Good morning all,
As you know, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Doncaster last Saturday and as promised, a few thoughts from the day are on the main piece. I hope they prove of some use to you in the future.
I’m driving up to Doncaster on Saturday morning and by the time I’ve reached Woodhall Services it’s snowing, and the temperature reads a whopping 1 degree on the dashboard. There’s a great temptation to turn the car around and go home at this point, then I remember I’m going to see Shishkin, and instead I turn the heater up full blast and press on.
It is good to see a few familiar faces at Doncaster and it cheers me up to see them. As it does them, I feel. After a baked potato it’s time for the first.
12.55 – 2m3f Handicap Hurdle
My oh my. Almost the start of all starts. I’ve not looked much at the race and have decided to merely go on paddock looks. Four catch the eye but one of them, Lifeisahighway, is moving poorly through his paces so he gets the elbow. That leaves me with Rough Night, the favourite Sunset West, and Sayar, who looks more a chaser but very fit.
I cannot believe the price of Sayar when I open up Skybet; 150-1. I check my notes and have another look to make sure I’m not going mad. No, he looks well. I have the princely sum of £2.50 each-way, thinking it must have no chance.
When it is still in front two out, and has seen most of them off, I start getting rather excited. It’s only after the last that Dorkiung Boy gets on top, but all the same, what a start to the day. I shall be very interested in Sayar when he goes back over fences.
1.30 – 2m Lightning Novices Chase
Let’s be clear, Shiskin does not knock your eye out in the same way that, say, Fiddlerontheroof does. You don’t look at him and instantly think “that’s a champion”. Far from it really, he looks fairly ordinary, but has scope and one thing he does do well is walk (he has a good overstep) but you’d not pick him out on looks. I’d say they left a bit to work on here, too.
Eldorado Allen looks much more your typical chaser. He kept spooking at something at something around the paddock and stopping (the stable lad asked the girl taking him round what – “f**k knows” was her reply) but looked fit. Fast Buck has a stringholt that became more pronounced the more he walked round, but was probably just about the pick.
It is becoming harder to find any chinks in Shishkin’s armour. He clearly didn’t like the ground, and bar one small error mid-race (which was no bad thing, he’ll have learnt from that) jumped well. Once he was given his head in the straight, he bounded clear. Given he wasn’t 100% fit here, he’s going to take some beating in March.
2.05 – Yorkshire Rose Mares Hurdle
Red hood in the paddock for Floressa. Marie’s Rock wanted to be last out the paddock (grinds her teeth) and waited until it was clear before she went down.
Not a lot to choose between them on looks – I just gave the nod to Marie’s Rock, but she appears to be going backwards, and weakened out of this too quickly for comfort. Better ground might help, but the jury is out now.
Floressa looked like she might come on for a run, so this second place was encouraging enough as far as spring targets go. She too will want better ground, and could be a lively Mares outsider come March if it quickens up.
Miranda simply handled conditions much better than her rivals, always travelling well and had matters in hand from two out. She probably hasn’t had to improve a lot to win this, but at least her mark of 143 is earned, having taken in some competitive handicaps this season.
Rayna’s World looked well but moved poorly in the paddock and she was done with a bit too quickly here. Maybe she needs a break now.
2.40 – River Don Novices Hurdle
Some lovely looking horses here, but the form is difficult to evaluate, with all of those that raced in what looked a competitive event at Cheltenham last time pulling up.
I liked Pat’s Fancy on form but knew my money was done in the paddock, he looked in need of the run and maybe the weather has held him up a bit. He was weak in the market too, and eventually pulled up.
Bobhopeornohope was just about the paddock pick, but he too was done with turning in and pulled up. If you took First Flow out of the equation, you’d swear blind Kim Bailey was out of form….
Ashtown Lad (looks a chaser) disappointed again, as did the imposing Ask A Honey Bee, who has definitely grown since I last saw him.
Emir Sacree is another that looks a chaser but on this showing, wants shorter. Winner The Cob looked perfectly well but if you saw a nine length win coming from him, then you’re a better man than I. I do know from having spoken to Ben last year how much they think of him, but the fact he’s not entered up for the Albert Bartlett at present tells you a bit.
Down the bottom of the card, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Took The Lot is absolutely huge, and needs fences now by the looks of him.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom from a punting perspective. Portstorm is not the biggest by any means but was fit and benefitted from a lovely Conor O’Farrell ride, dropping him out and finding the best of the ground out wide. 50-1 a place for Daily Punt readers and me alike.
I was hoping for a bigger price about Midnight Antics in the closing race at Catterick, the 4.05, but I can see her drifting back a bit and with five places on offer, is still worth an e/w investment. Essentially she's well handicapped on her bumper form of a couple of years ago, and she's merely been getting herself handicapped this winter. The tongue tie goes on for her handicap debut today and from such a basement mark, if she's any ability, she must go close here.
Today's selection – Midnight Antics (e/w) 4.05 Catterick
Good luck with all your bets today,