Thursday, 10 March 2016

Weekly round-up - W/C March 7

Newcastle - March 8

Race 1
Generous Pet looked fit and well on his first start for Ken Slack, although it took a leap of faith to back it with very little form to go on. Warksburn Boy didn’t look ready after a break but was pulled up as if something was amiss late on. Solway Prince looked well and his turn should be around the corner given better ground and a trip.

Race 2
Caius Marcius was all the rage but I wasn’t taken by it in the paddock despite all the talk. He looks like he needs more time and perhaps good ground. Very First Time looked better than I had originally given him credit for, more size for one, although he may have grown in the last three months. He had heavy ground form at the track and shouldn’t have gone off at 7/1 even though this was his debut over timber. Nendrum is a fair looking horse but clearly isn’t one to trust, although the second home Eastview is one to keep an eye out for as he will be better than this on good ground and he wasn’t given a hard time.

Race 3
Having missed the price on handicap good thing Streets Of Promise in the morning I was drawn towards Irish raider Celtic Thunder, about whom there was plenty of confidence. He looks ok physically but didn’t appear to have the bottle for this and a couple of mistakes down the back finished him. ‘Streets’ won like the good thing she was, especially as her jumping was far better than previously.

Race 4
I wrote Bertie Moon off after Sedgefield so her victory here was a big surprise. It was galling because I was dead against Nichiolascopernicus who has had some work done on his front and back leg joints judging by what I saw in the paddock, and had plenty to prove after a lengthy absence. Many will forgive his tame finish in the name of fitness but my take is that he was fitter than a butcher’s dog here and whatever is ailing him means he is not the horse he once was. Having thrown darts at Cadore and Morning With Ivan we failed to take advantage.

Race 5
I hadn’t been convinced by Special Catch since his return from injury and still can’t believe he won here two starts back. This is the fourth time in five starts he’s finished tamely and he’s one to be against. With Edmund due to go down 4lb from Friday it was pointless running here so it was a two-horse race. Caraline looked in good fettle but for some reason ran no sort of race and was beaten by halfway. De Vous A Moi did his usual thing of getting outpaced before plugging on dourly to win again. He’s a bonny horse who may yet keep improving over 3m.

Race 6

A decent looking bumper with some nice sorts. Bestarius took the honours, a nice big chase prospect, despite looking very green. Blakerigg was the subject of early support but the N Richards horse had to give second best. He’s a strong sort who should make into a decent horse. Black Ivory ran home third and this horse of Jefferson’s is well related and looks sure to stay well and go on better ground. Dr West is bred to stay forever so his run was promising until swerving away from the whip and unshipping the rider. What Kept You is a nice athletic sort but I think was too keen and free throughout  proceedings, while Eaton Hill is a small Yeats horse and he too was very keen. Mutawaasel is a cheap buy off the flat and he will find his level in time.

Catterick - March 9

Morning rain had turned the ground pretty soft and the racing was generally uncompetitive.

Race 2
I made My Friend George favourite for this four runner handicap over 2m3f but the books favoured Roxyfet. The Hammond horse had yet to prove himself as effective over the longer trip while 'George' is proven over further, and although neither looked well handicapped it looked between the pair as Lily Little Legs hadn't achieved much at Wetherby previously. However, after getting the market right we didn't get the result. Roxy probably won fair and square but this wasn't a test at the trip and it was disappointing that Brooke didn't make a bid for home much earlier in the race. The fact that the rag was still upsides at the last suggests that this was another race that fell just right for the winner, for all that he has done little wrong of late.

Race 3
Flemensfirthleader was made 2/11 to follow up her Seggie win and was hard to oppose on that, but she's very headstrong and the money buyers who forced her price in had their arses bitten badly. Mo Chailin jumped much better on this occasion and got a good ride from STD. The form may actually be ok for its type as the third, Regal Ways, could have a future over timber.

Race 4
Sadly Bollin Line was taken out on account of the ground (I assume) as I wanted to be against it. It left Discoverie looking vulnerable at around 6/4 at the head of the market but the race completely fell apart and he hacked up. There wasn't an awful lot you could have backed against it however, with proven dog Casual Cavalier arguably best of the rest. Nefyn Bay is one to keep an eye on. Not fit and outpaced for much of the way, he stayed on strongly off camera and will come into his own this spring on better ground and at least 2m 4f.

Race 5
Shinooki looked a good thing at even money against a fairly motley bunch. Cumbrian Farmer is pretty exposed and I still think he will do better on good ground. Brae On was interesting after a two year absence and he looked really well, and fit enough. The Bewley yard is in fine nick at present and it's only a matter of time before they fire in a few winners

Race 6
I knew the market leaders in the novice hunter from the PTP field and the progressive Carlton Ryan was a worthy favourite. However, Comedinewithme has also done well between the flags despite some novicey jumping and I thought at 4/1 she was worth a poke getting plenty of weight. The jockey R Smith is successful in the points but he was a bit quiet for me here, although the errors reared their ugly head on the final circuit and a clumsy leap two out left the mare with too much to do. Easterby likes to look good and he was too easy on the jolly, nearly getting it beat as the mare rallied, but the right one won you'd have to say. Both can keep improving this spring with the emphasis on stamina.

Race 7
The bumper really interested me because the two market leaders Undisputed and Lady Of Llanarmon had been slammed last time out. I was keen on Tara Time before she was scratched but there was another one lurking in the shape of Kelka, a lovely big striding horse related to a couple of good stayers. The Jefferson inmate didn't let me down, showing a decent turn of foot to get the better of Undisputed, who got back on track with forcing tactics. The pair are definitely decent mares.

Carlisle - March 10

Barmy conditions in the north west with not a breath of wind and the ground seemingly drying out by the hour. There were some very strange market moves and those who got sucked in got their fingers burnt.

Race 1
The first mystery plunge of the day came for Divine Port despite a couple of seriously moderate efforts since the turn of the year. I thought he might be the one to be on at an early 3/1 but at 6/4 he had to be taken on. I'd already taken a view by laying Baraka De Thaix, another in the field that had been regressive, and really the only one that could be seriously entertained was indeed the eventual winner Captain Redbeard. He's one I've liked from day one but he's had a busy campaign and wasn't easy to weigh up. His last run came a bit too soon after his breakthrough victory at Sedgefield and unlike the other two it looked a legitimate excuse.

Race 2
We backed up that good start by supporting Baby Bach in what was effectively a two-horse novice hurdle. His only serious opponent Dakota Grey is a nice horse in his own right but much more an embryonic chaser, while Baby Bach is a year older and closer to the finished article. Actually I like him a lot and he should be worth following. Ten Trees showed a bit more here and a small handicap can come her way.

Race 3
I had taken a position in the staying handicap hurdle by backing Knock A Hand in the morning purely in the hope that a return to a course at which he has previously run very well would inspire a revival. However, I seemed to be amongst the majority in thinking that way and I never like it when that happens, 3/1 being pretty poor value at the off. As is often the case when the whole world is on your horse, it's runs like a drain. It was frustrating as I had the view that the jolly Isaacstown Lad was poorly handicapped and that Cloudy Copper (who is a really moderate looking animal by the way) had plenty to prove in a first time tongue tie. I'm not great at getting Pipey's horses right and although I did the right thing in laying the one in the opener I didn't consider the enigmatic grey Gevrey Chambertin. Pistol was a 7/1 shot here I believe. Extraordinary.

Race 4
Technical problems meant I wasn't fully focused on the handicap chase for novices but in truth I couldn't get to the bottom of it anyway. I couldn't find the winner to save my life but of course it was the one who had threatened something like this for 18 months, a horse I'd backed at least three times, one that I'd given up on, that promptly hosed up. Leney Cottage had pulled far too hard on two outings over timber and was again very keen here, but this less demanding ground and shorter trip meant he galloped all over some paceless rivals. The fact that it looked a difficult race beforehand doesn't mean it was competitive though, with the second and third both moderate animals. I crossed out most of them and couldn't find anything to back other than have a tiny amount on Attimo at big odds in case the Drakes had improved it from C Mann. Entirely plausible, of course, but the giant beast looks useless.

Race 5
No views on a weak handicap hurdle for novices, other than thinking that Solway Prince was a short price at around 4/1 for a race he surely couldn't win. He's as one-paced as they come but I can see him plodding to victory in a staying race at Perth where they go too fast early on. Ash Park had shown a glimmer of hope last time out and he duly backed it up, although this form is very moderate and he'll struggle next time out. Sean Ban looks one-paced too but will benefit from a step up in trip.

Race 6  
This is where fortunes took a turn for the worse. A very tight four-runner affair but I'd been waiting for Pay The King to revert to 20f after patently failing to stay the last twice. He looks terrifically handicapped and although Swing Hard would be tough to crack if at the top of his game, I felt the Hammond horse would have something in hand. It's easy to point the finger at Colliver the claimer, as I will forever call him, and I just did. However, let's try to be fair and say the horse - with its rather queer front leg action - may not have handled the ups and, especially, the downs of this course too well. In my mind's eye I always saw Pay The King landing a decent race at Wetherby in April, so hopefully there's a race for him there on better ground than this. In the hope of getting some sleep tonight, let's tell ourselves the money is only lent.

Race 7
The bumper was a match and for some reason I just wanted to be against Reivers Lad, who performed above market expectations on debut at Ayr. He's a strapping chaser, laid back as well, but was up against what looked a ready-made horse in Powerful Symbol. The market tended to agree with me but I didn't like the way the O'Neill horse faltered towards the line and he could be one to take on in future, while the Richards horse is clearly one to follow as he hopefully builds on this over the sticks. Our Morris was a shoo-in for third place as Paddling had got very worked up, and he was another horse to advertise the well-being of the G Bewley outfit.

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