Four meetings to review from last week so let’s get straight to it.
The Durham National was the feature race and it produced an identical result to last year with Royale Knight beating Lackamon despite much worse terms.
Lackamon was well backed and had come on for his spin over timber a fortnight earlier, given an aggressive ride from the outset. He looked to have seen them all off before faltering going to the final fence where Royal Knight stayed on from the pack to get on top close home.
Trainer Newland knows the time of day and this horse clearly has abundant stamina. I suppose the only surprise was that he drifted from a morning price of 9/2 to an SP of 10/1. If you fancy one, stick to your guns!
I thought Sun Cloud would improve again for this while Woodford County was P Hobbs’ first runner at the track for many years and this horse may not have enjoyed the long journey from Minehead, as he got very warm beforehand and looked on edge. I’d be inclined to forgive this effort.
On a difficult punting card Jac The Legend was well-backed and this most progressive animal landed the bets despite looking in need of the run beforehand. Brian Ellison’s horses have appeared a tad burly in the main and for me that just means that this horse, like his Hexham winner Five In A Row, has plenty in hand of the assessor.
Jac The Legend is a proper stayer and softer ground and a return to fences will hold no fears. Keep him on your side. Snapping Turtle also looked to need it and put in another improved effort in second – his jumping is far better than it used to be. Back in third Iora Glas looks a strong stayer and he too can improve further especially if ridden more prominently.
Not A Bother Boy was running in a more suitable race in the staying chase after he was surprisingly hammered in the betting prior to a pipe-opener over the minimum trip at Carlisle. I thought he was very laboured here and although he’s a bit of a baby and possibly a bit soft, this may have come too soon.
That said it was a pretty weak affair and Teochew was a surprise winner down in class – well done if you found that.
Fly Home Harry was a springer in the novice handicap chase after the assessor dropped him almost a stone after a couple of poor efforts over timber.
This horse is not straightforward, as he pulls hard and doesn’t look a natural over any sort of obstacle. Since winning two bumpers he’s looked reluctant off the bridle and despite that attractive mark is one to have reservations about. It has to be said that the trainer’s horses have not gone well over the sticks in the past few days.
Love The Leader won the race to make it four in a row and credit to trainer J Farrelly for placing this horse so astutely. He has plenty of size for fences so should continue to pay his way.
One I have taken from the finale is Dark And Dangerous, who has joined Simon Waugh. Too small for fences, he’s on a career low mark over timber and he showed up well for a long way here before lack of condition told.
It was raining for much of the morning and the official going was swiftly changed to soft after they came home at long intervals in the opener.
For one that carries so much condition it was a remarkable race that Bollin Ace ran, and I’ll be watching his progress with great interest. The fact he got so close to the winner may suggest Royal Vacation is not quite the horse his mark suggests he is, but we’ll see.
The Smith’s I Just Know paid for chasing the pace but this nice sort looks one for the future when he strengthens up. Beer Goggles once again caught the eye staying on from some way back and this soft ground stayer can pick up a handicap before too long, although it would be nice to see the yard going better.
I thought Kayf Blanco ran a huge race in the handicap hurdle over what may now prove to be an inadequate test. Too free at times last term, this stoutly bred horse settled well off a sedate pace and was left with too much to do when a couple of Flat types sprinted clear after the last.
He looked to have done really well physically over the summer and was pretty straight here, and I suspect he is one that can ‘grow’ into a higher handicap mark.
Fago looked extremely fit and well prior to the decent handicap chase and he was a huge price if back to near his best. He was, but just didn’t see it out after looming upsides the gritty Wakanda two out.
Theatre Guide was a disappointment as everything looked perfect for him, but he looks to have his share of temperament, while Off The Ground went as though his turn will come if they can find some decent ground for him. His Warwick fall has clearly not left its mark.
I lumped on Itstimeforapint in the staying chase but he hasn’t really filled out as I had hoped and his jumping was still very hit and miss. Lean and leggy, he doesn’t look to have moved on from last term.
Blue Kascade is difficult to weigh up and it was no surprise that he should pop up when you least expected it. He was fit for this return and got a good ride from the front, but will find much tougher assignments ahead.
Longueville Flyer was mentioned after his comeback run that a track like Wetherby would suit and he came back to form here on this softer ground, although there were a few shoddy leaps thrown in again. Nalim was fit and ran his race before quitting halfway up the run-in, but the rest found it all very hard work.
Ennistown was put in very short early doors for the opening novice hurdle and I wasn’t keen on the Ferguson horse at all beforehand, sweating up and just looking like a horse with an attitude. Both Charmix and Draytonian were nice chasing types who looked pretty straight and it came as little surprise that the market spoke loud and clear before the off.
Despite there being no further rain since Friday’s card the ground looked really testing and they came home at long intervals in a quality novices chase won by Southfield Royale.
As his trainer commented this horse is just a baby but he had tightened up from his earlier run here and jumped with more fluency at this slower pace, proving too strong for his two principal rivals in the straight.
Zeroshadesofgrey was a big disappointment as he looked pretty straight. A lovely big horse, he made a host of minor errors and doesn’t use himself too well. I wouldn’t call him the most athletic animal and while he should be up to winning over fences I have reservations about him reaching a high level. There seemed few excuses.
I am greatly enamoured by Beg To Differ who I thought ran a
fine race in third. He’s a super looking horse who seems to have a lovely way
about him, travelling sweetly and jumping like an old hand after a couple of novicey
leaps early on.
|Beg To Differ was carrying some baggage on his chase debut|
This horse was some way off peak fitness. You could see he blew up going to the fourth last where RJ sensibly allowed him to come home in his own time. Yet it was pleasing to see him measure the last three really well despite being very tired, when mistakes often creep in.
He is one of my five to follow and although I expected him to remain over hurdles this season he looks a natural over fences and I’m still very excited about him. Bear in mind that he relishes very soft ground and he’ll stay all day.
Blue Buttons looked fantastic ahead of the good mares race and the money for her was significant. She never looked like getting beat although Intense Tango ran another super race and has been rather unfortunate of late, things not quite panning out for her once more. She can win again soon – she’s a lovely filly. Ma Filleule didn’t look anywhere near fit for this race and the run should be ignored.
They all looked in good form ahead of the Charlie Hall, while I really fancied Relic Rock in the novices chase and it was sad to see him go wrong down the far side. Hopefully he’ll be back next year.
I’m not afraid to take on these hyped French imports and Mon Successeur was well touted only to run quite freely before getting turned over by Katachenko. The Nicholls horse is not very big but jumped nicely, although looked very stiff afterwards. There were some long faces amongst connections post-race.
It was a welcome winner for McCain, whose horse should improve a good deal for this run. However, the finish only endorsed my view that Relic Rock would have won with something in hand after he had come on a bundle for his Carlisle spin.
There were some really nice horses in the finale with the good looking trio Sir Ivan, Champagne At Tara and Medicine Hat all shaping like future winners.
Briefly on to the Cumbrian venue where the ground looked very much on the slow side after the first, which wasn’t a great heat. At The Doubble and Vintage Clouds should both improve quite a bit on their efforts with the latter looking like a real soft ground horse.
The novices handicap chase was a wonderful affair in which you could have backed a handful. The first two home Shimla Dawn and Cultram Abbey are both lovely chasers to follow who were fit and jumped superbly, the latter surely to improve on softer ground.
Souriyan held every chance and may have a little temperament while Special Wells made a mistake at a crucial time and didn’t have the basic speed to get back into it. He needs softer ground and is worth a try over further, while this may have come a little soon.
For Two also caught the eye as he jumped and travelled like a winner until lack of condition told. He certainly looked in need of it beforehand.
Celestino is worth a small mention after an eye-catching run in a poor handicap hurdle in which they went no pace. The ex-Nicholls horse looked burly and should improve no end after changing hands for £32k in the spring.
Out Sam was all the rage in the big handicap hurdle and while he looked pretty fit he could only labour on at one pace. This was a tough task for an inexperienced horse. I like Shades Of Midnight as one for the future as he looks to have done very well over the summer. He needed this quite badly.
Country’N’Western was backed all day long in the finale and D Elsworth’s bumper horse looked a real professional beforehand. There were some nice types in here although the well-backed Busy Street was another disappointment for trainer A Swinbank.