Wednesday 24 January 2018

Catterick - Wednesday Jan 24

Really soft ground on a wet and windy day, some pretty weak racing and form generally to forget about as we move through spring.

Jaunty Flyer went off odds-on for the opening novice hurdle and while he was clear on the figures he's looked pretty paceless of late and it's clear he isn't progressing.

He looked beaten late on but was joined on the line by Teescomponents Lad, who as expected relished the extra distance and was nicely produced by Emma Todd to claim the jolly.

It looked like he'd won a good head on the line but after a lengthy debate a dead-heat was called, to the surprise of most of those present.

I don't rate the form particularly highly, with the Flat-looking Rajapur keeping tabs on the leaders until after the last, while the more likely looking Young Tom and Haasab ran poorly.

The 0-100 handicap chase attracted many usual suspects, including Major Ridge, who had won the race 12 months ago but on much quicker terrain, and he backed right out of it after going with zest early on.

Ronnie Lawson came up in the Vaughan van with Jaunty Flyer and a quick double looked on for much of the final mile, but the diminutive chaser faded badly from the last as his earlier efforts took their toll.

The unexposed Spirit Of Hale looked one of the more likely protagonists despite being overlooked in the market, and this dour stayer managed to get outpaced at the wrong time before staying on again late without looking like winning.

He'll need an even stiffer test, while Smuggler's Stash consented to run on too late and I wouldn't be too taken by this effort. So Satisfied took the honours, building on his decent effort last week, but he's not the sort to run up a sequence.

The handicap hurdle was of much higher quality and it featured the handicap debut of the Sue Smith trainer Silva Eclipse, who looked a useful novice in three starts for the stable.

Weak on the off, but still short enough at 7/4, he never really seemed to be travelling and maybe this came too soon after his Wetherby effort. He's not the biggest and has yet to fill his frame. I'd be inclined to ignore this run.

His lamentable performance left it wide open and it looked at the mercy of Zeroshadesofgrey, who like last time at Wincanton had the field on stretch for the last mile of the contest.

However, the big grey has become disappointing and he found precious little when it mattered, being run down by the smooth travelling rogue Sakhee's City, coaxed into the bridle by the excellent A Nicol to win cosily, albeit reluctantly.

They were all over the place in behind, Jimmy Breekie chasing the leader down in the straight before falling in a hole, while the typically free Beeno managed to plug on for third. Again, this was typical mid-January form and not especially meaningful in the scheme of things.

For what it's worth, Sakhee's City was sweating quite badly on this bitterly cold day, but it clearly did his chance little harm.

Three went to post in the novice handicap in which Bentelimar went off a warm order, but he's had umpteen chances both here and in Ireland and he lacked the size and scope of a more progressive sort in Somewhere To Be, who was blinkered after a tame display last time.

Off a longer break, the Southern raider looked well and his jumping warmed to the task, as he boxed on gamely to repel his one-paced rival after the last. The runner-up was giving plenty of weight, and as with Silva Eclipse he may have been a bit flat just 12 days on from his last run.

One that was very fresh from an absence was Kelka in the novices chase, and while she was backed as if defeat was out of the question she had done plenty of running by the time the tapes went back, and she can make amends for this shock defeat next time.

Not that losing to Totalize was a disgrace, the formerly useful dual purpose horse was fit from an even longer break and put several novicey leaps behind him to mow down the favourite from the last.

There has to be some doubt as to whether he'll build on this, such was the sketchy nature of his jumping, and it could just be that things panned out for him this time under a fine ride from D Cook.

Applaus came in a respectable third and he should be able to land a handicap at a bigger track, for all that his head carriage is rather discouraging.

The finale was a low grade handicap hurdle which was delayed by the recalcitrant Notebook, who was short in the market despite his wayward tendencies.

McCain farms these sorts of races at the gaffe tracks with his run-of-the-mill handicappers and the costly Derrynane showed the benefit of a break to take it with ease from a perch of 91. Bering Upsun looked really well but not for the first time found little when it mattered and isn't one to trust.

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