Friday 29 November 2019

Midweek eyecatchers

Southwell, November 26

A competitive looking mares handicap chase with three last time out winners, however it is the Katy Price trained Hollow Park who should be followed next time after a promising return from a lengthy absence.

Nibbled at in the betting despite looking in the need of the outing, the seven-year-old travelled nicely and even traded odds-on rounding the home turn before fading from two out. That is now three solid runs over fences and confirms she acts on soft ground, and when the trainer hits form I expect this mare to be amongst the winners.

A maiden hurdle over three miles in attritional conditions, two going clear with the sizeable Mercian Knight worth watching in the coming weeks and months. Likely to improve for this seasonal reappearance, Amy Murphy's five -year-old only lost out to a much fitter horse in Terrierman and appeals as one to prove fairly decent when eventually sent over fences.
Tension Time was well beaten off in third place but this quite likeable son of Dubai Destination is likely to be brought along with handicaps in mind and I'd like to think he'll pick up a small race in the fullness of time.

Trainer Sam Allwood enjoyed success earlier on the card with Sheneededtherun but he has a potentially smarter horse on his hands in the shape of Out On The Tear, who is currently 'running on one breath'.
A switch to hold-up tactics and a patient approach is needed to see this decent chasing type fulfill his undoubted potential, but he went far too fast on tacky ground having been taken on for the lead. The fact he stayed on again for third suggests a good attitude, if only it can be channeled in the right direction.

Quite a decent bumper featuring a couple of point winners towards the head of the market, and Ask A Honey Bee put his experience to good use as he wore down debutante Wilde About Oscar close home. The winner is not the biggest but looked the most forward as one would expect from a yard so adept at producing bumper winners, the only surprise being the generous SP. Second and third, Bourbon Beauty, showed more than enough to win one of these but while Java Point was the paddock pick, he may lack the pace in this sphere. Others to mention are Santon, a good looking Scorpion who moved well to post, suggesting better ground may suit, while When You're Ready is a strong chasing type that looked sure to benefit from the outing. Henderson's Arcadian Pearl didn't look the part, a big and backward sort who required a couple of handlers.

Wetherby, November 27

An open handicap chase but just a second run over the larger obstacles for Oscar Wilde and his inexperience showed as he got too close to one and came down just as the race was taking shape. A big, lengthy five-year-old, he has done very well over the summer and looks sure to win races over fences this winter providing this spill hasn't affected his confidence.

Held up by Danny Cook, he got in close to a couple before his mishap and went right at several fences, and I'd expect a more attacking ride to suit this horse's big stride with Carlisle looking an ideal venue. He'd have the pace to win over 2m on heavy ground but he'd be expected to stay well in due course.

A decent novices hurdle featuring three previous winners and a very taking performance from the highly rated Ribble Valley, the apple of trainer Nicky Richards' eye. A well-made, compact sort, he looks a laid-back and professional individual so it was surprising to see him taking a strong hold under B Hughes. However, that tendency to over-race didn't affect his performance and a fine leap at the last sealed an impressive success, and clearly there is much more to come. Disappointment of the race was Proschema, however jockey and trainer immediately put a line through the run as the useful Flat exile was never jumping or travelling after giving the first hurdle a good whack. It wouldn't be surprising to see this horse aimed at a decent spring handicap off what could prove a lenient mark.

Only two of the seven starters were considered in the betting and the eventual favourite Ecu De La Noverie finally rewarded patient backers with victory under Dave Maxwell, who reverted to positive tactics over this minimum trip. The five-year-old is admirably consistent but this didn't take a great deal of winning and tougher assignments await from a higher perch. Hawk High, Hollywoodien and Nuts Well all showed enough to suggest they will be paying their way this winter, the latter proving once and for all that he finds it too hard to jump out of this ground. Niven didn't look particularly fit, Duke Of Navan wasn't on great terms with himself beforehand, while Dustin Des Mottes is one to avoid.

A seriously competitive looking Class 4 handicap was turned into a procession by the lovely rangy chasing type Thomas MacDonagh, who proved to be thrown in following a couple of spins in novice hurdles. Take him out the race and there was plenty to be gleaned in behind, not least the runner-up Blaster Yeats who is quite strong for a four-year-old and looked really fit and well. The winner's superiority may in some part be due to the failings of others, however, Generation Gap proving a disappointment up in trip and he may not quite have seen it out, similar sentiments applying to each-way gamble Enfin Phil, who looked primed for a big run under an in-form claimer but found less than seemed likely when the taps were turned.

In keeping with all others from the yard of Ruth Jefferson, Clondaw Caitlin took a giant leap forward from her seasonal reappearance to spreadeagle a fair field of mares in the closing bumper. Runner-up Meep Meep Mag is decent looking and stays very well, so the winner had to show a good attitude in holding her at bay. Favourite Headscarf Lil was well beaten off but I thought she'd come on for the run and she still looked green under pressure, while stablemate Innisfree Spirit has a bit of quality about her and travelled noticably well before appearing to flounder in the ground.

Sunday 24 November 2019

Haydock - November 23

Officially good to soft ground for Betfair Chase day and against all odds that's pretty much how it looked, they were generally coming home well with the clock supporting the visual impression.

The opener was a listed novices hurdle that saw Thebannerkingrebel sent off a well-backed 5/4 favourite to make amends for his recent Wetherby mishap.

That looked like very decent form and a repeat of that effort looked like being sufficient against a handful of generally more backward types, and in the end he didn't appear to be out of second gear to record a third victory over timber.

A compact sort, he walks with a spring in his step and while this form is nothing to write home about, he may well prove to be ahead of his current mark.

Runner-up Calva D'Auge is a small Flat bred horse who I wouldn't necessarily expect to uphold the form, but there looks to be more depth in behind as the strong finishing Glory And Fortune is a really nice looking chasing prospect that would have finished closer but for being hampered in the straight.

Ballinsker pulled too hard and is a robust individual of whom better can be expected when sent over further, provided he learns to drop the bridle.

A handicap chase over 3m2f came up next and saw Crievehill post a personal best effort as he backed up his victory at Wetherby last month. He was the only one to jump and travel with purpose on ground livelier than some would have wanted.

One that relishes better ground is Sharp Response and his second place finish came as no surprise as he looked in terrific order beforehand, this looking the bare minimum trip nowadays and he should pay his way again.

Aintree scorer Burtons Well was made favourite but he was very fit for that reappearance from a long absence and he didn't look the same horse in the prelims, a bit edgy and getting warm.

Not much else appealed too much, Theligny has enough size and scope for fences but simply doesn't jump well enough and may yet prove better over hurdles, and he could still be well handicapped.

The market was heavily weighted towards the front end in a five runner graduation chase and I could smell a rat, however it was hard to pull the trigger regarding eventual winner Keeper Hill, for whom there wasn't a dime in the village.

A strapping chaser, it looked like the race would tighten him up for a return to staying handicaps but he managed to hold his position despite a couple of mistakes and stuck on dourly under an in-form A Heskin.

Faithful supporters of Midnight Shadow will be running low on funds after the six-year-old travelled like the best horse for the second successive time, jockey Danny Cook not wanting to get to the front too soon probably with that last fence fall at Carlisle in mind.

However, that merely served to play to the strengths of the eventual different circumstances I'm sure Cook would have put the race to bed much earlier in the piece.

They came nicely clear of The Hollow Ginge, who nonetheless shaped well again this time in conditions that didn't play to his strengths, while the well-backed Jarveys Plate didn't really look at ease at various stages of the race and he might want it softer or further already.

There was a big morning move for Bold Plan ahead of a Class 2 handicap hurdle over just shy of 2m3f, for connections that have been having a great time of things.

The son of Jeremy was very solid on the show and physically he looks a fair prospect, albeit not necessarily a chasing type at this stage. He did well to land the gamble in the end, coming home really strongly after getting caught in traffic on the home turn.

The paddock pick was Whoshotthesheriff, who certainly will jump a fence in time, and he nearly poached victory with a free-going display only to be run down late on. If he learns to settle better he could be a serious talent for his fast-emerging trainer.

The other one that interested me was Fin And Game, who looked a horse to keep on side a couple of season back, but lost his way last term after failing to cut it over fences.

He's one of those that size-wise falls a little short of being a chaser, although one suspects connections will give it another try. He looked in very good order however, and is one to look out for next time on softer ground, or perhaps over further. It may not have been the strongest race of its type but the front three are worth following.

The stayers handicap hurdle came up next, formerly the Fixed Brush, it was wide open but I wanted to have horses with a bit of zip on my side, chief among them distance movers Breaking Waves, Acey Milan and Tedham.

Acey Milan was given a tough task with aggressive tactics from the front, but they looked like paying off until Stoney Mountain came from way back to land the pot.

A horse that always keeps finding, Stoney Mountain was outpaced over course and distance last season and I thought he'd lack the pace on this better ground, but the strong gallop helped and he managed to just about keep in touch when the race developed.

Breaking Waves went amiss right from the off, a shame for the in-form trainer, while Tedham is becoming frustrating as he travelled with the choke out, hit a bad flat spot before staying on again for third.

Ask Ben ran a mighty race on his seasonal return and hopefully they'll go chasing with him now as he is born for that, a doughty stayer he'll be one to keep on your side.

Mega Yeats caught the eye in the prelims and although this was a thankless task first time out, she shaped with promise and is a sure-fire winner back in calmer waters and possibly back in trip.

Umbrigado and Highland Hunter will both come on plenty for the outing.

The big race saw Lostintranslation out-point Bristol De Mai on his home turf, the winner looking every inch the top class horse he has become, with remarkable range and scope.

I thought the runner-up looked really fit and won't be making any excuses on that score, and they were just better than the other two on the day.

The finale looked an open contest but that was not reflected by the betting with Know The Score being punted off the boards. I've never liked the horse since seeing him before he ran at Hexham last December, the sellers at £380,000 still probably unable to believe their luck.

This son of Flemensfirth lacks in size and scope and I thought he was really struggling to jump these fences. Excuses will undoubtedly be made but he's one I'll be continuing to oppose.

The other players had their chance, but it was heartening to see the veteran Perfect Candidate return to the winners' circle on ground that didn't look soft enough beforehand. Late Romantic had looked quite progressive but the market suggested he wouldn't be up to winning and 'they' weren't wrong.

Friday 22 November 2019

Catterick - November 22

A drizzly morning turned the ground a little softer than expected but it didn't look much worse than good to soft. Not the most inspiring punting card with several short priced favourites.

The opening staying handicap hurdle saw Maison D'Or land a bit of a gamble for trainer Micky Hammond, the five-year-old getting off the mark at the 26th attempt.

He looked pretty straight forward though and was certainly fit enough, while the new trip was clearly right up his street, as he outstayed and/or out-battled the other well-backed one Oathkeeper.

Takingitallin was an uneasy favourite and he still looks quite unfurnished, and not all that big, while Too Many Chiefs looked in really good order but ideally wants it much softer and was readily brushed aside by two well ahead of their marks.

Winning rider Emma Chaston-Smith has caught the eye of late and she quickly bagged a double when rousing the oft-reluctant Dallas Cowboy to victory in a really weak handicap chase.

This time she was thwarting her boss as Paddling either wouldn't or couldn't get past after a protracted battle from the third last...which doesn't say much for the standard of the race.

The pair came clear (!) and they were strung out all over the place...neither of the market leaders, Enforcement or Moores Novelty took the eye, and don't appear to have much a future. The former was particularly out of place in this sort of race.

The juvenile hurdle was of some interest with the well-found Scorched Earth doing enough to justify the faith after the vastly experienced Maria Magdalena ran out at the second last. Oh, the irony.

Mr Chua had more about him than most and should be able to pick up one of these or a small handicap, while the costly Hasankey went well for a long way and should strip a good deal fitter next time.

Popular grey Captain Moirette was predictably well-backed to give Sue Smith a first winner in months in the novice chase, but there looked to be plenty of reason to be against the gigantic seven-year-old not least his moderate fencing in two outings over fences to date.

This tight circuit was not sure to suit and he made a number of mistakes, bulldozing his way through a couple of early fences when meeting them on the wrong stride.

I have lingering doubts as to whether he is simply too big to make the necessary adjustments required to be a success over fences. I'm sure it will all fall right one day, and the way he stayed on was encouraging, but he's the sort to be worth taking on again next time.

The Some Dance Kid was his chief market rival but I was really disappointed with his paddock appearance, lacking any sort of size and substance, and I don't think it's just an age thing.

Successful between the flags, he doesn't have the scope to deal with regulation fences and he backed out of things quite readily in the straight.

Hammond was to provide another winner here in the shape of the promising Schiehallion Munro, who looked pretty straight for his seasonal reappearance and has the size to make a chaser.

It has to be said his jumping was pretty flawless and his hurdles form has a really solid look to it, particularly his Wetherby win that has seen several winners emerge.

Forecast is a sturdy individual without much scope for fences, and may not be easy to place, while Randy Pike shaped quite promisingly considering he was carrying plenty of condition.

The novice hurdle was a really poor affair with decent bumper winner Shanroe well-backed to defy very short odds. However, brave punters were left scratching heads as he was brought down midway through the race, leaving it wide open.

One of the few to really make any impression beforehand was McCain's Pull Green and he duly picked up the pieces under a positive ride. The winner has size and scope and should progress at a modest level.

He might have been fortunate as the Flat-bred Quoteline Direct didn't quite see it out after a couple of late errors, another fine run for the in-form M Hammond. There wasn't much to take from the race - the rest were a long way back.

Very First Time was a source of much frustration for this column as he slid down the weights without much sign of revival, however he's finally turned the corner for the Skeltons and looks a more complete horse, both physically and mentally.

A really low mark helps and he was simply too well in for Jack Devine, who ran perfectly well for the in-form Rose Dobbin without looking like getting to the ready winner. Knockrobin was another McCain chaser to back out of things, however Manwell finished with some zest and he can be more competitive next time.

The bumper looked a wide open affair with nothing catching the eye in the prelims. If Karl's Berg Did was very well found in the market but didn't have a great deal of presence physically, although he rallied well late on to get second.

Skelton's Misstree Song looked only modest but will have traded short after going clear turning into the straight, only to fold inside the final furlong. McCain's Kiriglote fairly rattled home to land the spoils but he was hard to find and I'm not sure if the form is worth a great deal.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Hexham - November 20

Frosty, drying conditions probably made for some very holding conditions although some of the times didn't seem awful, but they did miss out the usual second last flight of hurdles.

The opening handicap hurdle looked a closely contested race but it was won in striking fashion by the Irish raider Duchess Ravenwaves, who was fit beforehand as you would expect although isn't the most taking specimen.

But she won this with any amount in hand, although you could argue that her chief rivals didn't have things in their favour, while runner-up Sleepy Haven is building up quite a losing run.

Fourth-placed Monfass is possibly better on a flatter track and maybe better ground, he seems to have more speed than stamina, while the eye was drawn to Shetland Bus who looked big and burly on his debut for Justin Landy.

Never put in the race at any stage, a wind problem was given for the seeming lack of effort on the jockey's part, but the fact he was only 12 lengths off fourth at the finish suggests he is one to keep a very close eye on.

The market sorted a few out at the head of affairs in the novices handicap chase and it looked a straight match between recent winners Mah Mate Bob and Bering Upsun, the latter much preferred having caught the eye in the paddock looking in particularly good order.

J Ewart's inmate traded at odds-on for much of the back straight before making a howling error three from home, effectively ending his chances.

He'd been a little careful at times prior to that and victory was far from assured, especially with Mah Mate Bob already having proven himself a tough nut to crack when the chips are down.

Surprise of the race was the performance of Lastin' Memories, who looked far from fit in the prelims and was having his first start over the larger obstacles, but he didn't do a great deal wrong before going down narrowly. His strike rate is a poor one, but he should improve on this.

One of the more intriguing races for the track came up next with southern raider Kiltealy Briggs a surprising uneasy favourite despite coming up against a handful of horses in the process of getting themselves handicapped.

Money came for one of them in the shape of Theflickeringlight but she didn't look fully wound up on her second start of the season and was allowed to bowl along at the head of affairs with little chance of getting home in the conditions.

By contrast, another likeable project in All Hail Caesar was held up in rear but he was unable to make much of an impact and finished equally tired...this robust individual didn't look a great deal fitter than 12 days previously and I'd expect to see both horses entered in handicaps over the festive season.

Itsnotyouitsme again did well to finish second although is a bit on the small side and may just struggle a bit if taking the handicap route, but a small novice should fall his way.

It was all about the winner though and J Snowden has a smart prospect on his hands as Kiltealy Briggs galloped clear of the opposition, relishing the stamina test presented to him. A marked step up in grade surely awaits this striking chase type, who has loads of filling out to do.

The four miler made very little appeal as a betting medium, three race-fit horses filling the first four and they came home really strongly despite a healthy gallop being set by the winner Dontdelay, Lowanbehold claiming second despite an absence.

A wise sage assured me the prices were 'all wrong' in the two-runner novices chase and he proved spot on as the nicely backed outsider Just Your Type jumped and galloped his way to a facile victory over Supremely Lucky, whose goose was cooked after seeming to take a false step with about a mile to race.

The finale was a poor affair and punters couldn't resist the recent course form of Espoir Moriviere, who was backed into an insanely short price, but over this trip he had no answer to Casimir Du Clos, reverting to hurdles with a stylish success.

J Landy's second runner on the card McCrackens Gate came in for solid support at big odds and rewarded each-ways backers with a solid effort; he looked a good deal straighter than the one in the opening race but there was still a bit to work on and I'd expect him to build on this.

It's difficult to hold out much hope for the rest.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Wetherby - November 16

A wet morning ensured the ground would be very soft again but it hasn't been opened up at this stage of the season and really it doesn't seem too bad.

The opening novices hurdle did not looks a strong affair with Fitzroy a very uneasy favourite and looking a big backward chasing type with plenty of maturing to do.

He was soon beaten but the other big stamp of a horse Oscar Robertson knuckled down well after coming off the bridle and this tall, green individual took quite a leap forward from his latest bumper outing.

Revelation of the race was Blossoming Forth, who had shown nothing at all on her seasonal return in a bumper but was knowhere close to fitness that day.

She turned up in vastly improved condition this time around, albeit still a raw, unfurnished future chaser, but was given an enterprising ride and this was much more like it from a filly that cost six figures...a mares race would be a formality.

That said, the form still isn't that great and the well-backed Rare Clouds was the latest from the Sue Smith yard to let punters down...they are all bouncing out of their seasonal debuts and will be different horses in a month's time.

Who's In The Box isn't a bad sort from a small yard and came home quite strongly in third, but he's more of a handicap project and looks unfurnished at present.

The novices chase featured four really talented animals but it was a case of 'after you sir' as the strongly backed Good Boy Bobby was allowed a solo on the front end, the other three riders happy to have a school round.

As promising as the winner is, he won't have things so easy in future and there was plenty to like about Ravenhill Road's effort, showing up looking pretty straight and in good order after a stable switch.

Albert's Back has always been highly regarded and he too shaped with a good deal of promise under tender handling, he has plenty of size and he'll stay further, while there will be other days for Garrettstown who is every inch a chaser.

The difficult looking handicap hurdle followed and it was a bit of a rogue's gallery, Sakhee's City chief among them but today was his day under a cool ride from A Nicol.

Former talking horse Mount Mews looked fit and well but has become increasingly idiosyncratic and he took no interest in jumping the hurdles, but travelled into the race and even threatened to win.

On the face of it a mark of 134 should be well within his compass but a pair of cheekpieces could be needed to bring out the best of his ability.

One For Harry looked straight enough but proved very disappointing, while Cool Mix really should be over fences. I didn't like Applaus who was well backed but looked badly in need of it.

Mr Antolini was a little weak at the head of the market prior to the handicap chase but with just one chasing experience behind him rising 10 he was one to take on all day and The Dubai Way was as good an alternative as any.

Progressive under these conditions a couple of winters back, he took a while to get the hang of fences and in common with many in the Whittington yard didn't seem himself last term, but a stable switch has sparked a revival and he looked fit enough on this return to action.

Storm Control gave him something to aim at in the straight and the tenacity he had previously shown was in evidence again as he powered clear on the run-in, looking like one to keep onside.

It may not have taken a great deal of winning, however, with the favourite predictably struggling for fluency over fences, while Catamaran Du Seuil threw in another stinker at a course he's previously gone well at.

Big Bad Bear was all the rage prior to a hurdle race for horses having run no more than once over timber and he belied a touch of greenness to win with something in hand against a decent enough rival in Miah Grace, the pair worth keeping the right side of this winter.

A good handicap hurdle came up next and the progressive top weight Cornerstone Lad defied another rise in the ratings under the excellent B Garritty to see off another super consistent horse in Theatre Legend.

Both looked well, but there were several looking in need of the run and the eye-catcher had to be Dali Mail, who wasn't knocked about once his chance had gone and he should prove well handicapped when the time comes.

The finale saw the return of Bigirononhiship and I thought he looked a million dollars for the in-form Dobbin yard. A big strong horse he looks much better than his current mark but he only got up on the line thanks to the idling of Fingerontheswitch.

It's to be hoped the winner can build on this now granted more of a test of stamina, while it's back to the drawing board for Ard Chros whose jumping went to pieces again once pressure was applied. He's not a bad sort.

Newcastle - November 15

Dry and bright in the main, lots of rain before racing made it on the heavy side but they took things very steadily throughout and that didn't suit some of the more doughty stayers.

The first was a case in point where they went no gallop at all in the 3m handicap hurdle, just modest fare with Mr Love able to rally after looking beaten at the top of the straight to defy good support.

He looked very well beforehand but is possibly not one to rely on entirely and this really was weak stuff, the runner-up Farlam King looking a very moderate specimen indeed but another to uphold the recent hot streak of trainer M Barnes.

Rose Dobbin ran two with Final Fling still looking burly and not the type to relish carrying a welter burden, while outsider Tailspin looks an okay type for the grade and neither runner would have appreciated the stop-start gallop, both doing their best work late on.

The next was another lowly staying handicap, this time over fences and only a couple took the eye, one of which came home in front being Gatacre Street, who I had mentioned in dispatches before and had also been given an optimistic assessment in a recent stable tour.

Tight in the market, the unexposed seven-year-old looked fit enough for this seasonable bow and was always well placed in a race where few took an interest.

The result might have been different had the front running Road Warrior remained with his jockey, a tall light-framed sort having only his second start for Becky Menzies who can gain compensation for his exit two from home.

Speak Of The Devil was the other to go clear in the straight but he looked woefully one-paced, he's a big strong chasing type who probably needs more time to strengthen up.

Cavalry Scout finished well beaten in the end and he only looks moderate, and possibly a little temperamental, although you wouldn't put it past his excellent trainer to find a little race for him.

Phil Kirby was quite keen on Desaray Girl when I visited Green Oaks but I wasn't expecting the filly to be hot to trot first time over timber...but having been nibbled at in the market made almost every yard of the running to win a mares hurdle that fell apart.

Well backed favourite Ellarna looked really fit and well but ran no sort of race and may not have acted on the ground, while another nice looking filly in Chanting Hill failed to back up her recent effort and she too may be worth another chance on sounder terrain.

Elk Bridge should win a race or two in time, plenty of size and scope but her jumping was very novicey and she should do better than this.

Charlie Snow Angel doesn't win very often but he goes well here and had a huge pull in the weights with Casual Cavalier in the next, and after a solid effort last week came good with the market calling it spot on.

Skipping On and Flaming Charmer looked straight enough to do themselves justice but after dictating a modest pace faded away in the straight and market weakness seemed to speak for their chances.

The market was really strong for Royal Claret in the mares staying handicap chase but I wasn't convinced, this track takes a bit of jumping and she came in very inexperienced with only one start over the black ones.

By contrast, Sheneededtherun has been round the block a few times and her sound jumping and stamina was sure to see her go close, with her jockey's claim meaning she was receiving an awful lot of weight.

Again they pottered round, with C Todd always in the right place on our heroine, moving away smartly going to the last to settle matters. Angels Antics is a big gawky mare but was really fit and did well to get second despite another shoddy round of jumping.

Royal Claret will have other chances, she seemed to jump okay in the main but this did not test her deep reserves of stamina one bit, while Kitty Fisher didn't look straight after an absence and may improve a little on this.

Simply The Betts is a horse I've had a minor obsession about and is as nice a horse as you'd wish to see, easily accounting for a couple of rivals in a novices handicap chase with chief opponent The King Of May running flat.

I can see the winner taking much higher rank down south this season - he didn't seem right at all last term - with the Close Brothers handicap at the Festival an obvious target.

The bumper was a fascinating affair as although the market was pretty well-formed it didn't look right to me as the Dobbin-trained Trooper Turnbull looked hugely over-priced in light of a really sound effort here last term when looking big and backward.

He was much fitter and stronger this time and frankly looked the one to beat, in the end finding Tom Lacey's Unohu just too good on the run to the line having looked green when coming under pressure.

It felt like one had slipped through the net with the two favourites beaten, Wetlands not really taking the eye being quite compact and carrying plenty of condition, while Jeremy Pass is a lovely big chasing type probably lacking the spark to win a bumper.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Carlisle November 11

First blog of the month after being consigned to the 'disabled list' however it looks like we're back in the game after a little trip to blustery Cumbria.

The opening maiden hurdle saw many punters give another chance to the lightly raced eight-year-old Baracalu who looked fit and raring to go after another lengthy break.

Things were looking good into the dip but he found nothing up the hill and I wouldn't put this defeat down to a lack of have to know when to fold 'em and he's just downright disappointing.

Second favourite Sunny Express was quite an unfurnished four-year-old on paddock inspection, the type to be better over time, which didn't leave many other options.

With the McCain yard still fairly quiet Gaelik Coast made little appeal as he looked to be carrying some condition and he didn't appear to have come to himself, while Curramore is no looker from a yard that has few winners.

However, the latter was the beneficiary of a patient ride and his stamina and experience was enough on the day, he looks a mudlark but may not have needed to improve to land this.

Of interest in behind were both Claret Dabbler, a decent looking sort that should come on for the run, and Wye Aye, who hasn't been the easiest to handle this autumn but showed the first sign of ability when running on very late. A meagre rating will soon come his way and there's every chance he'll find a race in the course of time.

One of the hopes of the north was back in action in the novices chase and Windsor Avenue did not let supporters down with a scintillating display of jumping and galloping to beat Ballymoy fair and square despite conceding a penalty.

A very attractive looking horse with size and scope, the sky really is the limit for B Ellison and the team. I clocked his lap time from winning post to winning post three seconds quicker than Hell's Kitchen later on the card, having already run half a mile further.

We can all make various different assumptions but this looks like a 155+ type effort and the fact he was still strong at the line augurs well for a potential trip to Cheltenham in the near future.

The mares handicap hurdle was a tight little race in the betting but Amberose was all the rage for a trainer with a phenomenal record in handicap hurdles and the gamble was landed by a narrow margin.

The winner looked fit from an absence but Irish raider Lily's Gem made plenty of appeal having built up a solid portfolio of form and having gone down by just a neck there's a chance the form is quite strong, both finishing with plenty in the tank.

Disappointment of the race was Methodtothemadness although her victory here came on the stiffer track in a race where everything went right for her. By Gold Well, there's every chance she will need much further than the minimum and probably better ground.

As mentioned earlier, the quirky looking Hell's Kitchen landed the Graduation Chase but only after the last fence departure of Midnight Shadow and Djingle, who fell independently.

The former lacks a little bit of scope but has loads of strength and seems to jump perfectly well, however he guessed at the last and paid the price when looking to have the race at his mercy.

Djingle had jumped well but was badly in at the weights and was simply giving best to a superior horse when capsizing. I wasn't that taken by him physically but he's still young and has time to fill out.

Chesterfield looked fit enough and had probably been targeted at the race, he ran to his mark and sets the level of form.

I've more notes about Pookie Pekan than almost any other horse but he's rarely missed by the market and he continued on an upward curve by taking the handicap chase with some ease.

Given a clearer sight at his fences than is sometimes the case, he proved himself a sound enough jumper in bounding clear of Never Up and staying on far too strongly for the rest, in the manner of a horse that should get further.

Last time out winner Le Frank was weak in the betting and was given no sort of ride, allowed to sit well off the pace in the manner of one not really at the races. He continues to frustrate on the whole, rarely putting two races together, with connections seemingly not sure what he ideal conditions are.

That just left a bumper and it was something of a surprise to see the warm favourite One Fine Man short of peak fitness, neither well muscled behind the saddle or tight around the middle.

Jeremy progeny have not yet proved themselves on ground this soft and the race was ripe for a turn up and the Irish raider Arcadian Sunrise provided the ammunition, running right away late on to win decisively.

Quite well made and endowed with stamina, the winner is the type to go well under a penalty and do okay over hurdles in time.

The Smith pair ran well despite looking like chase types for the future, both carrying plenty of condition, although I'd rather mark up their efforts than denigrate the overall form because of that.

Small Present was probably the nicer of the pair in the paddock but he faded late on after trying to mix it with the winner, while Jayaaah came home nicely and he clearly has ability.

Even the third placed Elusive Red looked a fairly decent specimen while Yorvik was a really nice chase type who should step up on this with a more positive ride, and overall I'd view the race quite positively.