Saturday, 13 January 2018

Wetherby - Saturday January 13

Predictably boggy ground for the time of year but I wouldn't call it desperate, and a decent enough card.

The opening novice hurdle looked very deep for the track and there are half a dozen worth keeping an eye out for in the coming weeks.

The betting was tight between four of them, the top two looking up against it being penalised for previous wins, but they are decent sorts and they came home in front.

Noble Robin is a bit of a brute and wasn't walking that fluently beforehand and you wonder if he's difficult enough to keep sound. One suspects this ground is imperative and he could be one to be wary of even on good to soft.

There was nothing to crab about the victory though as he powered away up the straight despite looking a tad awkward under the cosh. Silva Eclipse did little wrong in second and he's a much more nippy, flat looking type who will learn greatly from this; he can defy a penalty in the north.

I was taken by Leskinfere in the paddock and he warranted an each-way play at 20s, having shown improved form last time out. He's a strong animal with scope and while it was disappointing he came under pressure early enough, he stayed on pleasingly and now gets a mark, while an easier novice over a bit further should be child's play.

Quest For Life was all the rage but I didn't buy into that last effort here when tenderly handled, while the extra half mile wasn't sure to suit. He looked well, but patently failed to stay and could be of interest on better ground.

Trucker's Lodge was sent of favourite on the back of a very impressive bumper win, but that was gained on very different ground and he looked more of a work in progress here, fit enough but a little unfurnished, and he'll surely be kept to better ground than this now, as he struggled.

I quite liked Toosey and he's one to look out for when the ground turns. A full brother to the likeable Political Quiz, this one is similar in being quite tall and light framed, and shapes like a stayer. This was his third run for a mark and he shouldn't be missed when hopefully his trainer hits better form in the coming weeks.

De Dollar Man was a shade of odds-on for the confined novices chase, where all except the winner have their marks left alone under the new BHA initiative.

The Welsh raider had more than a stone in hand of some decent rivals and should really have put this to bed, but he may not have run up to previous form and looked a bit paceless at this intermediate trip.

Take nothing away from Hogan's Height, who out-jumped and out-fought him to gain a deserved success; however the assessor will take a dim view of the performance and will be getting a steep rise in the weights.

The eye-catcher was undoubtedly Quietly, who I've mentioned before is a very nice prospect who hasn't been seen to best effect for some time.

His turn isn't far away and with this confidence booster behind him he'll remain well treated when returned to further, and he's a typical Smith horse that will do the yard proud in years to come.

Mortens Leam was disappointing but I didn't think he'd handle this boggy ground and that looks a viable excuse.

The next was a poor handicap hurdle in which Gran Maestro put his best hoof forward for a change despite looking recalcitrant in the prelims; he's not one to rely on, unlike runner-up Walsingham Grange, who is pretty consistent at this level.

Skywards Reward, a big unit that looked really well, was the subject of a gamble but it came unstuck, the horse weakening out of it after sharing the early work. He looks to require much further but has quite a bit to prove at present.

Bun Doran has been disappointing since landing a Haydock novice hurdle in a bog two years ago and he had a big chance to finally deliver from a competitive mark in a winnable looking C2 affair.

But I haven't trusted his finishing effort for some time and again he looked vulnerable at the back end of the race, having no answer to the stamina of Positively Dylan, who picked the others' pockets with quite an authoritative display.

Just Cameron and Bun Doran probably made this quite a test on the ground, but while they were watching each other the Williams horse swooped. Kayf Blanco took second but he doesn't look like a chaser and has never found anything off the bridle anyway; as such the gamble on him was hard to fathom, for all that he jumped better here in general.

I had Craggaknock down as the bet of the day on his first start for local handler R Guest at big odds early doors, but the theory was based around likely warm order Westend Story not delivering on his early promise once more.

However, the Hobbs raider chose this day to put all his short-priced defeats behind him by sluicing up, with Craggaknock doing best of the remainder.

The runner-up and Slanelough ran their races and probably ahead of their marks too, such was the ease of the victory. Both look capable of making amends, while Catchamat still wasn't fit here and he's not one to give up on.

A tight knit handicap chase came up next where the market had four close together headed by Newberry New, bred to sprint but a lover of heavy ground and a decent jumper of fences for all that he lacks size.

He'll probably stay all day and didn't even hit his usual flat spot here under RJ, eventually running out a ready winner from the one-eyed Crown Hill.

The runner-up has been curiously campaigned but has done little wrong over fences and this decent looking sort could progress again once back on a right-handed track, and he too has stamina reserves.

Special Wells looked fit but he's 5lb above his last winning mark and that's as good as he is, while Granville Island had his chance but has clearly regressed and it's hard to see him get his head back in front.

The fillies' bumper wasn't a bad race and it saw Maebh reverse Newbury placings with So Lonely, who failed to give Johnson a five-timer. Fforbidden Love was given a bold ride in front and she should be able to pick up one of these. Tara Force is a decent looking youngster but may prefer better ground, while Dares To Dream has plenty about her and shouldn't be dismissed in the future.

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