Going - Good (Good To Firm in places)
Some overnight rain didn’t do too much to change the state of the ground which remained just on the fast side. The second fence on the far side was omitted in each race.
2.10 2m ½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
Scottish Champion Hurdler NOBLE ALAN had only to jump competently to take this race assuming the first two maintained hurdle form. That turned out to be the case as he moved up to the leader on the climb to the straight and went clear with a minimum of fuss. He jumped well on chasing debut and has much more in the tank.
KNOCKAVILLA was outpointed comfortably by the winner. His rider attempted to take the race by the scruff of the neck three out, but he couldn’t answer against a more talented opponent. On what we know of him he ran to form and should pick up a similar event or novice contest.
DESCRIPTION filled third spot well clear of the remainder. He certainly tried hard enough and only gave way up the hill. This was way in advance of his previous chasing efforts and seems likely that a chasing mark of 107 could be exploited in handicaps. He looks good enough to pick up a run-of-the-mill non-handicap novice along the way if connections wish to go that way.
THE PANAMA KID and BELOW THE DECK were left behind from two out but both had a tough task in this company on previous chase form.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE was feeling the pinch a long way out.
FLY TO DUBAI set the pace but was headed going to three out, weakened quickly and pulled up a fence later. He had some fair hurdle form in Ireland but has made little impact over fences.
Off our patch admittedly, but GULLIBLE GORDON produced a faultless performance in the novice chase at Chepstow and looks a potentially decent staying novice chaser.
3.15 2m 4½f 0-115 Handicap Chase
Connections were mystified by the improvement in form shown by I’M YOUR MAN. Consistency wouldn’t be his strong point though he has run some decent races around here, admittedly with some dross chucked in for good measure. It could be that a return to Hexham after a few runs round Sedgefield may have sparked him. Anyway, he produced a decent performance to race up with the pace and still reserve enough to hold off a determined runner-up. Will he produce it next time? If you’ve any ideas they might be best sent to Evelyn Slack.
SILLY WUPPLE won this race last year was only a whisker away from a repeat. He was always up with the pace and pressed the winner from three out, leading briefly on the flat before being hauled back. He managed another win after his victory here last year so may have a decent chance next time.
CATEGORICAL places often but doesn’t win that much for one with some ability. He was held from two out though plugging on.
FRED BOJANGALS faced tougher opposition here and didn’t help his cause by pulling hard early on and that problem cost him in the latter stages as he struggled once the runners ascended the hill.
In customary style UPTOWN LAD picked off tired horses in the closing stages, but the leaders weren’t coming back to him. He was followed in similar fashion by MANOUBI who is the same age and just as frustrating.
WELL OILED was outpaced three out. He had a fair run at Thurles on his record but otherwise his ‘chase form is uninspiring. A drop of a few pounds and an ease in class would help for starters.
SPARKLING TAFF was prominent to the seventh but gradually faded from that point. He was returning after a 9 month break and needed a couple of runs to hit form last season.
GUNS AND BUTTER, who is a good deal better than a distant ninth suggests, continued the poor run of the Dobbin stable while SOME MAGIC lost touch from the tenth and looks to have had his fill for now.
5.00 3m 1f 0-90 Classified Chase
This race was delayed as ambulances were ferrying injured jockeys from the previous for treatment. That aside there was some grave questions asked regarding Hexham’s treatment and disposal of euthanised horses on the day. Currently the course use a flat bed wagon and just cover dead horses with a tarpaulin. This doesn’t seem the most sensitive arrangement and Paul Ostermeyer brought up the matter with the course management. On a slightly more pleasing note, Course Manager Charles Enderby stated that improvements would be made at subsequent meetings. Check out the link to Paul's site for his comments and Mr Enderby's reply.
The chasing action finished with a low key classified chase with six plodders finishing close together at the finish.
ONTHEGOAGAIN was prominent all the way. The ‘cavalry’ arrived in the straight ready to see him off but he showed more resolution that the others. The course seems to suit him and I’d be surprised if James Lambe didn’t have another shot at a race here.
RECKLESS VENTURE has a very good record here, though his two wins have come over the extended 2m 4f. He had every chance but was outbattled on the run to the line.
JBALLINGAL is improving run-by-run and got very close here. He was off the track for an age before last season but showed here he retains the ability that saw him win off near his current mark in 2006. He had every chance at the last but gave way in the final half furlong. Connections’ patience might be rewarded in a very weak race.
SIERRA VICTOR plugged on for fourth, running by far his best race under Rules.
PANTHERS RUN caught an idling ‘Fred’ here over a shorter distance last time. He ran to about the same level on this occasion but arrived a little too late to get his fizzog in the picture.
THENAMEESCAPESME never quite got to the leaders and finished four lengths sixth. Evidence suggests he is better over shorter distances.
NICKY TAM was left behind from two out and TREEHOUSE weakened after thumping the same fence. The latter won here last season, but that contest though heavy on numbers was light on committed talent.
MRS BURKE was sending out distress signals when blundering at the twelfth and finished a remote last.
BEN TIRRAN raced prominently before hitting three out and stopping very quickly. His jumping goes to pieces as he tires and may always plague him.
OVER SIBERIA was struggling at the twelfth and pulled up before the last.