Friday 28 December 2018

Catterick - December 28

Very mild conditions and what looked like good ground in the main, probably a bit softer on the hurdles course. Not a card to enthuse over but like the good old days at the Bridge a combination of the market and the paddock helped to sort them out.

The opening mares novice wasn't especially strong although an avalanche of money for H Oliver's Another Theatre saw her off at 5/4 and she had the excess stamina to get past the light-framed Foxtrot Juliet on the run-in.

A strong sort, the winner may do better although she doesn't move terrifically well in front. Graceland was a clear third best, I don't know much about her from the Flat but she didn't look too willing before or during the race.

Of interest going forward will be the J Candlish filly Splash The Cash, who was left a remote fourth after failing to go with the front rank via some shoddy jumping. From the Irish Point field, she's quite scopey and should do better over further.

Lady Kyria was about to challenge when crashing out at the last. She may be a short price next time but does lack any sort of scope and may continue to find the hurdles in her way.

The first of several weak handicap chases saw a really poor favourite in Chasing Headlights, a modest sort very much on the small side for fences, and she didn't take to it at all on this second attempt.

Also not very big, but quite nicely made and in good order was Djarkevi on his first start for a trainer making a name for herself in Laura Morgan. I don't know anything about her but she has a good strike rate with her chasers and this ex-Longsdon horse belied his size to jump with enthusiasm under a ballsy R Chapman. Whether he can do it again from a higher mark is somewhat debatable.

The Oliver brigade was out in force again this time for The Dawn Man, a terrifically disappointing animal that didn't look especially fit and once again made no show, while last year's winner Paddling looked in great order but early mistakes appeared to undermine his chance.

The third leg of the H Oliver treble came in the shape of Arthur Mac, punted in from 3s to 5/4 and duly ran out a good winner from solid yardstick The Steward, who once again had nothing to give once push came to shove.

The winner has taken his time to come to hand and is quite a big unfurnished sort, that should improve with experience and a stiffer test.

Speedy Cargo once again looked very one paced in third while Time For Another looks a staying chaser in the making and couldn't go with them in the straight; he is sure to do better than this in time.

National winner Ballabriggs didn't win a race until he was seven and that could be the case with half-brother Ballasalla, denied in the shadows of the post by chase debutant Lucarno Dancer.

The well-bred Hemmings horse is a very keen type and was on edge in the paddock, getting warm in the process, and will surely do better than this once able to relax and race over further.

However, Lucarno Dancer was of interest now in professional hands and having come for strong support late morning, travelled and jumped nicely before sticking her head down where it mattered most. With a bit of size and lightly raced, she could win another of these.

Not far behind in third was ex-Irish pointer Domestic Diva, and although modest looking she didn't do a great deal wrong and should benefit from an extra half mile. The trio came clear and although poor stuff, it's not bad for the grade.

The staying handicap chase saw Nortonthorpelegend finally return to the winner's enclosure having tumbled down the weights, enjoying more positive tactics and better ground in a race where very few could be fancied.

Iskabeg Lane was made favourite in the end but is the piggiest of all piglets and must be opposed at all times, giving best eventually to the moody Achill Road Boy for second, who is another that isn't making any progression.

The finale was weak, another bunch of unreliable sorts with the likes of Tickenwolf, Boruma and Waltz Darling never likely to stick their head down in the heat of battle.

With only one front runner in the race, it looked like Nemean Lion would have the opportunity to make all and so it proved, nothing able to land a telling blow on the in-form P Kirby inmate, who looked big and well beforehand.

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