SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday December 8th
Going – Soft (Heavy in places)
1.50 3m 3f Class 5 Maiden Chase
This was a poorly contested race turned into a virtual one horse race once the favourite tipped up at the first.
TANK TOP took the lead and fell at the first, over jumping and crumpling on landing. He did at least show some zest for jumping by completing the course without his jockey.
PRESENTING FOREVER had an easy task once Tank Top had departed, jumping round neatly to win by 52 lengths. He is a promising young staying chaser, but this tells us very little.
SMART MISTRESS was in the rear most of the way but kept going better than some to secure second place, an apparent improvement on her ‘pulled up’ in a Newcastle hurdle.
GRASSCUTTER, brought down in an incident packed race at Hereford recently, was left second at the seventeenth but was tired in the home straight and came in third.
SINGLE PAYMENT was briefly prominent at halfway but soon lost touch and ended up well tailed off. He was second on debut at Tipperary but his chasing form has been dire since then.
THE BRIG AT AYR was the only one to seriously take on the winner, but he was starting to tire when falling at the seventeenth.
DUN NA NGALL has jumped poorly in both chases contested and was pulled up with over a mile to go here.
2.50 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase
TOULOUSE EXPRESS recorded a fourth win of the year and a second course and distance win in what was a weak handicap chase. He had lost his form in the autumn campaign, but that has seen him drop down the ratings. Leading or racing prominently, he stayed on too well for the remainder from two out. He stands a lot of racing and often returns prize money, but he could be on a career chasing high rating after this.
BALTIC PATHFINDER was thereabouts most of the way, but was held from two out. This was a promising chase debut by the five-year-old and he should be capable of picking up a race of this sort.
DEUTERONOMY normally runs a decent race but has only managed a solitary win in 21 attempts. He led from the fifth to the tenth, and plugged on at one pace once headed.
DAY OF CLAIES put in his best effort for some time in fourth, though held from three out. He has plummeted down the handicap and might be worth a glance at this level if his trainer can keep him healthy.
Irish trained THE CORBY GLENN, a winner of a bumper and a hurdle, briefly threatened to get involved to three out but weakened in the straight.
CATEGORICAL formerly had quite a consistent record without winning very often, but he’s lost the thread in the last few months and was out of contention from three out. He runs well at Musselburgh and I would imagine Lucinda Russell will seek out opportunities at the East Lothian course. (Reported as having a breathing problem)
WHATCANYASAY goes well round here, but is totally out of sorts at the moment and trailed in last.
NAVAL ATTACHE was held from two out and unseated at the last. He goes well here but needs better ground.
OSCAR TRIAL was struggling by the eleventh fence and was pulled up before two out. Off a rating of 68, and 11lbs wrong here, he is struggling to make any impact in chases though he did win a minor handicap hurdle last season.
HEXHAM – Wednesday December 9th
Going – Heavy (Soft in places)
Hexham brought their 2009 programme to a close with a decent card including a handicap hurdle with a £13,000 first prize and a £25,000 to the winner handicap chase. The weather was pleasant, but the going was testing as is to be expected at this track in December.
The first two fences down the far side were omitted due to the state of the ground.
12.50 2m ½ f 0-134 Handicap Hurdle
James Ewart’s good form continued as OPEN DE L’ISLE, suited by the testing conditions, took this decent competitive hurdle with a career best performance. With exposed second and third close up he shouldn’t go up too much and may have further chances in similar company while testing conditions persist.
LEAC ON SCAIL is proving rather frustrating, this being his third second place in a row, but he didn’t seem to do too much wrong on this occasion.
CURRAHEE stayed on late and ideally needs a bit further though he has won over a similar distance.
1.50 3m 1f 0-135 Handicap Chase
The course offered an excellent prize for a midweek meeting in December with £25,000 to the winner.
MR STRACHAN hinted that he was running into form when third at Carlisle last time. This was a shade less competitive than the Cumberland Chase, and that probably made the difference. He chased the leader on the long run to the twelfth (four out) and stayed on under driving to poke his head in front just before the line. He has a decent record when the mud is flying.
With his stable in rattling good form, HUKA LODGE proved his Carlisle form no fluke as he made the running for all but the last few yards. In testing conditions that suit him down to ground he stayed on to hold his field until Mr Strachan swooped late.
SAMMY SPIDERMAN had hinted at a revival until falling at Ayr last time. He confirmed that he starting to come to himself with a sound effort in third place. He didn’t get into a challenging position late on and struggled form the bottom of the hill, but from 9lbs out of the handicap he ran a good race. The ground suits him but his wins have been at shorter trips and he goes very well at Ayr.
BORIS THE BLADE was niggled at from a long way out, but to his credit stayed in touch until finding the final hill one test too many. He goes well with a stamina test and should prove a force in lesser company.
GYPSY GEORGE weekend from three out and was beaten a long way. The run will presumably have brought him on after a long break and suited by testing conditions, he’s another who goes well at Ayr.
IDLE TALK made no impact, was tailed off and is not as good as he once was.
DESCRIPTION was in touch when falling at the seventh.
FAST FORWARD was returning from two years’ absence and pulled up before four out, along with MINOUCHKA, a prolific winner in point-to-points who looks held in this class, and NOUVEAU MAIRE, winner of a 0-110 event here in April but another apparently flying a little high here. (MINOUCHKA were subsequently reported as unsuited by the going and NOUVEAU MAIRE as having a breathing problem)
2.20 2m ½ f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
REINDEER DIPPIN was one that caught my eye in a couple of novice hurdles, and the name is one easily remembered. He fell at the first on his chasing debut, but jumped assuredly on this occasion, setting the pace, kicking on to three out and never being in any danger. He should be well capable of taking a novice event under a penalty. (A little research suggests that his named after an American riding bull of the same name.)
RIGUEZ DANCER, another who fell on his chasing debut, never got to the leader but made headway into second three out and kept on from that point. He should win a similar contest.
DREVER ROUTE tracked the leader but was outpaced form three out and couldn’t get to the first two after that. He gives me the impression that two and half miles would suit, though he made little impact in two attempts over hurdles at that distance.
POLITICAL PENDANT was never anywhere near the leaders and eventually plodded on into fourth place.
SIR BOREAS HAWK, encountering soft heavy ground for the first time and on hid chasing debut, raced with the chasing group to four out but then weakened. He has sound good ground hurdles form in the book and it may be he wasn’t suited by the testing conditions, the latter point confirmed by the jockey's report.
BARONS KNIGHT was behind when unseating at the sixth fence. He was returning after three years off and had shown nothing in six runs in 2005/2006.
SKULL INN was always behind, eventually pulled up and looks of no account.
BYRONS BAY pulled up before the seventh and hasn’t even hinted at being able to stay the trip in jumps races.
SOTOVIK chased the pace until four out but was struggling when blundering three out and his jockey pulled him up before the last. He’s better than this run suggests but seems to need good ground these days.
2.50 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
This four runner contest really consisted of two matches, one for first prize and the other for a decent third prize in excess of £1,000.
ABBEYBRANEY tracked his rival for most of the way and moved up to dispute the lead three out. Having been just tapped for speed a little bit from two out, he joined again at the top of the hill and had enough in reserve to see off his opponent in the slog to the line. He is currently rated 139 over fences, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if his trainer tries to farm a couple of these events under a penalty before going handicapping.
THE HOLLINWELL set the pace and tried his best to burn off his rival from three out. The effort told since he was tired no the run-in and unable to hold on. He won here in November and shows enough to suggest he will pick up another race before long. He may just be a little better in less testing conditions.
Meanwhile, at a safe distance the third place prize was fought out between ex-pointer SEEKING POWER and the exposed chasing maiden Indy Mood. Nick Alexander reported that it’s been hard to get the weight off Seeking Power, so it would seem likely he was glad to get a run into his charge, and even more so to pick up a respectable prize in the process. Ridden conservatively by Peter Buchanan, he began pulling away from Indy Mood down the back straight and came home steadily in his own time. He’s not very quick and his trainer will presumably be looking towards low grade handicap chases.
INDY MOOD doesn’t always seem to put it in these days and he was crying ‘enough’ with a mile left. Given the gruelling conditions his rider decided to call it a day before the last. His record at Carlisle is noticeably better than anywhere else, 43223 and he got within 5 lengths of the winner on three occasions. It may be clutching at straws, but that little nugget might come in useful!
3.20 3m 1f 0-90 Handicap Chase
This contest was big on numbers but many of these are certainly not amongst the quickest or most reliable to trek around High Yarridge during the season.
TREEHOUSE’s record suggests that a stiff finish is a must. He plugged on better than his two closest rivals here to wrest the race on the flat. His Hexham/Carlisle record now reads 418811 which is pretty decent at the low end of the class scale.
RECKLESS VENTURE added another second to his record, though connections must have thought he would win when leading after the last. Treehouse found greater reserves though, the Russell inmate now having run 15 times since his last win. He may well pick up a race eventually but he’s often near the head of the market and not betting value.
THE GREEN HAT proved much better off against inferiors. He’s been taking on more talented individuals at levels in chases and this was more his comfort zone. Racing up with the pace or in the lead, he was in front at the last but run out of it on the flat. Looking at his previous record the slog in the mud suited.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE was held up until making progress down the far side towards three out. He never got to the leaders, but kept on into fourth place. Still a maiden over fences he has a respectable record at this track.
BILLSGREY seems to have improved a bit for moving to Willie Amos. He got to the tails of the leaders up the hill but had no reserves left to produce extra. This was a career best which has taken 24 attempts.
NEIDPATH CASTLE won a soft contest over half a mile shorter here in March. He made no impression from two out on this occasion and would be better dropped back in distance.
TULLY HILL was second to Neidpatth Castle in March, but he’s basically slow and though racing prominently to three out was then left behind.
SHULMIN showed a little more zest on this occasion, joining the leaders four out, but her effort was short-lived and she struggled after the next.
POLOBURY was his usual cussed self in the rear, coming on and off the bridle. He consented to pick off a couple late on but never got seriously involved.
MANOUBI’s usual late rattle didn’t materialise on this occasion while THE FABRICATOR, with the pace to three out, weakened quickly in the latter stages.
FRENCH TIES was in midfield when unseating at the tenth.
The others were pulled up. PATCHOULI CONTI was too keen early on and a spent force by four out. STORMONT DAWN raced in touch to three out but weakened quickly and skipped the last, while THE MAYSTONE, with only one decent piece of previous form, ran no sort of race.