Monday, 16 March 2009

Northern Chasing in Cheltenham Week

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday March 10th

Going – Good (Good To Soft back straight)

With Cheltenham taking most of the attention the Northern circuit continued in low key mode. The going here was bordering on good all round after a dry spell. Despite that the apparent area ‘requirement’ to miss a fence continued, with the second in the back straight being missed out.

2.20 2m 4f Class 4 Maiden Chase

This was a weak event, and NAVAL ATTACHE rated only 70 and recording a first win at 25 attempts won it fairly comfortably. A step up in trip seemed to help and he wasn’t stopping at the finish. His future prospects depend on how the handicapper treats this race since he’s only a lowly performer in that sphere.
QUINCY DES PICTONS made a satisfactory debut, having been recruited from French provincial racing mainly in their equivalent of bumpers. He challenged two out but was held. He needs to move forward from this, but it was a sound start.
EASBY MANDARIN should have won this on official figures, and looked the winner having led to three out. He went out like a light two out which isn’t encouraging.
PADDYMcGINTYSGOAT is basically slow and was left behind from the fourth last.
SCUZME jumped poorly on his chasing debut.
TURBULENT FLIGHT is very slow.
CUCCINELLO has yet to even place in 22 attempts.
PRESENT EDWARD looked totally clueless and after a succession of poor jumps pulled up after the fifth.

4.15 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Chase

STAGECOACH AMBER led his field a merry dance here, jumping well and having his rivals burnt off by two out. His problem will be that his rating will no doubt be bumped up near to 120, and this class is basically his level so life could be difficult from now on.
TARABALOO stayed on for second and with fewer miles on the clock is probably the one to take out of this race. His hurdle win came on fast ground and, boasting three places in four chasing attempts, he looks one to keep on the right side over the coming months.
CYBORA is consistent, but up to a rating of 100 now and that may find him held. He chased from three out but couldn’t get to the winner.
SANDS RISING kept on for fourth having been well back early on. He seems to run honestly enough but the years are catching up.
CARRIETAU didn’t benefit noticeably from a step up in trip.
SOUND OF CHEERS never got into the race and struggles in anything but the lowest handicap class.
DAY OF CLAIES was returning after the best part of two years off. He never got into the race, but the outing will no doubt do him some good, though it remains to be seen how much ability is retained.
WHATCANYOUSAY won the race last year, but retreated quickly from three out. This was too bad to be true.
TEVIOT LASS decanted her rider at the eighth. She probably has ability enough to win a small race but sometimes clumsy jumping holds her back.
THE HEDGE travelled from Northern Ireland but made no impact and pulled up. That’s 26 runs without a win now.

4.55 2m 4f Hunters’ Chase

This looked a poor event, but well done to his one horse trainer Miss Morgan-Murphy for revitalising NOUVEAU MAIRE. Twice a winner in France, he had lost his way totally in recent runs there, but was produced to win comfortably here. His only previous attempt in Britain had been off 120 in a Cheltenham handicap but this seems more his level.
WITNESS RUN is currently rated 105, though it’s doubtful this form reached that level. He had every chance but couldn’t make an impression on the winner. The shorter trip may well suit better than three miles in points and he may have a chance in a similarly weak event.
YANN’S is a thirteen year old whose ability is on the wane. He just plugged on from three out.
BENNY BOY got closer here than on previous attempts under Rules, staying on late for fourth. The impression is that a longer trip will not be a problem.
SIMPLY SMASHING jumped poorly in the rear early, but picked off a few late on.
HASPER offered only one pace from two out.
PARADISE BAY ran some decent races last spring and may benefit from the sun on his back, but dropped away from four out here.
JUPITER’S FANCY had a decent season last year but needed the race on this occasion.
WINDY HILLS, made favourite, had every chance three out but faded quickly. His NH form from two years back is much that this suggests.
EMERALD DESTINY raced up with the pace early but weakened quickly from the tenth.
INCAS finished last and it could be that the years are catching up.

HEXHAM – Wednesday March 12th

Going – Soft

This is one of the ‘cult’ days for followers of Northern jump racing with the annual running of the ‘Hexham four-miler’. Thus do the likes of ‘yours truly’ get their excitement.

As has been the case all season, the fence at the top of the hill was out of action. ‘Area requirement’ satisfied!

2.20 2m ½ f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

SA SUFFIT was balloted out of his intended race at Cheltenham but found a straightforward consolation prize, seeing off his only serious rival very comfortably. He led at a steady pace and then kicked no two out, none of the others being good enough to respond. He really wasn’t out of a canter once he reached the hill up to the straight. He jumps well and is progressing nicely. Assuming the third ran to form this run has to be worth the mid-130s and I would imagine that James Ewart might seek out a race either at Aintree or the Ayr Scottish National Meeting. He has the potential to become the best chaser trained in Scotland.
THE DUKE’S SPEECH found his limitations exposed here and was left behind from three out though stayed on to take second. He seems better on flatter tracks.
SOUBRIQUET probably ran more or less to his mark in third place. He hit three out, which stopped him in his tracks, and would probably have bagged second otherwise. He may well be worth trying in a novice handicap, since he doesn’t seem over-rated at 115.
PENDLE FOREST once again had no chance in this company, but her jumping was sound and she pootled round for £477 in fourth.

3.35 4m 0-110 Handicap Chase

There was a disappointing turn out for the ‘big event’ but nevertheless competitive with the whole field having bits of form which gave them a chance.

Three mares met three geldings and it was the distaff side that came out on top, BELLANEY JEWEL staying on better than the remainder from the bottom of the hill. She has run three races at Hexham, is unbeaten here, and has a very decent 7 wins from 25 NH races.
CAPYBARA is decent at this level on his day, though his jumping can go awry occasionally. He was on his game today and had every chance before the winner slipped her field up the hill but kept on after the last. He’s very lightly raced for an eleven year old and may still have a few miles in him. Targets like the Highland National or the Durham National could figure in plans.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST has become a most frustrating character. He normally manages to get himself involved in the latter stages without ever getting his head in front. I presume he might be another Perth bound come late April, though on a rating of 94 he wouldn’t necessarily get a run, 95 having been the lowest rating in the race last year.
KORELO would have lapped these in his hey-day, but he could only raise one pace late on. This was a bit better than other recent efforts though.
OVERLADY is only small and, given that I wouldn’t have thought going or trip would be a problem, the weight may have stopped her. She found only one pace from two out and may be better aimed at higher class races off light weights.
SHULMIN weakened quickly from three out then pulled up and was reported as having a breathing problem. Assuming she’s none worse I’ll be looking out for her when I visit Sedgefield on April 7th.

4.55 2m 4 ½ f 0-95 Handicap Chase

A really poor event.

The winner NEIDPATH CASTLE has shown up quite well at Ayr last time, and saw off some untalented or out of form rivals. I would presume that the handicapper will shunt him up by a double-figure poundage, which would end his prospects of a repeat.
TULLY HILL has been very slow this season, but managed to keep up here and plodded on past a couple of rivals for second. This at least shows he has a modicum of ability given bad enough opposition, but on the face of it he achieved very little.
MISTRAL DE LA COUR couldn’t cope once they hit the hill.
BULLIES ACRE disputed or led for a way but had called enough as the field took the hill.
MR TWINS jumped poorly and lost touch by the tenth, getting a little closer as his rivals hit the wall late on.
BALLYNURE didn’t go a yard and seemed to resent any encouragement.

NEWCASTLE – Saturday March 14th

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

A total turn round in the going within a week from West coast to East.

3.20 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

ZA BEAU is suited by the fast ground. Her jumping can be a bit dicey sometimes, but she is useful on her day and could pick up a race or two at this level on the decent ground expected in the spring. Word has it that she is to be covered by Kayf Tara, so it might be worth looking out for baby Za Beau’s in years to come.
IT’S BERTIE has been in good form recently and ‘kept the winner honest’ over the last three. He was a long way clear of the third and may well pick up a race stepped up in trip.
HUTCH had been absent for a long while and performed moderately encouragingly in third. He’s still a maiden over fences, but there was enough to suggest his trainer might place him to win a weak handicap chase.
MR FLOPPY was never dangerous. His profile is not brilliant but does suggest a longer trip is required.
HICKORY LANE is slow and struggling, a mark of 67 here meaning he was 10lbs out of the handicap. His form suggests he would need a very bad race to figure.
MALT DE VERGY was restrained in midfield until tipping over at the sixth.
STORMY BEECH led to the eighth but the towel quickly came in once headed.

4.20 3m 0-110 Handicap Chase

JORVEYBROOK left previous form behind on his second attempt over fences. He looked held four out but really got going in the straight, but then a poor jump at the last handed the initiative to the second. He battled back well and is the type to progress as he gets experience.
SEEK THE TRUTH offered promise for the future at only his second attempt over the trip. He saw off the remainder comfortably only to find the winner too strong close home. His best runs have come at Carlisle and Newcastle, so a stiff track seems to help along with good or fast ground.
DARINA’S BOY led to five out then dropped away from three out.
WIZARDS DUST threatened to get involved when going well at the thirteenth, but dropped away to be well held. He had no real excuse here since he had conditions to suit.
ANGLICAN made mistakes early on and never got into the race.
LOST IN NORMANDY raced prominently early but the white flag seems to be raised very easily these days.
ORANG OUTAN made mistakes and didn’t give his running here, weakening from five out and pulling up.
TRISONS STAR is going backwards and put in another lack lustre performance.

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