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JULY 2017 HORSES TO FOLLOW
CAPE CASTER     (Evan Williams)

6 year old bay gelding     (Cape Cross – Playboy Mansion)     1573/3553/234P31PU-123

He was no mug on the flag, never finishing worse than fifth in his eleven races, and Cape Caster has kept the wheels rolling on whenever given suitable conditions over jumps. The wins have been at Ffos Las twice and Worcester once, so the first thing to look at is his record on those sort of tracks. As a hurdler it was 514, the losses being far from disastrous displays and we now would believe that the fourth place in a 2m 4f race was asking too much of his stamina. Over fences it has been P11, with the flop coming on chase debut after a horrible mistake (they have not become a habit) knocked Cape Caster totally out of contention with about a mile raced. So encouraging stuff on the whole. What is slightly awkward for a “to follow” policy is a five lengths fifth at Cheltenham. It is still a loss, but on that evidence, undulating tracks should not be ruled out of repertoire, and in one of two attempts on unsuitable courses that were also undulating he was competitively placed at Cartmel. So Cape Caster’s real skills are not totally cloaked in the fog of war and just because he has yet to conquer a few hills does not mean that he will never manage it. He has excelled from heavy ground through to good to firm, so that is at least one less thing to worry about.

Handicap hurdles and handicap chases on a left-handed, galloping track, up to 2m 2f

DR ROBIN     (Peter Bowen)

7 year old bay gelding     (Robin Des Pres – Inter Alia)     65546/21P14/432P12P-4

Dr Robin has contested eighteen races and won three of them, which is just a gentle reminder of where we are going for those who do not instantly do a position count on the form figures for new selections. The problem here is that the common factor in his wins are so closely grouped that there has to be coincidence involved. The alternative is that he is the fussiest horse of all time. The first win was sixteen days after the previous appearance, the second win was on a seventeen day break and the third was again on seventeen days. What we need for Dr Robin are traits of how far we can extend the specialisations without 100% affirmative evidence of it working. The races on a shorter gap are not without promise, a second place last time and two defeats in the past when he was a little over taxed in novice hurdles. Going up to a twenty day or longer turnaround is totally devoid of benign symptoms. There is little benefit in ruling out right-handed courses, because after a dismal show when first trying, two years ago, the option has not been revisited. Staying races seem to help him, but then again Dr Robin ran pretty well in a two mile chase in February (admittedly a small field). It just looks like there is not an edge to be found beyond the boundaries of the time off from race to race.

Hurdles or chases with a race in the last 12 to 19 days

LATE DATE     (Micky Hammond)

6 year old bay gelding     (Oscar – Regents Ballerina)     44527U231-66

The winner of a two finisher Irish point but there are certain doubts over what the form is worth – the odds on favourite has a career record that now reads FPPP and Late Date himself is the only runner to have won since. He did little in novice hurdles, but was second on handicap debut and continued to show degrees of ability that all came together in a three mile hurdle at Perth in April. Sixth in both runs since, he only lost by six lengths in the follow-up. Last time was not so good, but it was his eleventh race in just over eight months and a break is potentially needed. That would be a shame, as it was shaping like Late Date might be appreciating the ground getting a bit more… summery. Alternatively, the big plus could be finally being unleashed on three mile races, which does make much more sense in the context that his two second places were both over 2m 6.5f at Kelso, i.e. an uphill finish that does not help massage home the faint hearted. Where Late Date can find his fate and be our mate is by being quick out of the gate as a chaser. Even if we hate the rate of these internal rhymes, there is no need to blame the horse.

Handicap chases over 2m 7f or more

OVERTHEEDGE     (Simon West)

8 year old bay gelding     (Morozov – Ballyroe Hill)     PF51/3222-63

Overtheedge pulled up in his first three Irish pointing runs, but has turned out to be a fair bit less abysmal than that opening salvo indicated. The about turn was very sudden, as he won his fourth Irish point, beating fifteen opponents, four of whom actually finished. The runner-up is a novice hurdle winner who cannot jump fences, and the third won a modest chase at Huntingdon last bank holiday. After two more runs in Ireland, Overtheedge went over the sea and took up novice chasing in Britain, where he proved to be a fan of the “skilled jumping not relevant” school of work/failure. After a confidence booster on hurdles debut, he took to that job rather well, winning at Wetherby and being placed in his next four, showing that he can perform on just about any type of course. Also, the win was a two miler, but he lost by only two lengths over both 2m 4f and 2m 7f. In the win he turned over a 130-rated favourite (who was conceding twelve pounds), with thirty-five lengths back to the rest, so it still stands out as the sharp, erm, edge of Overtheedge’s achievements. The most recent runs have seen a bit of a drop off in performance, but it will pick up again. The question that remains unanswered is whether Overtheedge has the savvy to revive his chase career. We can give him a chance and quickly slap on the Red Alert if a first revisit goes haywire.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases up to 2m 2f, rated up to 120

PRINCETON ROYALE     (Neil King)

8 year old bay gelding     (Royal Anthem – Shelikesitstraight)     553/F55511213/0P121523-

With handicap ratings in the low 130s for both chases and hurdles, Princeton Royale is quite close to excluding himself from races within the UK-Jumping remit. It is a self-imposed remit, but it is not changing to accommodate one horse. Well, not unless it is a horse that we really, really want to put on, and hypothetically are a bit annoyed because it was earmarked for inclusion only to go on a winning spree before the bullet was bitten. Indian Stream might be one that is held in mind, with minimal bitterness. The reason for remaining hopeful of Princeton Royale sustaining his contribution is that he is far more effective bullying inferior horses from a higher weight. The results when carrying under eleven stone is 0/6 and even the two places involved losing heavily. He is not convincing on exactly eleven stone (1/4) so for the rest of his weight carrying he is left with a score of four wins from eleven races. Note to self – does the number 11 have mystical importance to him? Actually the answer is far less supernatural, with the visor holding the key. Whack one on and have eleven stone or more on his back and the form reads 112130P1312. The two bad results were his comeback races in spring 2016 after a winter off, which is a boat he is awaiting to board this year.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases carrying 11 stone or more, using a visor
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This is not a recent picture and since it was taken Princeton Royale has worked out how the rails contribute to the whole steering experience.

SGT BULL BERRY     (Peter Maddison)

10 year old bay gelding     (Alflora – Cede Nullis)     47P/55/PP1144P12P6/PPU1-PP

His dam’s name translates to “yield to nothing,” but zero percent of that sentiment has rubbed off on Sgt Bull Berry, because giving up easily is one of his favourite things to do. The problem for punters who yearn for predictability is that when he is in a good frame of mind, he is very, very functional on sharp, left-handed tracks. On those he was fourth in a five runner bumper on debut, won his first hurdle and first chase on that layout in 2015 and has since racked up scores of 41PP1PP, to make it four wins gained in total as the temple of Southwell/Stratford/Sedgefield/Kelso collapses about his ears in a tide of pee-pee, or something. At the first two of those tracks he is overall 4111P1P, suggesting the undulations at Sedgefield and even Kelso’s rather trivial ups and downs freak him out. The decision is to give him a chance on all level tracks, whilst being aware that the dead flat ones seem to fit best of all. Even after a recent flop at Southwell, Sgt Bull Berry has a healthy rate of delivery over fences, winning three of twelve chases, the story from them suggesting that he simply needs a very low rating to function.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases on a left-handed, sharp, level course, rated up to 80
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Sgt Bull Berry (7) shows what he can do when he puts his mind to it.
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