Wednesday 22 January 2014

Catterick - Summit in the air

It looked a tricky card with not a great deal of value on offer, and so it proved with most of the favourites winning on ground that was softened by overnight rain.

Seven Summits landed a touch in the handicap hurdle although it was interesting that Heurtevent was pulled out an hour beforehand after being hammered in the morning betting - perhaps connections were running scared? The winner looked cherry ripe on his seasonal debut but didn't find a great deal off the bridle to beat front running Copt Hill and may be one to oppose next time. Copt Hill was of interest just a week on from a disappointing return when punted, in a hood for the first time on that occasion. He was really fit and keen beforehand and kept on well, clearly at home on heavy ground, and it will be interesting again next time although he may not be one to trust implicitly.

Holywell ran out a comfortable winner in a virtual match with debutant Shotavodka. The latter has little size or scope for fences, particularly on this ground, and the punters came for Holywell despite worries over the trip. He was nudged along down the back but jumped well today before idling. on the run-in. He will be of massive interest when he goes in a handicap over three miles, undoubtedly when the blinds are re-applied. I'll be wading in.

The 2m3f handicap hurdle could throw up some winners, Shanen though not one of them as he once again flattened out quickly - this after looking fit and really well beforehand. He's clearly got a bad wind problem. Ubaltique is weak behind and this as much as the blinkers could be the reason why he was not seeing his races out but that's two from two in blinds now and more could be to come. Recent winner Hit The Top tried to make all and is clearly going in the right direction, typically tough of Sue Smith's. They'll both go up again but are likeable sorts.

The 2m chase featured free-going/weak-finishing sorts Arkaim and Prince of Dreams, and the race set up perfectly for McCain's Cloudy Joker to complete the hat-trick down in trip. J Maguire rides this course so well and went wide all the way for the better ground. The horse is not over-big but jumps really well and should not be under-estimated despite another hike. Arkaim could not be given the positive ride he has had in winning the last two times on account of the ground but there's surely another small race in him on god ground as he does jump well despite unseating two out when tiring. Prince of Dreams once again found one too good and despite looking a decent sort it really ought to pay to be against him where possible.

The staying chase was a ghastly affair and although it was impossible to come up with a viable alternative I felt Bennys Well was very opposable at shortish odds. As it happened Over And Above did the business on the run-in from half a stone out the handicap. Who'd have known?

The closing bumper saw some decent and fancied types involved, none more so than the very impressive looking Zeroshadesofgrey. He really caught the eye of more than one paddock watcher and with form already in the book it was stunning that he was allowed to go off at 9/4, in the face of strong support for McCain's debutant Take The Cash, who was reportedly fancied but you really wouldn't have backed it if you're comparing looks. A surprisingly good end to the day, as these bumpers normally only serve as future reference. For the notebook, D O'Meara's Philosofy is flat bred and is a decent looking horse, not over-big but surely up to winning one of these on better ground.

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