The action starts to crank up now and there is plenty of racing in the 'area of interest' in the next few weeks. Unfortunately other commitments mean I can't make it to the racecourse until late november, but I'll keep an eye on the steeplechasers at the 'chosen courses' and all races at Scottish meetings. I'm gradually building up a nice little book of comments on the regular protagonists.
Generally moderate contenders, but there are a few bits of form which may be useful under similar conditions, though always bear in mind that one or two may need a bit of a break after a slog round the Northumbrian countryside.
A lot of rain in the area recently had turned the going Heavy, and Hexham is a hard slog in these conditions and there were many very tired horses at the finish. The fence at the top of the hill and the first in the back straight were both omitted due to the state of the ground.
1.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-105 C.J. Handicap Chase
Sue Smith has produced one or two recently which have done well coming off a break. SUNNY BROOK had been absent for the best part of two years but was presented in good nick for this event. In truth it was a moderate contest but the winner did the job well enough. Racing prominently, Sunny Brook was kicked on to go clear down the hill and, despite being headed going up hill, battled back and went away in the last 100 yards. She had jumped left on chasing debut, but would appear well schooled since. She will probably be capable of going on from here but, bearing in mind the conditions here, she may need a rest before re-appearing.
RECKLESS VENTURE has won twice here and this was best effort this season, though probably the weakest event he’s contested this autumn. He led apparently going well up the hill but offered nothing on the flat.
MANOUBI stayed on in the latter stages having sat out the back early.
PANTHERS RUN plodded round for a remote fourth.
RING OF BEARA was settled in the lead, but having been headed 5 out he weakened from 3 out and was well beaten. He was a reasonable performer at this level in Ireland but hasn’t yet recaptured that form in the UK.
NEIDPATH CASTLE was on the stretch 3 out when the pace quickened, but made progress up the hill. He looked a likely third when getting too low at the last and unseating. He’s on a mark of 73 and would be interesting eased into the lowest class at this trip.
HERBIE unseated at the first on chasing debut.
2.20 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
ACCORDING TO PETE repeated the promising form of his previous outing here. He wasn’t stopping by any means at the finish, jumps soundly, and might be interesting if aimed at long-distance handicap chases.
JASS ran a creditable race in second, if outpointed by a better opponent. He certainly seemed aided by the longer trip and if he’s aimed at handicaps he won't run into anything like today’s winner.
RODRIGO GONZALES is three times a winner over hurdles and hadn’t encountered conditions as stamina sapping as this before. He went well enough for a long way but was struggling by 3 out and allowed to come home in his own time for third. He will be an interesting proposition on decent ground.
THE REDE MOUSE had no hope of being competitive in this company but was allowed to complete in his own time. I suspect he may offer a bit better given time.
EMMENSO was detached early and lobbed round in his own time. He’s a hurdles winner and has time on his side for chasing.
BENDEOCH was quickly well behind on seasonal debut and pulled up.
3.20 2m ½ f 0-95 Handicap Chase
This wasn’t a great event despite a few having recent placed form. DUKE OF MALFI seemed to benefit from his chasing debut at Kelso. He made all and showed too much determination for his challengers in the latter stages. He may well stand a rise in the weights and perhaps even a step up in trip.
NORMINSTER ran creditably despite a significant rise in the weights for his win here. He tried hard enough but was held by the winner. It took him a long time to win but his attitude seems right at the moment, and another win is not out of the question. It’s significant that out of 9 placed efforts, 8 of them have been at Hexham or Carlisle.
FRITH has always just hinted at a bit of ability, and this was by far the closest he’s got over jumps. He hadn’t been totally disgraced behind a useful winner on his last outing. He ran out of puff in the straight, but this run suggests a handicap chase is within his compass given this experience.
CYBORA closed up the hill but couldn’t offer any more. She clearly has at least a little ability, but a record of 1 win in 30 goes doesn’t inspire, and with the exception of a Cartmel race on good to firm she has finished weakly.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS plugged on into fifth. He sometimes gets close but doesn’t look betting material over fences.
ROYAL GLEN faded in the latter stages having been in with a chance 3 out. A couple of slogs round Carlisle, followed by an outing in heavy here, may well have taken their toll.
LERIDA reverted to type with a poor effort. May win again sometime but is one to oppose.
SILVO pulled up and was reported as having lost his action.
SUBSIDISE, CULCINELLO and KING’S ENVOY are all well out of form and pulled up.