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JUNE 2018 HORSES TO FOLLOW
FRIARY GOLD     (Katy Price)

6 year old bay gelding     (Mountain High – Platinum Ambition)     26569-6

This entry was going to start with a diatribe about why the horse was not given a puntastic name like Gold Top, but five seconds effort revealed that there is a seven year old flat mare who may be retired from racing, but has first dibs on the name. For his Irish pointing career, which consisted of pulling up twice and then being beaten by a distance, it may seem that Friary Gold was not worth expending a clever name on, but the form could very easily be read as a case of a horse who fails to stay – and is not even close to doing so. This theory got a boost on Friary Gold’s bumper debut when he was four lengths second in a pointers’ bumper at Tipperary, which at least shows that he is not totally averse to things that are a long way. After a regressive run at Cork, Friary Gold went back to Tipp and made a half decent hurdles debut. The first two races in Britain were proper stuffings – firstly over an excessive 2m 5.5f and then on soft ground, which may not be his cup of milky tea (cannot drop this Gold Top thing at all). However, on handicap debut he ran much better at Huntingdon, given far too much to do and picking off a few stragglers late on. He is probably OK for modest two milers if ridden less negatively, but as Friary Gold grows up, a little bit of extra stamina should come his way.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases up to 2m 3f, on good to soft, good or good to firm
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Hopefully Friary Gold will continue to adopt this business-like demeanour

ILEWINDELILAH     (Charlie Mann)

10 year old bay mare     (Grape Tree Road – Bridepark Rose)     54809/5713P//P09/8126-4

This mare has been on the consideration list for a little while, but with her age having reached double figures, there was always the chance that she was headed off into retirement. The one thing that kept the faith going was that by only having had eighteen races, Ilewindelilah would have no excuse for feeling a bit tired or jaded. The sealing effort on bringing her into the fold was a perfectly solid comeback to action at Huntingdon late in May. Not everyone would go so far as to say losing a race won by the otherwise success-free zone that is Sweet’N’Chic counts as solid, but Ilewindelilah is usually condemned to substandard performance when returning from a break and she had been off for seven months leading into that run. And she has enough breaks over the years to offer up a reasonable body of evidence on that topic. Having established what irritates her in a racing context, the next look is to find out what she likes. Blinkers. Long distance races (now). A run in the last eight weeks. We could probably add absence of mud to that list, but she is not usually asked to take that on anyway. Before she became a stayer, her score when match ready in blinkers was 7130, and in her new modus operandum it is 126. May she continue to approve of them.

Handicap hurdles over 2 miles 7 furlongs or more, with a run in the last eight weeks and wearing blinkers.

LUNAR FLOW     (Jamie Snowden)

7 year old bay gelding     (With The Flow – Misty Move)     67P60351/678145/138251-

Having made no impression on the places in modest bumpers at Plumpton and Fontwell, Lunar Flow has done well to win four races in three years since. He only hit the target once in hurdles, but chases and longer distances have brought out his strongest energies, picking up three victories in ten tries. The success last time at Uttoxeter, when already pencilled in for list inclusion, was a bit annoying because it risked pushing out of the grade of races in which he has proven, but the handicapper reacted with the caution that is currently prevalent and raised him from 106 to 114 for a race with distances of nine and four lengths splitting the first three. In order to narrow down the days to be with Lunar Flow, the lunatic process flow is to rule out races not on a left-handed, easy track. When this is done, the results are as follows: 15131, with the third place being by only a length and a half. The lost success was at Exeter, which at least fits the easy track theme, but he has had five other tries on easy, right-handed course and four of them have been poor by Lunar Flow’s normal standard. The remaining question is why his starting price has been so healthy when he wins – 7/1 at Exeter, 14/1, 10/1 and 10/3 in the others. It can only be presumed that his name attracts your local full moon nutters to get stuck into him on the wrong courses and be skint (or charging around naked at midnight) when he wins. Only one win has been on the date of a full moon.

Races on a left-handed, easy track over 2m 7f or more

QUEST FOR LIFE     (Mark Walford)

6 year old bay gelding     (Dapper – Lewesdon Duchess)     232273223-1

The entire purpose of this selection list has been to prove that a bit of racing life can be found even in obscure places, it just sometimes hides itself quite well. Therefore, when Quest For Life made his debut in May last year, he immediately looked like a horse to be tracking, even though he was beaten in a five runner race. Once he did get going on a regular basis – and he was quite busy for a first season horse last term – the concern that developed was that Quest For Life had a rather underdeveloped sense of a quest for success. Nine races into his career he had been in the first two eight times without winning, six times losing by about five lengths or fewer. That worry was put to bed when he battled his way to a win in an eleven horse race last time. The way in which it has been chosen to interpret this is the path to finding his niche in staying chases. The development of a trend in preferred venues seems to lie with avoiding galloping tracks. All three wider margin defeats were on such a course, and in one of the two manageable losses Quest For Life was tapped for toe and stayed on belatedly when the front runners wilted on heavy going. It is not guaranteed that this way of operating sticks with him, but with fences to jump at speed the impact could be increased. For everything noted about galloping tracks, repeat it for level, so the combination is definitely worth avoiding. For now.

Handicap chases over 2m 6f or more, not on a galloping, level track

SHARP RESPONSE     (Sue Smith)

7 year old bay gelding     (Oscar – Lambourne Lace) 51335126/7321-

The most obvious thing about this horse is that he is not easy to keep in tip top condition for an extended run of racing. The good thing from his point of view is that the response to a little bit of time of is usually sharp. Someone clearly saw it coming when they named him. In Ireland he had two Irish point runs in Spring 2015, two more in Autumn 2015 and then a point and a bumper the following spring. Note the lack of mention of success. When Sharp Response came to Britain, he debuted five months since that bumper spin and won, starting joint favourite in a novice hurdle despite the only one vaguely proximate run between flags. Where we are now is a twelve race career so far in which he has had three wins, coming after absences of 153, 51 and 47 days. If the qualification bar is set at six weeks, then there is only one qualifying defeat, which was a second place (in a three horse race). If the current stable regime was going to chop and change Sharp Response’s dependence on rest days, we could expect to have seen a more obvious impact by now, and as he has rarely run badly in Britain, that little bit of freshness does look like a difference maker. Any sort of ground seems to work for him, which at least means connections are not driven by targets in narrow windows of opportunity.

Races after at least six weeks since the last run

VALSEUR DU GRANVAL     (Tom George)

9 year old bay gelding     (Della Francesca – La Grande Vallee)     2/270//3533P/14211434/25571-9

At this point there was supposed to be a cutting edge analysis of the origins of cricket in Ireland, but the horse it pertained to was then dropped at the last minute with a hunch that this one needed to be in sooner. Apologies to fans of odd historical theories, but it is promised that Piltdown Man did not get involved. This does rather put the pressure on Valseur Du Granval to deliver NOW! Or when he next appears – no entries in the book at the time of writing. To get the best out of him requires an easy course. When he tackles these and sticks to good or good to soft ground, the record from the jumbly numbering (a healthy lack of letters in the form) above is 03P1142519. From that Valseur Du Granval has staked a claim to eliminate races beyond 2m 2f because he cannot imagine why any horse would want to run that far. In his case the answer has twice been losing the 2m 4f Stan & Lady Clarke memorial race at Uttoxeter in late May because he is owned by their son who would naturally enjoy a runner in it, even though Valseur Du Granval is not the ideal horse for that job. There was also a trip up to Perth last summer (not the April festival) where choice of races was not extensive. Without those, the numbers read 03P1141. His win at Towcester, supported by a sole sharp course success at Kempton over 2m 2f, shows that his stamina is not weak, just insufficient for two and a half miles.

Handicap chases on an easy track, up to 2m 2f, on good to soft or good
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