The Road Home took a giant leap back into form when winning at Hexham this evening. Given a considered ride by Stephen he jumped neatly for a circuit then was sent on for home and jumped well to seal the victory. It was Stephen's idea to leave the headgear off and I think that the work that he, Lorraine and the team here have put into The Road Home has really paid off. It was a most satisfying win for his owners, Mark and Susie Russell who have shown patience with this son of Oscar.
Mark and Susie's colours were earlier carried by Methoidtothemadness who ran a great race when third, hurdling very efficiently and galloping to the line. She will have more opportunities over hurdles before embarking on a chasing career.
Cameron nearly had a dream final ride on Rising Marienbard, but just could not catch Derek in the three mile chase, coming an honourable second. It was a good effort from Rising Marienbard who made up ground up the hill and could be back here in the four miler later this autumn. In the same race, A Ladies Milan showed the expected improvement for the stiffer track at Hexham and his third placing was noteworthy against hardened handicappers.
Slainte Mhor, also showed plenty of stamina when staying on to be third in the two and a half mile novice chase; he will improve over further but is still a little weak to be trying the longer trip just yet.
Another who will improve with a bit more time is Flutter Down; he ran a good race despite still being green, and should find life easier as he gains more experience.
Aurora Thunder was hesitant at a few of her hurdles, losing ground, and once her hurdling is brushed up she should be back in the winners enclosure. Still, her sixth place, beaten under five lengths was a good start of season effort from her.
Poor Emirat De Cantana found the softening ground all a bit much and when stumbling on the home turn he could not find his feet and took a fall. He was fine afterwards but seems to be out of luck for the moment.
Everyone got soaked but with a winner to take home, it made the night time drive back a little easier. The horses continue to run well and our next runners line up at Sedgefield on Friday.
The ground there looks very different to Hexham, currently good, good to firm in places. We will walk the track to be sure that it is safe before our horses run, but if they do they should run with credit.
Normal Norman is making his chasing debut and this tall son of Shamardal has the frame to be a chaser. He has had plenty of schooling and we are looking forward to his run.
Blooriedotcom continued to improve throughout last season and he has come back from his break a more mature horse. He should like the track and we are looking for a good run to set him up for the season.