Thursday 31 October 2013

Sedgefield - King for a day

The opening juvenile was dominated by previous winner Dispour of D McCain's and Innsbruck, making his debut over timber for J Quinn. The latter was a rag when winning his belated debut on the flat not long ago and so it was surprising that connections moved so quickly to the winter game, the gelding not having a great deal of size about him. In addition to that, he looked as though he was seeing an obstacle for the very first time today and blundered his way round in finishing out the places. The favourite looked best in the paddock but was taken on for the lead by War Lord from some way out - the pair hard at it and essentially having the race between them. That the clearly modest third and fourth closed so strongly on the long run-in bears this out, Dispour essentially proving the better horse under penalty despite a narrow defeat. Nonetheless, this was moderate fare and the big Euros shelled out now look to be long gone.

The next was a 0-100 handicap hurdle and an honourable mention must go to top weight Lysino. C Grant's beast was by no means knocked around in fourth place but on looks may prove to have ability some way in advance of his rating, while he will surely improve for the run.

The staying hurdle was won by J O'Neill's Abnaki, rejuvenated by a return to hurdles and the application of blinkers. He looked very alert in the blinds beforehand which foretold a strong showing in a keen little heat, with the market headed by Night In Milan. He'd gone well fresh before and he looked fully wound up on this return, but found little off an easy lead and on looks he will surely be better suited to a return to chasing. The same could be said of One In A Milan, who has plenty of size about him but stepped at the second and crashed out.

The big race of the day saw talking horse Knight Pass backed in to 2/1 but it's some time since he showed his best form and the whisper beforehand was that he had bled in the past. He showed little inclination to take a cut at these fences and was done for after a circuit, and is very much one to avoid, even back over timber. The winner King Of The Wolds stood out in terms of size and well-being - M Jefferson clearly having him fully tuned up on his chase debut. Jumping beautifully and going with zest, he was always in control and although he was tired and/or idling at the last, he was always holding the strong finishing Deise Dynamo at the line. He will surely continue to give a good account and shouldn't go up a huge amount for this. Of the others, only See What Happens makes any appeal in future - M Todhunter's horse has plenty of chase experience now and once again showed promise, and will come on for the outing.

Carlton Jack had to concede weight all round in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle but he has the size to do it and looked in good order 24 days on from winning at Uttoxeter. He was always going well and looked like winning easily but for jinking left for the stables halfway up the run-in and all out in the end. That quirk is easily forgiven and he can win again. Runner-up Mr Utah looked a decent type beforehand and ran full of promise on his first start for Ms Menzies. The pair pulled away from hat-trick seeking Ballyglashen, who is small and compact and benefited here from the weight-for-age allowance. Mr Bolt was on his toes and was asked to make all, but having gone with zest was a spent force entering the straight. He may still be interesting when held up once more.

Think It's All Over was favourite for the novices handicap chase on account of being well in following a good run six days ago, but it may have come too soon as he flattened out before the last after travelling well and was run out of it by a rag named Cavite Eta. The one I was interested in was N Richards' Talkin Thomas, who was making his debut over the big ones and nibbled at in the market. He ought to leave his hurdles form behind in time given his looks and size and owed defeat here to a blunder down the back straight that lost him a good five lengths. B Harding gave him time to recover but he was unable to pick up, going down by a length in the end. A real chasing type as one would expect, they'll find a race for him I'm sure and an extra half mile wouldn't go amiss.

I was interested in Serenity Now in the bumper but word was that McCain's Classic Move was the bees knees and so it proved, the winner ridden aggressively from the front and driven right out to score. D Cook held the runner-up together until over a furlong out and the response was pleasing as he closed on the highly-thought-of winner. It was by no means the worst bumper around either, with the third Bellorophon and Jefferson's Our Boy Ben others of note before the off.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Wetherby - Three of the best

The foulest of weather greeted the first day of Wetherby's season with the rain gradually turning the officially 'good' ground softer as the day progressed.

The feature was the Bobby Renton, a handicap chase over 2m 4f, and it's a race that should throw up a few to follow. The eventual winner, Grandads Horse, a decent, tall type from the bang in form C Longsdon yard, was down in grade and sneaked into it on 135. In the end he did just enough to beat N Twiston-Davies' Tara Rose, who blundered her chance away at the last when challenging. The runner-up, a poor mover at the walk and a drifter in the market, went throughout as though she would go close but this daughter of Kayf Tara will undoubtedly benefit from further over time. The third, No Planning, is a proper chasing type from the Sue Smith yard and although well-backed in the e/w market, will come on for the outing. Another Kayf Tara, I'll be surprised if this progressive 6yro doesn't have a productive campaign. Golden Call had been off for ages and went very freely from the front, only submitting going to the last. Following a break, T George ought to be able to find an opportunity for him.

The co-feature was a competitive 2m handicap hurdle that saw Stormy Weather see off Knight In Purple - who looked well and on toes in the preliminaries - in a head-bobber, The winner was just about down to a handy mark with N Moscrop taking seven off, but it was a difficult race to sort out. The warm favourite, Blackwater King, looked best but went far too freely in the early part of the race, while multi-winner Coverholder was backed but looked as though he would come on for it. Easily the most eye-catching run came from A Swinbank's Big Water, who is a staying chaser in looks but travelled best for a long way and loomed up like the winner two out. As one would expect he was just outpaced by a few speedier types in the closing stages, and, as he'll surely come on for it too, should not be missed in the coming weeks over further and/or on a more testing track.

The meeting opened with a win for Mixed Message, who belied her name by landing a small touch for the shrewd B Ellison. The well-backed favourite missed out several flights but had enough toe to see off two more experienced types in a weak juvenile, but with more experience should progress. The 2m hcap chase was notable mainly for AP McCoy getting it wrong on Temple Lord, finding himself in front far too soon on his reluctant partner, who folded after a hesitant leap at the last. It may have been an eye-catching effort but he's one to avoid for me.

The 2m 4f novice hurdle was won in easy fashion by Three Kingdoms, who still looks quirky but was the fittest of an average bunch. Wild Card is a sparely made sort and the market told us that he would find it hard to go in under a penalty, and he got tired after trying to make all. It remains to be seen if the winner can go on from this, where he had the headgear left off. The only other to show promise was the runner-up Kilbree Chief, a nice chasing type of L Russell's who could have been backed ew beforehand on account of looking fit enough to do himself justice.

The staying chase for novices was arguably the most interesting of the day until the withdrawal of C Longsdon's Long Wave, presumably on account of the ground. Dark Glacier has clearly had problems and now with P Bowen was sent off favourite in what had become a weak affair. However, he didn't particularly take the eye beforehand and once again went as though amiss from an early stage. Clearly he is one to avoid. Susquehanna River looked fit enough to go in on his chase debut following a summer break and so it proved, Sam T-D dictating terms on his father's horse who in fairness barely put a foot wrong before finding enough on the run-in to hold on. Starting from a mark of 109, this is one to keep on the right side of with his sound fencing a plus, although bear in mind this was not a very good race.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Brushing off the cobwebs

In the fear of sounding old my season officially gets underway with Wetherby's first meeting of what used to be the 'new' National Hunt season, featuring the Bobby Renton Handicap Chase, which this year falls on Wednesday October 16.