Market Rasen, 23/11/17

Two important thoughts. A supplier of portaloos sponsored two races here, but neither was a novices chase? What were the course executive thinking? JP McManus had four runners on the card. Barry Geraghty came over to ride, but was not on two of them, Richie McLernon and Aidan Coleman getting one each. After being tailed off in the opener, his other booked ride was a non-runner. Might he think this was a bit of a waste of a day?

The travel highlight was stopping for petrol after racing on the A631. The garage chosen is not self service and the inside is full of random bric-a-brac (old toot, some would say) stacked randomly about the place. In a certain type of film, this would be the place where the cashier has been slaughtered by the psycho, who is taking the place behind the counter. As going 2p over the round forty pounds was greeted by being given a 2p discount, rather then being set about with an axe, the assumption is that the owner was still intact.

Going: Good to Soft, Soft places

Race 1: Lincs Loos Novices Hurdle [2m 2.5f]

1: Dans Le Vent     2: Tayzar     3: New Quay

Winner owned: Marek Gumienny & Adam Signy, trained: Jamie Snowden, ridden: Gavin Sheehan

At face value this was a fairly run of the mill outcome. The short priced favourite won, seeing the benefit of a step up in distance after slightly sub-par beginning over hurdles. There was a small group of opponents trying in vain to chase him down. The rest were tailed off, mostly pulling up. In reality there was so much more going on behind the façade of normality. Of course, what is normal for Lincolnshire? Something involving sausages, vast fields filmed in black and white on windy days, tractors and the Humber Bridge. Thank goodness for novice hurdles to fill the cultural voyage. And also for Corzeam for filling the role of “naughtiest horse around.” After playing up at the start in all his races and refusing during two of them, he was kept seriously apart at the start. To the tune of about 150 metres. He began tailed off and at least got as far as pulling up rather than downing tools (probably – as attention was on the finish, way in front).

+   Tayzar (2nd): Unusually for a Malcolm Jefferson horse he had been a dud in two bumpers, especially on debut, but putting some hurdles in the way really livened his ideas up. It is likely the winner came more down to his level than incredible progress was achieved, but he is going the right way.

+   Haafapiece (4th): Won a big field bumper on his debut and has since kept getting stuck in encouragingly in losses. It was a little bit disappointing that he was not strong enough to pinch third at the business end but unless he has over-impressed the handicapper, there are races to be won.

  Dans Le Vent (1st): A top bumper horse who won at Towcester and finished eight lengths sixth in the Festival Bumper. He had been runner-up over hurdles at Huntingdon and Cheltenham and should have been set to flourish for this. Instead he made ridiculously hard work of winning it and could not have been less impressive without losing.

x   New Quay (3rd): It looked in the race that this Irish point winner had made massive improvement from his weak hurdles debut, and gave the race as good a shot as was reasonable to expect. After the race, those able to coincidentally over hear Harry Skelton’s verdict would have only “******** **** ****** *******” left when blanking out swearing and criticisms of the effort that the horse made. So we have to suspect that he is not trying as hard as it looks.

x   Musical Slave (6th): Finished four lengths back when sixth of twenty-three at Punchestown in a bumper, form not too far shy of the winner’s. Settled well out the back here, his rider did not lift a finger to stay in touch with the leaders, nor to close the gap late in the race. He too was in “something overheard” range, muttering about the horse’s wind, but anyone who watched it and saw a blatant non-trier would not be due criticism for reading the non-effort in such a way.

x x   Corzeam (PU): Showed ability in a bumper on the one time he forgot to make a fool of himself, but with the horror of the form in the book, it really should not necessary to list him here, but one person was overheard saying that they had backed him…
Dans Le Vent is unduly smug in an unimpressive win, Haafapiece's envy may be future motivation

Race 2: Ashes Betting At 188Bet Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Molly Childers     2: Undisputed     3: Bonnet’s Vino

Winner owned: The Ravenstone Partnership, trained: Stuart Edmunds, ridden: Ciaran Gethings

The money started to come for Molly Childers in the morning, based on the sound deduction that she was making her handicap debut in ideal conditions and most of the oppo did not have an experience advantage on her. Between the last pair of hurdles she was shaping as the likely winner of a proper scrap, but instead she sprinted clear impressively on the run-in. The only black mark on her record was no previous wins, and that is now repainted yellow, with a smiley face. Undisputed held second from another admirable solid offering by Bonnet’s Vino, who was only two pounds higher rated than when winning this in 2016.

+   Undisputed (2nd): Returning from an autumn break, she put up a good effort for second and by being seen off fourteen lengths by the winner, she should retain a functional handicap mark.

+   Rosie McQueen (4th): Another having a first shot at handicaps, her main plus from this was not falling, having done so in two of her previous three hurdles. There was a clue first time out that her rating of 114 today is handy when the brain and legs get the coordination sorted out. This worked today, other than a couple of awkward but not dangerous jumps, and she can get into gear now.

Race 3: Premier League Betting At 188Bet Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Arthur’s Gift     2: Psychedelic Rock     3: Just Milly

Winner owned & trained: Nigel Twiston-Davies, ridden: Tom Humphries

Arthur’s Gift seemed a fairly obvious choice for this. He won his last race in the style of a lightly raced horse that is coming to a peak and did offset worries that he had earlier been a couple of lengths behind Psychedelic Rock and yet was now a few pounds worse off. The press tipsters were surprisingly keen on Arthur’s Gift being reminded of his lower status by a horse meeting ground softer than he really likes, but in the world of psychedelic rock things are rarely as they seem (man) and when Psychedelic Rock did get the front two out, Arthur’s Gift quickly took it off of him. Just Milly, who really seemed in the mood for a big run before the race, made the running at kept Oh Land Abloom out of the places. He seems to have evolved into a three miler these days, and even a course where he had won or been placed in six out of seven runs could not come to his rescue.

+   Cake De L’Isle (6th): Rule number one – nothing bad comes from cake. Rule number two – this translates to horses. Provisional appendix A – Jonjo O’Neill has rocketed onto the cold list this month and this horse ran well enough for long enough to think things will go better when the yard is firing.

Race 4: Download The App At 188Bet Novices Limited Handicap Chase [2m 5.5f]

1: Acting Lass     2: Bordeaux Bill     3: Wilberdragon

Winner owned: Nigel & Barbara Collison, trained: Harry Fry, ridden: Noel Fehily

A nice chase debut from the large mare Acting Lass. Bordeaux Bill ran very well to ensure that she had a proper fitness work out after nine months off, and Wilberdragon gave then a bit of pressure up until the last.

+   Acting Lass (1st): She is put together to be a chaser and her only problem was an inclination not to be straight at several fences. However, there was a strong crosswind blowing over the track and it would not be a surprise to find her not do that in more helpful conditions.

  Officer Hoolihan (PU): Got off to a good start as a chaser but ran no sort of race at all here. He has not won on a sharp track, but had been placed close to the winner, so it is not necessarily the course format to blame for the poor show.
Bordeaux Bill pings a fence a lap out, Acting Lass (yellow) did the same a lap later. Wilberdragon is being very wilberdragonish (or is it wilberdragonensian)

Race 5: Davis Cup Tennis At 188Bet Handicap Chase [3m]

1: Vinegar Hill     2: Amiral Collonges     3: Copperface Jack

Winner owned: Theshouldhavehadabiggerbudgetgroup, trained: Stuart Edmunds, ridden: Brendan Powell

Copperface Jack finished runner-up seven times in a spell of eight races over fences, but since the cheekpieces were removed, he had won two out of two. Turning for home it seemed that the hat trick was coming, but Vinegar Hill, in the first time tongue tie, suddenly burst into life and wrapped up victory three fences out. He did run out of puff on the run-in, but it never seemed that the pack were going to close him down. Amiral Collonges pinched second late in the race. His great stamina is known, the days he decides to use it are less apparent.

  Vinegar Hill (1st): Obliterated his handicap mark with three wins in spring 2016 but then posted a surprise of sorts after defying the raised mark when moving to a new yard. He had not really taken to chases before today but the tongue tie worked wonders, and it suggests that more amazing feats are in store – when least expected.

x   Ultimatum Du Roy (5th): Although he has a handicap rating too challenging to expect him to win from, all the conditions were right and he had two respectable warm-up runs completed this autumn. To be first beaten and well tailed off was very disappointing, and a hint that he may have peaked too early this winter.
Copperface Jack (7) and Vinegar Hill (3) dominate from an early stage. Sunny Ledgend, Amiral Collonges and Ultimatum Du Roy (1) are wave two. The Doorman hides Have A Go Hero at the back

Race 6: Lincs Loos Handicap Hurdle [2m 0.5f]

1: Morning With Ivan     2: Teescomponents Max     3: Marju’s Quest

Winner owned: Leslie Richards, trained: Susan Corbett, ridden: James Corbett

It was a bit late on the card but the 0-100 two mile loonfest arrived eventually. Several were returning from significant absences, but the one short, sharp shower of the day arrived as the horses hit the paddock, so fitness inspection gave way to a cup of tea. This might have been an expensive choice as Morning With Ivan (off since July 2016) looked well handicapped debuting for a new yard and had conditions to suit. She responded accordingly. Russian Royale failed dismally to bring up the exacta for followers of coincident names, which is possibly the least effective system ever. Marju’s Quest maintained his recent standards of competitive failure, the chance of victory again spoiled by setting a strong pace. It blew away seven of ten opponents, but two of those that hung in there picked him off.

+   Morning With Ivan (1st): Has won from 94 but was rated just 79 for this. She has five wins and two seconds from eighteen hurdle races on sharp tracks (no wins and two seconds from ten elsewhere). It is a shame that chasing confused her into ineffectiveness on everything.

x   Teescomponents Max (2nd): Did sort of OK, but this brought him to fifteen races and no wins, with second the best ever result.

x   Marju’s Quest (3rd): His self defeating tactical doctrine strikes again, and at the age of seven, nearly eight, he really should have learned better by now.

Race 7: Free Spins At 188Bet Casino Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 0.5f]

1: Benny’s Bridge     2: Inheritance Thief     3: Norman Stanley

Winner owned: Biddestone Racing I, trained: Fergal O’Brien, ridden: Paddy Brennan

A potentially decent bumper, and it was interesting that the debuting winner attracted market support in the morning despite the standards set by the best of those with racecourse experience. The pace was quite slow and it turned into a bit of a sprint over the last half mile, and Benny’s Bridge was not found out when it got serious. The first three have been highlighted below as worth keeping watch out for, but improvement to compete is feasible for the next four home – Lygon Rock (eight months off before this), Northern Soul (debut and can be fitter), Diablo De Rouhet (yard out of form, improvement on the cards) and Shall We Go Now (beaten favourite).

+   Benny’s Bridge (1st): A very likeable debut and he got on with delivering the goods without any fuss or histrionics.

+   Inheritance Thief (2nd): Finished second at Ludlow in May, splitting two horses that won after that. He has talent and the first and third here could easily repeat the trick of the main rivals in his other race.

  Norman Stanley (3rd): Another having his first race, he appeared to find the bend by the stands a bit too tight but that is something he can learn to cope with. He finished well, if not quite as nippily as the first two.
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