Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Doncaster - February 19

Good to be back racing again but not much of a punting card in all truth, the going looked pretty soft all round and they needed to stay well.

The opener was an EBF qualifier where the front two in the market looked pretty solid despite their penalties, neither making much appeal at the odds though in a race that looked quite deep on paddock inspection, being full of chasing types.

Both Sevarano and Igor should make chasers, the former being a nicer type, but he may just prefer better ground and it was pretty slow motion stuff as front running The Macon Lugnatic repelled all raiders.

Very much a chaser in the making, the winner was putting a poor hurdling debut behind him to return to his decent bumper form, and even better ground should suit him based on that.

Carlow Farmer was bandaged in front and looked quite light framed for a tall individual, however he was up there for a long way although he's one I'm a little wary of for now.

Igor surprisingly faded away despite a drop in trip, and Logan Rocks is going the wrong way. The rest were quite disappointing although we're at the time of year when a few of them might be wanting some better ground.

The next was a competitive handicap hurdle for stayers and it looked like the veteran Kansas City Chief was about to win again at the track before taking a hard left approaching the final hurdle.

Such was the camera angle that it wasn't clear as to why it happened, but it handed victory to Shah An Shah who looked really well beforehand and he's starting life from the right end of the handicap. It was also a consecutive winner for Shirocco, a sire of good National Hunt types.

They were strung out all over south Yorkshire behind, the only one able to go with the front two being Rath An Iuir, who seemingly took an age to get going before staying on to good effect.

Following a 10-week absence, it's possible the Rose Dobbin-trained youngster had a blow before catching a second wind and this decent looking horse is one to remain the right side of.

Allart had a penalty kick in another novices hurdle and duly obliged, a quite raw chase type in the making, followed home by Red Nika and Youracert, who look sure to prefer better ground.

Tumbling Dice was the only other to take the eye, being a decent type if backward looking, and he was very novicey at the obstacles before staying on with pluck. He should win handicaps in due course.

The veterans chase saw a number of not-so golden oldies come together without much recent form, but the lightly-raced Burtons Well appeared to be on good terms with himself in new headgear, snatching the race late on from the luckless Minellacelebration.

Two horses clearly not the force of old were Jonniesofa, who hasn't built on his delightful reappearance win, and I Just Know, one of the sadder sights to see this once-perfect jumper hesitate at a number of fences in the manner of one whose confidence is shot.

The market called the bumper spot on with the well backed Adrimel defying a penalty, all out to defeat chief rival The Edgar Wallace in a driving finish. The latter is probably the nicer type but the winner could be a little freakish.

Of the others, Slap Dash Harry looked okay but was very green beforehand, as was Regaby, while Roussimoff is enormous and is probably too backward to be of any interest in the short term.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Doncaster - February 6

Drying ground bordering on good in parts, low sun making a mockery of the action later on the card, which was a very modest one to say the least.

Not much to take from the first, a 0-105 handicap chase with few potential improvers, as you would expect it was Twister's Imperial Nemesis that was the only one to take from the paddock, surely he has better in him and he came out of the pack to chase home Minella Examiner, who was long gone.

Classic D Cook, able to set his own pace on the lead jumping well, trading at odds on before jumping the fourth last and there was no hint of the fall that scuppered his last run at Wetherby.

He was impressive but won't have things as easy in the future, and a rise may scupper him next time as this really was low grade stuff.

Some decent types for the juvenile but they were well spaced out down the stretch, Zoffee making the most of his experience to clear right away from Isolate, who was fit on his first start and should be winning before too long.

Third placed Rikoboy does carry his head a little high and may be one to be wary of, while Kangaroo Valley came in for support but he ran a similar race to the one at Catterick last time, looking moody and never travelling.

Seven went to post for another handicap chase and the better ground seemed to suit Mr McGo, who was the one I couldn't have on my mind after several tame finishing efforts.

In another race that completely came apart, he was able to overcome a few dodgy leaps to beat an out of form Cave Top, with none of the potential 'closers' ever looking likely to get involved. This is dire form, the early favourite Well Smitten beaten a mile out.

The Class 3 handicap hurdle for stayers wasn't a bad sort of race and featured a few likely to do well in future, notably Manning Estate who had come in for a little support and has plenty of size and scope.

He'd been pretty consistent over timber at a fair level last season and was one of just a few with scope to improve quite considerably, and he did just that giving the impression there's even more to come on this better ground.

Vodka All The Way was being stoked along a fair way out but plugged on in the manner of one with abundant stamina, although stablemate Merry Milan only made late gains and is becoming disappointing.

Brillare Momento looked in need of the run but was still pretty poor, while Star Of Rory isn't very big and quite modest looking.

The last three hurdles races had all hurdles in the home straight omitted, effectively doing for the unfortunate Glory And Fortune in the next, who hasn't had the rub of the green now in his last three outings.

Stopped in his run at Haydock and then caught out by a very steady pace at Cheltenham, this looked a good opportunity despite the presence of a Henderson Flat exile, but while jockey S Sheppard surely did the right thing by setting out to make all, he fell asleep at the wheel in the second half of the race, seemingly unwilling to wind the pace up.

That simply played into the hands of Buzz, who looks far from straight forward, but with an easy target to aim at always looked like outpacing his more stoutly bred opponent.

A fine looking horse, there is a decent race in Glory Of Fortune this spring providing he gets a decent pace to shoot at.

South Seas was one of the smaller ones and didn't get home, beaten for third by a fair looking type in Kannapolis, an ex-Flat horse that would have been kept for this sort of surface. There were some fair handicapping sorts in behind and the race should be followed.

The mares handicap was a nightmare, winner Getaway Mag one of the smaller ones, beating Precious Leader who isn't a bad sort and benefited from this stiffer test after finding a slow-run 2m against her last time.

There were some dismal efforts in behind although Miss Gemstone looked one to bear in mind at some stage in the future, and she wouldn't have been favoured by the absence of things to jump.

The finale was an horrendous affair, with just Out On The Tear showing any sort of reliability and form heading into the race. The only question mark was whether a couple of tough races in the Uttoxeter mire had left its mark, and can be only reason behind the market weakness.

Well, he dispelled those doubts with another gutsy effort, yet another feather in the cap of trainer S Allwood, this horse continuing to progress after looking a bit of a tearaway earlier in his career. He was well named.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Wetherby - February 1

A very strong wind behind them down the home straight, drying the ground making it quite holding and the sort to provide excuses for some.

A decent looking fillies' novice opened proceedings and it saw Emmas Joy bolt up under a very positive ride with stamina assured, never seeing another rival. She's not that big but is handy enough although how far she goes I'm not sure.

Full Of Surprises was a bit disappointing considering the nature of her Catterick win, but that may not have been a great race and she looked a bit unfurnished beforehand.

Easter Gold did not get involved in the early pace burn-up and stayed on well for second..she's one to follow over longer distances and is quite rangy so should continue to pay her way.

The huge disappointment of the race was Who What When, a really likeable filly with plenty of size and scope, but she was beaten by the home turn and this was not her running. She has good form on soft but did win on good ground and maybe she's worth another chance on sounder terrain.

Set In Stone is now eligible for a mark and is a type to improve for some spring sunshine and drier ground, not quite seeing it out up the straight on this occasion.

Nuts Well was the proverbial good thing when he sluiced up here two starts back but arrived here 16lb higher after following up at Musselburgh.

A bonny sort, they lost him a little physically last winter and he never came right, but he's holding condition better this time around and proved better than ever to land the hat-trick in a tricky looking handicap chase.

He didn't look the best handicapped going into it - that honour fell to Niven, but he's becoming a bit of a cliff horse and failed to see it out after being hassled all the way on the front end by the returning Bollin Ace.

A sturdy old cork, Bollin was predictably burly in the prelims but to his credit plugged on for third and he looks to have retained his ability after a long time away, jumping notably fluently.

The Dubai Way looked dry in his coat and hasn't backed up his victory here before Christmas, while Kapgarry looked overbet and didn't make much appeal, lacking a little scope for fences.

Winter Escape attracted support and looked the part, but checked out very quickly as if amiss, although he could want much better ground.

Kalooki took the three-runner novice hurdle as he liked, a nice robust chasing type he'll do well for another summer to strengthen up and could be quite good.

The Towton Novices Chase looked a cracker without attracting any star names, and you could have made a decent case for the front four in the market, Chapel Stile not looking to have the size to compete at this level.

Ardlethen looked buzzed up by the application of blinkers but was still found wanting, with Boldmere and Newtide looking set to dominate the finish.

The former caught the eye in the paddock at Doncaster last time out and again he looked really well made and athletic, a little weak in front which another summer behind him will sort.

However, he took a nasty tumble at the last following mixed signals from 'Young' James Bowen, and it left the big, strong Newtide to defy idleness and pick up the prize.

A type to keep improving with age, Newtide is one for regional nationals in years to come, looking as though he'll gallop all day.

I rarely bet in mid-range handicap hurdles owing to a desperate strike-rate in such races but such a policy allowed one to get away when good old Secrete Stream rolled back the years to win the next on the nod.

A burly type, who has done us plenty of favours down the years, he looked on fantastic terms with himself and was ready to go in an open race in which few came in with solid credentials, well-backed jolly Antunes having pulled up last time out (in much higher grade tbf).

Bhutan looked super-fit but surely got to the front far too soon and was spent at the final flight. As I say this wasn't the strongest race for the grade and there wouldn't be many you'd want to be with next time.

Foxhunters champion Hazel Hill looked in good form prior to his 'match' with Minella Rocco, a really good looking individual in very good shape.

Opinions will differ on the reasons for the outcome but it could just be that 'Rocco' was simply the best horse on the day, taken wide in search of the unpoached ground before winging the last.

Having seen Ask The Honey Bee win twice now it looked a fine piece of placing from the bumper expert F O'Brien with the likeable jolly only carrying a 10lb 'double' penalty with the excellent Liam Harrison taking seven off.

A very forward, handy individual, he was well positioned on the front end and there was no sign of him getting outpaced like on his two previous starts, simply galloping them into the ground. Sadly, the predicted market drift never materialised.

N Mulholland, owner/trainer of runner-up Solwara One, should find it easier to find a buyer as the likeable relative of Turpin Green shaped with a good deal of promise, and he has the make and shape of a decent type.

Midnight River stayed on nicely for third after looking a keen sort in the prelims, and he'll most likely come on for the outing, as will the staying chase prospect Tupelo Mississippi, who wouldn't have been suited by the steady fractions. He should have a future over fences.

Disappointment of the race was the well-backed Rattle Owl, but he isn't very big and looks one for the level.