Time has caught up with me and I’m unable to do a full analysis of as many race as I would like. However, I will cover Scottish meetings as closely as I can and significant performances from the north of England.
SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday September 28th
Better known as chaser, FRED BOJANGALS had a sound re-introduction to the racecourse, following home Oxfordshire raider Ashammar in the opening novices’ hurdle. He lost nothing in defeat here, staying on though held from the last hurdle.
SHOPFRONTSPECIALST, well placed by Gordon Elliott in recent months, made a winning chasing debut in the 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase despite a few novicey leaps. He was driven out and this trip is probably as far would be ideal. After a few hard early lessons, LORD LARSSON is getting the hang of chasing and kept on well for second. HARBOUR WAY stayed on late for third, showing that he might be capable of making a mark at a lowly level.
The less exposed of the runners in the 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle, JEU DE ROSEAU and HEART OF DUBAI, filled the first two places. The former won very comfortably and has more in the tank. HEART OF DUBAI was held in the closing stages but is lightly raced and capable of making a mark off a current level of 96.
The oldest in the field held the youngest in the 2m 4f 0-108 Handicap Chase, eleven-year-old AMALFI COAST leading in the last furlong and showing he holds his form despite advancing years. REBEL HUNTER found very little in the closing stages and looks one to oppose when heading the market. Coming back from six months off, BALLABROOK ran well enough in third to promise better in the near future, but the rest were well held.
Chasing debutante PENNY QUEEN made the long trip from Cropredy worthwhile on her chasing debut. She stayed on from the rear in the minimum distance handicap chase, leading 100 yards from home and denying STOLEN LIGHT a double. The latter ran another sound race despite a 7lb rise. TRANOS stayed on for third but he’s very difficult to catch right, BUDS DILEMMA stayed on for fourth, but TROODOS JET found it a bit tough when asked to battle on the run in.
BAJAN SUNSHINE showed some enthusiasm but he’s presumably hard to keep fit and struggled in the last half-mile or so. ALFLORAMOOR was once again too keen for his own good.
DESERT SOUL found a very soft contest where his tearaway tactics were enough to stay in front. The Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle was a dire event and he would be lucky to get it this easy again.
HEXHAM – Friday October 1st
CAPE TRIBULATION ran to head MAGICAL LEGEND after the last in what might just turn out to a fair 3m 1f novices’ chase. 120 rated BALLYVESEY was held in the straight though was only beaten five lengths, while FLYING DOCTOR couldn’t match the leaders from the bottom of the hill.
Lucy Normile has had a quiet time of late but might just have a decent staying novice on her hands in the shape of SUNNYSIDE. Having show promise in bumpers without winning, he proved in his element over this trip, winning unchallenged. The opposition was the strongest, but the runner-up MOON INDIGO should win races.
Point-to-point winner OVERQUEST won the 3m 1f Handicap Chase, staying on well enough to come clear of an ordinary field. RECKLESS VENTURE ran a typical ‘almost but not quite’ second. MURPHY’S BEAU shared the pace for much of the way but couldn’t muster an extra effort from the bottom of the hill. PISTOL BASC was held here but as I write has boosted the form with a win at Wetherby.
ARCHIE’S WISH unseated at the fourteenth. He has shown ability at this level of fences, but is inclined to put in a few dicey jumps.
AL QEDDAAFF was comfortable winner of the maiden hurdle. He departs from the expected McCain type, being principally flat bred with plenty of speed amongst his relatives. He does go well on soft ground though, having recorded his flat win with cut.
A dire two mile chase, full of professional losers, was won by JANAL who showed enough determination to hold AGAINST THE WIND. Long standing maiden MORE SHENNANIGANS, probably better suited by a flatter track, stayed on for third place. Conditions were against SAM CRUISE who has a poor record with cut in the ground.
CARLISLE – Friday October 8th
The opening novices’ hurdle looked a decent contest and the first three in particular are worth noting. RECESSION PROOF, a decent handicapper on the flat, made smooth headway up the straight and ran on well. COUNTY COLOURS stepped up on previous efforts in second place and seems to have benefitted from the summer break, looking more the jumper now. FLINTY BAY was not given a hard time in third on his hurdling debut and should be capable of better next time.
BOW BADGER was an easy winner of the second heat, racing clear from the last. He could be decent.
CHAOPOLIMOSS looks more of a long term project for Martin Todhunter, but a 10 length second here might not look bad in time. Everything points to him making a chaser in time.
Another late developer filled third, YOU KNOW YOURSELF being tapped for pace from two out. A stamina test looks needed and he will likely prove a more formidable proposition over fences.
ALVARADO won on his chasing debut, progressing well up the hill and driven out to win. FLYING DOCTOR filled second place, running a bit better than at Hexham. C’MONTHEHAMMERS ran prominently, kept on for third and it might be wroth noting that his two wins have come on sharper tracks. ALDERLEY ROVER stayed on under pushing and will benefit from the race.
SEIGNEUR DES BOIS wasn’t put into the race and might be a long term prospect. He has much to learn and his jumping was novicey, but this four-year-old hinted at ability in France and is likely to improve with UK experience.
SOTOVIK put up a lifetime best chasing performance to win the two mile handicap chase, a competitive 0-125 contest. Though he has won on soft he wouldn’t want too much cut in the ground.
CANTGETON stayed on up the hill to take second place.
CARRIETAU showed his usual zest out in front, and battled well once challenged though he was running on empty in the last 100 yards. He is handicapped to the hilt but has proved a tough nut to crack since blinkers were applied.
FORTY FIVE, in good form two seasons ago, hinted that he is no back number by keeping on steadily for fourth. He’s on a workable mark and is worth noting, perhaps at a sharper track.
Frustrating HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY made progress to three out, but ploughed through that fence and his chance had gone.
NEWMAN DES PLAGES showed determination in abundance to take the stayers’ handicap chase. Having set much of the pace, he looked held by OVERQUEST two out but battled back to lead before the last and stay on for victory. The second ran creditable stepped up in class following his Hexham win.
STAR PLAYER was held from two out, but this was a great improvement on a dismal 09-10 season. Assuming he can be kept straight, he’s well below his last winning mark.
WESTERN GALE plugged on for fourth but hasn’t yet fulfilled his early novice promise.
LIVELY BARON cruised home in the bumper and Donald McCain has yet another capable animal on his hands. He is related to capable jumpers and I look forward to seeing him hurdling.
Newcomer MIDDLEBROOK performed well in second. A £20,000 buy as a three-year-old, he should repay patience before long.
DR FLYNN represented solid bumper form and performed soundly in third, a place he just held from a staying on HARRIS HAWK who offered John Wade cause for long-term optimism.
HEXHAM – Saturday October 9th
A couple of useful prospects fought out the finish of the opening Beginners’ Chase with SAVEIRO seeing off TWENTYNINEBLACK. The former should be capable of defying a penalty in a novice event, whilst Twentynineblack looks a ready made chase winner.
Back in third KELLYSTOWN LAD ran respectably, though outpaced from two out. He should improve for the run.
Pointing winner QUINDER SPRING unseated on his chasing debut having jumped awkwardly, but he looks to be one capable of progressing and stayed on to win the two and half mile handicap chase. The run won’t have done him any harm after a break and he is one to keep in the notebook.
TIFOSO was just touched off and is another youngster who can make progress over fences, while STAGECOACH AMBER ran a sound race in third to set the standard.
OSCAR HONEY ran in snatches, though was in touch three out before being held from the top of the hill.
The maiden hurdle looked a decent effort. MONOGRAM put his Perth aberration behind him, a few ran out on the bend there anyway, and ran on to hold the challengers from the last here.
BLENHEIM BROOK showed plenty of promise, staying on in the straight, and looks a decent prospect for Lucinda Russell. He’s likely to pick up a race soon.
TWENTYPOUNDLUCK and OIL BURNER were held in the straight but both look jumping types and have hope for the future.
SIERRA VICTOR won a soft stayers’ handicap chase holding a one paced MURPHYS BEAU from the home turn. BENBEOCH made some progress two out but didn’t seriously threaten. Normally consistent if frustrating, RECKLESS VENTURE was beaten two out and pulled up before the last.
COOL VIC won the bumper on his Rules debut for David Carr. He saw off Donald McCain’s DUNOWEN POINT and Malcolm Jefferson’s RIVER DRAGON in the closing stages, the three well clear of the rest. The latter has now used up his allocation of bumpers and should be competitive over hurdles. The first two are worth consideration in further bumpers.