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JANUARY 2019 HORSES TO FOLLOW
DREAM BOLT     (David Rees)

11 year old chesnut gelding     (Urban Ocean – Riviera Dream)     5740/U7/631F311/1265/11P413P52-724336

There are two horses selected on the basis of days between runs this month. Dream Bolt is the type who gets back to the yard from after a run and within ten minutes is haring around the paddock yelling “Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. When can I run again?” The other, on the next entry, lives a more pastoral and contemplative existence. In the case of Dream Bolt the system works when applied to the current stable, who have let him dabble with point-to-points since coming from Ireland, but really have got him off to a T. The area that originally drew the attention was when he had a gap of ten to seventeen days between racing, but an afterthought was that he has only raced in shorter than ten days twice and one of those was a win, so the real speciality is races within seventeen days of the previous one. The cosy image of man and horse in perfect mental harmony is now replaced with one of Dream Bolt forever in a panic to get on with things and his trainer tearing his hair out as the horse utterly refuses to learn an iota of patience. These things should not work but they do, and the David Rees runs Dream Bolt fairly quickly score is U11F1161136. Note that the last two losses have been in class 2 company which is bound to damage the strike rate.

Races no more than seventeen days after the previous run

DUSKY LARK     (Robert Walford)

9 year old bay gelding     (Nayef – Snow Goose)     6215150/3P6412/22214/P334U-622

There is an element of danger with this selection for several reasons. One is that he is teetering on the edge of being too highly rated for the races intended on this site after a good second at Chepstow just after Christmas. A second is that a score in the chosen conditions of 11641144U means that profitability is dependent on decent odds at fairly regular intervals of success, and those intervals may span more than a year. The third is that since a win on stable debut he is 0/3 for the current yard in the correct conditions – is one due, or has a change of method discombobulated Dusky Lark? As per the demands of current procedural bureaucracy, a risk assessment was processed. The exact words it generated were “**** it, pick him anyway.” Hurrah! One mitigation that can be applied to Dusky Lark is ground based. When ground states are not soft or heavy his record is played ten, won zero. Only one of those losses was in the correct circumstances but even on good to soft it is not tempting to follow him with raging zest. Additionally his last two wins came with a tongue tie and whilst recent form implies that the finest Dusky Lark song could happen without one, any person that opts to save their involvement for when a tongue tie is used is not necessarily being a scaredy cat. The risk assessment did not have a tick box for “use of tongue tie?”

Races from 28 to 42 days since the last run, on soft or heavy
Description
Dusky Lark (right) startles Winning Spark when pouncing to win at Taunton a few years back. This image was picked up off of a Zimbio page which appeared to be in the public domain - Alan Crowhurst took the original.

ISLAND HEIGHTS     (Lucinda Russell)

10 year old bay gelding     (Heron Island – La Reina)     94212/42221F/1154/4666/4-2413

After winning his only Irish point late in 2013 Island Heights packed up his bundle and headed to Britain to make his fortune. The runner-up in that race finally got a win early in 2018, which meant that all five finishers from that pointing run have won afterwards. Finally Island Heights can stop worrying about that and get on with his racing. The two pulled ups have never tasted success, so the race had a rare perfection as an omen for the future. This horse has won five out of twenty-four under Rules, but there is one way in which the numbers can be arranged in a fashion that is very neatly profitable. First of all rule out races of class 3 and above and also non-handicaps as he is only 1/12 through his adventures in the former and 0/3 in the latter. What the better days in these two situations show us is that he can get his karma unbalanced on undulating courses, so in handicaps of class 4 on level tracks we are left with a record of 111621. The second place was close and the sixth a confirmation that his jumping in chases had gone from initially acceptable to woeful. It is not unconnected that Island Heights last ran in a chase in April 2015. He has not yet been rated low enough to be in class 5 hurdles and if he gets there within a year, something has gone very horribly wrong, but they are included in the conditions because only a weirdo wins regularly in class 4 and fluffs his chances in worse races.

Handicap hurdles up to class 4, on a level track

KESTREL VALLEY     (Matt Sheppard)

5 year old bay mare     (Dr Massini – Lady Karinga)     5734-3

From the outset she has been anointed a stayer as her racing debut was a junior bumper but over two miles, not opting to use the benefits of a shorter race to ply her trade. Kestrel Valley was beaten a manageable six lengths, the horses ahead of her having no wins but plenty of places since. That was at Hereford and given the layout similarities it was strange that she had steering problems at Ludlow when regressing in her follow up race. After that she was sent over hurdles and whilst Kestrel Valley has won none of her three tries, she has been defeated by fewer than ten lengths each time. On debut she had her nearest miss to date with subsequent winners in first (Love Lane) and sixth – Bonza Girl, who has won three on the spin and may not have stopped yet. Next gig was Chepstow, where odds-on Kupatana (two wins since and very talented but operates on a hair trigger of lunacy) was below par in beating Kestrel Valley by six lengths. That was enough to claww her way into handicaps and she tried to scare the oppo into defeat from the front at Sandown. That failed but it was her first run back from the summer off and the stable is well up the cold list at present – sixty-five runners since a win. There is lots of improvement in Kestrel Valley when the yard snaps into better form. They have not even tried racing her in Yorkshire with the ghost of Brian Glover chasing her down the home straight.

Handicap hurdles rated up to 115

POTTERS SAPPHIRE     (Amy Murphy)

6 year old grey mare     (Aussie Rules - Arabescato)     5833/532P-P37

This site makes no claims to expertise in pottery but all the research done and demonstrations watched on video via the internet strongly imply that sapphires are not deemed an idea material for working into pot shapes. This may seem unimportant but if you name a horse after something that is fundamentally dysfunctional, then you should expect the horse to follow suit. Hence the lack of a win showing on the record of Potters Sapphire. However, the good defeats do show a distinct pattern and as she is still a relatively young horse and has the time to turn this trend into success. Those results are a bumper eighth at Fakenham, followed by five lengths third at Market Rasen and seven lengths third back at Fakenham. An interlude in hurdling at the wrong places follows, but she has lost a mares only novice by less than two lengths and a handicap at the same place by five lengths. That makes Potters Sapphire's record on sharp and undulating tracks 83323, with only one third place away from them - beaten thirteen lengths. The runs from which heart is taken were all mares only but she can fail poorly in such races, so the track bias is trusted.

Hurdles or chases on sharp, undulating tracks
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Potters Sapphire as she appears on the Amy Murphy website, which appears to be conducting an experiment into the maximum number of different backgrounds that can be used for a photo of a horse

ROYAL MANDATE     (Rebecca Menzies)

7 year old chesnut gelding     (Manduro – Hesperia)     F/3483566-34

Does Royal Mandate have a warrant to carry on not winning? And if he does, will he enforce it or will he work for the benefit of the people? The implication of the latter phrase is the winning is for the benefit of the people, but of course how many races are there when the favourite has been backed by more than half of the participating people? Let us return to the horse in question and deduce what he is going to do in order to resolve these conundrums. He made his racing debut in September 2016 over hurdles and fell at the first. The next run was a year later and with him having left Dan Skelton. Third by a dozen lengths showed promise and when eventually in handicaps he gained cheekpieces and was beaten initially by three lengths and next time by six lengths. The late spring campaign was a hurdle run at Perth followed by a change to a visor and a couple of chases. Royal Mandate was third on his initial attempt at Kelso and six lengths fourth at Hexham two weeks later. It seems that a low level chase or two can come his way and a good run over three miles at Musselburgh early in 2018 would suggest a step up in distance will not harm his chances

Class 5 handicap chases over 2m 4f or more
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