As discussed yesterday the trainer's horses had been running as if in need of it - some very much - but she enjoyed two first-time out winners amongst her trio, effectively putting to bed that argument.
However, I would probably add an asterix to that comment, as both winners were given sympathetic rides - suggesting their fitness wasn't necessarily assured. Unlike at Carlisle 24 hours earlier.
They were off the mark in the first with Cobajayisland, a six-year-old who certainly didn't appear fully tuned up for what turned out to be a weak event.
Two non-runners, and two that fell in front while still going well meant it was a race that didn't take much winning in the end, and with Cobajayisland beating the solid yardstick Carlanstown close home the assessor can be fairly confident about his work here. Nonetheless, the winner can undoubtedly improve on this.
|My first trip to lovely Hexham in a few years|
This left Brother Scott in front and he had not been asked for his effort when dislodging his young partner two out. He sweated up again but nowhere near as badly as at Sedgefield last time and although his stamina was taken on trust he should have been involved in the finish. His turn should come, too.
Clondaw Knight was undoubtedly the star of the day but after some heavy morning support drifted out to 5/2 on the off in an eminently winnable race. Now he looked really fit for his seasonal debut, making the market all the more surprising. I thought there'd be an avalanche of cash for the 140k purchase, so maybe punters had become 'wise' to the Russell factor.
Despite a few minor errors, the six-year-old picked up Qoubilai on the run-in as one might expect he should, although it wasn't quite as easy as it might have been and he is another that must surely come on a ton for this. You'd hope so for the owner's sake as he looks to recoup some of that outlay.
Mister Wall Street was the mover in the market and reports had it that he had been laid out for this...and he did look fitter than last time. But he ran no sort of race at all and may need to dominate from the front.
Sergeant Pink looked well but may be feeling the effects of a long summer, while Allanard ran on into third and looked as though he'd improve for it.
In between races paddock pick Be My Present landed a small touch for connections who had paid 7,800 for the mare out of Rose Dobbin's yard. She was lean and fit as a flea for this mares race and against modest opposition the referee would have stopped this before the final bell.
Bless The Wings finally got back to winning ways contrary to the market indicators suggesting victory was far from his mind. An entire blog could be written about the Straightline Construction boys and it's impossible to know if this was a late off-course job, but I was told they were all backing Luctor Emergo, their other one in the race. Who knows.
|Clondaw Knight stripped fit for his return to action|
The maiden hurdle was a three-horse race with Ride The Range and Itchy MScratchy <sic> stripping fittest, with Russell's Uisge Beatha a nice strapping type who would be better for it.
Ride The Range was very lean, if not a little on the light side for his return, and while he may win again I would question whether he'll stay in this form for too long. Uisge Beatha was just run out of it after going very freely through the race, and he's highly ranked in the yard so this was a good starting point.
D McCain's Itchy MScratchy was very fit if a little dry in his coat and while he capsized two out I felt he was just starting to lose ground and it goes down as another disappointment for the yard, which is not firing at present.
Russell bagged the treble via Shine A Diamond in a very weak 2m handicap chase in which there was no pace in the race beforehand - G Watters wisely took matters in his own hands and it was pretty much game over from there. The beast doesn't have much scope but is going the right way after a slow start over fences, and he should be kept to the smaller tracks.
Milan Royale did this column a favour last year and he looked well if not 100% fit for his return, and he landed some each-way support chasing the winner home. His profile suggests he may not back this up, but he is up to winning another small race.
I stayed for the bumper as the form horse Luccumbe Down was of interest so I was keen to see if there was anything to beat it. It didn't appear so with the penalised Coozan George clearly in need of the run and while J Ewart's Dreamisi was fit enough and Russell's The Cobbler Swayne a nice sort for the future, the way was clear for J Quinn's rather plain youngster to gain a deserved success.
This week it's Sedgefield, then Wetherby.