Degrees graduates at Newcastle

Connections of Fiftyfive Degrees believe there will be plenty more races to be won with the eight-year-old after he turned in an impressive performance at Newcastle.

Connections of Fiftyfive Degrees believe there will be plenty more races to be won with the eight-year-old after he turned in an impressive performance at Newcastle.

The 6-5 chance tracked Marleybow for much of the three-mile Furlongs Racing Supporting Chin-Up Novices' Handicap Chase and jumped to the front five fences from home.

Both Marleybow and Boris The Blade tried to stick with him at the top of the straight but Pauline Robson's charge began to stretch away from the third-last.

After pinging the final obstacle, he only had to be pushed out by Graham Lee to beat the latter by five lengths.

Robson's assistant and partner, David Parker, said: "He just jumps and stays and is a real old-fashioned chaser.

"He's quite uncomplicated and we will keep going now as he has not had much racing.

"We couldn't get him on a racecourse until he was six as he was so backward but he should hopefully continue to improve now."

Lord Larsson got off the mark over obstacles with a hard-fought success in the Complete Football "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.

Malcolm Jefferson's charge was sent off at 8-1, having been placed on his first two starts.

After going to the front between the final two flights, he found plenty under Phil Kinsella to secure a half-length success.

"He's a good horse but he is really a chaser in the making," said Jefferson.

"He is by Kayf Tara and a lot of them seem to get better as they get older and that will be the case with this horse.

"We might try and win another hurdle race with him but that will be it for the season as he will go novice chasing next season."

Oscar Trial shed his maiden tag at the 11th attempt with a cosy success in the Gosforth Decorating And Building Services Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

Sent off at 14-1, having been placed only once in his career prior to this effort, Michael O'Connell's mount stuck to his task well up the straight to post a two-and-three-quarter-length success from Ardesia.

Trainer Sharon Watt said: "He is one of those horses who has had everything wrong with him but he has always been a good work-horse so it's great he has won."

Rhys Flint is a conditional rider making a name for himself and was seen to good effect on board Viscount Rossini in the NCFE Qualifications Handicap Hurdle, the jockey's ride over the sticks at Gosforth Park.

Trained by Steve Gollings, the 6-1 chance was strongly pressed on all sides after jumping the final flight.

But Flint kept his mount working hard all the way to the line and was half a length to the good passing the post.

Gollings said: "The horse had no confidence when he joined us, but his jumping has got better and he does need soft ground.

"He is quite one-paced and although he wears blinkers, he is not ungenuine.

"Rhys gave him a lovely ride."

Merrydown looks to have a big future after securing his second victory over obstacles in the Newcastle United Foundation Blaydon Races Novices' Hurdle.

Only favourite Mighty Moon could stay with the 9-4 chance at the top of the straight.

But once Davy Condon asked him the question, Merrydown stretched clear to score by 10 lengths.

Trainer Nicky Richards said: "We'll get a few more runs into him now as we just want to keep educating him.

"He will make a smashing chaser in time."

Flake (11-1) outpointed favourite De Boitron in a tight finish to the Parklands Handicap Chase, while George Moore's Ceasar's Return (8-1) came from the clouds to take the SV Rutter Ltd Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Moore said: "He has taken a while to learn his job and while I thought he would run well, I didn't think he would win as it looked a decent bumper.

"Barry (Keniry) said he must have been 12 lengths behind turning in but all he does is stay - he should make a nice sort over hurdles."

Brian Hughes, rider of runner-up Vivona Hill, was suspended two days (March 17-18) for using his whip with excessive frequency.

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