Sunshine in the wonderful setting of Hexham racecourse up in Northumberland on Derby Day and while all eyes in the racing world were gazed down on Epsom the other big race of the day for 3yo was also here, the first juvenile hurdle of the season.
Also it was Nova International Day here,they create and develop some of the UK’s biggest mass participation sporting events such as the Great North Run,Great Swim and Great City Games and I noticed that Brendan Foster was here, he is into his horse racing and also had a horse that he was a co-owner of in the sixth race.
They have a website which is http://www.novainspiringevents.org
Below, overview of Hexham racecourse
Race One here was a 2m 110yards Selling Hurdle and five went to post with the well fancied Humbel Ben being taken out, It was an all the way win for Kaolak who made all under Henry Brooke to beat favourite Piment D'estruval by 3.25 lengths, the winner stayed on well and while the runner up made a real hash at the second last flight which cost him his chance of taking this race, Kaolak is a 7yo and still an entire and after the race there was no bid for him.
Second Race was a Novice Chase over 2m4f 110yards which was a really eventful contest, The two at the head of the market Bygones of Brid and Rudemeister decided that as they were the two best horses in the race it would be better to treat it like a match even though eight runners set off, Coming up to two out they were still nip and tuck and Rudemeister just began to lead before tipping up Wilson Renwick which effectively gifted the win to Bygones of Brid who recorded at 28 length win over the only other finisher Indian Voyage as the rest either pulled up,ran out,refused and unseated, all came back safe though. The winner is 10 and while having good quality hurdle form is a bit short of top class but is a safe jumper.
Race Three was our longest of the day a 3m1f Chase with twelve runners and this went to the 10yo mare Almond Court who made all the running and thrashed Chernik by 18 lengths with recent Cartmel scorer Solway Dornal back in third, this was a low grade affair but one to take out is Presenting Junior who is only a 6yo and was on his first handicap run who will be better with a bit of juice in the ground and could be a reasonable stayer the more he learns about long distance steeplechasing.
Race Four was the feature hurdle contrast over 2m 110yards and again another made all victory but this time for Baccalaureate on his second start for Sue Smith and seems to enjoying his new life in Yorkshire as he did a professional job here off his rating of 107 and know doubt he will be raised a few pounds after this, back in second was Foxcub who running after an 11lb raise but a mistake three out didn't help him while back in third was handicap debutant Montefeltro who is still a bit green and he will learn.
As for Baccalaureate he could possibly go for the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen or maybe the Scottish Summer Champion Hurdle at Perth.
The Fifth contest after the extended break was the first 3yo Hurdle of 2013 and as all of them were having their first run over hurdles it was a case of see which horse had the best flat rating and good middle distance form and that theory proved correct as the favourite Akdam set out to claim the prize by making all the running to hold off Irish challenger Lindenhurst by 3.5 lengths under quality conditional Trevor Whelan (5)
While the top 3yo colts were at Epsom the ones here at Hexham would be in solidarity with them for giving advice on how to handle a course with undulations and going uphill and downdale albeit with eight flights in front of them plus the extra 4f.
Akdam had a flat rating of 68 and he will learn from this but could be vulnerable under a penalty on his next start but for now he is the top 3yo hurdler at time of writing.
Race Six was a tight looking 2m 110yards Handicap Chase and it was back to winning ways for top weight Sleep In First who was recording his fifth win of the year, he had never won a race over hurdles but has taken to fences like a duck to water and won here off a rating of 120 which was part of a 39lb rise since his first steeplechase win back at Sedgefield in March.
Runner up was Exotic Man who may be better over 2m4f but he travelled well and can pick a race up during the summer.
The final race of the day was a 2m 110yards Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race with the biggest field of the day of fourteen starters, It looked wide open on paper but it was a case of the cream rising to the top here as the three horses at the top of the market were involved at the finish, It went to Mister Jones from the Grand National trainer-jockey combination of Sue Smith and Ryan Mania to hold off Jimmy The Jetplane by 2 lengths with Cobajayisland back in third.
Oscar Jones was having his second start and looks useful enough,he will be interesting to watch when he goes hurdling next season and 2m4f would suit him while the third has come through the pointing ranks and again those early season novice events at Carlisle,Kelso or Perth will be of note for him.
Some interesting races then,not the classiest days jumps racing but this is June after all and while the big stars are having their summer break with the hooves up chillaxing in the fields it is the stables lesser lights who get a chance to earn some corn.
Summer jumping may always divide opinion but the crowd today enjoyed the action on course even though it wasn't the biggest what with Newcastle having an evening meeting just across the A69 which would have drawn more people from that delightful city.
Hexham is a charming racecourse to visit,it may not have the huge grandstands that you get at Aintree,Ascot or Newmarket but it has a lovely charm about it and one of the most breathtaking views in the sport,looking out at the hills and all the greenery,the trees,the farms and animals in the fields you really do know why this place was regarded as being The Heart of All England.