Tuesday 29 January 2019

Newcastle - January 29

Quite a deep card, not easy for punting by any means, with soft and tiring ground although the rain/sleet/snow that was forecast thankfully stayed away in the main.

Just five for the opening mares handicap, a tight little contest robbed of value when Peters Cousin refused point blank to get involved in proceedings; after the biggest rug I've ever seen was removed she didn't want to know and they didn't even bother lining her up with the others.

That left Another Theatre to come home pretty much in isolation, leaving the impression she would have won anyway, a few cracks concentrating her mind on the home turn to land a bit of a touch for connections, who were merely reinvesting after Catterick.

She's not the most gainly but looked in good order and clearly has plenty of ability, handling this softer terrain with aplomb, something you couldn't say about Its All A Lark, who found nothing when let down and may well require good ground.

Valse Au Taillons had made a long trip up and it showed, as she was looking lean and got pretty warm. She's high in the weights but should be better than this in time.

A cracking novice hurdle over 2m6f came next and it saw Nestor Park head the market after failing at the highest level last time out...these were calmer waters but the trip was a concern for this keen going type.

A much more forward ride this time paid dividends as B Pauling's good looking six-year-old finally got the better of Lord Du Mesnil after a protracted battle, the latter sacrificing second place in the bid for glory.

Second went to Arthur Mac, who has improved with each outing and looked to jump better this time, proving stamina to be his forte with a strong finishing effort and he looks one to keep on side.

Sam's Adventure was a disappointment again and he is starting to become expensive to follow, soon on the back foot once the taps were turned entering the straight and he could only stay on at one pace against these better rivals. Even further should suit - he's a big, strong sort, but it's looking like he may not fulfill the promise of his stellar bumper form and his jumping remains novicey.

The staying handicap chase was a proper conundrum even before the appearance of Takingrisks, who got very warm considering the frigid temperatures and by the time he left the paddock sweat was visibly dripping from the girth.

I've seen him a few times and he's never done that, so it may go some way to explaining a lifeless display, and he'll be worth another chance in due course.

Plenty could still be fancied, and most looked in good order. Solighoster lacks scope, to borrow a Timeform phrase he is rather close-coupled, and thus will always find jumping fences challenging, but looks on a good mark if he could transfer his form back to timber. It's worth noting he only ran four times over hurdles and has failed to get round in four of 10 chase starts.

Rock On Fruity was dismissed in the betting but won again for Ben Haslam, outstaying Conna Cross on the run-in with the latter trying the trip for the first time...he didn't appear to do much wrong in fairness.

Straidnahanna returned to form with a bold bid from the front and with fellow front runner Theligny staying on again into third one just wonders if their abundant stamina wasn't quite put to the test enough.

A staying handicap hurdle looked a minefield but two that received a positive paddock mention dominated the finish in Kalaharry and Loch Linnhe, while third placed Champagne Chaser is a sturdy sort that may just be better for the run after more than two months off.

J'Ai Froid looks quite a decent animal and was nicely supported but made an error at the first and appeared to lose all confidence thereafter. Having lost so much ground at the obstacles he must be a seriously well handicapped horse to have finished only 13 lengths back, and he'll be one to keep an eye on.

Six modest sorts went to post for a handicap chase over 2m, make that five as last year's winner Charlie Snow Angel refused to take part. By far the least exposed was Budarri and he was well backed despite bringing a 0/18 dossier; a change of tactics sparking a revival and he battled on stoutly to repel Las Tunas, never one noted for a fight.

The closing novice hurdle was deeper than on first inspection although few could have predicted that Rouge Vif would have been all out to repel raiders up the straight, the eye-catching Point Break again looking well bought by connections as he laid it down going to the last. The concern now is that his future lies in the hands of the dastardly assessor.

The winner has loads of size and scope, and is a proper chaser for next season, but his rating probably flatters him - taken literally the runner-up has run to a mark in excess of 130.

Several nice future types lined up, Oscar Wilde again looking a shell of a future chaser but showing much more this time, while River Glades has scope and size and is in good hands, he will improve as he looked green at the obstacles.

Just Call Me Al is a rangy individual given an exaggerated waiting ride after pulling his way to a heavy defeat last time, and he should get back on the up in due course, as can Skye Chief who is a work in progress. Qawamees wasn't the most likeable sort on the level and didn't fancy this from an early stage.

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