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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Nichol has quickfire double at Hexham

THERE was early season drama at Hexham Racecourse as four of the seven races provided touch tight finishes.

Jockey Craig Nichol enjoyed double success at Hexham, getting the ball rolling with success on 7/1 shot Be My Present.

Throughout the afternoon, two races were separated by a neck, while one just had a head in it with a short head deciding the outcome of the other.

There was early success for conditional Craig Nichol as he gained a quickfire double in the opening two races.

Trained at Alnwick by Rose Dobbin, Be My Present (7/1) could not have made a better debut as she won the opener by just a neck in a race which was extended to two mile and eight flights.

Nichol’s day soon got better when he claimed the second race, the Racing To School Novices Handicap Steeplechase over three miles and one furlong.

The race was a successful venture for favourite backers as Lady of Verona (9/4fav), from the popular Hexham trainer Lucinda Russell’s yard at Kinross, got off the mark at the 15th attempt under rules by beating 14/1 outsider Solis, trained by Dianne Sayer at Penrith and ridden by Colm McCormack, by seven lengths.

Tickkandemickey (7/2) trained by Raymond Shiels at Jedburgh and ridden by Daragh Bourke had a comfortable win in the third race, beating runner-up Wilde Pastures (5/1) trained at Langholm by James Ewart and ridden by Dale Irving, by eight lengths.

Stamina was the key to the fourth race, the Hexham Handicap Chase over a gruelling four miles and 25 fences.

Seven runners went to post and four finished, with 6/5 favourite Boris The Blade, trained by Tina Jackson at Loftus and powerfully ridden by Samantha Drake, first past the post.

Richie McGrath’s rich run of form ran out in this race when his mount Rojo Vojo crashed out in the back straight. He was taken to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for observation.

McGrath’s luck certainly had deserted him when, under the stewardship of deputy jockey Tony Kelly, his planned ride Pierrers Bounty opened his account in the three mile SIS Handicap Hurdle.

Carrying top weight, the seven-year-old trained by Henry Hogarth at Stillington, went off at generous odds of 16/1 and led before the last, touching off Bollin Fiona (12/1), trained by Donald Whillans at Hawick and ridden by Ryan Nichol, by a head.

Favourite backers were counting their losses again in the penultimate race, the SIS Handicap Chase over three miles and one furlong, and 19 fences.

Sam Patch (3/1fav) trained by Donald Whillans and ridden by Callum Whillans was prominent early on but weakened and fell two out.

Tony Kelly gained a quick double when his mount Samson Collonges (5/1) trained by Rebecca Menzies at Bransby made smooth headway and led on the run-in, only managing to beat Filbert Fox (12/1), trained by Alistair Whillans at Hawick and ridden by Peter Buchanan, by a neck.

Fourteen runners went to post for the final race on the card, the Follow Us On Facebook National Hunt Maiden Hurdle, over two-and-a-half miles.

The evens favourite Greensalt, trained by Donald McCain and ridden by Henry Brooke, sent supporters scurrying for the exits as he was beaten into second place by a short head.

The victor was Bop Along (9/1), trained at Newcastle by Michael Smith and ridden by Adam Nichol, in his first run since December 2012.

Racing returns to Yarridge Heights on Monday, March 31, when the first race is due off at 2.10pm.