Race Meeting Reports - 2015 (2014/2013 reports here)
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Yarridge Heights were not for the feint hearted when Hexham Racecourse staged an extra National Hunt meeting as a result of a scheduled meeting at Newcastle being cancelled to allow construction work to progress on their new all weather track.
With a temperature hovering around just five degrees, a biting wind and frequent squally showers only the most ardent racegoers ventured from the warmth of the stands.
Having been deluged with more than sixty millimetres of rain in just a few days prior, it was to the great credit to the groundstaff, led by Head Groundsman Mark Cameron - photo left - that racing could go ahead, albeit in strength sapping, heavy going.
All six races on the card were sponsored by 188Bet and favourite followers were off to a profitable start in the first two contests.
The opening two mile Novices Hurdle was a stroll for Irish point to point winner Master Jake (4/11 favourite) - photo right - which made the long journey from Alcester, Warwickshire, along with jockey Ian Popham to record a facile eighteen length win which was sealed up the final hill.
This was the first Hexham win for trainer Dan Skelton. Second was Absolute (4/1) trained at Bingley by Sue Smith, ridden by Danny Cook.
Winning jockey Ian Popham was in the winner's enclosure again just twenty four hours later, this time at Cheltenham, where he rode Annacotty to a £91,000 victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The second race, a one mile seven and a half furlong Novices Limited Handicap Chase, was a much closer affair. 6/4 favourite Mossies Well, - photo left - making his debut over fences, trained by Sandy Thomson at Greenlaw, ridden by James Reveley got just a short head in front of Forward Flight (7/2) another second for Sue Smith ridden by Sean Quinlan.
The Bewley family, who are enthusiastic supporters at Hexham, made their presence felt in the next two races.
The Mares' Maiden Hurdle run over two and a half miles was won by Innis Shannon (5/1) - photo right - trained by George Bewley at Hawick and ridden by Jonathon Bewley.
Although her jumping has been suspect previously it all came right on the day as the winner led before the last and went on to record an impressive thirty length victory from the outsider in the field Louloumills (22/1) trained by Maurice Barnes at Brampton, ridden by Thomas Dowson.
The winning partnership from the first race, trainer Dan Skelton and jockey Ian Popham trailed in forty two lengths adrift with the 5/4 favourite Madame Trigger.
The Bewley family were in the winners' enclosure again after the next race, a two and a half mile Handicap Chase, when Callum Bewley, cousin of the previous winning jockey, triumphed on Tikkandemickey (11/2) - photo left - trained by Raymond Shiels at Jedburgh.
Followers of "horses for courses" collected as this was the fourth Hexham success for the winner, the first three being over the hurdle course.
Trainer Sue Smith recorded her third runner up of the meeting with 9/2 joint favourite Clan William ridden by Sean Quinlan which was eighteen lengths adrift.
The gruelling going was taking its toll as half of the eight runner field were pulled up.
The unrelenting wind, hail and rain showers continued as eight runners went to post for the longest race on the card, a Handicap Hurdle over almost three miles.
Not surprisingly it was another hard slog with just three runners completing the course.
"Horses for courses" was again the key as Native Optimist (11/4), - photo right - trained locally by Sheena Walton, ridden by Catherine Walton defied top weight of eleven stone twelve, to break clear of the other two remaining runners before the last obstacle, to record an impressive victory by twenty two lengths from Newyearsresolution (10/1) trained at Morpeth by Simon Waugh, ridden by Miss A. Waugh.
The winner had already recorded two course and distance wins this year on good ground and proved equally competent in the mud.
In gathering gloom the final race, a Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race over two miles resulted in favourite backers going home happy when Lake View Lad (6/5 favourite) - photo left - trained by N.W. Alexander at Kinneston, ridden by Stephen Mulqueen beat Egret (2/1) trained by Lucinda Russell, ridden by Derek Fox by six lengths.
There was a very pleasant ceremony during the afternoon when Hexham Racecourse, Marketing Director (at the time) Ron Woodman made a presentation of a print of the Course to Billy Brown in recognition of his one thousandth stewarding appointment.
Billy enjoyed twenty years as a jockey during which time he was the Northern Point To Point Champion in 1974.
He completed his Steward's training in 1989 beginning his long career the following year. He became a Stewards' Panel Chairman in 1995.
In addition to Hexham, Billy continues to officiate at Newcastle, Sedgefield, Carlisle and Redcar.
Billy, 69, confessed that although stewards can't possibly get every decision absolutely correct he has enjoyed every minute of his stewardship.
At the latest meeting at Yarridge Heights, favourite backers were counting the cost as early as the first race, a "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle over two miles, when one of the best backed favourites on the day Cloudy Dream, trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton, ridden by Brian Hughes could only finish third.
Sent off at 4/5 favourite, Cloudy Dream was well fancied to make a winning hurdle debut but was totally upstaged by Nuts Well (3/1) - photo left - trained at Newcastle Upon Tyne by Ann Hamilton, ridden by Graham Watters.
Nuts Well, second at Hexham a month ago, went one better to record a first win under rules by one length from outsider Waiting Patiently (18/1) trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn, ridden by James Reveley which went into many punters' notebooks as "one to watch."
Black and gold scarves were in evidence reminding older racegoers of Cheltenham Festival winner Mr. McGoldrick whose owner Richard Longley now runs the McGoldrick Racing Syndicates.
Syndicate members were in the winners' enclosure after the second race, The Rowlands "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle over two and a half miles, when Delusionofgrandeur (4/1) - photo right - trained by Sue Smith at Bingley, ridden by Danny Cook battled to the line beating evens favourite Ryedale Racer trained at Malton by Malcolm Jefferson, ridden by Brian Hughes, by just a head.
There was yet another blow for favourite backers in the Weatherbys Hamilton Novices' Handicap Chase run over three miles and nineteen fences.
Kalastar, the 6/4 favourite trained by Katie Scott at Galashiels, ridden by Mr. T. Hamilton was eight lengths behind the leader at the last fence and weakened further as Thatildee (15/2) - photo left - trained by Chris Grant at Billingham, ridden by Diarmuid O'Regan recorded a twenty two length victory.
Unluckiest runner in the race was Kilmainham (13/2) trained by Martin Todhunter at Penrith, ridden by Henry Brooke who was unseated at the last while disputing the lead.
This was trainer Chris Grant's first winner for six months.
The Weatherbys Bank Handicap Chase for conditional jockeys run over two and a half miles proved to be a punitive contest with just two of the eight runners finishing and the 4/1 favourite Willie Hall trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton, ridden by Callum Bewley being pulled up before the last fence.
The winner Verko (9/2) - photo right - was popular Middleham trainer Micky Hammond's only entry at the meeting. Very ably ridden by Finian O'Toole, Verko came home two and a quarter lengths ahead of bottom weight Trouble In Paris (8/1) trained by Barry Murtagh at Carlisle, ridden by Lorcan Murtagh.
The Hexham Racecourse Executive supported the Tyneside Samaritans charity by donating the two mile handicap hurdle in recognition of the charity's fiftieth anniversary.
The race proved to be a landmark for conditional jockey Ross Chapman from Consett who rode his first ever winner on Miss Joeking (5/1) - photo left - trained by Lucinda Russell at Kinross.
A delighted Ross was three lengths ahead approaching the last but his mount hit the obstacle hard. He managed to stay on board and finished half a length in front of yet another favourite, at 13/8, Gunner Lindley trained at Selkirk by Stuart Coltherd, ridden by Mr. S.W. Coltherd.
Despite the gathering gloom, there was a shining pointer in the racecard which led discerning punters to back Dusky Bob, - photo right - the 12/1 winner of the final handicap hurdle run over almost three miles.
The winner was the only entry on the card from the highly successful Brian Ellison stable at Malton.
Ridden by Danny Cook it was a two horse race at the last with heavily backed odds on favourite Bruce Almighty (4/6), ridden by Adam Nicol holding a narrow lead approaching the last obstacle. In the run in the top weight favourite, trained at Middleham by Philip Kirby, was headed by the winner Dusky Bob.
There were several reasons to celebrate at Hexham's latest National Hunt race meeting when the benign Autumnal weather attracted a large, enthusiastic crowd to Yarridge Heights.
Leading shopping centres Intu Metrocentre and Intu Eldon Square were celebrating their twentieth year of sponsorship in association with the Racecourse which is celebrating one hundred and twenty five years of racing at the Course.
There were also cheers from followers of the popular trainer-owner partnership of Brian Ellison and Phil Martin as they triumphed in three of the seven races on the card.
Seventy five runners from throughout the country and Ireland were declared and racing got underway with the Intu Metrocentre Platinum Mall Maiden Hurdle over two and a half miles.
Despite taking part in his first hurdles contest, Oscar Blue - photo right - enjoyed significant support to go off 6/4 favourite. The five year old was skilfully ridden by jockey Will Kennedy and in an exciting finish beat 28/1 outsider Fairy Theatre trained by Iain Jardine at Hawick, ridden by Brian Harding, by a neck to give the Ellison-Martin partnership the first of their hat-trick of winners.
Eleven runners went to post for the Intu Metrocentre Always A Winner Novices Handicap Chase over two and a half miles and fifteen fences.
In an incident packed contest there was a dramatic finale when Solway Legend (11/2) trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton, ridden by Brian Hughes appeared well in contention in second place. However, he unfortunately failed to negotiate the last fence leaving the way clear for leader Friendly Royal (4/1) - photo left/above - trained by Sue Smith at Bingley, ridden by Sean Quinlan to record a twelve length winning debut over fences from well fancied 7/4 favourite Present Flight trained by Lucinda Russell at Kinross, ridden by Derek Fox.
There was another winning start over obstacles in the Intu Eldon Square Heart Of The City Mares Novices' Hurdle over two miles.
Trainer Nicky Richards only had one runner on the day and it proved to be a winning one as Mardale (7/1), - photo right - ridden by Brian Harding and making a hurdle debut after being placed in four "bumper" flat races, gave backers a few anxious moments before taking control to finish strongly four lengths ahead of another Ellison-Martin runner Smart Talk (15/2) ridden by Will Kennedy.
Studying the form paid off for backers in the Intu Metrocentre Always A Great Day In Handicap Chase over two and half miles and fifteen fences.
Leading Course trainer Lucinda Russell from Kinross won the contest last year and her runner this year Present Lodger, ridden by Derek Fox, came with impressive credentials having won three times over fences last season and recording a first and third at Musselburgh and Newcastle respectively this season.
Favouritism at 100/30 was justified when Present Lodger moved into contention three out and, despite hitting the last obstacle, ran on impressively to record a four length victory from Brother Scott (7/2) trained by Sue Smith, ridden by Sean Quinlan.
Trainer Brian Ellison and owner Phil Martin were back in the winner's enclosure after the feature race, the Intu Eldon Square Alive After Five Handicap Hurdle over three miles.
Their runner, top weight Five In A Row (15/2), - photo left - ridden once again by Will Kennedy, is regarded as a promising chaser and connections were somewhat surprised by his hurdle success.
The victor was having his first outing for almost six months and, in an exciting finish, just one and a quarter lengths separated the first three with the winner staying on strongly to beat Hexham regular What A Steel (14/1) trained by Alistair Whillans at Hawick, ridden by Craig Nichol by three quarters of a length with Johnny Go (13/2) trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton, ridden by Brian Hughes just half a length away in third place.
There was another "top weight" victory in the penultimate race, the Intu Eldon Square World Class Service Handicap Chase over two miles and twelve fences.
The winner of the race last year, Shine A Diamond, trained by Lucinda Russell, ridden by Graham Watters went off 15/8 favourite but had to settle for second place.
Roc De Prince (7/1) trained by James Ewart at Langholm, ridden by Dale Irving wore blinkers for the first time and, although, on occasions, failed to jump fluently, managed to stay just ahead of the chasing second in the run in to record a two and a quarter length success.
The final "bumper," Intu Metrocentre Always A Safe Bet Intermediate National Hunt Flat race over two miles, was contested by conditional jockeys and amateur riders and was almost a foregone conclusion as Point The Way, - photo right - bought for £43,000 in May, ridden by Craig Gallagher, fully justified odds on favouritism of 4/9 to record an impressive one and a half length victory from Puddle Jumper (5/1) trained by Micky Hammond at Middleham, ridden by Finian O'Toole.
Point The Way gave trainer Brian Ellison and prolific owner Phil Martin their third win on the card.
Indian Summer at Yarridge Heights Race Meeting
An Indian Summer's day of warm sunshine and a cloudless sky greeted racegoers to Yarridge Heights for the latest National Hunt race meeting sponsored by loyal supporters Youngs RPS.
A special guest was Richard Farquhar who was visiting Hexham on a "Walking The Courses" - photo left - pilgrimage covering 2750 miles in thirteen months, during which time he will walk between and round the sixty racecourses in Britain.
The purpose of the challenge is to raise £1.4 million for two charities, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Racing Welfare by the time his marathon walk ends in April next year.
Racing enthusiast Richard was joined on his walk of the Hexham Course by jockeys Tom Scudamore, Richie McLernon, Aidan Coleman and other supporters and racegoers were delighted to donate to two very worthy charities.
The highs and lows of a jockey's career were highlighted in the first and third races which resulted in a double for conditional jockey Daragh Bourke.
Daragh had re-applied for his licence after being given a six month ban and it was only at 9.45 am. on the morning of the meeting that his licence was confirmed.
He wasted no time in the opening race on Harry's Whim (7/1) - photo right - trained by Maurice Barnes at Brampton who has remained a loyal supporter of Daragh throughout his ban.
The winner beat 15/8 favourite Heist trained by Patrick Griffin in Ireland, ridden by Brian Hughes by three and a quarter lengths.
Daragh Bourke's double was another victory for a Maurice Barnes trained horse.
The Racecourse Executive named the two mile maiden hurdle in recognition of charity walker Richard Farquhar's achievements and once again the Maurice Barnes - Daragh Bourke partnership triumphed over the short priced favourite.
Daragh held up his mount Quick Brew (5/2) - photo left - in midfield before taking the lead two hurdles out and going on to record an impressive nine length victory from Nuts Well (15/8 fav.) trained by Ann Hamilton at Newcastle Upon Tyne, another second for jockey Brian Hughes. This was Quick Brew's first success in twenty two starts.
Seven runners went to post for the Racing Welfare Selling Hurdle over two and a half miles.
The race developed into a three horse affair with Hexham regular What A Steel (15/8 fav.) - photo right - trained by Alistair Whillans, ridden by Craig Nichol battling it out to the line to beat Mark McNiff's Irish raider Sean Airgead (9/4), ridden by Derek Fox by three quarters of a length with bottom weight Teochew (8/1) trained at Guiseley by Richard Drake, ridden by David England just a neck away third.
In the subsequent auction there were no bids for the eleven year old winner.
Leading trainer David Pipe made an all too rare visit to Hexham from his Wellington, Somerset base and the seven hundred mile round trip proved worthwhile when Skylander, - photo left - making a chasing debut, justified 6/4 favouritism in the Marquis of Granby and Gordon Scorer Novices Limited Handicap Chase over two and a half miles and fifteen fences.
Under the guidance of leading jockey Tom Scudamore, Skylander made progress down the back straight and up the final hill going clear to finish strongly in the run-in to record a seven length victory from Brother Scott (3/1) trained by Sue Smith at Bingley, ridden by Diarmuid O'Regan.
Five runners went to post for the feature race of the day The Youngs RPS Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
Bottom weight Miss Macnamara (4/1) - photo right - trained by Martin Todhunter at Penrith, ridden by Henry Brooke was returning to hurdles after failing to impress recently on the flat and led from the last obstacle to record a three quarter length victory from top weight Willem (5/1) trained by David Pipe, ridden by Tom Scudamore.
Intriguingly, the winner, whose sire was Dylan Thomas, is named after Miss Caitlan Macnamara who married the celebrated writer and poet.
The penultimate race, a Handicap Chase over two and a half miles and fifteen fences, attracted just four runners and the field was reduced to three when Kai Broon unshipped jockey Tom Scudamore at the tenth fence.
Although hitting the last fence, victory by eight lengths went to Irish raider Mia's Anthem (11/8 fav.) - photo left - trained by Noel C. Kelly, ridden by Derek Fox.
The final race on the card, a Handicap Hurdle over almost three miles, resulted in another victory for favourite backers and a popular local trainer - jockey partnership.
Native Optimist (5/2 fav.) - photo right - trained at Hexham by Sheena Walton, ridden by Catherine Walton gained an impressive thirty five length victory going clear from three out.
Second was the aptly names Distant Sound (11/2) trained by Grace Harris at Shirenewton, Monmouthshire, ridden by Paul Maloney.
First Twilight Race Meeting a Winner
The first "twilight" National Hunt race meeting in the 125 year history of Hexham Racecourse has been hailed a great success by racegoers, owners and trainers.
The weather cooperated and there was the bonus of a spectacular Tynedale sunset as runners went to post for the last race.
Favourite backers got off to a profitable start in the first race, the First Twilight Maiden Hurdle run over two miles.
Great Fighter (11/10 fav.) - photo right - making the long journey from the in form John Ferguson stable at Cowlinge, Suffolk, ridden by his son Mr. Alex Ferguson gave backers an anxious time down the back straight as he was held up before quickly gaining on his rivals to storm clear to record a very impressive fourteen length victory, eased down as he passed the post.
Summer Storm (5/1) trained by Rebecca Menzies at Brandsby, ridden by Tony Kelly was a distant second.
Making a six hour journey from Somerset only to finish tailed off last was jockey Brian Toomey on Bold Henmie. Brian is making a brave come back after being out of racing for two years following a fall at Perth which resulted in life-threatening head injuries.
There was an exciting finish in the second race, the Northumberland College Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
Just a neck separated first and second as top weight Brother Scott (9/2) - photo left - trained by Sue Smith at Bingley, ridden by Sean Quinlan gained a first win over fences from Local Present (9/2) trained by Denis Quinn at Newmarket, ridden by Dougie Costello.
The winner was dropping in class and the shorter trip than his last outing was a key to his success.
One of the easiest and most impressive victories came in the Wedding Congratulations Mr. And Mrs. Reader Novices' Hurdle run over two and a half miles.
The victor Samedi Soir (9/4) - photo right - trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn, ridden by James Reveley was returning to novice company after showing some promise in handicaps and was well supported in the market.
Backers were rewarded with a facile victory as Samedi Soir took control from the off and was well clear before the last obstacle to pass the post eased down, thirty seven lengths ahead of the nearest rival Number One London, the 10/11 favourite, ridden by Michael Byrne, which had made the long journey from Tim Vaughan's stable at Cowbridge, South Glamorgan.
"Horse For Courses" theorists were amply rewarded in the Charles Enderby Happy Birthday Handicap Chase run over three miles.
The winner Chicago Outfit (8/1) - photo left - trained by George Bewley at Hawick, ridden by Jonathon Bewley, achieved a fourth victory this year at Hexham. Leading throughout, the popular Hexham runner beat Green Wizard (7-1) trained by Sue Smith, ridden by Sean Quinlan, by two lengths.
A memento was presented to winning connections by Racecourse Chief Executive, at the time, Charles Enderby (left of photo) whose birthday was celebrated in the naming of the race.
There was another impressive performance from horse and jockey in the Tynedale Hospice At Home Handicap Hurdle run over two miles.
Dynamic Drive (9/2) trained by Maurice Barnes at Brampton, ridden by Thomas Dowson showed a fine turn of speed to lead from two obstacles out and record an easy eleven length victory from Honourable Gent (11/2) trained by Rose Dobbin at Alnwick, ridden by Craig Nichol.
The final race on the card, the Chollerford Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle over two miles seven and a half furlongs resulted in a victory for stalwart Hexham supporter Lucinda Russell who trains at Kinross.
Unusually for one of Lucinda's horses, the winner Bescot Springs, - photo right - ridden by Graham Watters, went off at generous odds of 16/1 and recorded a fifth win over hurdles beating Koultas King (9/2) another raider from Tim Vaughan's stable, ridden by Sean Bowen, by two lengths.
The popularity of National Hunt race meetings at Hexham Racecourse continues to grow and totepool Ladies' Day held last Sunday was no exception.
With eighty runners declared from throughout Britain and Ireland, the last race had to be split into two divisions resulting in a bumper eight race card.
All corporate hospitality was sold out well in advance and, despite a cold wind and heavy showers, the meeting also attracted a large family crowd as racegoers proved that, whatever Royal Ascot could achieve, the North East could match or even better.
Racing got underway with a Conditional Jockeys' Selling Hurdle which was won by eleven year old What A Steel (15/2) - photo left - trained at Hawick by Alistair Whillans ridden by Craig Nichol. Despite a four and a half length victory there were no bids for the winner in the subsequent auction.
Thirteen runners went to post for the two mile Novices' Hurdle in which victory went to 6/4 favourite Owen Na View - photo right - ridden by Paddy Brennan. The winner had made the long journey from Fergal O'Brien's stable at Cheltenham.
The feature race of the afternoon the Totequadpot Four Places In Four Races Handicap Chase was run over three miles.
Among the eight runners were three which had scored previously at Hexham.
There was another victory for a Hawick trainer as one of the three previous winners Chicago Outfit (7/2) - photo left - trained by George Bewley ridden by Jonathon Bewley recorded a hat trick of course wins.
After the race, actor Robson Green presented the owner trainer with a memento.
There was an action replay in the next race, the Mytotepool.com Novices Chase when, once again, two previous winners at Hexham this year fought out the finish.
Victory went to 6/5 favourite Vodka Wells - photo right - trained by Micky Hammond at Middleham ridden by Jamie Bargary who gained a two and a half length victory from Gold Futures (7/4) trained by Nicky Richards at Greystoke ridden by Brian Harding.
There was a surprise in the two and a half mile Handicap Hurdle when a close four horse finish resulted in a three length win for 12/1 outsider Serenity Now - photo left - trained by Brian Ellison at Malton ridden by Craig Gallagher. Earlier the favourite top weight Tekthelot unshipped jockey Brian Hughes at the seventh obstacle.
Fourteen runners went to post for one of the longest races on the card, the three mile Handicap Chase. After a creditable second at Hexham just fifteen days previously Solway Legend (15/2) - photo right - trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton ridden by Ryan Day went one better to record a victory by four lengths.
The Totepool Racing's Biggest Supporter Handicap Hurdle resulted in contrasting fortunes for backers and bookmakers.
In Division One, the favourite Baraboy (2/1fav.) - photo left - trained by Barry Murtagh at Carlisle ridden by Diarmuid O'Regan defeated nine rivals to record a two and a half length victory.
The Second Division went to local combination of James Walton, Morpeth trainer and Catherine Walton jockey who steered home Roll of Thunder - photo right - at generous odds of 25/1. Second was another outsider Poppies Milan at 14/1 and the 5/4 favourite Miss Macnamara could only finish third.
All eight races at the meeting were generously sponsored by Totepool whose representative Ben Turnbull presented mementoes to winning connections after each race.
Ladies' Day Prize Winnners - NB You can view photos of the winners on our 2015 Ladies Day page here.
There were also an array of Ladies' Day prizes for racegoers who dressed for the occasion.
Lesley Lister and her team from Tyne Tees Models had the unenviable task of judging the many breathtaking and varied outfits and accessories.
Lesley told the Courant;
"Unlike last year when the weather was warm and sunny the cold wind and squally showers proved a particular challenge for the fashion conscious."
Lesley and her team spent several hours among racegoers searching out the fashion highlights.
A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered around the winners' enclosure to congratulate the winners who were presented with their prizes by actor Robson Green.
Donna Laws from Heworth was crowned Best Dressed Lady winning several prizes including an overnight stay at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.
Nicola and Paul Hobrough from Corbridge were judged Best Dressed Couple and won a champagne afternoon tea at Slaley Hall Hotel.
The wearer of the Best Hat was Natalie Kelly from Whickham who won a £50 gift voucher from Hays Travel and the Best Dressed Little Miss was "Charlotte" from North Shields who charmed Robson Green as he presented her with tickets to see Disney On Ice Presents Worlds of Enchantment at the Metro Radio Arena.
As the meeting coincided with Fathers' Day there was a special prize of a round of golf at Ramside Hall Hotel Golf Club for the best dressed dad who was Matt Crowder from Gateshead.
Arc de Triomphe Runner "Triumphs" at Yarridge Heights
Racing pundits are acutely aware that there is absolutely no guarantee that a successful horse on the flat will convert to become a winning "jumper." But it does happen as racegoers witnessed at Hexham's latest National Hunt meeting.
Penglai Pavilion - photo right - finished fifth behind Treve in the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe two years ago for leading French trainer Andre Fabre but then failed miserably in five subsequent races.
Penglai Pavilion's Hexham debut over obstacles for new trainer John Ferguson from Cowlinge, Newmarket was a different story as class told when the five year old (2/1 fav.) ridden by Aidan Coleman jumped impeccably and cruised to a thirteen length victory in the Andy Calvert Celebration Novices' Hurdle run over two miles.
The Marie Curie Charity meeting got off to an exciting start for seventeen year old amateur jockey Joe Wright who recorded his first win under rules when Minella Hero (5/2) - photo left - trained by the in form Micky Hammond at Middleham gained a facile twenty length victory in the Marie Curie Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle.
There was a rare dead heat for second place between Danehills Well (9/1) trained by Alison Hamilton at Denholm ridden by Mr. H.A.A. Bannister and Native Optimist (11/2) locally trained by Sheena Walton ridden by Mr. S. W. Coltherd.
Form followers were decidedly perplexed with the outcome of the St. Martin's Care Handicap Chase run over one mile seven furlongs.
The winner Gin Cobbler (9/1) - photo right - was having a third run at Hexham in less than a month.
The first run resulted in an impressive win but his second run saw the 3/1 joint favourite weaken from two fences out and finish a disappointing sixth.
Loyal followers were rewarded by the latest run when the nine year old trained by Victor Thompson at Alnwick ridden by Mr. T. Dowson led approaching the third last fence to go on to record a three and three quarter length victory from 11/1 outsider Forestside trained at Carlisle by Barry Murtagh ridden by Lucy Alexander.
Just four runners went to post for the Teresa Duchett Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
The close betting was supported by the fact that all four runners were in contention at the bottom of the final hill.
It was in form trainer Micky Hammond's eleven year old Master Of The Hall (5/2 joint fav.) - photo-left - ridden by Jamie Bargary which gave the trainer a well earned double, taking the lead after the last obstacle to record a four length victory from top weight Silk Hall (3/1) trained in Northern Ireland by J.J.Lambe ridden by Richard Johnson.
There was compensation for trainer J.J.Lambe in the next race the Hadrian Healthcare Novices Hurdle run over two miles seven furlongs when Classic Palace (8/1) - photo right - ridden by Brian Hughes, a winning pointer and a promising debut third at Cartmel recently was twelve lengths clear approaching the last obstacle but slowed towards the finish managing to hang on by one and a half lengths from outsider Lowanbehold (16/1) trained by Sandy Forster at Kelso ridden by Jamie Hamilton.
There were celebrations for local owner David Carr in the penultimate race The Marie Curie Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
Without a win from twenty one runs including only three complete course runs in five outings at Hexham, Cool Star (7/1) - photo left - trained by Maurice Barnes at Brampton and ridden by Jonathan England was dominant throughout beating the 11/4 favourite Mister Wall Street trained by Rebecca Menzies at Brandsby ridden by Tony Kelly by eight lengths.
The traditional two mile "Bumper," the Teresa Duchett Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race became a four horse race to the finish.
9/4 joint favourite and top weight Micklegate Run - photo right - trained by Alan Swinbank at Richmond ridden by Paul Maloney, defied a penalty for a debut win at Kelso last month to record a one and three quarter length victory from Karen McLintock's locally trained Australasia (9/4 joint fav.) ridden by James Reveley.
Gales Fail to Dampen Racing Enthusiasts' Spirit
Braving the elements is often a challenge facing the hardy souls who enjoy National Hunt racing at Yarridge Heights.
For those attending the latest meeting gale force winds proved to be an unseasonal challenge.
Nevertheless, the characteristic resilience of horse, jockey, groundstaff and, not least, loyal racing enthusiasts ensured that one of the most important meetings of the year went ahead without incident.
June gales are not unheard of at Yarridge Heights. Just five years ago the June Ladies' Day had to be abandoned due to high winds.
For the nineteenth consecutive year, one of Hexham's most loyal supporters The Great Run Company, formerly known as Nova International, sponsored all races on the seven race card.
The races were named after sporting events for which The Great Run Company has achieved worldwide recognition.
Because of the prevailing weather conditions the last hurdle and fence were omitted from all races.
A large crowd, including coach parties from as far afield as Lancashire, Dumfries and Teeside saw racing get underway with the Greatrun.Org Selling Hurdle run over two miles.
The winner was an Irish raider Celtic Monarch (9/4) - photo left - trained by Mark McNiff ridden by Derek Fox. Top weight Bob's Legend (7/4 favourite) locally trained at Otterburn by Susan Corbett ridden by son James was six lengths away second.
The subsequent auction resulted in no bids, a contributory factor undoubtedly being that the horse suffered a knock during the race and was removed from the winner's enclosure, on veterinary advice, before the auction began.
This was the winner's first run after a fourteen month absence.
Favourite backers were counting their losses again in the second race, the Junior Great North Run Novices' Steeple Chase run over two and a half miles, which went to trainer Nicky Richards' only entry on the card.
Trained at Greystoke ridden by Brian Harding, Gold Futures (9/4) - photo right - lived up to its name with an impressive performance beating 7/4 favourite Volcanic trained by Donald McCain at Cholmondeley ridden by Henry Brooke by eight lengths.
The winner had already achieved four wins over hurdles and this second attempt over fences augured well, as the name suggests, for a "golden future."
Bookmakers were smiling once again after the two mile Film Nova Juvenile Hurdle, the first juvenile hurdle of the season.
Egmont (9/1) - photo left - trained by George Moore at Middleham ridden by Brian Hughes defied the odds to beat 4/7 favourite Mojawiz trained by John Ferguson at Cowlinge ridden by Aidan Coleman by one and three quarter lengths.
The winner, who was a very modest performer on the flat, survived a scare as early as the first obstacle when The Names Bond jumped awkwardly and almost stopped the ultimate winner in his tracks.
One of the most impressive performances of the meeting was recorded by the winner of the three mile Great North Swim Handicap Steeplechase.
Having won at the last meeting eleven days previously Chicago Outfit (11/4) - photo right - trained by George Bewley at Hawick ridden by son Jonathon Bewley, received a twelve pound rise in weights.
Being top weight proved no obstacle and leading from the front once again the winner recorded another impressive twenty one length victory from Solway Legend (9/1) trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton ridden by Ryan Day.
Favourite backers finally gained some respite in the Great North City Games Handicap Hurdle run over two miles.
Three horses contested the finish and, although stepping up in class, victory by just half a length went to Gurkha Brave (7/2 favourite) - photo left - trained by Karen McLintock at Newcastle Upon Tyne ridden by Paddy Brennan.
Just a neck separated second home Vodka Wells (4/1) trained by Micky Hammond at Middleham ridden by Jamie Bargary from third placed Tekthelot (6/1) trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn ridden by James Reveley.
Another successor at the previous meeting recorded a repeat performance in the Great North Run Handicap Steeplechase run over two and a half miles.
At the last meeting Pekanheim (3/1 joint favourite) - photo right - trained by Martin Todhunter at Penrith ridden by Mr. Z. Baker triumphed in the handicap hurdle.
This time, having fallen twice in his first three starts over fences, he got his act together to record an impressive sixteen length victory over Mister Wall Street (4/1) trained by Rebecca Menzies at Brandsby ridden by Tony Kelly.
There was little respite from the high winds as six runners went to post for the traditional end of meeting "bumper," the Great Run Company Standard Open National Hunt Flat race over two miles.
In form local trainer Karen McLintock recorded a well earned double when 10/11 favourite and top weight Emperor Sakhee - photo left - ridden by James Reveley repeated an April course and distance success by drawing clear of two rivals to record an impressive thirteen length victory from Bollin Beauty (3/1) trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton ridden by Brian Hughes.
The vagaries of Tynedale's weather are never more to the fore than on Yarridge Heights where, at the beginning of the month, National Hunt racing was threatened by heavy and persistent rain which led to a pre-race safety inspection. Just two weeks later and selective watering had to be introduced to ensure safe jumping ground for this week's second evening meeting of the year.
Proceedings got underway to the delight of favourite backers when Middleham trainer George Moore's only entry at the meeting Tickenwolf - photo right - ridden by Joe Colliver triumphed at odds of 7/4 favourite in the The Follow Us On Facebook Maiden Hurdle run over two and a half miles. The winner overcame a mistake at the penultimate obstacle before leading from the last.
Four lengths second was 20/1 outsider Destiny Awaits trained by Keith Pollock at Carluke ridden by Callum Bewley.
Sponsoring a race on a loved one's special birthday is proving very popular as indicated by the second race on the card The Happy Birthday Sarah Reay Looking 25 Mares' Handicap Hurdle also run over two and a half miles.
Eight runners went to post and another trainer with just one horse at the meeting took the honours. Samedi Soir (9/2) - photo left - trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn ridden by James Reveley gained a five length, hard fought victory from southern raider Chasse En Mer (9/1) trained by Caroline Bailey at Holdenby, Northamptonshire ridden by Dougie Costello by five lengths.
The evening's feature race which went to post at 7.10pm. was The Agrical Novices Limited Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong.
Victory was a family affair for trainer Nicky Richards and his daughter Jo.
The winner by one and a quarter lengths was 2/1 favourite Scarlet Fire - photo right - trained by Nicky at Greystoke and ridden by daughter Jo who also owns the horse.
Jo made all but was forced to fight all the way to the line by second placed Dr. Maloney (11/2) an Irish raider trained by Stuart Crawford ridden by Brian Hughes.
The race was not without its drama down the back straight when regular Hexham runner Tikkandemickey suddenly ran out and unseated the rider Callum Bewley.
Another punter's birthday, Hexham Member Michael Dunn’s 70th, was celebrated with the The Dad’s Day Handicap Hurdle run over three miles with the race being sponsored by his family.
The race was a local success for Hexham trainer Sheena Walton as jockey Tom Hamilton achieved a first win on Native Optimist (11/2) - photo left - in seventeen attempts. The winner made all, was four lengths clear at the bottom of the final hill and continued to travel strongly to beat 11/4 favourite Verko from the in form Mickey Hammond's stable at Middleham ridden by Craig Nichol by one and three quarter lengths.
There was another Northumberland success in The Hexham Caravan Site Handicap Chase over an extended two miles when Gin Cobbler (11/4 second favourite) - photo right - by Victor Thompson at Alnwick ridden by Mr. T. Dowson led all the way to gain an impressively unchallenged eleven length victory from 16/1 outsider Forestside trained by Barry Murtagh at Carlisle ridden by Lucy Alexander.
Favourite at 9/4 Roxyfet trained by Micky Hammond ridden by Craig Nichol disappointingly tailed off.
The penultimate race on the card, The St John Lee Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong, saw a fine example of positive riding when jockey Jonathon Bewley dominated proceedings throughout on Chicago Outfit (4/1 favourite) - photo left - trained by George Bewley at Hawick to record a facile fifteen length victory over Mia's Anthem (12/1) another Irish raider trained by Noel C. Kelly ridden by Derek Fox.
The evening drew to a close with The Follow Us On Twitter Amateur Riders Novices Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles.
Favourite backers came to grief early on when well fancied Russian Royale (11/4) trained by Micky Hammond at Middleham parted company at the second obstacle with jockey Catherine Walton who had made the journey from an afternoon engagement on the flat at Redcar.
The fall left the way clear for outsider and top weight Pekanheim (12/1) - photo right - trained at Penrith by Martin Todhunter ridden by Mr. Z. Baker to record a half length victory from Seventeen Black (9/2) trained by Stuart Coltherd at Selkirk ridden by Mr. S.W. Coltherd.
Best Turned Out Horses at the Meeting included the following:
Family Success at Hexham's 125 Anniversary Race Meeting.
The 125th Anniversary of National Hunt racing at Yarridge Heights was celebrated in nostalgic style and, fittingly, it was a Northumberland racing family who stole the show.
The feature race, the CWC Henderson 125th Year Anniversary Conditional Jockeys Handicap Chase, named after the founder of the Racecourse Charles William Chipchase Henderson - photo left - was a triumph for leading Otterburn trainer Susan Corbett and her family.
Run over an extended two miles, the contest was won by Super Collider (3/1) returning to Yarridge Heights after finishing second just seven days previously.
Ridden by the trainer's son James and owned by Jordan Corbett, the jockey's wife, Super Collider - photo right - outpaced several other rivals in the run in to record a one length victory from Amethyst Rose (7/2) trained by Stuart Coltherd at Selkirk ridden by Grant Cockburn.
The Corbett family were presented with mementoes by Racecourse Chief Executive, at the time, Charles Enderby who is the great grandson of the founder.
There were anxious times for the Racecourse Executive in the days leading up to the meeting.
In the seven days prior, 51mm of rain, including 16 mm the night before, left standing water on the course prompting an early morning inspection.
Fortunately, improving weather conditions on the day and sterling work by the groundstaff ensured that the meeting went ahead.
Racing got underway with the Ramside Event Catering Novices Hurdle run over an extended two miles.
Favourite backers had to start counting the cost when odds on favourite Grange Hall (5/6) trained in Ireland by Paul Stafford, ridden by Jonathan Moore could only finish third.
Victory by 10 lengths went to outsider Octagon (12/1) - photo left - trained by Dianne Sayer at Penrith ridden by James Reveley who easily ran clear of second placed Astrum (11/4) trained by Donald McCain at Cholmondeley ridden by Adrian Lane.
Favourite followers gained meagre recompense in the Ramside Hall Hotel Maiden Hurdle run over three miles when 1/5 favourite Alto Des Mottes - photo right - trained by Henry Hogarth at Stillington ridden by Tony Kelly gained a facile thirty seven length victory from the only other finisher Harley's Max (14/1) another runner from Susan Corbett's stable ridden by James Corbett.
The French bred winner, formerly with top trainer Paul Nicholls, had only finished out of the first four once out of nine previous runs and had been second of thirteen in a Hexham Novice Hurdle nineteen days previously.
With a winner and a second already home and hosed, trainer of the moment Susan Corbett sent out another runner Manballandall in the H Malone & Sons Handicap Hurdle run over three miles.
The race was an action replay of the feature race as Manballandall (5/2 favourite), - photo left - another ride for family member James Corbett, and owned, like the previous winner by his wife Jordan, stayed on strongly on the run in, despite making a blunder at the seventh obstacle, to record a three length victory from Quel Elite (4/1) trained by James Moffat at Grange-Over-Sands ridden by Tony Kelly.
Peter Malone Director of the new sponsor presented mementoes to winning connections.
The victory was the first time Susan has had two winners in one day.
Spring sunshine finally welcomed the runners in the Dr Howard Scott Memorial Handicap Chase run over three miles and one furlong.
The race was run in memory of Dr. Howard Scott who was Chief Medical Officer at Hexham Racecourse for many years.
Just four horses went to post and racing pundits who always back the outsider of four were collecting when Flaming Thistle (11/2) - photo right - trained by John Hodge at Cumnock ridden by Grant Cockburn saw off his shorter priced rivals beating 13/8 favourite Nalim trained by Harriet Bethell at Arnold ridden by Jonathan England by three lengths.
Trainer John Hodge accepted a memento from Lesley Robson, daughter of the late Dr. Scott, on behalf of the owner his sister Mercy, another successful family affair.
The penultimate race, the Spa At Ramside Hall Hotel Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles saw a repeat performance from King Of Strings (5/4 favourite) - photo left - trained by Mark Walford at Sheriff Hutton ridden by Dougie Costello.
This was the second Hexham success in seven days for the six year old.
Racing for the first time in cheekpieces, the winner took control after the last obstacle to record a three and a quarter length victory from Retrieve The Stick (11/4) trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton ridden by Brian Hughes.
A memento was presented to winning connections by David Wood, General Manager of Ramside Event Catering who generously sponsored four races on the card.
The traditional "bumper" two mile flat race, The North East Oyster Festival In Newcastle Standard Open, saw the winner return to Hexham after recording second place over course and distance last month.
This time Ryedale Racer (11/4) - photo right - another runner trained by Malcolm Jefferson ridden by Brian Hughes went one better by beating debutant under Rules and well supported 6/5 favourite Smart Talk trained by Brian Ellison at Malton ridden by Dougie Costello, by seven lengths.
The Racecourse 125 anniversary celebrations throughout the day encouraged many staff and racegoers to dress in period costume with prizes for the best dressed.
The best dressed couple who won a night at Ramside Hotel Durham were Yvonne Reynolds (on the left in the first photo) and Jeanette Oliver from Bardon Mill (on the right in the first photo) with Racecourse Marketing Executive, at the time, Lauren Dobson, in the centre.
Michael Oubridge from Widdrington, looking remarkably like Sherlock Holmes, won the best dressed gentleman contest and can look forward to a four ball at Ryton Golf Club.
Best dressed lady was judged to be Kim White (photo right) from Blyth who won afternoon tea for four at Slaley Hall Hotel.
Borders Victory in Heart Of All England Chase
There was a notable victory for Hawick trainer Wendy Hamilton in Saturday's Eve Aitchison Heart of All England Maiden Hunter Chase run over three miles and one furlong in harsh conditions at Yarridge Heights.
Light rain and a biting wind which kept temperatures down to just five degrees failed to dampen the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd as eight year old Cave Hunter (13/2) - photo left - ridden by the trainer's son Tom Hamilton triumphed in an exciting three horse finish.
The winner beat another Borders' raider, outsider Kalastar (25/1) trained by Katie Scott at Galashiels ridden by John Dawson by one and a quarter lengths.
Dun Faw Good (11/1) trained by Mrs. C. Walton at Morpeth ridden by Catherine Walton was just a head behind in third place.
There was disappointment for form followers as the favourite Crazy Diamond (2/1) could only finish a poor ninth and second favourite Darsi Dancer (7/2) tailed off and was pulled up.
The Heart of All England Cup was presented to winning owner Neil Manning by race sponsor Bill Aitchison - photo right.
The seven race card got underway at 5.25pm. with the Independent Racecourses Ltd. Novices Chase run over two and a half miles.
The winner, the almost unpronounceable Ueueteotl (11/2) - photo left - trained by James Ewart at Langholm ridden by popular Hexham jockey Lucy Alexander made a mistake at the very first fence but went on to lead before the last and stayed on well to record a two and a quarter length victory from outsider Supercollider (20/1) trained by Susan Corbett at Otterburn ridden by son James Corbett.
The Friends of Chollerton Church Selling Hurdle run over an extended two miles developed into a two horse affair.
Despite mistakes at the fourth and penultimate obstacle King of Strings (6/4 joint favourite) - photo right- trained at Sheriff Hutton by Mark Walford ridden by Dougie Costello stayed on well to record a one and three quarter length victory from The Ice Factor (9/1) trained by Alison Hamilton at Denholm and ridden by Jamie Hamilton.
In the subsequent auction the winner was "bought in" for 4200 guineas.
Favourite backers were counting the cost in the Solar Signs Handicap Chase over two and a half miles when Kai Broon - photo left - the only runner sent down from Kinross by trainer Lucinda Russell ridden by Craig Nichol ended a long losing run at odds of 20/1.
The winner led from two out and went on to an impressive twenty length victory from 9/2 favourite Everylasting trained at Belford by Rose Dobbin ridden by Dougie Costello.
Favourite supporters gained some respite in the Steve Johnston Last Lap Retirement Do Novices Hurdle run over an extended two miles.
Odds on favourite top weight Venue (2/5) - photo right - trained by Donald McCain at Cholmondeley ridden by Wilson Renwick led from the first obstacle, went clear approaching the last and recorded an easy six length victory from Towerburn (7/1) trained by Alison Hamilton ridden by Jamie Hamilton.
The penultimate race on the card was the Redscar Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong. The race was named after the winner of the inaugural "Heart" run in 1907.
Victory by six lengths went to Pinerolo (8/1) - photo left - trained by Sue Smith at Bingley ridden by Sean Quinlan. Second was Big Sound (9/2) trained by Mark Walford, another place for jockey Dougie Costello.
In the gathering gloom the final race, The Linnels Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles proved a memorable landmark for the versatile conditional jockey Garry Lavery.
Riding at Thirsk for Brian Ellison earlier in the day, Garry recorded the second win of his flat career on Apterix (12/1) which beat Godolphin favourite Legend's Gate.
He then made the dash to Hexham and changed codes to record a hurdles win in the last race on Vodka Wells (3/1) - photo right - also trained at Malton by Brian Ellison.
The winner led from two out and stayed on well to record a two and a quarter length victory from Harvey's Hope (11/4 favourite) trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn ridden by James Reveley.
Ninety Runners and Spring Sunshine at Yarridge Heights
Yarridge Heights were at their spectacular best on 20th April 2015 as warm Spring sunshine greeted a large crowd at the first Northumberland College sponsored National Hunt race meeting.
Regular racegoers were trying hard to remember the last meeting when ninety horses went to post, confirming yet again the popularity of the Tynedale course with owners and trainers including a large contingent making long journeys from the South and Ireland.
The meeting also enjoyed exclusive televised coverage on the At The Races channel as well as having all races beamed live into ten thousand betting offices nationwide.
There were so many runners in the traditional last "bumper" race, The Northumberland College Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race that the race had to be divided into two divisions thus making an eight race card.
Racing got under way with a quick double for leading jockey Brian Hughes and two trainers who had made the long trip from Ireland.
The Northumberland College National Hunt Novices Hurdle run over an extended two miles was a second hurdles win for top weight Captain Hox (1/2 favourite) - photo left - trained by Patrick Griffin in a hard fought battle with second placed Grange Hall (4/1) also trained in Ireland by Paul Stafford and ridden by Jonathan Moore.
The winner came home by one and a half lengths.
Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Northumberland College - photo right - presented a 125 Anniversary memento to the winning connections.
Brian Hughes second consecutive victory in the Northumberland College Engineering Maiden Hurdle run over three miles, was on another Irish trained runner Definite Soldier (9/4 joint favourite) - photo left - trained by Peter Croke.
The winner beat the other 9/4 joint favourite Alto Des Mottes trained by Henry Hogarth at Stillington and ridden by Tony Kelly by two lengths.
A memento was presented to winning connections by the Northumberland College Chair of Governors Jacqui Henderson - photo-right.
The finale of the third race, the Kirkley Hall Limited Handicap Chase run over an extended two miles developed into a two horse affair up the final hill.
Top weight Civil Unrest (5/1) - photo left - trained by James Ewart at Langholm and ridden by Dale Irving raced clear after the last obstacle to beat Persian Herald (5/1) trained at Penrith by Diane Sayer and ridden by James Reveley by six lengths.
This was talented conditional jockey Dale Irving's fifth win from his last six rides
There was an exciting finish to the Kirkley Hall Limited Zoological Gardens Handicap Hurdle run over two and a half miles which saw Central Flame (7/2) - photo right - trained by James Walton at Morpeth and ridden by Miss Catherine Walton claim a hat trick of wins by beating 3/1 favourite Tekthelot trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn and ridden by James Reveley by just a neck.
One of the longest races on the card, the Northumberland College Stem Centre Handicap Chase run over three miles and one furlong attracted the biggest field of the day when eighteen runners went to post.
Favourite backers were collecting when Resolute Reformer (9/4 favourite) - photo left - a winner at Carlisle just six days previously, trained by Stuart Coltherd at Selkirk and ridden by Derek Fox defended a bold challenge by another Irish raider West Ship Master (9/1) trained by Paul Stafford and ridden by Jonathan Moore to record a one length victory.
There was an exciting climax involving four runners in the Northumberland College Graduate Open Hunter Chase also run over three miles and one furlong.
The result was a local victory when Beggar's Velvet (2/1) - photo right - trained at Morpeth by D. Holmes and ridden by Miss R. McDonald got a nose in front in the last seventy five yards to record a win by just a "head" from Special Portrait (4/1) trained by Mark Hughes at Wigton and ridden by Mr. R.Hogg.
There was contrasting fortunes in the two divisions of the "Bumper" for local trainer Karen McClintock from Newcastle Upon Tyne.
In division one of the Northumberland College Gallery Standard Open Flat Race run over an extended two miles, Karen's entry, the well backed 10/11 favourite Australasia ridden by James Reveley came up against stiff opposition in the form of Cloudy Dream (3/1) - photo left - owned by Grand National winner Trevor Hemmings.
The latter trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton and ridden by Brian Hughes gave the popular jockey a hat trick of wins on the day by taking the lead just one furlong from home and recording a two and a half length victory from the local horse.
In contrast Karen McClintock's 8/1 entry in the second division of the bumper, Emperor Sakhee, also ridden by James Reveley, made virtually all and stayed on strongly to record a two and a quarter length victory from Ryedale Racer (9/1) trained at Malton by Malcolm Jefferson and ridden by Brian Hughes.
Four Seasons in a Day at Yarridge Heights
Racegoers at Yarridge Heights on Tuesday experienced the vagaries of Tynedale's weather experiencing four seasons in a day. Warm Spring sunshine gave way to a biting wind, plunging temperatures, threatening clouds and finally a hailstorm which left the racecourse looking like an alpine ski slope. Photo right.
The seven race card was successfully completed with no less than five favourites and a co-favourite duly obliging.
The first two races resulted in impressive victories for odds on favourites.
The SIS Novices Hurdle run over an extended two miles was won by 2/7 favourite Cyrus Darius, photo left, trained by Malcolm Jefferson at Malton and ridden by Brian Hughes. The winner cruised to a comfortable twenty three length victory from Captain Hox (3/1) trained in Ireland by Patrick Griffin and ridden by James Reveley.
Favourite backers were collecting again after an equally impressive performance by the odds on favourite in the second race The Chollerford Novices Hurdle run over three miles.
Onenightinvienna (4/9 favourite) - photo right - ridden by Tom O'Brien made the long trip from trainer Philip Hobbs' yard in Minehead, Somerset. Leading from the off the six year old stamped his authority on the race driving up the final hill to pass the post in glorious isolation.
Second, thirty three lengths distant, was top weight Kingswell Theatre (5/2) trained by Lucinda Russell at Kinross and ridden by Grant Cockburn.
There was a double first celebration for owner and trainer in the longest race of the day The Primary Websites Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong.
Bottom Weight Flaming Thistle, photo left, which had promisingly stayed on to be placed over course and distance at the previous meeting, went one better recording a very first win under rules for trainer John Hodge from Cumnock and owner Mercy Hodge.
Going off at generous odds of 10/1 the eleven year old beat West Ship Master (5/1) trained by Paul Stafford from Ireland and ridden by Jonathan Moore by half a length in a close run affair.
The Yarridge Heights weather took a sudden turn for the worse between race when a tremendous hailstorm quickly transformed the Course. (Photo right).
Remedial actions by Racecourse staff resulted in the feature race, The John Smiths Handicap Hurdle run over two and a half miles, going to post on time.
The most valuable race on the card with a prize fund of £10,000 was another win for favourite backers when Palm Grey (3/1) - photo left - trained by Sue Smith at Bingley and ridden by Jonathan England gained a five length victory over Golans Choice (7/1) trained by Rose Dobbin at Alnwick and ridden by Craig Nichol.
Spring sunshine returned as the seven runners went to post for the SIS Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
The race proved to be a competitive affair and once again the favourite took the honours for an Irish Trainer.
Top weight Better B Quick (11/4 favourite) - photo right - trained by Paul Stafford and ridden by Jonathan Moore jumped much better than in his previous races to beat locally trained NewYearsResolution (9/1) from Simon Waugh's Morpeth stable and ridden by Amy Waugh by three quarters of a length.
The continuing popularity of Hexham among owners and trainers was underlined in the "Bumper."
There were so many entries in The Hexham For Tourists Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race over an extended two miles that the contest had to be divided into two.
Yet another favourite obliged in Division One. Ten Trees (7/4 favourite) - photo left - the only runner on the day from Alan Swinbank's Richmond stable and ridden by Tom O'Brien gave the jockey a double for the day by beating Australasia (100/30) trained at Newcastle Upon Tyne by Karen McLintock and ridden by James Reveley by eight lengths.
Following the success of five favourites it was left to a co-favourite to complete a miserable day for bookmakers in Division Two of the "Bumper."
Victory went to Kara Tara (11/4 co. favourite) - photo right - trained by Lawrence Mullaney at Malton and ridden by Brian Hughes. The winner "ran green," especially in the final furlong but kept on to record a seven length victory from outsider Bolton Blue (16/1) trained by Michael Smith at Newcastle Upon Tyne and ridden by Adam Nicol.
Promising Start for Anniversary Year at Hexham Racecourse
The anniversary year which celebrates 125 years of National Hunt racing at Yarridge Heights was launched in promising style when more than seventy horses from throughout the Country competed in seven exciting races. Six of the races were all named after the winners at the first meeting which took place on April 23rd. 1890.
A regular crowd of enthusiastic racegoers defied the threat of rain, which, in the event, failed to materialise, to see bottom weight Beyondtemptation (5/1) - photo left - trained by Hexham supporter Jonathan Haynes at Brampton and ridden by Diarmuid O'Regan lead from the start to romp home by six lengths in the opener, the 1890 Conditional Jockeys' Mares' Handicap Hurdle run over an extended two miles and eight obstacles.
Morning With Ivan (6/1) trained by Martin Todhunter at Penrith and ridden by Graham Watters was second.
Favourite backers were rewarded in the second race, the Woodlawn Novices' Hurdle also run over eight obstacles and an extended two miles.
Top weight Endless Credit - photo right - trained by Micky Hammond at Middleham and ridden by Joe Colliver went off at odds of 1/4 and justified the short price by recording a twenty three length victory from Lockedoutaheaven 14/1 trained by Maurice Barnes at Brampton and ridden by Michael McAlister.
The race was not without its drama when the winner, cruising at the last, almost did what Annie Power did at Cheltenham the day before and made an almost crucial mistake at the last hurdle.
Trainer Micky Hammond who bought the winner last year from Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani for £20,000 guineas said afterwards that Aintree might be next and then Endless Credit would probably go back to flat racing.
Favourite backers' fortunes changed quickly in the first steeplechase on the card, the Sir Herbert Handicap run over two miles four and a half furlongs and fourteen fences.
The 25/1 outsider Oxalido - photo left - trained by Stuart Coltherd at Selkirk and ridden by John Kington obviously enjoyed the better ground to beat 6/4 favourite My Friend George trained at Appleby by Kenneth Slack and ridden by Henry Brooke by one and a quarter lengths.
There was a change of fortunes for the winner of the Saunby Novices handicap Steeplchase run over three miles and one furlong.
The victor, bottom weight Cross To Boston (6/1) - photo right - trained by Joanne Foster at Ilkley and ridden by John Dawson was returning to action after unseating his rider at Sedgefield nine days before.
With a clear round of the seventeen fences the nine year old beat top weight Harry The Lemmon (7/2) trained by James Ewart at Langholm and ridden by Lucy Alexander by five lengths to record a first victory in twenty seven starts.
Seventeen runners went to post for the Minster Handicap Hurdle run over three miles and twelve obstacles.
The race was another success for outsider backers when Willie Hall (25/1) - photo left - trained by Lisa Harrison at Wigton and ridden by Ryan Day just managed to get a nose in front of Purple Harry (5/1) trained by Tina Jackson at Loftus and ridden by Samantha Drake.
Favourite at 9/4, Whichwaytobougie trained by Keith Reveley at Saltburn and ridden by Colm McCormack could only finish fourth in spite of having the winner well behind him in a victory the previous week at Newcastle.
The luck of the Irish prevailed in the last two races on the card.
With the promised rain failing to materialise, the penultimate race, the Fowberry Handicap Steeplechase over three miles and one furlong and eighteen fences proved to be a two horse race.The third was twenty seven lengths adrift of the second with top weight Gibbstown (9/1) - photo right - trained by Paul Stafford in Ireland and ridden by Jonathan Moore leading from four out to beat bottom weight Flaming Thistle trained by John Hodge at Cumnock and ridden by Grant Cockburn at generous odds of 50/1 by three and a half lengths. Favourite Notonebuttwo (13/8) trained by Chris Grant at Billingham and ridden by Diarmid O'Regan blundered and unseated his rider at the twelfth fence.
Trainer Paul Stafford made the long trip from Ireland worthwhile by completing a quick double in the last race, the Come Again National Hunt Maiden Hurdle run over two and a half miles and ten hurdles, The race was also a second consecutive win for jockey Jonathan Moore.
Grange Hall (12/1) seemed to relish the better ground after a number of poor performances to record an easy fourteen length victory from 4/6 favourite Spoils Of War trained by Lucinda Russell at Kinross and ridden by Peter Buchanan.
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