Thursday, 28 December 2017

Catterick - Thursday Dec 28

Not a very enticing card after the meeting got the all-clear, the going good to soft and likely a bit tacky.

The opening novice hurdle looked a tricky three horse affair with each protagonist bringing something different to the table.

In the end, none made a particularly positive impression, coming home in a heap after a slow early pace, with the next two moderate looking types hot on their heels.

The well-backed Enola Gay ground out the win and it's possible he may want softer ground, while the wayward Teescomponents Lad nudged out debutant Swashbuckle for second.

The runner-up appeared to have the race at his mercy but wandered around when produced at both the penultimate flight and the last, and can surely win one of these as he builds experience, possibly over further.

Swashbuckle was moderately strong in the market but the betting belied wariness and his jumping was novicey; had it been better he would surely have won. It still seemed disappointing that he couldn't go on in the straight and perhaps better ground will suit this 85-rated flat winner.

Gang Warfare is only moderate looking but was close by in fourth, ahead of Young Tom, another that doesn't look up to winning a novice en route to handicaps.

The second race was arguably the one to get stuck into on the day, featuring as it did one of two well-backed horses on the day from the M Keighley yard in Cup Of Ambition.

He is a horse that appears to already have plenty of 'badass' attitude about him and, lacking in stature, he made no appeal and he duly blundered his chances away.

There wasn't a great deal of solid form around but Paddling from the red hot Hammond yard had put together three consistent runs and the extra yardage looked sure to bring on further improvement; thus it was surprising he went off as big as 4/1.

Nothing came forward in a weak affair and Paddling duly bolted up given a patient ride, the front running Frankie Ballou and Reverse The Charge filling minor honours suggesting this wasn't great form.

I had no interest in the seller, in which the winner Shalamzar looked to be carrying plenty of condition, although he's far from certain to build on this. Roman Numeral once again proved himself unreliable under pressure and he's undoubtedly a favourite of the in-running sharks.

Another no-bet race saw Lake Field predictably follow up in the novices chase with a solid round of jumping, and rising nine they are sensible in pressing on with him.

It's one of the worst feelings when a yard decide to adopt negative tactics and my bombproof each-way play on Golden Investment was doomed from flagfall when he was dropped right out for a second time successive time, after such tactics failed last time.

The McCain chaser has just the one pace, and mostly on the bridle, so asking him to make up 15 lengths off just a moderate gallop was plain ridiculous. Talking through my pocket, yes, but I like to think I'm as objective as can be on these pages. I noticed they dropped Whitsundays out at Sedgefield the other day and he made up eight lengths after the last to get done a nose. Stick to the tried and tested, Mr McCain!

Red Danaher is really quite small and his position at the head of the market was largely connections-based, but the plodder has not delivered on numerous occasions and he lacks resolution and bravery. A return to timber may see him in better light but I wouldn't bet on it.

Cottersrock was the other Keighley horse backed but he too bit the dust, an entirely predictable scenario based on his previous chase efforts. There weren't many you could fancy, and Attention Please proved most straight forward once again to defy a rise.

Hattons Hill can't act round these tight turns and looked to still need the run anyway.

I took the progressive Durbanville and American Life, who looked well, against the progressive and penalised Triopas in the staying hurdle. To be honest I rarely get these quick returning types right and my view that recent Towcester winners struggle to follow up never seems to materialise when the money's down.

Having handed all the earlier takings back and more besides, it was a gloomy drive home. We can only hope Donny passes tomorrow's early inspection.

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