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SEPTEMBER 2018 HORSES TO FOLLOW
BADDESLEY KNIGHT     (Chris Gordon)

5 year old bay gelding     (Doyen – Grangeclare Rhythm)     321-

Baddesley Knight began his racing career in a bumper at Fontwell, and for those type of races, no track seems to attract such a wide range of race qualities. You could turn up and see a Cue Card, or other classy, if less elite, horses. Or you could wander into a race where the runners do well to avoid tripping over their giant clown feet. This horse bumped into one of the above average ones. The winner, Court Liability, had been second in his only Irish point, and went on two win both novice hurdle runs and get a 127-rating. Runner-up Solomon Grey has finished in the first three for all eight races and is now rated 135 as a hurdler. Fourth placed Django Django is a 123-rated hurdler, and Baddesley Knight beat him by ten lengths whilst only ending up a neck behind the winner. Next stop he was seen at Newbury where he managed second in a race with two lengths splitting the first four, although the form is not shaping to be as strong as the Fontwell one. The last race of Baddesley Knight’s debut season was Plumpton, where bumpers are very, very winnable on a consistent basis, and he managed the job very easily. All this marks him out as a horse a bit ahead of the average standard of novice hurdler for his yard, and winning non-handicaps is a very realistic ambition. Two milers might be taken, but he looks the type to flourish over a touch further. Or several touches further.

Hurdles over 2m 3f or more

DOC CARVER     (Henry Oliver)

7 year old chestnut gelding     (Lakeshore Road - Tuney Tulip)     9/522F4P-

Any person who randomly selected Doc Carver as a horse whose career needed to be monitored from day has certainly had some trials and tribulations en route. They were also probably doctors with the surname Carver, but might have changed name and profession in the meantime. He is actually named after the owner of a Wild West Show from the late nineteenth century who invented a routine where he had trained a horse and rider to dive into a tank of water. The original Doc Carver also seems to have held some strident opinions, and got into rows with anyone who stood still long enough to be engaged. This horse has taken no inspiration from that, attacking zero opponents so far and only having just one career fall, although that rapidly ended a stint of good performances. That was a shame as after losses of a length and a half and then half a length in novice company, Doc Carver was bang in the mix against a very in form opponent when he fell on handicap debut - although the Towcester uphill straight was still to be met. A rather cautious run followed and then came a big disappointment at Exeter. Observers of his Irish pointing career would note that it was a tough old slog to get a win out of him, but from what we have been shown under Rules, lack of stamina was a serious obstacle at that job.

Handicap hurdles up to 2m 2f, rated up to 125
This man desperately wanted the stage name Vif Argent but an envious Brian Eno would not let him
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Gloomy day often equals mediocre photo, but there is no excuse for omitting Doc Carver's legs.

HATCHET JACK     (Paul Henderson)

6 year old bay gelding     (Black Sam Bellamy – Identity Parade)     7345233-2

Should the casual observer or alien beaming into Earth for a cursory review of activity in Norfolk on 8th May be consulted, they would tell you that the verdict on Hatchet Jack is that there is no mileage in jumping like you have breezeblocks for shoes. However, this is not normal for Hatchet Jack and it hopefully is just an indicator that after starting his season in October, it was one race too many. An additional theory is that it was his first race on good ground, all of the others being between heavy and good to soft, and it did not suit. It was an extreme and theatrical way of showing connections that slightly less easy conditions needed to be axed from the Hatchet Jack agenda. Fakenham was also a 2m 4f race and whilst he has run reasonably at slightly further, it was 2m 7f or more that seemed to shine the edge on Hatchet Jack’s blade. The fourth thing to be wary of is that his other race on a sharp track was arguably his worst (the rival for that honour was the seasonal debut, and the yard are not known for first time out success). On galloping or easy tracks the only time that Hatchet Jack finished outside the first three was a two and a half lengths fifth at Ascot on his handicap debut. The subsequent defeats from the same handicap mark are a point of concern, but the expectation is that Hatchet Jack can turn it up a notch as a staying chaser, and whilst the anti-sharp track thing is worth pursuing, the yard is not averse to seeking out small fields at Plumpton, Fontwell and Lingfield.

Handicap chases over 2m 7f or more, on an easy or galloping track, on good to soft, soft or heavy

LEE SIDE LADY     (Neil Mulholland)

8 year old chestnut mare     (Mountain High – Vicante)     4551421/12438/332P4-534

The desire with this horse is that she will be allowed to abandon the failed adventure into chasing and go back to hurdles, where she is far more effective. Even back in her Irish pointing days, where Lee Side Lady refused to race in her second appearances (the Irish form tends to describe it as “left at the start” but this is just sales speak) and generally got bad results when participating, the clues were present. When she did win it was against a list of opponents whose names will not ring too many bells three years further on, unless you are a person who passes the quiet winter evenings memorising every horse in Britain and Ireland with a hurdle rating below 90. From the mostly positive set of numbers in Lee Side Lady’s listing, the chases under Rules have generated a 69 lengths third (non-handicap), a pulled up, a last of five, a twenty-four lengths third and an eighteen lengths fourth. The last three are not necessarily down to the fact that Neil Mulholland has had a less productive summer than we have become accustomed to. From what remains in the results, Lee Side Lady has gone 12112832 in handicap hurdles on sharp courses. The eighth was the only one of those on a right-handed course, but her non-sharp course right-handed run was pretty decent, so let us not get sucked into that trap, at least until she has flopped and slopped going that way some more.

Handicap hurdles on a sharp track

PROUD GAMBLE (Rose Dobbin)

9 year old bay gelding     (Brian Boru – Sister Anna)     685958/8F721PP/921213134/P4

Proud Gamble is selected just so that we can all gamble proudly on the state of his comeback, safe in the knowledge that his truest aptitude has not been attempted recently. After a fourth at Catterick in early 2017 he was missing, presumed injured, for eighteen months. The comeback races have both been at Cartmel, where he pulled up at the first try and finished fourth in the second. Unfortunately he ended up lame in the second of them. That is a bit ominous given the recent extended absence, but he still shows up on the BHA database with a handicap mark, so the possibility remains that this is a lesser issue and a return to action is not beyond the horizon. The reason to hope for improvement is that all of his four wins came when he was on a right-handed course, so Cartmel was unlikely to be the place to stage a successful reappearance, either part I or part II. Things did not start out so well on those courses for Proud Gamble as he fell at Musselburgh when making his chase debut, and the next try was a little bit tentative. A safe completion got a big thumbs up and a close second and a win quickly followed. After that opening quarter, the results going clockwise have been 211313, with a Market Rasen jaunt proving that Proud Gamble is not a one trick pony and a neck loss at Perth suggesting that he could even have a third piece of magic in his skill set. The level stake profit over these races is 10.75 points. The average loss in his handicap hurdles (could never have won a novice race in a million years) has been fifty-four lengths. None of them have been right-handed but if he does go back to hurdles a huge fix is needed.

Handicap chases on a right-handed course

VIF ARGENT     (Dave Roberts)

9 year old bay gelding     (Dom Alco - Formosa)     3421112P212/1320P0P15F/1236P0715/1P90F/O98/-34

As racing careers go, Vif Argent has had one of the most interesting around. Stop one was in Guillaume Macaire's stable, where he was good at bumpers, good at hurdling and good at chasing. This skillset added up to five wins and an equal number of seconds from fourteen races. He mostly stuck to the small courses, but closed out with second place at Auteuil. That prompted a change of home base and he moved to the David Pipe yard. He started off very poorly there, but once settled in wins began to flow again, with the places remaining hidden below the parapet. In May 2015 he was bought for £11,500 after winning a selling hurdle and joined Andrew Reid. This was a surprise given that the new yard puts the emphasis on flat racing. They do have the odd successful jumper, but Vif Argent was a dismal failure, either not completing or beaten at least 48 lengths. The best that could be said is that when he ran out it was a case of broken tack and not mental waywardness. After June 2016 he went missing for two years, and returned for yet another trainer in non-dreadful fashion this July. The follow up was better and he may be ready for more wins, having become extremely well handicapped on his old form. *** STOP PRESS - Runs 31st August at Bangor. Wrong sort of track but a bad race and a strong show is possible. ***

Races on a galloping track over 2m 4f or more, up to nine run
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