Sunday 24 February 2019

Newcastle - February 23

Eider Chase day...the going was on the soft side of good, the weather as warm as you would find at this time of year, the crowd enjoying the great outdoors with no hint of last week's miserable scenes.

AW bumpers are not really my thing and after calling Basildon wrong when he won here last time I was pretty confident he wouldn't follow up in this stronger looking opener, having not come on a great deal physically, possibly carrying even more condition.

Nikgarde finished behind him that day and the Ewart-trained runner did look stronger this time, albeit unfurnished and quite an awkward looking customer.

The one that interested me was Room At The Top, having come in for support at big odds it wasn't surprising to see him looking very fit for his first outing, a big lengthy chasing type that covers a lot of ground.

He was quite weak in the betting late on however, and ran as though he's an out and out stayer, never threatening.

Malystic is quite tall and leggy but was able to defy a 'penalty', although B Garritty has already proven to be great value for his claim so this was essentially a free 7lb off his back.

Show Promise was the nicer of the Kirby pair and showed a much higher level of form here, his other runner Hurricane Hugo moved terribly to post and didn't get round.

In a quiet opening to a decent card, Cool Mix finally got off the mark over fences, beating Niven after neither wanted to make the running. I took the view that whoever led into the straight would win and that's the way it panned out, Reverant Cust again not proving good enough.

The Eider didn't really grab me this year, nothing much stood out in the book and there were no negatives in the prelims. The ground wouldn't have suited those wanting proper soft with the likes of Just Your Type and particularly Progress Drive caught out, although Mysteree went so close and he usually revels in a bog.

The mares novices hurdle was a penalty kick for Lust For Glory, it was a dire race in behind with runner-up Mega Double nothing to look at and Lady Kyria as previously mentioned lacking the physical scope to jump well enough.

Of minor interest though is Quiet Penny, trained by the in-form Ms Boanas. A nice big chase type, she had shown a smattering of ability in bumpers and stayed on from a mile back under tender handling.

The trainer knows the family well, with the dam having thrown the useful Victor Hugo and Crowning Jewel, and when sent over a trip, presumably next season, she can make her mark in lowly handicaps.

The real action finally got under way in the form of a competitive looking handicap hurdle but it saw the return of last season's progressive youngster Joke Dancer, as I said many times here one of the nicest young horses around in the north.

It was great to see him back after wind surgery and he looked to have grown and strengthened, but looked cherry ripe and worthy of the strongest support.

A steady early pace wouldn't have played to his strengths but the ever-reliable D Cook was alert to the situation and made his move early, stealing lengths on the pursuers going to the second last and soon having things sewn up.

All his form had been on much softer ground but this proves his adaptability and hopefully he can now go on to better things, while a career over fences is hotly anticipated.

The right horse finished in second from a form perspective, the well regarded Albert's Back also returning from a lengthy absence but looking in really good heart, and he simply bumped into a better handicapped rival.

He too has the size and scope to take to fences and while his mark is high enough, he can surely do better with time.

The handicap chase was another open looking affair but was turned into a procession by course specialist Ascot De Bruyere, who once again found a lovely rhythm on the front end and his 'fast-and-low' jumping had them all at it a long way out.

I wanted to stay on the right side of Cave Top, who would have preferred much softer ground, and while he only plugged on at one pace a more slowly run three-miler could see him back to winning ways.

He was a clear second best on the day having tried to go with the winner, Tayzar again looking cumbersome in rear as did Clan Legend, who could just be a soft ground horse. Just Don't Ask won a Mickey Mouse race last time out and was a ridiculous price to follow up, the heavy topped youngster requiring much softer ground to show his true colours.

The closing novices hurdle was a fascinating affair, some decent youngsters lining up headed by Imperial Aura, a well made, nice looking Kalanisi that wasn't easy to oppose looking fit off a four month absence.

The really interesting one was Bally Conor, who came out of that very good EBF qualifier at Market Rasen and looked sure to take a big leap forward with much more in his favour this time.

As it happened, his inexperience showed with numerous errors after pulling quite hard again, but the Jefferson inmate was a clear second best on the day behind a very useful winner, who could be an Aintree type.

Dimple wouldn't have the pace to trouble these youngsters, especially the way he was ridden, while Oscar Wilde is merely marking time before going chasing next season and hopefully his handicap mark won't suffer too much in the interim.


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