Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Catterick

Bright sun burnt off the early fog and as I've said many times there's fewer places I'd rather be on days like this, especially when I fancy a couple.

The opener looked a typically weak novice hurdle for the track which boiled down to a match between the penalised Cracking Find and the untested Floramoss, who was stepping up in trip for the first time.

The feature of this race was the market, with the earlier well-backed Floramoss taking a massive walk out to beyond 4 on the machine, while Cracking Find was solid on his return to better ground dropped in grade.

Cook was always in the right place as ever, but didn't have to do a great deal on the front end despite being hassled all the way by the leery Desert Point, and had plenty in reserve when Floramoss came to challenge.

A momentum stopping blunder two more or less sealed matters for the Reveley mare, who was unable to reel in the winner despite getting over a stone, but it was a likeable performance from Cracking Find who looks a super honest horse, and dare I say it typical of the yard.

The next was a 0-100 staying chase which rounded up many of the usual suspects, meaning anything with a bit of form or potential was worth a second look.

Of most interest was Major Ridge, about which some eagle-eyed followers might have taken big early odds after I'd made these comments about his two previous runs.

Sedgefield
The other interesting one was Major Ridge, a horse that was often touted around the track but hadn't shown a great deal, not withstanding the occasional snippet of ability. He's a big chase type and on a very attractive mark. I'm not sure he stays, and he looked like the run would do him good, but I'm sure he can do well for his new handler.
Wetherby
I'm not giving up on the fourth placed Major Ridge, who was beaten miles but had little assistance from the saddle. He'll drop several pounds for this but has ability. 
From a 4lb lower mark and J Colliver in the plate it looked like today might be the day, especially as the horse was strong on the course even at much shorter odds than earlier in the day, backed from 10s into 7 late on.

Always up with the pace, I had reservations about whether he would get home but clearly the fittest he's ever been, ran right to the line in the style of a horse that still had something to give.

I thought Bankhall would take some beating but he looked awful beforehand, not just small but really sweating up. It was very off putting, but even so it was a dismal effort and the market told the story there.

Another one caught my eye and that was Vincent Row, a horse new to the C Grant yard. He looked a nice stamp of horse beforehand and there was a bit of money around for the Irish exile, who has a 0-30 record under rules with just three places.

He came into the race 0/6 over fences and hadn't really shown anything in more than two years, but this better ground seemed to suit and despite a bad early blunder came there with an eye-catching run. It remains to be seen if he's turned a corner at the age of 10, but he'll be worth keeping a close eye on.

Nietzsche had given us a lovely send off when landing a punt at Market Rasen last week and he wasn't easy to oppose on this follow up attempt from a very similar mark, albeit in a better looking race.

He put in a similar shift here, travelling very freely but finding well on the run-in to fend off the strong challenge of Alzamaar, who was running for the first time for the Englands.

Jaleo was woefully outpaced and looked to be lacking confidence after his latest heavy fall, but the impression was that this is solid form.

Two Taffs has been a big talking horse ever since his bumper days but has flattered no end of times. A starting price of 1/6 was ludicrous given that he had failed to deliver more often than not, while he had a worthy opponent in Aminabad, who had a good sighter at Ayr last week.

It looked like the Irish raider had been targeted at this race and he duly found plenty under Hughes to upset the well punted jolly, who once again found less than expected after failing to settle. He obvisouly remains one to be wary of.

The handicap chase over 2m was really tricky as none of them had suitable profiles, but our hand was forced when Mister Spingsprong was backed into a short price that didn't look warranted.

Sadly we opted for the good looking Blandfords Gunner, who once again proved paceless off the bridle and continues to frustrate, instead of the friendless Herons Heir, who was the only one to have the pace to deal with this tight circuit.

He had far too much tactical speed to give the Skeltons a welcome winner after Two Taffs' gaff, while most of the others look like they either want further and/or softer.

The finale was a very weak handicap hurdle after Final Countdown was scratched...southern raider Galactic Power looking quite a likely type beforehand with only Snowed In measuring up physically.

He would have traded at big prices at the top of the straight but with the leaders going knowhere fast, he picked them up readily to score as if another go at further will suit.

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