Friday 27 October 2017

Southwell Thursday Oct 26

They'd been watering at the Rolleston venue but they were coming home really well and it was genuine good ground.

The opener was a delightful little 0-105 handicap chase in which it was hard to envisage victory for the short priced favourite Firmount Gent, for whom things fell into place last time out.

Back up 9lb, the 11-year-old had his work cut out against a bunch of unexposed animals and he looked joint worst of the sextet, without looking at the market you'd have made him a 20/1 poke.

It was hard to choose between four of them, who each brought some form of interest. Midnight Walk doesn't have a huge amount of size and was noted jumped hurdles sloppily last time; again she was sticky here and certainly wants further.

Bubsy Burbidge is from a decent family and has the size for fences, but she wasn't that strong in the betting and proved too free in the race, fading away quite badly.

Bajardo had got lucky in the spring and was bit higher in the weights - I think he is what he is but I thought he was fit enough, although he ran as though it was needed.

Fair Frank had no form over hurdles but he's a huge beast that dominated the paddock, so the smaller obstacles would just be an inconvenience. He's still a bit disjointed and will be better in another year, but it's always good to see these big chasers allowed to do what they're bred to do and he loved it out in front.

I wasn't mad keen on the favourite in the next handicap chase for novices either, namely Thomas Shelby. A good stamp of a chaser, he's been a disappointing favourite several times over timber and the handicapper has been slow to relent.

The way he hit the ground on the way to the start suggested he'd be more of a soft ground horse and although pretty fit, is probably better for the run.

With Twist On Ginge making little appeal having looked very slow in prior races and a little on the short side for fences, this looked teed up for Miami Present to bounce back on a course he knows well.

His latest effort came in better grade and on unfavourably softer ground, but this exuberant sort rattled off this terrain and his free-going style was ideally suited to the track, and in he went.

The next wasn't so straight forward although I'd marked down The Hollow Ginge as vulnerable under a penalty for winning a weak affair on heavy ground last time.

However, he was quite imposing in the paddock, and in the end he was entitled to be favourite although he still made zero appeal having gone odds on.

Eventual winner Ballyknock Cloud was interesting after landing a trio of points for Jack Barber, but this huge, sturdy horse looked to be pretty heavy round the girth and looked sure to come on for the run.

The fact that he held on to win after jumping and travelling well on the front end marks him down as a decent prospect, especially when he tackles fences. He fought of the staying chaser No Buts, who was in great order and raced with loads of enthusiasm.

Mortens Leam was the focal point on the day as the horses to follow entrant looked to have been found a decent opportunity, not withstanding the fact that Undefined Beauty was a very well backed favourite to make amends for losing out three weeks earlier.

Pam Sly's horse looked the best of these physically and has done well for the summer break, and I was convinced we'd see a different horse. I didn't think he was given a great ride, and that's putting it mildly.

Having been ridden prominently in most of his races last term, he was seeing out his races, but dropping him right out made no sense on this tight track and he used up a lot of effort to get involved.

I'm now convinced he wants an extra half mile, where most of his siblings have thrived, and a race at Fakenham can surely be found. He's running out of excuses, mind, but he's worth another chance.

The rest looked really moderate, as befits a 0-105, but the admirable Stepover improved again to finish second and I wouldn't put it past her winning again before long.

The next handicap hurdle was a dirty little race with each of the eight arriving with questions to answer. I didn't really like any of them bar Early Retirement, a horse I've seen develop and backed at the course last season.

I was quite surprised to see this chasing type so straight on his return, but all his form had been on much softer ground and that was a major concern. He needed reminders early on but warmed to the task and had it won on the home turn. He'll continue to progress and is a 130+ horse in the making. Awesome Rosie was really fit and again had no excuses.

The bumper was all about the heavily-backed favourite Hidden Glen, who clearly had a tall reputation and looked the part, being a well-made athletic son of Stowaway. And while he was short enough at post time, he was actually a bit of value as the rest looked far more backward.

In the end he had to be good to repel Ravensdale, a really well built Flemensfirth that looked in need of the run. He's a stayer in the making and a useful one at that, and the way the pair came clear suggests they are both decent.

You're So Right showed up for a long way and has a nice long stride, he's a good sort but will need time to strengthen, while Ourville's Mission was another to take the eye, and he ran well considering he needed it quite badly. 

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