We had our first runners of the new season at Hexham on Saturday with Speak of The Devil running a fine race to finish second behind a well-handicapped and well-backed winner. The omission of nine of the 19 fences worked against him with his effort deserving to be marked up as a result, and with him remaining in such good form, we will look to press on and target further races back at Hexham in the coming weeks. All the fences were reinstated for Charmix’s race an hour later and he took a step back in the right direction when running on late in the 2m4f handicap chase having jumped a little timidly early on. We’re likely to go back over hurdles as we attempt to build on this run.
With plenty of rain forecast we have a number of runners at Ayr on Tuesday and Kelso on Wednesday with Rivabodiva declared for races at both tracks as we keep a close eye on the weather. Entered alongside her in the 3m handicap hurdle at Ayr is Bialco who could run better than his odds suggest moving back up in trip. We also have two declared for the 2m4f handicap chase, although again ground conditions will ultimately play their part in who takes their chance. Mannochmore and Well Above Par were both impressive winners last time out, but given the former has a preference for good ground and the latter for soft, we’ll just have to see what the weather brings. Our final runner at Ayr is Haute Estime in the second division of the bumper. She followed up with a fourth place, and if she can bounce back to the form she showed when second to subsequent listed winner Eileendover on her debut, she has every chance of finishing in the money.
Moving onto Kelso on Wednesday we have Slainte Mhor in the 3m novices’ handicap chase. He was running a big race over course and distance last time prior to falling at the second last, a fall that unfortunately put Blair out of action. Reunited with Derek, who won on him at Ayr in March, he will appreciate the forecast rain and we are hopeful of a bold showing. Derek also rides Shanroe Street with the pair attempting to follow up their win at Hexham a couple of weeks ago. This is a step back up in class for Shanroe, but he should like the 3m4f trip around Kelso and has an each-way chance.
We have three declared for a competitive 2m1f handicap chase, although Mint Gold would be a doubtful runner if the ground became too soft. Conversely, Vengeur de Guye very much needs the rain and is potentially well handicapped off bottom weight with Patrick taking a further 10lb off his back. One who won’t mind what the ground does is Ain’t My Fault who drops in grade following his creditable seventh in a Grade 3 handicap at the Grand National meeting.
Finally, we have Domandlouis making his debut in the bumper. A promising youngster who is related to our classy stable stalwart Big River, he has shown ability at home but is expected to need the experience.