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APRIL 2018 HORSES TO FOLLOW
BEGGAR'S WISHES     (Peter Bowen)

7 year old bay gelding     (Oscar - Strong Wishes)     542/4426P117-1542

Although Beggar's Wishes has been active in each of the last three seasons, the rate of appearance has all been a touch staccato. This is useful, because gaps between races are a very important factor in his results. When he has had forty-five or more days between races, the outcomes have been as follows, including his debut run for which infinity is considered greater than forty-five: 54241112. But when he has a shorter break to contend with, the results are far more modest: 426P754. It could be argued that messing around with various headgear combinations introduces an unknown element that undermines the data sample, but connections have settled on cheekpieces and tongue tie, after a spell just using a tongue tie and the old patterns have stuck around in the performances of Beggar's Wishes. At the time of writing all three wins have occurred on sharp tracks, and the four qualifying defeats have been on easy and galloping ones, but the initial four losses were all bumpers and his most recent run, at Leicester, was a close enough loss to show that he is not incapable of winning away from sharp courses.

Races with a break of 45 or more days since the last run

FIRST ASSIGNMENT     (Ian Williams)

5 year old bay gelding     (Vinnie Roe - Rebel Dream)     2413

The first season in the professional game has seen First Assignment take what has become a typical potential chaser's route forward. A couple of novice hurdles, a fact finding handicap and then the EBF final at Sandown for jumps-bred novice hurdlers. It was not First Assignment's first assignment, as he had contested an Irish point-to-point in Spring 2017. And contested it rather well, beating Red River (hurdle form 131) into second place. He was not asked to phaff around in two milers, and finished second at Lingfield over two and a half miles on debut. A spin around Southwell next up went a bit less well, but it got him into a Huntingdon handicap hurdle on a winning mark. In the big race at Sandown, he finished third but was beaten far enough not to be badly harrassed by the handicapper on the subject of his rating. With all runs having been on soft going, connections will probably be thinking about a summer break for First Assignment sooner rather than later, but the real interest is when he goes over fences - the yard is not averse to making five year olds into chasers.

Handicap chases over 2m4f or more
First Assignment has just going out to be second in the gloom at Lingfield. He can try and look at us as if we should be thinking "so what" but it is fooling nobody.

SHAZZAMATAZ     (Alex Hales)

6 year old brown mare     (Presenting - Dame O'Neill)     0-4

What this mare is here for is a reminder to be nice to people, because you never know when your paths will cross again. When Shazzamataz made her Irish pointing debut, she ended up third, four lengths behind winner Tikk Tock Boom. Clearly words passed between them as the race unfolded - both were complete outsiders on the day and possibly got over emotional at their prominent finishes. The evidence of this was seen at Huntingdon late in March when Shazzamataz made her hurdling debut, encountering in the same race no less than Tikk Tock Boom. Some sort of altercation took place at the first hurdle, and the result was Tikk Tock Boom was riderless and Shazzamataz was stuck in last place in a big field. The bad temper was not with Shazzamataz as she willing made up plenty of ground from the third last, whereas the other mare set about one or two innocent bystanders as well when she was running loose. After that start, Shazzamataz had flopped badly in a pointers only numper at Tipperary as well as two more points (once when starting favourite), but she instantly looks far more at home hurdling and is an interesting option for all sorts of races, as long as they are limited to mares and cover long distances.

Mares only hurdles over 2m 5f or more

SHEAR ROCK     (Kerry Lee)

8 year old bay gelding     (Spadoun - Sleeping Diva    503234/411123/2-2

When a horse has it the entire winning record crammed into one short term sequence, it is common side effect that they take forever to recover that level of excellence, or never do at all. Fortunately for Shear Rock, it never quite went away. Unfortunately he has not raced often enough to find more winning opportunities. His lastest run, which was the first for Kerry Lee, followed eighteen months without being sighted on a racecourse, and it was only the third since Autumn 2015. Under the circumstances a ten lenghs second in a beginners' chase makes for a sound effort. Shear Rock did not have the usual hood on for the comeback, which gives one question that lacks an answer. Will he improve for having it back on? Or have the new team got him mentally prepared to operate unhooded? As far as can be understood, the latter is simply a case of repeatedly asking him if he is a cobra, until he admits that he is not. The three wins were all in hurdles over no further than 2m 3f, and all on sharp tracks, so irrespective of fake snake identity syndrome, Shear Rock's first chase attempt on tight bends is eagerly awaited. With the passage of time, his preferred operational range of race distances may have changed - that is something to monitor. Why does his entry keep coming back to reptiles?

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases on sharp tracks

TSUNDOKU     (Alexandra Dunn)

7 year old chesnut mare     (Medicean - Toberanthawn)     6/15F091F-18

This mare is cleverly named after the ancient Japanese art of minature sculpture using only parts of broken stethoscopes and Toblerones. Fortunately Tsundoku herself concentrates her efforts on horse races and has won three times over hurdles, plus once more on the flat. The pattern to her successes, which have been surviving a move from Ireland to Britain, is based upon four to five weeks since her last race (flat or jumps), as when she gets that the results have been 11. The question mark is over even longer absences, where the outcomes for Tsundoku have been 610. It does dilute the productivity, but the sixth place was her debut over hurdles and not an awful run, whereas the 0 was a last of fourteen on her debut for the current yard after a fall in her final Irish appearance. So Tsundoku's two losses can be forgiven and despite connections continued temptation by flat races probably not being eased after she won a modest two mile handicap last summer, we may see her over fences as well. So far Tsundoku has done best on good to soft or good, but with no races on soft and one of her two races on heavy ending in a fall, it is not certain where the cut off line lies. Let us lay where we know she can operate.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases, on good to soft or good with four weeks or more since the last run

WEST OF THE EDGE     (Richard Newland)

10 year old bay gelding     (Westerner - Bermuda Bay)     50/0060003220/001134P5/4674031P144664/11271-3722P

Anyone can make West Of The Edge live up to his name. Take a common or garden piece of paper and write down on it all the possible race distances. Using any font that you wish - freedom of personal expression is important - start with 1m 7.5f on the right hand side and space it so the 3m 1f note is on the very left. Once this is done, all of the distances that this horse wants to be racing over will indeed be west of the edge. He is not infallible in these races, as his pulling up in Midlands National last time reminds us, but that was only the second time that he has failed to finish in a race of 3m 2f or more in ten attempts - three wins, three places and a two lengths fourth being included in the rest. When expanding the assessment to shorter races contested by West Of The Edge in his youth there is an obvious preference for undulating venues, so we can safely conclude that the harder that racing is made for West Of The Edge, the more indomitable that he feels.

Races over 3m 2f or more on an undulating track

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