Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Carlisle - November 12

Back across the 66 for what at first glance looked a decent enough card, but it essentially cut up to a couple of decent events and with the rain crashing down it was only just worth the trip. It was officially soft but times suggest it wasn't that bad.

There wasn't much to glean from a modest lot in the opening novice, Clondaw Anchor looking a class apart both beforehand and during the race.

Relkadam has loads of size and scope about him and almost certainly got tired on this first outing for the Easterby yard. I don't know where they've conjured a mark of 122 from, but handicaps are probably out for now, however a northern novice should be within his grasp.

A cracking novice chase was up next with the unbeaten hurdler Vinndication transferring his form to fences first time up with a thoroughly pleasing effort against a nailing good marker in Uncle Alastair.

The runner-up was simply out-paced after the last but he looks a proper stayer who looks poised for a big winter, so long as this compact little horse can iron out the odd jumping blemish that dotted his opening effort.

Euxton Lane is another worth following back on a left-handed track. His only poor effort thus far came at Market Rasen and he went left under pressure when tiring after the last, having typically  gone with plenty of zest.

Red Rising showed up well and although he was very fit, he'll want a real stamina test and this was a decent start, while Claud And Goldie went well for a long way and may be worth noting.

The mare's race saw H Skelton riding Hidden Dilemma for Stuart Crawford, surely a tip in itself, and this strong looking sort was clearly primed to run a big race, a fact confirmed when a couple of fellas started going ballistic in the stands when she skipped merrily over the last before dancing clear on the run-in.

Trooblue may not have been a party pooper had she stood up but she's a nice big chasing type and providing she's ok after being brought down is very much one to keep an eye on.

The graduation chase was the highlight and quite notable for the market drift on Nuts Well, who was pulled up after an uncharacteristic mid-race blunder. He was up against it on the figures but this was surprisingly bad.

Dolos was all the rage but he has never looked the most straight forward and although little could have been done the way it panned out, it looks like he got to the front far too soon and he was reeled in by Highway One O One.

The winner is quite leggy but loves the mud and this stiffer test clearly suited, while the third home Chesterfield isn't bred for fences at all and yet ran his usual solid race and looks every bit as good in this sphere.

Treshnish ran another solid race in behind better quality horses and this big strong individual will be found more suitable openings in the coming weeks.

Ryalex had come in for very strong support here last month and was again the one for money in a very ordinary 0-120 handicap chase, which he won by 24 lengths. Quite where they go from here I don't know.

The bumper featured an athletic former winner in Mr Scrumpy and three big future chasing types in Weakfield, I K Brunel and Tarada.

There was plenty of each-way cash for the latter and he nearly pulled it off with a fine effort despite being the most backward of them all.

I K Brunel is a nice strong sort who was well produced to win first time out, although caution may be warranted as his half-brother Somewhere To Be is not straight forward.

Weakfield was disappointing and may need plenty of time, but Mr Scrumpy ran well under his penalty and looks good enough to win a couple of northern novice hurdles.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Aintree - November 10

Back over to Liverpool, not a meeting I'd attended before but pleasant enough and some decent action for all that the ground was still good in the main.

Only two rocked up for the 3m novice chase and Robin Waters would make a catwalk model, however he looks like he's got the brains to match as he made a whole host of errors despite having the clearest possible sight of the fences.

By contrast, the rather workmanlike Minella Awards skipped round like an old pro and put his greater racecourse experience to use, he shouldn't be underestimated back in a decent handicap.

Half a dozen babies lined-up for a novices hurdle and it saw Quoi De Neuf overcome immaturity to win with some conviction.

Reported to have landed a Point in a good time, he didn't look overly big and is every inch a four-year-old, but clearly has a ton of ability and he could be smart.

Redzor is an athletic sort and probably the most forward both physically and mentally, so it made sense that he led them out, and he didn't lose much in defeat.

One For The Team had the most scope but was also backward looking, he's probably quite slow but ought to be okay in time, while Captain Drake has loads of size and is another that should pick up a novice prior to doing much better over fences.

It came as no surprise to see the heavily backed Abolitionist rock up fit as a fiddle on his first start for the good Dr Newland and with stamina in the bank a lot of use was made of him, and he didn't see another rival in the staying handicap.

Those in behind were having their own private race and The Organist simply ran into one; she's a hurdler through and through and looked like the race would do her good.

The conditions hurdle saw Vision Des Flos return to hurdles after losing the rider on chase debut. Physically he doesn't scream chaser at you but he's a very nice, athletic animal and one of these fine days he could produce something spectacular.

With Wholestone and in particular Unowhatimeanharry looking better over 3m, I thought the superior speed of the Tizzard flyer might just do them but the race didn't really pan out, the youngster jumping and travelling all over them and leading half a mile out.

He played the role of mouse rather than cat and Wholestone picked him off with some ease, the winner looking set for another solid campaign. Of all of these he looked the biggest but he's never been a great jumper and it looks like they'll be staying over timber now.

Agrapart looked in terrific order and he's a grand specimen; when the mud starts to fly he seems sure to land another decent pot this year and rising eight he may yet improve again this winter.

The class 2 handicap chase was competitive and a real puzzle, it looked beforehand as though Hell's Kitchen might have a solo up front if desired but such tactics were not employed and this big unit may well pop up another day.

They were all in pretty good order, although Mercian Prince was probably the least fit of all those that turned up on the day. I worry about Romain De Senam, he doesn't have an awful lot of size and scope and often gets very low over his fences. He didn't get any cover here either, and in different circumstances he should prove well handicapped. He nearly won the Fred Winter at the festival two years ago and I could see him excelling back over timber.

The victory of War Sound confounded those of us that had labelled him a dog and a thief, staying on stoutly in the manner of another P Hobbs horse that just wasn't firing last term.

The handicap chase over the minimum trip featured Carlisle winner Luckofthedraw, who was overlooked the last day on account of him not looking straight forward, and he soon spat the dummy in this more competitive event.

Tommy Silver is a nice looker and you can see why he is high in the pecking order at Ditcheat, but he is another lacking the necessary cojones and I'm not sure where they go from here, probably down the headgear route.

Baby King has a good record fresh but may just have needed it, but Yorkist looked fit and ready to roll and with the benefit of hindsight was overpriced back to a winning mark. Burrenbridge Hotel looked big and well but the trainer is 1/52 this season and remains cold as ice.

The bumper looked a two horse race on paddock inspection with Raven Court looking a pretty slow, albeit fit and a decent chasing prospect in time.

Misty Whisky was all the rage and a nice looking sort but clearly a filly on size and Sojourn had plenty about him plus the added bonus of having racecourse experience a year ago, in a race that has thrown up winners.

It turned out to be a mickey mouse contest but Sojourn kept digging in from the front and saw it out in the manner of a fair sort. The others were too green on the day but will do better. 

Friday, 9 November 2018

Market Rasen - Nov 8

Not a great deal to reflect upon after a pretty dismal card, run on good ground with around a furlong added to most race distances.

The opening juvenile hurdle was a match and they flip-flopped twice in the betting before Our Power made a winning debut, making the most of the weight concession.

Strong and compact, Alan King's youngster should continue to be competitive while Idilico is a little more leggy and awkward, and doesn't find jumping hurdles quite so easy.

The mares' novice hurdle saw a rematch from Chepstow between Festival Dawn and Annie Mc, but neither was able to uphold that seemingly strong form here.

Annie Mc looked immature beforehand, on her toes and getting warm, and will do better in time, while Festival Dawn was strongly fancied to finish ahead once more but ran no sort of race and must have been amiss.

Winner Outofthisworld is hard to asses, she was weak in the betting again and yet returned to her best bumper form with a thoroughly likeable effort - she's not much to look at but should be competitive kept to same-sex races.

The big Listed chase for mares was another that looked a match with the ultra consistent Rons Dream wanting is much softer, but with the luckless Drinks Interval toppling over three out and Casablanca Mix not getting home, the Bowen mare was able to get on top close home - the extra yardage proving ideal.

Rating the race, I'd be surprised if the winner has run up to her best form, and I'd give her a 140 mark at the most, leaving Casablanca Mix almost 10lb beneath her official mark.

The Henderson mare has plenty to prove for me, I wasn't especially taken by her physically and there's a concern that she doesn't see her races out. Stamina was a slight concern beforehand but she was treading water from the second last.

Actinpieces again struggled on the ground and this wonderful mare will be off to the paddocks in the New Year according to her trainer. Hopefully they can find the right race to send her off on a winning note.

There followed a trappy 0-120 staying handicap with five last time out winners, The Two Amigos having gone up 12lb for winning at Newton Abbot and Some Chaos 8lb well-in under a penalty.

The former looked full of himself and the money for him wasn't unexpected, while the latter didn't look great without being able to pinpoint why. Maybe he had gone in his coat, and there was a strong possibility that he could bounce having won off a lengthy absence.

Not a bit of it; he fully backed up the taking Bangor win by relishing the extra distance and jumping with real alacrity. You could easily see him picking up a decent pot over the festive season and his trainer has returned in good form this autumn.

Marten looked well but seems to be dogged by problems, Indirocco isn't bred for this and simply looks slow, while Mon Palois is a nimble, athletic sort that his jockey reported to have hung left throughout, so expect him to be going the other way next time.

The last two races weren't worthy of note, although I'm not the first to admit that I'll be proud to recall the day that 'I was there' to witness the (likely) sole victory of the 64-rated L'Es Fremantle!

Monday, 5 November 2018

Carlisle - November 4

Thankfully some decent enough ground to welcome a competitive card although an early brush with the honourable Mr H Smith (I know Harvey's probably not reading, but you never know) was enlightening, in many trainers' view there wasn't much 'soft' in the good to soft places.

The opening novices hurdle was decent and saw a rather weak favourite in bumper winner One For Rosie, however Twiston-Davies' gelding looked a well made sort that wasn't far off full fitness.

I thought he galloped to the line with purpose and is one to defy a penalty, having seen off market springer Glen Forsa, a tall strong six-year-old that will improve again.

Hill Sixteen was a costly purchase and he looks a serious prospect for fences in due course, and his third place was a very pleasing start considering his size and inexperience.

Disappointment of race was Storm Control, a lengthy well-bred sort that looked fit, but ran a stinker. The Jefferson pair Shepherd's Bight and Northern Soul were weak in the market and like her father, Ruth doesn't appear to be rushing her string this autumn.

Carrying loads of condition, Shepherd's Bight shaped with promise and will come into his own when the emphasis is on stamina. The Hollow Chap faded right out of things late on, and this rangy unfurnished youngster looks like he'll need plenty of time.

Early season novice handicaps at Carlisle are worth watching over a few times and the next was another of those, taken by one of the more nimble types in Count Meribel, a dual course winner at this time last year.

Tactical speed is vital round this turning track and the top weight was always in the right place, having it sewn up a long way out. Stablemate Scotchtown is all stamina and should do better in different circumstances.

Jammin Masters stayed on nicely for second under the queerest of rides from Johnson, who, like McCoy before him, has earned the right to be beyond critical analysis. However, he could not have sat quieter for most of the race if he tried and only got the squeeze on after belting two out, and aggrieved punters had a case.

The smallest in the field, Jammin Masters is a 3m, soft ground horse with more experience than most, and shouldn't be missed next time as his jumping was sound in the main.

Coningsby is a sturdy animal with plenty of ability, but it was noted beforehand that he didn't appear straight forward and sure enough he took a hard left when everything else went right at the top of the hill mid-race.

If his head can be kept right, he could prove useful, but I have some doubts on that score regarding Donna's Delight, a great big tall individual who was on his toes beforehand requiring plenty of attention.

By Portrait Gallery, he deserves a chance but is one to have reservations over for the time being, a similar sentiment that applies to warm order Al Shahir, who once again proved himself utterly one-paced.

He must show plenty at home as he went off favourite for the EBF final, but he hasn't done it on the track and looks one to oppose considering he was primed for this, for all that 3m will surely see him in better light.

The handicap hurdle looked a minefield, with the staying-on Bahama Moon one of few to be of interest going forward as he was weak in the market and looked to be carrying condition.

The result of the handicap chase made plenty of sense with Looksnowtlikebrian once again putting errors behind him to back up his win here a fortnight ago. He's not very big, but clearly improving however this is the easiest jumping course in the land and it may be no coincidence they brought him here the last twice.

He'll find things harder from now on and I wouldn't be expecting him to get round somewhere like Ffos Las in the mud without making notable mistakes.

Bako De La Saulaie was primed to run a big race returning to a stamina test, and ran his usual race in second without threatening to win.

He looks to have just the one pace so it continues to frustrate that they keep riding him for a turn of foot. He's a very sound jumper, and looks the type to leave his mark behind when given a more positive ride.

Cooking Fat continues to look a quirky individual and probably doesn't want a stamina test while Blakemount is steadily working his way to fitness. I didn't realise Yanmare was so big, and he'll come on for it.

Aspen Colorado was strong in the market ahead of the Class 2 handicap hurdle and he was another to back up a recent win here, relishing the stiff test at the trip.

The form looks solid enough, with Captain Redbeard yet again proving himself a fine yardstick with an honest run that sets him up nicely for the Becher Chase.

Petticoat Tails probably isn't the most straight forward, but she's likely to be straighter next time where 3m ought to stand her in much better stead.

Crixus's Escape is a really nice looking youngster but remains very immature mentally, and was in too deep on this third start over timber. His mark gives connections a few options, and when the penny does finally drop he could be one to stay the right side of.

Dubai Angel was badly in need of the outing, while Blunder Buss is a stocky individual that could prove hard to place this term; he's more of one to put by for next season.

Cyrname was all the rage for the Colin Parker Memorial and this big strapping animal looked straight enough although he could be the type to come on for a pipe-opener.

He was readily brushed aside but back-of-the-fag-packet numbers suggest he's run to his handicap mark of 150 with the ultra consistent Happy Diva finishing just ahead receiving plenty of weight, meaning impressive winner Mister Whitaker has improved another half a stone in landing the prize.

While a different sort entirely to last year's winner Waiting Patiently, there's no reason to think Mick Channon's youngster can't follow a similar path as his future appears to have unlimited potential.

There is simply nothing not to like about the two-time Cheltenham winner, who should relish 3m this season, and the three in behind will continue to pay their way.

The well-backed favourite Alright Sunshine had a touch of quality about him ahead of the junior bumper and he duly routed the field, upholding K Dalgleish's record in such races. As the saying goes, the young Scot seems to 'know the time of day'.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Wetherby - November 3

A slew of non-runners made Charlie Hall Chase day lacking any sort of depth, robbing racegoers of quality horses, however the action was thrilling with some decent finishes. However, it's purely early season form and not much of it should be taken forward.

Fingerontheswitch looked on really good terms with himself and the contraction in price came as no surprise considering his shrunken handicap mark, and the opening race worked out perfectly as he needs something to aim at.

He got just that with the improved The Paddy Pie moving on from the second last, only to curl up on the run-in. I'm sure it was only greenness from the runner-up and he looks sure to remain competitive from a higher mark on a softer surface.

The Happy Chappy is a good ground horse but he wants a really stiff test and was never travelling. He looked short of match practice but plugged on, and he has a race in him with the emphasis on stamina.

Thistle Do Nicely had a fair impression on hurdles debut last time out and he looked the part before a weak looking novice hurdle, a good athletic type sure to take higher rank.

Beach Break looked disinterested in the prelims and has earned a lengthy holiday, he's a summer horse but isn't much more than a 120 type. Lough Legend is a baby and saw plenty of daylight here; I can see him picking up a novice handicap on soft ground in the coming months.

Stablemate Absolutely Dylan will leave his 110 rating behind in the next few weeks but this anxious sort needs softer ground than this. I thought his jumping was once again slick bar one error, and money lost here was only lent.

Copper West is a disappointing type and he seemed to have every chance once more, he lacks scope and loses ground at the obstacles. Nightly had the form in the book if he got home and he was well ridden by J Burke and just lasted.

Tayzar took the eye, strong and fitter for Carlisle, and settled nicely before being brought to a standstill. We learned nothing here but he's worth keeping an eye on.

Lady Buttons is a fantastic big mare and she was a big price to land the Listed hurdle on account of the ground, despite her trainer insisting she bounces off good.

Irish Roe looked on great terms with herself but her small-time handler probably didn't have her cherry ripe, even though she looked pretty straight.

The big move for Oscar Rose was a little baffling - yes she was going to set them a merry dance but the form just wasn't in the book and she's more a three miler in waiting.

The big race saw Black Corton go off a short price, he looked fantastic in his coat but that wasn't enough reason to be taking 6/4 and Definitly Red was the value, having a great record fresh and at this venue.

D Cook was seen to great effect from the front once again and had a very willing partner.

The Yorkshire Hurdle was Grade 2 in name only and it saw the surprisingly improved Nautical Nitwit reverse placings with recent conqueror Monbeg Theatre, holding off Old Guard who stayed better than most thought he would.

Keeper Hill has a robust look of a chaser and didn't have the toe to go with them in the straight, and he looks a proper soft ground horse to me.

Three went to post in the finale, two saddled by man of the moment P Kirby, and Wemyss Point made it two wins at the track on ground probably quicker than ideal.

Supakalanistic looked a big staying chase type that would probably come on for the run, while Zig Zag hasn't really gone on and may be better over the minimum.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Wetherby - November 2

There were non-runners throughout the day and the going was changed to good, good to firm in places, making it difficult to discern which of the winter types would go on it.

Ballyhome stood out a mile in the opening novices handicap and this nice scopey individual instigated a double for quality claimer Connor Brace.

Askari didn't look up to much physically but that should never put you off if it's trained by G Elliott, and he looks like he needs an extra half mile.

There wasn't much depth to it but Northern Girl ran her race in second despite looking a shade burly and she should be up to gaining an overdue success.

The novices chase was effectively a match with Crucial Role coming out, and it was all about ability to jump and gallop on the ground which Rocky's Treasure did... and odds-on favourite Poetic Rhythm didn't.

A heavy ground winner of the Challow Hurdle, it's hard for this non owner/trainer to figure out why you would want to run such a horse in these conditions.

He's a strong sturdy type lacking a bit in height, and has the look of a mid-winter slugger. His market rival looked active and alert, and put up a pleasing performance giving 12lb, but the form is hard to rate in a literal sense.

Slanemore Hill nearly grabbed second and is a nice, strong looking horse that lacked in the fitness department. Lord knows how the assessor will judge this effort but I suspect he'll now need to build on this to prove he's a useful type in the making. I suspect he might be.

The Wensleydale Hurdle drew three fairly decent sorts and Cracker Factory made a big impression at Market Rasen last time out, and if jumping more fluently looked the one to beat.

The market agreed, and he delivered in good style to see off Chief Justice who to be fair was giving 3lb. I'd back the winner to finish in front if they met again, however. King D'Argent stepped up on his win here last time but came back blowing hard and may have an issue.

In fairness they weren't a bad bunch of juveniles, and those in behind should find races in time.

The big handicap chase cut up to seven with Copain De Classe heading the market, being 4lb well-in after winning at Kempton. He travelled too well here though on a steady pace and found nothing when let down.

Born Survivor was all the rage but he's a big unit that I'd always felt wanted softer, but is a sound jumper and that helped him get the job done. Guitar Pete wants a stiffer test but may not have finished winning, while Cracking Find looked out of his depth physically but ran his race as always, and as I've mentioned before I'm certain a step up to 3m would suit.

Kylemore Lough looked really fit and well. He's a confirmed mudlark and I've no idea why he lined up. Hopefully he'll come back sound after unshipping at the first, and he's handicapped to win.

Storm Rising did what he was supposed to do in following up his Cheltenham win off the same mark, in a nothing contest.

The Skelton team went for a double with Denmead in the closing novice hurdle but he was a very short price for one that didn't look entirely straightforward, the trainer popping in some earplugs late doors.

The gelding was keen during a slow run affair but wasn't in the minority there, and the even keener Skidoosh found most from two out to give Brace the double and put behind him a desperate return effort. He's a big lengthy sort that will jump a fence.

He's A Goer is probably a good benchmark for the form, the rest looked pretty backward on the day.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Sedgefield - Nov 1

Not sure such a poor card is worth a blog update, but we'll give it a quick run through before cracking on with tomorrow's decs. As if you didn't know already, we could do with some darn rain.

I wasn't interested in the 0-100 that opened the card. Millie The Minx had a bit about her and I had half an eye on her with the future in mind, but she went and ran a screamer which has blown her cover.

The Sayer yard was desperately quiet for over a year but has come back in the last few weeks and on the whole the sister of the honourable gentleman Mr K Slack does well with what she gets.

The only pair to take forward from the novice chase would be Black Art and Charmant, who will both be better on soft ground. The former looked straight enough but the Smith yard isn't firing yet, while the well-backed Charmant didn't look anywhere near straight.

While he was left with nothing to beat, the Ewart horse was a stylish winner and may well be above average as he'll come on tons for this. Cillian's Well fell into a poor race at Southwell and has no future in this sphere.

A couple of lengths covered the first five home in the following novice hurdle and that tells you all you need to know about the form.

Speedy Cargo looked paceless in his bumper but was expected to come on a bundle for that, however those who backed him into favouritism couldn't have been on great terms with themselves from early on.

Ask Paddington and Colby looked as though they need more time, pretty weak and unfurnished, while Sheriff Garrett is poorly made and will find it very hard to win in this code.

On a side note it's interesting that M Hammond is having winners now that A Cawley is taking a larger percentage of the rides.

The four-runner staying handicap chase was interesting because for some obscure reason the market had Some Kinda Lama as its leader despite having shown no aptitude for fencing whatsoever in three previous starts.

He lacks size and scope and this simply isn't his bag. He's a good ground, staying hurdler and pretty recalcitrant at that. Good luck to the new trainer.

Cash was again in evidence for the Smiths' Lough Derg Farmer, but once again he didn't look very interested and they've got a job on turning him around.

Paul's Hill and Like The Sound were decent specimens, both looking fit and well and really shouldn't have surprised anybody that they came home ahead of the other pair. Neither did much wrong, but the fact the third and fourth were closing markedly from two out may prove telling.

The staying hurdle looked trappy with Nemean Lion backed from the 6/1 down to 2s FAV. That was pretty revealing as this scopey sort bounded into the early lead (shock).

It's ironic Same Circus came to grief as she looks more a hurdler than a chaser, and one suspects she may have gone very close. She is well handicapped and can have a successful season in both spheres. More Than Luck isn't a great looker and wouldn't be one for me going forward.

The closing mares handicap wasn't up to much either, and it was disappointing the unexposed Secret Escape couldn't get the job done. She looked really paceless and already appears to want further, and softer ground too.

And that, mercifully, was that.