SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday February 9th
Going – Heavy
All credit to Sedgefield for working so hard to make sure racing took place. They covered the course, but on arrival in the morning found the covers had snow on them, the weight making them difficult to shift. Hard graft saw the snow removed and then the covers came off to allow the racing to go ahead, though it was very hard work in heavy going. Some horses just didn’t handle the conditions and many were very tired at the end of their races.
My report concentrates on the steeplechases, my chosen study area for races over the border, but I’ve put in a few notes on the hurdle races.
3.10 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
This was essentially a three horse contest run at a sedate pace until the last mile.
RIGUEZ DANCER, a 125 rated hurdler, is apparently well regarded as a chasing prospect and did no harm to that view in winning this event. He needed to be reminded of his job after the twelfth, but he moved to the front two out and ran on better than his nearest rival. He created a good impression behind the useful Reindeer Dippin last time and, as I suggested then, stepped up to win a race. There should be a novice event for him under a penalty.
MIDDLETON DENE jumped a good deal more fluently than he did at Carlisle, though the stable was under a very dark cloud at the time. Rated a few pounds higher than the winner over hurdles, he maybe just need another chase under his belt but he performed well enough here.
VASODILATOR made the pace but he jumped noticeably right-handed from the start. This suggests a need to go right-handed, but it could also be that lack of confidence in jumping means he needs to set himself by running down the fence. He was feeling the pinch three out and lost touch with the first two from two out.
Lowly rated CLOISTERS HILL kept up with the slow pace early but was comfortably left behind from three out.
HELVIC HEAD started to lose touch four out and got tired as the pace increased. He was pulled up before two out and his current profile is regressive.
4.10 2m ½ f 0-113 Handicap Chase
A regular in similar contests, MISS PROSS has an excellent record at Sedgefield and made it 4 wins from 7 attempts at the track. She went on four out and found plenty in the latter stages to hold on, clearly having no problem with the testing conditions. A sound performance here, though it pushes her to a career high.
MOULIN DE LA CROIX was the only one to trouble the winner in the straight. This was a decent performance coming off a break and he looks plenty good enough to pick up a minor handicap chase, particularly since his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is not afraid to travel for the right race.
PLAY THE ROCK lost touch at the fifth but plugged on past tiring rivals from three out to secure third. He probably needs a bit further and this run suggests he’s much better over fences than hurdles.
SCALE BANK raced up with the pace, but the distress signals were being issued by three out. Previous evidence suggests he will be much happier once the ground dries out and, assuming we take that as read, this probably wasn’t a bad effort.
ADARE PRINCE was mulish on the way to the start and has a reputation of being a rogue. He led at the eighth but looked reluctant from three out. He has ability but the quirks in his brain are getting in the way.
KING OF THE ARCTIC gave way at the fourth last. He has won on soft but I suspect he found things too tough here, and his last three haven’t shown much sparkle.
MORE LIKE IT raced prominently for the first half of the race but tired and was pulled up after two out. A little give seems fine, really testing finds him out.
The opening novices’ Handicap hurdle was won by DEVIL’S DELIGHT who had been well beaten efforts but held off SAMIZDAT who has ability but is desperately frustrating. Chaser NAVAL ATTACHE, who has gone well around here, was tried over hurdles with no better return than disappointing recent chase efforts.
BENNY BE GOOD confirmed promise of his previous run to give John Wade a novice hurdle winner though he may have tough tasks under a penalty. SAVEIRO chased him home, but has been a weak finisher over hurdles to date. TILT was at his cussed worst, digging in his heels at the start before setting off 20 lengths behind and not co-operating afterwards.
BEAMAZED seemed well suited by the extreme stamina test over 3m 3½f in the handicap hurdle. He kept up the gallop to win from ONIZ TIPTOES who runs often but doesn’t win much these days. The Scottish representative DO IT FOR DALKEY pulled hard early on and that can’t have helped here as he had to settle for a well held third.
DUKEOFCHESTERWOOD’s best form has been on better ground and he seemed to hate it in the mud. I wouldn’t write him off on this basis of this run.
EAGLE OWL took the bumper but it’s difficult to say he achieved much when the previously moderate efforts of the second POWER FLOW are considered. Eagle Owl can probably mix it with better animals but may be under-priced in such circumstances.