Wednesday 28 November 2018

Wetherby - November 28

Good to soft ground after some overnight rain but you'd think it was bottomless the way a modest bunch of juveniles came home in the opener, Pam Sly cast-off Fabianski routing them for The Menzies yard, who may just be turning a corner.

All eyes were on the handicap chase though as early prices had been taken about unexposed novices Pookie Pekan and Cash To Ash, and the support continued on course as they went off 11/4 joints.

Pookie had looked rather unfurnished when seen over hurdles here last season, when fluking victory, but he had strengthened up no end and looked really fit after a sound reappearance in a hot race at Carlisle.

Sent on from the outset, he once again jumped with great accuracy and this natural ability could well see him follow in the hoofprints of illustrious stablemate Captain Redbeard.

He never looked like getting beaten despite being shadowed all the way up the straight by Cash To Ash, whose connections can consider themselves most unfortunate to have bumped into a similarly well-treated animal.

Cash To Ash, a sturdy sort, had proven consistent over timber and showed great promise at Hexham on his return, backing that up here with a solid display, popping away quietly while creeping into contention.

Both the front pair will appreciate 3m in time and while the handicapper will inflict some measure of revenge, these are progressive horses.

Le Chapeau was well beaten off once again and continued the quiet month for Sue Smith, whose horses have yet to hit their straps despite being fully wound up.

Outgoing jolly Whin Park may need time; a big sort he's a bit weak in front and completely lost his confidence after a few hairy leaps.

The novice hurdle was split with division one looking much the stronger, and it saw a lucky winner in Encore Champs, who looked a one-paced second best prior to the untimely departure at the last of the light-framed, yet clearly talented Extra Mag.

This was a disappointing performance from the winner, a decent looking sort who battled well to land a competitive bumper at Ffos Las, however he didn't appear to find a great deal when the chips were down here.

Well-backed favourite Lord Yeats probably wasn't asked to set strong enough fractions, this tough stayer on the level rallying late in the day but his chance had long gone. He seemed to jump well enough barring some early inexperience and the race shouldn't be lost on him.

The winner of the second division came home nearly five seconds behind Encore Champs, and even without the evidence of the clock the race has a dubious look it with low-grade handicap types Regarde Moi and Drumochter finishing close up.

Of the pair, Drumochter was always going to be a more likely sort but this has rather blown his cover.

Imperial Acolyte took the spoils but doesn't appeal as one likely to be able to defy a penalty, while the effort of The Very Thing was a disappointing one as he looks the part being a horse of size and scope. He does at least have time on his side.

There was plenty of pace on in the handicap chase over the minimum trip but Theflyingportrait has demonstrated that he doesn't have to dominate nowadays and he was able to sit off the crazy pace set by the runaway Horst, having loads in the tank up the home straight where he gained lengths at the fences.

The handicapper is now likely to put an end to his winning ways for long into the distance, but it was fun while it lasted (at least for those who kept the faith this autumn). Robbing The Prey may well have chased him home but for unshipping B Hughes five out, but it's stretching it to think the result would have been that different.

Special Catch looked in good order for all that he would come on for it, and he stayed on nicely having been hampered to suggest there's a race in him over further despite his advancing years.

Always Resolute looked ridiculously well-handicapped in the handicap hurdle under a decent claimer and he dotted up despite over-racing and blundering early on, he has clearly been revitalised by a stable switch.

The mares bumper looked competitive and while the market was dominated by two good looking types that had shown earlier promise, there were several worth taking out of it for the future.

The winner Shantewe produced a real nice turn of foot to take the prize back to Lambourn, a compact active filly she is just the sort to win another of these.

Rosie And Millie was the most forward and put her experience to good use, while others to take the eye physically included Peaceful Valley and Secret Getaway.

Deadringerforlove put in a laboured shift but has a bit of quality about her, while Anightinlambourn faded out of things and was very disappointing.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Weekly round-up Nov 20-23

Southwell - Nov 20
The morning drizzle had turned the ground nearer good to soft.

Race 1
A 0-105 handicap chase and a modest lot, mostly on the small side. Manwell looked straight enough despite a lengthy absence but ran as though he needed it; whether the wind op has helped is a moot point, hopefully he will start to settle better as there's plenty of stamina in his pedigree. The winner Boughtbeforelunch was arguably the paddock pick having more scope than most, and with a little decent bumper form has started out on a decent mark. The well-backed Ben Arthur isn't very big and isn't one to have much faith in.

Race 4
A novice hurdle for stayers and the Skelton-trained Supremely Lucky looked a good thing, having some nice form and appearing a strong sort. He won as he liked ridden with confidence, while the second Reve ran a big race considering he is the type to require more time. Johnny Ocean was punted and has the looks, but again went as though he has a problem.

Race 5
A decent mares novice hurdle and the form should be taken seriously, the winner Kimberley Point improving again to defy a penalty and she could really go on now as she settles better, and can move up in trip. Sea Story was heavily backed and tried to poach it on the home turn, but was just run down. She's a stayer and is the type to build on this.

Ceara Be shaped with promise and has a touch of quality, she just needs the penny to drop, while Ena Baie was a drifter and is a nervy sort, but can improve with experience. Princess Roxy is a strong chasing type and is another worth noting further down the line, having cost a small fortune.

Race 6
A conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle that featured unlucky Chepstow loser Stop Talking off a 3lb higher mark, she's an athletic mare and with shrewd connections having done well to get her handicapped she is now flourishing. Expect her to be hard to beat when turned out again this week, although bad ground might be a red flag. I think she still has loads in hand.

Race 7
Not a great mares bumper in truth although the winner Emmas Joy is a rangy, staying type and she used her stride to knuckle down well, the softening ground looking to her liking. Runner-up Northern Princess is tall and should be better in time, she was a little on edge and so this was a very pleasing effort. Rose To Fame is well bred but was a little disappointing again and may still be on the weak side.

Hexham - Nov 21
The official going was soft and as so often a lot of them couldn't handle the final climb.

Race 1
Sue Smith's Hill Sixteen was heavily supported on the back of a decent first effort in a Carlisle race that has worked out well, and he had more size and quality about him than most of these novice hurdlers. However, the clear second best was Stoney River and he built on a fair effort himself last time to essentially outstay the hot favourite.

The pair came miles clear and there was no fluke about the result. Chief market rival Miss Batten must have been bought on account of her breeding alone because she looks ordinary to say the least. She nearly unshipped her jockey at the first and didn't make it up the hill, and it doesn't look £115k well spent.

Race 2
An interesting novice chase that presented a good betting opportunity in Top Ville Ben, who looked in good order for his seasonal reappearance for the in-form P Kirby. He found a good early rhythm and anyone who had seen him pick up a decent Haydock handicap last term knew he was up to winning this.

Donna's Diamond is rising 10 and is surely too late to the chasing game, jumping okay here to a point but he does lack height and he may struggle faced with stiffer tests. Everyone wanted to be with Senor Lombardy, who will surely take higher order this winter, but he looked a shade burly and the Dalgleish runners have been hit and miss, so I wouldn't read much into this. Blottos is a proper staying chaser and just like over hurdles he is a slow learner, but he wasn't far off his best form and will be one to be interested in next time.

Race 3
Saint Freule was well-backed from a morning price of 16/1 and rightly so, his form was of a decent standard if everything fell into place. Clearly not an easy animal to deal with, he was last into the paddock and last out, yet still played up and was reluctant to start. But once he was off with the pack he was easily restrained, and finished his race off well, coming clear with the well-handicapped Sleepy Haven, suggesting further improvement is on the cards. Former Ballydoyle inmate Felix Mendelssohn showed a bit more in behind and may be of interest for a yard that's quiet at present. Wishing Well didn't look fit again but is being brought along with one race in mind.

Race 4
Next was the four-miler and finally Total Assets had the chance to show her abundant stamina, having come home nicely behind an improver at Carlisle last time. Ridden with confidence by Amie Waugh, she was long odds-on a mile out and came home a fresh horse - she looked particularly well in her skin and this was a deserved success for connections.

Kilcullen Flem was beautifully turned out but this game isn't just about who looks best and at the odds made little appeal despite appearing to have plenty in his favour. Tickenwolf was well-backed but can't handle the soft, while Battle Dust was disappointing and finished lame.

Race 6
Four non-runners and a well-backed favourite in Le Frank, who was a big eye-catcher here last time, and conditions cancelled out the drop in trip so that he could coast home, looking well ahead of his mark. Echo Express made numerous minor errors and isn't certain to thrive in this sphere, but Trooblue should do better in time although she's quite big and backward at present.

Market Rasen - Thursday Nov 22
The rails were out again, adding almost a furlong, and with a bit of drizzle around the ground was opening up, those coming wide in the straight having the best of it.

Race 1
An interesting novice hurdle where the well-touted Seemingly So went for a stroll in the market before collecting for Olly Murphy. Of medium build and workmanlike in appearance, he looks more of a soft ground galloper and the extra yardage played to his advantage here; he's bound to improve from this bare form.

Earlofthecotswolds made numerous errors and wasn't beaten far, but he's a nervy immature type so I wouldn't expect him to improve until next term, and he's only four. Dandolo Du Gite was the nicest in the paddock, big and lengthy, and might have been able to defy a penalty had he not gone so freely again.

Race 2
A race run at a crawl and there was money around for the attractive Martiloo, trying the new trip, but she was poorly placed when they finally began to race and she can do better than this.

Race 3
A Pertemps qualifier and a decent contest with Newbury winner Jersey Bean heading the market, but the one I was interested in was Florrie Knox who looks a good deal stronger now than when last seen at Wetherby. From a yard having a quiet time, he got tired after the last but this was full of promise and this chasing type can pick up a decent staying pot over timber this time around. Clondaw Native stayed on to frustrate each-way punters but he looks a difficult ride and lacks a bit of scope.

Race 4
Drovers Lane returned to the form of his impressive Hereford win dropped in trip and grade, proving himself a useful prospect. The best looking was Lisdoonvarna Lad and he's a lovely chasing prospect, but appears to be backward mentally and was noted reaching for the ditches.

He shaped like a non-stayer at present but should be able to win this term; however he may need more time to flourish. Earlshill, like stablemate Clondaw Native, didn't look great in his coat and his excellent stable isn't firing on all cylinders.

Race 5
I see 105 rated horses every day of the week and Hard Station certainly isn't one of them on looks. A big, strapping chaser, I thought he was just about ready and this ex-pointer is very enthusiastic once the tapes go up. It was a great trading opportunity if nothing else but it was great to see the way he fought back when joined two out, and he just seems to gallop all day.

Ryalex did the chasing on his first go at 3m and probably stayed, having belted a few on the way round, and likely ran to his new mark. 

Race 6
Quite a lively bumper concluded proceedings and I was quite taken with the drifting favourite Winningiseverything, a lengthy, scopey son of Flemensfirth. With H Fry having such a good record in these events it wasn't hard to see him going really well, and after racing green in the first mile really motored home once sent about his business, while his experienced rider had him on the virgin ground out wide.

JohnBB is an ok sort and came out of the pack to make a race of it, while Little Jack gives the race a solid look having already won a race, and he was very fit for this seasonal return. Lemon T wasn't, and related to a couple of big staying chase types will do better with something to jump.

Catterick - Friday Nov 23
Good ground for the first meeting of the season although it was a bit loose on top and the third last was omitted in all chases.

Race 1
A weak-looking novice hurdle and a great chance taken by Je Suis Charlie, who was down in class and defied a penalty with ease, jumping notably well and shaping like one who can defy a rise in the weights at the likes of Musselburgh this winter.

Goldencard looks one-paced and didn't find much, but Lester Kris looked fit and rewarded some each-way support, while Legalized wasn't given a hard time in fourth and has the substance to pick up a small handicap in due course.

Race 3
Tim Easterby's Travel Lightly was the worst of these juveniles on the flat and yet she was thrown into the Wensleydale Hurdle on debut, acquitting herself well without being knocked about, and came through strongly to win this cosily to defy market weakness. Well built, she's a really sound jumper and that is the key to these races; she should be able to follow up as she improves physically.

Liva is a decent looking gelding and just bumped into one here, while For Pleasure was allowed to bowl along this time and should be of interest if this knocks some freshness out of him. Canadian George may well do better as time goes on and could look well handicapped when the time comes.

Race 4
Progressive chasers are exciting at this time of year and Cloth Cap really stamped himself as one to keep on the right side as he won the staying handicap with something in hand. Travelling and jumping with fluency, he wasn't asked for everything in seeing off the staying on Red Giant, himself proving to be a stayer of merit.

This is good form with The Paddy Pie left behind in third - once again he looked green when sent to the front and he could benefit from a more patient ride. Same Circus caught the eye staying on back in fourth and she will be winning again when the ground finally turns.

Race 6
Barton Knoll has been a chaser-in-waiting for some time and looked fit enough to go in first time for the small Mackie yard in the handicap chase for novices, but he didn't get a very positive ride and not for the first time didn't really find a great deal when let down. The jury is out for the time being, whereas Reverant Cust continues to do his two-horse trainer proud, looking a good deal stronger for the summer break and surprisingly straight into the bargain.

Still on the small side, he seemed to jump with accuracy and remains one to keep the right side of on the smaller northern tracks. Braavos shaped okay without really looking like one that's able to strike off his current mark, but Tetraites Style has developed into a decent looking youngster and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand in future.

Race 7
A weak bumper that saw Soviet Castle improve past a rather unfurnished Nickelsonthedime to win with something in hand. Note should be made of Gold Fields, a well-related sort with plenty of size and scope, he wasn't suited by this slow run affair being a keen going horse, and is one that could pop up at a big price at some stage this term.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Wetherby - November 17

We are still waiting for rain and while the hurdlers appear to be alright on this heavily watered ground, the chases aren't very competitive with not many great betting opportunities.

A fair looking novice hurdle opened proceedings and Skidoosh, a winner at the last meeting, was a heavily backed favourite despite having a somewhat in and out record so far.

Yet despite the all-conquering claimer D McMenamin taking off 7lb I thought Highway Girl a great bet to at least hit the places, being a good stamp of a mare and looking fit enough.

So it was disappointing to see her receive a negative ride, especially considering that she looked so one-paced in bumpers, and as she jumped so well and plugged on after the last a forward ride may have seen her go close. She's one to follow.

As it was, Captain Zebo defied keenness and a move from the G Elliott yard to win by a clear margin under Mr J Dixon. He's a good strong horse that looked fit and well, and while I wouldn't detract from the win he was suited by the way it panned out.

Sue Smith's runners usually come to themselves with plenty of give underfoot and Thelongwayaround is one of many that looks the sort to improve for plenty of juice, while Pleney could be one for handicaps further down the line.

It wasn't easy to find one in the staying handicap chase but there appeared to be value around as the favourite Miles To Milan isn't one to trust, looking to have every chance last time out.

He looks like he's got plenty of attitude and yet he put his head down after the last to win a shade cosily, although I'd still take the view that this fell in his lap and those in front coming back to him.

Of the rest, I sided with Bright Prospect who is a strong chasing type and I thought he was really well, and this often keen sort got a forward ride that almost paid off. This is as good as he is though, a remark that could be said for the lot of them. Knocknamona was as fit as I've seen him before and he should be noted when the mud starts to fly, as he could have improved some more.

Wemyss Point has been brought along nicely by in-form handler P Kirby and this robust stayer has done well physically of late, looking more straight forward mentally in the race, too.

This wasn't the strongest race in the world and he had a fairly easy time on the front end, but the winner clearly loves the place and will undoubtedly stay further.

I didn't think the race panned out well for Becky The Thatcher, a proper stayer who simply couldn't get to grips with them as the pace quickened. She looks in decent form and can make amends when the cards fall right.

I've gone on about Cracking Find more than any other horse on this blog and he's such an honest, likeable horse, but he had little to answer to an improved Catamaran Du Seuil who bolted up for the in-form Dr Newland in the feature chase.

Formerly a wretched little rat of a horse, the ex-French winner is still growing and filling out but even with that in mind these conditions were sharp enough on all known form.

However, he could be called the winner some way out and even from a mark in the 140s he can win a decent pot, having proved himself over 3m on heavy ground.

Cracking Find gives the form a solid look and he too came clear of the rest, I'm convinced he's worth a try at 3m now and hopefully losses can be recouped soon. The rest were fit enough, but simply not good enough in these conditions.

Skandiburg looks a nice type for the future but was outpaced throughout the following novice, never closer than at the line. He's a slow burner but one to keep on side, while Tight Call was very fit yet still couldn't fend off Kajaki, a rare runner for the K Ryan kennel.

Cornborough must be a delight to own and despite his diminutive stature he pings his hurdles and puts it all in, and he duly obliged in the handicap hurdle under a more positive ride than normal under the equally reliable H Brooke.

He looked the best handicapped horse in the field and so it proved, Golden Jeffrey running a funny old race, and he'll surely revel in heavy ground when the rain arrives.

Ravenhill Road has been highly thought-of for a long time but they had to scratch last season because of wind issues and he looked to have been produced fit and well for his chase bow in a match with Hawk High.

I'm not really sure why he couldn't see off his opponent, who probably isn't the most straight forward conveyance, and maybe he was caught in his wind again.

Either way, the jury remains out on Ravenhill Road, while big field handicaps may yet see Festival winner Hawk High in better light over fences.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Carlisle - November 12

Back across the 66 for what at first glance looked a decent enough card, but it essentially cut up to a couple of decent events and with the rain crashing down it was only just worth the trip. It was officially soft but times suggest it wasn't that bad.

There wasn't much to glean from a modest lot in the opening novice, Clondaw Anchor looking a class apart both beforehand and during the race.

Relkadam has loads of size and scope about him and almost certainly got tired on this first outing for the Easterby yard. I don't know where they've conjured a mark of 122 from, but handicaps are probably out for now, however a northern novice should be within his grasp.

A cracking novice chase was up next with the unbeaten hurdler Vinndication transferring his form to fences first time up with a thoroughly pleasing effort against a nailing good marker in Uncle Alastair.

The runner-up was simply out-paced after the last but he looks a proper stayer who looks poised for a big winter, so long as this compact little horse can iron out the odd jumping blemish that dotted his opening effort.

Euxton Lane is another worth following back on a left-handed track. His only poor effort thus far came at Market Rasen and he went left under pressure when tiring after the last, having typically  gone with plenty of zest.

Red Rising showed up well and although he was very fit, he'll want a real stamina test and this was a decent start, while Claud And Goldie went well for a long way and may be worth noting.

The mare's race saw H Skelton riding Hidden Dilemma for Stuart Crawford, surely a tip in itself, and this strong looking sort was clearly primed to run a big race, a fact confirmed when a couple of fellas started going ballistic in the stands when she skipped merrily over the last before dancing clear on the run-in.

Trooblue may not have been a party pooper had she stood up but she's a nice big chasing type and providing she's ok after being brought down is very much one to keep an eye on.

The graduation chase was the highlight and quite notable for the market drift on Nuts Well, who was pulled up after an uncharacteristic mid-race blunder. He was up against it on the figures but this was surprisingly bad.

Dolos was all the rage but he has never looked the most straight forward and although little could have been done the way it panned out, it looks like he got to the front far too soon and he was reeled in by Highway One O One.

The winner is quite leggy but loves the mud and this stiffer test clearly suited, while the third home Chesterfield isn't bred for fences at all and yet ran his usual solid race and looks every bit as good in this sphere.

Treshnish ran another solid race in behind better quality horses and this big strong individual will be found more suitable openings in the coming weeks.

Ryalex had come in for very strong support here last month and was again the one for money in a very ordinary 0-120 handicap chase, which he won by 24 lengths. Quite where they go from here I don't know.

The bumper featured an athletic former winner in Mr Scrumpy and three big future chasing types in Weakfield, I K Brunel and Tarada.

There was plenty of each-way cash for the latter and he nearly pulled it off with a fine effort despite being the most backward of them all.

I K Brunel is a nice strong sort who was well produced to win first time out, although caution may be warranted as his half-brother Somewhere To Be is not straight forward.

Weakfield was disappointing and may need plenty of time, but Mr Scrumpy ran well under his penalty and looks good enough to win a couple of northern novice hurdles.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Aintree - November 10

Back over to Liverpool, not a meeting I'd attended before but pleasant enough and some decent action for all that the ground was still good in the main.

Only two rocked up for the 3m novice chase and Robin Waters would make a catwalk model, however he looks like he's got the brains to match as he made a whole host of errors despite having the clearest possible sight of the fences.

By contrast, the rather workmanlike Minella Awards skipped round like an old pro and put his greater racecourse experience to use, he shouldn't be underestimated back in a decent handicap.

Half a dozen babies lined-up for a novices hurdle and it saw Quoi De Neuf overcome immaturity to win with some conviction.

Reported to have landed a Point in a good time, he didn't look overly big and is every inch a four-year-old, but clearly has a ton of ability and he could be smart.

Redzor is an athletic sort and probably the most forward both physically and mentally, so it made sense that he led them out, and he didn't lose much in defeat.

One For The Team had the most scope but was also backward looking, he's probably quite slow but ought to be okay in time, while Captain Drake has loads of size and is another that should pick up a novice prior to doing much better over fences.

It came as no surprise to see the heavily backed Abolitionist rock up fit as a fiddle on his first start for the good Dr Newland and with stamina in the bank a lot of use was made of him, and he didn't see another rival in the staying handicap.

Those in behind were having their own private race and The Organist simply ran into one; she's a hurdler through and through and looked like the race would do her good.

The conditions hurdle saw Vision Des Flos return to hurdles after losing the rider on chase debut. Physically he doesn't scream chaser at you but he's a very nice, athletic animal and one of these fine days he could produce something spectacular.

With Wholestone and in particular Unowhatimeanharry looking better over 3m, I thought the superior speed of the Tizzard flyer might just do them but the race didn't really pan out, the youngster jumping and travelling all over them and leading half a mile out.

He played the role of mouse rather than cat and Wholestone picked him off with some ease, the winner looking set for another solid campaign. Of all of these he looked the biggest but he's never been a great jumper and it looks like they'll be staying over timber now.

Agrapart looked in terrific order and he's a grand specimen; when the mud starts to fly he seems sure to land another decent pot this year and rising eight he may yet improve again this winter.

The class 2 handicap chase was competitive and a real puzzle, it looked beforehand as though Hell's Kitchen might have a solo up front if desired but such tactics were not employed and this big unit may well pop up another day.

They were all in pretty good order, although Mercian Prince was probably the least fit of all those that turned up on the day. I worry about Romain De Senam, he doesn't have an awful lot of size and scope and often gets very low over his fences. He didn't get any cover here either, and in different circumstances he should prove well handicapped. He nearly won the Fred Winter at the festival two years ago and I could see him excelling back over timber.

The victory of War Sound confounded those of us that had labelled him a dog and a thief, staying on stoutly in the manner of another P Hobbs horse that just wasn't firing last term.

The handicap chase over the minimum trip featured Carlisle winner Luckofthedraw, who was overlooked the last day on account of him not looking straight forward, and he soon spat the dummy in this more competitive event.

Tommy Silver is a nice looker and you can see why he is high in the pecking order at Ditcheat, but he is another lacking the necessary cojones and I'm not sure where they go from here, probably down the headgear route.

Baby King has a good record fresh but may just have needed it, but Yorkist looked fit and ready to roll and with the benefit of hindsight was overpriced back to a winning mark. Burrenbridge Hotel looked big and well but the trainer is 1/52 this season and remains cold as ice.

The bumper looked a two horse race on paddock inspection with Raven Court looking a pretty slow, albeit fit and a decent chasing prospect in time.

Misty Whisky was all the rage and a nice looking sort but clearly a filly on size and Sojourn had plenty about him plus the added bonus of having racecourse experience a year ago, in a race that has thrown up winners.

It turned out to be a mickey mouse contest but Sojourn kept digging in from the front and saw it out in the manner of a fair sort. The others were too green on the day but will do better. 

Friday 9 November 2018

Market Rasen - Nov 8

Not a great deal to reflect upon after a pretty dismal card, run on good ground with around a furlong added to most race distances.

The opening juvenile hurdle was a match and they flip-flopped twice in the betting before Our Power made a winning debut, making the most of the weight concession.

Strong and compact, Alan King's youngster should continue to be competitive while Idilico is a little more leggy and awkward, and doesn't find jumping hurdles quite so easy.

The mares' novice hurdle saw a rematch from Chepstow between Festival Dawn and Annie Mc, but neither was able to uphold that seemingly strong form here.

Annie Mc looked immature beforehand, on her toes and getting warm, and will do better in time, while Festival Dawn was strongly fancied to finish ahead once more but ran no sort of race and must have been amiss.

Winner Outofthisworld is hard to asses, she was weak in the betting again and yet returned to her best bumper form with a thoroughly likeable effort - she's not much to look at but should be competitive kept to same-sex races.

The big Listed chase for mares was another that looked a match with the ultra consistent Rons Dream wanting is much softer, but with the luckless Drinks Interval toppling over three out and Casablanca Mix not getting home, the Bowen mare was able to get on top close home - the extra yardage proving ideal.

Rating the race, I'd be surprised if the winner has run up to her best form, and I'd give her a 140 mark at the most, leaving Casablanca Mix almost 10lb beneath her official mark.

The Henderson mare has plenty to prove for me, I wasn't especially taken by her physically and there's a concern that she doesn't see her races out. Stamina was a slight concern beforehand but she was treading water from the second last.

Actinpieces again struggled on the ground and this wonderful mare will be off to the paddocks in the New Year according to her trainer. Hopefully they can find the right race to send her off on a winning note.

There followed a trappy 0-120 staying handicap with five last time out winners, The Two Amigos having gone up 12lb for winning at Newton Abbot and Some Chaos 8lb well-in under a penalty.

The former looked full of himself and the money for him wasn't unexpected, while the latter didn't look great without being able to pinpoint why. Maybe he had gone in his coat, and there was a strong possibility that he could bounce having won off a lengthy absence.

Not a bit of it; he fully backed up the taking Bangor win by relishing the extra distance and jumping with real alacrity. You could easily see him picking up a decent pot over the festive season and his trainer has returned in good form this autumn.

Marten looked well but seems to be dogged by problems, Indirocco isn't bred for this and simply looks slow, while Mon Palois is a nimble, athletic sort that his jockey reported to have hung left throughout, so expect him to be going the other way next time.

The last two races weren't worthy of note, although I'm not the first to admit that I'll be proud to recall the day that 'I was there' to witness the (likely) sole victory of the 64-rated L'Es Fremantle!

Monday 5 November 2018

Carlisle - November 4

Thankfully some decent enough ground to welcome a competitive card although an early brush with the honourable Mr H Smith (I know Harvey's probably not reading, but you never know) was enlightening, in many trainers' view there wasn't much 'soft' in the good to soft places.

The opening novices hurdle was decent and saw a rather weak favourite in bumper winner One For Rosie, however Twiston-Davies' gelding looked a well made sort that wasn't far off full fitness.

I thought he galloped to the line with purpose and is one to defy a penalty, having seen off market springer Glen Forsa, a tall strong six-year-old that will improve again.

Hill Sixteen was a costly purchase and he looks a serious prospect for fences in due course, and his third place was a very pleasing start considering his size and inexperience.

Disappointment of race was Storm Control, a lengthy well-bred sort that looked fit, but ran a stinker. The Jefferson pair Shepherd's Bight and Northern Soul were weak in the market and like her father, Ruth doesn't appear to be rushing her string this autumn.

Carrying loads of condition, Shepherd's Bight shaped with promise and will come into his own when the emphasis is on stamina. The Hollow Chap faded right out of things late on, and this rangy unfurnished youngster looks like he'll need plenty of time.

Early season novice handicaps at Carlisle are worth watching over a few times and the next was another of those, taken by one of the more nimble types in Count Meribel, a dual course winner at this time last year.

Tactical speed is vital round this turning track and the top weight was always in the right place, having it sewn up a long way out. Stablemate Scotchtown is all stamina and should do better in different circumstances.

Jammin Masters stayed on nicely for second under the queerest of rides from Johnson, who, like McCoy before him, has earned the right to be beyond critical analysis. However, he could not have sat quieter for most of the race if he tried and only got the squeeze on after belting two out, and aggrieved punters had a case.

The smallest in the field, Jammin Masters is a 3m, soft ground horse with more experience than most, and shouldn't be missed next time as his jumping was sound in the main.

Coningsby is a sturdy animal with plenty of ability, but it was noted beforehand that he didn't appear straight forward and sure enough he took a hard left when everything else went right at the top of the hill mid-race.

If his head can be kept right, he could prove useful, but I have some doubts on that score regarding Donna's Delight, a great big tall individual who was on his toes beforehand requiring plenty of attention.

By Portrait Gallery, he deserves a chance but is one to have reservations over for the time being, a similar sentiment that applies to warm order Al Shahir, who once again proved himself utterly one-paced.

He must show plenty at home as he went off favourite for the EBF final, but he hasn't done it on the track and looks one to oppose considering he was primed for this, for all that 3m will surely see him in better light.

The handicap hurdle looked a minefield, with the staying-on Bahama Moon one of few to be of interest going forward as he was weak in the market and looked to be carrying condition.

The result of the handicap chase made plenty of sense with Looksnowtlikebrian once again putting errors behind him to back up his win here a fortnight ago. He's not very big, but clearly improving however this is the easiest jumping course in the land and it may be no coincidence they brought him here the last twice.

He'll find things harder from now on and I wouldn't be expecting him to get round somewhere like Ffos Las in the mud without making notable mistakes.

Bako De La Saulaie was primed to run a big race returning to a stamina test, and ran his usual race in second without threatening to win.

He looks to have just the one pace so it continues to frustrate that they keep riding him for a turn of foot. He's a very sound jumper, and looks the type to leave his mark behind when given a more positive ride.

Cooking Fat continues to look a quirky individual and probably doesn't want a stamina test while Blakemount is steadily working his way to fitness. I didn't realise Yanmare was so big, and he'll come on for it.

Aspen Colorado was strong in the market ahead of the Class 2 handicap hurdle and he was another to back up a recent win here, relishing the stiff test at the trip.

The form looks solid enough, with Captain Redbeard yet again proving himself a fine yardstick with an honest run that sets him up nicely for the Becher Chase.

Petticoat Tails probably isn't the most straight forward, but she's likely to be straighter next time where 3m ought to stand her in much better stead.

Crixus's Escape is a really nice looking youngster but remains very immature mentally, and was in too deep on this third start over timber. His mark gives connections a few options, and when the penny does finally drop he could be one to stay the right side of.

Dubai Angel was badly in need of the outing, while Blunder Buss is a stocky individual that could prove hard to place this term; he's more of one to put by for next season.

Cyrname was all the rage for the Colin Parker Memorial and this big strapping animal looked straight enough although he could be the type to come on for a pipe-opener.

He was readily brushed aside but back-of-the-fag-packet numbers suggest he's run to his handicap mark of 150 with the ultra consistent Happy Diva finishing just ahead receiving plenty of weight, meaning impressive winner Mister Whitaker has improved another half a stone in landing the prize.

While a different sort entirely to last year's winner Waiting Patiently, there's no reason to think Mick Channon's youngster can't follow a similar path as his future appears to have unlimited potential.

There is simply nothing not to like about the two-time Cheltenham winner, who should relish 3m this season, and the three in behind will continue to pay their way.

The well-backed favourite Alright Sunshine had a touch of quality about him ahead of the junior bumper and he duly routed the field, upholding K Dalgleish's record in such races. As the saying goes, the young Scot seems to 'know the time of day'.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Wetherby - November 3

A slew of non-runners made Charlie Hall Chase day lacking any sort of depth, robbing racegoers of quality horses, however the action was thrilling with some decent finishes. However, it's purely early season form and not much of it should be taken forward.

Fingerontheswitch looked on really good terms with himself and the contraction in price came as no surprise considering his shrunken handicap mark, and the opening race worked out perfectly as he needs something to aim at.

He got just that with the improved The Paddy Pie moving on from the second last, only to curl up on the run-in. I'm sure it was only greenness from the runner-up and he looks sure to remain competitive from a higher mark on a softer surface.

The Happy Chappy is a good ground horse but he wants a really stiff test and was never travelling. He looked short of match practice but plugged on, and he has a race in him with the emphasis on stamina.

Thistle Do Nicely had a fair impression on hurdles debut last time out and he looked the part before a weak looking novice hurdle, a good athletic type sure to take higher rank.

Beach Break looked disinterested in the prelims and has earned a lengthy holiday, he's a summer horse but isn't much more than a 120 type. Lough Legend is a baby and saw plenty of daylight here; I can see him picking up a novice handicap on soft ground in the coming months.

Stablemate Absolutely Dylan will leave his 110 rating behind in the next few weeks but this anxious sort needs softer ground than this. I thought his jumping was once again slick bar one error, and money lost here was only lent.

Copper West is a disappointing type and he seemed to have every chance once more, he lacks scope and loses ground at the obstacles. Nightly had the form in the book if he got home and he was well ridden by J Burke and just lasted.

Tayzar took the eye, strong and fitter for Carlisle, and settled nicely before being brought to a standstill. We learned nothing here but he's worth keeping an eye on.

Lady Buttons is a fantastic big mare and she was a big price to land the Listed hurdle on account of the ground, despite her trainer insisting she bounces off good.

Irish Roe looked on great terms with herself but her small-time handler probably didn't have her cherry ripe, even though she looked pretty straight.

The big move for Oscar Rose was a little baffling - yes she was going to set them a merry dance but the form just wasn't in the book and she's more a three miler in waiting.

The big race saw Black Corton go off a short price, he looked fantastic in his coat but that wasn't enough reason to be taking 6/4 and Definitly Red was the value, having a great record fresh and at this venue.

D Cook was seen to great effect from the front once again and had a very willing partner.

The Yorkshire Hurdle was Grade 2 in name only and it saw the surprisingly improved Nautical Nitwit reverse placings with recent conqueror Monbeg Theatre, holding off Old Guard who stayed better than most thought he would.

Keeper Hill has a robust look of a chaser and didn't have the toe to go with them in the straight, and he looks a proper soft ground horse to me.

Three went to post in the finale, two saddled by man of the moment P Kirby, and Wemyss Point made it two wins at the track on ground probably quicker than ideal.

Supakalanistic looked a big staying chase type that would probably come on for the run, while Zig Zag hasn't really gone on and may be better over the minimum.

Friday 2 November 2018

Wetherby - November 2

There were non-runners throughout the day and the going was changed to good, good to firm in places, making it difficult to discern which of the winter types would go on it.

Ballyhome stood out a mile in the opening novices handicap and this nice scopey individual instigated a double for quality claimer Connor Brace.

Askari didn't look up to much physically but that should never put you off if it's trained by G Elliott, and he looks like he needs an extra half mile.

There wasn't much depth to it but Northern Girl ran her race in second despite looking a shade burly and she should be up to gaining an overdue success.

The novices chase was effectively a match with Crucial Role coming out, and it was all about ability to jump and gallop on the ground which Rocky's Treasure did... and odds-on favourite Poetic Rhythm didn't.

A heavy ground winner of the Challow Hurdle, it's hard for this non owner/trainer to figure out why you would want to run such a horse in these conditions.

He's a strong sturdy type lacking a bit in height, and has the look of a mid-winter slugger. His market rival looked active and alert, and put up a pleasing performance giving 12lb, but the form is hard to rate in a literal sense.

Slanemore Hill nearly grabbed second and is a nice, strong looking horse that lacked in the fitness department. Lord knows how the assessor will judge this effort but I suspect he'll now need to build on this to prove he's a useful type in the making. I suspect he might be.

The Wensleydale Hurdle drew three fairly decent sorts and Cracker Factory made a big impression at Market Rasen last time out, and if jumping more fluently looked the one to beat.

The market agreed, and he delivered in good style to see off Chief Justice who to be fair was giving 3lb. I'd back the winner to finish in front if they met again, however. King D'Argent stepped up on his win here last time but came back blowing hard and may have an issue.

In fairness they weren't a bad bunch of juveniles, and those in behind should find races in time.

The big handicap chase cut up to seven with Copain De Classe heading the market, being 4lb well-in after winning at Kempton. He travelled too well here though on a steady pace and found nothing when let down.

Born Survivor was all the rage but he's a big unit that I'd always felt wanted softer, but is a sound jumper and that helped him get the job done. Guitar Pete wants a stiffer test but may not have finished winning, while Cracking Find looked out of his depth physically but ran his race as always, and as I've mentioned before I'm certain a step up to 3m would suit.

Kylemore Lough looked really fit and well. He's a confirmed mudlark and I've no idea why he lined up. Hopefully he'll come back sound after unshipping at the first, and he's handicapped to win.

Storm Rising did what he was supposed to do in following up his Cheltenham win off the same mark, in a nothing contest.

The Skelton team went for a double with Denmead in the closing novice hurdle but he was a very short price for one that didn't look entirely straightforward, the trainer popping in some earplugs late doors.

The gelding was keen during a slow run affair but wasn't in the minority there, and the even keener Skidoosh found most from two out to give Brace the double and put behind him a desperate return effort. He's a big lengthy sort that will jump a fence.

He's A Goer is probably a good benchmark for the form, the rest looked pretty backward on the day.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Sedgefield - Nov 1

Not sure such a poor card is worth a blog update, but we'll give it a quick run through before cracking on with tomorrow's decs. As if you didn't know already, we could do with some darn rain.

I wasn't interested in the 0-100 that opened the card. Millie The Minx had a bit about her and I had half an eye on her with the future in mind, but she went and ran a screamer which has blown her cover.

The Sayer yard was desperately quiet for over a year but has come back in the last few weeks and on the whole the sister of the honourable gentleman Mr K Slack does well with what she gets.

The only pair to take forward from the novice chase would be Black Art and Charmant, who will both be better on soft ground. The former looked straight enough but the Smith yard isn't firing yet, while the well-backed Charmant didn't look anywhere near straight.

While he was left with nothing to beat, the Ewart horse was a stylish winner and may well be above average as he'll come on tons for this. Cillian's Well fell into a poor race at Southwell and has no future in this sphere.

A couple of lengths covered the first five home in the following novice hurdle and that tells you all you need to know about the form.

Speedy Cargo looked paceless in his bumper but was expected to come on a bundle for that, however those who backed him into favouritism couldn't have been on great terms with themselves from early on.

Ask Paddington and Colby looked as though they need more time, pretty weak and unfurnished, while Sheriff Garrett is poorly made and will find it very hard to win in this code.

On a side note it's interesting that M Hammond is having winners now that A Cawley is taking a larger percentage of the rides.

The four-runner staying handicap chase was interesting because for some obscure reason the market had Some Kinda Lama as its leader despite having shown no aptitude for fencing whatsoever in three previous starts.

He lacks size and scope and this simply isn't his bag. He's a good ground, staying hurdler and pretty recalcitrant at that. Good luck to the new trainer.

Cash was again in evidence for the Smiths' Lough Derg Farmer, but once again he didn't look very interested and they've got a job on turning him around.

Paul's Hill and Like The Sound were decent specimens, both looking fit and well and really shouldn't have surprised anybody that they came home ahead of the other pair. Neither did much wrong, but the fact the third and fourth were closing markedly from two out may prove telling.

The staying hurdle looked trappy with Nemean Lion backed from the 6/1 down to 2s FAV. That was pretty revealing as this scopey sort bounded into the early lead (shock).

It's ironic Same Circus came to grief as she looks more a hurdler than a chaser, and one suspects she may have gone very close. She is well handicapped and can have a successful season in both spheres. More Than Luck isn't a great looker and wouldn't be one for me going forward.

The closing mares handicap wasn't up to much either, and it was disappointing the unexposed Secret Escape couldn't get the job done. She looked really paceless and already appears to want further, and softer ground too.

And that, mercifully, was that.