NINE DECLARED ON WEDNESDAY.
We send eight of our team up to Hexham, and one down to Wolverhampton for their all weather meeting. The going at Hexham will be heavy so plenty of stamina, and a liking for the mud will be essential.
We run two in the first race at 12.20.pm, a 0-110 handicap hurdle over two and a half miles. When Penpal first arrived from France he came with a mark of 120, but in seven starts his mark has now dropped to 94. He showed the ability was still there when finishing fifth in a novice hurdle at Catterick under a penalty last December, and a repeat of that would probably make him the best handicapped horse in the race, he will once again be partnered by Alain Cawley.
In the same race Kildrum makes his seasonal debut. He ran on four occasions last term two of which were at Hexham, where he ran well on both occasions, particularly in March when finishing a nine lengths second, in a race where he would have finished a lot closer if not for a bad blunder at the last, Billy Garritty who rode him twice last season is back in the saddle.
At 12.50.pm, in the three miles handicap chase for horses rated 0-100 Square Viviani has his first start in 197 days, with Emma Smith-Chaston taking off 7lb. Square Viviani was a course and distance winner from a 2lb lower mark than now on heavy ground back in November 2019, and has since won again at Market Rasen in January 2020, so the main concern is lack of a recent run.
Another horse who will love the mud is Knocknamona who goes to post at 1.50.pm, in a 0-100 handicap chase over two and a half miles, with his regular jockey Alain Cawley retaining the ride. Knocknamona looked ring rusty at Sedgefield on his seasonal debut 34 days ago and will strip fitter now. He is currently still 2lb higher than his last win at Bangor from very nearly a year ago.
The legend that is Roxyfet has a rare away day from Sedgefield when lining up for the extended one mile and seven furlongs 0-105 handicap chase at 2.50.pm, with Emma Smith-Chaston who has won on him on three previous occasions in the saddle. Roxyfet was having his first start in over four months when finishing eighth at Sedgefield last time, and the handicapper has eased him by 5lb. As he will be 12 years old very shortly he will probably need a few more pounds off his back to help him to get back into the winners enclosure. Why is Roxyfet a legend? This will be his 95th start over fences, and his 106th race in total, of which 105 have been over the jumps, and he is the winner of 15 races.
We are also represented in the 2.50.pm, by the returning Onenightintown who looked devoid of ability until finishing third on two occasions in June at Market Rasen. Unfortunately he can let his temperament get the better of him, as he has a tendency to flash his tail. In order to win a race he will need to find a little more from his current mark on what his his first start in 157 days, his regular rider Alain Cawley retains the ride.
Our final two runners at Hexham both run in the 3.20.pm, the 0-100 handicap hurdle over two miles and seven furlongs. Late Date lost his way over fences last season when pulling up on five consecutive occasions, but a return to hurdles has offered hope that he will win again, especially after finishing second at Perth in August His mark has now slipped to 83, and he will once again be partnered by Conor O'Farrell.
Great Raffles is our other runner in the race. He ran three times when trained in France, with his best effort coming when finishing sixth in a flat race. In all of his hurdle races, which include six starts for us, he is yet to get competitive, but his mark has come down 22lb. He will strip fitter for his seasonal debut at Hexham last month, with Alain Cawley retaining the ride.
We also have one runner down at Wolverhampton where The Retriever makes his first visit to the track. The Retriever appears to act well on an artificial surface, so we don't envisage any problems in that department. He ran at Redcar 36 days ago so he will be sharper for the run, his draw in five is good, but he is still 8lb above his last winning mark. The race is at 3.10.pm, a 0-60 handicap over seven furlongs with our stable apprentice Aiden Brookes attempting to win on him for the second time.
To keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Oakwood Stables, Sharp Hill, and Curlew, click on 'NEWS' at www.mickyhammondracing.
Good luck to the connections, T M Clarke, The Golden Cuckoo, Ryder Sugden, The Rat Pack Racing Club, Samuel Sutton & Partners, RM&T Holdings Limited & Partners, and County Set Six & Partner.