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The ground on Thursday at Hexham is bound to be testing, with the going at the time of writing being heavy, soft in places.

Our grand old lady Russian Royale is first up at in the two miles conditional jockeys 0-110 mares only handicap hurdle, with Aiden Macdonald able to claim the full 10lb. Even so Russian Royale is racing from 6lb out of the weights, she is very well handicapped on her younger days, and was a course and distance winner from a 10lb higher mark back in June 2018, on her preferred better ground.As she has got older she has shown she can handle a softer surface, but any drying out would be to her advantage.

Marvellous Joe is next up at, in the 0-105 novices handicap chase, over three miles, with Danny McMenamin having his first ride for the stable.Marvellous Joe has only run on six occasions to date, but has shown he hasn't got the pace to compete in bumpers, or over hurdles, and although showing more on his chase debut at Sedgefield three weeks ago, he eventually dropped out of contention. He now steps up a further three furlongs, which should be a help.

The most stamina sapping race over fences in British racing takes place twice a year at Hexham, there is a four miles event in November, and this one in March. Dontdelay is a previous winner of the November equivalent, and is also a three times course winner, from just five visits, and he needs this searching test to bring out the best in him.With his regular jockey Emma Smith-Chaston still being on the sidelines, we have booked Jamie Hamilton to ride, the race is at

Black Kettle finds getting his head in front difficult, he was a winner for Rebecca Menzies back in April 2018, but since joining us, he has finished second three times, and third twice. His seasonal debut was at Wetherby in better company than this 23 days ago, and he shaped with a lot of promise. This trip of two and a half miles on heavy ground would be as far as he would want to go, but he does race from an all time low mark of 79. The race is at, and Sean Quinlan who won on Lady Adare for us at Newcastle nine days ago has been booked to ride.

Kildrum is our final runner in the 0-100 two miles and seven furlongs handicap hurdle at, with Sean Quinlan taking the ride.Before joining us he was second in five Irish Point to Points, and had only run once over hurdles when falling at the first at Thurles. He pulled up on his stable debut at Wetherby on Boxing Day in a handicap hurdle, and this race should tell us more, but I would imagine his future will lie over fences.

To keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Oakwood Stables, and Sharp Hill, click on 'NEWS' at www.mickyhammondracing.

Good luck to the connections, Raypasha, Joe Buzzeo & Partner,The Golden Cuckoo, Tasker-Brown & Partners, and T M Clarke.

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