Monday 29 January 2018

Doncaster - Friday Jan 26

Soft, good to soft in places was the official going report and that looked about right with the hurdle track looking particularly hard work.

A really moderate 0-105 handicap chase opened proceedings, a very winnable contest that saw the frustrating Doktor Glaz return to the winners' circle under a really positive ride from L Murtagh.

The kid has endured a frustrating winter but there's no doubting his talent and he essentially won the race by kicking on early in the straight, stealing a march on some paceless rivals.

I've doubted the horse's stamina for some time and an aggressive ride at this trip probably sees him to best effect, although I'd be looking to oppose him in anything stronger.

Blakerigg is a big unit that has been very slow to come to hand, this was more like it on chase debut and he should be able to build on this as he goes up in trip on better ground.

Grow Nasa Grow has always been a prospective chaser and he showed his first piece of form over the larger obstacles by running on into third, and as the Winks yard has been quiet there could be more to come from this one off a very low mark.

The novice hurdle was the highlight of the card for me with half a dozen of interest either on the day or for future reference.

Perfect Harmony and King Of Realms had very good bumper form and had shown a good deal of promise over timber this season; I couldn't split them until they were viewed in the paddock.

Goodness me, what a striking animal this King Of Realms is. Very well made with loads behind the saddle, he looked a proper horse and considering he was in with some good lookers, there was the potential for something big here.

Bounced out on the early lead, it was a real statement of intent from O'Brien and the six-year-old duly ran them into the ground, scoring by seven lengths. Let's not go overboard just yet, but I Williams has a right tool on his hands.

The market preferred the claims of Perfect Harmony and he's a good looking chaser in the making, but had been off for nine weeks and will be sharper for this run. He lost nothing in defeat and this form is solid.

The Skeltons' Present Ranger came home well in third at long odds and this scopey individual has now shown more than enough in three starts to suggest he can win a decent handicap on better ground before starting a career over fences.

Oakley Hall's form tied in closely with that of the winner and he was about to give him something to think about when crashing out at the final flight.

He wasn't the best looking by any means but clearly has loads of ability and at 120k last year all may not be lost, while further back Going Gold ran okay to a point although he was a bit out his depth physically.

Cracking Destiny was too short in the betting having achieved only a small amount in bumpers and this close-coupled animal did not take the eye. Keen in a hood, an early mistake didn't help but he's not one for me going forward.

Frozen Flame is quite lengthy and his time will come when handicapping on good ground and again he showed something before fading away here.

All eyes were on Mount Mews as he took on three rivals in the novices chase, but it was a much sterner test than on debut here last time and his jumping didn't pass muster.

I queried earlier in the campaign whether he would be a better hurdler based on his physique, which is not that of a staying chaser in the making.

Robust and compact, he lacks real scope and that was obvious here as he lost ground at many fences, unable to stand right off, none more so at the last when an extra stride cost him more than the margin of defeat.

I'm still surprised they chose to go over fences so early in his career - he's unexposed over 2m4f and beyond over timber and I'll stick to my long-held view that he'll turn out to be a better hurdler than chaser.

Wotzizname did little wrong in beating the favourite, rallying really strongly on the long run-in. I wasn't that taken by him physically and this eight-year-old is probably around the peak of his powers.

Robbin'hannon looked unbelievably slow over hurdles and this switch to fences did not change anything in that regard, although so poor was he that this can't have been his form, while trainer Hobbs is very quiet by his standards.

The front four in the betting for the staying handicap chase all looked ahead of their marks and it was fought out by two of them, Shanroe In Milan eventually wearing down Bako De La Saulaie to deny the nap of the day.

Nichol was left in front too far out on the runner-up when Capard King got rid of his partner with a jolting error at the final ditch, but Bako had taken him there with a series of fluent leaps.

However, Hughes was in stalking mode on the eventual winner, who jumping slickly in the main and was full value for the win. He has strengthened up but remains a work in progress and he's starting to see out his races better; this was further evidence that the Ludlow form is very strong.

They came away from Captain Mowbray, who was set an impossible task on a track where the leaders rarely come back, and he remains in top form despite a busy campaign.

Amber Gambler made a series of small errors which may have had a hand in his weak finish; for all that he's won over the trip he may prefer a bit shorter. Dawnieriver is handicapped to win again and she will relish a return to spring-like ground.

The 2m handicap hurdle wasn't a great one but Lord County was noted as a likely sort for the future, I really like the Greenall yard that buys proper NH horses and while he won today he can only improve further.

Does It In Style was the paddock pick by miles and it's hard to believe he's only rated 77. When he learns to settle he could go through the handicap and after hitting a predictable flat spot he ran on quite well having got his second wind. He's probably a stayer once he learns to race.

The finale looked competitive although on closer inspection there was plenty of dead wood, One Of Us strong in the betting for winning what didn't look a strong face last time out, and he was beaten some way out.

The race saw Kansas City Chief return to his best Irish form from a much lower mark, and he bolted up. Hidden Cargo and Allez Jacques were a couple I took from the prelims but neither appeared well fancied and didn't show a great deal.

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