Friday, 22 February 2019

Catterick - February 22

An additional fixture courtesy of the BHA, there wasn't a great deal of juice in the ground and it wasn't the most competitive card all told.

The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Young Wolf was a warm order for the opening novice hurdle but this son of dour stayer Vinnie Roe wasn't certain to relish the drop in trip under these quick conditions, and paddock inspection revealed him to be quite small and unfurnished.

That's not what you want to see when going in at odds-on and he was quite weak in the market despite there not being anything outstanding against it.

It wasn't a race to be dogmatic about but there was a sense of missed opportunity when the enormous Captain Moirette came through to win tidily as Sue Smith's grey had shown ability on all previous starts, including last time out after a three year break.

The race was set up by D McMenamin's audacious move up Johnson's inner down the far side and they got racing very early, Zoffany Bay paying for those exertions after the last. Young Wolf backed right out of things but he's a stayer for the long term.

A really weak novice handicap chase followed and there was a run on Best To Come on his first outing over fences but I didn't take to him one bit, looking an awkward customer in the prelims, not the best of movers and getting warm late on.

His resolution was under question after two short-priced defeats and he was one to take on although it was hard to pick one against him.

Ask Paddy looked to be in need of the run after a lengthy absence while Goodthyneaway hadn't shown anything in points or under rules and didn't really take the eye.

I even gave a chance to Arboretum who was fit while Away For Slates looked fine, a strong sort who just gave a hint that he had been sweetened up for leaving the Skelton boot camp, and sure enough the former rogue came clear after the last to beat Ask Paddy, who ran a nice race and has options.

The handicap hurdle wasn't easy to call with three free going sorts, Ninepointsixthree was never going to be able to lead tearaway Horst though and he was surprisingly short in the market considering his steep rise for beating the trees at Sedgefield last time

He's A Goer is an okay sort for later on but he didn't look a straight forward animal in the paddock, in constrast to Indian Opera, who looked nicely handicapped if you took her Musselburgh victory at face value.

Always Resolute was a worthy favourite with the race likely to be set up for him but the addition of blinkers was a mystery as he didn't relish them the only other time he wore them and it can't be said they made a positive impact as he failed to hunt down the progressive winner.

The maiden hurdle was a match and it didn't look that straight forward for odds-on Reve as the unfurnished chase type had to give lumps of weight to the juvenile filly Lady Camelot, who had enough about her physically to suggest she could compete.

And she probably traded odds on turning for home before stamina appeared to run out jumping the second last, while to be fair the winner won with loads in the tank and probably stays much further.

The big staying handicap chase was very difficult to solve, as the betting suggested. They all looked in good order but the ground was likely on the quick side for one or two, notably course specialist Straidnahanna who couldn't get away from them.

Special Prep is a nice horse going the right way and he jumped and travelled as well as last time, just coming up against one better handicapped on the day in Solstice Star, who isn't a natural over fences but was carried home by Johnson.

There was just the bumper left and the front four in the market were decent sorts, although I'm Wiser Now appeared to have put weight on since Wetherby and I wasn't sure he would back that up despite the form looking decent.

T Lacey rarely gets it wrong in these races and his scopey Floating Rock was forward looking as expected and knew his job as they say, sticking on well enough to beat the light-framed Picks Flight, who ran a screamer under G Lee, while Equus Dancer is a decent looking type that shaped like more of a stayer.

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