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.


  1. Thanks again Adam. May I ask, what did you make of Lisnagar Oscar (lacked scope(?) for fences/early to give up?) and UMBRIGADO? I took my 86 year old uncle and Saturday and he was purring about Lostintranslation (the Old Vic Kicking King he talked about). Much appreciated as always. Kind regards Chris

  2. Thanks Chris. I liked Umbrigado but he will come on for the run. I thought Lisnagar Oscar was very forward last year and I don't expect him to be much better than he is now, either over hurdles or fences.

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