Monday 1 January 2018

Catterick - Monday Jan 1

Softer ground than last week after recent rain; a typically weak card for the time of year and racing that wasn't very competitive on the whole.

Dieg Man cost £200k last summer and doesn't have an awful amount of size and scope, but he's athletic enough and his Sedgefield form entitled him to be a warm order in the opening novice hurdle.

He had enough ability to see off Blottos, who is a nice chasing type who supplemented his recent success with a better run up in trip; his jumping remains novicey and he'll be much better for a fence.

The interesting one here going forward may be Take Em Out, a well made sort who isn't especially well bred, but showed enough before crashing out at the second last to suggest a handicap is within his grasp. Thankfully he returned unscathed after the screens went up for some time.

The handicap hurdle saw a well-backed Snowed In win again after being freshened up by a short break, beating Nautical Twilight who looked well handicapped and one of the more likely to run her race.

Today Please was disappointing again and something seems to be amiss with this one time progressive horse. Inniscastle Lad drifted markedly and hasn't shown enough to suggest he can pick up a race, while Life Knowledge has very little scope.

The novice chase was a 'pickem' between Impulsive Star, a faller here before Christmas, and Three Ways, who had done little wrong in two starts over fences this season.

Neither horse looked straight forward and the lead changed hands several times, the smaller Three Ways appeared to find things hard work at times.

But Sheehan didn't go for him until after the last and the pair quickly put the race to bed, only a late rally and an idling winner bringing the two closer together at the line. It's debatable what they are capable of over fences and staying is very much their game.

Just Minded was held together by D Cook back in third and connections will be pleased with this better effort for all that he was still novicey on occasions. He's a lovely looking horse and when the penny drops he'll look a very well handicapped horse, perhaps on better ground.

The maiden Paper Roses looked very short in the betting for the mares novice hurdle for all that she was getting weight from the Lingfield winner Kalahari Queen; the Scottish-trained runner back in trip which was far from certain to suit.

I felt Kalahari Queen would have the ability to defy the penalty but this tighter circuit did not see her in best light and she couldn't slip them, Raised On Grazeon finally getting her head in front under a confident Cook.

The winner had previously looked reluctant when push came to shove but was straight forward on this occasion to finally confirm her decent bumper form.

A very tricky five-runner handicap chase fell to Ramonex, with Cook as so often round here getting the fractions spot on from the front, gradually winding things up on this one-paced galloper.

Not far behind a couple of much better sorts in a novice here last time, this turned out to be far weaker and as he looked the nicest on show should really have been near the top of the list.

As it was, the frustrating Witness was given another chance with a tongue-tie and H Brooke as new additions, but they mattered little as he put in a typically moderate display and he clearly just isn't very good.

Banny's Lad is big but looked straight enough, stopping very quickly after three out, while Weyburn lacks size and may struggle to back up that Southwell success, and Nefyn Bay was runner-up in the race for a second time but isn't the most straight forward, although hold-up tactics were probably not ideal.

Red Danaher was predictably returned to timber after failing once again to deal with larger obstacles last time and had virtually nothing to beat in a poor finale. Whether he can repeat this in better company is a moot point, however.

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