Sunday 15 February 2015

Haydock - Definitly one to watch

Top Notch looks a proper speedball and was quite impressive in landing an uncompetitive juvenile to open a very decent card at the M6 track.

His hurdling was notably fluent and that will stand him in good stead when he heads to the festivals, with Aintree looking right up his street.

The Rendlesham saw the disappointing At Fishers Cross made a warm favourite facing his easiest assignment for some time, but yet again he let his supporters down in big style as he laboured up the straight.

Despite the heavy support he looked worth taking on but I expected more from Milansbar and Land Of Vic, who didn't have the tactical pace to go with the front pair.

Closing Ceremony is a nice sort but this looked a big step up for him, while Seeyouatmidnight looked fit enough after an absence and I wouldn't assume it was the lack of a run that beat him. This may be as good as he is - physically he's not the most impressive to look at.
Closing Ceremony successfully stepped up in grade
The Grand National trial looked an impossible puzzle to unravel and assessing them beforehand offered no clues either - they all looked great and there were no negatives. Peter Buchanan gave Lie Forrit a straight-forward ride and the veteran clearly had plenty left when he winged the second last.

The next three races were of much more interest punting-wise and I was very keen on the each-way chances of Tim Easterby's likeable mare Run Ructions Run in a Pertemps qualifier that didn't look as competitive as numbers siuggested. She's hardly run a bad race and this three mile trip looked sure to suit.

Dickie J spotted the leader 20 lengths but the starter was complicit in this shambles, allowing last week's runaway winner Bygones Sovereign to walk in to the tapes some way ahead of his 15 rivals. How is this even possible considering the new stringent starting methods? Answers on a postcard please.

Anyway, Ructions ran her race as expected but face a thankless chase up the straight, fighting off the rather awkward looking favourite Aqalim for second place. Racing Europe was a notable eye-catcher in fourth after travelling very well throughout, hitting a flat spot before staying on again.

The penny has not yet dropped with this big imposing horse but he's on a workable mark over timber, while his future very much lies over fences. Staying is his forte.

I was very sweet on the chances of Definitly Red in the Prestige after seeing the horse in the flesh for the first time at Catterick. I was very impressed with his athleticism and bearing in mind his superb bumper form thought the three miles and particularly the better ground would play to his strengths.

He faced a very serious opponent in Fletchers Flyer, who clearly had done little wrong down south and himself looked a fine physical specimen, albeit one who clearly loves very soft ground and will make an even better chaser in time.

Having taken an early morning price I was happy to go in again after confirming my earlier thoughts on Ellison's charge in the prelims. Johnson gave it a great ride and the horse gritted it out to land the punt, and the front pair won't look out of place at the Festival.
The fine looking Definitly Red wasn't to be missed
Ballagh was well beaten off but he's a chaser in the making and lost little in defeat.

I was convinced the market was too lop-sided in the novices handicap chase with all the money coming for debutant Wuff and Leicester winner Algernon Pazham.

Wuff confirmed my impression of him last year that he would require a good test at three miles on soft ground, while the latter's improved form has also come when faced with a stamina test.

With neither having their optimum conditions not only did I want to get against them, I rather liked the prospects of Runswick Royal and Oscar Fortune at the prices.

The former has been crying out for this trip and having been ridden for speed again by Hughes I wonder now whether he could do with even further to travel as he seems to have just the one run. Anyway he was huge price on what he'd already achieved while Oscar Fortune rather took the eye in the paddock and was down in trip in first time blinkers - a combo I don't mind at all.

I thought Dougie rode a sensible race from the front and although far from a natural at his fences Oscar Fortune won like the well-handicapped horse I felt he was, while the market leaders ran pretty much as I had expected. For once, everything fell into place.

The hunter chase featured Teaforthree as hot favourite just a week on from his return at Bangor, and he carried an air of superiority in this company. That said, Pearlysteps looked very fit and alert for his own comeback and his victory wasn't a total surprise, neither was the run of Temple Grandin in second who also took the eye and will surely win his share in this sphere.

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