Monday, 15 February 2016

Catterick

Well, we went to the Bridge full of hope on a glorious winter's day but if you follow a couple of disappointing types over the cliff, well, maybe you should expect disappointment.

The first blooper of the day came in the shape Jokers And Rogues. There are plenty of perma-fans of the beast out there and I'm afraid I'm one of them. Bolstered by what looked like a positive stable switch and the application of a tongue strap, the gamble that ensued appeared wholly justified in what looked a poor field.

I can't help thinking young H Brooke went off hard enough in what looked tiring conditions, but even so the horse pulled his usual trick of stopping to nothing once straightening for home - in-running players filling the tank as he did so.

I still believe genuine good ground will see the horse in better light, and perhaps a drop in trip as well, but how many chances do you give one horse. This one's out of time.

Skelton's Air Glider didn't look up to much beforehand and showed very little - he's obviously moderate but may want good ground, but really it was a race to forget.

I also managed to get myself in a muck sweat over the perennially disappointing Frankie's Promise. Talk about barking up the wrong tree. It looked like he was only here for a spin and, just like over fences, his jumping went to pot. It looks like the horse has lost it.

To make matters worse I was happy to take on the odds-on jolly as I'm not a huge fan of these young horses going again under a penalty. It's all well and good saying it now. To cap a forgettable 20 minutes or so I didn't like the winner Hartside in the prelims. He usually takes the eye with his well-being but I thought he was wrong in his coat. When you get a race wrong, you may as well get it really wrong.

However, the chases got us out of trouble for the umpteenth time and good old Gonalston Cloud made it 3-3 since returning to rules. Hopefully followers of the blog will have topped up recent Doncaster gains.

He was just about backable at 2/1 although I won't lie, I thought Leanna Ban was a massive threat and backed him as well. The big horse had been threatening a big run and with a change of tactics he went mighty close.

What a shame they couldn't have waited for some better ground though. His mark will suffer from this and you have to think they've missed a right opportunity.

I thought Gonalston Cloud looked a bit flat both before and during the race, making a couple of uncharacteristic blunders. There was a slight niggle that his Donny effort only 17 days ago might leave its mark, and there's every chance he can go in once more after a short break. When these stayers get on a run there can be no stopping them.

I was looking forward to a head to head between Another Hero and Looking Well later on the card, but when the former was scratched it left the Richards horse a rather short price and the shape of the race changed.

Thus we went in search of some value against the raw novice and it looked for all the world as though Straidnahanna was ready to pounce on a fair looking mark.

I wasn't at all disheartened by his latest defeat at Market Rasen, which looked like a confidence-boosting exercise after a couple of sub-par efforts. Sure enough he put in a much cleaner round of jumping today and it was pleasing to see Cooky allow him to find his stride.

This was Cook at his best, making the horse's mind up when he needed it. The horse was always in the right place and when the jolly departed the race opened up.

Jac The Legend looked a real threat but couldn't get to the well-handicapped winner. The runner-up isn't straight forward, and has his own way of jumping. But he'll pop up again some day.

Distime is doing the Drakes proud this term and they will surely send him to Liverpool for the Topham, and he'd have every right to take his chance providing there's cut in the ground.

I didn't really have a view on the opener as I wasn't a fan of either the second or the third, but the bumper was full of interest.

Ellison's Persian Steel was all the rage and looked the part, while Raised On Grazeon caught the eye at Donny and again looked sure to be involved. Sam Spinner is a flat bred sort, in contrast to the Smiths' Captain Moirette.

He dwarfed some of them in the paddock and will make a mighty fine chaser. It was great to see him show so much ability at this stage of his career but it will be a couple of years before he'll really fulfill that potential.

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