Going – Soft
Fine weather for this popular Christmas meeting in County Durham.
The fence at top of the hill was omitted in all chases.
1.15 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase
AURORAS ENCORE was much more suited to gentler test at Sedgefield than a slog in the mud at Carlisle. He raced prominently, joined the leader two out and kept on well. This is much more like it and, as long as he avoids another ‘mud fest’ at the likes of Carlisle, he should show chasing form more reflecting his ability.
OSOLOMIO had a very promising introduction to chasing. He was held up in touch with the leaders, led three out but then passed by a better opponent before the last. He lost nothing in defeat here and looks likely to take a similar event.
LEAC AN SCAIL stayed on but never quite got to the leaders at the business end. He was rated 123 over hurdles so performed up to his form on chasing debut, and is another who should pick up a chase soon.
I thought that this may be a good opportunity for JASS, but looking at the hurdle ratings of the first three against his own chase rating of 112 then he probably had a stiff task on his hands. He struggled from the seventh but plugged on for fourth. Handicaps seem his best chance since he runs into one or two too good for him in these events.
OUR JIM was never dangerous and well held, but that’s no surprise given a hurdles rating below those in front of him.
MASTER BUILDER went well until left behind from 3 out. He jumped well enough and may be suited by a longer trip.
ASTON LAD trundled round in the rear.
PASS THE CLASS went well up with the pace early, but gave way from the ninth. His jumping had gone to pot in most recent chasing efforts, and this may prove to be a confidence booster. He has ability and may pick up a novice handicap chase.
STORYMAKER was going well enough but thumped the ninth which stopped him in his tracks and he was pulled up.
GLENCAP, an Irish pointing winner, was receiving reminders by the eighth and quickly faded, pulling up by the eleventh. He has yet to show much under Rules.
SACRED MOUNTAIN was once again found wanting out of hunter company. He hit the tenth when feeling the pinch and was quickly pulled up. He is qualified for handicaps which would give him a little more hope.
2.20 3m 3f 0-95 Handicap Chase
Only an ordinary event, but the winner looks progressive and those immediately behind will have chances.
SMART THINKER ran with promise at Uttoxeter and built on that over a longer trip here. He was sitting just off the lead 4 out and was sent on before the last. He was made to work by a tenacious runner-up, but held on well. He raced here off a mark of 69 which surely gives room for manoeuvre regarding future placement and I’d be very surprised if he didn’t follow up.
JETHRO TULL was eased back to the game early this season, but is now getting involved regularly. He was just pipped again, but lost nothing in defeat and deserves to pick up a minor handicap chase.
SCOTT’S MILL progressed from the rear, threatened for a while but never got to the front two. Whether he will come on for the run is debatable since the smith runners have generally been ready first time, but he at least showed some ability is there. He has time on his side.
SHULMIN has a very good record round here but on this occasion never got to the leaders. She plugged on for fourth but she’s now off a mark of 90, 7lbs higher than here previous winning mark.
TOMILLIELOU set a good pace to three out, but gave way once turned for home. He is gradually returning to form.
FLEMEN LOON flattered for a while three out but then faded. He’s not been over-raced for a 9 year old and may show a little more.
GARLETON was never in contention. Evidence suggests he needs a stiffer track to slow the others down to his pace.
HAS SCORED raced prominently for the first three-quarters of the race, but faded and pulled up. Coming off a break the race may bring him on and he is better than this form.
LUCIUS RUFO pulled up here and has struggled in three chase outings to date.
PANAMA AT ONCE provided some entertainment for the crowd if not making a mark in the race. He hit the fence in front of the stands and his saddle slipped, putting Oliver Williams around the horse’s neck. Williams clung on as the horse continued but gradually slowed. Panama At Once had slowed to a walk by the time Williams lost his battle against gravity by the winning post. The gelding is still 9lbs higher than when winning a moderate handicap at Hexham in April 2007 and needs a significant drop in the weights to be competitive.
2.55 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE is consistent if handicapped to his mark, and took advantage of a good opportunity here against some out of form opponents. Having looked one paced three out he stayed on in the straight. He’ll go up a few pounds and that won’t help him in future.
STAGECOACH AMBER set a good pace and still looked the winner two out, but was headed before the last and couldn’t summon an extra effort. This was a sound run and he may pick up a small handicap.
BOB’S DREAM raced prominently but couldn’t muster the effort needed from two out. He put up in decent effort in stiff company at Kelso on his chasing debut. This effort suggests he’s going the right way and a handicap chase should fall his way before long.
RED DAWN has now had 32 goes without a win, and ran to par here, leading for a way but offering nothing in the latter stages.
DE BOITRON showed a little more than on his previous two starts for the stable. He chased the leaders from 4 out but weakened from 2 out. He’s gradually getting the hang of the British jumping circuit and may well offer better in time.
GRAND MANNER was always behind here. His two wins have been on fast ground. A trip to Musselburgh may help as it’s the one place he might get his ground at this time of year.
BRIGHT SPARKY never showed and hasn’t demonstrated any great form in his last few outings.
ANDY ANSHAN was in the rear and getting reminders early. He had previously only run on good ground and is another who may not have been favoured by the surface here.
MALT DE VERGY made no show on his debut for his new stable.
Maybe it was the effect of the Yuletide festivities but the most surprising event here was the fact that the unreliable MISTER JUNGLE was made 3/1 favourite. He has ability on his day, but spends many runs moping around at the back. He never got competitive here and pulled up. He was galvanised by a visor at Musselburgh last December, but a move to a new stable doesn’t seem to put any life into him. He may summon up some decent form, but I’d not want to back him at single figure odds.