Monday 20 April 2015

Hexham - Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

I guess the dog days of winter are behind us but the burning embers of the National Hunt season are still burning and we were set for an enjoyable day at Hexham with the warm sun beating down on a healthy crowd.

It looked a difficult card but it turned out to be one of those days where we couldn't do a thing wrong - which of course happens when you decide to keeps the stakes small.

The opener looked a penalty kick for the chasing type Captain Hox, who was put in his place by the mighty Cyrus Darius here last time. He didn't exactly hose up but did what he had to for odds-on backers.

I had already decided to make the maiden hurdle the race to get stuck into after watching the vids of the last two runs of Definite Soldier, who looked primed to go in under B Hughes.

Jolly Alto Des Mottes was very much one to oppose but I wasn't able to secure much of a price on the eventual winner, as the market eventually brought them together. I really favoured the Irish-trained horse and should have made it banker material, but on inspection there was a live runner further down in Chanceofa Lifetime.

Now, let's be honest we're not going to get rich following the V Thompson horses over a cliff, but this looks to be the best he's got and looked the real McCoy beforehand. It was noted in dispatches at Sedge last time behind the decent Major Ivan and this step up was all in his favour.

He ran a mighty race under Miss Todd, without getting to the front two. He'll go over fences before long and may be one to look out for, but sadly the cat may now be out the bag as he's run to 105 at least here.

There weren't as many runners as I originally thought as Boston Blue looked unfit while Court Of Law and The Last Leg are not ones to be getting excited about.

Slightly frustrated, we moved on to the handicap chase and after some deliberation whittled it down to Civil Unrest and Persian Herald.

Civil Unrest: Looked fit. No bet. Go figure
With neither horse carrying much baggage from the winter months I felt they would be able to be involved despite the promise of company up front. However, it was a muddling market in which there was little support for the Ewart-trainer Civil Unrest, who looked a picture of health beforehand.

I decided to see how things developed in running and it was soon clear I had been on the right path...the new odds making it difficult to play, especially with the puzzlingly punted Troubled soon showing the effects of his run at Carlisle.

The hod should have been full to the brim and there was even more cause for regret in the next when the outstanding Central Flame landed the hat-trick under Cath Walton.

Much has been made of the lady amateurs on this page and the girl Walton is one of the weakest there is, merely a passenger when this one hosed up at Carlisle two run back. I was massively concerned she would get outpaced down the back and find herself with too much to do.

Again I waited for the in-running market to develop and began to nibble away when the field got away from the eventual winner. Tekthelot, the well-backed favourite on the back of beating trees last time, looked all over the winner but like every other race on the day things just fell into place.

We managed to take the cash this time but nowhere as much we liked. A small punt went west on Morning Royalty, who looked well up for it beforehand and has become a well-handicapped animal. But he ran no sort of race and is one to put a line through for now.

Resolute Reformer was the standout in the stayers chase in which every plodder in the north showed up for. I kept going down the list but there was nothing to put against it, and although I was happy to sit it out the market got it spot on. Ordinary northern form at best with the second and third providing the benchmarks.

I skipped the hunters as they looked much of a muchness - it was slightly disappointing that Ganbei looked unfit and was surprised when they backed into a very short 7/4. It looked a real slowcoach.

The bumpers promised to be informative and this is one part of the game that has proved surprisingly fruitful this term. When Dad used to take me racing we'd always get a flyer before the finale and I tended to carry on this trait in later years.

Cloudy Dream: Payback time for the Sedge defeat
However, we've had a great time in the flat races and Cloudy Dream is the latest winner to go on the board. I wanted to be against Australasia, who I knew to be a big sturdy sort and pretty one paced at that.

I've just searched on the blog and I remember that Jefferson's was strongly fancied at Sedge earlier in the year, but the horse threw in a stinker on bad ground when the yard was very quiet. This was a different kettle of fish and looked a pretty solid bet, although there were one or two runners.

The Hamiltons' Nuts Well is a half to Runswick Royal and looks sure to be alright - a nice sort still backward at this stage - while Jaslamour and Ange Des Malberaux also looked okay.

With that behind us the second division was harder to sort out although the jolly Bengo was another one to oppose having looked a big, slow baby of a horse at Donny. He didn't look any different here and was soon on the back foot.

Betancourt was the course whisper and they backed it from 10s into 4s. He looked primed, a nice well made sort, although in the race it seemed Scu was overconfident about the horse's ability. Ewart's Limos was really nice and pretty forward, while Jefferson's Ryedale Racer is another likeable type although backward right now.

The winner was interesting. Emperor Sakhee had run well in a decent contest on debut before losing the plot prior to his next outing at Donny, where he got very wound up and ran no race.

He was much calmer in the prelims here with a hood on and it worked a charm, doing little wrong in the race and staying on pleasingly. Although he didn't carry my money, at least we got another jolly beat.

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