They weren’t kicking much up on day one of the Charlie Hall meeting and they went pretty steady in most of the races, so a lot of it may be untrustworthy form as we head into the most competitive period of the season.
I mentioned Pileup after his opening run at Hexham and he showed a bit more here having tightened up a fair amount in three weeks, this was a very different affair to that previous race. However, while the steady gallop allowed him to hold a position it wouldn’t have suited him entirely, as he was outpaced when the race began in earnest before staying on again at the death.
This sort of trip will suit for now and he’ll surely handle softer, so he’s one to stay with although please keep in mind this is modest stuff and he’s no world beater. Piaff Bubbles was again warm in the market but once more he failed to impress beforehand, he’s just leggy and unfurnished and needs more time. At some point, probably when his legion of fans have moved on, he’ll come into his own.
I was most impressed with the stature of Loughderg Rocco in the three runner-up novice chase and a glance my notes on him from some time ago tell me that he’s ‘the type to come alive over fences’. He trounced Tim Pat in an Irish Point and that one is now rated 127, so I'm pretty certain this effort was no fluke - what’s more he’ll come on plenty for it. It’ll be really interesting how high they aim with him as while he’ll be a gimme wherever he goes next, and I’d venture to suggest he’s graded class when the emphasis is on stamina.
One of the highlights of the autumn has been the terrific form of the Nicky Richards stable following a quiet enough couple of years by his standards. Parisencore was well backed despite looking a shade burly and looks the type to keep one step ahead of the assessor for now.
Chief market rival Name In Lights is wasting time until sent over fences and it’s to be hoped that is now the route they will take with him. He was keen enough here and he takes too much time over the timbers -he has the make and shape of a horse much better than his current mark. Osprey Call isn’t a chaser on looks and he will come on for what looked like a sighter. He’s not been campaigned very well to date – hopefully his decent handler can put that right this winter.
There seems to be a fixation with Coconut Splash, who is proving one of the most expensive horses to follow in this sphere. Again he was made favourite to land a decent prize but simply does not pick up off the bridle and again had to settle for minors. There didn’t appear to be any fitness issue here and he’s not one to be making excuses for.
It was great to see the burgeoning Mark Walford yard land a big pot with the hugely progressive Into Overdive, who has the size and scope to keep improving this winter. Walford’s horses have been shaping nicely despite looking burly in recent weeks but this one looked tuned to the minute for his biggest assignment yet and he passed with flying colours despite giving backers a huge scare at the last.
He won this with any amount in hand and while most of the opposition looked handicapped to the hilt it’s hard not to think he’ll be competitive in better races, especially over 3m.
The novices hurdle may not amount to a great deal form-wise as they looked green enough behind the front pair, Ukantango doing enough to defy a penalty with an assist from Royal Mogul, who looks a shirker. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I felt he put the brakes on after the final flight although he may have just got tired. Don Hollow, who wore him down here in a bumper, has plenty of ability but it might take another run or two to get him where he should be, looking very novicey throughout.