Monday, 9 January 2017

Doncaster

Back to Town Moor where the threat of rain meant for a tricky day's punting - in the end the weather largely passed us by and the going remained just on the soft side of good throughout.

The opening novice hurdle didn't look strong with a weak and opposable favourite in Zipple Back, who has evidently been difficult to settle and was unable to land a blow having been given plenty to do.

Lough Derg Farmer had been all the rage beforehand but he looks an embryo chaser and was immature in the race before asserting his authority late on. This wasn't great but he stepped up on a tame opening effort.

Tree Of Liberty had the look of a paceless animal on form and again could only find the one gear - he's quite plain and may just be ordinary. Wind Place and Sho was messing around beforehand...I gave him the benefit of the doubt as he looked full of beans but maybe he's just had enough after a long campaign on the level. It could be he just doesn't fancy the winter game.

I was keen as mustard to take on the well-backed Hammersly Lake in the novice chase - he's not really progressed over time and he didn't take the eye beforehand, getting warm and appearing full of attitude.

I had taken a price on Ma Du Fou in hope of softer ground materialising and some headgear to improve his jumping, but neither assumption really worked out.

I'm not a huge fan of D Russell dropping in to ride the occasional one on these shores and he doesn't seem to excel on horses he doesn't know very well (no doubt the stats will prove me wrong). Suffice to say I don't think he gave it a great ride, although non of them would have beaten the luckless Cyrius Moriviere if his saddle hadn't slipped approaching two out.

I was anticipating a good show from Pauling's ace with Bass in for Linehan, while Querry Horse was another 'runner' getting plenty of weight although on inspection I felt he'd improve for time, being a bit on the small side.

It's hard to know what to make of the form. I'd continue to take on the beaten favourite, while Ma Du Fou shapes for all the world like he wants 3m and soft ground. He's talented and the type to improve for experience.

I foolishly threw some darts at the dreadful staying handicap hurdle predictably to no avail. Grand Enterprise was the obvious one but he was originally priced at an absurd 9/4 so much time was spent looking elsewhere.

The beast drifted all the way to 5s without much interest but won as he liked and indeed as he should given he was lower in the weights than his latest effort. However, it was not a race to remember with Lake Shore Drive - little more than a pony - rattling home for third.

There were some reasonable sorts in the 2m novice hurdle but Stowaway Magic looked a certainty and duly won as he liked. Boudry was the one to be against - he looks a keen and quirky sort with plenty of attitude, and once again his jumping was appalling. But to be honest there wasn't a great deal to note here, with only the next three home of minor interest going forward.

I couldn't get my head around the feature handicap chase, a Class 4 event of the strongest nature headed by six to follow entry I Just Know. He looked well handicapped still, especially after Wetherby victor Two Smokin Barrels went in again next time, and a five week break wasn't lost on the horse who looked in terrific condition.

There were loads of value options against him but I couldn't bring myself to oppose him and was happy to just watch him jump them into the ground. Towering didn't appear to do much wrong although he was one of the least appealing physically, while Deputy Commander returned to form without looking one to follow per se.

Beggars Cross is a nice sort but hasn't fired yet this term. When the market speaks in his favour he'll look a very nicely handicapped horse. Duke Arcadio went backwards again and although he wants it softer there's more to it than that, while Kilronan Castle is another to have reservations about in the short term after an equally dismal effort.

It was left to Graceful Legend to send us home happy in the last. There didn't seem any reason whatsoever why she couldn't repeat her victory here 11 days previously in a very similar contest, rocking up full of beans and with consistency and stamina on her side.

Backed all day, she essentially outbattled Cajun Fiddle who may well prove superior in the longer term but is still just lacking mental and physical maturity.

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