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Monday 16 December 2013

Weekend Review 14-15 December

Saturday's blog selection GRANDIOSO unfortunately pulled-up injured about halfway thru' the feature race at Cheltenham on Saturday. Early indications are that the cause was a muscle strain which probably happened at the 2nd fence when the horse stretched for a clearance having taken a jump half-a-stride too early. This was very disappointing as I'd narrowed the race down to GRANDIOSO and Cantlow, and the latter ran a great race to be 2nd. I'm sure GRANDIOSO would have been very close to, if not in front of, Cantlow on Saturday had he completed.
The winner Double Ross was a bit of a surprise for me as I did not think he was up to winning this race on good ground as all of his best form has been on soft/heavy – and even his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies admitted he nearly pulled the horse out of the race because of the ground. That said, he came into the race on a handy mark of OR133 compared to his hurdles rating of OR138 and he had run well off OR141-142 over hurdles last season. Altho' technically a novice chaser, he did have a couple of chase runs without success in October 2012, so you could say he was a 2nd-season chaser. He also runs well at Cheltenham having beaten the useful Close House over 2m5f (on soft ground) in November 2012 with some other decent horses well beaten (eg: Captain Sunshine and Ruben Cotter). That put him on my alert list for last season as a hurdler, and he repaid my support when he returned to Cheltenham for the "Martin Pipe" (conditional jockeys handicap hurdle) at the Festival in March this year when he was 3rd. By my reckoning, he didn't have to improve much on his earlier efforts this season over fences to win this but he did nearly throw it away as he is so one-paced at the finish. He does relish a strong gallop and that managed to see-off most of the challengers meaning he went into the final fence with a 5-length lead and only Cantlow – who also loves Cheltenham having run 3rd to high-class Cape Tribulation in the 3-mile Pertemps Final handicap hurdle in 2012 – looked like catching him on the run-in.
Of the other alert runners out on Saturday, LE BEC was disappointing and does not look to be improving. DRUMSHAMBO had previously run 4th in the "Johnny Henderson" at the Cheltenham Festival last March, so the track was not an issue on Saturday, perhaps he is in need of a break. GREYWELL BOY is perhaps best on a flat track as he looks well handicapped on earlier form, so I'll give him another chance. PARSNIP PETE is another thought not to have acted on the track, tho' this horse is starting to frustrate me. SAVED BY JOHN is a lot better than this run and I'd like to see him stepped-up to 20f.
CANTLOW ran a cracker (see above) and is one I'd like to see tackle further than 2m5f.  COLOUR SQUADRON continues to flatter but this was a career best effort and perhaps we'll see the best of him on soft ground.  JOHNS SPIRIT seems to have reached his handicap ceiling, but we had a good run on him with a couple of wins. SILVER ROQUE is best fresh and is on the list for when he returns after a couple of months off the track. TAP NIGHT needs it soft/heavy to show his best, and he's dropped from OR153 following his 2nd at Aintree in April.
MORE OF THAT and SALUBRIOUS came 1st & 2nd in the 4-runner Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) returning an Exacta dividend of £16.60 to a £1 stake. Both of these hurdlers are improving fast tho' the drop in trip was the wrong move for SALUBRIOUS in my opinion. MORE OF THAT maintained his unbeaten run and extended it to 4 wins. He's been on my alert list since winning his racecourse debut but, even tho' he's won 3 times this autumn, I'm yet to have a wager on him! This 5yo is a full brother to Eastlake who won the 2-mil2 & half-furlong chase earlier on the same card and, being a much better horse than Eastlake; a very exciting future lies ahead.
HAZY TOM was very disappointing and it is impossible to know when to catch this talented horse right. He beat Cantlow at level weights in November 2012, but he'd have met his old rival on 8lb better terms on Saturday and would've been well beaten. He's off the list for good.
NIGHT IN MILAN has been on my alert list since running 3rd to Chac Du Cadran in the North Yorkshire National. This horse is a very good 3-mile chaser (tho' his stamina cannot be relied upon beyond 3m1f) and he went one-better than his 2nd in the same race last year at Doncaster. This has to go down as a missed opportunity for me. He held his form well last season and so long as he's not raced on soft/heavy or beyond 3m1f, then he can be followed.  LOST GLORY has only ever won (or shown any decent form) between the months of May and October.
BLACK THUNDER won as he liked and I think he could be a real RSA horse, he has much more potential than any of the novice chasers that ran at Cheltenham.
DOLATULO confirmed the good impression he made when running well at Stratford in October. He's best at trips up to 2m4f and, so long as he's raced on good-to-soft or better ground. HI NOTE was disappointing and will probably be rested now until the Spring of 2014 as this was his 18th race of 2013 (flat and jumps).  
No selections today.

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