CARTMEL – Thursday July 16th
Going – Good (Good To Soft in places, Soft on the wood side)
After giving reports on Cartmel racing over the last year I thought it about time I paid a visit to the place. This meeting is the only meeting that avoids Bank Holiday weeks so is less crowded than others though it’s still plenty busy enough. It’s worth noting that the course add a meeting next year, the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday weekend, though the consensus is that seven days racing is as high as it needs to go.
Cartmel is just that bit different from others courses and it takes some time to fathom the place. We had a week in self-catering accommodation backing on to a big house just outside the village. This meant we were fairly handy for the course, though with the narrow village streets closed a detour around the country lanes was required. Ironically we were well positioned to miss all the signs, so an abortive trip towards the village was made before we looped back to follow the ‘Paddock Enclosure’ signs.
They charge £5 extra for Paddock parking for this meeting, with entrance to any part of the course being £15. In this instance it would probably have been better if we had parked in the Course enclosure since it gives access to better viewing positions and the paddock can be accessed by crossing the course. For other meetings you need to be in the Paddock enclosure to access the paddock, so you pays your money and you takes your choice.
The stand faces the straight and the four fences down the wood side of the course. Two fences and two hurdles are out of sight, although Owners and Trainers get a slightly better view. In my opinion the best viewing spot is from the hill in the Course enclosure.
With a small amount of movement during the race this gives a reasonable view of all six steeplechase fences, including an excellent view down the wood side, and three of the four hurdles. The last hurdle can’t be seen, but slightly more judicious arrangements of coach might change this though I’m sure that won’t happen. The drawback is that the view of the finishing straight is interrupted by marquees, back of the big screen and fairground rides. If you want to get to the paddock for every race prepare to spend much time walking the 3 or 4 furlongs backwards and forwards. Crossing the straight can be a pain as the runners get led from and back to the stables along here.
Cartmel do themselves a great favour by having Iain Mackenzie as race caller. His precise delivery and careful detailing of each horse’s position and progress is well suited to a course with restricted viewing.
There was some competitive if moderate quality racing with a full contingent of runners bar a few absentees.
2.00 2m 6f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
The last hurdle was missed out as it was damaged.
CRAZY EYES didn’t look the winner at what should have been two out. He had been tapped for pace down the woodside and looked held. However, it’s clear that the one thing he does is stay and he kept on past three others in the straight to land the spoils. The overriding impression is that Crazy Eyes will be suited even more by a stiffer test.
CORPORATION, apparently the stable’s second string here, ran a decent race in second. He raced prominently and contested the lead from what turned out to be the flight. HE led in the straight and looked the winner only to be caught close home. He won a point in Ireland and looks to have enough ability to pick up a minor staying event.
QUEDILLAC looks one to make a chaser in time. He hurdled well but wasn’t done any favours when the loose Elusive Swallow crossed him when crashing through the rail after the fifth. He could only muster one pace in the last half mile but this was a decent hurdling debut.
The previous winner in the field, LAKE WAKATIPU, took a keen hold early and hit a couple of flights mid-race which was no help. He didn’t get to the leaders in the latter stages though kept on.
BANNVILLE, second in an Irish point, needs time to grow into his frame. He jumped poorly in the rear but stayed on late. I wouldn’t write him off but time is required.
2.30 2m 1½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
An improving hurdler in the winter, and a runner on the flat in recent weeks, AGGLESTONE ROCK made an impressive chasing debut. He has the look of a chaser about him and proved it in action. Tracking the leaders he moved up four out, took over at the last and eased clear on the run-in. There’s more to come and I’d be surprised if he didn’t pick up a novice chase under a penalty.
CORTINAS made progress over the last four fences and went second on the run-in but was never likely to catch the leader. He needs to be ridden patiently but just found one too good for him.
JORDAN’S LIGHT is suited by a sharp track such as this since he struggles at all but the shortest trips. He kept on for third and I suspect that’s how good he is over fences.
DANNY ZUKO was making some progress when clouting the last and he couldn’t fully recover. He doesn’t strike me as having the usual stamp of a McCain chaser though may have prospects a lowly level.
At nine years old TA AN ATHAS ORM isn’t one that attracts as a chasing prospect. He faded from the eighth.
MUSICAL WELD went along nicely in front, but was headed at the last and went out like a light. He’s run two fair races at Towcester and it could be that the stiffer track is more help.
ELLANDSHE with plenty of ‘non-achieving previous’ was beaten going to four out.
FINNEGANS RAINBOW jumped slowly early on and trundled around in the rear.
CAPO DI CAPI race prominently to four out then quickly faded.
MADGE jumped indifferently and was beaten by the eighth.
3.05 2m 1½f 0-95 Handicap Chase
TROTSKY has spent the last couple of seasons on the Irish point-to-point scene. He hasn’t been seeing out the three miles, so a return to near the minimum was a help here, as was the presence of the maestro McCoy on board. He led halfway through the race and kept on well under driving from the last to hold on.
SILVER STEEL was equipped with tongue-tie, breast girth, cross noseband and full-cheek snaffle which perhaps suggest waywardness both physically and mentally. However he performed soundly enough challenging form two out and keeping on in the straight. He’s in decent form currently and a step back up in trip would do no harm.
On his chasing debut PINEWOOD LEGEND jumped competently and had every chance from two out without quite threatening the winner.
RUSSIAN INVADER jumped slowly in the rear early on. He gradually warmed to his task to the point where he had a chance on the flat but he couldn’t get to the front two.
PAPERCHASER needs further than this. He made progress to hang on to the tails of the leaders round the final bend but couldn’t muster enough to challenge. He’s running well currently and would be worth an interest bumped up in distance again.
PEAK SEASONS race prominently early but was struggling from before four out. He’s appeared on the racecourse 81 times in his five seasons’ racing so clearly takes his racing well, but a win tally of 4 sums up his ability.
FRED BOJANGALS was prominent from the seventh to three out but then faded. He’s not one I put too much trust in, and he seems best at Sedgefield anyway.
MASTER PAPA went well enough to halfway, but he was under the shove by the eighth and faded.
SYBELLIUS D’ARTAIX demonstrated ability in Spring of 2007, but he’s gone backwards since then. He was never dangerous and beaten a long way out.
SADLER’S COVE was always at the back.
INMATE led or disputed to past halfway, but he thumped a couple of fences and his argument with the eighth did for him.
3.40 3m 2f 0-120 Handicap Chase
The in-form Winchester Red was pulled form this race after a run the previous day and the race had a lop-sided look to it with only four carrying more than the minimum. Such races can often provide easy pickings to the top weights that are able to outclass their moderate opposition.
SAND HURST ran creditably behind No Panic at Hereford. Given a forceful McCoy ride here he jumped really well and had most of his field on the stretch from four out. This was Edgar Byrne’s first winner for a couple of years and both trainer and his charge must take confidence from a comfortable win. Sandhurst’s form line with NO PANIC was franked when the latter ran a cracking race to finish a close third in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen. This gives cause for optimism should AGGIE’S LAD, second in front of No Panic at Perth, take up his engagement in the Galway Plate. VALERIUS beat both comfortably and his return to the racecourse is equally eagerly anticipated.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE has been tried at various disciplines by his notoriously over ambitious stable in an attempt to find his forte. A staying chase is a tough ask for a four-year-old, particularly with the unusual preparation of outings in the Derby and the Triumph Hurdle. However, Paul Murphy might just have one on a decent mark if campaigned sensibly, though from past experience I wouldn’t guarantee that will happen. He chased the leader from a mile out and stayed on admirably from the last. If he reproduces this effort a lower class staying handicap chase would be a formality.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST ran passably well without threatening to win as is so often his way.
BAFANA BOY made the trek up from Mrs Leech’s base near Didcot. Having lived in Didcot for a few years up to 2006 I always get the picture of horses galloping up ‘The Broadway’ when Didcot is mentioned as a training base! Bafana Boy demonstrated plenty of energy, trying hard to boot out the rear of his saddling box. He never got to grips with the leaders in the race but stayed on late in fourth place, but he has a decent win record, and this fair return after a break offers some encouragement for the immediate future. Writing this sometime after the meeting I note he’s been dropped to 109 and that will put him in win territory as far as weight is concerned. (Images of The Broadway disappear as it turns out Mrs Leech trains in slightly more rural surroundings at Blewbury, two or three miles out of Didcot.)
ESME RIDES A GAINE was up against it following a rise in the handicap and with a rise in class here. As it was she ran prominently to four out before the effort told. She only went up 5lbs for a win from well out of the weights at Hexham so she is still weighted to have every chance in a more appropriate class.
SHREWD INVESTOR, running in snatches, got himself into the race by the fourteenth but then back-pedalled. He’s a distinctly all or nothing character, decent runs being split by plenty of naff ones, but this pattern can be helpful for those with patience and willing to cover a few in a race.
FEELING PECKISH was 29lbs out of the handicap so it was no surprise that he struggled from the twelfth. Even off his regular mark he struggles to get into the handicap and doesn’t look a winner in the making.
SANDY’S LEGEND jumped poorly in the rear and his rider called it a day before the last.
LEOPOLD has been running passably well but threw in a poor effort here. He was feeling the pinch when hitting the fourteenth and that finished him off as he was pulled up two fences later.
4.15 2m 1½f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle
JOSEPHINE MALINES is the size of tuppence ha’penny, but a fair percentage that is heart judged on this performance. This turning track clearly suits her and she set out at a decent pace with a clear lead on the first circuit. A couple got to her two out, but she saw off her main challenger determinedly up the straight. Kept to turning tracks she may well add to her score.
COME BACK TO ME, bringing forth a glimmer of ability from Irish races, put it to the winner from two out but was held on the flat though not for want of effort particularly on the part of Mr McCoy. He was well clear of the remainder and a win is probably only delayed.
Still an entire, and a solidly built one at that, CABBYL DOO was outpaced from two out and basically needs a stiffer test. I suppose the race was an obvious choice given that he’s trained on the edge of Cartmel village by Jimmy Moffatt, but the turns don’t bring out the best in him. Providing he’s not over-protective of his ‘tackle’ he should be the type for chasing.
PAR AVION was well backed but ran in snatches and didn’t seem particularly co-operative. The remainder were well held and their immediate prospects are limited.
4.50 2m 6f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle
MORE EQUITY went up 8lbs for a win at Hexham but it made no difference here as he came late to pick off Mystified giving the impression there was more in the tank. A stiffer track would do even better and given that he’s not likely to go up too far for victory in a close finish he may not have finished winning.
MYSTIFIED, a course winner and also a recent flat winner, looked the likely victor at the last, but was ‘done’ close home. He seemed to see out this trip well enough which gives his trainer an extra option or two.
RARE COINCIDENCE led for much of the way only to be held from the last. This was a fair enough return to hurdling though he’s probably as high as he would want to be in the weights.
POLLY WHITEFOOT was one paced from two out and held. LILY TARA was pretty much the same and mistakes early on set her back, but this would be a minimum test for her and a less sharp track would be no harm.
5.20 2m 1 ½ f 0-90 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
When the main reason for qualification is having run at least three moderate races it’s sometimes difficult to take too much encouragement from these contests. PEACEFUL MEANS challenged on the flat and got up close home and the stable having done well to get something out of him first time; it will be interesting to see if remains competitive. He shouldn’t go up too much.
WENSLEYDALE WEB goes well round here and will presumably be aimed at the August meeting after a close second. She battled hard in the closing stages but couldn’t quite hold the winner. Mark her down for the shortlist when returning to Cartmel in this sort of class.
MYSTERIOUS WORLD is short of pace at the business end. Phil Kinsella set the pace but his mount couldn’t raise his game from the last. A lowly event at a stiff track could be an answer.
DESERT STAG went well enough to two out but couldn’t lift his effort any further, which is pretty much as it’s been in his jumps career to date.
STOIC LEADER ran second in a weak race here in May but was comfortably held on this occasion.
BEDFELLOW went well to two out but was then outpaced. He’ll need a stiffer test to show his best.