To the ‘Little Black Book’, another superb read from Adam Norman….
(you can find all previous articles HERE>>>)
Let’s crack on… over to Adam…
Lisnagar Oscar (Haydock Feb 16)
It’s not often I get carried away with horses heading to the Cheltenham Festival but I was totally blown away by the performance of Rebecca Curtis’s progressive youngster, who marmalised a quality Grade Two field and is bang on course for the Albert Bartlett.
The six-year-old has done nothing but improve all season since showing promise in a very deep Chepstow bumper, including when finishing second to the vastly experienced Rockpoint at Cheltenham.
Back up in trip after beating Dickie Diver at Chepstow, Sean Bowen had everything covered turning into the straight before staying on powerfully for a decisive 10 length success over Ask Ben, who had previously beaten subsequent Leamington Spa winner Beakstown.
All formlines suggest he’ll take plenty of beating a fortnight on Friday. Physically he wouldn’t have the size and scope of some future chasers in this field – his time is here and now.
The big Irish stables may have some say in the matter, but I can see him going off favourite for the 3m novice hurdle when everyone realises he’s simply the best horse in the race.
All Hail Caesar (Wetherby Feb 19)
Sedgefield trainer Rebecca Menzies could have a decent prospect on her hands in this nicely bred son of Nathaniel, who has now shown promise of varying degrees on all five starts.
Well made with plenty of size and scope, the five-year-old looked a little burly after a 10-week absence in what looked a deep novice hurdle for the north, won by Schiehallion Munro.
Straight in at 2m4f for his debut over timber, he was novicey at several flights compared to several far more experienced rivals, most notably the disappointing Coolanly, but still travelled nicely throughout.
It will be very surprising if this relatively expensive purchase cannot build on this first effort and improve significantly in the coming weeks.
The intermediate trip should be ideal for now, although his excellent sire is already proving a strong influence for stamina and this could turn out to be a useful staying chaser in time.
Mistermoonboy (Kelso Feb 14)
Bought for £10,000 by small Scotland-based handler Leonard Kerr, this unfurnished five-year-old has shown more than enough this season to show that he can win races in the North this year and next.
Solid placed efforts behind promising types like Buster Valentine and Johnbb saw him enter his first handicap from a mark of 114, only to drift markedly in the betting prior to finishing down the field behind Bordeaux Bill.
A nice sort physically while still on the weak side, a combination of the longer trip and quicker surface probably ensured we didn’t see the five-year-old to best effect.
What is notable about the horse is that his first Irish Point saw him finish a close fourth behind Thatsy, The Captains Inn and The Cull Bank, all impressive winners in recent weeks.
That was less than a year ago, and now, dropped 2lb in the weights, he may be of interest if we get some soft ground this spring, although physically he is the type to improve greatly for another summer in the field.
Saint De Vassy (Carlisle Feb 18)
Many of the horses noted in this column will be ground dependant and none more so than this well-related French bred, who looks the type to revel in the mud if and when the rain arrives.
Having shown promise when placed in two novice hurdles, including when not far behind Al Dancer at Ffos Las, he was pitched into a really competitive handicap on drying ground.
It was a tough introduction to life in handicaps, run at a brisk pace behind a runaway leader, and the six-year-old found himself a little outpaced at the wrong time behind the always well-placed winner Teescomponents Lad.
The form has a solid look to it with the front three coming nicely clear, and there is a vast amount of improvement in the pipeline for Tom Symonds’ charge.
Physically powerful behind the saddle, which can often be a sign that soft ground is required, he probably wouldn’t be quite big enough for fences so keep an eye out for him this spring if able to run on soft, otherwise wait until next winter.
The Big Galloper #7 (Carlisle Feb 18)
Never sighted in a good novice hurdle for the track but this lovely chase type wants soft ground and three miles in any case.
Down The Highway (Haydock Feb 16)
This six-year-old is every inch a chaser in the making and while he looked in great order up to 3m for the first time, track and ground conditions were against him at this specialists track.
Impressive in a bog between the flags, he sluiced up on his debut over timber in similar conditions before bombing out in a Grade 2 contest before Christmas, when keenness and an early blunder proved his undoing.
He returned to his previous form when finishing a close third behind Lisnagar Oscar, form that looks better now and set to be even better in the weeks to come.
It’s already clear that bottomless conditions suit him admirably and he should only be considered a betting proposition in such circumstances, while a trip of 2m4f should be a good starting point when beginning his career over fences next autumn.
Arthur’s Gift #2 (Carlisle Feb 18)
Won as he liked at Carlisle and has been raised 8lb which is more than fair. As I said at the time, his busy hurdles campaign will stand him in good stead as they’ve been unable to get much chasing experience into him this season. He still looks an ideal candidate for the Scottish National to me.
Pleney #3 (Carlisle Feb 18)
A work in progress and not fully wound up on his return to action at Carlisle after three months off, he’ll be one to bear in mind on much softer ground once handicapping
Thanks for reading and see you all in a couple of weeks,
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