Saturday, 17 November 2018

Wetherby - November 17

We are still waiting for rain and while the hurdlers appear to be alright on this heavily watered ground, the chases aren't very competitive with not many great betting opportunities.

A fair looking novice hurdle opened proceedings and Skidoosh, a winner at the last meeting, was a heavily backed favourite despite having a somewhat in and out record so far.

Yet despite the all-conquering claimer D McMenamin taking off 7lb I thought Highway Girl a great bet to at least hit the places, being a good stamp of a mare and looking fit enough.

So it was disappointing to see her receive a negative ride, especially considering that she looked so one-paced in bumpers, and as she jumped so well and plugged on after the last a forward ride may have seen her go close. She's one to follow.

As it was, Captain Zebo defied keenness and a move from the G Elliott yard to win by a clear margin under Mr J Dixon. He's a good strong horse that looked fit and well, and while I wouldn't detract from the win he was suited by the way it panned out.

Sue Smith's runners usually come to themselves with plenty of give underfoot and Thelongwayaround is one of many that looks the sort to improve for plenty of juice, while Pleney could be one for handicaps further down the line.

It wasn't easy to find one in the staying handicap chase but there appeared to be value around as the favourite Miles To Milan isn't one to trust, looking to have every chance last time out.

He looks like he's got plenty of attitude and yet he put his head down after the last to win a shade cosily, although I'd still take the view that this fell in his lap and those in front coming back to him.

Of the rest, I sided with Bright Prospect who is a strong chasing type and I thought he was really well, and this often keen sort got a forward ride that almost paid off. This is as good as he is though, a remark that could be said for the lot of them. Knocknamona was as fit as I've seen him before and he should be noted when the mud starts to fly, as he could have improved some more.

Wemyss Point has been brought along nicely by in-form handler P Kirby and this robust stayer has done well physically of late, looking more straight forward mentally in the race, too.

This wasn't the strongest race in the world and he had a fairly easy time on the front end, but the winner clearly loves the place and will undoubtedly stay further.

I didn't think the race panned out well for Becky The Thatcher, a proper stayer who simply couldn't get to grips with them as the pace quickened. She looks in decent form and can make amends when the cards fall right.

I've gone on about Cracking Find more than any other horse on this blog and he's such an honest, likeable horse, but he had little to answer to an improved Catamaran Du Seuil who bolted up for the in-form Dr Newland in the feature chase.

Formerly a wretched little rat of a horse, the ex-French winner is still growing and filling out but even with that in mind these conditions were sharp enough on all known form.

However, he could be called the winner some way out and even from a mark in the 140s he can win a decent pot, having proved himself over 3m on heavy ground.

Cracking Find gives the form a solid look and he too came clear of the rest, I'm convinced he's worth a try at 3m now and hopefully losses can be recouped soon. The rest were fit enough, but simply not good enough in these conditions.

Skandiburg looks a nice type for the future but was outpaced throughout the following novice, never closer than at the line. He's a slow burner but one to keep on side, while Tight Call was very fit yet still couldn't fend off Kajaki, a rare runner for the K Ryan kennel.

Cornborough must be a delight to own and despite his diminutive stature he pings his hurdles and puts it all in, and he duly obliged in the handicap hurdle under a more positive ride than normal under the equally reliable H Brooke.

He looked the best handicapped horse in the field and so it proved, Golden Jeffrey running a funny old race, and he'll surely revel in heavy ground when the rain arrives.

Ravenhill Road has been highly thought-of for a long time but they had to scratch last season because of wind issues and he looked to have been produced fit and well for his chase bow in a match with Hawk High.

I'm not really sure why he couldn't see off his opponent, who probably isn't the most straight forward conveyance, and maybe he was caught in his wind again.

Either way, the jury remains out on Ravenhill Road, while big field handicaps may yet see Festival winner Hawk High in better light over fences.