I closed my preview of Tuesday's race with the words..."a 14/1 E/W play for a few pennies on Pour Une Raison would at least give us some other interest in the race"... After all, the horse looked fairly well suited to the task in hand, was second on our Geegeez ratings and looked "big" at 14's. The end result was that he won by nine lengths easing down and my only regret was only suggesting such a small stake!
Now, to Wednesday, the last opportunity of the month, where we're assisted by full free access to the Trainer Statistics report, whilst our free 'races of the day' are...
- 2.00 Ludlow
- 2.20 Southwell
- 3.40 Hexham
- 3.50 Southwell
- 5.00 Dundalk
The middle one of that quintet of races looks interesting. Only six are set to go to post, but it looks a fairly competitive contest nevertheless. It's a Class 4, handicap hurdle over 2m4f on good to soft ground and it's on your racecards as the 3.40 Hexham...
Very Patient carries bottom weight here and comes from a yard in decent nick after landing 6 winners from 26 (23.1% SR) over the last 30 days, of which jockey Ryan Mania is 4 from 16 (25%). The horse ran well enough on debut to finish third in a soft ground bumper, beaten by little more than three lengths, but hasn't kicked on since. He was beaten by 27L in another bumper and has failed to finish in two of four over hurdles, losing the other two by 12L and 27L respectively with that last defeat being his most recent effort. I don't see him succeeding on handicap debut even off a mark as low as 103.
Cash Again on the other hand, might not be too badly treated off 106, as he has won off this mark in the past, albeit over fences in January 2018! He was then winless from that date for ten outings (9 x chase, 1 x hurdle) before taking advantage of a reduced mark to win over hurdles at Sedgefield off 98. He went up 4lbs next/last time out to 102, but still won over fences at this track and trip. More is needed today, up another 4lbs after only just getting up last time out, but he'll have a chance here.
Bavington Bob produced a career-best effort to get off the mark at the seventh time of asking on his handicap debut last time out. He stayed on well to win by a length and a half and although some of his rivals from that race have reappeared and run well, this is a much tougher prospect. He's up in class and effectively 7lbs worse off (up 4lbs and no 3lb jockey claim) and he's meeting better horses in better form than those he faced last time out. That said, winning can become habit-forming and I'm sure he'll be popular here, especially as his yard are 13 from 32 (40.6% SR) with LTO winners since 2016.
Sheriff Garrett won a 15-runner handicap in mid-March and was a runner up at Newcastle last time out, 11 days ago and really relishes running at this type of trip. Has good ground speed between the hurdles, as demonstrated by his two wins over 1m6f on the A/W at Wolverhampton in the past. He goes off the same mark here as LTO and this race looks a little weaker with only half the runners and in Jamie Hamilton, he has a fairly hot jockey who has won three of seven races in the past week.
Hart Of Steel has had a good season so far, finishing 31127 over hurdles and you could make excuses about his last run if you wanted to, when an inexperienced (just 18 rides in the last year) 10lbs claimer wasn't able to keep him under a tight rein. He ran too keenly and weakened late on in a 12 lengths defeat. He's down a pound in the ratings here and we've a 5lb claimer on board, so he's now effectively back on the same mark as when winning here three starts ago, albeit over just 2m0.5f and under a better jockey (today's jockey is 1 from 30 over the last month). I also have some reservations about him seeing the trip out, but the ability is there if ridden accordingly.
Stainsby Girl bears top weight here, but she's on the same mark as when winning back to back Class 4 hurdles at Newcastle (March 2020) and then 8 months later here at Hexham in November. She was only beaten by just over 7 lengths last time out in a Class 2 contest and now drops 2lbs and 2 grades. She's further aided by the 3lb claim of jockey Billy Garrity who had a winner and a runner-up from his two rides at nearby Newcastle today (Tuesday).
It's a Class 4 contest, so you'd be entitled to expect some level of relevant past form and the overall tally of this bunch of six hopefuls stands at a reasonable 28 placed efforts from 71 (39.4%), including 11 wins (15.5% SR) with the stats a little lower than I'd hoped, but it doesn't help when the combined NH records of Bavington Bob and Very Patient come to just 1 win and 1 place from 13. Otherwise the four remaining runner have made the frame on 44.8% of the time , winning 17.2%. Instant Expert will hopefully tell us more about those wins...
At this point, only Very Patient's poor record stands out like a sore thumb, but Bavington Bob's sole win from seven starts does seem to have rescued him on that graphic with it coming over today's trip.
When looking back over 11 previous similar contests, it's blatantly obvious how best to win here at Hexham, get out and stay out...
Those attempting to make the pace tend to do very well with over 60% staying out long enough to make the frame and the danger to the leaders is invariably those who have bided their time a little further back in the pack. Hexham is hard to win at from off the pace, as shown by the hold-up horses' poor numbers, whilst this racing more prominently often do much too early in a bid to keep closer to the leaders. Hanging back just off the pace is the best advice, if you're not a natural front runner.
We do have a confirmed front runner here in the shape of the seemingly well-suited top weight, Stainsby Girl, but will she have to battle for the lead? The pace tab will answer that for us...
Probably not. Our prediction is that she'll probably be allowed to go it alone early doors with the rest sitting in behind. Bavington Bob looks destined to play the role of back marker, whilst Very Patient has also been held up in two of his last four outings.
Down in class (x 2) and weight back to her last winning mark, boasting a record of one win and a runner-up finish to her name from two previous visits to Hexham and shaping well on the pace predictor, I'm drawn to Stainsby Girl here. She's currently (5.00pm) 4/1 with Bet365 and I thought she might have been a little longer, but four's is acceptable/reasonable in a 6-runner field (5 if you discard Very Patient).
She's the one to beat for me, but it won't be a shoo-in by any means. Sheriff Garrett will pose a serious threat too and if continuing to improve, then Cash Again could very well be in the mix.