Thursday 5 March 2020

Catterick, March 4

Dry and frosty overnight, yes the ground was soft but they weren't going too deep and the times suggest it wasn't too bad at all.

The opener was a seller won by 12-year-old Flanagans Field, not a great looking individual but he relished the end-to-end gallop and was well on top at the line.

Interesting that B Ellison claimed the strong Flat bred Tim Rocco, who helped set the rapid early fractions, he looked well but has been regressive of late, perhaps not enjoying the current terrain.

It probably wasn't the worst race of its type, Dahills Hill and Pepper Street not beaten far and looking as though there's a small race in them on better ground.

The race of main interest was the 3m novices chase in which Django Django was an extremely warm order on the back of a cosy victory at Newbury, but he's only just big enough for fences and his jumping didn't stand up around this tighter circuit.

While he plugged on into fourth, it has to go down as deeply disappointing and sights may have to be lowered this spring.

By contrast Stradivarius Davis took a massive step in the other direction despite a huge market drift, possibly on account of him looking a shade burly after an eight-week break.

That first effort over fences had been fully franked by the winner, however Sandy Thomson's inmate was going a further mile here and wasn't certain to get home despite winning his Point.

They didn't go a great gallop, but he appeared to jump and travel very nicely and finished the race well in the style of a decent recruit. He's a good looking horse with plenty of size, and equally adept on a sound surface, he'll be of huge interest at Aintree or Ayr provided the handicapper isn't too harsh.

Coole Hall had every chance, looking fit and well, but not for the first time looked to have plenty of temperament and he is now firmly in the 'quirky' category. Jammin Masters has never made much appeal and once again couldn't go with the principals.

The mares novices hurdle was a typically weak affair, two of them dominating the market and the finish, the decent looking Zoutoise needing the length of the run-in to deny the consistent Ilaya despite getting weight.

The winner probably wants better ground than this and is a speedy type, showing a good attitude in the finish.

Niven was given one more chance to prove himself a well handicapped horse in the handicap chase over 2m and was sensibly waited with on this occasion after being asked to do too much on the front end at Wetherby last month.

With a couple of lengths to find at the last, he picked up well to collar the disappointing Go Long in the closing stages, the runner-up at least giving his running down in grade.

Pull Together ran well considering his absence but he looked pretty straight, and is another with a little to prove when push comes to shove. Las Tunas, a sturdy character, thrives on racing and I'd expect him to improve fitness-wise off a nine-week break.

My Renaissance didn't go without promise and may yet have another race in him when the ground dries out.

Bet of the day was Skipthescales in the staying handicap hurdle, down in grade for his new yard and guaranteed to see his race out. It's amazing he won over fences because he's doesn't have much size about him, and he turned in a fine effort only to be pipped on the line.

Strike West doesn't win very often, but was coaxed into it and was in front when it mattered, whether he can repeat it is a moot point. Third home Scottish Accent is a decent prospect, noted travelling well before hitting a flat spot and running on again at the death...he'll know more next time and looks a thorough stayer.

Wishing And Hoping looked in a different league fitness-wise ahead of the hunter chase, 4/5 was freely available which was like printing money.

The bumper was very interesting because the two market leaders gave very different vibes beforehand, the enthusiastic and likeable mare Anythingforlove much the best of them and with winning form in the book.

By contrast Frascato Bello is very much on the forehand, with a shouldery walk and very strong behind, what's more he was very laboured and green to post.

And they performed as expected, Anythingforlove showing a really nice attitude to fend off Foster'sisland, who has a decent portfolio of efforts to his name, with the rest well beaten off.

Pennine Cross has been a keen sort but shaped like a stayer, running on into third, while Bring The Bacon and Teescomponentsyess will be alright in the fullness of time.

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