CATTERICK – Wednesday July 7th
Going – Good to Firm (Firm in places)
We took in this Catterick meeting on the way down south to attend a wedding and visit family and friends. It’s a mark of how busy the flat schedule has become these days that a fair few runners from this meeting have appeared since, some within a couple of days of Catterick. Time available to concentrate on racing is not as plentiful as I’d like these days, hence I’m really finding it a struggle to keep up with the flat even just in my area.
The viewing at Catterick is pretty good, though the trees in the middle of the course are starting to obscure bits and pieces of the back straight. Memo to course managers: if you are going to plant greenery make it stuff that grows outwards instead of upwards. Being only nine furlongs around it’s easy to follow the action from the steeply graded steps of the three stands, even more so on the jump course which runs up above the flat track on the far side. However Aileen’s standard complaint at many northern racecourses, to whit no seating, applies once again. The only seats available are benches at ground level.
2.00 5f 2yo Class 6 Selling Stakes
A very moderate contest to start the card and it’s difficult to see many of these winning in future.
JOHNNY HANCOCKS showed more pace than the rest. He broke well and always led, coming clear from two furlongs out. He’ll find it tougher if moved up to nurseries and sellers or claimers will likely prove his level, particularly on sharp tracks where he use his early pace. There was no bid at the auction.
CHESTER DEELYTE wandered about a bit under pressure form two out though kept on for second. Her form is moderate but does seem to be going the right way.
FOREVER VIENNA hinted at ability in third. He looks to me to have some growing to do and might do better once he strengthens. BIGALO’S LAURA B looks well grown on the other hand and I wonder if there’s an awful lot more to come past a fourth here.
2.50 7f 3yo 0-75 Handicap
JUST THE TONIC looks well suited by this trip and going. Held up in rear she picked up from two out and came to pinch the race on the line. The manner of here win suggests she has a bit in hand if a race suits the hold up tactics.
SKYFIRE comes out of this race with a fair deal of credit since he did best of the pace setters. Near the front all the way he seemed the likely winner at the furlong pole only to be cut down in the shadow of the post.
MERCHANT OF MEDICI stayed on for third and probably stepped up a little on the form of his selling win. This was a better event.
CHINESE DEMOCRACY once again failed to show enough commitment in the final furlong and was held in fourth. He was taken down to Warwick the next day and won a similar event there, showing he has ability if inclined to use it.
KILMANSECK and DESERT FOREST set the pace and their efforts told from two furlongs out.
3.20 1m 7f 177yds 0-77 Handicap
The turn out here was very disappointing, particularly considering that £1,800 appearance money was available to split between the runners.
BERGONZI tracked the leader and then just got the better of a battle with CLOUDY CITY in the straight, the pair pulling clear. The winner is probably at his level but the second would seem to have a bit more scope for improvement.
ACT OF KALANISI was found out once headed in the straight and ARCHITRAVE was beaten by the home bend. BIJOU DAN ran a lifeless race not seeming that keen and losing touch down the far side for the final time.
3.55 6f 3yo 0-75 Handicap
THINKING broke his duck here, just wearing down a determined second on the line. The winner might just be positioned to take advantage of his handicap mark as he’s probably a bit better than bare recent form suggests and won’t go up much for this.
THE HERMITAGE didn’t do too much wrong in second and, like so many of Mark Johnston’s charges, battled hard before being passed at the post. The Johnston yard suffered a frustrating meeting with three consecutive seconds all beaten on the nod.
REACH FOR THE SKY looked very small compared with the colts and geldings but, given that she was 4lbs out of the handicap, put up a sterling effort to take third place. There will be easier races for her and it’s worth noting that she handled the sharp bends a fair bit better than a few.
None of the others made an impact in the straight, RAVENSFIELD not handling the home bend well.
4.30 7f 0-65 Handicap
DHHAMAAN is not a bad performer at this level when allowed to dictate and was on his toes in the paddock. Nothing got to him on this occasion and he never looked like being caught from two out.
CALL OF DUTY stayed on for second and has been thereabouts on a number of occasions recently.
NEEDY McCREDIE looked very well and ran a personal best if held form two out.
ARJEMIS, another on his toes in the parade ring, stayed on late without threatening.
STRAIGHT FACE was left a few lengths at the start and had no chance after. This run can be ignored and he’s better than recent form figures suggest.
5.05 7f 0-65 Handicap
NUIT SOMBRE was well touted here but he’s better in less competitive claimers. He couldn’t raise his game once challenged two out.
ELLIES IMAGE stayed on well from two out to take the prize from SAN SILVESTRO who ran on down the centre but never got to the winner. The latter is capable but a bit frustrating.
URSUS stayed on for third but is basically moderate and BAYBSHAMBLES didn’t seem particularly inclined to go through a gap in the final furlong.
IT’S BEYOND ME was equipped with a tongue tie, cheek pieces, a full cheek snaffle and a cross-noseband suggesting assorted physical and mental problems. He wasn’t quick enough to keep up and looks as if he should be doing something other than racing.
5.40 1m 4f 3-4yo Maiden Stakes
This race only concerned two from the turn for home. Sir Mark Prescott’s NEZHENKA had shown signs of temperament previously, but she has a fair bit of ability. She led after two furlongs out and came away nicely from that point.
CEOIL AN AITH was outpointed from two out and became Mark Johnston’s fourth second place of the meeting. She flashed her tail when the whip was brandished, though she did run on for hands and heels.
MISS MEFT finished a once paced third but her current mark of 67 might flatter here.
SHEIKHTOTHEMUSIC was a never dangerous fourth and looks destined for low grade handicaps.
We made our way down to Ripon for an overnight stay. Although our stay didn’t go quite to plan I can recommend the Royal Oak Hotel in the centre of Ripon. First off it’s a Timothy Taylor pub which means the ale is good. Secondly, the food is excellent, both a lovely dinner and breakfast next morning, with the majority of ingredients locally sourced. Unfortunately the plumbing failed and we had no water overnight after a pipe burst, but on the upside we were not charged for bed and breakfast. I’m sure this was just a temporary hiccup.