Time constraints mean that I shall revert to full comments for chasers only at English meetings, though I’ll add notes on any significant hurdling performances, particularly on Scottish runners.
NEWCASTLE – Saturday March 20th
Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places), softening during the afternoon and resulting in a significant number of non-runners toward the end.
3.25 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase
ST KILLIAN’S RUN had hinted at chasing ability last time, though outclassed by the principals at Kelso. Racing close up until taking over three out, he stayed on well to win this event.
NATIVE COLL got into contention early in the straight but he was outpaced at that point. He stuck on late to take second on the run-in. He would have every chance dropped in class if his trainer could find a 0-90 or 0-95 event.
ICE IMAGE was one paced from three out though this may have been a confidence booster after his mishap last time. He certainly has enough ability to cut it at this level.
PRINCE TAM was once again found out for pace in the straight.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU raced prominently for a long way but once headed three out his race was run. He may need less use made of him, but significantly remains a maiden.
STOLEN LIGHT was well held from four out and hasn’t shown much in recent times.
FARNE ISLAND fell at the fifth and Rayson Nixon’s wretched season continued as NORMINSTER capsized a fence before that.
4.35 3m 0-100 Handicap Chase
The first two are going forward and were well clear of two other finishers.
SCHINDLER’S MAZE had performed no better than moderately in maidens. However, he looked better than this class on his first go in handicaps. He came clear up the straight, idled on the run-in but responded well to his rider's urgings as the second closed,
SEEKING POWER doesn’t do anything particularly quickly, but what he does do is jump well and stay. Ironically as he was staying on an error three out set him back, but he responded to Lucy Alexander’s urgings from two out and at least made the winner pull out the stops. The stable have a useful prospect for moderate long distance staying chases in future.
TEENANDO raced prominently but dropped away quickly one headed and finished a remote third, still a fair way clear of SYCHO FRED who was coaxed home in his own time in fourth.
Well backed OCARINA was going well when capsizing at the twelfth, bringing down MONEYLAWS who had made some progress from the rear.
PANAMA AT ONCE has been out of sorts since taking a nasty tumble at Kelso earlier in the season and never got involved, pulling up before two out, as did WINDY HILLS who dropped back form the thirteenth.
CRACKADEE raced briefly up front but didn’t look interested after and was pulled up before the ninth.
ADARE PRINCE raced prominently but was pulled up swiftly before the fourteenth having lost his action. Any effect would appear temporary as he returned sound.
In the hurdle races TURBO ISLAND returned to form having apparently been short of a gallop or two before his Kelso run. He was headed up the straight but stayed on again and gives the impression he needs further than the minimum trip. He should come into his own over fences.
MISTER MARKER is progressive and recorded a third win in the staying handicap hurdler. DANCING DIK continues to perform well and might find another race soon. BOLD RANSOM has put up two creditable efforts in hurdles and is a decent staying chaser on the evidence of his Borders National run.
The going was very testing for the closing tow hurdles and I doubt the form will be carried forward. LIZ’S DREAM is huge and does nothing in hurry, but was the only one who could raise a gallop in the latter stages of the closing handicap hurdle. WHAT’S OCCURRIN led to before two out then weakened quickly and was pulled up. However, this front runner is hitting form and might pick up a race before long.
CARLISLE – Sunday March 21st
Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places)
3.00 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
MR WOODS went well in front and kept up the gallop up the final hill. He likes going right handed and may be aimed at Perth in April. He was eased close home, James Reveley watching the big screen and nudging him out as the others closed.
LOGAN’S RUN ran a creditable race in second without ever looking like getting to the winner. He will find easier opportunities and will win if repeating this effort.
SINATAS stayed on from the bottom of the hill. This was a decent effort following an extended absence and he should win a chase if kept healthy.
POLITICAL PADDY offered some encouragement in keeping on for fourth.
GREENBELT weakened two out and might be better at a less stiff track.
LORD LARSSON looks unreliable and unseated his rider as he dipped out towards the track exit after the stands. He’s now UUFU and doesn’t look a reliable conveyance.
GO ON BE A LADY (6th), EXECUTIVE’S HALL (pulled up) and RECOIL (pulled up) were all struggling to keep up from the tenth.
3.35 3m ½ f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
ERNST BLOFELD had arguably the best form of these and stayed on from three out to take first prize. He had MIRAGE DORE held in second, though that one who seemed to see out this trip.
CLASSIC CUT was once again let down by his jumping, though his close third was testament to his basic speed. He’s conceding 20 lengths by jumping left though he does seem a little better if he has another runner upsides. It’s possible a bigger field might suit.
CHERRYLAND, well held in hunter chases previously, led until headed and outpaced three out. He beat EL BANDINDOS who did at least complete this time though was beaten from four out.
4.45 2m 4f 0-125 Novices’ Handicap Chase
A competitive looking contest for its level from which I would expect a few future winners to emerge.
AWARD WINNER recorded a second consecutive win, staying on up the hill, leading after the last and driven out for victory. It wasn’t the easiest win but there were a few with fair form behind.
KING FONTAINE, twice a winner over hurdles this season, translated some of that ability to chasing here. He led from four out until headed after the last and stayed on for second. He looks capable of winning a similar event.
DESCRIPTION looked to be struggling after the twelfth, but stormed up the hill to pinch third close home. He had fallen on his last two starts and this should serve as a confidence booster.
WORK BOY probably found this class a bit tough, but he stayed on from two out and would have every chance of repeating his Market Rasen win if dropped in class.
OUR JIM, second to the winner at Bangor, raced prominently but dropped away after two out.
LOCKEDINTHEPOCKET produced a promising performance on his chasing debut. He stayed on through tiring rivals and should have learnt much from this, though a recent hurdling second puts him quite high in the weights.
CHECKERBOARD, a winner here back in October, led or disputed until four out and then weakened quickly to trail in last. The race should bring him on and he looks a decent ground sort.
MORE EQUITY and SOLWAY BAY were outpaced from a mile out.
The form horse, COOL MISSION took the opening novice hurdle, but there was much to like about GO SILVER BULLET’s return to the track. Likely to benefit from the race he set the pace to three out before weakening and this should put him right for a return to chasing. PLAYING THE FIELD stayed on up the hill for third.
SAMIZDAT got off the mark ion the novices’ handicap hurdle, but given the time it has taken him to win then the form must be of questionable value. JERONIMO JOE finished second, much happier in handicap company than the Graded contest he took in at Kelso. Maiden SOLWAY BLUE finished best of all in third and, though the stable is in form, rather drags the form down.
Alan Swinbank’s second string NUTS N BOLTS made a winning debut in the bumper. He’s a half-brother to useful flat stayer Swingkeel. In a finish o0f newcomers, TIGER MAGUIRE, jumping bred, JAGO RIVER, an expensive purchase as a three-year-old, and YUROK, a half-brother to Brave Inca, all suggested they can win a race sooner or later. FRONTIER BOY was badly hampered early on and always out the back. He didn’t run badly first time up and this run can be set aside.