Worcester, 3/9/17

A big crowd was expected for this meeting, but there was a slight drizzle, which briefly increased to slight rain late in the afternoon, so the a large attendance was not witnessed. And yet the snowflake generation deny that they are pathetically hopeless at everything.

Going: Good

Race 1: Bet toteplacepot At Handicap Chase [2m 0.5f]

1: Desertmore Hill     2: Toe To Toe     3: The Shepherd King

Winner owned: West Coast Haulage Ltd, trained: Kerry Lee, ridden: Richard Johnson

The decisive factor here was a masterful ride from Richard Johnson, who came very late on Desertmore Hill and essentially won the race by best use of a turn of foot from a horse who fundamentally does not have such a thing. As top remaining weight, Desertmore Hill was known to be the least slow of those taking part, but rounding the home turn The Shepherd King, Deise Vu, Toe To Toe and Sage Monkey had gone clear and the eventual winner was left with plenty of racing to do just to be involved. At the final fence it looked as if Toe To Toe just had enough of a lead to finish the job in his favour. Not true, it transpired. Having more than four weeks between runs gives Desertmore Hill an edge on his performance, and a thirty day gap here just did the business. The Shepherd King came over from Ireland for this, but apparently had a horrible journey, arriving in the middle of the night. Connections could have been forgiven for giving up and going home. Hopefully the £477 prize money was worth the aggro. Also of interest is that he only has one win in the last seven years and is only 1/29 over fences, so a perfect travel experience would be likely to have left a similar result.

x  Sage Monkey (fell): The verdict on his win last time was that the penny had dropped after a poor start to chasing. The galloping track may not have suited, nor dropping back to two miles, but ending it with a fall was all very back to square one sort of stuff.

x  Heurtevent (5th): Seems to have totally lost interest in chases and did not progress for his recent return to action at all.

x  Intifadah (6th): Has found a way of being the opposite of his name, invoking some sort of downrising (if there is such a word) whereby he lets all of the others have their way. A couple of chases have managed to be even worse performances than normal.
It really does look as if Toe To Toe has this sealed at the final fence, but Desertmore Hill keeps rolling on. In the background The Shepherd King dreads another boat trip.

Race 2: Bet toteexacta At Novices’ Chase [2m 0.5f]

1: Mad Jack Mytton     2: Full     3: Solatentif

Winner owned: JC & SR Hitchins, trained: Jonjo O’Neill, ridden: Adian Coleman

Were it not for an untimely tumble, Mad Jack Mytton may have won a handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival, which is a better grade of horse than would normally be expected to turn out at this meeting. Since the fall he had taken the safe and completely non-mad option of sticking to hurdles, but there were no signs of bad memories getting to him. The final margin was quite easy, but for a long way Lambeau Field gave him plenty to think about, and Mad Jack Mytton had to work hard to get to the front. Once headed, Lambeau Field imploded completely, and lost two more places after a bad final fence mistake.

+  Lambeau Field (4th): Managed only a 108 hurdle rating, but he took to chasing here very well. Unfortunately he failed to last out the race, walloped the last and dropped to fourth as he walked home on the run-in. The post-mortem on the race that was overheard was that the horse has a bad breathing problem. Hopefully it can be fixed, because he otherwise looked at home handling the bigger obstacles.

x  Solatentif (3rd): Only had a rating six below the winner as a hurdler, but he has tended to jump right in chases. Today he was also quite slow at the ones where he kept straight and might have gone off to the right once or twice as well. The first time tongue tie did not help and his jumping is stifling his chase career. Back to hurdles next?

Race 3: Bet totequadpot At Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m]

1: Beyond The Clouds     2: Mac Tottie     3: Francky De Berlais

Winner owned: Guy Reed Racing, trained: Kevin Ryan, ridden: Brian Hughes

In the paddock Beyond The Clouds looked like a nice horse – too nice for Worcester at the end of summer? In the race he repeated the impression, and encouragingly for the future, he enjoyed it enough that he saw no need to bother with pulling up once the race had finished. It was all very turgid and laborious in behind, and from that Mac Tottie, the second favourite, came out next best.

+ +  Beyond The Clouds (1st): This is his second bumper win, so if connections go for another, he will have to do so lugging a mighty penalty around. It is perfectly viable that he makes up into a better hurdler than would often be seen bumpering around Worcester in September.

+  Francky Du Berlais (3rd): Making his racecourse debut here, he hit a proper flat spot on the final bend but rallied well to nearly nick the runner-up spot. Having clearly learnt things as he went through the race, he can do much better than the fifteen lengths loss suffered today.

Race 4: Bet totetrifecta At Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Mrs Burbidge 2: Bobble Boru 3: Solstalla

Winner owned: Dajam Ltd, trained: Neil Mulholland, ridden: Noel Fehily
Hurdle number two and Bobble Boru (white and black) is bustling Ginger Fizz (blue & green) along a bit, whilst getting the same treatment from Solstalla. Behind them, left to right, are Strangsmill, Oscar’s Song, the noseband of Mrs Burbidge, the red visor of Distant High, Scotsbrook Night and Cosmic Tigress. The best aspect of the photo is the neat and uncluttered background.

Despite Ginger Fizz not appearing to set a dawdling pace, the field was well bunched up at the third last (the layout today had a long run between that and the second last hurdle) and there were still four in a line jumping the final flight. This intolerable situation had to be resolved, so a brief barging match occurred, from which Solstalla hit, or was hit by, Bobble Boru and bounced off, maybe into Mrs Burbidge. There was not much in it, but Mrs Burbidge edged the verdict by a nose, so Bobble Boru is entitled to sulk whilst reflecting on what may have been and the winner in the meantime congratulates herself on adapting to the shorter race quite well. Also, Mrs Burbidge overcame the double whammy of a pre-race sweat and being given best turned out. In that respect it was a win with mighty rarity value. Had Solstalla not made mistakes four out and at the last obstacle, she could well have been eye to eye with the first two, and that would have made the inevitable Steward’s Enquiry more meaningful in deciding the result. The end result was form book confusion, as the two for whom course, distance and going looked a decent combo ran perfectly well in third and fourth but were beaten by a two and a half miles specialist and a softer ground expert.

+  Solstalla (3rd): Got a bit of benefit from the application of cheekpieces, but she still managed to find a way to lose. The two crucial errors were all her own fault, but the feeling that she is homing in on another win has not gone away. The risk is that it is so obvious when it comes that it fails to cover past losses.

+  Scotsbrook Night (5th): Ran by far her best race so far in losing by only four lengths and as she is still young and lightly raced, it is very possible that it does not turn out to be an unrepeatable fluke.

x  Oscar’s Song (8th): Travelled well at the rear and then fund nothing when asked for an effort. Her two stand out runs have been her two on sharp tracks, so the negative applies if/when connections persist with her on other types of course.
Mrs Burbidge perks up when it announced that the stewards are only checking on interference between the second and third.

Race 5: Bet totewin At Handicap Hurdle [2m 4f]

1: Destiny’s Gold     2: Wynford     3: Courtlands Prince

Winner owned: Brewers Racing Club, trained: Richard Newland, ridden: Charlie Hammond

This race was shaping to be as competitive at the end as the mares only one half an hour earlier, but when push came to shove, Destiny’s Gold and Wynford pushed on and shoved the rest aside. See, it is a handy linguistic idiom at times. Approaching the second last hurdle it looked as if Wynford had the upper hand, but he jumped right there and took a fair while to recover the lost momentum – even in his best form this summer he has been seen to hang under pressure, so there is no surprise that the error was more than he could cope with. Destiny’s Gold has had the flaw in his construction of winning occasionally and being placed too often. First time blinkers got a response out of him here, but the suspicion is that he is the sort of horse for whom the headgear will not work permanently.

+  Courtlands Prince (3rd): Did not stay 2m 4f in the past, and despite being older and possibly stronger since last trying, he did not finish with much force. As a tune up run ready for a drop down in distance, it was a pleasing effort.

x  Deauville Dancer (4th): With ten days since his last race, he had the quick turn round that he thrives on. However, he has historically been a far better chaser than hurdler, and there was no insistent sign here that he is planning to change that situation.

x  Foxy Act (7th): Her last four races were three wins and a second, but they were not always competitive events and in trying to make all here, she showed herself to have been forced into her discomfort zone by the handicapper. It usually takes time to escape that problem.

UK-Jumping Selections: Matchaway (5th): Encountered an unsuitable galloping track and also showed again that two and a half miles is not really his idea of fun.

Race 6: Bet toteplace At Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: The Kid     2: Frozen Over     3: Sweeping Rock

Winner owned: Cavalier Racing, trained: Alexandra Dunn, ridden: James Bowen

The was a minor uproar when Magical Thomas, the favourite, was withdrawn on account of the ground after a market had been formed. Or rather he was announced as withdrawn at that stage – the time of the decision is not known. It did not seem that there had been enough rain to have that much impact on conditions, but when he got his win at Fontwell recently conditions were good to firm, so two spots of drizzle would have got him – He is the horse for the snowflakes. The confusion left a betting market in which four were challenging to head the market. Eventually Mariners Moon started 4/1, with The Kid and Sweeping Rock at 9/2 and Agha Des Mottes on 5/1. Take that Turkish tote odds. The outcome was done in the style of the opener, with The Kid hitting the front very late as a desperate Frozen Over found the winning post not quite coming in time after he had led two out. At that stage it was shaping for another bunch finish, but the field scattered surprisingly for a race that was a mere two miler. Must have been all that rain…

x  Frozen Over (2nd): Prior to this, on left-handed tracks he has two places from eighteen runs. Going right-handed he has four wins and six places from the same number of races. So the near miss was atypical, and it is not wise to assume his discrimination against left-handed tracks has ended.

x  Mariners Moon (5th): Appeared to put up his best effort so far in the previous appearance, but could not repeat the result. He made much of the running and the problematic impatience which has plagued him up to now is not resolved yet.

Race 7: Collect totepool Winnings At Betfred Shops Conditional Jockeys’ Maiden Hurdle [2m 7f]

1: Mister Mister     2: Buster Edwards     3: A Bold Move

Winner owned: A Rennison, trained: Dai Williams, ridden: James Bowen

Apparently the prospect of a five horse maiden staying hurdle in which none of the runners had proven stamina and the favourite opened up at odds of 1/2 was not enough to keep a big chunk of the crowd enthralled. The race was slowly run, the jolly A Bold Move shaped as if an unconvincing win was coming, then faltered and that set up the finish between Mister Mister and Buster Edwards. The final margin in Mister Mister’s favour was a head, adding an 80s radio rock band to the list of people that have victimised Buster Edwards (the others being Dexter Fletcher, an actor that stole flowers from him, and Phil Collins, a drummer that portrayed him in a film, when a real actor would have been a better idea).

+ Mister Mister (1st): Put in a decent show when third at Stratford, and proved it was no fluke with this win. His future should be as a staying chaser.

+  Buster Edwards (2nd): Representing the David Pipe yard, whose season so far has been 88 runners and only 4 wins, he did well on his Rules debut considering that his one Irish point run was a modest third, he was acquired fairly cheaply and the stable form was not in his favour. Perhaps there is plenty more on the way.

x  A Bold Move (3rd): Has shown the lack of pace for two and a half miles, but he showed here that it does not necessarily mean that he will stay further. Perhaps he needs a very stiff course, or perhaps his skills are not especially well combined for the job being done.
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