races Howard Johnson’s ON RAGLAN ROAD doddled up against moderate oppostion. A step up in class beckons. I’d noted DREVER ROUTE as one who would need time when he appeared in Musselburgh bumper last December. Those who saw him at Hexham suggest that he had benefitted from the period since and he did a nice job in a fair novices’ hurdle.
NEVSKY BRIDGE proved a weak finisher again in the selling hurdle won by Irish challenger HAWKSBURY HEIGHTS and is worth opposing unitl showing more determination in the closing stages. Difficult to know what will happen with the winner since selling class seems his level.

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