Sedgefield - Tuesday September 2008
Keeping an eye on the Northern chasers with the autumn approaching...... Chances are we'll see a few of these in Scotland, or just over the border, in the coming months.
The final fence was omitted in both chases, fact ignored in the Racing Post's on-line results section.
3.35 2m 4f 0-95 Novices' Handicap Chase
On the face of it a lowly event but some fair pieces of form available for the level. I'M YOUR MAN won this nicely. He travelled well all the way, moved up along the back straight and then took it up at the last. He eased clear on the extended run-in. While the performance was sound enough, I do wonder if there's much improvement left since he's a 9 year old. He'll go up a few pounds, but may win again at a similar or slightly higher level (0-105 maybe?).
PERLY SPENCER made a great improvement on his previous effort over fences. He pulled a bit early on and led or disputed for most of the way. He didn't have the pace of the winner after the last, but he has three years advantage, is a dual winner in points and has a bit of scope for improvement. Best form to date has been on good or faster.
GRANITE MAN's jumping was not good. He made mistakes early on and was scrubbed along. He stayed on from the back but looks a rather frustrating type who may not be putting it all in. NGONG HILLS was prominent early, dropped back but plugged on for fourth. While, on the face of it, this form is moderate, he does have some time on his side. Not a huge amount of promise amongst the rest.
FRED BOJANGALS was a one paced fifth and never got into contention. HUGS DESTINY was prominent for a way but weakened after making a hash of the eighth fence. WOODY VALENTINE briefly threatened around the eleventh fence but then faded. PARTICLE was scrubbed along most of the way and made no show. SYCHO FRED and SEEK THE TRUTH didn't really get into the argument, and ALTO STRATUS was always out the back. TOULOUSE EXPRESS was raced wide early, lost touch by the seventh and pulled up at the last having been well behind for half the race.
4.45 3m 3f 0-105 Handicap Chase
The twelfth fence was omitted following CLEAR THE WAY's heavy looking fall on the previous circuit. The horse seemed OK, but the jockey received assistance.
GREAT GRIMSBY make have scope to progress at this lowly level. He's only 6, young for a staying chaser, and saw off this moderate bunch fairly comfortably. He improved after the seventh, was put seriously into the race approaching the fourteenth and, having led three out, outstayed his nearest rival on the long run-in. The rating rise he'll get will allow him another go at this level and I'd expect another win in a similar event this autumn. Worth considering in lower grade Northern staying chase in the coming months.
THUNDER HAWK has progressed nicely from hunter events to handicap chases in recent months. He didn't do much wrong here. Although held by the winner, he raced nicely up with the pace and didn't go down without resistance, proving in the process that he can cope with an extended trip. He'd not been far away in pretty reasonable events at Perth, and I'd say a handicap win is around the corner. It might be interesting if he's taken to Hexham since he has a hunter win under his belt there.
REASONABLY SURE was prominent most of the way but couldn't go with the first two from 3 out. While well held here he's not a lost cause for a handicap win.
SEPTEMBER MOON raced prominently but his jockey was pushing from a long way out. Plugged on for fourth but never seriously threatened at the business end. It could be that a sharper track would be more helpful.
POLAR GALE was never farther up the field than the fifth place he finished in. He had only raced once since last December, so it's likely that the race will have helped, and he has some winning form at a lowly level.
VICENTIO, having only a second chase outing, made a brief effort 4 out but wasn't good enough, fading into sixth. MR TWINS raced prominently for a couple of circuits then called enough. his performances over the past year show precious little promise. TIN HEALY'S PASS has shown ability in the past, but this was a third consecutive effort where he's been beaten a very long way. GRECIAN GROOM jumped abysmally and despite Tony McCoy's sternest efforts just never got his act together, pulling up on the final circuit. Previous form suggests he's better than this.