HEXHAM – Sunday March 27th
Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)
Normal instructions for Hexham are to wrap up warm, but the weather came up warm and sunny for the first spring meeting at High Yarridge. Many thanks to the ladies on the ‘passes entrance’ who helped arrange badges for two of us.
I made a quick re-acquaintance with the Hexham surroundings, confirming that if you want creature comforts this is not necessarily the place to be, but for an excellent view of racing there aren’t many better.
2.10 2m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle – Div 1 (Class 4)
The race favoured those running close to a moderate pace. Those coming form behind weren’t able to get into the contest and the first had been up there all the way.
Chunkily built FLINTY BAY was always going well. He didn’t help himself by making a mess of two out and stumbling, but forged clear up the straight.
BUNRATTY, a big gelding who doesn’t look one who will do anything too quickly, raced up with the pace and kept on once headed. I wouldn’t imagine he would want the ground much faster.
Sprinter URSUS kept on from midfield for third though well held. Paddy Aspell felt he didn’t settle early on so the third place looks creditable. His chances would seem at their best on sharp tracks with quick ground.
Irish challenger VIVALDI was disappointing, as were all of James Lambe’s runners on the day. He never got to the leaders and couldn’t make any impression under pressure. He’s better than this and wasn’t suited by the way the race was run.
Hurdles debutant TOWER made some late progress but there was no promise from the remainder of a moderate bunch.
2.40 2m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle – Div 2 (Class 4)
The stronger of the two divisions of this event and run 9 seconds quicker than the first heat.
Once again it paid to be prominent, the winner ATTAGLANCE leading from start to finish and pulling clear in the closing stages. He was outpaced over two miles at Bangor but the stiffer track here helped and a return to a longer distance as he own over 2m 3f at Market Rasen. He might be good enough to pick up another novice event under a double penalty.
BELOW THE DECK chased the leaders and kept on for second, but he’s a nine-year-old inconsistent maiden.
SENDIYM kept on from two out though never threatening. Post race Graham Lee expressed the opinion that he may have a questionable attitude.
IT’S A MANS WORLD came from a long way back to finish fourth despite making a hash of both three out and two out. A modest miler on the flat this does at least suggest he might be competitive in lowly company over hurdles.
James Lambe’s IMPERIAL BREEZE never got into the race. Howard Johnson trained HOBSON’S BAY faded up the hill and seems to be going the wrong way.
3.10 3m 1f Northern Racing Club Beginner’s Chase(Class 4)
This was an uncompetitive event, won by a gelding that has shown attitude problems in the past. Wearing the colours of popular veteran Mister McGoldrick, FINAL VETO battled well to win this having appeared held approaching the last. A fair chase debut but he’s not guaranteed to repeat the form.
SILENT CLICHÉ made most of the running but came under pressure on the flat and was caught close home. The impression was he may have idled, but on looking at him in the unsaddling area and listening to connections he appeared to have given it his best.
NICK THE SILVER, a hurdles winner in 2005, ran quite well for an unsuccessful pointer. He was outpaced from three out.
CITY OF DORAL added to the list of Lambe stable disappointments, left behind from three out.
QBUSTER looked tubby and couldn’t keep up in the final mile, while PAN PAN, well related but only an occasional visitor to the racetrack, lost touch at the thirteenth and was soon pulled up.
3.40 2m 4½f Roe Deer Handicap Hurdle (0-122)
A prize of £2927 for the ‘feature event’ on the card reflects how difficult it is to put up decent prize money these days. That being said, the low rewards didn’t stop a full house of runners on the day.
CHARINGWORTH has struggled a bit over fences of late, but showed he retains ability with a late rattle on the flat to take this event.
BOLLIN RUTH could be set to pick up a spring prize on the Scottish and Northern circuit. Racing handily, she took up the running two out and stayed on only to be denied in the final hundred yards.
TEXAS HOLDEM ran another excellent race to finish a close second. Having reached a handicap mark of 126 in 2006, he was off the track for a couple of long breaks but has been admirably consistent this term. He stayed on from two out but just couldn’t get to the first two.
TEENAGE IDOL, wearing light bandages in front, challenged from two out but couldn’t raise his game on the flat.
STICK TOGETHER ran respectable race back over hurdles after a two month rest. He was in the firing line approaching the last but then gave way.
GOLFER’S CROSSING, raise 11lbs and up in class, found the combination too much to overcome.
4.10 3m Red Fox N.H. Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
Winning chaser EYRE SQUARE looked a cut above these in the paddock and proved as much on the course. Always going well, he came clear down the home straight to win with authority. He’s relatively lightly raced and there could just be a little improvement left.
Twice a course winner, MAJESTIC MAYHEM lost nothing in following home the winner under14lbs of penalties.
The unsaddling area owners’ love in that followed SADDLER’S SECRET’s third place suggests that connections weren’t setting their sights high. She plodded on through the field having been behind three out. Her achievement does at least suggest that, for some owners, prize money matters little compared with the thrill of getting into the first three.
LUA DE ITAPOAN chased the leaders three out but struggled in the straight and lost third on the flat. DRUM BUSTIBLE pulled up to end a dismal afternoon for James Lambe. Staying chaser BAY CHERRY showed little sign of a revival, weakening up the hill to finish in sixth place, while his stable mate SENOR ALCO stumbled and unseated at the fifth flight.
4.40 3m 1f Primary Websites Handicap Chase (0-115)
This was a competitive event for its level and went right down to the wire.
MORGAN BE finished a tired third in the Eider having been pulled up after two out, rested a while and then sent over the last to gain some prize money. He showed no ill effects, challenging two out and battling determinedly to hold the challenge of Lockstown on the flat. Assuming he doesn’t go up too much for this victory he would get into the Highland National at Perth in late April and would have a chance assuming the ground doesn’t get too fast.
LOCKSTOWN was disappointing at Carlisle but came right back to his best here. He was a bit outpaced no the downhill run to three out, but picked up nicely from that point and made the winner pull out the stops.
CAMDEN GEORGE is a frustrating sort who has ability but doesn’t win all that often. He had every chance at the last but couldn’t raise his game on the flat.
DAWN RIDE, never going in the Eider, made a bit of late headway to pick up fourth while AGHILL came from tailed off down the far side to stay on for fifth place.
OVERLADY was in with every chance until weakening quickly before the last. She probably needs softer going but hasn’t hit the heights of her 2009 form.
FIFTYFIVE DEGREES raced prominently until dropping away from two out. He’s been out of sorts this year.
IT’S A CLASSIC made the long trip from East Garston but struggled in the second half of the race was pulled up four out. He’s 11lbs higher than his last winning mark and struggled in this company.
COPPER’S GOLD went up 10lbs for winning a weak race last time and a mark of 109 makes life tough. He raced up with the pace until weakening quickly two out and pulled before the last.
BALLYMACDUFF ran no sort of race, SOTOVIK jumped sketchily and TEERIE EXPRESS made no impact from halfway, the trio being pulled up.
5.10 2m ½f Hexham For Tourists Maiden Open NH Flat – Div 1
I suspect this was the weaker of two bumper heats. BOSTON BOB, third on his previous bumper outing, looked very fit and was driven out for victory. This Irish pointer cost £150,000 which looks very steep, though he has scope about him to make into a chaser.
THIRTY DAYS OUT showed promise in a decent bumper at Kelso last time and stayed on well enough for second. Donald Whillans should place this one to advantage once going jumping.
BURGUNDY BEAU made a fair enough debut, racing prominently but one paced in the straight. He has enough about him to suggest Willie Amos can coax a race out of him in time.
James Ewart’s RIVERSIDE POPPET looks to need time and more of a stamina test. He was well behind four furlongs out but kept on to take fourth place.
5.10 2m ½f Hexham For Tourists Maiden Open NH Flat – Div 2
Karen Mclintock specialises in bumper horses and took her record to 12/52 in bumpers since 2007. BYGONES SOVEREIGN, benefitting from a couple of decent previous runs, was kicked on six furlongs and came clear down the straight for an impressive victory. Although McLintock will have focussed on a bumper win, this one is well enough related to have a decent future over hurdles.
VICTOR HEWGO was well held but stayed on from two out. He had the remainder well beaten off and should pick up a race.
HIDDEN HARMONY, bringing forward only moderate form from the pointing field, chased the leader in vain from four furlongs out. He did give a glimmer of encouragement for the future.
CAPITAL VENTURE was another James Ewart runner staying on late and will be better suited by a stamina test.
AHHDEHKEN, a nice jumping type, couldn’t match the principals from two out but has enough about him to make up into a chaser.
Best in the paddock was TUTCHEC. A fine big grey gelding, he still has a frame to fill into. He was well outpaced down the far side, but as a long term project he is worth keeping an eye on since there is plenty of encouragement in his breeding.