April – Ludlow – Balhambar – 61

Not a breakneck gallop by any means but a reasonable end product and a winner who could be a nice one to go to war with during the remainder of the season – especially on better ground. Very strong in the latter part of the contest, Harry Derham’s gelding responded well to the first-time tongue tie and he looks to be on a very favourable mark at present based on the evidence of this effort.

April 4 – Wolves – Snooze Land – 78 

Strong fractions were set right from the start of this low-range handicap and everything panned out in favour of Steph Hollinshead’s gelding who has thrived on similarly run events in the past. Clearly a much better horse at the Midland venue than anywhere else, connections will no doubt be scouring the programme book to see how many more Class 6 1m1f handicaps there are around the corner and he deserves to be played accordingly if found a similar contest where the pace looks to be solid.

April 6 – Chelmsford – Avon Light – 79

Just the six runners went to post for this fillies’ handicap but the pace was strong thanks to the exploits of Ayyab and in the end, it played into the hands of one of those held up off the gallop. Surprisingly easy to back despite winning on her previous start, the daughter of Lightening Spear moved into a striking position off the home bend and with a relentless run down the straight, she eventually wore down the front runner late on. Clocking a big number for the grade, a good deal depends on whether she can translate this level of form back to the turf but if she can, the four-year-old filly can do well in races of this nature when the ground finally dries out.

April 6 – Kempton – Ferrous – 77

There was some excellent all-weather racing on one of Kempton’s showpiece meetings of the year and arguably the best race on the card was the last. The early exploits of Knebworth and Good Earth ensured the pace was brisk and when they faded after the cutaway, Jack Channon’s gelding became the chief beneficiary of the pace collapse, staying on powerfully inside the final furlong to score going away. 2-2 since being gelded, the son of Dark Angel now has the option to head back towards the grass – a surface that has seen him twice a winner in the past – and even at this early stage, he looks one to bear in mind for the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot should his trajectory remain going in this direction.

April 7 – Carlisle – William Of York – 65

Easily the most competitive race on the ‘Go North Series’ finals and it went the way of a horse who had already shown a liking for the Cumbrian venue. Just as he did at the previous meeting, Rebecca Menzies’ inmat5e travelled well for the entire journey and although headed momentarily on the run-in, he fought back with great determination to claim the prize close home. Whether he runs again this season remains to be seen but the form should stand the test regards many of the main players.

April 7 – Exeter – Howaya Now – 62

Despite getting the best of the ground, the numbers posted by Richard Bandey’s gelding still read well and its worth pointing out that his final circuit was 2.4 seconds quicker than the 117-rated two-mile, Donnacha. For a future chaser who probably requires further, this was a fair effort and he might be interesting if connections pitched him in a handicap before the end of the season. The runner-up, Monty Searle, deserves a mention too on his rules debut, as he was the only one to offer some sort of resistance to the winner from a long way out. A winning pointer, he could be one for a small novice hurdle down the west country next time.