Thursday, 21 April 2016

Perth - Day 1

It wasn't just to tick the box that we travelled up to the Perth for the first time - there was fun to be had but more importantly winners to be got as the season continues its swift descent.

Unfortunately we'll have to wait another day for those.

Runners were greeted by extremely warm temperatures and genuine, natural good ground for the first time since the Fall. However there was plenty of juice in it and it seemed to me as if some soft ground types went on it, some didn't fare so well.

After a busy few days and five hours on the road preparation wasn't great so expectations were pretty low and the opening maiden hurdle wasn't up to much.

Several caught the eye for the wrong reasons, the mares Berkshire Downs (not progressing and quite misshapen) and Buttercup worth opposing - the latter running up very light but a young horse worth keeping an eye on with a summer out to grass behind her.

I hadn't been that struck by Petapenko previously and I wasn't sure he was that straight for this return from a 179 day absence. They've gone for blinkers at an early stage and it's not a good sign - the horse made mistakes and looked moody.

Wicked Willy was a fair jolly on the back of a good run last time, albeit on very soft ground. An unfurnished youngster, it could be that the ground wasn't soft enough but he didn't take a cut at the obstacles for whatever reason and went too freely up front. A work in progress.

Ballinvega had finished ahead of both the market leaders in a bumper here behind Fagan and had shown just enough on his return from a winter break to suggest he could be competitive. He's a fair stamp of a horse and won with a bit of authority in the end.

They bunched up in behind but again Misfits ran on to good effect. With a pedigree loaded with stamina he will come into his own over further in time. I could have backed him each-way but I didn't like the cut of his jib beforehand, strutting around with his ears pinned back. Maybe that's just him.

I'm not a huge fan of mares races but the next looked quite winnable. But I was against the eventual winner Princess Tara who I was convinced would need soft ground of the basis of her form with Peter Bowen. But she was backed and won well.

Presenting Rose is a big unit and looks a three mile chaser, while Dubh Eile and Song Saa were similar sturdy compact types. Out of the two the latter looked really well and most likely to progress from a couple of minor wins. Sadly that wasn't to be - she was far too keen and this was disappointing.

Whatdoesthefoxsay attracted support back on a winning mark but needed an attacking ride and didn't get one. She hasn't grown an inch since the early days and continues bang out of form, while Carinena appeared to have her chance and is now looking a bit exposed.

The 'Future Champions' novices hurdle was up next and all four looked genuine chasers. I'd been a layer of Up For Review at Doncaster and at the Fest on account of a very 'shouldery' action at the walk suggesting that very soft ground would be required. Nothing in those two runs suggested that theory was wrong and it looked like another good lay in the place market. Ouch.

He didn't look out of third gear to collect this but without wanting to denigrate the form too much the fact that Nambour and Barney Dwan could never get involved suggested perhaps the trip stretched them both, while Fagan clearly bounced out of Cheltenham as he was laboured from an early stage. All looked well beforehand but as the trainers always say you can't tell until you run them.

I read somewhere that Lucinda Russell had a terrible record at this meeting, possibly a result of the yard never seemingly laying their horses out for targets and as a result ending up here on the back of a busy campaign.

So it is very strange to record that I found myself supporting both Voyage A New York and Present Flight in the two chases. The former proved himself very well handicapped, as I had suspected, off 109 at Kelso but had been hiked 11lb for that win and struggled on soft last time.

I had hoped the better ground would help to eke out more improvement but it was a stab in the dark and this was more competitive especially with No Duffer looking in good form again after dotting up at Haydock.

He was very short though for one that hadn't won off a mark this high, so perhaps the race should have been swerved. I felt Silver Tassie would go well but I'm not entirely convinced about its resolution and for one of Micky's, whose usually look fantastic, he wasn't great in his coat.

I bypassed the bad looking amateur riders event to try to gather some thoughts with the day slipping away from us. The five-runner novices handicap was a decent puzzle and I knew them all pretty well.

Present Flight has had a fair season and there was every chance going right handed would see him in better light, however his jumping was the worst I've seen it and a hard season has probably taken its toll. Ok, so NEXT year I'll be against Lucinda's.

Lowanbehold had won twice at Kelso over shorter and physically looked the lesser of this bunch and readily opposable up in trip and grade, despite being strong in the market. Lay was the bet, although I was in no mood for that business after the earlier setback.

I'd thrown cash at Florida Calling last time but he was rushed into novicey errors on that chase debut and this nice looking horse was likely to be seen in better light here. He certainly was, but ran into a good one in Ballyboker Breeze.

With McCain he had looked slow and jumped poorly over timber, but had reportedly had a wind op and was straight enough after an absence starting out with N Richards, although I did feel he would come on for it.

The pair jumped really well at the head of affairs and for me they were going to have it between them with a circuit to go. Mossies Well is a nice big horse who is likely to prefer softer terrain, and one suspects this comeback effort would have pleased connections after something went amiss before Christmas.

It was hard to figure out the finale as you could give chances to outsiders Jet Master and Silver Duke if they were in the mood, and I didn't want to be with Baby King (exposed at this mark) King Muro or Top Of The Glas (doggy). Banyu was therefore a solid looking option at the top of the market and after positive tactics seemed to work on this free going sort last time they allowed him to bowl along in front again and the race never looked in doubt.

Top Of The Glas made mistakes in second but stayed on well to offer hope to many that his turn is around the corner. I would suggest the opposite, that this is the way he always runs, and will likely find at least one too many again in future.

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