Tuesday 12 May 2015

Sedgefield - Signing off

With the 'season' trailing off this was always going to be the final trip of the campaign and a late change in the going led to a few key withdrawals and some pretty uncompetitive fare.

After the deluge of Friday night it was amazing that there was barely any 'soft' in the ground at all, but when top-of-the-ground performer Black Jack Rover whizzed in it was clear the description was pretty close.

I had been against Lawless Island in a bumper early doors, a workmanlike chasing type, and he looking pretty much the same here and fairly plodded to post. While McCain's winner is all stamina, this thing looked slow.

It was a dark start to the card though after Lucy Milan sadly perished after a fall at the second last. Commiserations to connections who had quite a nice mare on their hands who was running a nice race. It's a hard, hard game at times.

Scorpions Sting - check out the stare
One I did not like in the race was Wildest Dreams, who looked to have his own ideas about the game beforehand and proved as much in the race.

We slipped behind in the next though. Having backed Bob's Legend in the morning with Reveley up for the first time I was disappointed to find two scratched meaning a sizeable R4. I couldn't have anything in the race bar Scorpions Sting but I haven't got a single one of J Ewart's right this term - and this was no different.

The horse looked the bollocks first time up at Carlisle, running a stormer at something like 66/1, but had failed to build on it, proving hard to restrain and clearly mentally immature. Sensibly they brought it in very late and he looked a picture again - surely it would run its race.

But I was stuck with the Bob's Legend bet and refused to budge, especially when JR went to the front, but the Corbett rogue clearly has nothing left to give and Scorpions Sting won decisively - even though he downed tools significantly on the run-in. He'll jump a fence alright and maybe that'll be the making of him.

The three market leaders looked well in the novice chase with Enchanted Garden especially so. Mason Hindmarsh was just the smallest and may struggle over bigger obstacles, but he's agile enough and jumped best of the three with Master Dee proving a disappointment.

With all three close up at the last it's hard what to make of the form with King Of The Dark exiting with a heavy fall at the last when staying on in second. Clearly better over this trip and fences, he still hadn't run anywhere near his 100 rating under rules yet must have clocked close to 110 with this effort. The handicapper will have his say.

I liked Gingili's athleticism when first seen at Carlisle but he looked rather quirky in winning there and once again was arguably fortunate to maintain his unbeaten record here. Racing as if in need of further, the strong sort ran on well to beat Never Up with both wandering around plenty up the straight.

G Moore's horse might have been a decent bet at bigger odds as he looked a nice sort beforehand and plenty fit enough following his break and a switch from the O'Meara yard. There's no reason to under-estimate the form based on his running the winner so close, while Larmor once again found zip off the bridle.

Sharp Rise - A fair tool
Sharp Rise looked an absolute certainty in the next after his impressive win here over timber last week and it's real shame they took out Houndscourt as I was very keen to be against that so soon after a PB effort.

Reveley took the jolly to the front where it jumped fast and low on numerous occasions, and he could win a decent contest this summer if staying in this sort of form. JR told connections afterwards you can't go long on this horse, just let him do his thing, so in similar conditions he will be one to watch.

Roseville Cottage looked fit after a break and this better ground definitely suits. He bumped into one here so this looks a decent effort and he can win soon - note he won at Cartmel at their meeting in 10 days' time last year. I just don't care much for Degooch and he took another pearler here which is likely to set him back a ton as it's taken him ages to get over a previous spill.

The 2m handicap chase was chock full of rogues and you couldn't back a single one of them. Sure enough the likes of Gin Cobbler and Some Lad went there with winning chances as did veteran Carters Rest, who was run out of it by the well-backed Odds On Dan.

They had punted this thing off the boards several times this term and did so again here, but this was by no means a step up in form as the ones in front pretty much gifted him the win. He'll be one to take on in the future.

Chris Grant's Allycat looked a fantastic each-way bet in the last. I'm not much of an E/W punter but sometimes the shape of the race makes it the perfect punt and at least you can get on at the track. The beast was 1.6 on Betfair to place but here I've got 9-10, although obviously I've had to bet the win as well. That said, I was happy as Pipey's hotpot had been fairly weak in the market and didn't really take the eye being pretty small and weak.

She may have had an engine but having been beaten in three points was worth taking on and I felt the 97 RPR that Allycat got last time might be good enough. I felt at the time that those two Hexham bumpers were worth marking up a little and both races are working out splendidly.

Of course, the result was favourable as the backward-looking Dubai Shen decamped C Nichol with the race at his mercy close home. We got very lucky this time but it was pleasing to have placed the right bet in the circumstances. The eventual second, Burtredgripandgump didn't take the eye particularly while the well-backed Pikarnia is a big slow chaser - typical of one of Wadey's. The fact they backed it suggests it has shown some ability, which augurs well.

Thursday 7 May 2015

Sedgefield - No sun but making hay

Quite a short round-up this time as it's a hectic week and as we almost went through the card it may start to sound like I'm crowing.

There was no bet in the first even though the Williams beast Definite Dream has never impressed on looks or attitude and this big chasing type should have been the lay of the day. Hindsight etc, etc.

Readers may recall the column talking up Major Ivan after his tidy win here last time and he was odds on to back that up, looking wonderful again in the prelims.

Paddock watchers knew Sharp Rise was fit from a break - did you?
However, Sharp Rise also left quite a mark here in the fall when winning over fences and this handy type also looked primed to run a big race on his belated return.

I watched the race pan out before getting involved and was surprised to see the odds largely unchanged at halfway despite Reveley sitting handily out in front on Sharp Rise.

Readers will know that I rate JR as the best in the north by some way right now, especially when he's allowed to dictate the fractions. Hughes was just having to restrain the favourite in behind and it looked like Reveley had things under control so we had to go in.

Make no mistake, the second will be a very nice chaser next term as he's plenty of maturing to do. But Sharp Rise could be fair and he jumped with great aplomb again - it was a signature of his win over fences and he should be up to winning many more.

The staying chase was a ghastly affair - just the type Over And Above likes to pop up in every now and then. He looked awful prior to winning at Catterick but was in good order here and well worth a punt at decent odds with little else worthy of the name. I particularly didn't like the front pair in the market with the slow Strike Fast merely a nominal favourite.

Old rogue Over And Above did it again
Things were going tickety-boo and although I made a few quid on Houndscourt he was one of three I ended up backing. I've followed the horse since he first showed up here early in the season looking really well and bettering his long odds when running placed.

He's a decent sort sort, held back by the handling of S Drake and on a couple of occasions being run too quickly after a good run. He needs time between runs and with D Costello in the plate he was sure to go well in what was a tricky heat.

I was surprised by the run of Be A Dreamer who has looked overcooked for some time. I can't wait to see him after a summer at grass and he's sure to improve a ton. This was a good effort but i'm convinced he'll be a stone better in short time come November/December.

With morning rain turning the ground soft there were a spate of non-runners and it made finding value a little tricky. There was little 'v' around in the next when they went 6/4 each Our Boy Ben and Shady Lane with question marks over the pair.

I'd been to the well twice with the former of late but this drop in trip was sure to suit, while I wasn't convinced about the Skelton horse on soft ground. I had to side with Jefferson's horse and backed him to recover recent losses - a not inconsiderable amount!

Finally a return off Our Boy Ben
Not sure about the form - Dundee Blue found form out of knowhere but he's a chaser through and through and the headgear clearly helped. More of a jumping test may see him in better light but I'd like to see him back this up first before considering a wager.

The stayers hurdle looked a riddle but I was very keen on Heart O Annandale despite a weight hike for his decent run in a maiden hurdle at Hexham last time. That was a poor bit of placing from connections but I figured this nice chase had had a ton in hand at the time, and was just coming to form.

He looked in really good heart beforehand and once again with the market leaders Kilcullen Article and Urban Gale readily opposable it all looked to fall into place. Even the runner-up Blue Cove looked fantastic and running off somewhere near his correct mark for the time was certain to run his race and it was no surprise when he ran on to fill the forecasts lot.

With the pockets full, we decided to skip the last where only a handful were left following a clutch of scratchings.