Thursday 22 March 2018

Haydock - Wednesday March 21

Drying ground at last but still officially soft and times suggested as much.

The opener saw the heavily backed Midnight Shadow go off at 1/4 but one of Sue Smith's best novices didn't read the script and he followed wayward leader Keyboard Gangster in heading for the stable exit on the first turn.

The way Keyboard Gangster, who looks flattered by his official mark,  got back into the race suggested the jolly may still have gone close had Cook managed to retain the partnership.

As it was, Think Ahead was left with the race at his mercy but this most sturdy of animals didn't look race fit, by contrast the complete rag Kapga De Lily is a decent looking mare that was ludicrously priced at the off from the Venetia stable, and despite some novicey leaps sped past on the run-in.

The mares novice wasn't a great affair and provided Skewiff with a simple task for all that she's probably not got a great deal of scope for improvement. The other four were unable to go with her in the straight, Drill Baby Drill getting the hang of things late on.

She's a good looker but so was her sibling On The Case, and he didn't amount to much. Bitumen Belle showed up well for the first time and this big mare has ability, while Touch Of Velvett's finishing effort was disappointing although she's not bred to stay this far.

A cracking novices handicap came next, with all five being really sound jumpers. They were headed by Hogan's Height, who has been favourably treated by the assessor all season and won with plenty in hand under a bold ride.

His jumping was phenomenal and he may climb much higher than this, with the Ladbroke (Hennessy) being mooted. He'll need another win at least to get in that, and he'll need to prove he stays further. He also gets a bit het up and was warm beforehand, but he's very inexperienced and didn't have much of a hurdles career.

Hills Of Dubai looks a real heavy ground sort on looks, while Bako De La Saulaie looks to me like he wants a step up from 3m, not down to 2m4f. He doesn't have the size of some either, and was a bit sticky at a couple.

A handicap hurdle came up next that didn't appeal from betting purposes, Mighty Thunder looked lean and leggy while Snougar is a big lump that needs time and fences. Secret Legacy was the paddock pick as you might expect from the I Williams kennel, but not for the first time from that yard looks were deceiving.

The veterans chase featured some real out-of-form characters who were well handicapped if able to revive, but the winner Shockingtimes had shown decent form in parts this term, not having luck on his side.

With T O'Brien back in the plate the 11yro travelled like a dream and managed to avoid mishap, proving himself well handicapped and landing a double for the much-improved Snowden team.

Solid Strike was disappointing, but the ex-winning pointer found this decent standard too deep and he was unable to build on the promise of his last run. Odds are his mark is stiff, although he may turn out to need a real test of stamina.

Katenko looked perfectly fit and well, but Spookydooky didn't really take the eye and hasn't really come to himself at all, not going with much promise.

The finale wasn't a great affair, Calipso Collonges typical of one of his young trainer's, being a handy athletic type, and he skipped away from a modest bunch like the good thing he was. Pookie Pekan ran no sort of race but I do like him for the longer term.

Champagne George is quite heavy set and lethargic looking, and you can see why he's not been easy to keep right. Tailor Tom looks a right handful and is one to avoid.

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