No luck at Hexham – a couple of them looked to really struggle in that ground. I thought Fox gave the Russell horse a shocker and on another day we could have been celebrating an 8/1 winner- he flew at the end, maybe past tired horses but he held him up right out the back, in tacky/heavy ground on a day where most races were won by horses racing prominently enough. Maybe he didn’t have the pace to track the two leaders- but it would have been nice for him to try. Maybe he needs stepping up in distance. Anyway, that has gone and that could be my pocket talking. Onto tomorrow…
Notebook (all hncps) UP 20/1
NOTE: Trainer 0/4,1p last 30 days. This one is 2/9 over hurdles and has won at C5 level. His last run was his first for his new trainer and it was after a break. There is every chance he comes on for it and given he is 2/5 in handicap hurdles at the track last 5 years, he is hard to rule out I think. Has won on soft, good to soft looks ok.
Ange Des Malberaux (micro – distance) UP
NOTE: Ewart’s didn’t run that well at Hexham- now 0/10,5p last 14 days, 0/23,9p last 30 days. The horse is 1/10 over hurdles,is a class 5 winner and I don’t think this mark is beyond reach. The question is the distance I think – 0/5,0p over 16f and the last day he was outpaced over 17f at Sedgefield on soft. So a question there. Not impossible- and he does like to try and make all- and if he does have the speed to build up a gap, he should keep plodding on.
Zaru (micro – distance) UP 4/1
NOTE: Ewart again. This horse returned after a long long break in October- there is a chance he bounced the last day where he led them to about 4 from home- or he found C3 too hot to handle. He is 2lb below his last winning mark and to my eye looks to be the only out and out front runner in here, and could try and make all. I don’t know whether he has the speed for 16f in his advancing years but if he can get a lead and a gap, he shouldn’t be stopping over this trip.
Chasseur De Tete (NHF) UP 12/1>20/1
NOTE: Russel 2/27, 7p last 14 days. Russel is only 2/37,12 places with first time career starters last 2 years and the market may well help – one of those wins was here,in 2014, with a newcomer. Seems to be some speed in the pedigree, rather than a stout 3m+ type so could be interesting. Not much else to go on.
Loughalder (hncp c) 3rd 20/1
NOTE: trainer 0/4,1p last 14 days. Race conditions look fine for this grand old servant albeit of some concern he was pulled up the last day, even if he did need the run. It has usually taken him a few runs to get going in the past and a slight question about proper Good ground- not many tried on it but all wins with cut. His highest winning mark is 111 also, so has this mark to prove.
Celtic Tune (all hncps+ hncp hurdle + micros class/going/age) 3rd 20/1
NOTE: Jojo 5/40,10 places last 14 days, a bit his and miss still but they are running much better than they were. This one is lightly raced and unexposed and on that basis dangerous to dismiss – esp given the number of stats boxes he ticks that with any luck will pay over time. Given the stable form it is always possible the odd poor run- that one in October- was down to that. The last day at Cheltenham was in a deeper race and over 16f. He both takes a drop in class and a step up in trip here- and the stable is in bette form. His form in novice hurdles can just be ignored really I think, given he was probably running to get a mark/gain experience. They are all reasons why he ‘might’ improve- albeit he could just be out of sorts.
Baron Du Plessis (hncp h) 2nd 9/2
NOTE: Williams ‘in form’ 4/19,7p the last 14 days. Horse is lightly raced and unexposed, and was bang there at Cheltenham a couple from home – takes a drop in class here and every possibility this slightly better ground, and flatter track, could help. Johnson is booked also- and rides for the yard for the first time I think – that looks interesting enough. He could try and make all,or should be up there.
Moorland’s Jack (all hncps) UP
NOTE: Scott is in form, 2/6 last 14 days. This 11 yo seems a bit out of sorts to me and doesn’t look to be doing much different from recent runs (as in a reason he could improve). But, the trainer is in form, he is a course winner, well handicapped and all conditions look fine. A fair bit of pace on he can track also. He may prefer going this way round and the ground is ideal for him also. It is just a question of his recent form- Coleman booked also. Open to attack from anything with more in hand but I loathed to say he definitely can’t win – not quite in the Next Hight category.
Modeligo (hncp chase) UP
NOTE: Sheppard again. Race conditions look ok, course, class winner etc. But his form since his win last May has been woeful,esp the last two runs. Again, he isn’t doing much different from the last day either- no headgear change etc. The only thing is that Charlie Poste is back on and whether that has any effect who knows. Market may guide- at his best, race conditions look fine, seems versatile ground wise. Maybe he hates this time of year, all wins April-July- now 0/11,0p Sept-Dec. He is also rock bottom of the HorseRaceBase total ratings, which is rarely a good sign in a handicap chase.
Vodka All The Way (NHF) UP 6/1>12/1
Whin Park (NHF) UP 7/1
NOTE: Both trainers in decent enough form, both unraced horses- both can ready them. Not much more to add. The stats for both trainers are solid here in these races.
Yur Next (all hncps + micro – class) 3rd 7/1>7/2
NOTE: trainer 1/7,3p last 14 days. This one ran well in first time blinkers for the stats LTO- a question of whether they will work again. He also takes a big step up in trip – which is a reason he may improve on that run, or he may not stay. Hard to know until they try it I suppose. He is still lightly raced and if/when they find the key I suspect he has a moderate race or two in him.
Cabernet D’Alene (all hncps) 3rd 16/1
NOTE: Williams 1/18,4p last 14 days, a bit hit and miss. He is 4, and this is only his 7th hurdle start. Based on his last couple of runs you would say he is up against it – but he may have needed his first start of the season,and the soft ground ‘could’ be an excuse for LTO. Or he is just badly out of form/not very good. He looks interesting enough at 16s – 16f on good ground might be what he wants.
Dynamite Dollars (NHF) UP (close 3rd)
Cockney Wren (NHF) 2nd
NOTE: Both powerful yards are in form and can clearly ready them. Looks a hot little race with Henderson’s seemingly fancied also.
My View. Not too much to add to what I have written above. Looks a tricky day and a few are weak in the market/a decent EW price. If I were to pick the most interesting ones (ignoring bumper runners) to my eyes I think they would be Baron Du Plessis / Moorlands Jack / Yur Next and Caberney D’Alene. But, given all of the profiles above – a mixture or unexposed and horses who have performed ok in conditions in the past, I wouldn’t be confident selecting any who definitely won’t get involved. I suppose Modeligo and Loughalder have a few questions and may look the least convincing.
Good luck with however you play them. Josh