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.

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