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MAY 2018 HORSES TO FOLLOW
AIRTIGHT     (Gary Moore)

5 year old bay gelding     (Proclamation – Megasue)     267346-

Generally when Gary Moore horses have been selected on the site, the ones that have worked have been the flat converts who get handicapped over jumps on less than ideal ground, and the ones that have flopped tend to be the bumper converts. Airtight began his career by finishing second narrowly in a short bumper at Fontwell and then last, but losing by only five lengths at Ascot. Some say that the definition of stupidity is making the same error over and over again, but Airtight has some really quite fascinating credentials for coming good in handicap hurdles. There was a sense of déjà vu when typing that, and his dam is from a family that tend to do their best stuff very early. So, as a selection Airtight yes, watertight no. However, in his runs over hurdles there have been two efforts to catch the eye. He was third, but not close, to Lisp at Fontwell and last time finished sixth, beaten eleven lengths, behind three very reliable yardsticks at Plumpton – Pull Together, Jumping Jack and stablemate It’s Got Legs. Bearing in mind that the bumper runs came on good and good to firm, whereas he has been hurdling on good to soft once and heavy three times, so handicaps not in the mud is where we want to see him.

Handicap hurdles on good or good to firm, rated up to 120
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Airtight (1) on the Plumpton run-in, not looking as if he has reached the end of his tether

GREGARIOUS     (Lucy Wadham)

5 year old grey gelding     (Big Bad Bob – Sense Of Greeting)     73119/P42F134-

It is a good effort to have already made a mess of your chasing career before you are half way into your five year old season. Almost as much for horses as well. And yet somehow, in this let down that drove connections to have Gregarious back hurdling by March, he has managed to reinforce the clues as to preferences that he offered us as a hurdler. On debut over jumps at Wetherby, he was a big flop, and as a consequence Gregarious was almost friendless prior to an improved effort in defeat at Plumpton. What followed was two wins at Sandown, and then a drubbing there in a valuable juvenile handicap hurdle on the final day of the season. For the new season fences were on the agenda. Gregarious pulled up at Kempton on debut, then lost by only four lengths back at Sandown. What came next was a drubbing at Plumpton (three horse race) and a fall at Uttoxeter. So hurdling was returned the agenda and he won by a nose at Towcester. Last time he lost honourably at Fakenham. So we have established that right-handed, easy tracks suit. The wins have been in the mud, but suitable openings have not been found away from it. The question is whether he can make it over fences if the chase career is resumed with his novice status preserved. Forgiveness is an agreeable trait. Late news - very close fourth, again hurdling, at Warwick at the end of April.

Hurdles or chases on a right-handed, easy track

MR JIM     (Tony Carroll)

9 year old bay gelding     (Fraam – Coddington Susie)     55//F351/2355U-

For a nine year old Mr Jim stands out for lack of mileage on the clock, and in addition to the form shown he has only two point-to-point runs – pulled up at Larkhill and a much more quietly encouraging run on some very slimy clay at Cocklebarrow – a course much less coastal or Irish than the name implies. When he returned to Rules nobody was inclined to phaff around with hurdles, despite Mr Jim opening his chase career with a fall and two last places. What became apparent was that he appreciates quick ground, because on his handicap debut he won comfortably around Plumpton on it. With the undulations and tricky fences, a horse that impresses on good to firm there is usually not bluffing about enjoying it. The same is true of Towcester, where he lost by only a lengths and a half on fast ground trying to follow up. Next time, after the summer off, he lucked into really quick conditions at Leicester, but since then Mr Jim has been in easier conditions and lost, although he was making a proper race of it last time until his jumping went to pot over the last two. He has not been a summer jumper so far, but it seems to be tailor made for him.

Hurdles or chases on good to firm ground

PRIVATE MALONE     (Emma Lavelle)

9 year old bay gelding     (Darsi – Native Artist)     2/111/25/57P3/5254226-

Although he was probably named from the country hit “Riding With Private Malone” (which should in no way remind you of the war anthem that Willie Nelson is trying to write in “Wag The Dog” leading to the wise observation that 'Albania's hard to rhyme') it would be nice to think that this horse is actually a tribute to some bumbling military misfit, as his more than three years winless would make it fairly appropriate. However, until Private Malone dropped off key in a class 2 handicap at Haydock last time, he was showing all the signs of breaking out of his cycle of failure. We can still take heart from his early days, where he was second in a bumper at Worcester, before winning novice hurdles there and Leicester and a handicap at Wincanton. It was over fences that Private Malone lost a bit of heart, presumably due to underestimating those who beat him. On debut he was nudged out by a nose by Silsol and just ahead of Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco. Next time he was in a race won by Blaklion, and only six lengths behind Vicente (two Scottish Nationals in the bag since). In the 2016/17 he lost his way, along with other horses in the stable, but this season he has been runner-up three times. Two were on sharp tracks but the best was at Newbury, bringing us home to the idea that galloping tracks are the places to look most hard for him. His score on them is 211125735426,

Hurdles or chases on a galloping track

WYFIELD ROSE     (Alistair Whillans)

9 year old bay mare     (Kayf Tara - Miniature Rose)     88/18733/P643775/74P9072/81011121PP0/U45594-

The first impression for Wyfield Rose is that she has not had much of a season. Compared to the previous one, pretty much anything was doomed to be a dismal anti-climax, but she has admittedly gone down that route in quite exceptional style. The reason why we hope connections have not given up the ghost and resorted to sending her to stud is that Wyfield Rose's handicap mark has been allowed to slump, which in turn led to her finishing only four lengths back in fourth at the big Perth festival late in April. It is not a surprise that she turned up and ran well there because her record on easy courses is 13P7549281111245594. This solid record would have been profitable to follow because she tends to be devoid of respect from the betting market, even when on her winning streak in the summer of 2016. But when Wyfield Road is considered on easy courses with good or quicker going, she is even more appealing, with results of 1342811112455, with the last three coming as her handicap mark was out of control. Her one win not on an easy track also featured good going, so that is a trend that can be relied upon. The recent Perth fourth on soft saw Wyfield Rose tackling 2m 4f, which is not the sort of distance that has worked for her since 2014. Now all we do is wait six months for some dry weather!

Races on an easy track, over 2m 7f or more, on good or good to firm

YOUNG PHOENIX     (Martin Keighley)

6 year old bay gelding     (Robin Des Pres - Lady Phoenix)     38306

As far as can be recalled from the legend, the new phoenix was born from the flames raring to go, and by implication in an adult form. So a young phoenix is only "sort of" a possibility. And yet here we have Young Phoenix, and his initial adventures have also left us a few question marks. He debuted with third in a bumper, but got left fifteen lengths adrift by the line and there were only modicums (modica?) of encouragement given that Young Phoenix had not been victim of the wrong tactics for Stratford. So to see him stuffed on hurdles debut was not an amazing way onwards, but it led connectons to move him swiftly into three miles, where he was beaten only four lengths going round and round at Hereford. Had he jumped better a win may even have come, but Young Phoenix was sent to Ludlow next time, where his jumping to the left was worse, and he hung off that way also - plus it was only 2m 5f so he got stuffed. For the handicap debut, he went to Stratford, gained cheekpieces and stepped back to 3m 2.5f and the result was sixth, but only by five lengths and after a mini-stumble at the final hurdle. The career may be said to have risen again from the ashes of Ludlow - as long as putting all eggs in one metaphorical basket is allowed. Expect more anti-clockwise tracks and marathon races.

Handicap hurdles or handicap chases on a left-handed track, over 3m or more
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