HEXHAM – Sunday April 5th
Going – Good (Good to Soft in places on chase course and Good to Firm in places on the hurdle course)
Bearing in mind the pleasant weather we have been blessed with it’s surprising to reflect that this meeting succumbed to the snow last year, a fact my wife and I only found out at 12.45 having got two-thirds of the way through very unpleasant conditions. This year however the meeting was blessed with bright sunshine, and I had two staying steeplechases to study.
3.20 3m 1f Class 4 Novices Chase
This race lost a little of its attraction as two of the potential contenders were non-runners.
BLEU POIS was fifth in a 0-100 handicap on his chasing debut which perhaps gives a clue to the ability on show here. However, he would seem to have benefitted from his debut. He looked destined for third going up the hill, but stayed on determinedly after the last to gain the day. He stays well and should make a mark back in handicaps.
HARRY FLASHMAN stepped up on a disappointing chasing debut at Perth last July, looking the possible winner at the last, but was caught close home. It looks as if he will be kept to this sort of ground.
FREEZE THE FRAME was best in on official figures but palpably didn’t run to his rating here. He was up with the pace all the way but one paced on the flat.
JIMANDGREY ran well to the last and weakened on the flat. He’s an Irish point winner and this was a fair start to his chasing career.
STARBOUGG never got competitive on chasing debut and fifth was the closest place she occupied.
PENDLE FOREST performed a bit better than previously over fences. Having been held up she progressed to be on the heels of the leaders going up the hill but then weakened. The better ground may have helped, but she didn’t see out the trip.
SCUZME was prominent early but fell away down the back straight for the final time.
BILLSGREY proved once again that he is very slow.
TURBULENT FLIGHT went well enough until hitting the twelfth. He gave the next a whack and quickly dropped away to be tailed off.
4.50 3m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase
DARINA’S BOY is a proven spring and summer performer. He led approaching the sixth, pushed on from three out and idled in front allowing the second to close.
KORELO seems to be recovering a little form. He didn’t get to the winner but stayed on well for second and has run two consecutive decent races here.
OVERLADY won a slog at Carlisle off a low weight, but might well be handicapped to her limit in these contests now. She couldn’t get to grips with the winner and could only muster one pace once turned for home. She proved she can handle faster ground.
CATCH THE PERK was prominent early, and then dropped back before staying on for fourth. This was a reasonable pipe-opener after a break and he will back on his stamping ground at Perth soon.
PLAYER didn’t get much better than midfield. Considering his chase win came off 95 a mark of 110 here seems very harsh.
SILLY WUPPLE, a course winner in October, was prominent for a way but weakened four out. . Like his recent efforts, this was uninspiring.
CRACKADEE was struggling fully a mile from home.
EMERALD DESTINY was well out the back early and passed a few tired rivals late on.
STONERIGGS MERC moved up on the heels of the leaders with four to go, but then went backwards. His decent winter form seems to have left him.
CARRY DUFF was always detached.
SOUTH BRONX raced in touch until dropping away from the fourteenth.
SADDLER’S WAY was in midfield when unseating at the twelfth and was the only non-finisher in the afternoon’s two chases.
We are away to the Durham area for a few days next week, dropping in at Sedgefield on Tuesday. I'll report on that meeting, and on Kelso's meeting on Monday at the end of the week.