CATTERICK – Wednesday 16th December
Going- Good To Soft
One circumstance that was always going to give me a problem with this ‘project’ was lack of replays for a meeting I didn’t attend. Sadly this came to pass with the pre-Christmas Catterick meeting. For this reason the three races at the meeting are solely covered by an interpretation of the race result and comments. While this seems straightforward, I have noticed that my interpretation of races doesn’t always match up with the form book comment writer. However...
1:00 2m 3f Class 5 Maiden Chase
A maiden chase big on numbers but distinctly lacking in quality, and the feeling is that with many of these desperation has begun to set in.
NORTH ISLAND had better credentials than most coming into this race have won a number of points earlier in the year. He stepped up on a promising effort at Leicester to win this. He should progress from this and a step up in trip again should prove no problem.
PROFESSOR HIGGINS gave the winner something to think about, and was well clear of the remainder. A sound start to his chasing career, but being from the Johnson stable his price is likely to be on the tight side.
FINE PARCHMENT ran pretty much to his Musselburgh form, being left behind from 3 out. At the weights he was likely to find one or two too good here and has more chance in handicaps.
SOMETHING GOLD plugged on for fourth, and will be helped by a step up in trip. Another best aimed at novice handicaps.
NAVAL ATTACHE rated 64 looked a forlorn hope here, but this was the closest he has been at the finish over jumps, for what that’s worth.
On official ratings NILE MOON should have got closer here than 55 lengths behind. He was placed in a novice hunter here over 3m 1.5f last season. That distance is probably more suitable but there was precious little promise to take from this race.
FENCOTE MYSTERY looks no more promising over fences than he did hurdling.
APSARA has been beaten a long way in recent jumping efforts.
THE GINGER MAN has shown only a glimmer of ability over fences since moving from Ireland, but tailed off here was a pathetic effort. If there was an excuse it would have to be a major one.
SPEED UP was getting into the race when falling at the twelfth. Assuming he’s one the worse he has shown promise. He was apparently handling the good to soft going here, but wouldn’t want it any softer.
DOUBLE PAST is rated only 57 and performed like it. He made mistakes in behind and pulled up 3 out.
LA PANTERA ROSA has shown a glimmer in bumpers and hurdles but was struggling when hampered and unseating at the twelfth.
2.00 3m 1.5f 0-120 Handicap Chase
GIDAM GIDAM has slipped steadily down the handicap since being hammered for his novice form. He saw off a bunch of mainly out of form opponents here. He did the job well enough now and the step up in trip at Market Rasen on Boxing Day will be a help to him.
STONERIGGS MERC is being raced regularly and maybe starting to find his form again. He was going well enough three out but seen off by a better handicapped opponent. It would be no surprise to see him out again at Musselburgh for the New Year Sprint meeting. He was just pipped in the three-miler there last year.
TOP CLOUD was left behind between the last two. He might be worth a go at Sedgefield since he’s 112 in three runs around there.
TRISON’S STAR performed a little better here blinkered for the first time. He was held up the straight, but s maybe running into form. He might be worth an interest if taken to Newcastle where he has recorded his last three wins.
CRACKADEE never got competitive and has been disappointing in two efforts this year. He got loaded with weight for a couple of wins at Newcastle and Kelso last season and is paying for those successes. Note that he seems happier on those two courses.
LAERTES has been well off his game this season and was well behind.
PAMS OAK has two ways of running and it wasn’t a going day.
BASODA was going well when falling at the fourteenth. He clearly has ability but the fences have proved his downfall in three chasing efforts.
NEVADA RED showed up early but dropped away after a tenth fence blunder. He generally needs a couple of races before hitting form so may do better next time.
BENNY THE PILER was struggling early and pulled up.
PRINCE OF SLANE was unlucky as he was well involved when badly hampered by Basoda at the fourteenth and his rider unseated. His current form figures look nothing to shout about, but he goes well at Catterick and has dropped to an attractive mark.
3.00 2m 0-105 Handicap Chase
MORE LIKE IT stayed on well to win this and the penny seems to be dropping over fences. He can progress.
FRITH ran another decent race over fences and will continue to challenge in this company.
I’M YOUR MAN might just have benefited from a 6-week break. He had been on the go over the summer and the pause since early November probably freshened him. He’s slipped down to a feasible mark and might pick up another minor event given decent ground.
SOUND OF CHEERS stayed on late. He won a seller at Kelso in May and the lowest level is where he needs to be, and a longer trip would help.
RED DAWN ran a respectable race but is a serial loser.
OSO MAGIC showed up for a way but isn’t threatening despite a significant drop in the ratings.
ITALIANO had a chance to two out but fell away and a win does not look imminent.
PAUNTLEY GOFA tends to be sent out often and covers some road mileage. He didn’t show here, but all his placed form has been on right-handed tracks, bar one third at figure 8 Fontwell. Given the right track there’s just a chance he might pop up at a fancy price.
TRAFALGAR MAN ejected his pilot at the second.
BANGOR-ON-DEE – Wednesday December 17th
1.10 3m 6f 0-120 Handicap Chase
Off the patch I’m covering, but a few familiar faces from the staying circuit appeared here and are liable to show up in the North.
BANNISTER LANE stays all day and the next, and led from start to finish here. He was suited by the front running tactics and nothing got to him. An extended trip is a must, and soft or heavy ground slows the rest down for him.
HIDDEN BOUNTY ran another decent race in third staying on from the rear. He proved there is still plenty of life left as he approaches 13 years old and it would be no surprise if Keith Reveley finds a minor staying event for him this season. He handles soft ground though has been placed in heavy.
MOUSTIQUE DE L’ISLE was made 6/1 on the basis of his victory in a virtual three-horse race at Carlisle (three competitive + four passengers). It was unlikely he was going to make an impact in a more competitive race. The fact that he’s moved above 100 in the ratings doesn’t help, so his trainer would have to look for a 0-110 or 0-105.
WAKING NED finds this company much tougher than the hunter company he was in last year. He may be worth a try back in long distance staying hurdles, particularly over the maximum trip at Sedgefield.
HEROS COLLONGES pulled up, but has at least shown a little more zest recently. He had no chance in this class and needs a much easier race.
NEWCASTLE – Saturday 20th December
12.40 2m 110yds 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase
MORE LIKE IT carried a 7lb penalty from his Catterick win here. He was left in the lead when Carrietau all but came down at the last and just held two challengers. It may be the race came a bit soon, but it’s that the 7lbs anchored him a little. He may go up two or three pounds on top of that which will make things tough.
SHELOMOH is progressing at a lowly level and this was the closest he had got. Probably third best on merit, but he rallied well on the flat and this was a sound effort.
FOLIE A DEUX seemingly a shade under-priced at 5/4 despite two decent runs, kept on from the last. The close finish suggests he’s pretty much on his mark right now.
CARRIETAU may well have snatched this, but he all but came down at the last and was allowed to coast home for fourth. This was his best effort over fences and he should find a handicap.
WATCH THE WIND jumped poorly but did plug on having been detached at halfway. There’s probably a small race in him, but he needs to sharpen his act up.
LUSENTO found it tough in the last six furlongs.
WHISPERING MOOR jumped abysmally at the back. Even his place over fences was last of 3 so there is precious little encouragement.
2.20 3m Class 3 Novices’ Chase
This was a nice opportunity for ACCORDING TO PETE who made all jumping well and beat the only other finisher with plenty in hand. He will presumably be moved up to a tougher assignment next time.
MILL SIDE matched the winner to 4 out but couldn’t go with him in the straight. He won’t always catch one as tough as this and should pick up a second novice event.
MAT HILL was staying on and threatening to challenge Mill Side when coming down three out. He wouldn’t be without a hope in a maiden chase.
BARNEYS LYRIC tried to go with the leaders early but was soon toiling and pulled up at the tenth.
HERALDRY was never in touch and pulled up 4 out.
TREEHOUSE was settled in the rear, and when only just clambering over five out his jockey wisely called it a day.
3.25 2m 4f 0-135 Northumberland Handicap Chase
Theoretically a 0-150, but the top rated was on 135.
AKILAK was brought through with immaculate timing by Denis O’Regan to get his head in front at the last. Since he needs holding up, a decent pace suits him.
KILCREA ASLA has plenty of seconds in his form, but couldn’t be used of any wrong-doing here, staying on for second and not quite good enough against the winner. This was a sound performance in a competitive event and his winning turn seems only delayed.
NIRVANA SWING came back to form here, running a fine race from the front. His chance only went when he hit the last. He hit form from this point onward last term.
MONTGERMONT put in a good effort off top-weight over a trip which seems a little on the sharp side for him now. His two runs to date this season suggests he retains his ability after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
EDMO YEWKAY ran a sound race, but may just need to be eased in the weights.
FIRST LOOK had every chance until two out when it got a little too tough. He shows his best from at Ayr and his 129 mark just gives enough leeway for his placing there.
LE ROI ROUGE didn’t get seriously competitive. He seems better carrying top weight round minor tracks and, as with a few, Sedgefield figures prominently in his best form record.
OPEN DE L’ISLE seems a little bit higher in the handicap than ideal right now. This was too competitive for him.
MONTEVIDEO and TOUS CHEZ struggled most of the way.
JUST FOR MEN did nothing to justify favouritism. Conditions suited so maybe it came a little soon after his Wetherby race two weeks ago.
OSCAR HONEY was struggling very early on and hasn’t sparkled in two chases since moving from Ireland.
HAYDOCK – Saturday December 20th
Going – Soft
KALAHARI KING was comfortably held by DOCTOR DAVID in the novices’ chase and it would be reasonable to assume he needs better ground. It would seem likely that Caroline Bailey has a decent young chase prospect on her hands in DOCTOR DAVID who was a 130 rated hurdler.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT has proved himself a determined character in staying chases this season and saw off ATOUCHBETWEENCARA and CAN’T BUY TIME in a battle royal. This was 0-140 and he should pick up another chase in current form.
Of the Scottish runners, WILD CANE RIDGE looks a few pounds too high and TWELVE PACES, who can be in-and-out, found the competition too tough.