WITH Sandown and Wincanton both called off due to the weather last Saturday, all eyes were on Newcastle and it proved a fine day for jockey Brian Hughes who enjoyed a red-letter day with a treble on Retrieve The Stick, Dingo Bay and Oleohneh.
Retrieve The Stick got the ball rolling when following up a Kelso victory on Sunday with a game win in the Catherine Dornan 90th Birthday/EBF Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
“She’s from a tough family – it’s only six days since she last ran. I trained her mother (Anabranch) years ago and she won lots of races for me,” trainer Malcolm Jefferson said.
Hughes made it a brace on the John Wade-trained Dingo Bay, who put in a fine round of jumping to win the Barbour Handicap Chase for the second year running.
The 9/4 favourite pulled clear from the second last to beat Samson Collonges by seven lengths.
Hughes said: “He had a horrific fall the last day in better company but he usually jumps well and he likes this place.
“He loves that ground but didn’t beat the most competitive field. I’ve had three wins on him now, so I’m not complaining.”
Hughes and Jefferson combined again to take the concluding EBF Stallion Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race with Oleohneh.
Sent off a well backed favourite, she was travelling ominously well before drawing eight lengths clear of Conjola.
Locally-based Simon Waugh enjoyed a welcome winner when Total Assets took the S V Rutter Handicap Hurdle.
“At Musselburgh (over three miles) she seemed to empty a little bit just before the last and didn’t run on after that, so we thought the best thing to do was to bring her back a couple of furlongs,” said the Morpeth handler.
“I’m absolutely delighted for the owners. We set up the Northumberland Racing Club about four months ago. We lost a horse at Sedgefield but they are such a great crowd of people. It’s brilliant.
“I took my licence out a couple of years ago, but it’s quite difficult moving up from pointto- points to the National Hunt scene and being competitive.
We’re trying to improve the number of horses and get the quality up as well.”
Wolverhampton raced on Monday afternoon and Ben Haslam was on the mark in the opening race with Dance For Georgie and afterwards the winning trainer said: “She usually travels a bit further into the race, but maybe seven around here is as fast as she wants it.
“She’s in at Kempton on Wednesday without a penalty and we’ll see how she comes out of this.”
Again there wasn’t much jumping on Tuesday, and the all-weather card at Southwell provided Ann Duffield and PJ McDonald there first winner of the new-year with Heidi’s Delight.
The filly has never been the easiest to train and afterwards owner David McMahon wasn’t getting carried away, saying: “We’ve persevered with Heidi’s Delight through injuries as a three-year-old and four-year-old, but we’ve a decision to make now.
“We were going to donate her to the Northern Racing College, but she’s gone and done that.
“But like PJ says, you can’t trust her to run like that again – she didn’t want to know last week.”
Once again the ground is going to be very testing at Sedgefield today. The seven race card is due under way at 12.40pm and a stand-out runner is Moscow Presents in the staying handicap hurdle.
Trained in Middleham by Phil Kirby, he was a recent winner at Haydock and is seven pound well in compared to future handicaps.
It is Wetherby’s turn to race tomorrow. Their seven race card is set to start at 12.35pm, and an interesting card it is as well, stamina being the key component required all day long.