Saturday June 5th
An excellent Derby Day’s racing at two northern tracks has been cast into the background somewhat. Course commentator Dougie Fraser failed to turn up at Hexham and there has been no trace of him since then, despite searches of the area around his flat in Leeds. While we all hope that Dougie is alive and well, if hiding away for some reason, the time that has elapsed since he was last seen suggest something more sinister. I’m sure all readers join me in hoping that the story has a happy ending.
Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)
A large crowd turned up for a well endowed card at the East Lothian venue in glorious sunny weather.
2.05 5f 0-81 Handicap
LOST IN PARIS, generally progressive if setting aside a last run where she went off too quick, won the opening sprint very nicely. Having disputed all the way she asserted from the furlong pole and looks suited by the sharp five furlongs here.
INGLEBY STAR, back to form after a couple of disappointing efforts, ran on for second and RIDLEY DIDLEY continued in decent form if held in the final furlong.
2.35 5f Class 2 Stakes
This looked a strong contest and the first two seem Ascot candidates. EXCEL BOLT rallied near to the line to get back up having been headed by COCKTAIL CHARLIE. The time was a shade quicker than that of the first race, and allowing for weight-for-age a rating of 100+ would be reasonable for both the first two. That puts them well into Pattern class. FIFTH AVENUE was back in third and this filly is worth noting for future runs, though she’s more exposed than the first two.
3.10 1m 4f 100yds 0-104 3yo Handicap for the ‘Edinburgh Cup’
The main event, run in a course record time, looked to throw up another Royal Ascot prospect in HARRIS TWEED. He led, was driven out to pull clear for what was eventually a comfortable win and is coming along in leaps and bounds.
SING SWEETLY stayed on for second and is that the right end of the handicap. Given that this race was full of progressive types then a second place is of great merit and it will only be a matter of time before she picks up a race, perhaps suited by a stiffer track or slightly further.
CORSICA was up with the leaders all the way but off top weight, 16lbs clear of the next best, couldn’t respond sufficiently in the final two furlongs. I did wonder after his Hamilton effort whether he might go for the Queen’s Vase, a target for staying types who are in the ‘twilight zone’ in handicaps.
Behind those, OPERA GAL was always thereabouts but tapped for pace in the final two furlongs. She will finds easier opportunities, as will BOWDLER’S MAGIC and ROCK A DOODLE DOO, both putting in good work toward the end.
3.40 5f 0-99 Handicap
HAMISH MCGONAGALL has been in the mix in all his races this season. He was quickly prominent from a wide draw and led enough in hand to run on for victory in the final furlong. Given his draw position I suspect this form may be a few pounds better than it first appears.
Dandy Nicholls is never far away in these events and his STRIKING SPIRIT ran on to take a close second.
INGLEBY LADY stuck on for third, a good effort over what would be a sharp five furlongs for her. She looks well capable of recording another win stepped back up to six furlongs.
MASAMAH showed a lot of early speed, but had to give way approaching the final furlong. That being said, he did stick on for fourth place which in itself was a decent effort.
VALERY BORZOV was left flat-footed at the start, which was curtains in this sort of event, but he put in some good work late on. Better at six furlongs, he’s worth keeping on the right side when stepped back up in trip.
4.15 1m 1f Class 4 Selling Stakes
FREMEN made it six wins from six for the season with a typically determined effort in the seller. Judged on ratings he had it to do again nominally better opponents, but ultimately it was willingness that counted and he kept responding up the straight.
MOUNT HADLEY found the winner had more resolution, while the third KING’S POINT probably performed best of the beaten horses given that he was lowest rated.
LANG SHING is better than this level though doesn’t look particularly inclined to show it and was a disappointing fifth.
4.50 1m 4f 100yds 0-80 Handicap
JUST LILLE bounced back to form here in a first time visor, staying on under pressure. Time constraints meant I have been unable to write my reports as soon as I’d like, and so she followed up in the Lanark Bell at Hamilton before I could get this piece on line.
ANTIGUA SUNRISE could make no impression from two out though performed soundly, while ANNIBALE CARO made progress up the straight to finish third but is essentially frustrating.
5.25 7f 30yds 0-78 3yo Handicap
JEANNIE GALLOWAY raced prominently and showed determination to hold on once hitting the front in the final furlong.
ENGULF was well backed following a second in a Newbury maiden. He was going best two furlongs out but didn’t respond as expected, though he still looked a bit green to me and there may well be better to come in time. He kept on well enough close home.
AMENABLE led until headed at the furlong pole and couldn’t raise his game from there.
HEXHAM – Saturday June 5th
Going – Good to Firm
In the absence of Dougie Fraser the AtTheRaces ‘commentary’ was provided by Matt Chapman. Your correspondent decided he would be better served by turning down the sound!
2.15 2m 4½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
MAJESTIC MAYHEM was a 24,000 Euros buy after winning a couple of Irish points and a Wexford bumper. He doesn’t look a bad purchase on this evidence, coming well clear in the straight. A follow up win looks highly likely.
SIR FRANK had every chance but used up his energy climbing the hill after which he weakened to finish a tired second. This was different to the tight Cartmel circuit and his stamina limit was broken here.
BIRNIES BOY finished a moderate third and the rest were well beaten.
2.45 2m 4½f Class 4 Novices’ Chase
BAILY STORM seemed to have a straight forward opportunity here but was made to work very hard by a second performing to his best. That being said, he showed determination to hold on.
SIERRA VICTOR has clearly had problems, but returned to his best to push the winner all the way. He would win a handicap in this form, but doesn’t always produce two similar efforts in a row.
MISS SUNFLOWER, a pointing winner making her Rules debut, ran well until giving way from the last.
THE GREEN HAT was left behind down the far side and needs further to show the little ability he has.
ELLANDSHE lost touch after three out but plugged on to the finish in his own time.
3.20 3m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase
HARRY FLASHMAN isn’t the most reliable jumper, but he got his act together here. Up with the pace as suits him, he responded to urging approaching the last and ran on for victory.
TOT OF THE KNAR was going well three out but the winner had too much for her in the straight.
WESTERN GALE was held form two out while CASH ON FRIDAY weakened on the run to the last.
PANAMA AT ONCE jumped sketchily and lost touch from the thirteenth and pulled up before four out.
GUERILLA took on interest and was pulled up before the tenth.
3.50 2m ½f 0-141 Handicap Hurdle
The best quality hurdle of Hexham’s season was won in impressive style by INVENTOR. He led before the last, made a good leap and came clear on the flat.
SANTA’S SON has made a move to Charles Pogson, an unheralded trainer but one of my favourites. Ridden by Pogson’s son Adam, Santa’s Son put up a decent effort here, staying on under pressure for second. The stable get a decent return from a bunch of mainly moderate animals and it wouldn’t surprise me if they coax a handicap hurdle out of this one.
AKARSHAN plugged on for third, holding DANISH REBEL, who is swapping between flat and hurdles, and LOS NADIS who looks held off a mark of 126.
4.25 2m 4½f Hunters’ Chase
There were problems with the ATR feed for this race so I’m working off the race comments for this last hunter chase of the spring.
ARDNACLANCY followed up his Cartmel win by taking the notable scalp of Take The Stand. Having been outpaced two out he rallied up the hill, led at the last and was pushed out. A prolific winning pointer he has time on his side to pick up more wins under Rules.
TAKE THE STAND was dropped in trip following his decent third at Stratford. The trip doesn’t play to his strengths and he was tapped for pace by the in form winner. He does retain his enthusiasm and I wouldn’t discount a return next year at the age of 15.
PEN GWEN has run some fair races in hunter company and kept on to take third.
THINK LUCKY plugged on for fourth, well held, and isn’t one to rely on.
RAKERIN LAD was outpaced form four out beating home SCOTCH WARRIOR, who was in the lead three out to two out but then weakened up the hill, and VICTOR who weakened approaching two out.
BOW SCHOOL is plenty capable but his jumping can be sloppy at times. Having belted the second he decanted his rider when hitting the eighth.
PIRATE D’ESTRUVAL isn’t up to this level and was well behind when unseating four out.
SENDEED weakened three out and was pulled up, while BENWELL was tailed off on the final circuit, his jockey calling it a day before the last.
4.55 2m ½f Class 4 3yo Hurdle
The opening juvenile hurdle of the season was won by David Pipe with LUCKY QUAY. He will presumably compete as similar events come along and won well enough.
SANSILI was a one paced second just ahead of ANCHORAGE BAY and MR MOHICAN. I wouldn’t be falling over myself to back any of those three in the immediate future.