The Plan is to pick a race each day and give it a fairly detailed preview - hopefully picking up a worthwhile punt, but not scrabbling around for one. In reality, the "every jumps day" might prove impractical. For instance, you have been to Plumpton, had a couple of pints, get the train back, go to the pub. There might well be time to go through a race and publish, but no-one wants the unintelligible guff. So The Plan and The Harsh Reality may not always coincide.

The verdict is simple for each horse: The more Axes the better, but lay, or at least avoid, the Stalins. Keep a wary eye on the Mysterons
In order to handle changeable ground, a preference table has been added - the key is:
Y+ = Strong preference      Y = OK      Y? = Probably OK      ?Y = Maybe OK      ? = insufficient evidence
?x = Maybe a problem      x? = probably a problem      x = definite problem      blank = no evidence to judge
24th November, Catterick 12.50, Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Handicap Chase (class 5, 0-100)

Layout: left-handed, sharp, level

Distance: 2 miles 3 furlongs

Going: Good to Soft (Good places)

Stables in strong form: Ann Hamilton

Stables in below par form: Patrick Holmes, Rose Dobbin, Kenny Johnson

Claiming jockey watch: John Kington (Stormbay Bomber) claims 3 lb, 71/1375. Finian O’Toole (Christmas Twenty) claims 5 lb, 36/454. Ross Chapman (Oak Vintage) claims 5 lb, 27/199. Ryan Day (Roman Numeral), claims 3 lb, 46/444. Dale Irving (My Idea) claims 3lb, 45/382. Thomas Dowson (King Golan), claims 3 lb, 41/501.
The second cop out of the week was close, but with most things working as required for connections of Oak Vintage, he is worth a speculative investment. Take 2/1 or more.
HorseGoing DistanceCourse Comments
HeavySoft Gd-SoftGoodGd-Fm2m 3fLHSharpLevel
------------------------ -------- -------------------------------------------
Stormbay Bomberxx?Y?xYYY
Minella Suite?YY???YYY
Christmas Twenty?Y?x?YYYY
Oak VintageYY?Y?YYYY
Roman NumeralYYY?Y?YYYY
King Golan????Y?Y?YY

Points of Order
MIDDLEBROW (Donald McCain), 11-13, official rating 101, tongue tie

In Ireland he fell and was a well beaten second in points before battling himself into victory at Ballinrobe for his bumper debut. That saw him sold to Britain and initially he continued the promising work over hurdles. But in March he was an ordinary second in a three horse race and all three runs since have been well below his best. The middle one of them was his chase debut, where a mistake two out hastened the demise of his fading chances. The course will be ideal, more so than his preparation for this race and maybe also his stamina.

STORMBAY BOMBER (Patrick Holmes), 11-12, or 100

Like all past preview winners, Bloodaxe has a soft spot for this horse, but it is not a blind spot and his successful selection was based on the fact that two miles is the optimum distance. The other factor is that he is a decent summer ground sort of horse, and even this relatively small step into the damper realms will count against him. All this is wasting a perfect course layout and a handicap mark that he has previously won from, and his recent form is not that of a horse poised to defy adversity.

MINELLA SUITE (Rose Dobbin), 11-12, or 100

His chase career has been interesting, in the most ominous sense of the word. He lost his chase debut in a shorter race here by six lengths, only to scribble over the promise with an unseat and a fall. When gloom had set in, he was off to Ayr and finished last of five, but beaten only five lengths. That was a 0-120 race and this will seem a very comfortable place in comparison. The concern is whether he has the stamina for this, and if it is borderline, how will his jumping stand up if he gets rather tired late on.

CHRISTMAS TWENTY (Micky Hammond), 11-8, or 96, hood

When looking at his hurdles form, the ability is there but the failure to manage a win is worrying. So you look at his chase form and see three non-completions (two pulled up), two tailed off efforts and a third at Sedgefield which can be seen as not the greatest effort of all time that has acquired prize money. So all in all it is a negative view but the nagging doubt is that one day a horse that lost a novice hurdle to Charbel by two and a half lengths with now 144-rated Mr Mix third is going to something good one day.

OAK VINTAGE (Ann Hamilton), 11-1, or 89

At last we find a horse that is showing some form of recent life. Since returning from his summer holiday, which followed a dismal 2016/17 season, he has been beaten a short head at Hexham and won readily at Kelso. If he was doing this habitually, he would not be down in class 5 level, but whilst he is in this mood, defying the eleven pounds handicap raise is possible. As he won a 2m 4f novice hurdle eighteen months ago, it may even be possible to improve further in this longer contest. That hurdle win even came on the back of a twelve day turnaround – akin to what is being done now.

ROMAN NUMERAL (David Thompson), 10-10, or 84

Over the years he has won four times, the latest at Southwell in July from a rating of 81. The other three occurred back when he was trained in Ireland and were all hurdles races. All of the success has been at two miles, but there have been intermittent efforts at further that indicate a bit more staying power lies deep within. Under normal circumstances this is a race where we say that he is perfectly capable of winning this, like many other races that he has not won, but the additional cause for concern is that he reappears only a week after falling at Newcastle.

MY IDEA (Maurice Barnes), 10-8, or 82, cheekpieces & tongue tie

Back in September he beat Exitas in a small field at Hexham, his first win for two and a half years. Subsequent events showed this to be an excellent display, but nobody told the horse and his performances have been regressive ever since, to the degree that there was a cheekpiece-free experiment last time. Despite a win at Musselburgh, he has tended not to enjoy sharp tracks as much as other types, so the chance of remembering the September glory is diminished. He also likes diminishing his fans bank balances.

KING GOLAN (Kenny Johnson), 10-3, or 77, blinkers & tongue tie

A seventeen lengths third of eight does not sound like much, but in the case of this horse and his run earlier this month it represents a step forward. The key performance indicators used before involved not finishing or being tailed off, so let us not get overly carried away with the achievement. That runs could have been more threatening with less skewwhiff jumping, which is a bad habit that he has been struggling to snap out of. Very quiet stable form should prevent him winning this, but another long priced place is not beyond our imagination – wonder what his thoughts on the matter are?
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