Friday 31 March 2017


The end of a busy week and month but much more inspiring fare than of late and goodish ground greeted the runners, at least that's what the time figures suggested, although there was juice in the ground.

The opening novice hurdle was interesting as it featured an eight-year-old maiden from the Greatrex yard, that is an out-and-out chaser on looks.

What he was doing at the head of the market I do not know, and with Master Of Finance and Blue Hussar much nippier types off the flat he wasn't likely to get away from them over the minimum trip.

So it proved, with Blue Hussar fully proving his latest effort at Doncaster to be no fluke by winning with loads in hand, although Master Of Finance went down fighting giving away 9lb.

They'll surely go over fences with King's Hussar now but he'd be one to take on as he doesn't move great and has clearly had issues, while Skywards Reward is quite a strong sort who should hold his own once handicapped.

The handicap chase that followed was a poor race full of exposed, disappointing types and the less said about it the better.

Gin Cobbler only tends to win in his turn, usually when he's been written off, while Roxyfet has been a long way below last season's form and is starting to look difficult under pressure. Chestnut Ben continued the fine fun of the Winks family.

The next looked a really competitive handicap hurdle over an intermediate trip where several could be fancied, which meant the money for Robintheaulad was a bit of a surprise given he had a lot to prove.

He's a big raw chaser for next year and this season has been a write-off, but he'll come back stronger no doubt.

Little Bruce had been mentioned favourably on the blog earlier in the campaign he looks a different horse now after a solid season and he was very fit here.

He's a bonny little horse and by Yeats was always likely to run to the line. Things seemed to fall into his lap but it's hard to fault him. Turtle Cask looked much better than usual beforehand and his turn may be soon for all that he is not great off the bridle.

He should be able to win a smaller race than this and in fairness the front three came well clear. Magic Dancer has the size to jump a fence and although he was a stayer on the flat he was paddling a bit close home. He may prove hard to win with.

Similar sentiments may apply to the Pipe's Stay Out Of Court, who had been under pressure prior to falling three out and could prove tripless.

Everything looked in place for Swing Hard to repeat last week's win if he was over a quite hard race that day, but the cash for Open Hearted was interesting having seen his mark fall after a few spins in hunters.

He looked really well and it wasn't easy to fancy the others, particularly Volt Face who looked by some way the smallest, and pretty keen to get on with things. He was dropped right out and Johnson did well to get him round. I'd oppose him in weaker races than this.

A sorry postscript to this race was that Swing Hard came in very lame in front, let's hope it's not as serious as it looked.

A tricky looking handicap over the minimum came next and although the mark looked harsh, especially as he hadn't been dropped for getting beat miles last time, Mortens Leam was one I wanted on side as he looked really well and bigger than I remembered.

He's well related, and most of the Sly horses are, and he'll keep improving, especially if they ride him with more restraint, and a race at Fakenham should be there for the taking.

He faded into third here behind Suggestion, who still looks really raw and backward, but dispelled the belief that he was poorly handicapped by coming home best with a long raking stride.

G'Day Aussie lost ground at one down the back and that may have cost him as he came home really strongly, unlike Monfass who travelled into it really well but found nothing; he may have over-raced.

The hunter went to Ardea who is a striking looking individual and has probably run to a similar mark on each of his three runs this term. It's doubtful there's much more improvement in him, but he's good in this grade.

Thetalkinghorse also appeared to run to form, which means Shantou Prince is a useful recruit. I'd seen him in a couple of points last term and he looked really nice, and in fairness he's not done much wrong in that sphere.

He's a big strong horse and although this run has telegraphed it somewhat, he should take all the beating in the 'Heart' at Hexham next month for maiden hunters, won last year by Ardea.

The bumper looked a competitive race but although they were an ok looking bunch nothing really impressed, with the Henderson horse Duke Debarry possibly needing the run as he's a burly sort.

Minella Warrior was a well-backed favourite on the back of his run in a Listed race but I wasn't massively taken by him and the one that regularly caught the eye was eventual winner Kalashnikov.

Although slightly weak in front you'd expect that of a four-year-old but he looked a nice prospect and forward to boot, and I'm still wondering why he went unbacked at 12s as he's related to that fine mare Kalane, a 140-horse.

These bumpers are guesswork to an extent but it's usually worth having a stab, especially when odds like that are on the table. I'm guessing this horse won't be a double figure price for some time to come.

Itsnonofurbusiness had a bit of a reputation but there wasn't much of him and a market drift told the story there, while New List is quite small and he looks a plodder despite his speedy pedigree. As northern bumpers go though, it was right up there.

Wednesday 29 March 2017


The ground was on the soft side of good but looked very patchy and bare in places.

It was quite hard to sift through the dross and I'm increasingly inclined to think that Sedgefield form, like that of Musselburgh, is unique to itself and the majority doesn't translate elsewhere.

As such, it's probably not worth writing much of a blog for these trips, especially as the standard is generally so poor.

But we're here now, and you never know there may be something to glean.

K Slack was back on song with Onwiththeparty in the opener after the big chasing type had run a stinker at Carlisle. He travelled as well as ever here and went through with the effort for a change, not that he was under much pressure to do so.

The challenge of Robin's Legend dropped away after he had run and jumped with much more zest than last time, while Houndscourt ran a strange race, looking set to take some pegging back until slowing into and crashing through the first down the back.

Hint Of Grey and Little Miss Poet are both light framed mares who didn't particularly appeal in a weak second race, eventual winner Hint of Grey getting warm beforehand but battling on best to land the spoils.

Boric had proved he can run to his Newcastle form away from Gosforth and now tried in different headgear he returned to his best in the handicap chase under a positive ride from the much-improved C Bewley.

Jac The Legend came in for strong support, with which I fully concurred, but he has turned into a right old thief and this was his last chance. Inchcolm also threw in a stinker and remains one to avoid, while Lakefield Rebel is another out of chances.

The big race of the day was an intriguing handicap hurdle in which Crackdeloust was an uneasy favourite.

The Ellison horse looked primed for the event and set to relish the extra yardage, but he did too much in the race and failed to get home. He's a nice big horse and shouldn't judged too harshly on this.

They went no pace and the front pair remained in position to the end, Mr Clarkson packing plenty of punch late on to deny the rejuvenated Bollin Ace.

Dear Sire is really small and I'm not sure he's going to progress a great deal, but Reverant Cust has strengthened up nicely and he is one to keep an eye on as he hasn't been ridden to best effect the last twice now.

A poor novice handicap followed where Whitsundays was made favourite but he looked vulnerable over the minimum trip despite having little in the way of opposition.

The poor Al Reesha took an horrendous fall in front of the stands which made life easier for the jolly, but he was nearly found out by the veteran Hi Dancer, who jumped and galloped with zest and deserved to take the prize, only denied on the short climb to the post.

A effective match came next and Bordeaux Bill was odds-on to beat Helmsley Lad after dotting up here last time out. I thought he looked smart that day and he backed up that view with a professional display of jumping.

He has plenty of scope to take high rank in the north, while the runner-up is also of a fair standard as he's still green and gawky and slow to learn the job in hand.

He has more size for fences and when the penny drops he'll leave his current mark behind.

The finale was a typical run of the mill handicap hurdle for the track won by Pikarnia for the useful Menzies yard. The youngster had looked amiss when punted (me included) in January but ran ok in a better race last time.

Up in trip and handily dropped 5lb, he came back to life and relished the extra yardage, to finally deliver on the promise he had shown before the turn of the year.

I wasn't on and frankly it was a nice feeling to jump in the car and head home.

Tuesday 28 March 2017


Another jolly old trip south to the Rolleston venue where the ground had dried to good all round, the times backing that up.

The opening 0-100 was typical of the venue, being pretty low grade stuff, very few of the eight you'd back under normal circumstances.

But with a line through so many it was worth throwing money at the nicest looking pair in the field; Gorran Haven and Nobel Leader.

Both have the stamp of proper chasers, the former should start to get the hang of things as they move him back up in trip, as this looked on the sharp side.

Nobel Leader hadn't been getting home over longer trips so the drop to the minimum looked to be in his favour, as was the drop to C5 for the first time in a while.

What is more he had drifted to a very backable price and he duly delivered in the straight and thankfully he only had The Wexfordian beat; a horse that usually gives second best in a debate.

A staying chase followed and I just could not believe the drift on Dawnieriver, a light framed mare who probably doesn't take much getting ready.

She was spot on after a three month hiatus and with the ground in her favour she was a cracking bet against some disappointing animals.

Duke Arcadio was backed into a similar price but having pulled up the last twice, versus a horse who had done herself proud at Cheltenham no less last time out? Come on.

Fly Home Harry was fit but is probably weighted to his best and couldn't peg them back, while Make Me A Fortune was running one of his better races prior to exiting at the last. There's no doubting who would have won, however.

The novice hurdle was a poor race with several looking unlikely to play a part despite their each-way odds behind odds-on jolly Fattsota.

The veteran Flat horse hasn't exactly taken to hurdles like the proverbial D to W and good luck to those brave souls who rowed in at 1.5 on the machine.

He made very hard work of beating a leggy and backward Global Ruler, while Snow Castle is very immature mentally and physically, but was still one of the better sorts.

Zabeel Star is not a hurdler on looks and had no business here, while Hardrock Davis is a really rotund individual who could take a few runs to get his bearings. Cup Of Ambition showed more in fourth and he's a laid back sort so I'm not sure why he got stirred up last time out. He'll want a trip.

Derrick D'Anjou looked ready to roll from a mark of 99 in the next handicap hurdle over nearly 3m but they messed him about up front and went no gallop, Fifty Bob leading some of them out to the right.

It was really unsatisfactory to watch the cash go west on the well-backed runner-up, whose day will come. Ironically it was a horse that crashed out yesterday, Boher Lad, who spoiled the party.

He's not very big but crept into it as the rest got in each other's way, and it worked out well for the 10yro. Twist On Ginge again looked very one-paced, and he's not over-big. The proximity of the hard-pulling Honest Intent makes this hard to assess.

Brillare Momento had by far the best form heading into the mares novices hurdle and really she should have been a solid bet when she drifted out to over 3 on the machine.

All she had to do was repeat her previous efforts to collect, and she did so without much fuss. She's a nice type, but I was put off by the fact she'd had three months off and looked in need of the run. She'll improve again, without question.

Mariah's Legend again got worked up although it may not have affected her performance this time. She was fractious without going over the top, but she will need to calm down to fulfil her potential.

Runner-up Swatow is a nice embryonic horse, while the fourth home Sheneededtherun is another cracking chase type the trainer does so well with. She's already seven so they'll need to push on but I'm sure she'll be jumping fences in the autumn.

Goodgirlteresa is a lovely laid-back mare but when she hits the track she loses control. She almost carted N Fehily to post and refused to settle in the race, again failing to see it out. Switched yards, they punted her from double figures into 7/2 but it was the same old story.

Riddlestown defied a career high mark to win again at his favourite track in the next, defying top weight. Last week's runner-up Sauvignon looked a bit on edge and I suspect she may have bounced on this quick return.

North Hill was heavily supported and looked one of the more likely ones but again the race wasn't run to suit him, behind a wall of horses when coming down four out, possibly unsighted. The jockey probably had enough under him to come around horses and the six-year-old has the form to be much better than this mark.

Silent Encore is a nice big horse and I liked his finishing effort at Doncaster last time out. Without market support I passed him over and I'm glad he didn't win, although his runner-up spot as rather let the cat out of the bag.

The bumper looked a two runner race between market leaders Royal Ruby and Cabaret Queen, good looking horses from good stables that were ready for their debuts,

It was very hard to split them and it was Henderson's compact son of Yeats who proved best, staying on stoutly to beat Chesterman, a fair sort who looked to be carrying loads of condition. He's clearly talented and may prove the best of these in time. Indian Harbour is too big for this game, while Leodis is another big unit who will benefit from the experience.

Market Rasen

Drying ground at the Lincolnshire venue and it caught one or two out, not least the heavily backed Mustang On in the opening novice hurdle.

I've been charting the seven-year-old's progress for a while now and thought he had some sort of chance against odds-on jolly Louis' Vac Pouch - at least more than the compilers had suggested.

However, he wasn't given a very positive ride by the 10lb claimer and was tapped for toe in a slowly run affair, staying on steadily for third.

He's very much a work in progress but if they find a nice little handicap over an extra half mile before they put him away I'd be very interested.

'Pouch' is not straight forward but does jump well and he'll stay further once he settles down. He took a strong hold again here but saw his race out well.

Sue Smith unveiled a nice staying chase prospect in Iskabeg Lane, who has plenty of size, and needed this run. He may be only a 115-type horse but he'll be starting from a lower perch than that.

The second was a poor 0-100 affair but the market created an angle as Monkhouse was backed into less than 3 on the machine, a crazy price for a horse who has shown very moody tendencies.

A couple of dark ones lurked, none more so than the O'Neill-trained Timeforwest, who had shown next to nothing in novice hurdles.

But, unraced in eight weeks and appearing in a handicap from a mark of 98, she was a different proposition and the late money proved spot on. She beat very little but will be able to follow up, for all that she needs more time physically.

My Little Cracker is a horse I've been against for a long time but she won again last week and came here looking really well and much more mature physically.

In a classic case of mare/spring/ground combo she fairly rattled home after the last to win well, beating a fair yardstick in Vic's Last Stand, who was fit and well after a break.

The latter was never likely to have the pace to come from behind over this trip, but she looks to have improved again and I wouldn't be surprised if she defies a higher mark still.

All My Love has looked promising but she is just too small for this game, and her jumping was shoddy on this quicker ground.

Future Gilded was all the rage in the staying hurdle but this useful chaser didn't have the basic speed back over timber as Wake Your Dreams went off like the clappers in first time visors.

Quinlan gave the old horse a peach, getting in breathers round these tight bends, and had plenty in reserve for the finish. Popelys Gull again ran to form and is proving consistent albeit in the grip of the assessor.

Karisma King was made favourite for the handicap chase but I couldn't have the moderate Smith beast on this livelier surface, especially as formerly useful sorts The Clock Leary and Box Office were down to basement marks.

The latter had been very nervy over fences when last seen, but after a few months off was well backed and having been nursed into it by Coleman, won as he was expected to do off 109. He looked really fit and well, as did The Clock Leary on his first start for McCain.

He'll come on for the run as he's a big unit, although he may not be one to trust in a finish. But he's well enough handicapped to win in the north. Lemon's Gent ran to his best and gives it a solid look.

The novices handicap over 2m looked to be at the mercy of Stage One providing the Skelton inmate could jump a fence. However, he didn't find much and perhaps he needs further now, and it must be said he appears quite backward mentally.

With Never Up raised in grade and on a drier surface this didn't take much winning, however the luckless Movie Legend still couldn't close the deal yet again having taken it up two out.

The Nicholls-trained Contre Tous was a big drifter having reportedly had breathing issues last time out and he was scratched from Southwell's card last week.

This better ground is clearly important and after hitting a flat spot turning in he rallied nicely to deny Movie Legend, who found less than expected once more.

Two divisions of a mares bumper followed, the former looking the more competitive, although they were won in very similar times.

Division 1 had some decent lookers and the sustained support for debutant Outofthisworld proved significant as the compact but well-made filly powered clear in the manner of a fair sort.

The second division was won by the Henderson-trained Melangerie, a rather nervous looking horse who stepped up markedly on two previous efforts to beat a decent looking filly in Presenting Pearl.

Wednesday 22 March 2017


The horses were declared on good, good to soft ground but morning showers made life difficult for punters, the hurdles track appearing to ride better than the chase course, which looked soft, with times backing up the view that overall it was pretty tacky.

A ghastly seller opened proceedings with the Ellison pair Down Time and Newstart backed off the boards, to the exclusion of all else bar the favourite Mr Snoozy.

There was nothing to be gleaned from the paddock apart from learning that Newstart is little more than a pony. That trainer must be a genius, as the beast ran to a mark of approximately zero seven days ago when in the hands of JJ Hanlon.

Down Time had been backed all day into odds of 5/2, remarkable considering he looks like a horse destined never to win again.

Sigurd headed the weights for a competitive handicap hurdle and he's quite an imposing sort who nevertheless looked badly handicapped on novice form and market weakness told you everything you needed to know.

Next in was Caius Marcius, a horse the stable have always thought something of but has often been let down by his jumping, not unsurprisingly as he lacks a bit of size and scope.

But he clearly has an engine and, more importantly, the right attitude which can't be said for the frustrating Our Thomas, who had everything go his way but still couldn't get the job done with headgear applied.

Crickel Wood was fit but may not have acted on the ground, and C Longsdon is having a quiet patch at present.

He had the well-backed Nightline in the handicap chase but I wasn't mad-keen on his chances and once again he didn't finish his race off very well after cruising into contention on the home turn.

I couldn't keep the ultra consistent Leanna Ban out of the frame despite a big market drift and he looked better than he did last time, but D Cook was at his best once again on Swing Hard who finally came good with conditions in his favour.

I've said many times before that he doesn't properly stay 3m but a forceful ride at around 2m4f-6f suits best especially in some bad ground, and he jumped really well more importantly at a price that made him backable.

Although the softer conditions changed the complexion of the race I didnt agree with the market that the pair to concentrate on would be Powerful Symbol and Banny's Lad.

The former has a serious attitude problem and needs to be avoided, while the latter had no excuses at Doncaster last time and merely cantered round in terrible ground when beating trees at Sedgefield.

I have now lost more money on The Cobbler Swayne than any other horse in training. I remain convinced this horse wants three miles on proper good ground. They also seem to ride it like it's made of bone china. Just get it out there and get it galloping. It needs to man up!

One I didn't like at all here was morning favourite Clues And Arrows. The market drift was notable but still he lacks size and scope and it's little surprise most of his form has come at Cartmel on good ground.

The opening division of a novices handicap hurdle was the first real opportunity for Doctor Glaz to reveal his true identity. Tracks like Ayr and Kelso would be too tight for this huge animal, who doesn't fully stay 3m.

With conditions ideal he really had little reason not to win, although in the end he made it look hard work and I suspect he was idling all the way up the straight.

The form as it stands is worth very little, but he could learn a lot from this and he must surely be much better over fences.

There had been some huge pre-race gyrations in the price of Ask Paddy on the exchanges as he went search of a four-timer, eventually going off a well-backed 15/8 jolly for division two.

That was really in the absence of any real opposition, with Captain Mowbray and Rocky Two being perennial losers.

The obvious danger was Jester Jet on her debut for the likeable T Lacey yard. A weak mares maiden would have been at her mercy but they opted for the handicap route and she looked in fine order for this first outing in nine months.

She made a right horlicks of one down the far side but took it well enough in the end, like Doctor Glaz looking to idle in the straight and surely worthy of a clearer margin of victory.

A bumper closed the show but they weren't a great bunch. Word got around that Town Head had been going well and he looked as nice as any of them, and I'm sure they'll take him down the point-to-point route.

He just got touched off by Captain Woodie, defying a penalty by a narrow margin, but value for the win. The son of Presenting probably didn't enjoy the ground but is nice enough to go on to better things once he settles as he was keen before and during the race.

The Jefferson horse Fernan looks quite backward and didn't look one to be on, while Hello Fellas should have been capable of better as he's well made albeit on the small side at present. He's probably too weak at the moment and he looked quite keen, so could be a fair handicap project for the shrewd Richards outfit in time.

Tuesday 21 March 2017


Morning rain had turned the ground soft in places and with declarations made on good ground there were a number of withdrawals.

Doncaster winner Ypsilanti and Double Treasure don't go on soft and with Starkie failing to repeat his winning effort last week under a penalty the opening handicap chase fell apart.

Unzing may have run to near his mark but a change in tactics ultimately settled things with Ifandbutwhynot seemingly enjoying a return to fences having dropped a ton in the weights, making all to win as he liked.

You wouldn't bet on him backing this up although he'll still be well-in on old form, but whether he is as good as he was is a moot point.

Ypsilanti ran as well as could be expected given the conditions and he shaped as though he will be competitive off this much higher rating.

The second chase on the card fell to Agincourt Reef on his return to fences, having shown a decent level of form to win at Wetherby over timber on Boxing Day.

He just lacks for a bit of size and clobbered one on the first circuit but jumped well enough thereafter. However, stiffer fences could catch him out, and again the ground wouldn't have suited some of these.

Johns Luck again travelled well before appearing to be held by one better handicapped, but he's a nice horse who is likely to continue improving.

Fair play to trainer T Weston for running Thoonavolla as well as Ypsilanti - the former also needs good ground and he looked really burly beforehand after a winter break.

The money came for him which was hugely surprising and I thought he ran really well in the circumstances, being left behind from two out.

He looks like he'll stay 3m well but does tank though his races. I can see him doing well at Stratford this spring which would really suit his style of running and they have races short of 3m there too.

The absence of Gibbes Bay in the maiden hurdle took some of the gloss off the race and it left a short priced favourite in Bobo Mac, a nice type for next season who looked a good thing to get off the mark.

Physically there was nothing to trouble the jolly and although he seemed to make hard work of it in the end, he took it cosily from Banjo Girl, quite a nice mare who was sent on some way out and paid for it from the last. She's ok if a bit small but was fit for this and will prefer better ground.

The paddock sorted them out ahead of the handicap hurdle over 2m, Hear The Chimes wrong in his coat and getting warm, while Hill Fort looked ready to run his race down in grade.

But none of them could deal with the revitalised Beggar's Wishes, who was sent off a very decent 9/2 chance as money came for the moderate Dragon De La Tour, who has yet to deliver and almost certainly wants better ground. He'll come into his own over fences, too.

The Bowen-trained winner looks to be going places at this level and is the type to land a hat-trick this spring; he jumps and will stay further.

Another handicap hurdle, this time over 2m4f, followed and again it was blighted by withdrawals, although it wasn't that competitive to start with and in the end provided a great betting opportunity in the shape of Early Retirement, a nice chasing type that I first saw here a year ago.

He looked more grown up beforehand and was head and shoulders above the rest physically, although Dothraki Raider looked really well after a five month break and should have been fit enough despite a market drift.

The money came late for the Bailey horse, and despite showing greenness in the early part of the race galloped away to win as he liked. This is not form to get carried away with - runner-up Sauvignon hadn't shown much previously but has the size to win races - but the pair came clear and the winner has a future over fences for a really likeable yard.

I believe experience counts for plenty in bumpers, particularly on uneven ground such as this, and it wasn't too surprising that Rosemary Russet (ok sort) showed the benefit of a fair opening effort to outbattle the debutante Grania O'Malley.

The latter was tickled in the betting and is quite a nice looking filly, but was green in the straight and that cost her. Two others with experience came in next; Potters Angelique another likely to come on physically, and Witham, who was disappointing.

However, the Sly inmate is from a staying family that take time to come to themselves and this well-made filly will certainly be up to winning races in the coming years.

Thursday 9 March 2017


A tricky little card run on softish ground, it felt warm as we faced the sun with spring in the air at last.

Akula looked a very obvious selection in the opener seller being the only one bringing any recent form to the race.

At least half the sextet are complete hounds and the well-backed Smith horse Absolute has looked like a crock this season, he's got terrible flat feet and that may be his issue.

A return of 3/1 was surprising for the veteran, but things were only to go downhill after such easy pickings.

Nomoreblackjack was the proverbial good thing to back up last week's outrageously easy success and once again he looked in terrific condition - the big rangy horse that cost quite a few quid has clearly come to himself of late.

Nine Altars was the obvious one to chase him home and he looked in good order, but after being coaxed round by Hughes fell in his usual hole, and having done so now at different trips he is very much one to avoid.

Leanna Ban as so often looked burly off a break and he'll improve on this, especially when upped in trip, while Boss Des Mottes remains very weak physically.

The three fillies from the Wetherby race a month ago took each other on again in the next and for much of the way it looked as though the attractive five-year-old Golden Vision would repeat her success.

However, she could never get away this time and having failed to bag the stand rail was beaten when fluffing the last.

She'd gone at it a fair way out with All My Love which played into the hands of juvenile Becky The Thatcher, who has stamina in abundance.

I've seen her progress quite nicely physically and although she gets buzzy she looked well and fitter than ever. I wasn't expecting her to reverse Wetherby placings but the market was too dismissive of her chance.

I got the handicap chase over the minimum trip all wrong as Sky Full Of Stars has looked one to oppose for a long time.

His hurdles win last week was against nothing and although the blinkers worn there clearly perked him up, he had plenty to prove back over fences.

However, he was exceptionally strong in the market which is quite telling for one of Ewart's, while Minella Suite and Bandol were weak.

Minella Suite is a chaser through and through but has wind issues and isn't finishing his races off. He's young enough to turn things around, and will want more of a stamina test, but until he proves he can go through with it he's one to be wary of, or at least to trade out of.

Bandol looked really moderate beforehand and this is as good as he is. I thought he'd turned a new page at Sedgefield but this was another example of form from that dog track not translating elsewhere.

The staying handicap hurdle was almost impossible as the majority were opposable for one reason or another, with only the unexposed Robins Legend having any kind of scope for improvement.

But having hit everything in his path he was out of the race with a mile to run - it was one of those days. I'd given up on Redkalani a long time ago but he seemed to relish the more genteel ride offered by Miss E Todd on this day.

The hunter chase was essentially a three runner affair where Flash Garden looked fit and ready after a year's absence.

But he would have to go some to beat Knocklong, a plain animal with plenty of mileage on the clock, who nevertheless had been making hay between the flags under Miss C Walton.

With a new jockey in the plate things were very straight forward, Knocklong jumping well enough before repelling Flash Garden's effort on the run-in.

Comedinewithme came home lame but was never really going well enough to be involved.

Shearling had done precious little wrong prior to stepping up to 2m for the first time in the closing bumper. She's a nice sort with some size, and didn't have a great deal to beat.

Unraced Whiteoak Stroller was weak in the betting and she looked quite green in the prelims, even more so on the track as she came on and off the bridle.

Considering her mother was very useful in this sphere it was a very disappointing effort. Third favourite It's All About Me looks very light framed at present but should be able to win races given time, while the second Floral Bouquet might be okay although again she's very weak at present.

Monday 6 March 2017


The torrential rain of the previous day that rendered a trip down the A1 too unpalatable to contemplate meant the ground was riding soft for Grimthorpe Chase day.

The opener was a competitive staying hurdle in which they went 4/1 the field, with the outsider no bigger than 11s. That summed up the quandary although I was loathe to give up on Point The Way, who has failed to fire so far this term.

B Ellison's youngster still hasn't filled his frame but looked in better shape than last time when he was coming back off a break, and his strength in the market suggested he was back to his old form.

Why then would D Cook, the master of the front running ride, help set the modest of gallops that would certainly and duly did leave the horse outpaced when they finally quickened it up!

This game baffles me sometimes and the slowest relative time of the day confirms they went a crawl and that didn't suit a horse who has stamina in abundance. He's becoming expensive to follow, but I'm not giving up on Point The Way.

Bryden Boy was quite a surprise winner considering his rise in the weights but continued the stellar form of the Candlish yard, while runner-up Whataknight ran well on ground that would have been too soft and he remains a horse with loads of ability.

Red Infantry looked really well but didn't go through with his effort, while Markov remains quite unfurnished and should do much better with another summer behind him.

The 2m handicap chase can get a really good line-up but this was a weak affair that went to San Benedeto, who looked really well in his coat and once again went through with his effort to land the spoils on unfavourably soft ground. I may have to re-evaluate my view on him.

Katgary was fit for his return, but he too would want in better than this, while The Grey Taylor looked fit but again backed out of things and remains one to have reservations about. Theatre Flame made a bad error mid race and the switch from Scu to Hiskett (5) wasn't a good one.

Happy Diva was a well-backed favourite to land the Listed mares race but I really wanted to be against her as she'd had a busy time of things and I just feel 3m on soft ground stretches her.

In Lastbutnotleast she came up against a willing mare that will jump and stay all day long. The step up to 3m looked sure to suit and under a great ride from the in-form W Kennedy drew the sting from the jolly and won going away in the end.

The others couldn't seriously be fancied - Taws is very small indeed while Braventara may be ok in time but is lean and leggy at present.

The Grimthorpe didn't appeal much as a betting medium although I wasn't really into Yala Enki as a favourite, he got very warm again which doesn't usually affect him but the form of his Haydock win in the fog hasn't worked out and he has a bit to prove off his mark.

Definitly Red has always been a very likeable individual and continues to do very little wrong. I thought he ran up a little light at Haydock last time out but he looked better here, my only query being the extended trip. I needn't have worried, it was game over halfway up the straight.

The Last Samuri ran well in unsuitable conditions and I felt he was 95% fit, while Looking Well was definitely straighter fitness wise than for the Skybet Chase and on the face of it was disappointing, but he's very inexperienced and this possibly proved that he doesn't want ground this soft.

Boagrius looked a good thing in a very weak novice hurdle, but yet another Greatrex hotpot got turned over by the surly looking Thumb Stone Blues, who clearly has loads of ability although I'm still not 100% convinced.

Be Daring didn't look straight but ran poorly after pulling hard and jumping badly.

I had picked out Mustang On as one to keep on the right side and this decent looking sort had been found a weak race in the following handicap hurdle, where he was the outsider in a field of five.

The soft ground was a concern as was the market support for Today Please, a fair sort with substance who looked well following an absence.

It's to the credit of young T Dowling that he kept the tearaway Danceintothelight in his sights all the way, and it could have been those tactics that won the day.

Mustang On ran all the way to the line to only be beaten five lengths after spotting the winner a good deal more at various stages. As such, I'm happy to mark him up for this and on better ground he'll go one better next time all being well.

The bumper was decimated by non runners and the N Richards-trained Echo Express won in quite taking style. He's a nice sort for the future but just a baby at present and showed greenness in the prelims.

But he beat previous winner Midnight Shadow (quite strong) without much fuss and is one for the long-term notebook.