Thursday 30 April 2015

Sedgefield - Oasis quenches thirst

Good to firm ground and a very end-of-season feel to the card but some good fields and not bad action at all. They had clearly put plenty of water down as it didn't look to ride at all quick. Although the weather was wintry it was good to be back among the jumpers after a diet of flat action lately.

The opener however looked a match whichever way you came at the race, although I was drawn in by the growing looks of third-in Ballalough, even though he'll clearly need further and probably softer ground in time.

Prince Khurram and Larmor looked closely matched in more ways than one - neither ever having found much for pressure - and yet although the former had clearly registered better form the other was favoured in the market.

It wasn't a race to be over-confident about and you could have bet them both in-running at some stage but again it was Larmor who found little off the bridle despite more exaggerated waiting tactics, and he's not one to have on your side. The rest have really shown very little.

Bertie Moon had taken a step forward at Perth and was sent here in the wake of a future 10lb hike. A repeat of that form was suffice to take a weak handicap although several presented well with Morning With Ivan, Grand Vintage and Dynamic Drive all looking fit and well.

The price on the favourite had (rightfully) disintegrated by post time and while Morning With Ivan looked overpriced there was really only ever one winner.

Abricot De L'Oasis was backed to supplement Carlisle win
The first handicap chase on the card was intriguing with Abricot De L'Oasis heading the market despite a 10lb rise for his Carlisle win, which on the face of it looked harsh.

But that was his first outing over the big obstacles in Britain and he seemed well at home, and after overlooking this progressive sort last time I wasn't about to repeat the mistake.

I wanted to be against Classinaglass who doesn't look that comfortable when let down and struggled to put an easy race to bed last time. while Claragh Native was very weak in the market and Auldthunder looked rather lean and has had enough for the season.

The Kirby runner Indalo Return was of mild interest, turned out looking well, but it's a long time since he's shown decent form. It really pointed to the McCain horse, who once again looked full of himself in the prelims.

The sad postscript was that Tahiti Pearl collapsed and died returning to unsaddle, a heartbreaking end for a horse who has done his owners proud.

The two miler was trappy but I was very keen on Sleep In First, who was 3lb below previous chase winning form and had a record of 5/12 over fences.

With the trainer in form and the horse looking really well after a break he was primed for a massive run, although market weakness was a worry I ignored it and ploughed in regardless.

I had envisioned the improved D Irving getting a nice tow from the heavily backed Hotgrove Boy but for some reason he chose to serve it up to the Coltherd horse from flag-fall, effectively running his race by halfway. It gets my goat when they do that, and once they've lost the battle for the lead there's no escape route on the exchange.

That said, I've never been impressed with the finishing effort of the favourite and he was worth a lay in running with Grey Life breathing down his neck from the second last. I felt the Jefferson horse was handicapped to the hilt and in a more competitive race that may prove the case, but he was able to get to the front runner and nail him after the last.

Down on the day it didn't look like there was a way out - the handicap hurdle giving Danceintothelight a chance to snap a long losing sequence under the strong claimer Jamie Bargary, who has done well for Micky Hammond this season.

J Bargary: Massive value for the claim
It was a weak affair with nothing really finishing the race off bar the grey, who had run well last time and with Bargary clearly making a difference returned a big-looking 9/2.

I nearly did get out in the stayers chase when I favoured the old rogue Bennys Well at remarkably generous odds. While not willing to lay Debt To Society despite his obvious quirks, I was happy to oppose him and with Generous Chief looking to just need the run after a four month absence I was on pretty good terms with myself.

But I hadn't accounted for Beau Dandy, who had won a couple of weak affairs at Musselburgh in the winter having previously looked a right old dodgepot. However, they've been fiddling with different types of headgear and he's clearly turned the corner, knuckling down between the last two fences to get the better of the punt. Hard lines.

The bumper looked tricky both on previous form and paddock inspection with favourite John Dory a worthy jolly. However, his early fatal demise left it wide open and it probably came as no surprise to many that M Jefferson bagged another flat winner this spring with Petapenko, despite the four-year-old still looking a bit big and backward.

Episode has filled out and should make his mark over timber, while Mr Witmore looks a thorough stayer who plugged on well late on.

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