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DECEMBER 2017 HORSES TO FOLLOW
DROPS OF JUPITOR     (Anthony Honeyball)

5 year old grey mare     (Dylan Thomas – Fancy Intense)     8410-72

This one has us stumped. The horse is named after a song by the band Train, although Jupiter has a spelling error. After spending some weeks desperately searching for a clever pun, is it possible that the person who named the horse just likes the song and has indistinct handwriting? Possibly even a typing error, although even on this site, typing an ‘o’ instead of an ‘e’ is missing the target key by a dismal margin. Perhaps someone (someone else!) should do a statistical analysis to see whether horses with spelling errors win above or below average frequency. Every little edge counts. The inclusion of Drops Of Jupitor is based on the fact that she has done quite well so far and as a fairly hefty mare, there is every chance of even better being on the way. Her Irish point run saw an inspired piece of placing pitch her against Finian’s Oscar and Mr Clarkson, which inevitably led to defeat. After more promise in a couple of bumpers she won one at Musselburgh, the changed stables before a flop at Aintree in the mares’ Grade 2 event. Drops Of Jupitor offered drops of effort in her hurdles debut and then was better when second of fifteen at Exeter, where the stiff finish and slightly longer distance got a thumbs up.

Mares hurdles over 2m 4f or more
Drops Of Jupitor posing her way to the start at Plumpton with greater than average enjoyment of Plumpton

FROZEN OVER     (Chris Down)

9 year old bay gelding     (Iceman – Pearly River)     6970223/3557P11/13654P0/42653893771-4U06242

There is plenty to like about Frozen Over. Well, two things. One is that he is well named. The other is that he is a proven achiever. Proven in the respect that he has raced ten of his thirty-nine hurdle races on good to firm ground. In this day and age it is about eight more than should be viable and in a valuable lesson on how our climate currently operates, the breakdown by month is April: 2, June: 1, July: 3, October: 4. In a valuable lesson how counting actually works, the originally entered numbers added up to 11, and this horse may be nice, but he is no Nigel Tufnell). This Frozen Over obsession with fast yet highly non-frozen ground is a bit deceptive as he also works perfectly well on good ground, and introduces a right-handed bias for dramatic effect. Excluding two novice hurdles that he was outclassed in, the story for those conditions reads 223111P0423712. He does not run on easier ground often these days but connections do enjoy trips to Newton Abbot and Stratford, which only help to highlight that that Frozen Over is far less inspired by these excursions. There is also no evidence that we should trust him racing beyond 2m 1f, but as that so far only excludes one qualifying race, the seventh place, the restriction is held back just in case his staying power has improved a bit with age.

Hurdles on a right-handed track, on good or good to firm

JACK DEVINE     (Rose Dobbin)

5 year old bay gelding     (Kalanisi – Sybil Says)     52

The first thing to note about this horse is that he is not nearly as lazy as the Rules form suggests, as Jack Devine has managed to run in eleven Irish point-to-points before coming to Britain. Rather awkwardly, he won three of them, all in the last four runs. This is a problem because a horse that is conspicuously competent and potentially for sale does tend to be passed on before anything happens to diminish the value. Before he got the winning knack, Jack Devine had three seconds and a third, none by further than five lengths, so it is not as if he was being an uncoordinated nincompoop. Then again, when the horse shares a name with a senior CIA man, potential buyers could be a touch wary of what they are getting into. As for arcing under Rules, the opening salvo saw him spied making a mess of his jumping skills at Sedgefield. The first two are yet to reappear but third place Katy Royal has been beaten narrowly since. Jack Devine’s follow up race at Catterick went much better, finishing second after just one awkward leap. What might be a source of problems is that the winner there seems to be well regarded and the third, Blairs Cove is already rated 130. However, it is improbable that Blairs Cove ran up to his mark and he was conceding twelve pounds as well, so a destructive handicap mark is not certain. And if it does come, perhaps his namesake has a contact who can hack the BHA database and reduce it.

Handicap hurdles over 2m 4f or more, rated up to 120
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Jack Devine cannot resist a good snoop at Catterick, where he has a beady eye either on the coffee stand or the ladies’ toilet

KEEL HAUL     (Henry Oliver)

9 year old brown gelding     (Classic Cliché – Tara Hall)     4233132110/P5422017/514843/52654556-64

It does not take deep rooted database searching to notice that wins have become a bit thin on the ground for Keel Haul. If you subscribe to the theory that what 21st Century Earth lacks is a good keel hauling or two (and are looking forward to the first one done in outer space) then the first thing to do is beg your forgiveness if this selection goes wrong. But there are some valid reasons for keeping a bit of optimism in mind for this horse. Firstly, look at all those lovely completions. Even when he has been really off of his game, Keel Haul will get to the line for you. If a horse insists on finishing, the days will come when that is a force of will that the opponents do not wish to match. Secondly, a mostly woeful 2016 had the handicapper ready to drop him in the weights, even after a two lengths second at Aintree nearly spoiled it all. Keel Haul last won when rated 126 and contested his last race on 112. Thirdly, that last race. He was fourth, but by only two lengths and appeared to run on willingly enough. All the seeds are there, and his record of four wins from twenty races where he carries under 11 stone is something to start work with. Eliminate races over more than 2m 1f and the tally is four of fourteen at a tidy level stake profit.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases up to 2m 1f, carrying up to 10 stone 13 pounds
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Post-race at Lingfield and Keel Haul would seemingly rather ignore the rituals and head straight for a warm stable, where a nice bowl of semolina has been made available

LANDMEAFORTUNE     (Martin Todhunter)

8 year old grey gelding     (Touch Of Land – Mayrich)     35P463243/22P123-18

With this horse our first job is to get around the name, Landmeafortune is a promise that he cannot reasonably be expected to keep. However, it is a neat piece of linguistic work from the names of the sire and dam, even if nobody was ever killed by putting a space between the words. He was not much of an Irish pointer , losing by wide margins when placed and falling the one day that something better threatened. Plenty of things have gone wrong for Landmeafortune since he switched to Rules as well, but rather appropriately the rain comes and washes away all the negative vibes. On soft ground he has been placed in three out of four races, although one of them was not very close. However when it is heavy ground his record is 22118. The second places came by a head and five lengths and the eighth was last time, when elevated into class 3 company. Landmeafortune had done surprisingly well at that level on good at Perth in April, but there are good reasons to think that the going had deteriorated over the course of the afternoon. So sticking with him on heavy ground does not take much thinking about. The decision is whether to tag along optimistically on soft. As only one of the soft ground races has been a staying chase, the answer is yes, for now. Food for thought – he has never contested a long distance hurdle, which could be a nice diversion if his chase rating is too taxing.

Class 4 or class 5 handicap hurdles or handicap chases over 3m or more on soft or heavy ground

RESCUED GLORY     (Jeremy Scott)

8 year old bay gelding     (Milan – Stand Girl)     5F92-

The origins of this horse lay in Irish point-to-points, where he was second in a five runner race on his only try. The next stop off was British pointing, in which he was trained by Tim Underwood. He won twice at Parham, got a second at Lockinge and a third in Intermediate company at Whitfield. Last autumn found Rescued Glory having moved to Exmoor, where there are many local pointing tracks, but he was set for the Rules route. The first attempt was not very good and the second terminated with a mid-race tumble. At this stage it was already time to think we should be waiting until he is in handicap company before getting interested. However Rescued Glory was able to recover some momentum in his next run. The winner was Neon Wolf, the runner-up was the less well known Coole Cody, whose record since is 2F12111, most recently nabbing a Cheltenham handicap hurdle to take his rating up to 146. Third place Kay Adventure is a 136-rated chaser, so our selection’s ninth of seventeen is not bad at all. He has run in a handicap hurdles, over 2m 7f, and lost a seventeen horse race by two lengths. Life will be easier when he finds some smaller fields, but staying handicap chases really will be Rescued Glory’s glory.

Handicap chases over 3m or more
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