Saturday, 8 December 2018

Wetherby - December 8

It was officially soft but the strong wind had dried it and it wasn't too bad at all.

The opener looked a two-horse race but they flip-flopped big time in the market before the heavily backed Two For Gold supplemented his recent solid effort at Cheltenham with a facile win.

This good frame of a horse could be very useful in time, as this performance came in spite of the fact he looked quite edgy, got very warm and looked very poor in his coat. I don't know if this is his usual appearance but it was a huge negative on the day.

Time To Move On is a good looking horse and he was much preferred but P Brennan's only ride at the meeting never came there with a chance and bombed out big style; the market seemed to know what was about to happen and surely better can be expected.

Thelongwayaround was clearly best of the rest in the paddock, looking fit and strong, and is gradually improving as he moves up in trip. He wasn't knocked about and although modest he is the type to continue on an upward curve for a yard starting to kick into gear.

The rest looked pretty backward in one way or another, the Easterby trained Iwasthefutureonce shaping as though he will be okay at some stage - he has a bit of size and scope.

The novices handicap for 0-105s was weak as half the eight had little or no form at all, but Lady Master stood out in the paddock as the type to improve markedly on anything she had previously achieved over timber, and duly took to fences well and won as she liked.

Merely a clear round sufficed here, and things will be tougher off 10lb higher, but she is the type the trainer does well with and can continue to do well if she keeps jumping like that.

The drifting favourite Overawed is not very big for fences and made several minor errors, while her trainer is in form she may be best served by a return to timber or a smaller track.

Younoso hadn't shown much over hurdles and is another that may do okay at a poor level, he has quite a bit of size and showed up well before a lack of fitness, which was evident beforehand, told.

Aliandy was quite a warm order for a staying hurdle but he is far from straight forward and hasn't proved easy to train or win with. Once again he was produced at the perfect time only to back out of things, and this quite small animal hasn't progressed physically in two years and isn't one to rave about.

Howth Summit is a strong, robust animal who looked in need of the run after another six week break, and shaped nicely before apparently finishing lame. Wig Wam Wiggle is a nice type on a good mark, but wasn't knocked about after a mid-race blunder, and he is one to keep on side.

The Menzies team is back in form which is great to see, and Tomkevi has been a bit of a star over the years and picked up the pieces in an open race. Quids In had every chance again and is another to have reservations about; he doesn't have the size for fences. Sevenballs Of Fire was typical of the yard in that he wasn't fit first time back.

The staying handicap chase was a really competitive race for the track and winners ought to come out of it, the winner Skipthescales being a most likeable type and defying inexperience of fences to show improved form.

He's a very strong stayer but does like to idle and is probably value for further, in fact I can see him being a bit of a star for the yard in seasons to come as he's a decent looking animal that will continue to pay his way as he goes up in class and trip.

Fawsley Spirit caught the eye in the run but he's rather light framed and that weakness showed as he weakened out of things, but he is sure to be a nice staying type given time. Frankly Speaking is a really strong animal, and looks like one that wants a really stiff test, as such he's one to watch this term for all that he's late to fences.

The form of Mon Palois's latest effort had been fully franked but he was on and off the bridle and shaped as though the ground was against him. Still in there pitching two out, he took a horror fall and ultimately he's been a bit of a disappointment so far. The same could be said for Blottos, who may have been amiss.

Another one that continues to cost punters dearly is McGowan's Pass, who looks really well handicapped having been dropped 6lb but unshipped his jockey at the first in the handicap hurdle won for a second time by Aristo Du Plessis.

Jumping had been a problem last term for the heavily supported favourite, who still looks unfurnished, and may yet be given another chance by his faithful army of fans.

Aristo will never be a chaser as long as it's got the proverbial hole in it's proverbial arse, but back to a winning mark over timber he once again got an easy time on the front end and battled back well for an in-form J Ewart.

Cornerstone Lad not for the first time took the eye and he's a big strong horse that will continue to pay his way, however his consistency means he's already perhaps a shade high in the weights and he certainly didn't look to have excuses.

The disappointment here was Nuts Well, but he looked very lean and has possibly been over-trained this autumn. He was ready to go when he recorded a PB first time out before blowing out last time. He may benefit from a break.

The 2m handicap chase didn't take much winning as Just Cameron looked as though he would tighten up for this run and connections clearly have one eye on another bid for the Castleford Chase over Christmas.

Some Reign has become disappointing, and that's when he consents to start, and he completed a frustrating day for the Dobbins by planting himself, I think for the third time in all.

It left Movie Legend as the form horse and a worthy jolly but having gone to win his race was swamped for speed by Bouvreuil, who found life difficult under the care of P Nicholls and looked a fractious, difficult sort prior to this.

From 5s out to 16/1, this clearly wasn't expected but took it cosily, however it remains to be seen if he can back it up and it's worth reiterating this did not take much winning, Movie Legend never one to find a great deal off the bridle.

The junior bumper for fillies was a minefield and a race to swerve, the front three coming clear being Conchita, Artichoke Heart (nice type, very green) and Sorbet (speedy, flat type, likely better on good ground). But it was not a great race in all likelihood.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Southwell - December 4

Well, that was a long weekend I'll never get back. More of which, later. Morning rain at the Rolleston venue had turned the ground to soft in places and it looked quite tiring for some.

The opening mares handicap chase looked to be at the mercy of Hoo Bally Diva on her first foray out of novice events but she was almost being lapped in the paddock, so poorly was she striding out, that something appeared to be amiss.

Never travelling from the outset, the bandaged Buckler inmate was reported lame on finishing fourth although I put it to you she was lame on departing, for all that she seemed okay to post.

All that opened the door for the hitherto difficult Silent Steps, a quirky looking horse in first-time blinkers who probably went favourably for the tender handling of Dame Bryony. With Dawnieriver failing to pick up on the grotty terrain, this was all over with three to jump.

There came a big 'miss' in the feature of the day when Destrier 'jumped from fence to fence' (don't they all?) to land the late money for team Skelton.

The French-bred has been waiting to jump the big ones as was first noted here and looked a class above his six rivals prior to the 2m novice handicap.

I should have made him a short price to boss inferiors on this occasion although he only scraped home in the end and, with everything going his way, may be one to take on next time.

Another Crick hasn't been easy to handle and was very keen in his early days, still going powerfully under a hold-up ride here. However, it doesn't pay to get behind at Southwell and he never looked like getting there, although it may have been different had the winner not winged the last two.

Bred to stay well, it would be nice if they now gave the runner-up the benefit of the doubt and rode him as if though he will get home, which surely he now does, and may be the one to take out of it.

Doc Carver looked well treated on previous form with the front two but he is essentially becoming disappointing and now has plenty to prove, for all that a step up in trip is surely going to see him in better light.

Just like the later maiden, only three had a chance in the novice hurdle over 3m; make that one as Commodore Barry looked much more the finished article than Nearly Perfect and Notachance and a print of around 1.68 on the machine looked serious value if you like that sort of thing.

A nice big sort in good health, the K Bailey-trained winner should take higher rank as he jumps and travels beautifully. Nearly Perfect is big and weak but will make a fine chaser, while Notachance is even weaker at present and both these 4yros need time.

Gatacre Street is given credit just for getting round for fifth place in what became a slog and looks a likely sort once handicapped.

The staying handicap hurdle looked competitive but Crosspark was a potential blot back over the smaller ones and he needed all that leniency to get on top of Wotzizname, who looked in much better heart than at Aintree on his reappearance.

Smooth Stepper looked really fit on his first start for Alex Hales, and was noted running on nicely at the end - he does stay very well - but is on a very high mark over fences at present.

The maiden hurdle brought together a trio of likeable types, none more so than Rouge Vif and on the evidence of this display it's hard to believe he's been beaten twice already this term.

With the next two home likely to have run to their marks in the high-teens, this was an extremely taking effort and clearly the application of the hood played some part in the apparent improvement. He's a really good looking individual.

Bold Plan shaped like a stayer after trying to go with the winner and is an embryo chaser, while Oakley was again untidy at his obstacles and has much to learn, but has the make and shape of a decent sort in time.

Several caught the eye in behind with a second S England inmate on the day worthy of a mention in Gold Runner, who probably finished a bit close for comfort but will now get a mark and all eyes will be on his next outing.

A filthy 0-100 handicap hurdle came next where a sturdy looking one of T Vaughan's by the ironic name of Concealed Ambition went down as one to follow, once dropped further in the weights and sent up in trip.

The winner Oregon Gold caught a bit of a tartar in Stop Talking here last time out and probably went off too big a price under fast-improving claimer C Hammond, for what it's worth.

The bumper wasn't easy to work out with the experienced runners setting a quite decent standard, while those visiting the track for the first time looked pretty backward (I'm Wiser Now) or in the case of the winner Whitehotchillifili, immature physically and mentally.

They ran about all over the place and it's hard to value the form, with Ascot runner-up Ben Buie running poorly, possibly unsuited by the ever-deepening ground, but the victor clearly has an engine.

Trips to Doncaster and Leicester proved virtually pointless owing to the dry ground, although peering outside today it feels like it's finally 'on the turn'.