David Ashforth is looking forward to watching the 3.00pm at HexhamPICTURE: Jon Winter (racingpost.com/photos)
Hexham contest set to provide 'must see' TV
LET'S all watch the 3.00pm at Hexham. It's a 'must see' race, the latest episode in one of those stories of determination and achievement in the face of adversity that are part of horse racing. It's the story of Jonathan Haynes and Beyondtemptation.
On December 29 1979, Haynes rode his first winner as a jump jockey on Chaperon at Leicester. On January 10 1980, in a selling hurdle at Southwell, he fell on Shiny Step, broke his back and, aged 19, had to face life in a wheelchair. His boss, trainer Jimmy Harris, had suffered a similar fate.
In 1987 Haynes became a permit holder, training literally a handful of horses. There was no sudden triumph. His first winner was years in the future, at Cartmel in 1996, when Tempted won a novice hurdle at 33-1. Haynes's next winner was eight years later, when Northern Flash, a 60-race maiden, won a handicap chase at Perth.
In 2006 the yard's first star emerged in the unlikely form of Silver Dagger. It took Silver Dagger 14 tries over hurdles before he dead-heated in a selling hurdle at Uttoxeter in 2004, after which he joined Haynes and, two years later, won four times within a month.
He was 50-1 on the first occasion, when rated a humble 66 and was never rated higher than 97.
A horse like Silver Dagger is not a star outside the intimacy of his stable but at a small yard he can be the focus of conversation and a source of joy.
After that, some years the yard had a winner and some years it did not - and then Beyondtemptation arrived.
Bred, owned and trained by Haynes, Beyondtemptation could not be accused of precocity. She was a six-year-old and having her 19th race when winning a novice handicap hurdle at Newcastle in December 2014 under regular partner Diarmuid O'Regan. She was rated just 75.
That day, Beyondtemptation made all the running and that is her trademark. She is a bonny, enthusiastic, willing, sound-jumping front-runner. In March 2015, as a seven-year-old, she scored her second win, at Hexham, and then lost a dozen races in a row.
When, as an eight-year-old, Beyondtemptation finally won again, given an easy lead at Wetherby in February off a rating of 83, a reporter wrote, "her profile suggests a follow-up is unlikely and this was gifted to her".
It was a reasonable observation but something got into Beyondtemptation's head or body or both because she won her next three races and five of her next six, invariably making the running and rallying bravely when required.
When she returned to Hexham, the scene of four of her wins, on May 7 her handicap mark had risen to 115. It was Beyondtemptation's 16th race since mid-September and over a trip of almost three miles, much further than she had raced before. It was too much but the bonny mare finished a doughty runner-up for Thomas Dowson.
It will be tough today but what a star Haynes has got.