Tuesday 1 March 2016


You can't beat the Bridge when the sun is beating down on a winter's afternoon and it looked like it was going to be a good day when we bagged the first two winners with the promise of more to come.

The more you looked at the opening ladies' race it just had to be a case of whether Cumbrian Farmer could keep tabs on habitual front runner Beyondtemptation, who was on the same mark as when dotting up at Wetherby.

But while the former found himself going a stride quicker than he would probably like, it looked to my eye as though Miss Stirling was judging the fractions to perfection on the latter.

Often a tearaway leader, I thought Stirling had the eventual winner on a nice even keel heading down the back where he was still a backable price, with only a load of old rogues giving chase.

Nobody can know for sure if Astrum would have gone on to win the race after crashing out at the last, but personally I suspect not. The grey has been second seven times and the burden of proof still lies with him.

Sakhee's City has been on the radar of many for some time and today was the day the big horse had to deliver, and he did. He doesn't look straight forward but is a big baby and was given an uncomplicated ride by A Nicol.

One to take from the race is General Mahler, who was given a sympathetic ride by D Cook after the horse bled on the way to the start at Sedgefield last week. This minimum trip wouldn't suit the horse and with this experience behind him he should be found a race and he now has a mark.

I wasn't taken by Archipeligo and like many here today he probably came for some good ground, but the overnight rain scuppered that. On genuine decent ground he might find a race.

The second division of the maiden hurdle looked far weaker and with odds on favourite Carthage putting in a typically moody effort it was left to Nine Alters to land some each-way support.

They bet a million bar the four and this form is not up to much at all. However, the winner is a nice sort of horse but pretty backward for a seven-year-old. Sinakar ran on into second but this small horse struggled with the hurdles and it remains to be seen if this game is for him. Myrtle Drive looks very ordinary.

It was very hard to get a handle on the handicap chase over two miles. Bollin Line was a worthy favourite after appearing to be an unlucky loser at Musselburgh but wasn't one to trust implicitly at pretty short odds.

The Wexfordian had been the subject of hefty support but I didn't like him at all in the paddock. He's a great big lump of a horse, who had a noticeable scar on one of his hind legs - probably the reason for one of his recent absences.

Horses of that size don't often do well round here and with a very patchy profile over a variety of trips he was one to take on. Sure enough he cornered badly turning in and was soon done with.

My Friend George looked sure to run his usual honest race but this trip was always going to be on the short side unless they went a crazy up front. My old friend from Haydock Ubaltique was hard to fancy as well as all his wins had come on very soft ground.

It turned out the early rain suited him well as, after getting outpaced early on, he took up the running in the straight and soon had the race in safe keeping. A wind op and tongue tie does seem to have helped him, while Bollin Line was allowed to get outpaced and it looks as though a fast pace on proper good ground is the key to him.

I was hoping to get against Minella Daddy in the staying hurdle but his withdrawal meant Royal Milan went off a well-backed favourite instead. I had backed him like many others had at Donny last time but he could never go the pace over 2m3f there.

This more leisurely gallop must have felt like a stroll in the park by contrast and he won as he liked in the end. He's probably a decent prospect who wants better ground than this, and time may tell that Banny's Lad and High Hopper had a hopeless task.

Banny's Lad is a proper top of the ground stayer, while High Hopper is an embryo chaser that is still on the weak side, and we won't be seeing the best of him for at least six months. He looked laboured but fences will be the making of him.

Leanna Ban, like Bollin Line, looked a solid favourite in the staying chase but again he wasn't really a backable price and his front running style is always likely to leave him vulnerable on winter ground, when his form suggests proper spring ground suits best.

It looked a weak enough contest and very few could be fancied - Special Wells and Vinny Gambini I've long since given up on. Another to add to the black list is Bonzo Bing, who was well-handicapped on bits of form and was a fair price, but never took an interest and that's enough of that.

Court Dismissed was up with the favourite all the way and this difficult sort seemed to enjoy it more at this slower pace, having been campaigned over shorter so far in his career.

You still wouldn't fancy it to go past on the run in but go past he did, with Leanna Ban unable to find extra close home. Bodega, a half brother to Leanna Ban, rallied well after getting tapped for toe and there's probably a small race in him with this experience under his belt.

The finale wasn't much of a punting race with Wintered Well being well found in the betting. I was concerned that the ground would trouble him as he looks a proper spring ground horse and there was a stamina doubt.

But this was a poor race and he proved a steering job for Dickie J. He's entered at Donny on Saturday and provided the ground remains good there he'll have a great chance of following up under a penalty.

The opposition melted away as Flemerina was a big market drifter and looks moderate - I still can't see how she won at Sedge - and Leney Cottage pulled far too hard again. This was a pretty poor piece of placing and riding considering he's such a strong goer. If he's still not learned to settle at the age of nine I don't want anything more to do with him. The rest were exposed as moderate and it proved a penalty kick for jolly backers.

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