Good morning all,
Went to sunny Donny last weekend and pleased to say there was a bit to take out of it. So trackers at the ready, there's a couple to go in…
Good start to the week yesterday – yes, we had a bit of luck, but as I say, there's times when you can't buy a winner and you're on you're on your arse, and it'll be yours that falls when clear just to rub salt into the wound. So we'll take it, and move on! One from Ludlow today.
12.05 – 2m Novice Hurdle
The market was dominated by the unbeaten Kalashnikov, trained by Amy Murphy, and Irish Prophecy, trained by Emma Lavelle. The two were, unsurprisingly, the paddock standouts and preference was for Irish Prophecy, who looks a strong, workmanlike type that will improve for fences next season. Kalashnikov wouldn’t be as imposing but is a solid type, maybe more long-backed than his main opponent. They had it between them from some way out and for a few strides Irish Prophecy looked like throwing down a serious challenge but he was soon seen off by the winner, who dug deep for pressure and worried him out of it. The second hung badly under pressure after the last and may not be one to rely on in a battle.
A couple to note further back in the field – Bertie Blake, still pretty much unfit, ran on in taking fashion once it was all over and now gets a mark. Into trackers, and I’d expect a 2m4f handicap to next up for him. He’ll be interesting. And The Linksman, absolutely huge and crying out for a fence, could just be the next Cabragh for Sam England. He’s clearly got some issues – he was on his toes pre-race, and jinked out in the race itself – but when he gets a mark and fences, will improve plenty. Watch them get it handicapped over hurdles and then straight into a handicap chase….
12.40 – 2m3½f Novice Hurdle
Paddock best here was Charlie Longsden’s Jet Set, who has a bit of class about her and is a lovely, fluid walker that drew your eye every time she walked in front of you. She’s not run badly here, sticking to it well enough, and given the form of the yard at present (having their usual winter fall-off, just 1-48 November and 0-9 December at time of writing) looks one to bear in mind once the spring comes around, when they will inevitably start having plenty of winners again. Into trackers.
I wouldn’t have picked winner Majestic Moll out on looks, she’s quite small and hardly knocked your eye out. But she’s done little wrong here, although given her size, will find it harder under a penalty next time.
Blue Valentine had attracted money in the morning but was as fat as butter and will come on plenty for this. As will Viking Queen, who ran on late under tender handling and will strip fitter next time.
Favourite Redemption Song looked fine, but found life harder under the penalty and looks like she needs further now anyway.
2.55 – 3m2f Handicap Chase
Some slow horses on show here, but it was pleasing that two of the three paddock picks (Kings Cross was the third, but like so many from the Tony Carroll yard, stopped pretty quickly here) finished 1-2. The best was actually the second, Smiling Jessica, who looks a bit better than a 0-100 horse on looks and if taken to Hexham, where her stamina will be an asset, might win a similar race. She was going nowhere until the final two furlongs when that stamina kicked in, and she finished with a rattle to take second behind winner Attention Please, who also looked fit and well. Back in the day, I had him on a tracker after a couple of eyecatching runs in novice hurdles and had all but given up, but I had a saver on him here (main bet was Smiling Jessica) and he looks to be getting the hang of things on this. Could follow up now he knows how to win, the cheekpieces seemingly doing the trick here, although you’d like to see him pick his feet up a bit more.
3.30 1m5f Junior NH Flat Race
A modest lot. Shiroccan Roll was just about the best on looks and got my tenner, but sadly he found less than expected off the bridle and was well beaten. Skyline was next best, despite having two handlers to keep a lid on him, he looks quite racey but I didn’t like his head carriage in the closing stages, cocking his head to look at the crowd. Hopefully he’ll know more next time and may be worth one more chance. But these two aside, nothing much jumped out at you, with most looking in need of a run, and that included winner Ettila De Sivola, who looked to be carrying plenty of condition, and a chaser of the future. The fact he was good enough here might not say much about the others, and I’m in no hurry to be backing much from this in the near future.
Over to Ludlow today, where Minella Style is worth a bet to overcome odds-on favourite Schnabel in the 3.10. He's on a tracker from last year (when with Neil King, now with Dai Williams) after a remarkable run against Spiritofthgames at Taunton, where he finished second. He was so fat that day I expected him to finish tailed off completely after making much of the running, but he stuck on very well to finish second in a race that working out nicely – fourth Blue Comet three times a winner since, third home Amour De Nuit has won four times since, and the winner came back off a break to win at Lingfield last month. He's not repeated that run since but there have been excuses – ground, trip and outclassed last time – and Schnabel's form last time, though solid, is far from unbeatable. This should be far more suitable, and he's on a very fair mark, so there can be no excuses today.
Good luck with all your bets today,