Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
DECEMBER 2016 HORSES TO FOLLOW
AMALFI DOUG     (Tom Lacey)

6 year old grey gelding     (Network – Queissa)     65-535

Three bumpers, two bad results, one much narrower loss in a typically weak Lingfield all-weather one – everyone ambles round and sprints from the last tight bend. Then Amalfi Doug went hurdling, and he was severely transformed, for the better. His first try was at Stratford, and he lost by only two lengths. With the favourite rated only 123 and running below that level it was not a race to get enthused over, unless you were involved with this horse, or the winner, Kalaskadesemilley, who amazed himself too much to race afterwards. Meanwhile, Amalfi Doug went to Kempton, tried to make the running again, and lost by thirty additional lengths. However, it was a much stronger race and he showed signs of greenness as the pack put him under more pressure than for his debut spin. By losing fourth he is not qualified to go into handicaps early, but with all races so far on good ground, perhaps connections will be happy to wait. Another race to teach some more skill at the jumping part of the job would not go amiss, and it will also give us a clue (as the weather stands) as to whether to work with him in mud, or stay against.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases rated up to 115

CLONUSKER     (Linda Jewell)

8 year old bay gelding     (Fasliyev - Tamburello)     50/84P02115//P2757-5

Clonusker first caught the eye on his hurdles debut at Sandown, when he was steadied at the start and essentially ran his own separate race versus Camera Shy and Urcalin, which happened to be on the same course at roughly the same time as the one involving Tominator, Leviathan and Master Of The Game. Form book pedantry means that he is shown as finishing fifth, but in fact he was second in his part of what was going on, although that was hard to measure as Urcalin got confused and tried to get in the other bit. Anyway, all this non-triery was forgiven because it was heavy ground and nineteen months since his last flat race. We now know that only one of those needed to be a concern. Once in handicaps Clonusker started to show improvement, in a rather stop-start manner, and in the next winter the rains brought the required results - a close second at Plumpton on soft led into two successes on heavy ground. After one more race Clonusker endured another extended break (presumed injury related) and he has largely not been at his best since returning. However, the one time that he got heavy going, a two lengths second came his way. This autumns comeback was short on composure, but not devoid of promise. So when does it get heavy? With the injury history and advanced years, a chase career may not be due.

Handicap hurdles on heavy ground, up to 2m 2f

NAKADAM     (R Mike Smith)

6 year old bay gelding     (Nickname – Cadoudame)     5446P1U/564U21-P8

This paragraph was intended to start with “Will not be confused with Djakadam” but of course people do have a way of getting in a tangle with French named horses, even when the names are fairly obviously pronounced. So instead it is noted that we are probably a long way off from Nakadam and Djakadam contesting the same race and generating confusion. A fairly hapless loser as a hurdler, three times in France, two in Scotland and one in England, we will be concentrating on him in chases, and the horse is expected to show the same focus. He won over fences in the French provinces and again at Kelso in April – after an agonisingly close loss at Ayr that pointed to triumph being just around the corner. A summer holiday followed and the two return runs have been poor. Nakadam was slow to come to hand last season, but then he did have the excuse of having travelled from France to Ayrshire, and not being able to find a decent local red wine for love nor money. The selection at this point in time is made through faith that he will get in the swing of things soon – his yard has only had a couple of winners since Spring, and Nakadam can pick up when his teammates do so.

Chases over 3m or more on a level track

SISSINGHURST     (Nick Gifford)

6 year old bay gelding     (Kalanisi – Sissinghurst Storm)     -43

On our theme of confusion (see Nakadam) do not, if you are travelling to one, get Sissinghurst mixed up with Billingshurst. It is easily done, and whilst only about forty miles apart, getting from one to the other is a nuisance. One has Roman remains, the other a castle. And now, something about the horse. Sissinghurst started out in British points, where his career lasted about two and three quarter miles – falling two out at Cottenham when set to be placed on his debut. At the start of November he reinvented himself as a bumper horse, although a good candidate for sprinting around Sandown, Sissinghurst was not. He did quite well to be a close fourth in heavy rain, but the race was quite sedate and set up for the unplaced horses to not be beaten far. He was soon off hurdling and finished third at Lingfield, which is a good route to get into handicaps early. The first two are promising sorts, and Sissinghurst managed not to be dangerously close to them – thinking of future handicap marks. An early switch to chases is viable.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases rated up to 120

TAKE A BOW     (Lawney Hill)

7 year old bay gelding     (Norse Dancer - Madame Illusion)     14/215P/32-P61P

Let us start with an appeal. Please be forgiving of Take A Bow, as he was not due to go on the list. He was number seven for December, only for one of those above, Cooking Fat, to go out a week before publication and win a handicap by a dozen lengths. So utter fear of how the handicapper may interpret that led to him being removed from the December line up. So if it turns out that Take A Bow flops, it is not his fault, blame it on Cooking Fat. Returning to Take A Bow, he started his career with Nicky Henderson, so won his only bumper. He also did well in novice hurdles by normal standards, although the race that he won when an odds-on jolly came after joining his current set up and it did not turn out to be anything above average. Life has rather moved in fits and starts for Take A Bow since, with a win, some OK places, some really rather dismal shows - and most notably a lack of frequent racing. The results in 2016 have gone up and down, but Lawney Hill has had her entire string suffering that sort of form, and when that general malaise is shaken on, Take A Bow can get back a bit of steadiness. He can then add to the score in what should be his forte, staying chases, on left-handed tracks.

Chase over 3m or more on a left-handed track

WHISPERING HARRY     (Henry Oliver)

7 year old bay gelding     (Sir Harry Lewis - Welsh Whisper)     0597/5017032131/4131124/02FP362-PF

Whispering Harry almost made it onto the list for the last couple of months, but he is not a horse that gives anyone a sense of urgency whilst the rains are staying away. He probably gets as agitated as a gnu at a drying waterhole during late summer, so hopefully somebody has explained that he need not worry lions, even in the wilder parts of Worcestershire. What immediately catches the eye about his form is a love of heavy ground, with even soft seen as being an unwanted intrusion of the nanny state. That has not prevented a couple of decent results on it, but for steadiness, conditions need to be even worse. It is possible to filter out a failure or three when not looking at undulating tracks, and that simple combination has so far allowed Whispering Harry to rack up a score that reads 32131112FP. None of the completed losses have been by further than three lengths, which is an outstanding record. It went wrong with an early fall at Haydock, and the pulling up on his next race can be forgiven as he was perhaps still in shock of his first tumble/incompletion. A couple of fair placed efforts in the wrong conditions (one on good ground, the other at Chepstow) indicate that his equipsychotherapist has done sterling work to fix that. Only twice has Whispering Harry been asked to go further than 2m 1.5f, and both were on better going, so if trying again but on heavy, he is worth giving a chance to prove himself.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases on a level track, on heavy ground.
Description
Description
A nice looking grey horse that connections sympathetically ran in the first race on a dull autumn day. It did not affect Amalfi Doug's chances of being selected, but there is a bit more prestige about having a picture as well.
Sissinghurst in the rain at Plumpton - a horse goes racing not a savage attack of plate tectonics
$SIGNUP$
$VALIDATION$
Working... Please wait