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JANUARY 2017 HORSES TO FOLLOW
AT FIRST LIGHT     (David Weston)

8 year old bay mare     (Echo Of Light – Bisaat)     61/95354/12121P14P-P2464

The decision making for At First Light is very simple. Do we get up, or do we have a lie in? Then it is bacon sandwich or bowl of cereal? After that we are onto buy a pint of milk or burn down the town hall, instigating a chain of events that lead to the dismantling of the apparatus of state. And finally, when all other issues have been dealt with, do we select At First Light for all races on left-handed, level tracks or should it be further narrowed down to galloping courses. Note that not selecting or following her is an option not granted. Looking first at the first method, all four bumpers would have qualified, for form of 6195. As a hurdler, she would score 341212114P2464. The five wins consist of one at Ffos Las, three at Worcester and one at Fontwell. So if thinking of an additional galloping track bias, the form reads 195311144. Due to usually winning at barmy odds, the level stake profits for the two circumstances are +33.75 and +27.75, both very healthy. As At First Light will not be able to revisit bumpers, and the betting market is not likely to allow her to be winning at double figure odds in a suitable race for a fourth time, let us pursue the stricter policy.

Hurdles or chases on a left-handed, galloping, level track

DANCE FLOOR KING     (Nick Mitchell)

10 year old bay gelding     (Generous – Strawberry Fool)     48/533P0/1113/PF5P-732

It is always a bit of a concern selecting a horse with a rush of sequential wins and a blank elsewhere. A disturbingly high proportion of them seem to never recover that pinnacle of well being and enthusiasm which allowed him to reel in the successes. As the road to hell is paved with good intentions, no specific research on this has been carried out for this site, so the lack of statistics to justify the hunch allows Dance Floor King to be selected. What is helpful in retaining confidence in him is that the right-handed bias gives a strong reason to hope for some way in which old glories return, and a couple of recent decent yecent (?) Exeter spins add to the optimism that he tan-go back to the top. On those clockwisecourses in Britain Dance Floor King is 01113FP32 and on left-handed ones it is 3PP57. The early races in Ireland were also right-handed defeats when he was too raw and uncoordinated to be making an impact out of handicap company. He looks ready to twist the balance of power back in his favour.

Races on a right-handed track up to 2m 4f

ITSTIMEFORAPINT     (Lucinda Russell)

8 year old bay gelding     (Portrait Gallery – Executive Pearl)     6352/5334132U2U/431P8P16-532

When people mention Itstimeforapint, it is impossible not to respond with “Yes, absolutely.” The danger lies in the question being asked. Are you backing Itstimeforpint in this two mile hurdle? That would be an especially foolish time to make the standard reply. At least the horse himself had the public spiritedness to play an open hand as regards to not being a guru of speed. His fifth ever hurdle was his first run at three miles plus, and four races later he opened the winning score on chase debut – a Wetherby race at 3m 1f on good to soft. Since then Itstimeforapint has only three times been asked to go in shorter races, finish a not close second at 2m 7f, then having an unseat (really a carried out by a loose horse) and a pulled up. Recently he has won a four miler at Hexham, which was his destiny from an early stage. The factor that makes a helpful stat into a profitable one, his original gravity if you like, is to stick to chases and keep busy. When he runs on no more than a four week break the score is three wins, he has racked up a tally of 132U31PP16, the two pulled ups and sixth coming when the stable was not totally winless, but definitely below par. ***STOP PRESS*** Another second late in December, over 3m 2f on a 25 day break.

Chases over three miles or more, with a run in the last 30 days

SCHAP     (Caroline Fryer)

5 year old chesnut mare     (Schiaparelli – Royal Keel)     33

There is not a lot to talk about with this filly, but it is fascinating trying to decide where she is going. Hopefully the answer is not Mars, as the European Space Agency missing Schiaparelli ended up crashing to the surface of the planet in ignominious style, and we have not yet seen Schap jump obstacles in anger and prove that she is able to descend to terra firma in a more controlled fashion. Both of Schap’s bumper runs were at Towcester, not known as the home of bumper excellence. Her debut was a newcomers only race over 1m 5.5f, from which she is the only participant to emerge and compliment the form. For her follow up, she had changed stable and was raised in distance to 1m 7.5f. This was a mares only race in which all of those with racing experience had been in the first four somewhere, but Schap ran a cracker, ending up third again. Coming towards the wings of what would have been the second last hurdle, she was going best of all, but did not see the race out as well as the two that beat her – a debutante and a mare that had been runner-up in a point-to-point and a bumper. The dilemma is that in her first race she got outpaced at a key stage and in the latter did not seem to stay all that well. So it looks like two mile hurdles for Schap, and hope that the ESA do not interfere.

Mares only hurdles up to 2m 1f

TARA BRIDGE     (Chris Gordon)

9 year old bay gelding     (Kayf Tara – Annie Greenlaw)     5/43/28832-3
Admit it, you like the look of those numbers for the future. 1/11/1111-1 would look even better, but Tara Bridge would probably be unmercifully stuck in the handicappers grip. Horses tailed off in a Plumpton bumper are usually sent home to browse the internet in search of alternative careers (being a bridge is not considered a vocation, more of a civil engineering project). However, Tara Bridge made some rapid strides as a hurdler, the third place in a Fontwell novice at 2m 6f being especially likeable, and he carried it over into his handicap debut. The liveliness deserted him at the start of 2016 – before his stable went into a bit of a slump - but Tara Bridge recovered a bit for a couple of runs in Spring and what stands out now are that the two bad days were his sole experiences of a right-handed course. After a nice long break he reappeared in a chase late in the year, finishing a fair third against more experienced and/or fitter enemies. This new job should work out well for him, but is he a two miler or a stayer?

Chases on a left-handed track

WINGS ATTRACT     (Olly Williams)

8 year old bay gelding     (Winged Love - Huncheon Siss)     32/141321-602

A prime example of a double edged sword. Wings Attract's current trainer inherited him over the summer, when his previous handler, Chris Bealby, retired. It is nice for a relatively new operation to get a horse of proven ability and attitude. But because his last season had gone so well, not only did the old vibe have to be restored, but a winning horse also needed to be improved to cope with the increased handicap mark. Wings Attract is not over raced nor is he an old timer whose skills have peaked, so there was a chance, but the start was very inauspicious, and whilst the flat winners have come every so often, the yard has not had a jumps winner since December 2015. The first display lacked the headgear that had crept into Wings Attract's armoury in the spring, and was in a very competitive handicap chase at Ascot. The next appearance had cheekpieces fitted (not a success before) and both of these races were on good to soft ground, which turns Wings Attract into Hooves Repulsed. Third time lucky? Not quite, as he got a really rough time from a loose horse, who was determined to harass him even when his raider reined back and tried to let the troublemaker go clear. However, with good going and blinkers back, it was an acceptable second to a mare that is pretty useful on her day. Wings Attract now is 321112 on good ground, and 43260 on good to soft or soft, and stays well, so this is an easy one to see a way forward. The only unknown is what happens if a visor is tried.

Chases on good ground, over 2m 6f or more, with blinkers
Tara Bridge being matter of fact about a dank day at Lingfield
Wings Attract has just been beaten at Doncaster, but clearly not for lack of effort
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