Good morning all,
The first of a 2-part Sandown review on the Punt this morning, as it's quite a long piece I've split it and the second part will come tomorrow. I hope you all find it of some use.
Plus one from Doncaster that's on my Five To Follow list this year – I'll be very disappointed if this can't go close today.
Five took part in the first the juvenile hurdle at 12.15, and there was a bit of everything. Probably just about the best of them on looks was Level Of Intensity, who does have some scope and is quite athletic, but he just wasn’t good enough after being one of three to help set early fractions. Echo Watt was fine, no positives nor negatives but I was struggling to see how he could be favourite after a win in a moderate Ffos Las bumper when Crucial Moment (not the biggest) already had winning form in the bank and had run well against We Have A Dream. Even with the penalties he was the one to beat on form and his win here ought not to come as a surprise to anyone. Connections are reportedly going to have a look at the Fred Winter where, if he doesn’t get crucified for this, he’ll hold outside chances.
Mister Chow looks the sort the Gary Moore likes over hurdles, strong and well built, and although he was a touch keen pre-race, he was generally fine. This was a perfectly solid introduction and a similar race at Plumpton or Lingfield should be his for the taking.
Glorvina is a strange looker, the back end doesn’t really go with the front (which looks a lot stronger) but regardless, she seems to have stalled for the time being.
Onto the Mares Hurdle, and if this was decided on looks, the referee would have stopped the contest before it began. Angel’s Antics is one of the best looking mares I’ve seen for a while – strong, very well built, and plenty of size about her. She was looking around a bit pre-race but not in a green sort of way, it was more a confident look than anything. Fences will surely be her game in time. Sadly, she ran as flat as a pancake here, her jumping letting her down at times but I’d put this down more to the fact she was only seen out two weeks ago when giving her all in bad ground at Haydock. She is better than this.
Hitherjacques Lady had a try at making all but even after jumping as well as she did, and on her favoured ground, she wasn’t good enough. I think we might already reached the ceiling with her, and she’s not one to be going in on short. Midnight Jazz ran her usual game race but this was all about Poppy Kay, who travelled well here and in a protracted battle with Midnight Jazz after the last, just came out on. A welcome winner for Philip Hobbs, who, as I said earlier in the week, might just be turning a corner now.
Further evidence of that came just half an hour later when David Maxwell steered home Chef D’Equipe to victory in a competitive handicap. The form of this will be questioned, with both Perfect Pirate (fit, athletic and very lengthy type) and Theo’s Charm both blowing out, but the winner looks like he has more to come and I wouldn’t be in a rush to rule out a follow-up, especially as the handicapper won’t hit him too hard for this.
The one to take out of this, though, is Bekkensfirth, who I marked down as “a run short” in terms of full fitness but travelled as well as anything from just off the pace and looked a threat at the Pond. However, once he’s hit the desperate ground in the home straight his run has flattened out, and a mistake two out sealed his fate. But back on better ground this spring, there could be a decent handicap in him – possibly Aintree, on what looks a very good mark. Don’t forget, back in 2015, before his injury, he thrashed Lovely Job at Leicester by 12l, and he’s now rated 133. One for trackers, definitely.
Not a lot to say about the 2m handicap that followed, suffice to say the world and his dog knew Speredek was going to win (9-4 the night before into odds-on at the off) and he duly obliged, seeing off Gino Trail in the closing stages. Overtown Express simply couldn't lay a glove on the pair, despite having the run of the race, and might be a bit too high in the handicap now. Pearls Legend simply couldn’t dominate (again) and will get another chunk off his back for this – he was spotted staying on late again when it was all over, so if the handicapper drops him another 7lb for this (which he may) he could be worth a try in a 0-120 where he can lead and bully inferior animals. I have put him in the tracker with his next couple of races in mind.
Today at Doncaster the useful Oscar Rose takes in the Mares Handicap Hurdle at 2.35 and she's one of the horses that, at the beginning of the year, I wanted to keep onside. Here's what I said about her at the time –
“Twice she caught the eye in the paddock early in her career – firstly when fourth to En Joule at Stratford in July and then, after a break, we saw her again in November when she finished a close fourth in a quality bumper at the Bet Victor November meeting at Cheltenham. She really stood out as one to follow, a very solidly, well built individual that will jump a fence one day, and the way she stuck to the task suggested she had a good attitude to go with the physique.
She followed up by winning a Listed bumper at Huntingdon, a race that normally throws up plenty of winners, and then she rather got stuck in the mud at Sandown when quietly fancied to run a big race. But she showed that all wrong by finishing a close second at Aintree, back on better ground, and only being beaten half a length by Dame Rose. She travelled like a dream that day and just didn’t quite have the toe of the winner.
Her hurdles debut at Warwick was simply too bad to be true. She was on her toes from the word go, from the moment she was brought into the paddock (not her normal behaviour) and jumped dreadfully throughout the race. It’s to her credit that she didn’t get beaten that far by Rebel Yeats (who has franked the form this season already anyway) and that effort is surely best forgotten.
Closely related to useful stayer Lie Forrit, which gives an indication that a step up in trip this season will show her in an even better light, she looks one to keep onside.”
This looks an ideal opportunity for her today and the better ground at Doncaster will only hep her cause. This looks a very winnable race, despite the numbers, and I have no doubt she's still on the right side of the handicapper.
Today's selection – Oscar Rose 2.35 Doncaster
Good luck with all your bets today,