HEXHAM – Saturday May 1st
Going – Good(Good To Firm in places)
Decent fields for the ‘Heart Of All England’ meeting despite ground just on the firm side of good.
5.50 2m ½f Class 5 Selling Hurdle
Despite the low numbers this was one of the better selling hurdles held in the north this year. ALONG THE NILE continued his good form at this level, going clear on the run-in and only costing connections £4,500 to retain in the auction. He should be worth aiming back at handicaps now his confidence is high.
THE DUKE’S SPEECH acquitted himself well on returning to hurdling, staying on for second with moderate but consistent PRIORYJO third. Four time winner in 2009, WOODY VALENTINE, was a one paced fourth and is just a little off his game right now.
6.25 2m 4½f 0-105 Handicap Chase
A moderate chase big on numbers but with few in decent form.
BALTIC PATHFINDER has hinted at ability and got his jumping act together on this occasion. He was always thereabouts and stayed on best in the straight for a deserved win. He may pick up another race ‘if’ his jumping holds up.
EMOTIVE stayed on from well back to take second place. This was a fair effort.
CROW SPINNEY chased the leader from two out without getting close enough. Not a bad effort but she still only has a hurdles win at Perth as her jumping success.
ICE IMAGE was close up two out but offered no more. When his jumping has held together he hasn’t offered much at the business end.
I’M YOUR MAN didn’t get things his own way and distress signals were apparently on the final climb.
SMUGGLERS BAY has flattered to deceive over fences and was again found wanting when push came to shove.
BARDOLET made a hash of a couple of fences mid race, briefly got to the leaders four out but couldn’t offer any more form that point. He’s probably better than this bare result suggests and is worth keeping in mind for the future.
MANOUBI made no impression from four out.
CROFTON ARCH had little chance at the weights and back pedalled form two out.
DUKE OF MALFI needs to dictate and had run out of reserves by two out.
IT’S A ROOFER never got involved and his jumping isn’t up to scratch at the moment.
NORMINSTER started the new season as dismally out of form as for ’09-10.
TULLY HILL, always a weak finisher, raced prominent early but struggled form halfway and pulled up before the last.
JANAL ditched his pilot at the first, then ST KILLIANS’S RUN, who appeared to have a fair opportunity here, fell at the second.
6.55 2m 4½f 0-122 Handicap Hurdle
CASH MAN, consistent without winning of late, stayed on to take an event where a few were in form. He’s versatile and has options over fences and hurdles in the coming weeks.
MAGICAL LEGEND ran a decent race in second and looks a type to pick up a summer handicap. The consistent if frustrating PONTOP was third and lacks a turn of foot to turn places into wins. HEAVENLY CHORUS stayed on for fourth and remains in fair heart.
7.30 3m 1f ‘Heart Of All England’ Maiden Hunters’ Chase
The finish of the main event, if not the biggest prize, was fought out by two progressive pointers. Six-year-old SPECIAL PORTRAIT looks an interesting prospect in hunter chases and came clear to just hold POPPY DAY, his jockey’s tidier style arguably making a difference. Both are worth bearing in mind for the future.
FATHER MURTAGH had every chance at the last but was left behind by younger more progressive opponents. He probably finds the company a little tough in all but the lowest level hunter contests.
ARDNACLANCY was held form two out, followed home by ATHOSS who progressed to threaten approaching the last at which point the petrol ran out.
BUCKSTRUTHER looks held at this level and finished sixth, a place in front of GUN SMITH who has ability to win a similar race if he didn’t treat the fences with such contempt.
CHERRYLAND led for the first half of the race but struggled in the final mile.
SILK PARASOL was in touch to three out but then struggled as did KNOW THE ROPES.
HARWOOD DALE, THATSTHEREASONWHY and DYSTONIA’S REVENGE were pulled up and look forlorn hopes at this level.
8.00 2m 4½f Class 4 Novices’ Chase
LOGANS RUN won well enough, staying on gamely after taking up the running two out. His jumping look sound enough and he has possibilities under a penalty.
DIAVOLERIA ran respectably on her chasing debut, staying on well after challenging at the last. She’s another well capable of picking up a run of the mill event.
BLUE SHARK led until two out. He stayed in the hunt but though keeping on couldn’t raise his game on the flat. This was an improvement on recent efforts and could be a sign that his confidence level is higher.
CHARMING KNIGHT was disappointing and beaten going to three out, eventually pulled up.
GRAND AWARD ran no sort of race and was tailed off when pulled up three out.
8.30 3m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
The winner of this could be one with a serious future. THYNE FOR DEPLOY is an impressive chasing type and it wouldn’t surprise me if he reached decent heights over the bigger obstacles. He came clear with ears pricked and seemingly a stack left in hand. Pop Michael Hourigan’s charge on a list of horses to follow.
INNER STEEL kept on for second and will find less tough opponents than the winner.
GRAND ZOUKI was held from the top of the hill. LITTLE WIZARD, a chasing type who has had an interrupted career, was outpaced from two out. He should show up better when his size and stamina are put to more use.
KELSO – Wednesday May 5th
Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)
2.05 2m 6½f 0-95 Selling Handicap Chase
This event attracted a field full of moderate and downright slow northern handicappers who run against each other on a regular basis.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE isn’t often a winner, but can set a decent gallop. If not put under too much pressure there’s always a chance he’ll hold on and he did that with something to spare here, stayed on well after being kicked on form two out. He’s won at Cartmel and might be worth a glance there in similar company if he can blaze a trail.
INSTANT SHOT chased the leader from three out without getting to him. He runs some fair races and Jim Goldie should be able to coax a win out of him in a weak event.
SMART MAN was held from the last, but did show up a good deal better than of late. He is a previous winner and this run suggests he isn’t a back number.
RED DYNAMITE chased the leader from two out but gave way from the last and has run to this sort of level a number of times.
SKIPPING CHAPEL couldn’t raise his game sufficiently from two out. I thought he might get involved in the finish of a race like this, but he has proved very weak at the business end.
CASH ON FRIDAY plugged on from two out.
REASONABLY SURE gave way from two out and seems soft when asked for an effort in the latter stages.
BULLIES ACRE was up against it from out of the weights and raced in rear.
KALMO BAY is sliding down the weights with no sign of revival.
SEA COVE and SIERRA PEAK were well beaten.
VIEL GLUCK is frustrating and ran a poor race before being pulled up alongside WITNESS RUN, the latter adding another lousy performance to a lengthening list.
2.35 2m ½f 0-102 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
BEIDH TINE ANSEO saw off a moderate bunch in emphatic style, easing clear on the run-in. He progressed from a promising run at Ayr and might now be replicating his decent Flat form.
MOUNTSKIP kept on for second and lost nothing in defeat.
BARRON WATLASS has a mind of his own and can’t be trusted, running prominently before being held on the run from the last.
PICCOLO PRIDE chased the leaders but was held from two out.
3.05 3m 1f 0-128 Novices’ Handicap Chase
It’s difficult to judge the value of the form in this three runner event. GILSLAND didn’t jump particularly well but had enough in hand to hold his opponents on the flat. I’m not sure I’d be confident in a bigger field where his jumping might come under pressure.
HEEZ A STEEL made the winner pull out the stops and performed better than at Cheltenham where his jumping let him down.
GREENANDREDPARSON looked very ordinary on early evidence, but he’s starting to get the hang of things now. He stuck to his guns on the flat if just outpointed. The small field may have helped him to settle into a jumping rhythm.
3.40 2m 6 ½ f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Rose Dobbin had a struggle during the 2009-2010 season. Her horses were nowhere near right most of the time, including JURISDICTION who had shown early promise. The stable’s fortunes have improved in recent weeks and Jurisdiction proved he is back to his best in emphatic style under Graham Lee going clear from two out. It might be worth keeping an eye on Dobbin’s runners as handicappers might be under weighted and many runners over priced.
MINI BECK has run some decent races but regularly finds one too good. He never threatened the leader but kept on for second. He seems to run honestly enough and it would be nice if his trainer could find him a small race in his twilight years.
PADDINGTON BOB kept on at one pace from two out. The increase in trip seemed to serve him well enough. SAMIZDAT on the other hand didn’t seem to see out the trip, leading until the eighth and weakening from two out.
The rest are a poor bunch.
4.20 3m 4f 0-108 Handicap Chase
MINOUCHKA has steadily improved of late and got a deserved win as she stayed on from the elbow to win here. It was a last racecourse appearance for Simon Shirley-Beavon’s mare as she now goes to the paddocks and a date with Indian Danehill. I’m sure a few of us in these parts will keep an eye out for her ‘wee yins’ in the future.
SEIZE is at his best on quick ground at went well here, taking the lead two out but being run out of it in the final furlong. He is in good heart and should pick up a race this spring/summer.
RECKLESS VENTURE once again got into a challenging position but typically got raced out of it after the last.
ROSIE ALL OVER ran well until weakening after the last. She seems best when able to dominate and could never do that here in a well contested event.
OLD NODDY, blinkered for the first time, raced prominently until weakening approaching the last.
WINDY HILLS was tailed off from three out and has shown very little form of late.
PRINCE OF SLANE was well out of the weights, struggled a mile out and was pulled up.
4.55 3m 1f Class Hunters’ Chase
BENBEOCH, arguably unlucky in a stronger race here earlier this year, found a weak contest to his liking here. He came clear from the last to win with a large amount in hand.
Pointing winner LADY BRIG was not disgraced in second though well outpointed by Benbeoch. She just pipped another winning pointer, SILVER PALOMINO in the race for second.
CHERRYLAND was held up for a change but it didn’t save anything for the latter stages and he was well beaten again.
TEMPLE GREEN made his Rules debut was in touch but made a mistake at three out and then came down two out.
WHAT A CLICHÉ improved to the fourteenth but was soon in trouble and pulled up before the last. He has been placed twice in points and has better chances in that weaker sphere.
5.25 2m 2f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle
Two came clear from two out with MASKA PONY working hard but ultimately successfully to see off ANNIBALE CARO. The former has been frustrating but showed resolution here, while the latter has proved before that he goes well on quick ground.
PAINTED SKY was a one paced third and looks held by the handicapper.
It was encouraging to see that NEVSKY BRIDGE has recovered from a horrible fall at Hexham. The front too had too much pace for her.
I couldn’t take too much encouragement from the others but it might be worth noting WENSLEYDALE WEB who went passably well until outpaced going to two out. Martin Todhunter will presumably have an event lined up at Cartmel at the end of the month.