Thursday, 3 September 2009

Jumping Returns at Sedgefield and Cartmel

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday August 25th

Going – Good To Firm

After a mid-summer pause jumping returned to Sedgefield. The North East has been spared the rain that has hit other Northern regions and the going came up on the fast side.

The open ditch in the straight was reported as ‘under repair’ and was out of action.

3.15 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

MY CONDOR looked likely to succeed here, leading all the way and still going well enough entering the straight. However he has had a tendency to ‘fall in a hole’ in the latter stages recently, and on this occasion he could offer nothing on the run-in, fading to fourth. He won a couple of races back in 2007 but has been frustrating since.
In a race containing five ‘Timeform squiggles’ the stage was left open for FRED BOJANGALS to swoop late and capture the spoils. He seems much better at Sedgefield than anywhere else and his record now reads 13521 with his best shows on fast ground.
STORM PROSPECT wouldn’t top a list of consistent performers but isn’t bad at this level on his day. He did win in heavy at Ayr once, but essentially he’s a top of the ground horse. He was in the rear early and needing cajoling by the sixth, but stayed on in the closing stages.
IT’S A ROOFER is another suited by fast ground. He raced prominently and kept on in the straight to finish third not beaten far.
I’M YOUR MAN was with the leading group down the straight but never quite threatened a win. He runs often, wins occasionally, and is a good bit higher than either of his winning chase marks.
NEW WISH back pedalled from two out. He has plenty of mileage on the clock at various disciplines and his jumps successes have been limited to two selling hurdles.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS couldn’t get anywhere near the front and appears out of sorts at the moment after thriving earlier in the year.
BARNEY has put in a succession of dismal runs, was struggling by the seventh and finished tailed off.

4.15 2m 4f 0-95 Novices’ Handicap Chase

SARAHS GIFT led at the ninth and kept up the gallop from that point. For one on a lowly mark when getting round he’s got a fair place record in chases. (He’s since won again at Newton Abbot and seems in very good heart.)
PROSPECTOROUS, trained by County Kildare based J P Dempsey who I can’t claim to be madly familiar with, was well backed and showed a good deal more than on recent Irish runs. He’s won on good ground over hurdles and the signs are the fast ground here helped, a series of dismal winter runs suggesting chilly weather and mud are not his cup of tea. He let himself down by jumping untidily all the way round, yet was still had a chance coming to the last. If he got his jumping together he would doddle a similar event.
PIPERS LEGEND raced prominently from before halfway. He was found wanting after the turn for home though did finish third. He has bits and pieces of fair form but as a 10-year-old 1 win from 32 runs does not make for stand out betting material.
PUGNACITY, a selling class hurdler, got to the tails of the leaders at the top of the hill two out but then faded on chasing debut.
PAPERCHASER made some progress to three out but was never in contention.
UPTOWN LAD, held right out the back as per normal, made a little late progress but never got near the leaders. He needs the race to fall into is lap, his best chance being if a number of front runners burst each other.
TA AN ATHAS ORM is exposed as moderate and not getting close over hurdles or fences currently. He never got in a blow on this occasion.
RED DAWN led to the ninth and weakened three out, taking his blank record to 32 in chases.
PERLY SPENCER runs as if he has a physical problem and pulled up here.
DORIS’S GIFT didn’t look particularly interested and jumped moderately. He was pulled up before two out.

CARTMEL – Saturday August 29th

Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places, Heavy by the woodside)

Cartmel close their season with a two day fixture over the Bank Holiday. An extra day will be added in 2010 with a day’s racing on the Thursday preceding the holiday weekend. The accepted wisdom is that seven days in the year is as many as the small but thriving Cumbrian course can cope with. The place was heaving for this meeting and people seem more than satisfied with an occasional glimpse of the horses.
The groundstaff worked hard to protect the ground as the area had a fair bit of rain. Despite covers to protect the ground the woodside section is not the best draining turf and was reported as ‘heavy’. The last fence on that section of the course was omitted adding another 150 yards to the long run-in.
Iain Mackenzie normally gets the gig at Cartmel, his ‘keep track of all runners’ style carried forward from point-to-points suiting the place. On this occasion the nasal tones of the Scot Dougie Fraser were heard on the PA.

2.40 2m 5 ½ f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

This might turn out to be a decent event of its type with a number of fair hurdlers seeming to adapt quite well to chasing.
Three times a hurdles winner in Ireland, SHANBALLA has now moved to Tim Vaughan who is not frightened to rack up the miles from his Vale Of Glamorgan base. The gelding has won on both soft and firm ground so surfaces seem to come alike. He was impressive on chasing debut, coming clear from a 120 rated performer and has been awarded a rating of 134. This suggests a fairly lofty campaign might be in order.
INVISIBLE MAN was the marker for this form with two promising chase efforts to date. He didn’t do much wrong in second and his winning turn looks merely delayed.
ANY CURRENCY, an Irish point winner and rated 121 over hurdles, showed promise on his chasing debut. He couldn’t go with the first two race in the straight but he jumped well enough and should go forward from here.
EASTERN SURPRISE is a three times Irish pointing winner and was placed over hurdles. He was held by better opponents after the last but would be interesting if tried in a novice handicap.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR is rated 94 so was up against it here and could only plug on from the rear. His handicap mark doesn’t look generous on what he has shown.
LIZ’S DREAM was hopelessly outclassed in this company. His best chance of making a mark would be in the lowest level of handicaps over hurdles or fences.
ONCE BEFORE had shown some promise over hurdles and in points but found it all too much from the seventh fence. He has ability so I wouldn’t write this one off just yet.
SAWYER’S GOLD performed woefully in 5 hurdle races and added a poor chase run to his record, pulling up at the seventh.

3.15 2m 1½f 0-105 Handicap Chase

TURBO SHANDY has had a varied career with the odd morsel of decent form. He’s run three races this year on the flat at distances ranging from 5 furlongs to a mile. That’s not a standard preparation for a chase at Cartmel, but it seems to have worked and maybe the five furlong race was good practice for the extended run-in! He was in the rear early on, progressed to join issue along the woodside for the final time and asserted in the straight. He broke his career duck here and this was in advance of his recent chasing form though he has rated a fair bit higher in the past.
SILVER STEEL has been consistent at this level of late and, though outpointed by the winner once turned for home, kept on honestly.
PINEWOOD LEGEND didn’t jump well but McCoy’s persistence kept him on the fringe for a long way. The long run from the last finally did for him. He needs to sharpen his jumping.
RIO LAINE was struggling before the last and faded from that point. His previous form suggests a preference for better ground.
Versatile JORDAN’S LIGHT had been running creditably on the flat but was struggling from three out here. I get the impression that in a true run race on soft ground he struggles to see out the trip. He did win a selling hurdle on soft but that was an ‘egg and spoon’ race at Kelso last season.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE won a hurdle here in a bog earlier in the year but hasn’t got near to winning otherwise. She raced prominently early but the towel came in before three out. DIVVY’S DREAM was another racing prominently early but paid the penalty and faded to be pulled up before the last.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS put in a second lack lustre performance of the week, losing touch from halfway and trailing in last.

CARTMEL – Monday August 31st

Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

I was at Newcastle for the afternoon and not able to concentrate on Cartmel. Regrettably Racing UK haven’t put any replays for the meeting so I’m commenting blind on this one. Race analysis is based on race comments form the Racing Post and AtTheRaces.

The weather was horrible in the North West but that didn’t stop a decent crowd of around 9,000 attending a soggy Cartmel. The measures taken to protect the woodside ground saved the meeting as it would certainly have been abandoned without the covers. The last two fences on the woodside were omitted which meant a run-in of somewhere just shy of six furlongs. The hurdle run-in wasn’t far short of that either since the hurdle near the Sticky Toffee Pudding Shop was removed.

In the selling hurdle the mega-enigmatic AMJAD managed to get clear of his field to win by 13 lengths to end a run of 56 without a win. This must give hope to many regular losers!

3.30 2m 5 ½ f 0-120 Handicap Chase

There were only eight fences to be jumped in this contest and a three long stretches with nothing in the way. REEL CHARMER took up the running after the sixth (about a mile left) and steadily forged clear on the slog from the last. He’s rated 130 over hurdles so there may be a little more to come over fences. Last season was a quiet campaign, but a decent run over hurdles at Ayr in April suggested a revival was imminent. It would do no harm to keep a note of Reel Charmer for the coming campaign.
MARREL made progress form the rear to take second place entering the straight. Despite his years Marrel has been progressive in this class over the summer, although this placing may mean he’s on a career high chase mark next time. He’s now appeared 85 times in all disciplines with 11 wins and 21 places.
LIVINGONAKNIFEDGE ran his best race since his effort in the same contest last year. He weakened on the final bend and was passed by Marrel. It remains to be seen if he can produce the form elsewhere.
MIDNIGHT GOLD felt the pinch going down the woodside, not helped by a stumble two out, but picked up again late on. Normally runs passably well but is another on a career high mark.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE didn’t confirm the promise of his July effort here. He won in soft in France, but I can’t believe that slogging round Cartmel in ‘sticky toffee going’ would be likely to bring out the best in him.
Some of these probably couldn’t cope with the ground, TOP DRESSING going well enough to the last but then weakened and was tailed off by the straight.
NILE MOON has run well with cut but is probably better on good ground, and he seems a bit high in the handicap anyway.
FIRST BAY and PEAK SEASONS were both completely knackered in the latter stages and walked over the line. Both need their sights set at a lower class.
COPPER BAY was struggling before halfway and Lucy Horner called it a day with a mile to run. He has some decent runs dotted in amongst some dross, including a spring point win, but better ground seems essential and the tongue-tie indicates breathing difficulties.

4.05 3m 2f 0-100 Handicap Chase

For all that there were 10 runners in this contest very few could be given a genuine chance. GETINBYBUTONLYJUST has carefully avoided sticking his head in front for sometime whilst running passably well on many occasions. This time he couldn’t really help but see off opponents either bogged down in the mud or simply lacking the stamina to stick with him. He predictably felt the pinch as those left in contention approached the final bend, but then found reserves to see off the arguably less proven stamina of Stoneriggs Merc. Sometimes statistics can say anything, but in chases in heavy ground his record is now 11725231. Mixing that with a fair record on stiff tracks suggests that he is favoured when the conditions slow the others down to his pace.
STONERIGGS MERC has placed over the distance before, but I suspect three miles two in mud found the bottom of him and the needle read empty in the straight after he gone clear after the last. He’s now moved to Tim Vaughan’s stable, but given the propensity for Vaughan to send his horsebox to all points of the compass we shall no doubt see ‘The Merc’ in northern parts before long. I have often put him on tentative shortlists, but lost patience a while back.
SILVER DAGGER is a proven sluggard but kept going at his own pace for third, a creditable effort from 10lbs ‘wrong’. He had a purple patch in spring 2007 but has kept his talents well camouflaged since.
JBALLINGALL has struggled since a two year plus break until March this year. He likes to lead and kept going for much further than of late, only giving way on the long run from the last. A fair effort from 7lbs out of the handicap, in terms of merit probably third best on the day, and it would appear his cause is not quite lost yet.
RIVER RIPPLES, made a short priced favourite on the back of a win at Stratford on good ground, hadn’t previously encountered going like this over fences and was never competitve.
DASHER REILLY was attempting to repeat the Sadik family’s success in this race named after Cengis ‘Gus’ Sadik. A very moderate performer he had a tough task and though going well enough in the early part of the race was very tired in the last mile and walked in.
MERRY PATH, now 15 and absent for two years, led to the fourth and then rapidly weakened. Assuming there is a problem it must be extremely doubtful that the Mrs Williamson trained gelding will be sighted under Rules again. Should this be the case he should be remembered not for this effort but for a chasing/pointing record that includes 9 wins and 13 places from 35 runs.
FEELING PECKISH was ‘feeling the pinch’ by when unseating at the ninth.
ILOVETURTLE, 9lbs ‘wrong’, was tailed off by the ninth and pulled up before the last enabling a short cut to the unsaddling area. The Sadik second string and 20lbs out of the handicap, GOOD MAN AGAIN took a similar shotcut when calling it a day shortly before that . Neither have got remotely near the winner for ages.

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