Huntingdon, 4/11/18

Beer festival afternoon but the train times were so unhelpful that attendance involved driving. Any way that you analyse it, all that is seen is an opportunity wasted. Trainers and owners around about may have felt the same way, as one or two races chopped up on going that was quickish but hardly extreme. Despite lack of numbers the races tended to provide good spectacle for the crowd, although it is very disappointing that the course have erected a massive great marquee on what was one of the best viewing points on busier days. Maybe it will be gone when the fire damaged part of the stand is repaired.
Snacking facilities have been provided for hungry horses - make sure you give your blood same before indulging

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: Further, Faster, Greater – New Heli Appeal Claiming Hurdle [2m]

1: Lazarus     2: Excellent Team     3: Counterfeiter

Winner owned: Amy Murphy Racing Club, trained: Amy Murphy, ridden Sean Houlihan

It is ironic that this race would be only two miles and for horses with little inclination and/or capacity to do things faster or greater than other horses. When dealing with an air ambulance charity, a 1-2 in the finish of Lazarus and Excellent Team should have made coincidence backers very smug. They certainly had Fate looking out for them, as at the third hurdle from home favourite Rock On Oscar made a bad blunder and came almost to a halt. The thing that left him going slightly forward was being rear-ended by Stuccodor, also prominent in the betting. With two of his three liveliest rivals knocked out of contention, Lazarus was left to handle the not always terribly brave Excellent Team for success. Counterfeiter battled on well to gain third as a motley pack snapped at his heels, but they were nowhere in the vicinity of the first two. He just edged out Right Royals Day, who was having her first experience of not being tailed off and roughly last to finish.

+   Lazarus (1st): Although giving a suspicion of not having a two milers’ pace, he had won once on the flat in some sort of bizarre parallel universe, but not been too bad in failing to be placed over hurdles before today. When kept to a modest level, there is probably more to offer.

+   Stuccodor (7th): Has won eight times flat and jumps, including two over course and distance in the spring. Things had gone a bit astray since then, but he was in situ to do something of more note when Rock On Oscar kippered him. A more encouraging run than the final result suggests.

x   Rock On Oscar (9th): He had not raced over shorter than two and a half miles before, only had three races in the past two and a half years and has joined a yard that is well out of form. For some reason, the betting market felt that none of this was a huge negative. He was actually not doing badly, but the bad error came just as the leaders quickened for home (or attempted something similar but slower) and without it nothing more than a slower decline coming is a viable argument.
Excellent Team leads Rock On Oscar early. Counterfeiter is in fifth, Right Royals Day sixth, just ahead of Kitsune, Succodor and Shalamzar. So who are the hidden pair? Must be Primogeniture and Lazarus. Oops, forgot to say spoiler alert.

Race 2: Cemetery Development Services Ltd Juvenile Hurdle [2m]

1: Katpoli     2: Oi The Clubb Oi’s     3: Bold Reason

Winner owned: CE Stedman, trained: Richard Newland, ridden: Sean Bowen

By an astonishing coincidence, UK-Jumping was present at Dieppe to witness Katpoli’s previous race, when he charged off in front like a complete lunatic, and then folded under pressure on the final turn just as rapidly, eventually pulling up. Today he handed off the donkey work to Flere Imsaho and gave himself a better chance of lasting home. That happened, despite going left at and through most of the hurdles, where experts tend to recommend the straight and over method. Bold Reason, a highly rated flat horse, sat in rear travelling comfortably but did not find the turn of speed expected and could not even nick second from Oi The Clubb Oi’s, rated seventeen pounds slower on the flat.

+   Oi The Clubb Oi’s (2nd): Jumps debut and he was arguably the one flat convert that showed some progression on past achievements. This race was nothing special in terms of quality, but he could win when he finds something akin to it.
Katpoli is least unconvincing at the final hurdle, but he did start off out of shot to the left. Oi The Clubb's Oi is his shadowy erm, shadow, followed by Needs To Be Seen and Bold Reason

Race 3: Computer Network Services Ltd Novices’ Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Full Bore     2: Espoir De Loire     3: Balli Martine

Winner owned: The Albatross Club, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: James Bowen

Full Bore was due a win, having gone 21212 in his career, but it was noteworthy that he should have won all five of those. Forgiveably green on bumper debut, he stopped himself on the run-in in defeat two and proved too erratic to hang on to the race last time. In this he was paired with Edabean, whose career in bumpers reads: unsteerable and pulled up, on the verge of Huntingdon success when ducking and unseating rider in the shadow of the post, pulled up apparently lame but possibly just being a troublemaker. With these two, something nuts was on the cards. Full Bore was on best behaviour and won nicely, whereas Edabean tried to run out on the paddock exit and was tailed off. Espoir De Loire made a decent start under Rules, having only having experienced one Irish point, which he won. Balli Martine continues to lay down a solid and steady level of performance, but he looks extraordinarily one paced. There was market prominence for another pointing convert, Arthur’s Sixpence, who had a second and a win at that job. He looks potentially a nice type, but was very slight and physically immature, so will probably need much more time before he can start coining it in.

+  Espoir De Loire (2nd): A decent effort considering the Full Bore lunacy-free show, and he can do better still this season.

+  Balli Martine (3rd): Is being foxed by the speed element of racing so far, but he could find a niche as a staying hurdler/chaser at some stage.

x  Full Bore (1st): Whilst age and experience would hopefully put his brain in gear, it cannot be trusted until he has been normal on a consistent basis. Being normal should not come across as a wild ambition.

Race 4: Macer Gifford Handicap Chase [2m 0.5f]

1: Darebin     2: Sad Eyed Dylan     3: Jackthejourneyman

Winner owned: Chris Stedman & Mark Albon, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

The prize money for this was very decent by 0-115 grade standards, so only getting seven declarations, two of whom fled the quickening ground anyway, was disappointing, irrespective of the dry prevailing weather. It was all set for another Huntingdon heroic by Jackthejourneyman, who came here boasting a record in handicaps of 113241. He jumped well throughout, led at the last by five lengths, outjumping the two seriously chasing him and then folded completely on the run-in and was quickly headed. That unfortunately is typical of a yard who are out of form, although another interpretation is that a recent wind op had no benefit at all. The win for Darebin was a case study in how an important skill for jockeys is rampant optimism, as halfway down the far side of the track, Darebin was being pushed along and seemed a very unlikely winner. His supporters had Josh Moore to thank for still seeing the downside of every opponent’s situation. When he gets going Darebin is not short of pace for this level of racing, so Sad Eyed Dylan was fighting a lost cause, even once he had got the measure of Jackthejourneyman.

+  Sad Eyed Dylan (3rd): Debuted under Rules over 2m 7f, got beaten a long way and immediately dropped down to two miles for a hurdle and his chase debut. This was not a bad effort at all, but he seemed lacking the speed for two miles on an undemanding track and 2m 3f/2m 4f could be the magic number.

x x  McCabe Creek (UR): Involved in losing a tussle for a well beaten fourth when he unshipped Tom McClorey at the last, he is showing all the signs of disinterest in competitive sport, poodling along nicely in his races until it becomes hard work, then adding not a single percent of effort.
Darebin wanted to keep this win secret from the Plumpton members here on a reciprocal. He knows that he has been foiled.

Race 5: Magpas Air Ambulance Novices’ Chase [2m 4f]

1: Le Breuil     2: Real Warrior

Winner owned: Miss Emma Collins, trained: Ben Pauling, ridden: Daryl Jacob

Two non-runners left this as a head-to-head but it was still interesting. Le Breuil had far greater achievements to his name, but had always looked far less comfortable and committed on good ground. At 1/9 favourite on chase debut, it was possible to see how he could be beaten. Real Warrior had run in a chase and done a good job, so the market was underestimating him, but when he appeared in the paddock, he was far less fit than the jolly and lost his appeal for a bet on an upset. The race went simply. Real Warrior led, Le Breuil did not. They made one minor mistake each, and when Le Breuil was ridden to go a few lengths ahead, Real Warrior was eased and second accepted.

+ +  Le Breuil (1st): Jumped well for a new boy, and whilst the reservation about the ground remains, he should do well as a chaser.

+ +  Real Warrior (2nd): Two chases undertaken, two good and skillful shows versus capable hurdlers. He may have spoiled an impending handicap mark already, but he has the tools to make a go of this job.

Race 6: Your Support Saves Lives 24/7 – Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Strong Resemblance     2: Tir Dubh     3: Stonemadforspeed

Winner owned: Oliver’s Army, trained: Oliver Greenall, ridden: William Kennedy

These sort of races have historically attracted the same horses over and over again, with Huntingdon wisely staging a low grade staying handicap hurdle at almost every meeting, which only encourages those that do well to return. This one was not the usual suspects, but horses involved staked a claim to join that clique. Strong Resemblance came here after a much improved close second place on stable debut. A six day turnaround and the potential for it being a one-off fluke were possible issues, but he scrambled home from Tir Dubh. The runner-up has dropped a great deal in the handicap and is now with Mike Sowersby, a yard that collects bottom drawer staying hurdlers like they are going out of fashion (or Nicky Henderson brings in speedy two mile chasers). They often field more than one in a race like this, and Tir Dubh was due to have a colleague with her, but he was a non-runner. Stonemadforspeed did not last home at this new race distance, not helped by racing very prominently and a tad too freely.

+  Strong Resemblance (1st): The new yard has clearly got his number and whilst the handicapper will note the thirteen lengths back to the third, he could improve to handle it.

Tir Dubh (2nd): Only has one win from two dozen races, but if the effect of the first time blinkers is sustained, one more is definitely possible.

King Cool (5th): Wants a sharp, left handed track. Does not usually fire on his first run back from a break. The cheekpieces were not deployed. Conclusion – modest run was just as expected, improvement likely.
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