Thursday 20 December 2018

Hexham - December 20

A bonus meeting for the track with half price entry plus free tea and mince pie...what more could you ask for? Well, a winner would have been nice.

Well Above Par was an impressive winner here last week but was one of several coming back for more and it involved a bit of guesswork as to whether they'd 'bounce'.

The six-year-old looked ok although not quite as fresh as eight days ago and I thought he looked very laboured in the early stages of the race.

It's to his credit that he was able to lead over the last, but was eventually outstayed by multiple Point winner Glittering Love, who hadn't shown much under rules and just about had enough in hand.

Compact and lacking scope, I wouldn't bet the winner could jump round a stiffer track, and she made many small errors here. Well Above Par had a tough race and should be due a 5-6 week break.

Outnumbered again looked really weak while Emerald Chieftain is a moderate looker, and didn't show enough to follow in the short term.

The much-touted Highland Hunter was all the rage to shake off a penalty and this scopey, good moving sort duly obliged in taking style, with course winner Stoney Rover apparently running his race behind.

Toi Storey closed the gap on Stoney Rover and once again showed enough to overcome his diminutive stature and land a novice handicap somewhere in the north this winter.

Niven was a new name to conjure with having joined P Kirby from Ireland, and this sturdy individual looked in good order with the size and strength to deal with conditions.

It may not have been the strongest event, with Bulkov probably better around the likes of Sedgefield, but the winner did what he needed to for an in-form yard.

Disappointment of the race was Kelka, strongly touted by the owner on the day, but became the latest Jefferson exile to flop for her new handler. It must be said the horse looked in good order, not as excitable as previously, and frankly the only plausible excuse was the ground.

Catchamat is down to a rating of 112 and this thorough stayer, a multiple Point winner, should be poised to win races now having shown much better form over timber a couple of winters ago, shaping okay in third.

Misfits was a short priced favourite eight days on from going down in a driving finish and he didn't look especially happy to be back in the prelims, and was another to have run below last week's form in a poor staying handicap.

Achill Road Boy was surprisingly easy to back with plenty in his favour but he's not a very likeable individual and put in a bit of a surly effort, never consenting to land a blow. Again, he ran in atrocious ground a fortnight ago and at least two to have run on that day have flopped since.

Turtle Cask is a rotund animal and has never been easy to win with, and not for the first time chucked it away after leading at the final flight.

The surprise of the race was the Hammond-trained Dontdelay who looked fit from a lengthy absence and the feeling was backed up by some market support at long odds. Trying to second-guess the yard is a costly exercise but sure enough the ex-Irish beast showed plenty of enthusiasm to re-take the lead on the run-in. Towerburn bombed out and may have bounced.

The handicap chase saw three re-oppose from last week and despite being involved in a ding-dong battle that day McGinty's Dream was a warm order and ran a similar race, full of verve and jumping endeavour to run them ragged. A horse clearly on good terms with himself.

The two others from last week, Royal Salute and Hattons Hill, looked fine but had nothing left from a mile out. Late Date was another to flop following a recent win.

The finale saw Sporting Press, a big chasing type, made hot favourite in the face of an out-of-form field but he now has questions to answer with only one Musselburgh bumper win to his name. It's worth noting he was a four-time beaten favourite in Points and he clearly has issues after stopping at the top of the hill.

Mountain Hawk came clear with Manamite, the former leaving his recent Wetherby form a long way behind, finding the Haslam-trained winner too hard to handle after the last; he too raising his game significantly in the process. It probably didn't take much winning as the 11-length third is a modest looking sort that looked in need of the run.

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