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AUGUST 2018 HORSES TO FOLLOW
BANJO GIRL     (Lucy Wadham)

6 year old chesnut mare     (Presenting – Oh Susannah)     3/4332/1512413-

Although she was third in her bumper debut, only five ran and she was beaten more than thirty lengths. The hurdle debut was a little better, losing by twenty-six lengths, but at this point of her career people could be forgiven for not holding out a great deal of hope for Banjo Girl – a policy best applied to anything that involves a banjo. However, things picked up a great deal from then on. She has only finished out of the first three twice, a listed race at Newbury and a Grade 2 at Sandown, both of which were for mares only. From the rest she has wins at Southwell, Fakenham and Fontwell, and an average loss of only six lengths. Thus, in defiance of a great sporting cliché, she has demonstrated that she can hit a cow’s rear end with a banjo. The future for Banjo Girl would appear to be over fences, as she is a bit exposed for handicap hurdles (the curse of consistency). What we have to choose is whether the three wins on sharp courses, from six tries, is enough to constitute a bias when she is doing very well on other types of track, often in tougher company. For the purposes of this process, we are going to argue yes, on the basis that the sharp courses give the mystery ingredient that turns fine into fantastic. All of the wins have come short of two and a quarter miles but she stays a little further than that – just not as long as a busker with a banjo.

Chases on a sharp track up to 2m 6f

FIRST QUEST     (Jim Boyle)

4 year old bay gelding     (First Defence - Dixie Quest)     66586-1

We have First Assignment on the site, we add now First Quest, is there a First To GIve Up And Stop For An Eccles Cake that can join them? A successful but not overly busy flat horse, a maiden win at Sandown led First Quest into handicaps from a mark we now know was beyond him, but the last time he was active at that job he was second from a mark of 71. That can be plenty god enough to make a jumper as long as the horse can be taught the right skills, and it was interesting that when he left Ed Dunlop's yard, First Quest went to Jim Boyle's mostly flat outfit, yet was over hurdles from day one with ne'er a look back at his past incarnation. Initially the jumps results achieved were dreadful. Beyond those bad results was a suspicion that he was being extremely tenderly campaigned in order to get a handicap mark for when the soft ground had gone away. There was a clue of the cat being let out of the bag at Kempton in January, but surprisingly he was given his handicap bow on soft as well. It did not go well. Five months off followed and when First Quest began to reappear in the entries, UK-Jumping was poised to respond. Unfortunately Jim Boyle beat us to it and the one ring was cast into the fires of Mount Doom at Uttoxeter on 29th June, where the entry would have been in expectation of good going, not the good to soft provided. Confidence is retained that he is not done yet, and as a mile and a half flat horse (who won a mile race as a two year old), going beyond two miles could produce progress.

Handicap hurdles on good or good to soft, up to 2m 4f, rated up to 115
In theory it was the Plumpton mud that was hindering First Quest on this occasion, but the mud appears to have many of the visual qualities of sand

GONN AWAY      (Philip Kirby)

6 year old bay mare     (Mahler – Supreme Call)     212

This mare began her career inauspiciously, unseating at the first fence on her Irish pointing debut. For the next try she was brought down in the last mile. So when Gonn Away had a third try in May 2017, her late season maiden status did not necessarily indicate a lack of raw talent, and she was beaten by less than a length, with the other finishers fifteen or more lengths adrift. Actually finishing a race with the jockey still involved must have been quite a culture shock for her, but she seems to have approved of the experience. That race is not looking all that strong with a year or more to reflect on the development of the oppo (and even mediocre would be a sympathetic description), so after she had indeed gone away from her old home and settled in at the new one, dragging out a very competitive bumper career is a neat piece of work. She began in May at Hexham, which is not a renowned venue for quality bumpers, but she was a close second, well clear of the rest, and some stables that do very well in that discipline on the whole had sent mares to have a stab at the race. Next stop was a Perth win, where she beat subsequent winner Ask Paddington (although his success was in a three horse race), followed by being runner-up back at Hexham – again clear of the remainder. Gonn Away seems to have every tool needed for mares’ hurdles, but being six years old already, a quick switch to chases cannot be ruled out. She will probably want longer distances than two miles, but could nick something at the minimum trip along the way.

Mares’ hurdles or mares’ chases

KATEBIRD     (Oliver Greenall)

4 year old grey filly     (Dark Angel - She Basic)     6-50933

There is an awful lot of pressure on this selection for Katebird, because on the last day of July, the elite list of team analysts (and some non-elite ones as well) went to Worcester to check out a mare named Kayla whose recent form has been below par, to see if she is about to stage a revival. She ran OK, with plus points and minuses, and thus was democatically supplanted in the selections by Katebird. She was noted staying on very well behind a winner (Chimes Of Dylan) who outfoxed - or out stoned-rabitted maybe - everyone else tactically. The reasons for thinking a horse with quiet, possibly even not off, novice hurdle form and then beaten in two handicaps can improve is a)Katebird shaped here as if she is ahead of the curve on staying power for the average four year old and b) she was a 76-rated flat horse who won four times at that job, three at a mile and quarter. If the combination of speed and stamina that she has shown can be genetically linked successfully, she would have what it takes. Another factor is that her yard's monthly tally of wins for the last six months has been 0, 1, 2, 1, 0, 0 to make a score of 4/87, which is below par and when they are firing better shots, Katebird caan join in, even though most birds survival is enhanced by avoiding people who are shooting well.

Handicap hurdles over 2m 4f or more, rated up to 110

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Katebird seems pleased enough with her Worcester third, but the humans need a bit more convincing

MR SNOOZY     (Mark Walford)

9 year old bay gelding     (Pursuit Of Love – Hard To Follow)     54/P424/12P7420121/1468-31333

Some horses (and an awful lot of people) are put upon this planet to test our patience and endurance. This could be one of the horses. Mr Snoozy was added to the list of possible selections a little while ago when considering it significant that he had an excellent record on undulating courses when the ground was good or good to soft. Then it was noticed, before his last appearance in the middle of July, that a score in races of up to eight horses that read 41212111 was none to shoddy either. That race had seven in the line-up, so Mr Snoozy let us and himself down by finishing third, beaten more than forty lengths. What was needed to make this work was a piece of innovative thinking, which is not easy in a heatwave, apart from the genius of the first person who put frozen yoghurt on a stick. And then the enlightenment came, the despots were replaced by slightly less despotic despots and the two sets of data for Mr Snoozy were combined. The outcome is an impressive record of 12111, with his only non-qualifying success being in a seller where he was highly entitled/expected to show up well despite a bit of inconvenience. On that subject, we can also concentrate on hurdling as he has not been asked to go over fences since breaking a blood vessel on the debut try two years ago.

Hurdles on an undulating track, with up to 8 runners, on good or good to soft ground.

ORMSKIRK     (Seamus Mullins)

5 year old grey gelding     (Hellvelyn – River Song)     06677/44733-42

What the numbers tell us is that he is yet to win over hurdles, but is very much sneaking up on success. Ormskirk has actually managed success before, winning on the flat for Richard Fahey before he went to Ireland. It was that move that did not work at all for him as he found it tougher to be competitive on the flat, and carried that struggle over into hurdling. The solution for Ormskirk was to return to Britain, although at the other end of the country (and as it has turned out, fearsomely close to the Novichok danger zone in Amesbury). The results, helped by generally smaller fields, took an immediate turn for the better, finishing in the first four each time and twice losing by less than two lengths. It still leaves his record as played twelve, won a big fat zero, but there is a definite trend for Ormskirk to do much better on undulating courses. His best Irish efforts came at Gowran Park and Bellewstown, whereas the British peaks have arrived at Plumpton (on heavy) and Cartmel (on good to firm). If Ormskirk cannot complete the turning of the corner over hurdles, then he can always try chasing. He may know have grown into meriting a bash at a longer race distance. *** STOP PRESS *** Honourable six lengths fifth at Newton Abbot in an OK looking 0-110 handicap on 30/7/18.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases up to 2m 4f on an undulating track, rated up to 120
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