Wednesday 15 January 2020

Doncaster - January 14

A sparse crowd, dreadful weather and modest racing - what's not to like?! Steady if light rain and strong winds made conditions harder than the good to soft, soft in places they declared on.

There were a few interesting ones in a modest opening contest among whom Jobsonfire came in for significant support following three runs over shorter earlier in the season.

Well prepared for this handicap debut by trainer Sam Allwood, responsible this season for both Sheneededtherun and Out On The Tear, the February Point winner proved himself well handicapped and handled the softening conditions to get us off to a flier.

The other steamer was Evenstevens, but he made less appeal physically lacking any size and scope, but he battled away to take a clear second and those responsible for the support will rue bumping into an even better handicapped rival.

Sultans Pride wasn't without his backers and looked in good order after a lengthy absence, staying on at one pace into third in the manner of a strong stayer. If retaining his bumper ability, one of these should come his way from a low mark.

Jessica Rabbit once again showed ability but didn't get home in the conditions, a comment applying to plenty.

The second was a weak looking novices hurdle although there didn't look a great deal between them on paddock inspection with the very hot favourite Craigneiche not making much of a lasting impression.

Unfortunately there was nothing that could match him form-wise, and with chief rival Meyer Lansky struggling to find his feet in the soft ground in the inside of the track, the jolly came home in front despite a number of clumsy errors.

He'll be found out in higher company or indeed in this type of contest under a penalty, staying on to beat outsiders Ulverston and Jaytee, who both displayed plenty of ability to match their frames beforehand.

Eyeofthescorpion was one of the nicer types and he made an eye-catching racecourse debut for a trainer whose horses are going well without winning, ridden very much with the future in mind.

Cubao looked a little weak after an absence and faded tamely in the straight.

Race three was the feature novices chase with the full eight lining up, and it was a wide open betting heat with the Henderson-trained Caribean Boy weak in the market after a lengthy absence.

The grey looked a ponderous beast in the prelims, a sturdy sort that looked sure to come on for the run, and with Cotswold Way looking sure to struggle on the rain-softened ground there was plenty of value elsewhere.

Garrettstown again looked the part, and in very good order, but a sharp drift late on was a portent for a lacklustre effort and he returned lame. He's too nice a horse to give up on just yet.

The others of interest were the previously highly tried Nestor Park and The Big Bite, neither of whom had shaped with much promise last time but had far too much form over hurdles to be dismissed.

The money came quite strongly for the latter and he looked much more at home on this left-handed track, despite a few novicey mistakes he still had the engine to power home unchallenged.

He was chased home in the end by Senior Citizen who wouldn't have the size of some others but should find handicaps to his liking, coming into this with a bit to find on the figures.

Nestor Park went sharply left at times but he'd be of interest over 3m while Stay Humble lacked in size although might pick up weaker races in the north.

Another novices hurdle followed and it featured a vulnerable looking jolly in Perfect Predator, who blew a good chance last time with a poor jump at the last and his lack of size and scope is always going to hold him back.

The worsening ground would not have been in his favour but it looked a race of some depth not withstanding the likelihood of there being only a couple of triers.

As the weather closed in it was very hard to catch a glimpse of some of the runners, eventual winner Global Society being one although he looked quite a robust individual.

In the end he had the race sewn up a long way from home as the favourite was never travelling, although this would only be middling form.

Having taken a financial interest in Ask Henry it was interesting to see his jockey sit motionless as the race developed around him, spotting the leaders many lengths after taking the third last.

Whether or not by design this was another encouraging run and it was taking the way he made up ground between the final two flights. Another half mile will be right up his street and if he gets a mark he'll be worth looking out for in the coming weeks.

Le Grand Fromage was held together for much of the trip and he's another likely to build on this following a wind op, having plenty of scope, while the well-related mare Inawhilecrocodile should benefit from an educational run and she was noted staying on stoutly from the final flight.

Just four went to post for the staying chase with none holding solid claims, the market finding it hard to split them. One thing for certain was that Nesterenko wouldn't get home in the conditions, but that still left three.

Stockburn is quirky enough and probably wants better ground, and he was soon on the back foot, the paddock pick was undoubtedly Financial Outcome but the yard has been very quiet and he had been very disappointing in previous efforts. The race took very little winning, as he was the only one that kept jumping and galloping.

Runner-up Ballymagroarty Boy is barely big enough to jump fences and it all looked too much of an effort. He stays well and acts on the ground but he's wasting his time over the larger obstacles.

Theflickeringlight was a warm order in the closing handicap hurdle but the market reminded my of the race at Wetherby at the weekend when Big Bad Bear was sent sent off a hot favourite.

They are handicaps for a reason and the mare has been having a busy time of things, while the race represented another step up with several having genuine claims.

Eventual winner Hawthorn Cottage still has some strengthening to do but she ran well in a fast-run novices hurdle over Christmas and was given another bold ride by her inexperienced jockey, and despite running on the slower part of the track had enough in reserve to fend off Amberose, whose partner may rue not sending her after the leader sooner.

Storm Goddess looked really well for a trainer whose horses are in good form but she wants much better ground than this, as does Eyes Right who was also too keen, but it was a solid enough run from the likeable Legalized and she can pick up a much weaker race than this in due course. 


  1. Good read as always Adam.

    Fully agree with Ask Henry - mind the horse could do with some improvement in it's hurdling technique

  2. Poor piece of judgement on Craigneiche: ''will be found out in higher company or under a penalty in a novice'. Classy horse lands valuable Ascot handicap hurdle at 14-1! Newbury run behind on hurdles bow the key to his ability.

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