Thin gruel for Northern racing fans this week with a dismal card at Sedgefield followed by pretty poor stuff at Wetherby. Not much to go at but one or two notes of interest.
The meeting passed an inspection but they by-passed the final fence as they did for so many meetings last season. There wasn’t much punting appeal although I wanted to make the trip up the A19 to see a handful of horses for the first time this season.
Huehuecoytle looked a very difficult ride when winning a bumper at the track for D McCain last season but he’s a really well related and is a fine stamp of a chaser in the making.
Once again his greenness/attitude was very much in attendance as he wandered around at many of the obstacles. However he had poached a good lead at the second last with the rest apparently going knowhere. Under a very hard drive Huehuecoytle was not helping his jockey at all and they were nabbed close home by McCain’s Whitsundays, who looked quite a nice animal beforehand.
I can’t help but think that softer hands might have got the K Dalgleish horse home. I’m no jockey (obviously) but there didn’t seem any need to get stuck into him so soon in the straight – if anything the runner-up could have done with some company. And for a rider of Harding’s experience it’s surprising he left a gap up the favoured running rail for the eventual winner to come through.
Sue Smith’s Karisma King once again looked a difficult sort in the prelims but he settled a bit better over this longer trip and stayed on pretty well. He should now get a mark, as should Agentleman who didn’t seem to get home but is another who looks sure to do well in handicaps, and on better ground.
Not A Bother Boy delivered for a second time after I had given up on him prematurely, when the yard probably ran him back too quickly second time up. He’s just a big baby and is only doing what he has to do.
This wasn’t a strong race again and Heron’s Mill looks one to avoid after failing to get home once more. He’s every inch a chaser but the way he keeps stopping suggests he still has a problem. Silver Dragon is a proper monkey and ran on again after dropping the bridle, while Thatildee probably ran to his Hexham form.
Mixboy was not a horse I took to last year as he’s pretty small and didn’t take the eye at all. Although he didn’t carry my money you would have to say he looked a better animal here, stronger and better in his coat.
The money came for Blake Dean but he’s not a horse I could EVER back. Without wishing to be rude the horse is a complete shit, as advertised when coasting to the front two out at this track last year only to ‘turn it in’.
Now I may be preaching to the converted here but backing these perpetually disappointing animals is the short cut to skintsville. Sure enough the little horse spat it out a mile from home before consenting to run on again to nab third and frustrate layers in the place market.
Orchard Road won a weak race here last year but he remains on an 8lb higher mark and didn’t get home in the manner of a horse with a possible breathing issue. He looked fit enough, while Baraboy is surely nailed by the assessor now.
Whiskey Chaser was nominated as one of my five to follow and opened his campaign with a turgid display. The way he stopped suggests there may be a problem, although the track and trip certainly would not have been in his favour. But it was too bad to be true and fitness didn’t look to be an issue.
The penny appears to have dropped with Verko, who has always looked as though he could develop into a horse better than his basement mark. He appeared to pick up the pieces in a shocking race at Hexham but after getting outpaced again here, stayed on stoutly like an improving horse.
He looked very healthy, unlike stablemate Roxyfet who is normally a perky sort but was very flat in the prelims and ran as though this was one run too many in recent weeks. For a young horse he has a ton of mileage.
McGregor’s Cottage is a very well related filly and a nice stamp of a horse who took the bumper with ease. The form of Moonshine Ridge’s bumper win on good ground didn’t look up to much but this leggy sort appeared to go on this much deeper terrain alright, probably more that she ran into one. Final Fling ran on okay into third to back up his debut effort and although I’m not fond of the yard ought to be up to winning a staying event when sent over timber.
An uninspiring fixture back down the A1 with the long odds-on Bon Enfant duly landing the opener despite a minor scare from the Hammond-trained Dakota Grey, quite a nice looking horse who wasn’t at all flattered by this performance. He was very straight for this but it was a good start.
Leanna Ban is a strapping chaser who will come on plenty for his run in third and again he looks one to keep onside if they can find some decent ground this winter.
Mossies Well took on Mysteree in the novices handicap chase and the long-absent Russell-trained gelding was not short of fitness beforehand. The son of Gold Well stays all day and took advantage of a couple of mistakes from his rival. There’s a suspicion Mossies hadn’t fully recovered from his Hexham run three weeks ago, although he could have come up against a very well handicapped horse going places.
It was hard to fancy any in the staying hurdle but fair play to Native Optimist who has proved me wrong in no uncertain terms. Gifted a couple of weak races at Hexham, I thought the handicapper had been very harsh but he just loves this deep ground and as is often the case he looked in great heart before the race.
It was full of disappointing sorts although there was a chink of light for Forty Crown, who looked better than usual and the blinkers had appeared to put a spring in his step. He travelled like a dream before failing to get home (not for the first time proving he doesn’t stay). I’ve no doubt if this was run over 2m4f he would have won well, but now the cat’s out of the bag and it remains to be seen whether the blinds will work as well a second time.
The feature race was very trappy but the shrewdies got it right when the money came for Clan William, by far the least exposed of the field. I wasn’t sure he was up to Class 3 but under another fantastic Danny Cook ride he made all in a race full of prominent racers.
The one to take from this is Sleepy Haven, who shaped like a very well-handicapped horse. However, it is to be hoped they revert to timber with him as he really doesn’t have the scope for fences and made numerous minor errors. The Candlish yard is cold as ice but the horse looked in great nick and when the kennel returns to form he should be backed.
I’ve knocked the aggressive tactics employed on Vendor since he has returned to the track and it was pleasing to see Cook sit off the pace before putting the handicap hurdle to bed early in the straight.
Unfortunately the price was not one that interested me after sustained support although it was hard to put anything up against him. Cooper once again got rather wound up beforehand and this tiny horse had run his race by the time the race began in earnest. Sa Suffit and Stopped Out both looked and shaped as though the race would bring them on.
Another horse I have got wrong this term is Special Wells, who failed to stay on this first go at 3m in the handicap chase. In truth he made bad errors at the first down the back on both circuits but to be honest you can’t keep making excuses for horses. Things haven’t gone his way and although he looks far too good a horse not to succeed at this game, the jury is out – big time.
In reality this did look a penalty kick for Courtown Oscar who has always looked a gorgeous big horse and he jumped superbly out of this ground. These conditions serve him best and he’s just the type to keep improving. The partnership with JR is a match made in heaven. The Toft was an interesting recruit but he looks very slow and showed nothing.
I was very interested in the well bred Jack Lamb in the bumper and although he was backed off the boards I was a little disappointed in his appearance, as although a nice type was quite leggy and immature. He looked ill at ease on the ground and was well beaten by Applaus, a good strong horse who paid tribute to the horse it finished behind at Carlisle trained by D Elsworth.
And so ends a week to forget. We can only hope that the weather relents in the coming weeks otherwise it's going to be a long old winter.
On a more positive note I'm planning to put some selections up on the blog before racing. The bulk of my profit comes from handicap chases and I'm going to focus on these over the coming months. Hopefully readers will enjoy these previews and benefit from the advice given.