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JULY 2019 HORSES TO FOLLOW
BRILLAIRE MOMENTO     (Martin Keighley)

8 year old bay mare     (Milan – Sunshine Leader)     326U11/2184180/3P7P40-3

Due to a rather lacklustre time of things over the last season, in fact being very non-Brillaire, this mare has edged from beyond the reach of the usual UK-Jumping scope into our sweaty palms. Nyah-ha-ha-ha. Evil laughing never works so well on paper. However, in the spell since the start of 2018 Brillaire Momento has only once slipped into the conditions about to be specified as her preference. Carrying low weights suits and the one occasion in eighteen months that she got to carry as little as eleven stone it was in a novice chase. This was something else where we have to use the made up phrase non-Brillaire, and she pulled up. She has not since been asked to take part in a chase again. It is getting a bit late in her career to give it a second go, even if blessed by a sparkling bout of schooling. When she has been lumbered with no more than 11-0 to carry in bumpers or hurdles – after any jockey weight claim has been deducted – Brillaire Momento has a record of 26U111. The first two were Cheltenham bumpers, the runner-up result being by only neck, and the unseat was when in with every chance of victory on her hurdles debut. With any more weight she is 1/13. The reality is stark.

Hurdles carrying no more than 11 stone

ECHO EXPRESS     (Nicky Richards)

7 year old bay gelding     (Echo Of Light - If Dubai)     1/2367/P241P-

Awkward fact out of the way first - this horse won on his debut in a bumper on a course that completely contravenes the stipulated conditions. Ironically for a horse named Echo Express there was not quick repeat of the opening salvo and he has been rather predictable since - with liberal applications of hindsight. What we find is that when he has gone to Hexham the results have been a five lengths third in a hurdle and a second followed by a win in first time cheekpieces as a chaser. Before Echo Express had attended Hexham he lost by a nose at Kelso but since discovering the joys of racing on such an exposed hilltop, his results elsewhere have been 67P4P. All of his Hexham runs have been on soft or heavy but the Kelso display would hardly tell us that he cannot operate on good ground. The conclusion is not to make Echo Express a one track wizard but to quickly take note of him any time he meets a left-handed one with a stiff finish. Even that has a question mark because he has only gone right-handed twice but avoiding his local venue at Carlisle to date looks to be a significant choice, rather than a coincidence of race openings. Connections have opted to run him in a 1m 1f maiden on the flat recently – a subsidised warm-up for more activity this summer?

Hurdles or chases on a left-handed track with a stiff finish
Sitron is uncertain, and perhaps unnerved, that the pre-race attention is on her.
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Echo Express went all the way south to Huntingdon on what was an exercise in futility. He is spotted here departing in a huff. Nobody should blame him.

GRANIA O'MALLEY     (Evan Williams)

6 year old chesnut mare     (Beat Hollow - Oh Susannah)     22/22457952/3131329-4621

This mare was under serious consideration for selection last month but after a couple of shoddy chase performances in May we got a bit (well, a lot!) cowardly about her. With a vindictive edge coming to her fore, based purely on telepathic vibes, Grania O'Malley then went and ran much better in a couple of suitable races in June. By bringing her in a month behind schedule there has to be the fear that she will be prompted to roll over and surrender just when we least need it. However, with her speciality being small fields, a bit of cunning work from her trainer could dig her out some races where being at her 100% peak is not even totally essential. When there are no more than six runners in a race, Grania O'Malley has a record of 21312421 compared to 2224579523396 in larger line ups. Therefore she is not invincible but advantaged by small fields, yet do not dismiss the opportunity for each-way places at long odds in bigger turnouts. Yet in our heart of hearts (and hers) if it is victory that you need from her, there are only certain places in the space-time continuum where it is necessary to look.

Hurdles or chases with up to 6 runners

OLD SALT     (Stef Keniry)

7 year old bay gelding     (Craigsteel - Andrea Gale)     15435/P348/P11217555005P11-4

The rules for Old Salt are the same as for Grania O'Malley, except that a misleading win on hurdles debut when ten ran made it take longer to work out what was going on with him - and a four horse race on heavy going at Lingfield did not help as he finished third in a style that suggested the human beings expected nothing and ran him with according indifference. Since then, aided by consecutive wins in five horse selling hurdles after which Old Salt was twice moved into new stables, the record with up to six runners in a race has seen him pepper the winners’ enclosure by ending up posting 112155114. The two fifth places included a class 3 handicap hurdle, which is the salt of race (groan) for which he really needs to be at an absolute peak of performance and the recent fourth place followed a four month absence sleeping his watch away which might have been unhelpful – his outcomes when returning from any notable break before had been one win and two pulled ups.

Hurdles or chases with up to 6 runners

PERPIGNAN     (Christian Williams)

7 year old bay gelding     (Robin Des Champs - Reevolesa)     8/6-7

Perpignan has been a bit busier than the numbers above suggest as he has already taken part in five Irish point-to-points, winning three of them. There seems to have been a strong element of clever race selection more than devastating talent levels in getting that treble in the book but he was not going at all badly when a late faller on his debut in a fairly good race. In the midst of this successful assault on the pointing world Perpignan took time out to finish a not too close midfield in bumpers at Punchestown and Killarney. Recently he expanded his horizons to try a two mile hurdle in Britain. The outcome looks sub-optimal but he sat at the back and a never got properly involved. Expect improvement for the run and with a step up in distance. Connections may well have decided that handicapping is his best route forwards.

Handicap hurdles over 2m 3f or more

SITRON     (Alex Hales)

4 year old bay filly     (Black Sam Bellamy – Chilly Squaw)    5F4

This horse has had a short but very interesting career. Her racing debut was over hurdles in May and Sitron was doing rather well until she clouted the second last at Warwick and had the pith knocked out of her. She ended up beaten by eighteen lengths but it was a better run than that bare margin indicates. The winner followed up but on the whole the oppo seem mediocre with sixth placed Commander Miller being a very rare visitor – a Nicky Henderson horse rated below 100. Rather more prominent in the betting next time than her 50/1 debut price, Sitron then took an early tumble at Fontwell and the concern became that her agility and coordination were coming up short of her ability to gallop. Next stop was Southwell, where she jumped off last and was observed mandarin around in rear until some belated progress to end up fourth. Most importantly, Sitron put in a foot perfect round and showed that she can be the type of horse to handle adversity, kumquat may. She took a bit of a pull early on and it appeared as if the ideal option would be for an agreement that the jockey lets her be a bit more prominent whilst she does not do anything clumsy because of it. Oh, and handicaps will probably be important as well (although at this time of year there are some shoddy mares only novice races to be won). Look forward to the chance to lime your pockets with winnings that Sitron delivers. There were plenty more citrus fruit puns to deploy, but they were no better than these ones, which are shamefully bad.

Handicap hurdles up to 2m 4f
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