It was a case of so close but so far at Hexham as OrionInverness, pictured, returned to form with a bang, hitting the front after the last at Hexham only to be denied by a short head at the line. It was an excellent effort from the Tay Valley Chasers' gelding who has won five times and could do so again this spring.
We had some good runs from the others; Camp Belan showed plenty of promise when third and while still an immature type he has a super way of going and seems to love his racing, while Westend Lady ran well to also be third and will improve for this run and on better ground. Speak Of The Devil was another to show a revival when fourth, looking more at home over these fences, and Your Place progressed to be fourth in the novice hurdle, warming to her jumping and staying on strongly up the final hill. A Ladies Milan found the going on the soft side and Buddha Scheme did not jump as well as he can after a mile and looked awkward before Blair pulled him up.
On to tomorrow and we have five runners between two meetings.
At Uttoxeter, Mighty Thunder steps up in class again to run in the Midlands Grand National. Mighty earned his place in this race after his facile win in the Edinburgh National and he has been primed by the team here. He travelled down early this morning and with Jaimie and Hannah at his side he is relaxed and happy away from home. Any drying of the ground will not inconvenience him and if he can get into a good rhythm early he will have an excellent each way chance.
Travelling with Mighty is Voix D'Eau, a talented chaser who has lost his way since racing over the Aintree fences a few seasons ago. Again, we have tried a few new things to freshen him up at home and a change of headgear could spark him back to being enthusiastic about the game. This is a track that he has run very well at in his youth and he is too nice a type to give up on just yet.
El, Vicky and Steve will be leaving for Newcastle tomorrow morning and we have three runners with a mix of experience and youth.
Bialco looked to move and jump better than ever last time, until stopping quickly, but we hope to have ruled out any issues and while the ground could be livlier than he prefers he is contesting a lower grade of race than for a while.
Shanroe Street has been running consistently for his new owners Kelso Members Lowflyers, and he should like the better ground tomorrow.
Finally, we run the enthusiastic youngster Petite Rhapsody who has a strong staying pedigree. He was a strong finisher on his race debut when fourth round here, but that was over a year ago and returning from such a long break obviously carries a caveat. He will be a super type for staying hurdles and fences in time and it is good to have him back on the track.