Kinneston trainer, Nick Alexander is enjoying one of his best seasons between the flags and increased his tally to 8 with a double from Rossini's Dancer and Back On The Road on Saturday's well supported Fife card at Balcormo Mains.
The versatile Rossini's Dancer has got his confidence back since being switched from running under Rules and made it two wins from his last three starts in the Pentland Land Rover Men's Open Race under a well judged ride from Alexander's son, Kit. The 10 year old disputed the lead with Some Target from the outset but the contest was still wide open when the pair were joined two out by Duhallowcountry. Alexander's mount then asserted his superiority, pulling a length clear of Some Target approaching the last and maintaining that advantage to the line. Alexander said: "He enjoyed being able to dictate and saw out the extended three and a quarter mile trip without any problems."
Former smart chaser, Back On The Road, who ran at the 2009 Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals, joined the Alexander team a little over two years ago and continued his recent revival by landing the Lundin Homes NPPA Club Members Race in the hands of owner, Jamie Alexander, Nick's brother. After being held up out the back in the early stages, he moved through smoothly to track Silk And Roses and Great Gusto with a circuit remaining before cruising past them to go three lengths clear three out. Great Gusto battled back gamely under Will Ramsay to lead narrowly at the last but Back On The Road would not be denied and edged in front again near the line to snatch a short head verdict.
More than nineteen years after riding his first winner on Fordstown at Lanark, Alexander, 50, remains as enthusiastic and competitive as ever. He said of his 13 year old gelding: "He travelled well behind a strong pace and I didn't want him to hit the front too soon. He met the last all wrong and lost momentum but rallied well to get his head back in front." As well as sending out 8 winners this term, 11 of Nick Alexander's other 15 runners between the flags have been placed.
Nick Orpwood, 27 the previous day, extended his lead over Tom Hamilton in the Northern Area Men's Jockeys Championship to 13pts with a double on Milano Magic and Havana Jack. Milano Magic has been rejuvenated by a spell of pointing and, after going more than four years without winning, made it three victories in five weeks in the Turcan Connell Fife Members Race. Sent on after three out, he left his two rivals toiling from the next and coasted home twenty lengths in front of Sir Watty. Orpwood said: "He was coming on and off the bridle in a cat and mouse contest and would have been better suited by a stronger pace but won cosily in the end."
Havana Jack opened his account on only his fourth career start in an exciting 5 runner Bruce Farms Open Maiden Race. In a slowly run affair, Poll An Easa jumped soundly for Ross Wilson and had made virtually all when running out at the second last. Orpwood's mount, who was on terms but hanging left at the time, was then joined at the last by Sound Barrier before doing just enough when the chips were down to secure a short head verdict. Irvine-based owner/trainer, Leonard Kerr said: "I bought him for only £1800 as an unraced 3 year old at Doncaster Sales in August 2013. He is still learning the game and really needs a left handed track as well as bottomless ground."
After taking his career tally under all codes to 50 on High Fair at Perth Races three days earlier, Tom Hamilton extended his winning sequence of rides at Balcormo to five on Northumbrian raider, Nelly La Rue in the Subaru Restricted Race. Sent to the front six out, the 8 year old maintained a relentless gallop and turned the contest into a procession from the second last to beat Cobh National by a distance. Hamilton said of Mark Thompson's charge: "Her jumping won the day again, gaining ground at her fences and she's still improving." Hamilton's 100% track record finally came to an end with placed rides on the aforementioned duo, Some Target and Silk And Roses.
Amie Waugh made her first visit to Balcormo one to remember by steering Whiteabbey to victory in the Albert Bartlett Ladies Open Race. Dictating a modest pace from the outset, her mount comfortably kept the odds-on favourite, Durban Gold at bay on the final circuit to score by two lengths. Winning trainer, Rebecca Hewit said of the 10 year old: "He is very lazy at home and needs plenty of work but is concentrating better in his races since being fitted with cheekpieces. I wanted to run him here as I'm away for the next few weeks in my role as coach to the British Junior Vaulting Team. He might have one more outing this season in the Border Ladies Open on May 31."