Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Doncaster - Full of surprises

It was only a couple of blogs ago that I was extolling the virtues of James Reveley and once again he delivered the goods in confident fashion with a treble on the card.

I didn't want a great part of the action going in, and was looking to get through unscathed. A lot of races featured horses sent north for the 'better' ground, even though it was officially riding soft. Clearly some would get through it while others wouldn't.

The opener was clearly a two horse race as the third in, Iona Days, didn't look fit and the other two have gone at the game. Different types, Guiding George was unexposed but race fit while Carli King and big, strong type who was just ready but ought to improve for it.

I thought the favourite jumped really well and while it wouldn't have an enormous amount of scope, clearly stays well.

The juvenile hurdle featured another apparent match between Skelton's Boss Des Mottes and Annalulu from the Nicholls yard. I preferred the former of the two with Annalulu a weak, leggy sort, while Skelton's had filled its smaller frame more. Neither made great appeal, however, and it wasn't surprising the money came for Witch From Rome from the in-form Neil King yard.

It was impossible to call it to be fair and readers will know by now these events are not my cup of tea. We probably should have got stuck into the Nicholls beast but it's easy to be wise now, especially when 50/1 shot Two B's beat them all.

I was determined as ever to find the winner of the two tricky handicap chases on the card but I didn't back the first one Saints And Sinners. Some 6/1 would have been nice on course but the beast was half that after support all day and at that price I was trying to find one against it.

The Mick Easterby six-year-old isn't much to look at but after seeing it last year I knew that it tends to carry condition even when fit and today was no different - otherwise it looked in great nick. There was also cash for Rhapando, who was probably the paddock pick, while Head Of The Class looked better for its latest outing at Wetherby.

They were worth a split stake against the jolly and to be fair they gave us a run for our money, but the winner proved well handicapped as he returned to his best.

Two I didn't want were Sky Watch, who wasn't fully wound up, and Vide Cave, who looked in need of the run and hasn't really produced the goods so far. Urcalin looks a quirky customer and lacked the scope of some of the others.

The next was another uncompetitive mares race that went the way of the long odds-on jolly The Pirates Queen. We were trying to figure out the finishing order behind her when it became known Balmusette was thought to still be short of peak fitness. She's a grand sort who had very decent bumper form, and she can leave the bare form of this behind.

The way she finished off the race banished doubts about her staying the intermediate trip and it was good to see her back to form after apparently boiling over on her return at Uttoxeter. She reversed form with Faerie Reel, who is a nice sort but essentially just a baby.

The handicap chase was a conundrum with several of the players requiring better ground, namely Robbie, Uriah Heep, Wakanda, Violets Boy and Crazy Jack.

With Baile Anrai true to his trainer's word in needing the outing, we needed to revisit our thoughts and I had to be reminded that Robbie has gone on the ground in recent times and ran a cracker on his return just 10 days ago. That form stood out and with few takers in the market it was worth throwing a few quid at the veteran over the odds especially after he found such a great rhythm in the front rank, and the Wetherby winner Shadows Lengthen, who may have improved over the summer (apparently not).

I backed Wakanda at Hexham when it won but he took a couple of liberties there and the form isn't strong, and his jumping also let him down at Aintree. He's a sturdy youngster and clearly a bit ignorant at times, and I couldn't really understand the late move for him, although his day will come again.

The other one of interest was Crazy Jack, who didn't look thrown in on form but clearly has a future and is a nice, straight forward horse who will win races. A race of this nature came too soon for him while better ground looks sure to suit.

I thought Violets Boy ran a huge race on the ground and he's not much to look at, a moderate walker.

The excitement level cranked up a notch before the next as it became clear the two market leaders looked eminently beatable. Cloud Creeper looked fine as all the Hobbs horses tend to and was predictably over-bet after the yard's success over the weekend, while King's Monksgold was a bit of a disappointment when the rug came off, fit enough after an absence but not really taking the eye and running up a bit light.

It meant there was sure to be some value and the eye was constantly drawn to Boruma, who looked to have a Musselburgh chase sewn up recently before capsizing three from home. It meant the handicapper couldn't get his mucky paws on the four-year-old and he was a winner without a penalty.

The youngster clearly showed no ill-effects from that as he looked on great terms with himself, and size-wise at this stage the switch back to timber looked the best option. With the Sayer yard still in great heart and the boy Reveley in the plate, everything was in place for a smash-up. Never forget to lay them off in running though - they always win when you do!

With business concluded for the day we stayed for the mares bumper where I had Reveley's Samedi Soir and Emma Lavelle's Out Of The Mist against the field. The former looked really fit and well put together, while the latter is a really nice looking mare who still has some strengthening up to do.

I thought our hero gave Samedi Soir an awful lot to do, dropping her right out the back, while the same could be said of the rider of Act Now who by contrast was asked to make all, despite looking weak and in need of the run. It came as no surprise that neither was involved in the finish.

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