Monday 23 December 2013

Catterick - Low key affair

Not a great deal of action to be had either today or in the future on today's runners, bar one or two.

Perhaps the most interesting race was a five runner handicap chase for novices over 2m 3f, where the market was headed by J Ferguson's Rick. The 9yro was last seen running a fair race when punted at Wetherby but he isn't the most straight forward and he looked a bit doggy beforehand and probably one to take on. J Ewart ran Mandarin Sunset who had won a weak affair at Musselburgh last time but despite getting weight all round I didn't fancy this leggy sort either up against much better opposition. That left A Swinbank's Big Water, who looked as fit as anything as he finally faced fences for the first time, and McCain's Diocles, who was embarking on his second season over the larger obstacles after failing to deliver last season when sent of favourite a couple of times. Clearly they think something of him and he looked well muscled and ready on his first outing for 232 days, and he had the race run to suit as Rick and the rather chancey Big Water took them along. Maguire only had to sit and wait for moment and it came rounding the home turn when Rick gave way without a fight and Diocles quickly had the measure of Big Water. McCain's beast went as though further may suit and can go in again having fenced with confidence. Mandarin Sunset went left from the outset and was never in it while Big Water requires plenty of practice and this was clearly a guess from Swinbank.

The next was a ghastly 0-105 2m chase won by rag Coax, who bolted up against and bunch you would find it hard to make a case for, either on looks or form. Favourite Lord Of Drums went without any zest just eight days on from his latest win leaving the door open for the unexposed Coax, who had shown a small amount of form last time and in fairness looked a fit, compact sort who might run better than his 22/1 odds implied.

The 2m3f novice hurdle was potentially decent and although they went no gallop the winner Forthefunofit did well to win and he finished full of running, heading off the more experienced Downtown Boy and Cool Sky, was looked on the weak side compared to some. In behind, Save The Bees is a relaxed type who could do okay in this sphere, just better for this debut run. It was a surprise that connections started out over this trip with a horse that never went beyond 10f on the flat and he pulled too hard here, beaten a fair way in the end after going with the front three to the turn in. Another ex-flat horse Nexius could be quite decent on looks but is currently unfurnished and drifted in the betting and showed little. However, this time next year with a decent mark could be one to follow. A final one to note was Mister Jones, Sue Smith's typically unflashy sort will win his races over the coming years, you can be sure of that.

J Wade's Pudsey House should have won the staying hurdle but young Dawson was weak in the finish and was done in a three-way by Gulf Punch and the gambled-on Harris, who dead-heated. I didn't take to the mare Gulf Punch and she ran a funny sort of race, staying on late after being ridden with a circuit left. She's not straight forward. Pudsey House, however, is one of the better-looking of Wade's horses and he will be seen in better light under stronger handling. He'll continue to pay his way and will jump a fence.

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