Favourite backers were only denied a clean sweep at Hexham on Wednesday, November 22 by Cracking Rhapsody's surprise victory in the 2m British Stallion Studs EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle Race.

Jamie Snowden's Lambourn raider Idy Wood (Gavin Sheehan) was the one to beat with his sights lowered after finishing third in a Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham last month. The five-year-old odds-on shot led from the off until joined by Cracking Rhapsody (Craig Nichol) approaching the last, and it was Nichol's mount who edged in front inside the last fifty yards to score by a neck.

Trained at Hawick by Ewan Whillans and carrying the well known colours of John and Sheila Wright, the winner was bought for 7,500 euros at the Tattersalls Ireland Store Sale in July 2022 and has already more than repaid his purchase price. The four-year-old is a half-brother to stable companion Cracking Destiny, an eight-time winner under Rules, as well as being related to prolific winners First Lieutenant and Sea Gale.

This was a fourth winner in six days for Nichol, who said: ''It's very deep ground out there and probably as tough as I've ever known it at Hexham.''

Serious Ego (Conor Rabbitt) followed up a recent Hexham victory in the 2m Download The N-E Bet App Today Handicap Hurdle Race to continue the good run being enjoyed by Nicky Richards' Greystoke yard.

After being patiently ridden at the back of the 5-runner field but always in touch with the leaders, the ten-year-old was produced with a well-timed challenge to hit the front approaching the last before forging clear to win as he liked by eight-and-a-half lengths from Beat Box (Edward Austin).

Still well handicapped on his old form, the gelding was providing Rabbitt, 21, with his 12th winner of the season to keep him in contention for the Conditional Jockeys Championship. Rabbitt said: ''He loves heavy ground, won with plenty in hand and has been waiting twelve months for these underfoot conditions. He may be doesn't put in 100 % every time but tries hard when things go his way in a race.''

Although Jamie Snowden was out of luck with Idy Wood in the opener, stable companion Wendigo made the 570-mile round trip worthwhile with an impressive four-and-a-half length success over promising debutante St John's Road (Jack Power) in the concluding 2m Langley Castle An Outstanding Small Hotel Open National Hunt Flat Race under Gavin Sheehan.

The youngster was bought for £70,000 at Goffs UK Doncaster Sale in May, less than a fortnight after getting off the mark on his third point-to-point start in Ireland.

Snowden said: ''Wendigo is a nice horse, we like him a lot and he's won well. That was fairly bad ground and he's only a four-year-old so we'll be patient with him. I'd have thought we could look at a better race now.''

Hostile Hotelier (Sean Quinlan) defied top weight in the 2m Hexham Racecourse Novices' Handicap Hurdle Race. The five-year-old tracked pace-setting Celestial Fashion (Joe Williamson) until rallying under pressure to lead before the last and stayed on well to beat Lacila Blue (Bruce Lynn) by two lengths.

Inox Allen (Patrick Wadge) initiated a double for Kinross trainer Lucinda Russell when making a winning debut under Rules in the 2m4f Simon Waugh Racing Northumberland Racing Club Maiden Hurdle Race.

After dictating matters from the off at a sedate pace, the five-year-old was briefly joined by Classical Maestro (Sean Quinlan) approaching the last before asserting again on the run-in to score comfortably in the end by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

Clovis Boy (Derek Fox) completed another good day at the office for Lucinda Russell's yard when opening his account in the 2m4f Support The Injured Jockeys Fund Today Handicap Hurdle Race.

Making his second appearance since undergoing wind surgery during the summer, the four-year-old was always in contention but had to dig deep after getting outpaced two out. He rallied well off the home turn to take it up from Juge Et Parti (Danny McMenamin) at the last and, despite making a mistake, outstayed his rival to win going away by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

This promising stayer is open to further improvement particularly when tried over an even longer trip.

The final meeting of the year at Hexham takes place on Wednesday, December 13, where a seven race card starts at 12.15pm.