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Worcester, 27/6/18

Theoretically this was a day of racing, but it was mainly about loyal associates coming to pay tribute to Elegant Olive, which she appreciated when having a stroll around the paddock before racing. There was a moment when she feared that she may suddenly be asked to race again, but having accepted a lot of attention on a very warm day, she was quite relieved to be leaving the paddock as the runners for the first race arrived. Olive was here in a fund raising role for the Racehorse Welfare Centre, who deal with horses not suitable for traditional retraining. Donations can be made at thegoingsgood.co.uk (scroll down towards the bottom of the home page).
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Elegant Olive does things elegantly before the race

Going: Good (Good to Firm places)

Race 1: Racehorse Welfare Centre Elegant Olive Handicap Chase [2m 0.5f]

1: Alys Rock     2: Key To The West     3: Take A Break

Winner owned & trained: Laura Morgan, ridden: Patrick Cowley

A 66/1 upset kicked off the card, although it did not need much research to find evidence for backing Alys Rock. She had won twice in the first third of 2017, including one in a chase, and of her three runs since, one of them involved a loss of only eleven lengths. That is hardly “no-hoper at work” but what probably counted against her was a year off and a change of stable in the meantime, with the yard being on the cold list (although not severely so) when the race began. Perhaps it was an odd market as Key To The West had already won this month and he started at 10/1 – we are only pone whisker above class 5 level here, so the competition for some broadly in form horses was not overly frightening. Some thought Key To The West might have won had he not veered left and bumped the rails on the run-in, but as the margin was a couple of lengths and the winning post was looming, the balance of consideration suggests Alys Rock wins anyway. The way that the race fell to bits behind is shown by the fact that the third and fourth, Take A Break and Chase Me both drew the jotted note “not travelling” after about half a mile, yet struggled back into the prize money. They may think about what might have been as the first three at the time, Alys Rock, Key To The West and Well Joey all got the last fence very wrong, and on another day it could have been the sort of outcome that gets a Racing Post “betting in running carnage” headline.

  Alys Rock (1st): She took a while to get the winning habit, but understands the job well enough now and has won two out of three over fences. All the time that she is in this grade (0-105) or lower, she can be a factor.

  Get Ready Freddy (6th): He had won three of his seven previous chases but made a nasty mess of the second and did not seem to fancy getting stuck in after that. Maybe it was just an off-day, but bear it in mind until he has proven it not to be an off-summer.
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Alys Rock looks to be taking the last in fine style, but a split second later she stumbled rather awkwardly. Key To The West followed suit, but Well Joey (made to look unrealistically tiny in this picture) was well on the retreat before his mistake

Race 2: Worcester News Novices’ Chase [2m 4f]

1: Jaleo     2: Monbeg Legend     3: Gustave Mahler

Winner owned: Merriebelle Irish Farm Ltd, trained: Ben Pauling, ridden: Daryl Jacob

This race had three horses that stood out from all the rest and they occupied the first three places, but not in the order that would have been the most popular answer on Pointless. Then again, Pointless is not a television programme renowned for excellence in predicting the outcome of horse races. Jaleo had done only OK in a small field over 2m 7f here on chase debut, and as well as an imperfect race distance he has most commonly been seen on soft or good to soft going. There was no luck here, he won it fair and square from Monbeg Legend, who had won his own chase debut despite a burst blood vessel and jumping right. Either that occurred very late, or the oppo need a stern talking to. He jumped right at times here also, and it had an impact on the result. Gustave Mahler is an out and out summer horse (all wins between May and August) but has now been beaten in two summer chase runs. The one that some would describe as disappointing was Winner Massagot, as he was rated to stay in touch with the big trio but lost by 110 lengths. He is given another chance because a) it was very hot, b) it was his first run for a new yard, c) he last raced fourteen months ago and d) he has had a wind op since last racing, so may have been a bit tentative. The reason to not be so forgiving is only that he has failed dismally in all but one chase efforts.

+   Londonia (4th): Only confirmed fourth when an opponent fell at the final fence, but in a race that he had no realistic chance of winning, some handy chasing knowledge should have been acquired. As a hurdler he tended to be placed a bit too often compared to wins, yet over fences he might find the races a bit easier to finish off unhassled. Jumping was indifferent early on, but at least got better during the race.

Race 3: Ganymede 20 Year Anniversary Handicap Chase [2m 7f]

1: Cabaret Queen     2: Forthefunofit     3: Fort Gabriel

Winner owned: Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Cabaret Queen, trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: Harry Skelton

A race to note for future reference, as for various reasons the first three all could be ahead of the handicapper. For Cabaret Queen, she had been very lightly raced over hurdles and won her chase debut impressively. In truth, her inclination to jump right meant she was much less easy on the eye with her performance here, but she got away with it and the effort at Uttoxeter showed that she is not biased to right-handed courses (although her hurdles win was at Market Rasen and the defeats all went the other way round). Forthefunofit has spoiled his past chasing career with jumping incompetence, but it had been nineteen months since he last tried it and he appeared to have been taught plenty in the meantime. On the other hand, Cabaret Queen’s jumping opened some doors for him, and he never looked inclined to go through them. Fort Gabriel was up in class of race compared to what he has won, but did manage a close second at Worcester in an event only a fraction below this level. He ran a fine race, only to not be quite speedy enough at the business end.

+ +   Cabaret Queen (1st): She has taken to fences like a duck to water and either she fancied a dip in the river or has a chance to be even better on a right-handed track.

+   Fort Gabriel (3rd): It looks as if he will not be prolific in class 3 level, especially up on 0-135 or higher grade, but he is capable of finding the odd one that he is able to win.

x   Sonneofpresenting (7th): Despite a very healthy strike rate overall and a career score on good that reads 012111263, he suddenly found the cheekpieces inflicted on him here. He did an enthusiastic lap in front and then dropped away very tamely. If that headgear is not ditched, he is highly opposable.
The picture has suggested that Forthefunofit (7) has followed Cabaret Queen off to the right at the last fence, but it did not look that bad in real life. Also, Fort Gabriel seemed a closer third. Heat haze must have disrupted vision. Not cider.

Race 4: Use Eventsi For Elegant Marquees Standard National Hunt Flat Race [2m]

1: Push The Tempo     2: Rose Crown     3: Elviz

Winner owned: Castle Farm Racing, trained: Robert Stephens, ridden: Ciaran Gethings

All but one of the runners had racing experience, and even when they had appeared prominently it was either being well seen off when placed or close to some indifferent opponents. So not much was expected of the race, and that was just what we got. Steering issues raised their ugly head, with Scaffold not entirely convincing leaving the far side of the course, condemning him to fourth, and Complywithme going around the outer rail of the final turn and pulling up. The history of Push The Tempo is that of a very cumbersome Irish pointer who was sold as soon as he landed a feeble maiden. It is theoretically possible that the absence of obstacles drew a notable improvement from him. However, Rose Crown had posted two fourth places in modest races, which makes the form appear to be extremely unexceptional and Elviz has three past runs, none of which were up to much.

P.S. Based on breeding, it is a big shame that Elviz was not named Medicinal Purposes.

P.P.S. Hopefully with two bumpers under his belt Scaffold is close to going over hurdles, where he can take on Lily The Pink.

Race 5: Mustang Savills Handicap Hurdle [2m 7f]

1: Sky Pirate     2: Theatrebar     3: Scoop The Pot

Winner owned: Lady Bamford & Alice Bamford, trained: Jonjo O’Neill, ridden: Aidan Coleman

The second of two competitive 2m 7f 0-140 handicaps on the card, it consisted of six runners, including the 2017 and 2016 winners. The horses who knew the lie of this land seemed to be the least likely winners – Knight Of Noir because he has lost his form badly this year and Rolling Maul because his reaction to two races in six very warm days was an unknown. Any of the other four could be picked, and the Racing Post Ratings had only two pounds covering the field at the weights. The betting was correct, seeing unpopular Nautical Nitwit finish last and well supported/relatively unexposed Sky Pirate just show himself to be superior on the day to the admirably consistent Theatrebar, with Scoop The Pot not embarrassed in third.

+   Theatrebar (2nd): Just keeps battling away, sometimes it makes for victory, sometimes it does not. Before June he had avoided galloping tracks, but they have not proved a problem, and perhaps the thing that just gives him an edge is a bigger field where he can sit quietly anonymous near the back for a couple of miles. Never to be discounted in staying hurdles.

+   Scoop The Pot (3rd): He had not raced for seven months. so in the circumstances just not having that little bit extra from two out is nothing to worry over for next time, even though it cost him his unbeaten Worcester record – two wins out of two before today.

Race 6: R&A Mason Heating And Electrical Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Aardwolf     2: Ezanak     3: Just For Tara

Winner owned: Little Roberts Dowley & Turner, trained: Warren Greatrex, ridden: Richard Johnson

An out of place novice of potential decent quality, with three 80+ rated flat horses involved. The initially doddery over hurdles Aardwolf continued his springy-summery improvement and conceded a penalty weight to Ezanak without giving himself or supporters too much grief along the way. Ezanak has been runner-up in both hurdling races but has not done anything wrong – connections will no doubt keep bashing away until they find a race devoid of that one horse that is not a little too good for him. Just For Tara, having her third run in less than a month, posted her best yet and came out best of the jumpers/point-to-point converts and was not beaten all that far at all. It seems that her human equivalent is a person who would go on holiday to North Africa in July and take a fleece to wear, just in case.

+ +   Just For Tara (3rd): The first two are shaping like decent guidelines to what was a solid performance from a mare whose Irish pointing second was not awful, but whose two previous hurdle races would not have ramped up huge expectations. Going in the right direction just as she gets handicap qualified.

+   Darlyn (4th): Just For Tara went with the first two and could do nothing dynamic in the serious latter stages. This mare let them have their way and stayed on neatly when it was all too late. As she ran out in her most recent race, at Stratford, being handled with kid gloves is understandable and punters need to proceed with wariness as well. It does appear, however, that raw ability for the lower levels is present.

x   Equus Pandora (UR): A British pointing bumper winner at Hereford in April, he was next observed finishing midfield, but not too far back, in the pointers only Aintree bumper a month later. This was his hurdles debut and at the very first obstacle he flung himself wildly at it and unseated. Ability shown in the past, but clearly some work to do.

x x   Banish (11th): The last of the quality flat horses in here, he had pulled ferociously on hurdles debut and run out of steam long before the race finished. With a hood on today he was quite sensible in the early stages, but when the race was out of reach and he was asked to pass a few stragglers, he looked an awkward customer and declined to make the effort.
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Well Said leads after the first, with Another Drama (2), Aine's Choice (mostly hidden) and Laughing Musketeer making for the pursuit. Next up are Just For Tara (12), Ezanak (far side) and Gaucho (5). Aardwolf was surely not that far back so my be the one behind Gaucho.

Race 7: Worcester Racecourse 300th Anniversary Maiden Hurdle [2m 4f]

1: Black Kalanisi     2: Doc Penfro     3: Massini’s Dream

Winner owned: The Harefield Racing Club, trained: Joseph Tuite, ridden: Daryl Jacob

To be honest the heat and need to stay refreshed had become overwhelming and not much of this race was tracked. From advance study Black Kalanisi was a worthy favourite based on his progressive bumper form and he kept going in a straight line, which was something that Doc Penfro declined to do (or could not manage) when he had the chance to pressure the winner. Massini’s Dream managed to avoid running out today and this repeated earlier minor promise to make the frame, although a hairy attempt at getting over the last might have brought some flashbacks of how it could all go wrong. In terms of assessing horses hat under achieved such as Court Out or Master Ring (previously thirteen lengths behind Aardwolf and thus a place contender in race six) do bear in mind that some, if not all, would have been loitering around in the racecourse stables throughout the worst of the day’s heat. A while back this site got excited when January Don appeared because his dam is the legendary (on this place in cyberspace at least) Little Bud. He did nothing in two hurdles then but was a player and winner in Welsh pointing, up to Restricted level. He finished tenth here, which possibly qualifies him for a handicap mark. Do not forget that Mum was a no-show in novice company, but it also took her a while to get going in handicaps as well – beaten in claimers en route.

+   Black Kalanisi (1st): Now we know that he can jump as well, he is the sort to find more winning summer opportunities. He ought to manage longer races than this.
 
+   Balli Martine (5th): Ran poorly here in comparison to his gently progressive profile before today, finishing six lengths behind Ezanak in his most recent race. Expect more when he returns to a shorter distance – with one more race to qualify it is easy to think that handicaps may be the priority.

  Massini’s Dream (3rd): Not sure that he has won back out trust yet, although the dismal attempt at the last hurdle could have been purely fatigue, and not a wayward mind at play.
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