Friday March 26th
The ‘free market’ threw up a clash of fixtures in the north, Sedgefield and Carlisle operating the same afternoon with the inevitable result that fields sizes suffered. Don’t you just love the OFT?
Going – Heavy
Plenty of rain about meant tough conditions for the sparse fields. The card opened with three hurdles, in the 2m 4f novice Rose Dobbin’s CAERLAVEROCK comfortably overturning odds-on shot SILENT CLICHÉ who quickly ran of steam from two out. Dobbin’s stable is starting to click and CAERLAVEROCK looks progressive.
The quality of the following seller was summed by the fact that Colin Russell saw fit to make RECOIL his Racing Post selection. No reflection on Russell, it was a dire contest, but if Recoil took on a tortoise then the latter would have to be given due consideration… DR VALENTINE looks a very awkward ride, and his action is very ungainly, but he had more speed than the others.
In the 2m 1f novice hurdle LORD VILLEZ easily landed the odds, a handful of pursuers finishing in a heap.
4.15 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
PEMBERTON survived a bad blunder at the first but soon closed up. He had the second held when stumbling at the last, but recovered to hold on with a bit to spare. He was a promising novice hurdler and should go on from this over fences.
GREENBELT, a fair marker, seemed to run to his level in second, but he’s not been easy to win with in recent times.
GINGER’S LAD is a poor chaser and lost touch before the straight, passing a tired rival for third before the last.
Having seen the pony-sized CINAMAN in the flesh I doubted his ability to cope with fences. He tried hard enough and got round, but the extra effort required to clear the obstacles saw him out on his feet by three out.
MARLBOROUGH SOUND was a fair hurdler at a lowly level up to 2008, but pulled up here following a remote finish at Carlisle on his belated return. At the age of 11 he offers no hope for a future chasing.
4.50 3m 3f 0-105 Handicap Chase
With conditions suiting him and his class able to tell, LUCKY NELLERIE made most here, a good jump at the last seeing off his only serious challenger. The Durham National might be a target once again.
DARINA’S BOY had shown very little recently and hence plunged to a rating of 81. He revived somewhat here and ran a gallant second.
Long time maiden POLOBURY plugged on for third but never threatened.
SHULMIN went well to four out, but a mistake there put paid to her chances.
EDITORS ROSE raced near the pace until unseating at the thirteenth.
NELLIEDONETHAT made a little headway to three out, but the effort told and he was pulled up before the last. I suspect his stamina couldn’t withstand the test of this distance in the mud.
MAGE D’ESTRUVAL raced up with the pace but struggled down the back for the final time and was pulled up before four out.
The card finished with a four runner handicap hurdle, the in-form MARDOOD finding the weak contest right up his street. He’s one who may be a bit of a thinker but he probably has more ability than he lets on. TIPSY INDIAN is selling class and stayed on for second.
Meanwhile over on the other of the country…
Going - SOFT (Heavy in places on Hurdle course; Good to soft in places on Chase course) changing to SOFT (Heavy in places on Hurdle course) after Race 1. Is it me or do going descriptions get more complicated as the years go by? In my day …
2.10 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Chase
EYRE SQUARE was ridden after mistake at the twelfth, but he stayed on best up the hill. This trip suits better than shorter.
DAR ES SALAAM should be well capable of winning a novice handicap and made the winner pull out the stops here. Previous form suggested he’s better on faster ground.
AGAINST THE WIND raced close up but was tired in the latter stages and only just clambered over the last. The performance on chasing debut offers some encouragement for the future.
SOUL ANGEL was left behind from four out while BEAUTIFUL VISION, a Hexham winner in October and winner of a selling hurdle at Ludlow last time up, weakened from five out. He was theoretically best in here, but a run in a seller last time makes you wonder if all is well.
2.45 3m ½ f 0-107 Handicap Chase
TEERIE EXPRESS, promising when winning last time, was the only one who could race a gallop at the end of this slog. He won so easily that there must surely be a fair bit still in this lightly raced ex-hunter’s locker.
SCOTTISH MUNROS was struggling from four out and out on his feet when clambering over the last.
OF COURSE was outpaced form the bottom of the hill and his jockey sensibly called it a day before the last. Good to see that his amateur rider put the horse’s welfare before prize money. Richard McGrath took similar action on BORDER REIVER before two out and this one is better on faster ground.
3.55 2m 0-104 Handicap Chase
TOODOS JET and LERIDA continued their sequence of close contests with the former prevailing on this occasion. Both are running consistently and a credit to their connections efforts, particularly those of LERIDA who have transformed a previously unpredictable animal.
STORM SURGE should be capable of winning such an event but has been coming up just short recently and he tired before the last here.
STAR TENOR was selling class over hurdles and was comfortably held on chasing debut.
ISLA PEARL FISHER gave way from four out and was reported as unsuited by the ground.
5.05 2m 4f 0-115 Handicap Chase
CASH ON FRIDAY, lightly raced in recent times but able on his day, returned fresh from a prolonged break to land this contest. He has an impressive record of 5 wins from his last 14 runs though he wouldn’t want to be much higher in the handicap. It’s worth noting that he’s rated only 79 in hurdles having won off 78 in May 2008, and his previous best form has been on better ground.
CASH MAN led until the run-in, rallied once passed and pushed the winner to the line. All three wins have come on courses with stiff finishes.
JIMMY BOND had a chance after two out but was one paced from the last. He’s in good heart and is a good marker in these conditions.
SILVER SEDGE walked his way through the second, making ah ole in the fence. Despite this early argument he was still in contention two out but was one paced from that point. This was his best effort for a while and he’s now well below his last winning mark.
LIVINGONAKNIFEDGE weakened from three out. Track and conditions suited but he has not fired recently.
OR D’OUDAIRIES, who has seemed suited by a stiff track, was held up until falling heavily five out.
There were two moderate handicap hurdles on the card. BOLLIN FIONA scored for the Hawick yard of Donal Whillans in the two and a half miler, just holding off Ecclefechan* trainer Andrew Parker’s SUPER ALLY. Lucinda Russell’s DEEP SQUEEZE completed a Scottish 1-2-3, I’M YOUR MAN ran well until tiring from two out and finishing first of the English contingent.
SAMIZDAT has now got the hang of things and had the beating of QUINTERO when the latter came down at the last. The pair were clear of TWENTYNINEBLACK who doesn’t look especially well handicapped while ROYAL FLYNN, last win in 2007 on the flat at Haydock, came in third.
* I couldn’t resist the chance to mention Ecclefechan. It is the home of the Ecclefechan Tart which is a classic dish considered a rival to the mince pie.
Hexham – Sunday March 28th
Going – Soft (Heavy in places)
The ground conditions caused the omission of one flight and three fences down the far side of the course.
2.10 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
I was impressed with CHESTER LAD when I first set eyes on him at Musselburgh and he ran a promising race in the bumper that day. He’s been frustrating since but fulfilled promise against a previous winner, holding on all out form KING OF THE GYPSIES at a rewarding price of 18/1. The third home, ROLL OVER ROSE, made a promising debut and stayed on to finish on the heels of the leaders. Willie Amos’s filly is a half-sister to a couple of winners and should add to the family record on this evidence. MASTER FONG finished fourth, not far away, and the stiff test seemed to suit.
2.40 3m 1f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
This looked a moderate event and the form of the first three is at best moderate.
The three best on form all blew out leaving DALLAS BELL to outstay a couple of slow-coaches from the bottom of the hill. He was nothing special over hurdles and didn’t achieve a huge amount here.
GREENANDREDPARSON took second but is slow and clumsy, though he did at least get round.
CHERRYLAND led the way but as previously had nothing to offer at the business end.
POLITICAL PADDY looked to have a decent chance on Carlisle running but looked no certainty when unseating three out.
QUALITY CONTROL was put more into the race this time but couldn’t stay with the field and was pulled up before three out.
SOLWAY BAY is not a bad stayer at his level over hurdles but has disappointed in two attempts at chasing, pulling up before the last here.
3.15 2m 4½f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle
A competitive looking event was won comfortably by FEDERSTAR who has run some decent races of late. He closed going to the second last, took over up the hill and was ridden clear. TEENAGE IDOL produced much better than previous runs this season finishing second but held from two out. COOL OPERATOR was left in the lead two out but weakened once headed.
MINI MINSTER went well in front until coming down two out. If caught in this mood again she could win a lesser event.
3.50 3m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
A Wylie/Johnson hotpot got beaten here as MILAN’S MAN was outstayed by ONLY THE BEST. The latter looks to be an out and out stayer and may be a type to look out for in staying novice chases next season. WATCH THE WIND has been struggling in handicap chases, often being set stiff tasks, but she ran with some promise here and stuck with two better performers until the top of the hill.
4.25 3m 1f 0-114 Handicap Chase
TREEHOUSE has been most consistent this season and goes really well around here. He put his staying power to good use once again, stayed on well under pressure when challenged in the straight. He won’t get penalised much for this and there will be more opportunities at Hexham or similar stiff tracks.
DOC ROW put up a decent performance behind a fair hunter last time and performed admirably back in handicap company. He led or disputed to two out and stayed on determinedly once headed. He isn’t doing much wrong.
GARLETON has had some tough tasks of late, mostly over longer trips than this. To my mind he’s best up to about 3m 2f and this is his class. He closed to two out and led briefly on the flat before being run out of it close home. I would expect him to pick up a race soon off a mark around his last winning rating.
JUST FOR MEN picked up on the leaders going up the final hill but that depleted his reserves.
ITS TEESCOMPONENTS might have had enough for the season. She faded once confronted by the final hill and may need a break.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT has had a most disappointing season and lost touch from three out.
ADARE PRINCE was apparently none the worse after pulling up at Newcastle. However he lost touch past halfway and wasp pulled up before three out.
BORIS THE BLADE can be a fair performer on his day, but he doesn’t need much of an excuse to lose interest and he had had enough by the tenth fence, being pulled up soon after.
MASTER SEBASTIAN showed signs of a revival at Newcastle in February but has been disappointing twice since, pulling up with the best part of a mile to go here.
4.55 2m ½f Maiden NH Flat Race
Irish point winner LACKAMON appreciated easier company than on his Rules debut. He may well have been suited by the testing conditions since he pulled clear in the final two furlongs. SUNNYSIDE closed up the hill but was put in his place once turned for home while DRUMGREY was beaten a long way in third and achieved less than the placing suggests.