National Hunt Saturdays are here and Hexham’s Campbell & Rowley raceday was a sell-out. On an unusually mild day at the Northumberland course, it was the perfect day for racegoers to appreciate the views and atmosphere of the quaint track. Hexham welcomed some first-time visitors including everybody’s favourite honorary assistant trainer, Kian Burley! Kian was full of praise for racecourse manager, Robert Whitelock and reported that has grandad had the best birthday despite “too many pints”…
Jardine’s game mare, Animore, kicked off the day with a gallant win in the novice’s chase. A week after her full sister, Tokaramore, won over the same trip here at Hexham, both piloted to success by Conor O’Farrell. Connections also win the £10,00 Great British Bonus- a month to remember for proud owner and breeder, Mrs Ailie Tullie.
The second race on the card was claimed in style by the duo of the day; Jennie Candlish and Sean Quinlan. Its Good To Laugh coasted easily to the line, ten lengths clear of his nearest rival. The 4-year-old was switched to hurdling after a win over a mile and a half at Chester in September and has now racked up three wins on the bounce for Candlish.
It was a quick-fire double for Candlish and Quinlan as For Jim claimed the “Happy 60th Birthday Dave Burley Handicap Chase”. He looked an unlikely winner with a circuit to go; For Jim was tailed off and being bustled along by Quinlan. For Jim never travelled for the best part of the race, reaching odds of 80-1 in running. He only looked a threat after jumping the 2nd last when he ran on under a drive. A true ‘never say die’ ride from Quinlan who wasn’t being outwitted by the progressive For Jim. I dare say we will see that replay again!
Justatenner is a yard stalwart for Cumbria trainer Tristan Davidson. Having dropped to his lowest mark in three years, the ten-year-old got his head in front after some good efforts over the summer with his usual partner, Harry Reed. Reed declined Quinlan and Candlish of the treble as Happy Hollow finished 2nd in the 3m hurdle.
The maiden hurdle was won by 5 yo Flemensfirth gelding, Mr Jackman. Ruth Jefferson’s Sounds Russian was an obvious pick for me in this race but Mr Jackman accelerated up the Hexham hill to land the spoils comfortably, for Irish raider John McConnell. It is likely Jefferson’s will be up in trip next time out.
The URSA major racing syndicate enjoyed a change of luck when Stuart and Sam Coltherd secured a win with Graystown in the competitive 2-mile handicap chase, for the second consecutive year. Graystown is a real lover of Hexham with 4 out of his 5 career wins acquired at the track.
The last race of the day was the bumper and Chris Grants mare Fiadh came up triumphant with Oakley Brown claiming an extra 5lb for the filly. Melvich bay was ¾ of a length down on his racecourse debut and looks an exciting prospect for the Brookes. Not many horses that run round Hexham are trained on the Newmarket gallops, but John Berry loves the trip up North, and his consistent Dear Alix ran another sound race in third.
Lucinda Russell has a yard in form and was unlucky not to secure a winner, with all 8 runners at the meeting finishing in the top 4. However, the yard had a winner this week in the form of assistant trainer and travelling head lass, Jaimie Duff. The Stable Staff member of the year award was presented to Jaimie at the Mccoys, from Jockey Club Racecourses. Jaimie is a familiar face for all in Northern Racing; she always has a beaming smile and is a wealth of knowledge. It is so important that we recognise and cherish people who are so dedicated to the sport. Congratulations Jaimie- thoroughly deserved!