We send four up to Hexham, where the ground is currently described as good to soft, soft in places.
We are doubly represented at 2.15.pm, in the 0-110 handicap chase over three miles. Grange Ranger is now back on the same mark of 109 that he won off at Wetherby last November, but he has failed to replicate that form in four subsequent starts. The trip and going are fine, and he will once again have the services of Conor O'Farrell in the saddle.
Our other runner in the race is Along Long Story, who will be ridden by Thomas Dowson for the first time. When trained in Ireland Along Long Story showed on more than one occasion that the ability is there to win off his current mark of 90, particularly on his success in a Hunters Chase in March 2022. He has shown next to nothing in his four starts for us, but his mark continues to nosedive.
Grand Du Nord put a series of bad runs behind him when returning to form at Wetherby last time in handicap company from a mark of 96, and he now steps back in to novice company, where he will wear first time cheek pieces. Grand Du Nord faces two of his rivals here on disadvantageous terms, but does have an advantage in experience on the majority of the field. The race is a maiden hurdle, over two miles and seven furlongs at 2.50.pm, with Conor O'Farrell retaining the ride.
Applaus makes a quick return to the track just seven days after disappointing at Hexham, for which he has been eased 2lb. Applaus had been running as well as ever prior to that race, having won twice, and finishing second twice. He now steps back up in trip to two and a half miles, a trip he has stayed well in the past, and hopefully this time the going will be soft enough for him to do himself justice. He goes to post for the 0-120 handicap at 4.0.pm, with Joshua Thompson once again in the saddle.
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Good luck to the connections, Oakwood Rainbow, The Chronicles, Middleham Park & The Cheltenham Trail 7, and Mrs Gemma Hogg.