Hexham – Monday April 20th
Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)
A glorious sunny day in Northumberland, though the racing wasn’t quite as glorious as the weather.
2.30 3m 1f 0-105 Handicap Chase
The afternoon commenced with a contest high on numbers but low on quality. A number of the competitors here have been on the go for a few months, but it’s difficult to tell when many of them are going to put their best hoof forward.
The ‘eternal optimists’ (see Sedgefield April 7th) certainly new more of TREEHOUSE than I did. Once again backed at fancy prices, the horse got the message and stepped up significantly on previous form under Rules, his previous placed form having been in maiden points. He moved through to lead three out and battled back when headed. He was given an ugly ride by Adrian Lane who was way too liberal with the whip and duly got carpeted for it. It remains to be seen if this leaves its mark.
KORELO continues to encourage and stayed on though able to offer no extra in the last half furlong. He may pick up a minor staying handicap sine he seems in good heart.
ASTYANAX couldn’t follow up his Carlisle win form a 9lbs higher mark. He led from the fifteenth until two out but could only plug on one pace from there.
MITCHEL HENRY is better with cut in the ground and didn’t look that keen though fourth place probably wasn’t a bad effort. It would be a surprise if he is now put away until the autumn.
PENDLE FOREST was waited with and brought through steadily to two out but couldn’t sustain the effort up the hill. She’s been bumbling round at the back most of the season, so this offers just a glimmer of encouragement.
RECKLESS VENTURE was never close enough to get in a blow.
SILVER DAGGER was under pressure down the back straight and called ‘enough’ two out, CELTIC FLOW dropping away around the same time.
It could be that the ground didn’t help SEEK THE TRUTH, but I suspect he’s just and up and down performer.
LA PANTERA ROSA was the last to complete the course, isn’t the most consistent performer and was way off form here.
HOWS TRIX was never going on his first appearance since moving from Ireland.
BEAUCHAMP PRINCE is hampered by a wind problem and pulled up.
NOW THEN SID raced prominently early but faded quickly from the thirteenth, pulling up a couple of fences later.
BLUNHAM HILL won first time out this season but has been abysmal since.
BENBEOCH produced a good effort last time which fooled the betting public into making him favourite, be reverted to uncooperative mode here.
SOUND OF CHEERS was another to be pulled up and has offered little encouragement since his seasonal debut.
HOLLOWS MIST managed to rid himself of his pilot at the fourth.
3.20 2m 4 ½ f Gee Aker Malayo Handicap Chase
This race was named after the Lucinda Russell inmate who perished at Hexham last year.
NOUVEAU MAIRE made a successful step up from hunter chases with Ferdy Murphy taking charge instead of his daughter, though it’s probably only a nominal thing anyway. He picked up well up the hill, led on the flat and held on well. He’s in good form and may follow up in similar class.
PAMAK D’AIRY led three out and battled back when headed on the flat. He lost nothing in defeat. He’s come down the handicap a bit and may find a small race.
YANKEE HOLIDAY fizzed along in front, as is his way but, as is also his way, had precious little to offer in the last quarter of a mile and faded to third.
PASS THE CLASS disputed for much of the way but was one paced from two out. He’s only won once and that was three years ago.
ROYAL HILARITY was disappointing after his Newcastle effort.
STONERIGGS MERC hit a couple early and was never going well enough.
HUTCH had shown promise at Kelso, but his effort here was feeble.
BALLYNURE has been poor in recent times and NICOZETTO is just unpredictable, if possessing ability.
NAVAL ATTACHE was poor here and may just be more at home at Sedgefield.
MOOR SPIRIT showed so little I actually checked to see if he had been a non-runner. To all intents and purposes he was since he didn’t get involved seriously.
4.30 3m 1f Hunters’ Chase
HASPER’s pointing form looked up a little last year after a wind operation. He probably didn’t achieve a huge amount in a race full of has-beens, but he stayed on to hold Yann’s. I wouldn’t place too much weight on this win for the future since his pointing form is nothing over exciting.
YANN’S had shown a little life in moderate events recently and stretched the field from three out. He had nothing left once passed before the last.
BEN NELLY has generally struggled to get round in hunter chases, but got close here, still closing on the front two close home.
One-eyed SLEEPING NIGHT is a shadow of his former self and couldn’t get to grips with the leaders.
INDERDIT was put in his place from three out and is another light of former days.
LAWYER DES ORMEAUX was fighting a losing battle from four out, and WAYNESWORLD started to issue distress calls a bit before that.