Saturday, 3 January 2015

Newcastle - Learning the hard way

We were full of New Year spirit as we headed up the A19 in excited anticipation of a successful day's punting. For once I was across every race and felt like I had it by the 'short and curlies' having scavenged some great value the night before.

Leading us into battle would be Beauboreen, a horse I was familiar with having seen it run a perfectly satisfactory race at grizzly Carlisle the time before over an inadequate trip. 

I couldn't have it being beat with all the stars seemingly aligned - trainer bang in form, good jockey booked, horse looking a picture, opposition fully exposed. There was plenty of 6s available and I went 'all-in'.

It's going to take a few days to fathom the run, as he was off the bridle disappointingly early for a horse who usually travels sweetly. He was a bit guessy down the back and he made at least two bad mistakes before rallying to hit the front two out in the style of a well-handicapped horse.

Maguire/Candlish dissect Beauboreen's defeat
But the effort of making up the ground told in the end and he faded back into third. Maguire/Candlish were in lengthy talks post-race and the word 'blinkers' was mentioned. They were clearly surprised by the nature of the defeat themselves, and although the horse is surely worth a second chance, it will be pushing the boundaries of trust. Perhaps the tacky ground was a legitimate excuse.

It was the middle leg of a trio of races that I got all wrong. I was convinced Jac The Legend would be pepped up by the cheekpieces after a solid effort at Wetherby last week behind two stayers at the top of their game.

The market agreed and Jac was backed from 7s to 9/2, and although given a rather unnecessarily aggressive ride, surely had every chance. However the two involved in the finish came from way off the pace which may back up my suspicion that the selection was given a thankless task up front.

Also prominent was Whichwaytobougie, who is slowly improving with each run but could do with another year to fill his big frame. He was very poor at his obstacles here and will be able to rate much higher given more time. Perhaps a slower pace over 3m will help in the jumping department.

Another I felt could be a handicap snip was Island Confusion in the 2m handicap hurdle, having chased home a useful sort in Kingfisher Creek at the track last time. Unfortunately the likeable beast was partnered by P Buchanan and was most disorganised at several obstacles, not helping his chance. While this did not affect the result it was another timely reminder to steer clear of the veteran jockey.

In actual fact the race looked far more open beforehand than I'd initially given it credit for and there were several deserving of mentions beforehand, most notably Pistol, who looked fantastic and really full of beans, and Minella Fiveo on his debut for the Smiths.

The latter is quite a fetching individual and has clearly turned a corner for his new yard. He travelled like the winner for much of the race, just backing out of at after clouting the last. He was fit enough while sure to come on for it and, with plenty of size about him, will take a fence in good stride. This was his first piece of form on soft ground, by the way.

Scorpions Sting did not look in anywhere near as good health as he did at Carlisle on his seasonal debut and was another of J Ewart's to run poorly.

Walser landed a punt here but they were brave souls who plunged in on the 0-18 maiden. Still they're the ones smiling now.

The two other chases were of great interest but I managed to screw up bigtime. I was looking forward to seeing both Runswick Royal and Calculated Risk up against Yorkist in the novices chase, with the former having more size and scope than I had figured in watching him on tape. He looked fit enough to me and money came late although the favourite deserved his market position. (Calculated Risk does not appear to have the size or scope to excel at this game.)

Yorkist has a good touch of speed though and the race panned out in favour of the held-up Runswick Royal with the favourite a sitting duck in the straight. I didn't mind missing the winner at the time as I had the next three races sewn up, of course....

Team Boric - a winner waiting to happen
The 2m 4f handicap chase was thus something of a 'get out of jail' card and I had the intention of backing Boric all day. I knew he lacked size after noting him down on two earlier occasions, but the assessor had given him a real chance dropping him 6lb after disappointing in really bad ground here last time.

I thought he ran okay there as he struggled to jump out of the slop, but somehow those thoughts lingered and I was surprised by the lack of support here as I thought he might be a 'public' horse.

I do think the paddock watchers affect some of these markets and it was obvious why the market leaned towards Mighty Cliche, a strapping horse who is just coming into his own. He's a keen sort who may still be babyish mentally but he really looked ready to make use of the 2st he was getting from Boric.

Things went from bad to worse though as the boy Challoner slipped out the front door before the race began in earnest, while Boric went about his job in a professional manner before boxing on well to see off Dingo Bay and Marlee Mourinho, who had sweated up quite badly beforehand. 

The mares bumper held no punting interest and it came as little surprise on a day such as this that the two weakest looking animals fought out the finish - the very light framed The Way It Works beating the backward Still Acting. McCain's Monbeg Dolly was the pick and she will rate better than this in time.

A lie down in darkened room now awaits.

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