Friday 11 January 2019

Catterick - January 10

Good ground, officially quicker in places but they were knocking the top out in the home straight and it was reported as good and a bit loose, the times appearing to back up those assessments.

The opening juvenile hurdle promised to be the most competitive race of the day and so it proved, by some way the most interesting being newcomer Groveman who had a class edge over these on the Flat.

With a fast pace looking assured, the concern was whether he would have the 'smarts' to go with more experienced foes in the first half of the race, and he didn't help his chance with some hesitant jumping.

But this decent looking youngster has a good way of going and was able to close down the leaders who admittedly weren't doing a great deal in front, and stayed on nicely to win a shade cosily. I'd mark the winner up, and he could defy a penalty at a bigger track.

Dagian and Travel Lightly more or less ran to their previous form, the latter crying out for handicaps and one to watch in that sphere with a hefty allowance at this time of year.

Not much betting interest thereafter, Uno Mas having the form to beat market rival Come On Charlie if fresh enough after running at Doncaster yesterday, and he looked in good order beforehand so wasn't worth taking on...the Hobbs runner decent enough looking but clearly modest.

Braddan Head has joined Dianna Sayer and looks the type to be winning chases round the northern gaffes once his mark has been suitably re-adjusted.

Mistress Massini was a warm order to go in again after proving herself well handicapped back under rules, although quite small she's got some length and scope and seemed to get from A to B with ease as she dotted up in the third.

Holy Street may have just needed the run on his first start for Laura Morgan, quite a strong sort he has been disappointing so far and was firmly put in his place, but better can be expected.

The North Yorkshire is usually a competitive affair but this year's edition lacked depth, most of the half dozen better operators on softer terrain.

As such, Sue Smith's Sharp Response ticked all the boxes and was a worthy favourite, he's always looked the part and this victory was the culmination of three years' labour for connections. It's worth giving credit to D Cook, who sensibly sat off some speedy early fractions before taking charge with a lap to go.

Western Jo looked in prime condition and ran a big race considering his best form is on soft ground, while he does look weighted to his best, but a weaker race than this could fall his way.

Little Bruce isn't straight forward these days, going up and down the field throughout before staying on again for second, while Greyed A has the make and shape of a real soft ground slugger and Vieux Lille remains one to have reservations about.

I wasn't present when Baratineur was outbattled by one not renowned for his fighting spirit here nine days before and the England horse looked one to take on at cramped odds with the first five 'jollys' having gone in.

All looked rosy in the garden for Baratineur supporters but he hasn't gone winless for nearly three years by accident, and he was nailed close home as he curled up again once under the shove.

Victory for Flowery was a remarkable affair, the Irish import hanging left in the straight as he had when winning at Sedgefield last time out, the form of that looking even better than it did at the time after the third hosed up at Ayr.

Having been keen throughout at Sedge, he was very late into the paddock but the ploy must have helped as he was very laid back before and throughout the race, dropped back in trip.

The inside rail, absent at Sedgefield, was a huge help after the last with C O'Farrell working wonders to keep him in the race turning for home, and it's remarkable that he was gaining on the favourite going to the last despite being ridden on one rein.

He clearly has an issue that needs ironing out, but will surely only go up another 3-4lbs for this and if they can find a track with a rail all the way round (Haydock, maybe) I can see him leaving this form behind.

Canadian George had been disappointing on the Flat and was weak in the betting on this first start in handicaps, but he's a good looking sort and surely they'll find a suitable opening for him at some stage.

The finale was a penalty kick on paper for Jimmy Rabbitte and the strong, compact gelding rallied well to pick up the outsider of four Snowed In after the last, giving backers of the long odds-on favourite slight palpitations in the process.

The Steward looks harshly treated on a perch of 115 and his run of second places came to an abrupt halt.

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