The north provided two support cards in Cheltenham Festival week…
SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday March 16th
Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)
1.45 2m 4f Class 4 Mares' Novices’ Hurdle
Stepped up in trip GWYRE was rewarded for a succession of decent efforts in hurdles over recent months. She’s been held by better opponents over two miles but, looking very fir in the paddock, she made use of stamina reserves to win with a bit in hand if idling on the run-in.
BELOW THE DECK is an exposed average sort who occupied second while MOORSLAND TERI, a four times winner to date, looks to have been cannily placed in the past on the evidence of third here.
IDENTITY PARADE stayed on for fourth and looks a long term prospect, probably for staying chases.
2.20 2m 4f Class 4 Maiden Chase
A very ordinary looking contest in which SPELLCHECKER was left well clear when his two main rivals capsized at the last. He ran well here in September, but broke a blood vessel last time out. I wouldn’t think he would be value for a follow up.
BALTIC PATHFINDER led at the last but dived at it and came down. He’s nothing special but has at least showed the ability to get involved here.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER had run well to a point though was held when falling at the last. He still looks mid-80s quality to me.
Safe but slow ELLANDSHE got round safely in his own time and was rewarded with second prize money.
NODANAWINK would be one of the slowest in a stable of decent chasers and was detached by four out. He’s shown very little of any serious note to date.
MISTIC ACADEMY, a poor hurdler, was still in touch when falling at the twelfth. Her proximity at that point says much about the quality, or lack of it, on offer here.
2.55 2m 1f 0-113 Handicap Hurdle
WATERLOO CORNER scored a first jumps win here though was all out and it’s difficult to see there’s much improvement in him. He has run two good races here though, a fact which may of use in future.
CATCH BOB is a previous winner and went close here. He was under pressure two out but did pick up in the latter stages and just failed.
SHIFTING GOLD made a promising handicap debut in third, keeping on under pressure though just held after the last.
The three were well clear of EURO AMERICAN who used to be much better than this but never threatened here though making late headway.
3.35 2m 1f 0-103 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
In a poor event SHADRACK had to do no more than repeat his previous winning efforts to win this. He’ll presumably go up again and will not have things anything like so easy in future.
BARRON WATLASS once again looked at difficult ride, albeit one with some ability at this level, and was just held for third by MOUNTSKIP who placed for the first time having been well held previously.
4.15 2m 4f 0-109 Handicap Chase
CANADA STREET is basically a stayer but found a nice opportunity here, helped by better fencing than he normally manages. Maybe benefitting from a bit of a break, he was always near the front and stayed on to lead before the last, his stamina seeing him through.
SEA VENTURE won an ordinary race at Musselburgh on his chasing debut. He ran well enough here, staying on form two out if held after the last. He was reported as finishing distressed last time and this seems a fairer comment on his ability. He needs good or fast ground.
QUINCY DES PICTONS was held up in the rear, got into contention two out but could only keep on under pressure from that point.
JERINGA ran a respectable race after an 11 month lay-off. He set the pace and only gave way approaching the last, This augurs well if he can be kept healthy.
QUATRE HUIT, a winner in minor company in France, didn’t look anything special on UK debut. He was under pressure two out and made no impression from that point.
I’M YOUR MAN has two ways of running and it was clear from four out that this wasn’t his day.
SMUGGLERS BAY showed a little promise in early chases but is basically a disappointing sort and was well beaten here.
4.55 2m ½f 0-92 Handicap Chase
This was a poor quality chase in which KEALSHORE KID, previously disappointing in chases, appeared to have a significant class advantage being 14lbs clear in the weights. He made that advantage tell, holding off two in-form but quite slow opponents. He won‘t have many easier tasks and though staying on for victory was not totally convincing.
Mrs Watt has done well to get three consecutive decent performances out of the previously unpredictable LERIDA. He has showed he is suited by this course and distance, but was just held from the last having led three out.
TROODOS JET is another in decent form and is well matched with Lerida on previous efforts. He held every chance at the last but was just run out of it.
CROFTON ARCH has shown nothing of late and was beaten from halfway.
THE FABRICATOR has bits and pieces of form on decent ground, but he made a couple of mistakes which didn’t help and dropped away from three out.
5.25 2m 1f NH Flat
Irish point winner LOVEY DOVEY held off SENOR ALCO in what looks a moderate bumper. MR JAY DEE was held from two out and finished third.
MARLENO had decent form in better company but faded disappointingly in the straight.
HEXHAM – Thursday March 18th
Going – Good
2.20 2m ½f 0-105 Conditional Jockeys’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Given a positive ride OVERBRANCH, below par for some time, took the race by the scruff of the neck. She looked held when headed two out but battled back up the hill to lead and won a shade cosily.
MINI MINSTER looked the winner from two out but was overtaken on the run to the last. She kept on for second in front of THARAYA who made an encouraging handicap debut in third.
2.55 2m ½f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
A dramatic finish to this three runner contest, though the field had been reduced to two fairly early on as chasing debutant LOS NADIS stumbled and unseated at the water. He struggled to sharpen his hurdling for sometime and may need time over fences.
PICAROON led Noble Alan up the hill towards the finishing straight. Dean Coleman tried to route him on to the main circuit, then realised his mistake by which time it was too late and Picaroon crashed through the rail, taking Noble Alan out with him. Coleman was unseated so couldn’t re-trace on Picaroon, but Brian Harding gathered his wits and completed the course for victory on NOBLE ALAN. Coleman was given a long holiday for his error.
3.35 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
Well exposed QUATTRO PIERJI broke his duck after failing in handicap company. He led and ran on well in the straight, holding off the challenge of PREMIER SAGAS who performed soundly under a penalty.
The pair were clear of hurdles newcomer VANNIN who was held from the top of the hill. COCOA KEY ran pretty much to the level of previous efforts in fourth, staying on in the latter stages.
4.15 4m 0-110 Handicap Chase
The ‘Hexham Four Miler’ was a contest between two contenders from a long way out.
SIMPLY SMAHING looked the type to be suited by this event and came clear nicely from the last. He suggested extreme distances might suit when staying on to win at Carlisle and on this evidence will be worth aiming at similar tests.
RECKLESS VENTURE often runs well but is frustrating. He seemed to run of stamina in the closing stages here and was comfortably held from the last. He did keep up a decent record at this track.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND plodded round for a very remote third place. He’s unreliable and was out of contention by halfway.
JIMANDGARY raced prominently early but was out on his feet when his rider understandably surrendered the chance of minor prize money by pulling up before four out.
GERSHWINNER, by no means certain to be suited by the extended trip on what I’ve seen, was weakening when unseating at the eighteenth.
THE GREEN HAT led but was starting to feel the pinch when hitting the nineteenth and unseating. This one-eyed gelding will need a very poor contest to score.
GREENANDREDPARSON won a maiden point but has shown little under Rules, though was in touch when unseating at the fifteenth.
4.55 3m 0-95 Handicap Hurdle
A very poor staying contest won by OLD NODDY who does see out these trips well if his jumping isn’t always as sharp as it could be.
STEVEYS LAD stayed on up the hill and secured second though he has his limitations and INSIGNIA, very ordinary even at best, occupied third place.
5.25 2m 4 ½f 0-95 Handicap Chase
Four of these figured in a rogues’ gallery at Ayr last week and this occasion accompanied by a selection of their equally shifty mates!
MANOUBI is about as frustrating as they come, but even he couldn’t find a way of losing against this poor bunch. Racing quite prominently he took over on the flat and stayed on well.
TULLY HILL is very slow and is normally beaten by the crucial stages of races. He has run well here on occasions, the hills clearly slow opponents down to his pace, and he kept on after being headed climbing the final hill.
REASONABLY SURE led three out until approaching the last, but he’s a soft touch in the closing stages and could only muster one pace on the flat.
VIEL GLUCK is more talented than most of these, but his trainer has trouble teasing too much out of him. He plugged on for fourth without looking like winning.
HURRICANE JACK briefly joined the leaders going to two out but could muster no extra from that point.
JANAL made progress to three out but a mistake two out was enough to see him drop away.
ART GALLERY was outpaced from three out as was DAY DU ROY, who I suspect retains a little more ability than he cares to let on.
REXMEHEAD, backed down to favourite and thus providing evidence of the lack of quality, unseated at the fifth.
LUSENTO doesn’t look interested and was pulled up.
CONTENDO was reported as not liking the ground, but he seems to me another not inclined to exert himself.