These are my paddock notes from the meeting at Aintree last month, one of several I was able to attend in October.
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A typically informative novice hurdle opened the card and all eyes were on expensive purchase Killer Kane, trained by Colin Tizzard who has had a quiet month thus far.
The son of Oscar is, as expected, a good looking horse and a really sweet mover at the walk, but he looked in need of the run and so it was very encouraging to see him perform so well, jumping cleanly and only running out of steam halfway up the run-in.
It’s not an easy race to weigh up though, the experienced duo Torn And Frayed and Danny Kirwan are likely to have performed below their official marks, the latter looking harshly treated on 139 going into this.
A big sort that required two handlers, I thought Danny Kirwan looked pretty straight for this reappearance and he’s probably going to struggle to live up to hopes, backing out of things from the last. Surely he’s ready for a switch to fences, but based on this his rating is far too high.
Real Stone wasn’t expected to win this and the outsider is a tall, unfurnished individual who wouldn’t be a likely top-notcher on breeding. He did nothing wrong, but does hold down the level of the form at this stage.
Torn And Frayed is probably a three miler now but he looked pretty straight and he folded tamely, his trainer not banging in the winners as he can at this time of year.
Butte Montana was made favourite for a Cheltenham bumper 12 months ago but was a big flop here after a market drift, his jumping novicey throughout after looking to need the run beforehand.
For Nuts Well to give weight all round in the Old Roan is a fantastic feat for such a small yard, however this career-best at the 38th time of asking under rules does put the quality of the race under a spotlight.
With so many in with a chance three from home, it was clear they didn’t go much of a pace on ground that was generally considered to be more good to soft than soft, and that may not have suited several in behind.
Certainly not Oldgrangewood, who revels in coming late off a fast pace and he got there far too soon this time, while Clondaw Castle looked to have been delivered with a perfectly timed challenge only to find the winner too strong.
The winner’s superior fitness may have been the difference in the final analysis, and it is the runner-up who makes most appeal going forward, this being only his third outing at the trip.
A nice tall horse with scope who generally jumps and travels well, he should have all the big handicaps in his sights now and may yet develop into a Ryanair type.
Itchy Feet was all the rage on the back of some hot novice form but he’s light on experience and I was disappointed with his lack of physical scope beforehand. A stronger pace would have suited, and maybe a step up in trip will help with his jumping, as I sense he’ll always struggle when it matters most. Perhaps the race didn’t pan out for him and he’ll prove me wrong.
This was Annie Mc’s first go in a handicap over fences and she could be a touch high in the weights for all that she shaped with promise over a trip that now looks on the sharp side. She is a very accurate jumper and a quality mare that should have another productive season.
The staying handicap chase usually throws up a number of future winners and this year’s renewal is likely to be no different, although in truth there weren’t many beforehand that appealed from a betting viewpoint.
Eventual winner Acey Milan had had a disappointing second season over timber, looking pretty one-paced and using headgear, but after a second wind op this real chasing type came home strong enough to get back to winning ways.
They finished in a bit of a heap again, with Ofalltheginjoints threatening to go and win easily only to run out of puff between the final two fences. A big robust chaser, he was carrying more condition than most and I thought his effort was a fine one, jumping notably cleanly throughout.
Rapper is quite nice looking individual who looks capable of better, although he looked pretty straight beforehand and didn’t seem as well handicapped as some, he can improve in the jumping department and is expected to build on this opening effort.
Diomede Des Mottes was popular in the market and looked an absolute picture, but made numerous errors and never landed a blow. Perhaps something was amiss, but he has a chequered profile and is probably one to be wary of.
Jammy George looked as though he’d come on for the run, but he wasn’t as big as some of the others and his jumping remains a concern, plus he’s pretty one paced.
The 2m4f handicap hurdle was taking by Paisley Park a couple of years back but there was nothing of that calibre on show this time. However, the couple with least exposure came nicely to the fore and will remain of interest going forward.
Jacamar hasn’t had a great deal of fortune this season, shying away from the tapes and forfeiting ground on his latest start, but this big scopey individual looked on great terms with himself and it came as little surprise to see him in the mix after encountering solid support in the ‘ring’.
I thought he won with quite a bit in hand and getting the better of Strong Glance may be no mean feat in retrospect.
Another chasing type, Strong Glance hasn’t been straight forward from the very start of his career but has shown flashes of ability that suggest he’s going to be more of a 140+ type.
Travelling so well in behind runners, he could have done with a much truer gallop and although produced with a timely challenge he probably didn’t run his most efficient race.
If Olly Murphy can channel his ability I’m sure there’s a decent race in Strong Glance this season, maybe over fences which has been mooted, while he could probably deal with a drop in trip provided they go a good gallop.
Point Of Principle has twice run well from this sort of mark and is a pretty solid performer at this level, needing this badly if the paddock was anything to go by and is one to keep an eye on next time.
Those with previous form, either in bumpers or Points, didn’t look that strong ahead of the closing bumper and sure enough it was the unraced Elle Est Belle who came through to win as she pleased under a motionless H Skelton.
The Fame And Glory filly caught the eye with her size and frame, like the stable’s winner in the opener looking rather unfurnished and on the weak side physically.
Given the Listed prizes available to her sex it would be very surprising if she isn’t kept to bumpers this season, as she should make up into a lovely jumper in time.
Drumlee Getaway was very light framed and leggy, Feralkat by contrast big and slow. The bare form may not be anything special, but it was hard not to be impressed by the winner.