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Bachelors Hall

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  1. Exciting News bf Dan Skelton f4-0-2 (75) 81 Night Of Thunder (Pivotal){9-f}(1.17) 3/2 Whisper Cool 108 1st 3-Y-O Hurdle, Killarney 2010 Similar to the Bolger-Hawke connection, but probably more famous, is that between the Gredleys and Dan Skelton. While its roots potentially began with Rock Of Leon and The Raven Master, each formerly with Michael Bell prior to winning as juveniles for Skelton, the successful connection was showcased at the highest level when Allmankind won at Cheltenham and Chepstow before finishing third in the Triumph. Since then, Stepney Causeway and Too Friendly (ex-George Scott) would become useful multiple winners with only once-raced Nevendon failing to win. In Exciting News, the trend of Gredley horses joining Dan Skelton from Michael Bell is set to continue this term. Exciting News made her racecourse debut in a ten furlong fillies’ novice stakes at Wetherby in April. Racing keenly towards the rear, she was nearer last than first when asked for her effort at the three furlong marker. Though she hung under pressure, the penny did drop inside the final furlong as she made a couple of places to finish runner-up to Lingfield Oaks trial winner Rogue Millennium by a length and a half. The third also went on to win three of her next five outings and a mark surpassing 80 would not be unreasonable for this performance. However, she failed to build on that promise next time in an Ascot maiden where she folded very tamely inside the final two furlongs having subsequently been found in season. Given a five week break, she returned for a fillies’ maiden at Nottingham over an extended mile for which she halved in price to 5/2 through the day before settling at 3/1 in the ring. Racing keenly once again, she tracked the Godolphin pair throughout and while they pulled five clear of Exciting News, she herself was upwards of three and a half lengths ahead of the remainder; although everything in behind was well beaten on its next outing. Exciting News was last seen at the beginning of August making her handicap debut over an extended mile at Beverley. Racing off 77 and with only one behind her in the market at 18/1, she pulled herself into a clear lead which she held to the furlong pole before fading to finish a four-and-a-half-length fifth. Dan Skelton has a fine record in the division overall, with a winner-to-runner rate of 37.93% and a healthy improvement rate of 54.76%. He has also fared well at this venue, counting three winning juveniles from twelve, although the yard has not been busy as of late with its first runner since the seventh of this month finishing weakly at Worcester. Exciting News does not possess the most substantial pedigree, with her sire, Night Of Thunder being largely untested. A son of Dubawi (who as a grandsire has a fair 16.9% winner-to-runner rate, and a weak improvement rate of 21.28%), Night Of Thunder has yet to have winning juvenile, but has had his first winning hurdler, and being of an average height, his overall profile neither obviously positive nor negative at this juncture. The third dam of Exciting News is the granddam of the winning juvenile Whisper Cool, although all other descendants to have tried hurdling have done so without success. On account of her connections and the promise of her Wetherby debut, the decently sized Exciting News provokes interest as a juvenile recruit. However, while Market Rasen can favour front-runners, her free running nature and likely freshness following her absence will go against her at this stage of her education. Jewel Of Kabeir bf Adrian Paul Keatley f3-0-1 (65) 68 El Kabeir (Lemon Drop Kid){9-e}(2.08) 2/1 Waaheb 146 2nd Future Champions Novice Hurdle (G1), Leopardstown 2012 Adrian Paul Keatley has saddled just one winning juvenile from thirteen, and she would not win until her third outing. His latest runner, Jewel Of Kabeir, has just about the weakest flat form in this field and that is based on a stand out performance last time out. Beaten eighteen lengths on her debut at Wolverhampton last December, she returned towards the end of June to finish a thirteen length eighth of ten in a Thirsk novice stakes over a mile. The latter was not without a modicum of promise, but it was not enough to prevent her going off the 80/1 outsider of five in a similar contest at Pontefract some six weeks ago. Held up in rear, she was still in touch with the field approaching the final furlong and while the winner had bolted clear, Jewel Of Kabeir managed to thread through the pack to grab second in the dying strides, just over five lengths behind the winner. The pace was quite strong but not to the extent that would give a ready explanation for Jewel Of Kabeir’s improvement. While the remainder of the field were all rated in the seventies, it is likely that given how easily the winner scored, most underperformed on the day. First season stallion El Kabeir is from a Scat Daddy/Johannesburg line which has enjoyed little success in the sphere. El Kabir was a graded – rather than top class – miler in America, and while his height of 16.1hh is adequate, his DI of 5.86 is a concern. The damline offers much more encouragement, however, as uncle Waaheb was very useful on his day and the third dam produced three multiple winners in Mutakarrim, Ghaabesh and Daasij as well as the dam of high-class juvenile Power Elite. Jewel Of Kebeir is still unexposed, and if her Pontefract second can be taken at face value then she has the ability to perform at an average level in this division. The distaff side of her pedigree offers further encouragement although with the yard’s record in the division, and its recent form across all racing, Jewel Of Kabeir may be one for the longer term. Strong prospects 1. The Churchill Lad Reasonable prospects 2. Cape Helles Feasible prospects 3. Exciting News Moderate prospects 4. Just Another One 5. Via Serica 6. Jewel Of Kabeir Negligible prospects .
  2. Last year, in the corresponding piece for this corresponding race, I opened with some rather pompous waffle about the subject of tradition. Though the recycling of words can sometimes stunt creativity and make perspectives stale, it is also a useful time saving exercise. Plus, recent events have made it rather apt. So in what will hopefully be a break from some ghastly bickering over whether the ceremonial figurehead of a faded empire ought to be chastised with the same vitriol as explicit human traffickers, or if holding the hand of a grieving loved one is appropriate, here is a gloriously verbose preview essay on the topic of young horses jumping over hurdles on an autumnal Sunday afternoon in East Sussex. Tradition. In and of itself an innocuous work which carries very little meaning without context. However, in the age of tribal polemicism, it is a word which often evokes strong reactions. For some, it is a ghastly impediment to the progress required to save society. For others, it is a value structure to be protected at all costs lest society collapse. As with most subjects of this nature, the truth lies somewhere in between and sometimes, a tradition is a matter of whimsy, largely inconsequential to the fate of humanity. One such tradition is juvenile hurdlers racing at Plumpton in September. Tomorrow’s contest is one which has been held uninterrupted since 1997; an unbroken streak which, due either to abandonments or the racing programme, must stand as one of the longest in the sphere. Furthermore, a glance at the 1965/66 Sporting Chronicle I have to hand shows that Henry Price’s Gliko won Plumpton’s curtain raiser for the season and going back to the 30th of September 1888, Calpurnin and Achilles were taking on older rivals at the same venue. Not all tradition needs to be rich and while Plumpton been graced by juveniles of the calibre of Pentland Hills and Devilment in the past decade, tomorrow’s contest is generally less auspicious. The winner’s average seasonal RPR of 109.61 is considerably lower than standard, with subsequent Summit Hurdle runner-up City Dreamer (2017), and last year’s Scottish triumph winner Impulsive One being the only notable graduate in recent times. This year’s edition looks like a reasonable renewal as it features a couple of above average and well connected flat recruits along with a previous winner. A sharp, undulating, left-handed circuit, Plumpton’s winning DIs of 1.25 median, 1.48 mean, are fairly standard across courses; although they do rise slightly for this particular contest which is generally run on top of the ground. Its clear round rate of 95.23% is in the lowest quarter, but while this can catch out newcomers more so than at other venues, such horses actually have a slightly better strike rate (12.50%) than their more experienced counterparts (8.64%) in this particular contest. As such, a well-schooled debutant would not be ruled out. The going was most recently reported as Good (Good to Firm on the chase course), with watering amidst the dry weather scheduled between now and post time. A couple have made the running in the past and with a free-running newcomer unraced beyond a mile, the pace should be quite solid. Mr Freedom bg Sheena West f7-0-0 (53) 57 j2-1-1 (102) 87 93 Sixties Icon (Sayif){9-c}(0.52) 4/1 Zero 128 1st 2m3½f Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (112), Ascot 2007 Echoing the Bolger-Hawke route covered in I Have A Voice’s profile, juveniles that leave Mick Channon for Sheena West have a better record than those who go elsewhere; and the same can be said for where Sheena West sources her juveniles. Her record for those from outside this connection reads as one winner from fourteen. After Fontwell a fortnight ago, those moving from West Ilsley to Falmer have an impressive winner-to-runner rate of sixteen from forty. Prior to Mr Freedom’s victory, seven of these winners were rated 53 or less, which afforded encouragement for the latest to make that journey. Mr Freedom cost just £800 as a yearling, and after being beaten eleven lengths at Sandown on his debut last June, was beaten nineteen and fifteen lengths at Kempton and Salisbury before being put away for the winter. In May came his return in a Bath mile handicap off 59 for which he attracted outside support; starting at 10/1 having opened at twice the price in the morning. Pulling hard in the early stages, he struggled for room in the final couple of furlongs and though he only managed an eighth place finish, he was not given a vigorous ride in posting a new career best. He failed to build on that degree of promise in a similar contest at Ripon next time and while traffic issues were something of a feature, he had no such excuses when making no show whatsoever at Windsor next time. Given a two month break, a change of scenery, and a step up to a mile-and-a-half, Mr Freedom ran a considerably better race when returning to Windsor at the start of the month. Settling better on the prominent side of midfield, he was unable to accelerate with the principle as the race developed, but still ran on for a three-and-a-quarter length fourth of ten. His breeding offers mixed messages as the immediate damline is bereft of jumps experience until the winning novice handicapper Zero appears at 4/1, although the fourth dam also has another winner in Kristiansand and her next level of descendants includes the useful sorts London Prize and Categorical. The sire, Sixties Icon, has a solid winner-runner rate of 22.45%, his strike-rate before October is a healthy 33.33% and he has had three wins from fourteen at Plumpton. Moreover, Sheena West has had eight winning juveniles at Plumpton, including six rated 54 or below. These factors did not translate into a successful hurdling debut at Fontwell last month, for which he was mercurial in the markets before starting at 6/1. Taking a keen hold while racing at the rear of the field, his jumping, while largely safe, left plenty to be desired as there was not a single hurdle where he was not big, skewed, slow, awkward or any combination of same. It is then to his credit that he was able to make headway into a close enough third, and still look a feasible threat turning for home. This threat was short lived, however, as a lack of pace and fluency saw the leading pair get away just before the last, leaving Mr Freedom to finish a sixteen length third. There was undoubted promise hiding in this performance and the yard’s juvenile strike-rate did jump up from 8.33% to 22.73% between first and second outings. Seventeen days later, or two weeks ago, all of the above led to Mr Freedom belying the relative lack of enthusiasm in the market to comfortably score back at the venue. Taking a firm hold while bringing up the field at a modest tempo, Mr Freedom still showed a tendency to hop and skew at his early flights, but it was much less pronounced than on his debut and he did hurdle quite quickly on occasion. Still bringing up the rear of a tightly bunched field jumping the penultimate flight, he passed a couple of rivals approaching the last where he was within a length of the lead. From there, he had the pace to quickly put the race to bed, winning readily by two, four and seven lengths. Given how the race unfolded, the winning time was far from impressive and little more could be said of the form. The runner-up was an uncompelling debutant and those with experience were below par. This race presents a stronger challenge, and it is probably worth nothing that the comparatively poor record of experienced horses in this contest also extends to previous winners who count just one victory from twelve. Nevertheless, while there is a class deficit to bridge, Mr Freedom did win with something in hand and with the yard still apparently in decent form, there is no reason why he can not continue this upward trajectory. Borntobealeader chg David Pipe f9-1-2 (72) 77 Churchill (Loup Solitaire){1-w}(0.50) 2/1 Sporazene 160 1st Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2003 Pond House has long been associated with horses recruited from flat sellers and claimers. The pater enjoyed considerable success with Make A Stand and Potentate, along with winning machines Allegation, Indian Jockey and Mohana. David has continued the trend with those acquired from the continent in Adagio, who won the Finale before finishing second at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, and he opened his account this term with Koi Dodville. The latest expedition, Borntobealeader, joined the yard after winning a Goodwood seller at the end of last month. Since taking charge at Pond House, David Pipe has bought twelve juvenile hurdlers out of British sales races, with five scoring during their first campaigns in the sphere; giving a healthy winner-to-runner rate of 41.67%. Though none were able to win first time, the two highest rated (Teaser and Ocean Pride) did finish runner-up and at £21,000 Borntobealeader will be the most expensive of the kind. He would also have one of the more intriguing pedigrees as the classy Churchill is already off the mark with his first crop of jumpers, and the damline has plenty of substance for the sphere. Half-brother Photo Choc won the listed Prix Rohan on his sole start over hurdles, uncle Sporazene was a Grade One winning juvenile, another uncle, Shalako, won three times and placed fifth in a Greatwood while the third dam produced the useful French handicap chaser, Scarlino. Borntobealeader was previously trained by an Amanda Perrett whose alumni have a solid 20.37% winner-to-runner rate in the sphere; headed by Street Entertainer who moved to Pond House for 12,000gns at the 2010 Tattersalls Autumn Sale. The highlight of his four starts at two was a six-length second in a Newbury novice stakes; a performance which only justified his initial BHA mark of 74 by virtue of the long term exploits of his rivals that day. His seasonal reappearance came in a ten furlong Goodwood handicap at the end of April in which he finished a staying on third off 72, beaten by just over three-lengths. He ran to a similar level at Salisbury over a further two furlongs where he was somewhat worried out of the battle inside the final furlong, but had no real excuses in his failing to justify favouritism in fourth. He was beaten twelve and fourteen on his next two outings at Goodwood and Newbury, but following a gelding operation and a drop into selling company, was able to break his duck at Goodwood three weeks ago. Backed from a morning 3/1 into 7/4 second favouritism in the six-runner, eleven furlong affair, Borntobealeader was held up towards the rear and travelled strongest of all entering the straight. Making smooth headway to get to the leader’s quarters at the distance, he was asked for his effort at the furlong marker and though his response was not immediate, he did stay on to pass the line with a comfortable near four-length advantage. The form has not been subsequently tested and the standard brought into the race was what could be expected in such a race. Nevertheless, the winning time was fair for the level, the field finished strung out and the runner-up had won two of her last three starts. David Pipe’s first time clear round rate of 93.51% is a point below standard, but his strike-rate of 18.18%. Though the yard’s ex-sellers are not habitual first-time winners, Borntobealeader has stronger credentials in terms of form and breeding than most of his type as well as in this line-up and he should make a decent showing in a race where the benefit of previous experience is not especially pronounced. Executive Pool bg Gary Moore f6-1-1 (54) 64 j1-0-0 (-) 75 80 Churchill (Fastnet Rock){4-c}(0.80) 2/1 Final Approach 150 1st Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (G3,139), Cheltenham 2011 Despite being a winner on the flat, Executive Pool’s official rating of 54 puts him upwards of a stone behind three of the newcomers here. Nevertheless, despite failing to land the odds on his hurdling debut at Fontwell a fortnight ago, his pedigree and trainer make him difficult to dismiss at this stage. First-season sire Churchill stands at 16.2hh tall and though never quite proving that his stamina matched his class on the track, his offspring are showing themselves well capable of getting a trip and his career as a jumps stallion got off to a perfect start with The Churchill Lad. Executive Pool is out of a half-sister to the County Hurdle winner Final Approach, and is quite closely related to three other winning jumpers in Genuine Pearl (3/1), King Of Dubai (3/2) and King Red (3/2). Gary Moore has a strong winner-to-runner rate of 36.24% and his record at Plumpton is covered in Starspangledjama’s profile. Executive Pool also spent his career to date at Cisswood, which started off with three unremarkable efforts last Autumn in which he finished well beaten at Sandown, Goodwood and Chelmsford. His seasonal reappearance came in a 0-50 classified stakes at Brighton in early June over a mile and a half on soft ground. With first-time blinkers applied, he started the 10/3 second favourite having opened at 7/1 in the morning, and was sent straight into the lead from the outset. Setting a solid tempo, he was travelling strongest at the distance and although he drifted right and left across the track under pressure, he was always doing enough to hold the runner-up by half-a-length with the pair seven lengths clear of the rest. The runner-up has not been out since, but while the third and seventh subsequently won similarly weak events, a better indication of Executive Pool’s ability came later that month in a Windsor apprentice handicap over an extended eleven furlongs. Running off a revised mark of 55, he once again set a decent tempo and looked the most likely winner at the distance; trading as low as 1.26 in-running. He was caught inside the final furlong and carried his head high in the closing stages before going down by a length-and-a-quarter. Nevertheless, the winner was landing a brace under a penalty and the pair finished six lengths clear of the remainder. He was slightly below par when returning to the all-weather last month at Lingfield where he raced in midfield off a modest gallop before running on in the straight to snatch a five-and-a-half length third. This effort is somewhat excusable due to the lack of pace and a possible lack of fitness. Still considered a largely unexposed improver with some fine attributes for a hurdling career ahead of his Fontwell but a respectable showing would not have been unexpected. Although there was a concern over the yard’s form going into the race, the withdrawal of a Milton Harris runner saw him backed from a morning 8/1 to 6/4 favourite at flagfall. For all that Executive Pool raced keenly off a steady gallop in the early stages, there were no other ominous signs as his hurdling was perfectly sound save for being a little steep at the first and reaching slightly at the fifth. Leaving the back, he appeared to be travelling strongest of all at the leader’s quarters at which point he traded odds-on in running. However, he began to be shaken up turning for home and had no response as he was passed by three rivals on the approach to the last; a flight which he missed completely before being allowed to complete in his own time some thirteen lengths behind Mr Freedom. The form of that race lacks substance and the newcomers here do make this look a stronger contest. Nevertheless, Executive Pool is certainly entitled to come on for that experience and with the sharper nature of Plumpton probably in his favour, his prospects are not without merit. I Have A Voice bg Nigel Hawke f8-1-1 (77) 88 Vocalised (Teofilo){23-b}(1.82) 0.5 Repetitio 124 3rd Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Cheltenham 2019 Nigel Hawke’s record with ex-Jim Bolger horses has been a topic covered on numerous occasions in my writing due to the uniquely impressive results. Outside of this dynamic Hawke’s winner-to-runner rate with juvenile hurdles stands at 9.09% while ex-Bolger juveniles have one of 20%. Nevertheless, of the ten who have moved from Coolcullen to Thorne Farm seven found the winners’ enclosure. What makes this arrangement all the more intriguing is that it constitutes part a journey which ultimately leads to the Keri Brion and the American jumps programme; as trodden by the likes of Historic Heart, Boulette, Theocrat and, the winner of this very contest in 2020, Peat Moss. The latest to embark on this path is the highest rated newcomer in this field; I Have A Voice. His three outings at two came over inadequate trips at Naas, Curragh and Tipperary, leaving him to start his three-year-old campaign with a mark of 69. Sporting cheekpieces on his return in a ten-furlong April Cork handicap, having dispatched of his testicles and changed ownership over the winter, I Have A Voice had been supported from 8/1 to 9/2, but his pulling hard and suffering minor traffic issues would only see him manage a three length fourth. Next time at Roscommon the following month, he received less support in the market, but though he still ran keenly, there were no real excuses for his running to a similar level in finishing a four-length fifth of nine. Ten days later, I Have A Voice reappeared in a ten furlong handicap at Leopardstown, this time racing off 67. He was heavily supported from a morning 11/1 to 4/1 second favourite at the off and vindicated this confidence in emphatic style. Sent straight into the lead before tracking the sound tempo, he moved to dispute with half a mile to run before turning into the straight with a length’s advantage. From there, he was asked to press ahead and though initially ponderous under pressure, he ran on strongly to the line; winning by three-and-a-quarter lengths with ten back to the fifth. No winners have since come out of the race, and the ten pound rise in the weights was sufficient in anchoring him to a battling second place finish at Limerick over an extended eleven furlongs the following week. This would cap his spell in Ireland, and his British debut came a couple of months later in a two-mile Nottingham handicap off 78. He drifted like a barge in the betting, going from 12/1 to 33/1, and he ran like one in the contest itself; racing close up and sent on his way leaving the back before dropping out very tamely to finish a tailed off last. Such a flat performance is not inherently foreboding for this type of horse. Indeed, New Reality was beaten thirty-six lengths on his final flat outing before making a winning debut at Perth last September. However, Nigel Hawke’s first-time strike rate with juveniles is a mere 4.55%, and would have been lower had the aforementioned New Reality not been gifted his Perth victory. Moreover, hurdling bows seemingly count as a schooling module for yard’s juveniles; as per their first-time clear round rate of 89.39%. In terms of breeding, the pedigree of I Have A Voice is very much a curate’s egg. Half-brother and fellow traveller Repetitio was a capable juvenile hurdler, while granddam Six Nations produced four winning jumpers in Canadian Diamond, Casimir Road, Tri Nations and Calcutta Cup. Further back on the damline are the high class Japanese jumper Ken Hovawart (3/4), Souffleur (4/4), His Excellency (4/4) and Ruling (5/3). However, sire Vocalised has yet to cover himself in glory as a producer of young hurdlers, with his twenty-three runners amassing just a solitary win from fifty-five attempts. Overall, I Have A Voice has a compelling profile, bolstered by his background, flat ability and the distaff side of his pedigree. However, given his most recent outing, the sire’s record and his trainer’s M.O., the best of I Have A Voice is unlikely to be seen immediately. Major Gatsby grg Bill Turner f16-4-4 (69) 75 The Grey Gatsby (Dream Ahead){7-a}(0.33) 3/1 Park’s Prodigy 105 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Newcastle 2007 During his estimable stud career, Danehill Dancer established himself as a fine producer of juvenile hurdling sires headed by the likes of Choisir, Jeremy and Mastercraftsman. The next generation are also showing signs of maintaining the standard with Kingston Hill, Starspangledbanner and Olympic Glory already producing winners in the sphere. The latest to join the ranks is the best named of the lot. The Grey Gatsby is not the tallest at 16.0hh, but he won the French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes at three, and is a cousin of winner Bombilla (Mastercraftsman) from the family of Triumph winner Burning Victory (3/3) and jumps influence Nonoalco (5/1). His first runner over hurdles is set to be Major Gatsby; a four-time winner on the flat at seven furlongs. An early-season two-year-old, he initially earned an official rating of 53 which dropped to 48 prior to a short head second placing in a Lingfield nursery last December. Like his father, Major Gatsby improved from two to three, registering his first success on his tenth outing when snatching a Wolverhampton handicap off 52 in January. He was off for six weeks before landing the brace back at the course, and after a length-and-a-quarter second at Kempton, would complete a Black Country hat-trick in April off 61. Given another month’s break, he ran his first good race on turf when second at Lingfield before gaining his first success on the surface at Brighton in June off 65. In each of his successes, he had shown a reluctance to settle into his races. However, this is not to suggest that he is a difficult partner as he has consistently given generously under pressure for his inexperienced riders. Major Gatsby was last seen five weeks ago at Windsor where, dropped down to six furlongs on firm ground following the longest break of his career to date, could only manage fourth of fifth; although he was not disgraced in being outpaced by just over two lengths in a fair race for the grade. His entire career has been spent under the care of Bill Turner, whose 18.64% winner-to-runner rate in the sphere increases to 20% for those who also ran for him on the flat. Turner has also had two winners from ten at Plumpton, although each of these already had at least four hurdles runs to their names beforehand. Furthermore, his charges can often find themselves underestimated in the division with big priced winners A Double Ewe Bee (66/1), Just Mossie (33/1) and Scrappy Jack (22/1) contributing to a £63.95 level stakes profit since 2004/05. The closest jumps relative on Major Gatsby’s damline, Prince Of Cardamom (2/1), was tailed off on both outings. Nevertheless, the third-dam heads a lineage of successful juvenile hurdlers as the dam of Park’s Prodigy, and granddam of Stepney Causeway and Don’t Take Me Alive as well as the prolific Tamarillo Grove. More distant relatives include top class jumpers Contraband (4/2), Royal Gait (5/2), Bold Gait (5/3) and Lieutenant Miller (5/5). The likeable Major Gatsby could make for a fairly capable recruit to the sphere, and while his stamina is currently unproven, breeding suggests he should eventually get the trip. However, “eventually” is the operative word and given that he is a horse who raced enthusiastically over short distances on the flat, it is highly likely that he will need to learn from this experience before he translates his ability to hurdles. Starspangledjama bg Gary Moore f4-0-0 (45) 46 Starspangledbanner (Pour Moi){10-d}(0.23) 3/2 Snap Shots 72 6th 2m Maiden Hurdle, Worcester 2018 Gary Moore’s record in juvenile hurdles, counting seventy-nine individual winners since 2004/05, is one of the strongest in the country. His strike-rate at Plumpton stands at a healthy 23.53% including four in this particular contest. Taking newcomers in isolation, that equates to a 50% success rate and while three were rated 65 and above on the flat, 2013 winner Orla’s Rainbow was rated just 46. Along with Executive Pool, he saddles another newcomer in Starspangledjama. However, while Orla’s Rainbow managed to place in a selling handicap, Starspangledjama has shown the sum total of nothing in four starts on the flat. Gelded before his debut last summer and beaten a combined seventy-two lengths, the only time he finished ahead of a rival was when ninth at Kempton over six furlongs last September in a restricted race which saw him start at 500/1. His sole outing at three came over a mile and a half on heavy ground in an Epsom handicap off 46 ten days ago where he spent the entirety of the race in last position. The only jumper on his damline (which includes Mount Nelson at 3/2, and Reference Point at 5/1), was Snap Shots at 3/2 who achieved very little. Sire Starspangledbanner is a positive and being generous, it can be argued that Starspangledjama is feasibly unexposed in these conditions. However, while Jamie Moore does take the ride, that factor evokes more curiosity than enthusiasm. Boudica Warrior bf Amy Murphy f8-0-1 (59) 67 j2-0-1 (84) 69 74 War Command (Noverre){4-m}(2.67) 2/1 Rayhani 126 1st 2m Maiden Hurdle, Limerick 2010 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/boudica-warrior Beaten eighth of eleven on her racecourse debut at Chelmsford in December, Boudica Warrior was denied by just a length and a quarter the following month in a twelve furlong Wolverhampton maiden. Her second to the useful but quirky Charles St preceded her selling for £8,500 at the ThoroughBid January all-weather sale, although she would stay with Alice Haynes for her next three starts; the latter two seeing her beaten four lengths in handicaps off 62 and 60. From there, Boudica Warrior switched to Amy Murphy’s yard and her next three outings came in French claimers. At Vichy in May, she cut out most of the running over 2000m before being headed a furlong out and dropping to fourth. In early June, she tracked the leader at Saint-Cloud over 2800m before fading rapidly at the distance and three weeks later, on soft ground over a quarter mile shorter at Salon, again made most before struggling from the home turn. She was given a valeur of 27.0 which equates to the BHA mark of 59 brought to her hurdling debut at Uttoxeter nearly a month ago. On breeding, her hurdling credentials were fair-to-middling as sire War Command has had two winning juveniles from thirteen; albeit with a modest improvement rate of 22.22%, and while uncle Rayhani won a Limerick maiden hurdle, his two half-brothers achieved little in ten jumps outings between them. Amy Murphy does have five wins to her name in the sphere, although four of these came during the post-lockdown summer of 2020 where her yard was clearly ahead of the game. Boudica Warrior started the 22/1 outsider of five at Uttoxeter and her early jumping, skewed and trailed her legs through the first, skewing to the right at the third and hopping over the fourth, saw her pass the stands at the tail of the field. Though going left at the fifth, she was better at the next and turned into the straight looking a threat. However, the threat was short lived as she was awkward at three out and a steep and rather tired leap at the penultimate flight gave the initiative to the leading pair. A steady and laboured jump at the last betrayed her fatigue and she eventually trailed in a seventeen length third of four finishers. The form does not amount to much as while the winner was a fair second on his debut, his task was made easier by Free Chakarte’s underperformance and the time suggests nothing beyond the ordinary. Boudica Warrior fared no better for the experience in a Fontwell maiden last month where, jumping clumsily, she disputed the lead for much of the contest before tiring on leaving the back and fading tamely to finish a twenty-five length fifth. She was reported to have finished lame although the vet certificate from Friday’s ThoroughBid sale indicates no lasting effects. Incidentally, she changed hands for £3,000 and while it would be unfair to dismiss the sale as futile, she does have a fair deal to prove at this juncture. Strong prospects 1. Borntobealeader Reasonable prospects 2. Mr Freedom 3. Executive Pool Feasible prospects 4. I Have A Voice 5. Major Gatsby Moderate/Negligible prospects 6. Boudica Warrior 7. Starspangledjama
  3. FONTWELL - 4th SEPTEMBER Seventeen days ago, Fontwell’s juvenile season opened with a maiden hurdle and the three-year-olds are set to return in what is a traditionally stronger contest. Though lacking the star power of Goshen, Blazing Bailey and Mr Thriller, who had all contested later events at the venue, it has been taken by the likes of King’s Wharf (2012), Vosne Romanee (2014), and Talking About You (2020) while Diable de Sivola would finish second in 2016. As such, while the average winners’ seasonal RPR from last month’s maiden was just 99.33, this contest has one of 110.03. The line up here consists of three with experience; amongst them two previous winners, including one from the Fontwell maiden, as well as the third from said contest; two winners from the flat – including the highest rated flat recruit to date – and an racecourse debutant. None of the form brought by the experienced runners exceeds a mark of 100 (though two have been given harsh official marks to that effect), but newcomers can be at something of a disadvantage at Fontwell. In terms of strike-rate, they fare just worse than average, but only Hereford and Taunton are trickier courses for juveniles to negotiate first time. Moreover, in the seventeen runnings of this contest since 2005, five had gone to newcomers, with the remaining twelve having already ran over hurdles; the impact values being 0.58 and 1.43 respectively. In terms of other course characteristics, Fontwell is a flat, left-handed track which invariably hosts its juvenile contests over eighteen furlongs; resulting in winning Dis and completion rates being on the lower side of standard. A couple of these have made the running under either code, and while nothing does so habitually, the pace should be honest without being particularly frenetic. The going has most recently been described as good and with mainly dry weather expected between now and post time, watering will be employed to maintain the good ground. Graffiti bg Gary Brown f7-0-0 (64) 70 j2-1-1 (106) 90 95 Sixties Icon (Excellent Art){A34}(0.82) 1/1 Banksy’s Art 100 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen 2018 The winner of that course and distance maiden covered in the introduction, Graffiti started off over a mile at Goodwood last September for Mick Channon. He then ran twice at Pontefract in the Autumn, finishing no nearer than eight lengths behind the winner in a pair of novice stakes. Following a winter break, he had a couple of spins on the all-weather in handicap company and while he finished last on each occasion, was at least able to finish closer. His initial mark of 71 was quite difficult to justify, and a return to the turf, drop to 67 and switch to Gary Brown’s failed to trigger a change in fortunes as he was tailed off at Pontefract over ten furlongs before looking decidedly slow over a mile when beating just one home at Newbury in June. Graffiti did shape as though he can get the trip over jumps and his full-brother, Banksy’s Art, managed to place third in a juvenile hurdle. His only other jumping relative, Big Kev (3/1), achieved little, although sire Sixties Icon (covered more in Mr Freedom’s profile) does have solid credentials for the sphere, course and time of year. Former inmates of Mick Channon’s have a solid winner-to-runner rate of 24.16%, although this drops to 19.09% when removing those who went to Sheena West; Banksy’s Art amongst them. Gary Brown himself had not enjoyed a winning juvenile from the nine he saddled since Hilali won Stratford in 2012, and the yard’s improvement rate of 16.67% is not encouraging. There was a distinct lack of confidence ahead of his Stratford bow, drifting to 25/1 from a morning show of 8s, and he hardly convinced in his temperament of jumping. Held up towards the rear, Graffiti took a keen hold as he hopped over his early hurdles, was tight and awkward at the fifth and missed the sixth. Though awkward again at the next, he did make headway over the hill and was on the leader’s quarters turning for home. From there, he looked a difficult ride under pressure and did not seem resolute on the run to the line, but while never looking to challenge the winner, Mutara, he did finish five-and-a-half lengths clear of the remainder. The form looks to amount to little as Mutata was a 55 rated flat horse who was well held on his debut, and subsequently a beaten odds-on favourite over course and distance. The remainder were either poor or badly underperformed. Little enthusiasm can be garnered from the clock either with the winning time some seven seconds slower than that posted by a 104 handicapper on the card. Five days prior to the Fontwell contest, Graffiti was given a spin on the flat in a twelve furlong Newbury handicap, but after again pulling in the rear found little when the race unfolded and was ultimately beaten twelve lengths. A recent spin was not particularly noteworthy for the trainer who is zero from twenty with runners returning within nine days. Nevertheless, it may have been a factor which enabled him to justify his being supported from 9/4 into 7/4 favouritism. Graffiti again pulled hard during the first circuit, but jumped somewhat better overall than he had at Stratford; with his wandering on the approach to a couple of early flights, skewing over another pair, and hitting the top of the sixth being the most egregious errors. Having been held up in rear during the first circuit, he moved into third along the back second time around before turning for home within a couple of lengths of the lead, travelling best of all. After the penultimate flight, he loomed alongside the leader while firmly on the bridle and following a jazzy leap at the last, was pushed out to extend a lengths advantage to a comfortable seven at the line. The form of the race was such that he did not have to improve from Stratford to win the contest, and the winning time, along with the fact that nothing jumped all too fluently, supports the notion that the race took little winning. With the benefit of course experience, Graffiti would be quite evenly matched with the reopposing Mutara, although none of the four to have come from that maiden have fared better than second in this race. The standard he sets is largely moderate and though he may not quite warrant a squiggle, there are probably a couple of hardier sorts in opposition should it turn into that kind of contest. Mutara bg Sean Curran f8-0-3 (55) 62 j3-1-2 (107) 87 97 Muhaarar (Lucky Story){3-c}(0.78) 3/2 Ramonex 136 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (120), Catterick 2018 Making his debut at Kempton in February, Mutara finished no better than midfield on his first three outings. However, in five flat outings since his switch to handicaps in early April, he has yet to finish outside of the first four. It should be noted that these performances came off mark decreasing from 55 and that the winners’ enclosure has thus far eluded him; but by the same token, he has been a consistent animal. He was doing his best work towards the finish when third over eleven furlongs at Windsor in early May and returning to the turf after a Wolverhampton fourth, would twice find only one too good. At Leicester, he was no match for a horse who recently completed a four-timer, and at Chepstow last month, was bested by another subsequent winner. Mutara did little wrong on either occasion and has little to answer for in terms of attitude. Prior to this campaign, Muhaarar had one winner from seven juveniles and the jumpers that appear on the damline prior to Ramonex at 3/2 have been poor. Sean Curran had winners in the division; albeit at a winner to runner rate of 9.09%. None had scored first time out, which afforded lowered expectations for Mutara on his hurdling debut at this track on the tenth of July. Starting at 15/2, having been as short as 9/2 om the ring, Mutara was keen early on, and his being badly balked at the first put paid to his confidence as he was big and ungainly over the remaining obstacles. Never out of the rear, or threatening to get involved in the contest, Mutara was eased on the run-in; finishing over fourteen lengths behind Mucuna. There was ample scope for Mutara to leave that debut performance well behind, and eighteen days later back at Stratford, he found an opportunity which was enhanced by the market leaders disappointing. Donning first time cheekpieces, Mutara’s leap at the first was big, slow and untidy, but though not a model of fluency, his subsequent untidiness was relatively minor and not to the detriment to his performance. He settled quite well and tracked the leader before taking the lead at the hill on the second circuit. While he was being driven all along the final bend, he did not concede the lead and though steep at the last, he got away from the flight quickly enough and forged ahead on the run in to win by a length and a quarter from Graffiti. The form has since been somewhat advertised by the second and fourth filling the first two places at Fontwell, although it should be noted that it was a poor contest where none of the principles jumped well. Nevertheless, it was an improvement on his debut effort in terms of fluency and there was little to fault in his attitude. The withdrawal of Mucuna in a class three event back at Stratford a fortnight ago saw Mutara start the 4/6 favourite in a weak race for its type. However, he had become noticeably sweaty and, having the pace-making duties foisted upon him, was rather sketchy when hopping over the first three flights. Increasing the tempo going over the hill, he rounded the home turn with a three length advantage and appeared to have his main rival, Flintstone, outpaced; although not to the extent that his in-running price of 1.01 might suggest. By the time they reached the last, Flintstone had got to within a length and while Mutara was slightly the quicker away he was worn down at the half-furlong point before going down by a length and a quarter. Furlong for furlong, the winning time was the slowest on the card against the standard, and Flintstone subsequently disappointed when third at Worcester earlier this week. Mutara is quite evenly matched with Graffiti, and trainer Sean Curran did win this race with Talking About You in 2020, although neither set a strong standard for the flat recruits. Cabrakan bc Milton Harris f12-1-4 (76) 83 Divine Prophet (More Than Ready){1-x}(3.00) 3/1 Enqelaab 1st 2m2f Maiden Hurdle, Downpatrick 1993 The renaissance of Milton Harris will be of no mystery to followers of the juvenile hurdling division. Last season was an especially fruitful one with six of his eight representatives managing to land at least one race; headed by his first Grade One winner in Knight Salute. One remarkable aspect of this success is that five of those winners were bought at public auction with none commanding a fee exceeding 21,000 guineas, or bringing a BHA rating in excess of 75. The yard is already off the mark this term with Mucuna, and though changing hands privately, his latest introduction is the 76 rated Cabrakan. Formerly with Richard Hannon, who is also the source of last season’s Wensleydale runner-up for the yard, Genuflex, Cabrakan is the veteran of twelve races on the flat. His career began with a seventh placing in a Newmarket novice stakes last August, finishing just over fourteen lengths behind Coroebus. Later that month, he got to within a neck of shedding his maiden tag at Ffos Las in a race inundated with future winners, before closing his season with a fourth at Kempton. His return came in a mile handicap at Windsor in early April where he was a one paced fourth off 76. Stepped up to ten furlongs, he was within a couple of lengths of the winner when third of nine at Beverley, and last of four at Salisbury. After disappointing in a falsely run race at Doncaster, he found improvement for the application of blinkers and a step up to thirteen furlongs when a staying on third at Bath. In early July, Cabrakan was able to get off the mark on his ninth attempt when landing an eleven furlong Kempton handicap off 74. Settled in midfield and racing off a true galop, he was travelling best of all when turning for home in third on the inner. His response when asked to pick up at the distance was not immediate, but the penny dropped at the furlong marker and he ran through the line to win by a neck twice. The form has yet to be rigorously tested but the second and fifth have each won since. Cabrakan’s stint with Richard Hannon ended with a couple of lesser efforts in slowly ran races behind Caius Chorister, but he was back to something like his best on his stable debut in a racing league contest at Newcastle ten days ago. Racing over an extended twelve furlongs and attracting outside support to start at 14/1, Cabrakan raced in the rear and had yet to pass a rival with two furlongs left to run. He began to pick off rivals going into the final furlong; which he completed fastest of all to finish a two-and-a-half length fifth. He is now switched to the discipline for which he was bought and while statistics suggest that newcomers can find Fontwell to be tricky, Milton Harris has the most substantial 100% clear-round record of all British and Irish trainers, with his tally currently at fifty-six. Pedigree based evidence for hurdling potential is rather thin on the ground. Nothing up to the third dam has been tried over hurdles, although she did produce a maiden winner in Enqelaab, as well as the dam of low grade winning handicapper Mohtarres. The fifth dam has branches which extend to the likes of Turgeon, Lute Antique and Pique Sous from 5/5 onwards. Antipodean sire Divine Prophet raced neither outside of the Southern hemisphere nor beyond a mile. Set to have his first runner over hurdles, the 2016 Caulfield Guineas winner has a largely speed based pedigree, but is a reasonable height for a jumps sire and being a son of Choisir is a positive (Olympic Glory and Starspangledbanner each have 33.33% winner-runner rates while Choisir himself had one of 30%). In any case, Cabrakan has already proven himself a capable stayer and with the best part of a stone in hand of his rivals on recent flat form, he has solid prospects of making an immediate impact for his always dangerous trainer. Executive Pool bg Gary Moore f6-1-1 (54) 64 Churchill (Fastnet Rock){4-c}(0.80) 2/1 Final Approach 150 1st County Handicap Hurdle (G3,139), Cheltenham 2011 Despite being a winner on the flat, Executive Pool’s official rating of 54 is just a pound away from being the lowest in this line-up. Nevertheless, his pedigree and trainer make him difficult to dismiss on his hurdling debut. First-season sire Churchill stands at 16.2hh tall and though never quite proving that his stamina matched his class on the track, his offspring are showing themselves well capable of getting a trip and his career as a jumps stallion got off to a perfect start with The Churchill Lad. Executive Pool is out of a half-sister to the County Hurdle winner Final Approach, and is quite closely related to three other winning jumpers in Genuine Pearl (3/1), King Of Dubai (3/2) and King Red (3/2). Gary Moore has a strong winner-to-runner rate of 36.41% and his strike-rate at Fontwell is an excellent 28.72% which increases to 33.33% with hurdling debutants. He has won this particular contest three times from thirteen runners, with each success being a newcomer; including in 2017 with the 52 rated Lord E which Gary Moore trained himself on the flat. Executive Pool has also spent his career to date at Cisswood, which started off with three unremarkable efforts last Autumn in which he finished well beaten at Sandown, Goodwood and Chelmsford. His seasonal reappearance came in a 0-50 classified stakes at Brighton in early June over a mile and a half on soft ground. With first-time blinkers applied, he started the 10/3 second favourite having opened at 7/1 in the morning, and was sent straight into the lead from the outset. Setting a solid tempo, he was travelling strongest at the distance and although he drifted right and left across the track under pressure, he was always doing enough to hold the runner-up by half-a-length with the pair seven lengths clear of the rest. The runner-up has not been out since, but while the third and seventh subsequently won similarly weak events, a better indication of Executive Pool’s ability came later that month in a Windsor apprentice handicap over an extended eleven furlongs. Running off a revised mark of 55, he once again set a decent tempo and looked the most likely winner at the distance; trading as low as 1.26 in-running. He was caught inside the final furlong and carried his head high in the closing stages before going down by a length-and-a-quarter. Nevertheless, the winner was landing a brace under a penalty and the pair finished six lengths clear of the remainder. He was slightly below par when returning to the all-weather three weeks ago where he raced in midfield off a modest gallop before running on in the straight to snatch a five-and-a-half length third. This effort is somewhat excusable due to the lack of pace and a possible lack of fitness. While there is a class deficit for Executive Pool to overcome, he is still a largely unexposed improver with some fine attributes for a hurdling career. A respectable hurdling debut would not be unexpected, although there is a concern over the yard’s recent form. Mr Freedom bg Sheena West f7-0-0 (53) 57 j1-0-1 (-) 75 77 Sixties Icon (Sayif){9-c}(0.52) 4/1 Zero 128 1st 2m3½f Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (112), Ascot 2007 As mentioned in Graffiti’s profile, juveniles that leave Mick Channon for Sheena West have a better record than those who go elsewhere and the same can be said for where Sheena West sources her juveniles. Her record for those from outside this connection reads as one winner from fourteen whereas those moving from West Ilsley to Falmer have an impressive winner-to-runner rate of 38.46%. Seven of these winners were rated 53 or less, which is encouraging for the latest to make that journey. Mr Freedom cost just £800 as a yearling, and after being beaten eleven lengths at Sandown on his debut last June, was beaten nineteen and fifteen lengths at Kempton and Salisbury before being put away for the winter. In May came his return in a Bath mile handicap off 59 for which he attracted outside support; starting at 10/1 having opened at twice the price in the morning. Pulling hard in the early stages, he struggled for room in the final couple of furlongs and though he only managed an eighth place finish, he was not given a vigorous ride in posting a new career best. He failed to build on that degree of promise in a similar contest at Ripon next time and while traffic issues were something of a feature, he had no such excuses when making no show whatsoever at Windsor next time. Given a two month break, a change of scenery, and a step up to a mile-and-a-half, Mr Freedom ran a considerably better race when returning to Windsor at the start of the month. Settling better on the prominent side of midfield, he was unable to accelerate with the principle as the race developed, but still ran on for a three-and-a-quarter length fourth of ten. His breeding offers mixed messages as the immediate damline is bereft of jumps experience until the winning novice handicapper Zero appears at 4/1, although the fourth dam also has another winner in Kristiansand and her next level of descendants includes the useful sorts London Prize and Categorical. The sire, Sixties Icon, has a fair winner-runner rate of 20.41%, his strike-rate before October is a healthy 32.14% and he has had four wins from twenty at Fontwell. Moreover, Sheena West has had three winning juveniles at Fontwell, including the 46 rated Feb Thirtyfirst, the 53 rated Hi Note, and the 52 rated Whipperway who scored on his hurdling debut. These factors did not translate into a successful hurdling debut at this venue seventeen days ago, for which he was mercurial in the markets before starting at 6/1. Taking a keen hold while racing at the rear of the field, his jumping, while largely safe, left plenty to be desired as there was not a single hurdle where he was not big, skewed, slow, awkward or any combination of same. It is then to his credit that he was able to make headway into a close enough third, and still look a feasible threat turning for home. This threat was short lived, however, as a lack of pace and fluency saw the leading pair get away just before the last, leaving Mr Freedom to finish a sixteen length third behind Graffiti. There was undoubted promise hiding in this performance and the yard’s juvenile strike-rate does jump up from 8.33% to 22.73% between first and second outings. If he has indeed learned from his debut then Mr Freedom would hold a good chance of finishing much closer to Graffiti, although whether he actually has is another matter. Miss Fedora bf Seamus Mullins Unraced Helmet (Shamardal){12-b}(1.32) 3/1 Jurako 56.0 1st 3500m 4yo Claiming Hurdle, Compiegne 2005 The sole racecourse debutant in the line-up, Miss Fedora represents a Seamus Mullins with a fairly modest 11.67% winner-to-runner rate in the sphere, a first-time strike rate of 3.51%, and a zero from twenty-eight record with juveniles at Fontwell. Sire Helmet has a similarly modest winner-to-runner rate of 12.50%, but while two of the third dam’s hurdlers achieved little, a third, Jurako, won a French claimer at four. Channel Baie (3/2) is another winning descendent while the fifth dam produced the mighty Ouija Board as well as four winning jumpers headed by Spectrometer and Star Selection. Since 2004/05, only 25 from 1,038 previously unraced juveniles made winning debuts, and though far from irredeemable, the profile of Miss Fedora warrants little particular interest in this line-up. Strong prospects 1. Cabrakan Reasonable prospects 2. Executive Pool Feasible prospects 3. Graffiti 4. Mutara 5. Mr Freedom Moderate prospects . Negligible prospects 6. Miss Fedora
  4. A couple of days after the south lakes hosted their sole juvenile hurdle of the season at Cartmel, Lake Worcester is set to host its own solitary juvenile hurdle. Though the race is generally contested by ordinary sorts, Cliffs Of Dover and Chief Justice, winners in 2016 and 2018 respectively, went on to make an impact in graded company while 2019 winner, Maria Magdalena, would place second in that season’s Wensleydale. This year's renewal brings together a pair who have already won in the division this term, along with a winner from the flat who has not quite taken to hurdling thus far. A flat, left handed circuit with a long home straight, winning DIs at Worcester are quite inconsistent due to a relatively low sample size. Nevertheless, given the pace that often prevails at the venue, there would appear to be an inclination towards stamina. Furthermore, with the clear round rate of 94.90% being the fifth lowest in Britain, Worcester can catch out inexperienced sorts. The going is currently described as good and with warm and dry weather forecast between now and racing, the ground will be watered as is necessary. Flintstone chg Nigel Twiston-Davies f9-0-5 (63) 71 j1-1-0 (-) 82 92 Starspangledbanner (First Samurai){19-e}(1.00) No jumps relatives A nine race maiden on the flat, Flintstone made it one from one for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ juvenile campaign when winning at Stratford nine days ago. The master of Grange Hill Farm does have a solid record in the division. He has handled the likes of Bristol de Mai, Torpillo and Mahogany Blaze, and his winner-to-runner rate of 33.33% is the strongest in the field. Twiston-Davies also fares well with his flat recruits, six of his twenty-seven won as juveniles, although prior to nine days ago, only one managed to score first time. Ten seasons ago, the yard had a similar type in Golden Jubilee; Hannon trained mid-sixties performer with an American damline completely bereft of jumpers, carrying the same colours. Golden Jubilee got no further than the first in a Bangor juvenile before finishing well beaten at Warwick – although after a prolonged return to the flat, he did eventually manage to win a Sedgefield handicap off 92. The similarities diverge when it comes to their sires as while Golden Jubilee was Zavata’s one and only juvenile, Starspangledbanner had eight prior to Stratford with two finding the winners’ enclosure. Though Flintstone has not managed to win as of yet, he has generally been a fair and consistent sort. His two-year-old career, starting in May, consisted of three runs in as many months; all of which came at Newbury, none of which saw him get closer than twelve lengths to the winner. Following a break of nearly nine months, he returned in a mile handicap at Kempton where he finished a two length second off 64, looking one paced in the closing stages. Over the same trip at Chelmsford, he had to be rousted along for much of the contest before keeping on for a seven length third. The step up to ten furlongs only saw him finish sixth at Goodwood, but the form has worked out quite well for the level. Afterwards, he was given a gelding operation and a two month break and while he could only manage an eight length third at Leicester, the application of blinkers saw him turn in a career best performance at Kempton in early July. Racing over a mile off a mark of 62, he turned for home with all of the field to pass, but was vying for the lead inside the final hundred yards before going down by half a length. The form was boosted by the winner following up in two of his next three starts, but Flintstone did give the impression that he was not entirely committed to the battle. Eight days later, he returned to ten furlongs, racing off the same mark, for a Chepstow handicap in which he was the second favourite of four. Disputing the lead, he appeared to be travelling best in front at the distance but was unable to fend off a couple of rivals and would merely plug on for two and a quarter length third. The runner-up went one better next time, and there was less of a quibble about Flintstone’s resolve. His hurdling bow came in a class three contest, although the defection of Mucuna make it a weak race for the grade and Flintstone would start the 13/8 second favourite behind the penalised Mutara. Racing with enthusiasm, his early jumping was big and cautious and while it became neater after going out onto the second circuit, he maintained a tendency to rather hop his flights. He disputed second for much of the contest and was shaken along passing the hill before looking decidedly outpaced on the home turn; trading as high as 26/1 in-running. Nevertheless, any lingering concerns over his resolve were dispelled as he chased the leader down the straight and, though trailing his hind legs through the last, would dourly wear down the favourite before asserting in the final fifty yards. The winning time was the slowest against standard on the card and there is little to suggest that the runner-up had improved since his course and distance win last time out. Strictly on form, Flintstone has some five pounds to find on Rolypolymoly. Nevertheless, the way his jumping improved throughout the contest suggests that he can leave his debut showing behind and his overall profile suggests that he is the more likely of the pair to make a hurdler. Moreover, there was plenty to like about the way he battled at Stratford which may well be the deciding factor between a pair with identical flat ratings. Rolypolymoly bg Adam West f7-0-1 (63) 69 j2-1-1 (107) 91 97 Heeraat (Monsun){1-k}(0.60) 2/1 Zoffalee 135 1st 2m1f 4yo Handicap Hurdle (112), Ballinrobe 2019 Currently rated 63 on the flat, Rolypolymoly looked a fairly treated animal in that sphere and his two runs in hurdle contests to date show that he is just as good over jumps. After finishing sixth of nine on his debut at Salisbury last September, he rounded off his two year old campaign with midfield finishes at Goodwood and Kempton which earned him a BHA figure of 67. He ran to a similar level when midfield on his return at Pontefract over a mile in April, but shaped better when stepped up ten furlongs at Nottingham and Leicester, despite taking a keen grip at the latter when finishing just over three lengths behind in third. His latest flat appearance came at Salisbury, carrying top weight in a class four handicap over a mile and a half. He was supported into 7/2 second favouritism having been available at 5/1 but while he settled well enough in midfield, found himself with little room once the race picked up off a modest tempo. Whatever chance he held at the furlong marker was extinguished as he was blocked off once again and he was resigned to beating just one home. Though it can not be said that he was definitely an unlucky loser, he should have finished closer than he did in a race where the front two have both scored since. Rolypolymoly‘s damline offered flashes of optimism for his new vocation as he is out of a Monsun (36.11% winner to runner as a damsire) half-sister to capable hurdler Zoffalee. However, sire Heeraat’s five previous juveniles had finished no better than sixth in the sphere. As such, Rolypolymoly has become his sire’s best juvenile in a jumps career that began at Stratford on the tenth of July. Though up against three previous winners, he was backed down from a morning 10/1 to start the race as the 10/3 second favourite. Held up towards the rear, he did not jump with conspicuous fluency as he was awkward when hopping over the second and third, and tight at the fourth and seventh. He made headway towards the end of the back to get within striking distance, but his effort was blighted by his jumping the path on the approach to the last; from which he was slow to get away. The winner was long gone, but Rolypolymoly did rally to gain a couple of places on the run-in to finish a sixth-length second; three lengths clear of the remainder. He reappeared a fortnight later at Uttoxeter where he was supported from 3/1 in the morning to go off the 5/4 favourite. Though he hopped over the first, he jumped much more fluently on this occasion and was slotted in third position in the tightly bunched five strong field. He was within a length of the lead at three out and while he missed the hurdle, rather clambering over it, the mistake cost him little relative momentum and he was a length clear jumping the penultimate flight. From there, he was driven out and after a tidy enough jump at the last, was able to forge seven lengths clear by the line. The winning time was nothing out of the ordinary, but the form was given a boost when the runner-up landed a Killarney maiden next time out; although that horse subsequently flopped at Down Royal and the third was well beaten in a Fontwell maiden next time. Rolypolymoly was due to run at Market Rasen the following week, but was withdrawn on account of a cut leg. Now making his return after five weeks off the track, he has the ability to make a good account of himself here, although he has less scope for improvement than Flintstone and while the conditional’s claim could be handy, Rolypolymoly would not be a steering job. Anger Management bg John Ryan f6-0-0 (44) 43 j1-0-1 (-) 77 80 Ribchester (Nayef){22-a}(1.22) 3/2 Allow Me 129 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (120), Catterick 2012 Four-time Group One winner and dual Champion Miler Ribchester is having his first jumpers this season. No taller than average, Ribchester is of the speedy Iffraaj-Zafonic sireline and his third dam was the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Mehthaaf. Nevertheless, one uncle, Tactic won over a mile and six while another, Bangkok, is being marketed as a dual-purpose sire. While half-brother Golconda Prince was unable to build on his fifth in a Huntington juvenile, another uncle, Taaresh, landed four low-grade hurdles over the minimum trip at Worcester and Wincanton. The first into the fold for Ribchester’s jumps stallion career was the six race maiden Anger Management, whose official flat rating of 44 exceeds his accomplishments. Beaten a combined seventy-seven lengths in two starts at Newmarket last Autumn, his four runs in 2022, between eight and fourteen furlongs, saw him finish no closer than twelve lengths to the winner. While the fair handicap hurdler, Allow Me, appears at 3/2 on the damline, six others within that proximity have achieved the sum total of nothing over hurdles from a combined twenty-four starts (although Nicholas Bill (Ghofar, Bollin William, Just Jasmine) is out of the fifth dam). Trainer John Ryan does have a decent enough record in the sphere with five winners from twenty-one juveniles, although only one of those would score first-time-out. At the end of last month at Market Rasen, Anger Management did not improve on that tally and was flattered by his second placing. Sent off the unfancied 16/1 outsider of three, Anger Management kept out of trouble at the back of the field as he hopped and skewed over the majority of hurdles. Off the bridle after jumping the last in the back, he managed to pass the patently underperforming second favourite three furlongs from home, but never posed even the remotest of threats to the very easy winner. By sheer virtue of his poor flat form, Anger Management may already be a better hurdler, but he still has a great deal to find if he is to make an impact here. Rogue Mission grg Milton Harris f5-1-1 (67) 70 j2-0-0 (-) 64 70 El Kabeir (Spinning World){2-d}(4.33) 2/1 Primus Inter Pares 107 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (101), Catterick 2008 At the 2021 Tattersalls July Sale, Milton Harris walked away with four juvenile hurdlers for sums between fourteen and twenty thousand guineas. Three of these, Aliomaana, Genuflex and Knight Salute, would all find the winners’ enclosure with the latter named – incidentally the least expensive of the bunch – capping off a fantastic campaign with success in the Grade One Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree. Returning to the well at this year’s sale, Mr Harris brought along a much thicker wallet, and left with five potential juveniles; three costing over fifty-five thousand guineas. The cheapest of the quintet this time around was Rogue Mission, who commanded a comparatively modest sum of fifteen thousand guineas. Gelded before his racecourse debut in early January, Rogue Mission’s five flat outings have all come at Lingfield, the first four under the care of Tom Clover. A steady 25/1 ahead of a ten furlong novice stakes, Rogue Mission dove out of stalls, took keen hold in rear and went nowhere under pressure; finishing a ten length seventh of eight. He reappeared three weeks later in an identical contest where he attracted outside support in the ring, shortening four points to 12/1 at the off. He started better on this occasion, although he did have another horse to bounce off when leaving the stalls. Still keen and held up towards the rear, he moved into a prominent position turning for home and although he took a while to gather himself under pressure, Rogue Mission was able to narrowly get the best of an honest battle inside the final half-furlong with the pair finishing a couple of lengths clear. The runner-up sadly lost his life next time out, although the third and fourth have each given the form a bit of substance in subsequent outings. Four weeks later, Rogue Mission was outclassed in a match race against a horse who had finished a length second to a subsequent listed winner before he made his handicap debut over ten furlongs back in May. Returning after a ten-week break off a mark of 71, Rogue Mission was friendless in the market and ran accordingly. Ridden from the stalls, he made a short lived effort while going wide on the home turn, but ultimately finished a near nine length seventh of eight. Tom Clover has previously supplied only one juvenile hurdler in the form of Appreciate; who incidentally also joined Milton Harris. Based on his four runs in the division, Appreciate looked harshly treated by his mark of 90, although he has gone on to land a four-timer this Summer. Rogue Mission’s damline largely consists of milers and three (at 3/2) who went over jumps fared poorly. Nevertheless, half-brother Rare Groove won over two miles on the flat and uncle Primus Inter Pares was a winning handicap chaser over the intermediate trip. These strands of stamina influence will have to offset the lack of same from first-crop stallion El Kabeir. From the Scat Daddy/Johannesburg line (which has enjoyed little success in the sphere), El Kabir was a graded – rather than top class – miler in America, and while his height of 16.1hh is adequate, his DI of 5.86 is a concern. Moreover, while Rogue Mission has form over ten furlongs, none of his races have been strongly run affairs. Uncharacteristically these days for a Milton Harris juvenile, Rogue Mission was unfancied ahead of his hurdles debut at Stratford, as he went from an opening show of 11/4 in the morning to 13/2 at the off. In the event, he settled well enough but tight jumps at the first couple of flights saw him expend energy getting away and slow, untidy jumps at the fifth and sixth had him struggling along the back. His pecking on landing at the penultimate flight saw that he was tailed off before the home turn from which he completed in his own time. Rogue Mission returned to Lingfield for a racing league contest where he started at 125/1 and never got involved; finishing thirteen lengths behind his much better fancied stablemate Postmark. The best of his flat form sets the standard here, but his latest efforts leave plenty to be desired. While entitled to improve in the long run, it is worth noting that each of the yard’s juveniles to have won on their second outings placed either first or second on their debuts. As it so happened, Rogue Mission made it no further than the first flight when running at Fontwell a fortnight ago where, having approached the hurdle with plenty on his mind, he somehow went over it horizontally; giving Harry Reed no chance of maintaining the partnership. Cailin Saoirse bf Alexandra Dunn f7-0-1 (48) 60 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0 Bated Breath (Bahamian Bounty){14-a}(3.00) 3/2 Future Gold 75 5th 2m 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Cork 2020 Three efforts in Irish two-year-old maidens for Philip Byrne, where she finished no better than eighth or any closer than six lengths to the winner, earned Cailin Saoirse a stiff looking mark of 59. Returning in April at Navan, she was beaten by over ten lengths and the drop to 55 did see her finish in the first half of the field, although still beaten over twelve lengths. A further drop to 50 enabled her to finish a length-and-a-half fourth at Fairyhouse after which she joined Alexandra Dunn. Her UK debut came in a Ffos Lass 0-50 Classified Stakes last month over the longest trip she had encountered to date; an extended seven furlongs. There was enough support to send her off the 3/1 favourite of fourteen but she was unable to justify the gamble as while she travelled well and was in a decent position, she was too slow to challenge, ultimately finishing a three length third. Cailin Saoirse shaped as though a little further would suit and her dam did win over twelve furlongs, but stamina for hurdling is still far from assured. Moreover, there is no evidence of jumping ability on the damline and her new trainer has had just one winning juvenile from twenty-two. There was a period of support for her in the markets ahead of her hurdles bow at Fontwell, opening in the ring at 7/1 having earlier been 16/1, although she eventually drifted out again to 18/1 at the off. In the event, she also dispatched of her rider at the first flight with another flamboyant leap. Milly Molly Mandy grf Bill Turner f4-0-0 (42) 41 Hellvelyn (King Charlemagne){21-a}(2.00) 2/1 Norfolk Sky 119 4th TBA Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (L), Cheltenham 2014 Somerset trainer Bill Turner generally has more runners on the flat than over jumps, but his record with juvenile hurdlers is quite respectable. Though only 29.17% improve for the switch in codes, his winner to runner rate of 18.97% is a fair one and it increases to 27.03% with those he trained himself on the flat. Indeed, five of these would win at the first time of asking, including the 35 rated A Double Ewe Bee who landed a Ludlow juvenile seller at odds of 66/1 in December 2004. Rated half a stone superior is Milly Molly Mandy, who will be the yard’s first juvenile this season. Milly Molly Mandy first saw the racecourse at Southwell last August where she was beat one of her eight rivals home, finishing some thirty lengths behind the winner. Later that month, she beat two home at Chelmsford; getting to within eleven lengths of the winner with her ninth place finish. That was the last seen of her until this July where she returned to Southwell to finish just over fifteen lengths last of seven in a mile maiden. Her last appearance came in a Brighton classified stakes four weeks ago where she again finished last, some twenty-five lengths behind the winner. Milly Molly Mandy now makes the switch to hurdles and while two of her dam’s siblings failed to win over jumps, Norfolk Sky did win twice as a novice and came within seven lengths of picking up some black type at Cheltenham. The third dam produced two more winners in Toskano and Knocktopher, while the 2005 Free Handicap Hurdle winner, Admiral, appears at 4/3 on the damline. However, for all the sparkles of promise found on the distaff side, none of Hellvelyn’s five previous juvenile hurdlers managed to breach the first five in nine starts between them. Strictly on flat form, Milly Molly Mandy can be given no realistic chance and the sire offers no assistance in this regard either. Nevertheless, her trainer and damline offer traces of intrigue for her as a recruit to the division without making her of any serious interest in this company first time around. Strong prospects 1. Flintstone Reasonable prospects 2. Rolypolymoly Feasible prospects 3. Rogue Mission Moderate/Negligible prospects 4. Milly Molly Mandy 5. Anger Management 6. Cailin Saoirse
  5. If one were to look up the word "idiosyncratic" in the dictionary, you will find a dry description of the word "idiosyncratic". Nevertheless, if horse racing were to ever release an illustrated dictionary of the turf, a picture of Cartmel racecourse will likely accompany the definition. Set in the glorious South Lakes and nestled between the woods and the priory, it is essentially a funfair surrounded by a racecourse. While even the child version of this author would lament that those raucous children seemed more interested in the irrelevant festivities than the racing itself - a sentiment which has gotten worse with age and has expanded to encompass a large section of the racegoing public - it is not for nothing that this charming venue is a favourite of all who have made a visit. Good juveniles have graced the Cumbrian carnival with 2011 winner Countrywide Flame being the most notable, 2014 winner Vosne Romanee becoming a useful sort, while Silver Streak rather surprisingly finished fourth here in 2016 on his hurdling debut. However, given its rather novel nature, participants in Cartmel's juvenile hurdles are typically a modest breed with the average winner's seasonal RPR of 107.16 being the lowest in the country. Apart from the home stretch being located on the track's inner, there is not a great deal idiosyncratic about the hurdles course itself. A tight, flat, left handed circuit, the winning juvenile DIs of 1.32 median, 1.84 mean are predictably higher than average - although against those of the average runner, they are still quite low comparatively which ties into the notion that speedy flat breds will not get an easy ride. A point further illustrated by the fact that while the clear round rate of 96.32% is close to bang average, the completion rate of 81.60% is the tenth lowest in the division. All six odds-on favourites in Cartmel's juveniles since 2004/05 have justified their favouritism and with the median winner's SP being the second lowest in the country at 2.63, it is not a course prone to surprise results. This year’s renewal consists entirely of hurdling debutants with three bringing official flat ratings exceeding the average for juvenile hurdles, and two having scored on the level. The going is currently described as good with a moderate chance of overnight rain interrupting the warm and cloudy weather forecast between now and post time. Nevertheless, as three of the field made the running last time out with a few showing a tendency to race keenly, the pace should still be an honest one. Barneys Gift bg Philip Kirby f9-1-3 (74) 79 Johnny Barnes (Mark Of Esteem){14-c}(0.33) 2/3 Furimix 57.0 1st 3yo Claiming Hurdle, Cagnes-sur-Mer 2020 The highest rated and most experienced of these on the flat, Barneys Gift comes into the race with one win from nine, and a BHA mark of 74. He began his career in France with Jo Hughes where he reached the frame twice in four outings over seven furlongs last July; finishing third behind a couple of useful sorts at Compiegne, and a two length second in a Vichy maiden. After finishing midfield back at Vichy over a mile, he made the move to Philip Kirby’s yard where, following a creditable staying on third in a six furlong novice stakes at Pontefract, would get off the mark over an extra furlong at Redcar in early November. Coated in sweat and racing enthusiastically, he made all to justify his being backed from a morning 4/1 to 6/4 favouritism; pressing for home at the distance and holding on by three-quarters of a length at the line. The form was fairly standard for its type, although four subsequent winners have come out of the race and the mark of 78 awarded to Barneys Gift was reasonable. Given a winter break and a gelding operation, he fared poorly on his first two attempts in handicap company, finishing a tailed off last at Ripon on heavy ground, and six lengths behind the remainder at Haydock on good-to-firm. There was more promise when last seen in early June; finishing fifth of nine back at Haydock over seven furlongs on soft ground. However, he may have been flattered by setting the steady tempo and his effort petered out tamely inside the final furlong. Barneys Gift does have a trainer with a solid record in the division. Since his first forays in 2008, Philip Kirby has a good winner-to-runner rate of 27.03% headed by Skycutter; another ex-Jo Hughes animal for the same connections who won his first two starts last term. Skycutter was a good stone superior on the flat, however, and the Kirby yard has been struggling for winners recently. The pedigree offers even less encouragement as first crop sire Johnny Barnes has modest credentials for the sphere. Standing at less than 16 hands, the son of Acclamation peaked at Group Three standard and never raced beyond a mile. His preference for soft ground has been passed on to his early progeny, although that might not be so helpful in this instance. Mark Of Esteem is a fairly useful damsire, although while five descendants of the third dam have tried jumping, only one, Furimix (2/3), would show any form and that came in a claiming hurdle. On his two-year-old ability, Barneys Gift would probably be more interesting, but his credentials are crabbed not only by his and his trainer’s poor recent form, but also his questionable stamina and the lack of obvious redemption in the pedigree. Golden Ticket bg John C McConnell f7-0-0 (57) 63 Galileo Gold (Acclamation){23-b}(1.22) 2/1 Barliffey 91 2nd 2m2f Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (83), Kelso 2011 John McConnell has sent a nine strong team to Cartmel for this meeting, and his winner on Saturday brought his strike rate at the course to 30%. The Meath trainer also has a solid record with juveniles he takes to Britain; amassing four wins from twenty-one starts. Golden Ticket is set to be his first juvenile to run at the Cumbrian venue, who will be making his stable bow having been claimed out of Andrew Oliver’s for €5,000 back in July. Juveniles leaving Andrew Oliver have a fair 18.92% winner-to-runner rate, headed by Mega Fortune and Dodging Bullets, although only Gibson Park would win after fetching less than five figures. Moreover, while McConnell’s first claimed juvenile, Bringbackmemorie, finished a good second at Down Royal last week, he was quadruple the asking price of Golden Ticket. Beating just two home at Punchestown on his racecourse debut last September, Golden Ticket finished midfield at Dundalk prior to a winter break, before returning to finish last at Navan in March. Gelded and switched to handicaps with a hood fitted, his initial mark of 68 looked harsh as he finished no closer than six lengths to the winner at Gowran Park and Leopardstown twice. Better was expected from his dropping into claiming company for a ten furlong contest at Fairyhouse, where he was backed from 10/1 to 6/1 in the morning before starting the 9/2 third favourite of nine. Tracking the leader from the outset, he was called upon for his effort on entering the straight but while he challenged briefly at the distance, he was swamped inside the final furlong; finishing a two-and-a -quarter length fourth. Though it was one of his better performances, the fact that he finished just behind a 47 rated gelding puts the form into perspective. Golden Ticket would be the lowest rated runner in the line-up, and his pedigree is only fair at best. He is set to be the first hurdler for Galileo Gold, a son of Paco Boy whose nine juveniles failed to win between them. The 2,000 Guineas winner does stand at a reasonable 16.1hh and is a half-brother to winning hurdlers Palladium and Petit Palais. His uncle, Barliffey finished second in a weak Kelso handicap and that is the extent of jumps ability on the damline. While any Irish raider would warrant close inspection in a contest such as this, Golden Ticket’s profile is otherwise moderate and it may be telling that connections have opted to come here rather than take in a more competitive event closer to home. Octopus grg Jennie Candlish f7-0-1 (60) 66 Kendargent (Refuse To Bend){8-a}(0.54) 0.5 Mackenberg 144 1st 2m3f Novices’ Chase, Catterick 2022 Starting his career with Joseph Tuite, Octopus was outclassed at York and Newbury on his first two outings last October. A switch to the all weather, under the care of Kevin Philippart de Foy, saw him backed from 22/1 to 15/2 on course and he duly posted a career best at Chelmsford when a four-length third of fifteen in a seven furlong restricted novice stakes. The race produced six individual winners at three, however, four handicap outings this term showed that Octopus had not trained on quite so well as modest efforts at Windsor, Chelmsford, Brighton and Leicester saw his mark drop from 68 to 60; all without finishing closer than sixth or nearer than seven lengths to the winner. His latest outing at Leicester back in May was as good a performance as any this season. Sporting first-time cheekpieces, Octopus broke well and led up to the two-furlong marker before falling through the field to finish seventh by as many lengths. Withdrawn from the Tattersalls Ascot May Sale, he has joined Jennie Candlish for a new career over jumps. Best known in the division for causing a 200/1 upset with Maoi Chinn Tire in the 2010 Wensleydale, Candlish’s overall winner-to-runner rate in the sphere stands at 13.33% with an improvement rate of just 27.78%. Sire Kendargent has a decent enough record with his juveniles, counting three winners from twelve to date. King d’Argent and Silver Shade managed to score first time out while Kenyan won a handicap during his initial campaign despite being rated just 45 on the flat. From the family of Brametot (2/1) and Monsun (3/1), Octopus is also a half-brother to Mackenberg who landed a hat trick of northern novice chases last term. Outside of his Chelmsford third, Octopus will need to improve on his flat form and a couple have more substantial profiles overall. Notwithstanding, his pedigree is not without merit and if the recent gelding has a positive effect, he probably won’t disgrace himself here. The Churchill Lad bg Rebecca Menzies f6-1-0 (67) 72 Churchill (Discreetly Mine){20-a}(0.71) 5/2 Wishlon 158 3rd Christmas Hurdle, Kempton 1988 Representing the first crop of Churchill and coming from the family of Jack Sullivan (2/1) and Seventh Heaven (2/3), The Churchill Lad commanded 105,000 guineas as a foal and 130,000 guineas as a yearling before joining the Joseph O’Brien. Starting his career last December, his first three outings came in successive months wherein he finished sixth in Dundalk maidens on each occasion. He was largely undone by inexperience first time out and his second outing can be forgiven due to a very slow start. Stepping up to ten furlongs for his final Irish engagement, The Churchill Lad raced in close order, but was done by a lack of pace in the closing stages; finishing just over four lengths behind the winner. The Churchill Lad was entered for the Tattersalls Online Sale in March, but was withdrawn beforehand in order to join Rebecca Menzies. There can be a degree of caution when it comes to those let go by Joseph O’Brien as of the eighteen to have left Owning Hill, just two would win as juveniles. That being said, Menzies may be an exception to this trend as the promising Hasty Brook has at least maintained his form, and The Churchill Lad has shown no signs of regression since moving to Howe Hills. He was initially set to take in the season’s curtain raiser at Hexham in June, but was instead redirected to Haydock for a ten furlong handicap off 67. Having his first start on turf, he once again fell asleep in the stalls and racing off a sound pace, was still bringing up the rear turning into the straight. Met with traffic issues three furlongs out, he had to be brought wide to make his effort and though green under pressure, ran on to snatch fourth in the final strides. He started at 33/1 for his next outing at Newcastle later in June, but was still fairly disappointing in a first time hood where, having raced keenly for much of the contest, was unable to quicken in a race which benefited those at the head of affairs. Nevertheless, after missing engagements at Carlisle and Wolverhampton, The Churchill Lad was able to break his duck at the sixth time of asking when returning to Newcastle for a two mile handicap ten days ago. Held up behind the field while taking a keen hold, he was shaken up approaching the distance whereafter he picked off his rivals one-by-one. Under a strong drive, he caught the clear leader at the furlong pole and though the idling rival was spurred on by the new challenge, The Churchill Lad pulled out extra towards the finish to prevail by a decisive neck; the pair finishing nine lengths clear of the strung out remainder. Much of what can be discerned from The Churchill Lad’s pedigree insofar as his hurdling prospects are concerned will be based on conjecture. Churchill has yet to have a runner over jumps and there are no national hunt horses nearby on the predominantly American damline. Notwithstanding, Churchill’s prospects are not without merit for this vocation. Winner of the National and Dewhurst stakes at two before landing the English and Irish Guineas double, Churchill did finish second in the International but was not wholly proven beyond a mile. While he is out of Galileo, the damline is not entirely conducive to stamina, with full-sister Clemmie restricted to eight furlongs, and granddam Airwave being a very fast mare. Nevertheless, Churchill’s full-brother Blenheim Palace stayed at least eleven furlongs, and his height of 16.2hh, and overall class, will be positives in this endeavour. The distaff side provides only one piece of distance evidence regarding jumps potential, although this does come in the form of Wishlon who finished third in the 1988 Christmas Hurdle as a novice. Though not yet granted the most powerful ammunition, the up and coming Rebecca Menzies has done well to date with her picking up black type with the £2,000 Fabianski, getting a win out of the 51 rated Tabou Beach Boy, having only one fall/unseat from thirty-four runs, and boasting an improvement rate of 55.55% (the highest in this field). The Churchill Lad looks as strong a juvenile prospect as any handled by his trainer and with proven stamina and recent form, he comes into this race with intriguing prospects. Eclairant Le Monde bf Donald McCain f4-0-1 (67) 71 Champs Elysees (Halling){4-m}(1.67) 2/1 Elgin 155 1st Kingwell Hurdle (G2), Wincanton 2018 Donald McCain possesses the strongest juvenile hurdling record of the trainers represented in this field with a winner runner rate of 29.82% headed by the likes of Navajo Pass, Hollow Tree and Starchitect. He also has three wins from eight in this particular contest with Gentifan winning in 2006, Ormesher in 2018 and Sacre Pierre last season. Though Never No Trouble has yet to get him off the mark for this season, he will be hoping for better with his intriguingly bred Eclairant Le Monde. Like Navajo Pass and two other winners from ten, she lived in Cholmondeley during her flat career which ended with a mark of 67. A six length fourth of nine on her sole two-year-old outing at Newcastle, she was still green when finishing sixth of twelve on her return in a Ripon maiden towards the end of May. Stepped up to an extended eleven furlongs for a Haydock novice stakes, she took up the running three furlongs out but was unsurprisingly outclassed by the front pair; one winning a handicap off 86 next time, and the other placing second in a listed race. Nevertheless, though she was beaten ten lengths, she did keep on well for third. She was unable to build on this promise when last seen in early July finishing fifth in a Carlisle maiden; weakening late on to finish over six lengths behind the winner, but within a length of subsequent improver Maggie’s Delight. On bare form, Eclairant Le Monde’s mark of 67 is probably as good as she has shown, but it still holds up well on these terms and her pedigree suggests that she should make a juvenile hurdler. Champs Elysees has a solid winner-to-runner rate of 25.42% with half of his progeny matching or surpassing their flat ability over hurdles. Her dam Clemency won twice as a novice hurdler and is a half-sister to the high-class Elgin. Mystique Heights is another winner at 3/2, while Dodging Bullets can be found further back on the damline at 5/2. Moreover, the yard is currently enjoying a grand spell of form, with all but one of their eleven most recent runners placing first or second, including a double on Saturday’s card. Eclairant Le Monde’s profile ticks practically every box and the yard also has a good record when it comes to wind operations performed on their inmates. Whether she is willing to put herself into a driving finish remains to be seen, but she would still be entitled to every respect here. Strong prospects 1. The Churchill Lad 2. Eclairant Le Monde Feasible/ Moderate prospects 3. Octopus 4. Barneys Gift 5. Golden Ticket
  6. Tomorrow's race probably won't be competitive, but it does feature the return of the Queen of the Summer... STRATFORD - 22nd August - Preview Stratford’s juvenile hurdles, the majority of which take place during the summer, are generally less competitive than the standard contest in the division with the average winner’s seasonal RPR of 113.13 being a near half-stone below par. Nevertheless, good juveniles have trod The Bard’s boards and this particular race is generally one of the better at the venue. Held every year between 2007 and 2015, before being resurrected for a two-division renewal last season, it has been taken by the likes of Wensleydale winner and Triumph fifth Leoncavallo in 2015, Prestbury winner and Finesse placed Simarian in 2008, while Architrave (winner in 2010) and Addosh (last year’s runner-up) would each land that decent juvenile contest at Market Rasen’s prelude meeting. This year’s renewal has attracted two previous course and distance winners and a Nigel Twiston-Davies newcomer; although one of those winners could make this contest look very uncompetitive. Though a sharp, left-handed circuit, dosage index figures from Stratford’s juvenile hurdles indicate that stamina is a useful asset at the venue as the mean winning DI of 1.20 is lower only at Cheltenham, Hexham and Chepstow. Jumping can be trickier than usual as the clear round rate of 95.36% is towards the lower quarter of British and Irish racecourses, and that figure drops to 93.47% for hurdling debutants. Experience is also valuable around Stratford as newcomers have an impact value of 0.58 since 2004/05. None of the five runner field are confirmed front-runners and the going was last reported to be Good, Good to Firm in places. The ground will be watered as necessary, although there is also a chance of light rain before racing. Mutara bg Sean Curran f8-0-3 (55) 62 j2-1-0 (-) 87 96 Muhaarar (Lucky Story){3-c}(0.78) 3/2 Ramonex 136 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (120), Catterick 2018 Making his debut at Kempton in February, Mutara finished no better than midfield on his first three outings. However, in five flat outings since his switch to handicaps in early April, he has yet to finish outside of the first four. It should be noted that these performances came off mark decreasing from 55 and that the winners’ enclosure has thus far eluded him; but by the same token, he has been a consistent animal. He was doing his best work towards the finish when third over eleven furlongs at Windsor in early May and returning to the turf after a Wolverhampton fourth, would twice find only one too good. At Leicester, he was no match for a horse who recently completed a four-timer, and at Chepstow last month, was bested by another subsequent winner. Mutara did little wrong on either occasion and has little to answer for in terms of attitude. Prior to this campaign, Muhaarar had one winner from seven juveniles and the jumpers that appear on the damline prior to Ramonex at 3/2 have been poor. Sean Curran had winners in the division; albeit at a winner to runner rate of 9.09%. None had scored first time out, which afforded lowered expectations for Mutara on his hurdling debut at this track on the tenth of July. Starting at 15/2, having been as short as 9/2 om the ring, Mutara was keen early on, and his being badly balked at the first put paid to his confidence as he was big and ungainly over the remaining obstacles. Never out of the rear, or threatening to get involved in the contest, Mutara was eased on the run-in; finishing over fourteen lengths behind Mucuna. There was ample scope for Mutara to leave that debut performance well behind, and eighteen days later back at Stratford, he found an opportunity which was enhanced by the market leaders disappointing. Donning first time cheekpieces, Mutara’s leap at the first was big, slow and untidy, but though not a model of fluency, his subsequent untidiness was relatively minor and not to the detriment to his performance. He settled quite well and tracked the leader before taking the lead at the hill on the second circuit. While he was being driven all along the final bend, he did not concede the lead and though steep at the last, he got away from the flight quickly enough and forged ahead on the run in to win by a length and a quarter. The form has since been advertised by the second and fourth filling the first two places at Fontwell last week, although it should be noted that it was a poor contest where none of the principles jumped well. Nevertheless, it was an improvement on his debut effort in terms of fluency and there was little to fault in his attitude. Mutara can continue to progress, but he is meeting Mucuna on a pound worse terms than their first encounter and the former will need the latter to underperform placings are to be reversed. Mucuna bf Milton Harris f8-1-0 (49) 55 j5-4-1 (120) 93 111 Guiliani (Gold Away){14-b}(0.89) 2/1 Capellini 98 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (93), Plumpton 2013 Prior to his forced sabbatical, Milton Harris was no slouch when it came to juvenile hurdlers; saddling Modul to win the Grade 2 Summit and Finesse Hurdles in 2003/04 and subsequently guiding Gulf Punch (rated 45 and claimed for £5000), Pseudonym (also claimed for £5000), Rosie’s Glory (rated 60) and Moonfleet (rated 57) to the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, since his glorious return to the shores of Hoofiana, Harris has proven himself in no uncertain terms with an excellent winner to runner record of ten from twenty capped by last season’s hugely admirable Knight Salute. He started the current season as he ended the last by winning a juvenile hurdle at Aintree with the 49 rated Mucuna. During her first five outings, commencing last October, her best effort was a midfield finish in a mile Handicap at Kempton off 46. However, the switch to turf and a step up to ten furlongs saw her get off the mark at Salisbury back in April. She was unable to follow up in a couple of Bath handicaps off 50 during May, finishing fourth on both occasions, but it was apparent that the track did not see her to best effect. The switch to hurdling came at Aintree in the second juvenile of the season and while she was backed from 20/1 into 4/1 second favourite, this was not a clandestine move as there was plenty of evidence for a good showing in a weak race. Although her rating is a low one, Milton Harris, since his return, has trained Romeo’s Bond (55) to win, and Global Agreement (56) to place first time. Mucuna’s pedigree was also feasibly conducive as Guiliani (another first-season sire) is a nephew of Getaway and the damline contains winners Capellini (2/1), listed class handicapper Beringneyev (3/1), Mahogany Blaze (4/3) and Petit Mouchoir (5/5). Held up last of four, in a race ran at a galop comparable to the handicap on the card, Mucuna was novicey over the first three flights as she was steady and awkward over one and two and jumped left while leaving her hind legs in the third. Nevertheless, she was more fluent thereafter and though behind her two remaining rivals when turning for home, was close up and ultimately the last to come off the bridle. Despite being squeezed out at the final flight, she took the lead in a matter of strides and with the rail to help, ran out a decisive and enthusiastic three-length winner. All told, she did not have to improve on her flat form to land the spoils, but her willingness and proven hurdling ability did not go unnoticed. Mucuna returned to the track a week later at Market Rasen and, though very well supported ahead of her Aintree bow, the Market Rasen market was rather lukewarm on her chances as she drifted from a morning 6/4 to 11/4 at the off. Finding herself unsuited by how the race unfolded, and showing a tendency to jump across her hurdles, she ultimately disappointed with her four-and-a-half-length second. Mucuna returned to winning ways next time at Newton Abbot and while the habit of jumping across her hurdles was actually more pronounce, she often went markedly to her left which may indicate that she simply likes jumping toward the inner. The Newton Abbot contest was essentially a match between herself and Free Chakarte. Though the longer priced of the pair during the day’s exchanges, they were almost level at the off with Mucuna going off a fraction longer at 6/5. Still racing keenly on her third jumps outing in as many weeks, she was soon tracking the leader having initially raced third of four. Her hurdling was not wholly fluent as along with going to her left, she skewed at the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fifth, big at the sixth and slow away from the last two. Despite these errors however, she was travelling best once the race was between the two principals within the microcosm of a Newton Abbot battle, Mucuna’s stamina edge (and possibly her rider’s allowance) told over her rival’s speed. Given how the race developed, it is to her credit that she was able to earn the victory and while it probably amounts to little, the race was the strongest in the division this term from a time perspective – at least up to the point of her Stratford outing on the tenth of July. Under a double penalty, she drifted from a morning 7/4 to start 5/2 favourite, but the price underestimated her prospects. Racing fairly keenly just behind the leaders, she was quite badly baulked at the first and third, but while fairly tight at the fifth and sixth, she lost very little momentum in the air. Mucuna was momentarily outpaced on the turn for home, but found a turn of foot which took her to the front approaching the last and although it could have been jumped cleaner, she was ridden out to ensure a decisive six-length victory. It was not the strongest summer juvenile of all time, but the form could hardly have worked out better in the context of this season with the second, third and fifth all winning next time out. Mucuna was last seen at Newton Abbot five weeks ago where she posted her most impressive effort to date. Though reopposing Free Chakarte on worse terms than their previous narrow encounter, and meeting what would have been an easy course and distance winner but for a late fall, Mucuna was backed from a morning 9/4 to start the 11/8 clear favourite. Racing enthusiastically behind her two market rivals, she went to her left at the second but was otherwise sound. Turning for home, as her rivals were hard at work, Mucuna was firmly on the bridle and she turned into the straight with a healthy advantage. While she dived at the penultimate hurdle and gave the last plenty of respect, her lead extended to twenty-two lengths at the line without any prompt from Bradley Harris. The runner-up ran below par next time, but based on her previous form, the ease with which she was beaten and the race’s sectionals, it would not be controversial to describe Mucuna’s performance as the best seen in the division to date. Unless there is a tactical catastrophe or any of her rivals improve significantly on their previous form, defeat for Mucuna should be able to put her superiority to good use in a contest where everything ought to suit. Flintstone chg Nigel Twiston-Davies f9-0-5 (63) 71 Starspangledbanner (First Samurai){19-e}(1.00) No jumps relatives A nine race maiden on the flat, Flintstone is set to be the first juvenile of the campaign for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The master of Grange Hill Farm does have a solid record in the division. He has handled the likes of Bristol de Mai, Torpillo and Mahogany Blaze, and his winner-to-runner rate of 31.82% is the strongest in the field. Twiston-Davies also fares well with his flat recruits, six of his twenty-seven won as juveniles, although only one managed to score first time. Ten seasons ago, the yard had a similar type in Golden Jubilee; Hannon trained mid-sixties performer with an American damline completely bereft of jumpers, carrying the same colours. Golden Jubilee got no further than the first in a Bangor juvenile before finishing well beaten at Warwick – although after a prolonged return to the flat, he did eventually manage to win a Sedgefield handicap off 92. The similarities diverge when it comes to their sires as while Golden Jubilee was Zavata’s one and only juvenile, Starspangledbanner has had eight to date with two finding the winners’ enclosure. Though Flintstone has not managed to win as of yet, he has generally been a fair and consistent sort. His two-year-old career, starting in May, consisted of three runs in as many months; all of which came at Newbury, none of which saw him get closer than twelve lengths to the winner. Following a break of nearly nine months, he returned in a mile handicap at Kempton where he finished a two length second off 64, looking one paced in the closing stages. Over the same trip at Chelmsford, he had to be rousted along for much of the contest before keeping on for a seven length third. The step up to ten furlongs only saw him finish sixth at Goodwood, but the form has worked out quite well for the level. Afterwards, he was given a gelding operation and a two month break and while he could only manage an eight length third at Leicester, the application of blinkers saw him turn in a career best performance at Kempton in early July. Racing over a mile off a mark of 62, he turned for home with all of the field to pass, but was vying for the lead inside the final hundred yards before going down by half a length. The form was boosted by the winner following up in two of his next three starts, but Flintstone did give the impression that he was not entirely committed to the battle. Eight days later, he returned to ten furlongs, racing off the same mark, for a Chepstow handicap in which he was the second favourite of four. Disputing the lead, he appeared to be travelling best in front at the distance but was unable to fend off a couple of rivals and would merely plug on for two and a quarter length third. The runner-up went one better next time, and there was slightly less of a quibble about Flintstone’s resolve. However, on account of his Kempton run, he is now on a BHA mark of 63 which is not obviously generous. Flintstone’s credentials are not without positives as his flat form is the strongest in the line-up, his sire has done respectably with his small legion in the sphere, and while the yard’s first-time record with flat recruits could be better, Twiston-Davies is four from nine with summer juveniles (although three of those wins belong to Goodbye Dancer in 2014). However, despite his fast finish at Kempton, that was in a strongly run contest so stamina is not assured at this point. Moreover, while he has been more or less consistent on the flat, his lesser efforts came on good-to-firm. Flintstone is not a hopeless recruit to the sphere, but there are enough caveats to prevent him from being a serious threat to an in-form Mucuna at the first time of asking. Ickytoo bf Jonathan Portman f6-0-0 (45) 48 Heeraat (Mark Of Esteem){1-g}(0.33) 0.5 Size Matters 78 4th 2m½f Novices’ Hurdle, Market Rasen 2019 Over the course of three outings either side of Christmas, Ickytoo has only once finished within twelve lengths of the winner. This instance came on her handicap debut two runs ago at Lingfield over a mile. Starting at 22/1 and racing off 46, Ickytoo was held up in the rear before making headway down the hill. Racing widest of all cost her a few places, but she managed to pass three beaten horses inside the final furlong to finish a four-length fifth of ten. However, she was unable to build on this promise over an additional two furlongs last week at Chelmsford, seldom threatening to get any closer than midfield. Switched to hurdling, she represents a yard with a 3.53% strike rate in the sphere and while Jonathan Portman saddled Minder to twice finish second at Stratford in the summer of 2009, he is winless from ten at the venue. Heeraat recently had his first winning juvenile in Rolypolymoly, and Mark Of Esteem has a 25.58% winner-to-runner rate as a damsire. However, Heeraat’s other five juveniles have failed to make the frame, and until reaching Master Finch and Ewar Chieftain (both 5/3), Ickytoo’s relatives on the damline have fared poorly over hurdles. Intriguing Lady bf Nigel Hawke f12-0-3 (50) 66 j3-0-2 (81) 61 69 Fascinating Rock (Invincible Spirit){9-e}(1.13) 2/1 Arthurian 87 1st 2m½f Juvenile Selling Hurdle, Stratford 2008 With twelve flat outings and three jumps starts to her name, Intriguing Lady is the most experienced runner set to face the starter. She was formerly trained by Mark Johnston who, since 2005, has been the most prolific supplier of juvenile hurdles with 212 former inmates of Kingsley House taking up the vocation. For context, Mick Channon is next on the list with just three others reaching triple digits. Of those 212, fifty were winners, giving a healthy rate of 23.58%, although less than a third would improve on what they had shown for Johnston. The latter factor would be a matter of concern for Intriguing Lady whose early promise was fleeting and has been supplanted by disappointment. Her debut came at Ayr last August where, sporting a hood, she finished second of four behind a fair and experienced rival and ahead of a pair that have subsequently achieved little. Running green and down the field on her next two starts, she posted her career best on her handicap debut in a seven-furlong Newcastle nursery in October off 65. She was arguably unlucky when sixth in a Chelmsford claimer on her seventh and final start as a two-year-old, but on her first four starts of 2022, finished last in a handicap, last in a claimer, third in a seller won by a 54 rated animal, then eighth of nine in a Southwell handicap. Intriguing Lady was last seen finishing midfield in a Wolverhampton handicap where, sporting her fourth form of headgear, refused to settle before weakening late on. After this final outing, Intriguing Lady went to the Tattersalls Ascot March Sale where she commanded just £2,000. Such an appraisal is not inherently damning to a young hurdler’s prospects, however, as five of the thirty-four juveniles to have left Mark Johnston’s at public auction for less than £5,000 would be winners. Her new handler, Nigel Hawke, has a respectable record in the sphere with a 19.70% winner to runner rate that increases to 25.71% with flat sourced horses. The lion’s share of this success come from those from Jim Bolger’s with seven of the ten such horses winning. Indeed, the winner-to-runner rate for those not trained by Jim Bolger drops to 8%. Fascinating Rock’s record is below average by general standards with his sole winner from eight being the Joseph O’Brien trained Faron, and his clear round rate of 81.82% being low by any measure. Intriguing Lady’s uncle did win a juvenile hurdle, albeit a weak Stratford seller, and apart from minor winner Manjaam at 3/2, jumping prowess on the damline is negligible before reaching Mengli Khan at 4/2. Drifting from 9/1 to 14/1 at Hexham, all concerns manifested in the contest itself as she raced keenly, made errors at most flights before weakening tamely on leaving the back and finishing well beaten. Next time at Newton Abbot, Intriguing Lady was sent off the 20/1 outsider of the field but there was improvement from her Hexham showing. Held up in the rear, she settled much better and her jumping also saw significant improvement with her skewing over the second being the only error of note. Nevertheless, she was still treading water on the turn for home and but for her remaining rivals pulling themselves up after the penultimate flight mele, she may have finished last. In fairness, she was carried widest of all by the loose horse and though she had no chance with the winner and less chance with the would-be winner, she began to look one that could work with a reasonable mark. This fanciful notion was rather dampened on her return to Newton Abbot on the first of July as her 10/1 odds were made to look miniscule by Mucuna to the tune of fifty-three lengths. Never leaving the rear, her jumping was a mixed bag before a tired and untidy jump three out put an end to her futile pursuit of the leaders; although she did win the battle for third by a length. Intriguing Lady was subsequently given a mark of 81 which might be helpful in the long-run, but would be of no use to her here. tl;dr Mutara – Honest maiden on the flat at a modest level and hurdles debut was forgivable due to early interference. Returned to Stratford with a victory and though form is nothing special, a winner has come out of the race. Likeable sort and entitled to further improvement but has a lot to find with Mucuna. Mucuna – Won a low grade handicap but has been a revelation over hurdles. Has won four from five during the summer and is comfortably the best seen in the division to date. Holds very strong chance on paper and can only be undone by extreme tactics, massive underperformance or unexpected improvement from rivals. Flintstone – Maiden on flat but strongest form from that sphere. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ first juvenile of the season. Yard does well overall but flat recruits improve with experience. Potentials on breeding but may prefer softer ground and faces stiff task first time. Ickytoo – One run from six on the flat was not abysmal but still way short of what is required here. Sire and trainer are capable of getting winners but not habitually so and damline offers little encouragement. Intriguing Lady – Snippets of form for Mark Johnston but sold cheaply to trainer who does better with different type. Modicum of promise over hurdles but nowhere near enough to suggest she can make an impact here. Outstanding prospects 1. Mucuna Reasonable prospects . Feasible prospects 2. Mutara 3. Flintstone Moderate prospects . Negligible prospects 4. Intriguing Lady 5. Ickytoo
  7. From the sublime to whatever this race is... Following a break of eighteen days, the juvenile hurdling division resumes at Fontwell for its first contest of the new campaign. While the West Sussex venue has been graced over the years by quality juveniles such as Goshen, Blazing Bailey and Nassalam, the nicest thing to be said of the immediate batch is that they are all probably lovely and well-loved horses. Those with hurdling experience bring form from moderate races, and the two newcomers are winless in fourteen outings with neither rated above 53. Though a sound representation of the adage “there’s a race for every horse”, said adage signifies that the race should be trappy if nothing else. Juvenile hurdles at Fontwell are typically contested over eighteen furlongs so the stamina demands will be higher than average, although not by any massive degree according to dosage indexes. Notwithstanding, with the clear round rate of 95.18% and completion rate of 83.73% being among the lowest in the country, the ability to jump and stay is still a useful attribute. Graffiti bg Gary Brown f8-0-0 (60) 70 j1-0-1 (-) 86 95 Sixties Icon (Excellent Art){A34}(0.82) 1/1 Banksy’s Art 100 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen 2018 The most accomplished hurdler on account of his Stratford second, Graffiti started off over a mile at Goodwood last September for Mick Channon. He then ran twice at Pontefract in the Autumn, finishing no nearer than eight lengths behind the winner in a pair of novice stakes. Following a winter break, he had a couple of spins on the all-weather in handicap company and while he finished last on each occasion, was at least able to finish closer. His initial mark of 71 was quite difficult to justify, and a return to the turf, drop to 67 and switch to Gary Brown’s failed to trigger a change in fortunes as he was tailed off at Pontefract over ten furlongs before looking decidedly slow over a mile when beating just one home at Newbury in June. Graffiti did shape as though he can get the trip over jumps and his full-brother, Banksy’s Art, managed to place third in a juvenile hurdle. Former inmates of Mick Channon’s have a solid winner-to-runner rate of 24.16%, although this drops to 19.09% when removing those who went to Sheena West; Banksy’s Art amongst them. Gary Brown himself had not enjoyed a winning juvenile from the nine he saddled since Hilali won Stratford in 2012, and the yard’s improvement rate of 16.67% is not encouraging. There was a distinct lack of confidence ahead of his Stratford bow, drifting to 25/1 from a morning show of 8s, and he hardly convinced in his temperament of jumping. Held up towards the rear, Graffiti took a keen hold as he hopped over his early hurdles, was tight and awkward at the fifth and missed the sixth. Though awkward again at the next, he did make headway over the hill and was on the leader’s quarters turning for home. From there, he looked a difficult ride under pressure and did not seem resolute on the run to the line, but while never looking to challenge the winner, he did finish five-and-a-half lengths clear of the remainder. The form looks to amount to little as the winner was a 55 rated flat horse who was well held on his debut, and the remainder were either poor or badly underperformed. Little enthusiasm can be garnered from the clock either with the winning time some seven seconds slower than that posted by a 104 handicapper on the card. Graffiti was given a spin on the flat five days ago in a twelve furlong Newbury handicap, but after again pulling in the rear found little when the race unfolded and was ultimately beaten twelve lengths. A recent spin is not particularly noteworthy for the trainer who is zero from twenty with runners returning within nine days. Graffiti’s performance at Stratford does entitle him to respect in this company by sheer virtue of it being the best on offer, and he is entitled to improve on that showing. Nevertheless, his overall profile in terms of ability, attitude and aptitude would not make him a safe conveyance. Mr Freedom bg Sheena West f7-0-0 (53) 57 Sixties Icon (Sayif){9-c}(0.52) 4/1 Zero 128 1st 2m3½f Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (112), Ascot 2007 As mentioned in Graffiti’s profile, juveniles that leave Mick Channon for Sheena West have a better record than those who go elsewhere and the same can be said for where Sheena West sources her juveniles. Her record for those from outside this connection reads as one winner from fourteen whereas those moving from West Ilsley to Falmer have an impressive winner-to-runner rate of 38.46%. Seven of these winners were rated 53 or less, which is encouraging for the latest to make that journey. Mr Freedom cost just £800 as a yearling, and after being beaten eleven lengths at Sandown on his debut last June, was beaten nineteen and fifteen lengths at Kempton and Salisbury before being put away for the winter. In May came his return in a Bath mile handicap off 59 for which he attracted outside support; starting at 10/1 having opened at twice the price in the morning. Pulling hard in the early stages, he struggled for room in the final couple of furlongs and though he only managed an eighth place finish, he was not given a vigorous ride in posting a new career best. He failed to build on that degree of promise in a similar contest at Ripon next time and while traffic issues were something of a feature, he had no such excuses when making no show whatsoever at Windsor next time. Given a two month break, a change of scenery, and a step up to a mile-and-a-half, Mr Freedom ran a considerably better race when returning to Windsor at the start of the month. Settling better on the prominent side of midfield, he was unable to accelerate with the principle as the race developed, but still ran on for a three-and-a-quarter length fourth of ten. Mr Freedom’s official mark is only the fifth highest in this field, but when taking latest efforts in isolation, his performance is within three pounds of the best on offer. His breeding offers mixed messages as the immediate damline is bereft of jumps experience until the winning novice handicapper Zero appears at 4/1, although the fourth dam also has another winner in Kristiansand and her next level of descendants includes the useful sorts London Prize and Categorical. The sire, Sixties Icon, has a fair winner-runner rate of 18.75%, but his overall record is the strongest in this field and his strike-rate before October is a healthy 33.33% Moreover, Sheena West has had three winning juveniles at Fontwell, including the 46 rated Feb Thirtyfirst, the 53 rated Hi Note, and the 52 rated Whipperway who scored on his hurdling debut. It is difficult to get excited by any 53 rated hurdling newcomer and the yard’s juveniles do generally improve for a run. Nevertheless, in this not particularly exciting race, Mr Freedom’s connections, pedigree and recent flat form affords him prospects that would normally be drowned out by more substantial profiles. Rogue Mission grg Milton Harris f5-1-1 (71) 70 j1-0-0 (-) 64 70 El Kabeir (Spinning World){2-d}(4.33) 2/1 Primus Inter Pares 107 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (101), Catterick 2008 At the 2021 Tattersalls July Sale, Milton Harris walked away with four juvenile hurdlers for sums between fourteen and twenty thousand guineas. Three of these, Aliomaana, Genuflex and Knight Salute, would all find the winners’ enclosure with the latter named – incidentally the least expensive of the bunch – capping off a fantastic campaign with success in the Grade One Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree. Returning to the well at this year’s sale, Mr Harris brought along a much thicker wallet, and left with five potential juveniles; three costing over fifty-five thousand guineas. The cheapest of the quintet this time around was Rogue Mission, who commanded a comparatively modest sum of fifteen thousand guineas. Gelded before his racecourse debut in early January, Rogue Mission’s five flat outings have all come at Lingfield, the first four under the care of Tom Clover. A steady 25/1 ahead of a ten furlong novice stakes, Rogue Mission dove out of stalls, took keen hold in rear and went nowhere under pressure; finishing a ten length seventh of eight. He reappeared three weeks later in an identical contest where he attracted outside support in the ring, shortening four points to 12/1 at the off. He started better on this occasion, although he did have another horse to bounce off when leaving the stalls. Still keen and held up towards the rear, he moved into a prominent position turning for home and although he took a while to gather himself under pressure, Rogue Mission was able to narrowly get the best of an honest battle inside the final half-furlong with the pair finishing a couple of lengths clear. The runner-up sadly lost his life next time out, although the third and fourth have each given the form a bit of substance in subsequent outings. Four weeks later, Rogue Mission was outclassed in a match race against a horse who had finished a length second to a subsequent listed winner before he made his handicap debut over ten furlongs back in May. Returning after a ten-week break off a mark of 71, Rogue Mission was friendless in the market and ran accordingly. Ridden from the stalls, he made a short lived effort while going wide on the home turn, but ultimately finished a near nine length seventh of eight. Tom Clover has previously supplied only one juvenile hurdler in the form of Appreciate; who incidentally also joined Milton Harris. Based on his four runs in the division, Appreciate looked harshly treated by his mark of 90, although he has gone on to land a four-timer this Summer. Rogue Mission’s damline largely consists of milers and three (at 3/2) who went over jumps fared poorly. Nevertheless, half-brother Rare Groove won over two miles on the flat and uncle Primus Inter Pares was a winning handicap chaser over the intermediate trip. These strands of stamina influence will have to offset the lack of same from first-crop stallion El Kabeir. From the Scat Daddy/Johannesburg line (which has enjoyed little success in the sphere), El Kabir was a graded – rather than top class – miler in America, and while his height of 16.1hh is adequate, his DI of 5.86 is a concern. Moreover, while Rogue Mission has form over ten furlongs, none of his races have been strongly run affairs. Uncharacteristically these days for a Milton Harris juvenile, Rogue Mission was unfancied ahead of his hurdles debut at Stratford, as he went from an opening show of 11/4 in the morning to 13/2 at the off. In the event, he settled well enough but tight jumps at the first couple of flights saw him expend energy getting away and slow, untidy jumps at the fifth and sixth had him struggling along the back. His pecking on landing at the penultimate flight saw that he was tailed off before the home turn from which he completed in his own time. Rogue Mission returned to Lingfield for a racing league contest where he started at 125/1 and never got involved; finishing thirteen lengths behind his much better fancied stablemate Postmark. The best of his flat form sets the standard here, but his latest efforts leave plenty to be desired. While entitled to improve in the long run, it is worth noting that each of the yard’s juveniles to have won on their second outings placed either first or second on their debuts. Boudica Warrior bf Amy Murphy f8-0-1 (59) 67 j1-0-1 (-) 69 74 War Command (Noverre){4-m}(2.67) 2/1 Rayhani 126 1st 2m Maiden Hurdle, Limerick 2010 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/boudica-warrior Beaten eighth of eleven on her racecourse debut at Chelmsford in December, Boudica Warrior was denied by just a length and a quarter the following month in a twelve furlong Wolverhampton maiden. Her second to the useful but quirky Charles St preceded her selling for £8,500 at the ThoroughBid January all-weather sale, although she would stay with Alice Haynes for her next three starts; the latter two seeing her beaten four lengths in handicaps off 62 and 60. From there, Boudica Warrior switched to Amy Murphy’s yard and her next three outings came in French claimers. At Vichy in May, she cut out most of the running over 2000m before being headed a furlong out and dropping to fourth. In early June, she tracked the leader at Saint-Cloud over 2800m before fading rapidly at the distance and three weeks later, on soft ground over a quarter mile shorter at Salon, again made most before struggling from the home turn. She was given a valeur of 27.0 which equates to the BHA mark of 59 brought to her hurdling debut at Uttoxeter nearly a month ago. On breeding, her hurdling credentials were fair-to-middling as sire War Command has had two winning juveniles from thirteen; albeit with a modest improvement rate of 22.22%, and while uncle Rayhani won a Limerick maiden hurdle, his two half-brothers achieved little in ten jumps outings between them. Amy Murphy does have five wins to her name in the sphere, although four of these came during the post-lockdown summer of 2020 where her yard was clearly ahead of the game. Boudica Warrior started the 22/1 outsider of five at Uttoxeter and her early jumping, skewed and trailed her legs through the first, skewing to the right at the third and hopping over the fourth, saw her pass the stands at the tail of the field. Though going left at the fifth, she was better at the next and turned into the straight looking a threat. However, the threat was short lived as she was awkward at three out and a steep and rather tired leap at the penultimate flight gave the initiative to the leading pair. A steady and laboured jump at the last betrayed her fatigue and she eventually trailed in a seventeen length third of four finishers. The form does not amount to much as while the winner was a fair second on his debut, his task was made easier by Free Chakarte’s underperformance and the time suggests nothing beyond the ordinary. Improvement can be expected but Boudica Warrior’s profile is not outstanding and her stamina is becoming increasingly dubious. Cailin Saoirse bf Alexandra Dunn f7-0-1 (48) 60 Bated Breath (Bahamian Bounty){14-a}(3.00) 3/2 Future Gold 75 5th 2m 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Cork 2020 Three efforts in Irish two-year-old maidens for Philip Byrne, where she finished no better than eighth or any closer than six lengths to the winner, earned Cailin Saoirse a stiff looking mark of 59. Returning in April at Navan, she was beaten by over ten lengths and the drop to 55 did see her finish in the first half of the field, although still beaten over twelve lengths. A further drop to 50 enabled her to finish a length-and-a-half fourth at Fairyhouse after which she joined Alexandra Dunn. Her UK debut came in a Ffos Lass 0-50 Classified Stakes last month over the longest trip she had encountered to date; an extended seven furlongs. There was enough support to send her off the 3/1 favourite of fourteen but she was unable to justify the gamble as while she travelled well and was in a decent position, she was too slow to challenge, ultimately finishing a three length third. Cailin Saoirse shaped as though a little further would suit and her dam did win over twelve furlongs, but stamina for hurdling is still far from assured. Moreover, there is no evidence of jumping ability on the damline and her new trainer has had just one winning juvenile from twenty-two. Lanfear bf Seamus Mullins f4-0-0 (46) 45 j1-0-0 (-) 11 Wings Of Eagles (Halling){9-f}(1.25) 2/1 Song Light 138 3rd Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (G3,130), Cheltenham 2016 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/lanfear There are elements within Lanfear’s profile which make her an interesting recruit to the division, although there are others which dispel enthusiasm. Her first trainer, Stéphane Wattel, was responsible for Burning Victory, although his other six exported juveniles failed to win. Wings Of Eagles has already had a winning hurdler in France and Lanfear herself is a niece of two capable hurdlers in Song Light and Jarlath. Seamus Mullins has had seven winning juveniles, although the winner-runner rate of 11.67% is below average. However, the biggest negative on Lanfear’s profile is everything she has done on the racecourse to date. Beaten twenty-nine and twenty-one lengths in a couple of appearances at Deauville last December, Lanfear would finish an eight length eighth on her UK debut at Kempton in March before making her opening mark of 48 look stiff to the tune of eleven lengths at Wolverhampton. Her starting price of 28/1 ahead of her jumps bow at Newton Abbot last month looked skinny beforehand, and while in fairness to her, she got over the first four flights alright, her hurdling deteriorated on the second circuit and she finished a tired ninety-five lengths behind the winner. Never No Trouble bf Donald McCain f9-0-3 (56) 62 j1-0-0 (-) 73 Time Test (New Approach){2-f}(0.82) 2/2 Perceus 115 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2015 The most experienced of these on the flat, Never No Trouble comes into this contest with nine runs from that sphere to her name. Five came as a two-year-old with the highlight being a half-length second in a Thirsk novice stakes over a mile in late August. This effort resulted in a mark of 67 which tumbled over her subsequent outings, the latest coming six weeks ago in a ten-furlong selling handicap at Ripon off 56. Attracting market interest for the first time in her career, she was sent off the 11/8 favourite having opened at 5/2 in the morning. Quick out of the traps, she was restrained to track the leader after a furlong before travelling smoothly into contention three furlongs from home. However, she did not find as much as she promised, ultimately splitting two older rivals of questionable professionalism. Nevertheless, this was just about Never No Trouble’s best performance since her Thirsk second and it was enough to see move from Adrian Nicholls’ to Donald McCain’s for £6,000. The two former Nicholls’ inmates to run in the sphere achieved very little in six outings between them, although five of the nine that McCain has bought out of a race have been winners. Most scored at a modest level although Collingham, who came out of a French claimer, was a decent horse last term. Donald McCain also has a strong overall record in the sphere with a healthy winner-to-runner rate of 30.09% and the yard has been in very decent form as of late. However, he is not as successful with those lowly rated on the flat with none of the nineteen rated 60 or lower scoring first time out, and just one from fifteen scoring on their second outing. Never No Trouble is one of three representing a first-crop sire; namely Dubawi’s son, Time Test. Winner of the York, Joel and Manhattan Stakes, Time Test is not the tallest and was untried over further than ten furlongs, but he is a nephew with the modest winning handicapper, Codeshare, with his third dam producing fair winners in Hue and Political Intrigue. From the family of Nashwan, Never No Trouble is herself a cousin of two winning jumpers in Perceus and Noble Behest, with the useful Seventh Sign appearing at 3/2. Stamina should not be an issue for Never No Trouble, and her feasible pedigree and capable handler afforded her some respect on her hurdling debut at Stratford three weeks ago. So much so that she was backed into 7/4 favouritism at the off having started the day at 4/1. However, having initially attempted to track the leaders, she skewed badly over the first three flights and passed the stands in midfield. Never No Trouble was slightly better at the next two and got to within a couple of lengths of the leaders before close jumps at the sixth and seventh saw her scrubbed along going over the hill. Though not quite detached, she was a beaten horse turning for home and a steep jump at the last proved decisive in the battle for a half-dozen length third placed finish. Never No Trouble should have learned from that outing and her overall profile is still one of the better ones in this contest. That her trainer has had a winner and a second in three juveniles at this venue is also encouraging. However, her travelling companion appears to have a strong chance on the same card and similar to Milton Harris, most of McCain’s second-time-out winners did so having ran well on their first outings – largely better than what Never No Trouble showed at Stratford when taking quality of form into account. Strong prospects 1. Mr Freedom Reasonable prospects 2. Never No Trouble 3. Graffiti Feasible prospects 4. Rogue Mission Moderate prospects 5. Boudica Warrior Negligible prospects 6. Lanfear 7. Cailin Saoirse
  8. The first edition of my "Juvenile Prospects for 2022/23" is now in effect If you are on Twitter, you can bookmark it here;- https://twitter.com/HarchibaldS/status/1558501766873882627 But if you are not into that new fangled guff, here it is in full. Daddy Long Legs, Havaila, Kitesurfer, Losange Bleu (unlikely to be exported IMO), Jaitroplaclasse and Jourdefete will appear in the next update as will several others. If you have any other suggestions then let me know and I will try to include them. Thank you and enjoy Afadil bg Paul Nicholls f3-1-1 (37.5/82.5) 67 (Francis-Henri Graffard) Camelot (Invincible Spirit){11-g}(0.47) 2/1 Ashkazar 158 2nd Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (L,135), Cheltenham 2008 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/afadil Since 2004/05, Paul Nicholls has enjoyed success aplenty with juvenile hurdlers acquired from the flat in France. Twenty-four of the forty-one such imports were winners during their first campaigns including the likes of Zarkandar, Pearl Swan and Pierrot Lunaire. There were also a couple of expensive purchases from the Arqana Summer Sale in the €200,000 Ranjaan, and the €380,000 Zubayr. The latter named would run in the Paul Vogt colours, as will the latest recruit Afadil, who fetched €255,000 at this year’s edition. He was formerly trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, whose four previous exports failed to win as juveniles, but do include Farout (a useful hurdler who won shortly after the end of his first season) and Teddy Blue (second in the Adonis Hurdle). Afadil’s racecourse debut came in a newcomers race at Chantilly in May over a mile on good-to-soft ground for which he started the 2.7 favourite of nine. Slowly away and looking conspicuously raw, he was soon racing prominently on the outside and still travelling well when asked for his effort at the distance. His response was not immediate and the winner was gone before the penny dropped, but he kept on to hold the remainder by a neck. Nothing of substance has emerged from the race thus far and the time was not as good as that posted in the fillies’ edition – albeit one won by a subsequent Group Three winner. Afadil was next seen in early June for a 1800m maiden at Compiegne where started second favourite. However, while looking a real threat in the straight having again raced prominently, found little in the final two furlongs and folded tamely to finish a nine length sixth. Ten days later, his sights were lowered as he stepped up in trip for a 2200m Craon maiden on good ground where he was able to justify 3.8 favouritism. Racing keenly while tracking the leaders, he made his move turning into the short straight and though he took his time working through the gears, he got to the front inside the final furlong to win going away by a length. He was given a valeur of 37.5 (82.5) on the back of these performances and shapes very much as one who can only improve. Without being the highest rated French import from the flat, plenty with similar ratings have reached the top in the division. Nevertheless, along with his size, scope and ability, the real intrigue lies in Afadil’s pedigree (which includes Ashkalani at 3/1). Aga Khan breds have a strong record as hurdlers and this damline is no exception, with one uncle Ashkazar finishing second in the 2008 Fred Winter, another, Ashkoul, finishing third in the Swinton, and the 1993 Triumph Hurdle heroine Shawiya appearing at 4/2. Sire Camelot is also capable of producing good juveniles as per Sir Erec, Gardens Of Babylon, and multiple winners Too Friendly and Volkovka. Justifying any six figure price tag is a tall order in juvenile hurdling, particularly in what may well be a strong season. All the same, Afadil’s profile is one which ticks all the right boxes and it would be no surprise to see him recoup a fair chunk of the outlay. Aviles bg Gary Moore j1-0-0 ? 103 (David Cottin) Saint des Saints (Kamsin){9-h}(0.45) 2/1 Adjali 139 2nd Finale Juvenile Hurdle (G1), Chepstow 2018 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/aviles In the same deal brokered by Nicolas Bertran de Balanda, Aviles kept Bo Zenith company when leaving David Cottin for Gary Moore. Like his travelling companion, Aviles also has a likeable pedigree. A son of that magnificent stallion Saint des Saints (Monmiral, Le Rocher, Fusil Raffles and many others), Aviles is the son of a fairly useful juvenile in Ava; herself a full sister to the talented juvenile Adjali. The rest of the damline is not quite as fleshed out as Bo Zenith’s, with a claiming class cousin being the other nearby winner. Nevertheless, the fourth dam did produce the Prix Leon Olry-Roederer winner Atamane as well as Acamani who finished third in Samum’s German Derby before placing over hurdles. His sole racecourse outing came at Bordeaux in the Prix de Bacalan on the first of April. The race carried less than half the purse of Auteuil’s similar contests, although it was taken last season by the champion three-year-old Kyrov. Starting the 5/2 favourite of seven, Aviles was sent on to make the running but, as per his rider’s comments, seemed rather ill at ease around Bordeaux. He was steady over his early flights and while he was better over the next four, was joined when making a mistake three out and headed shortly afterwards. Slightly short of room on the home turn, he hopped and reached over two out before leaving his hind legs in the last before finishing just over five and a half lengths behind in fourth. Aviles was not given the sternest of rides once the writing was on the wall and is probably better than the bare performance. There should be more to come and an ordinary race ought to be within his scope, although whether he plays a part in the better contests remains to be seen for now. Blueking d’Oroux bg Paul Nicholls j3-1-1 (68.5) 119 130 (Arnaud Chaille-Chaille) Jeu St Eloi (Blue Bresil){14-b}(1.00) 1/0 Belle du Bresil 58.0 4th Prix Wild Monarch (L,3yHF), Auteuil 2015 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/blueking-doroux Ex-French hurdlers who join Paul Nicholls as juveniles have a terrific winner to runner rate of 62.5%, with the likes of Far West, Sanctuaire and Monmiral among the many who moved to Ditcheat before the Summer. Thus far, the one horse who matches this description this season is the thrice raced Blueking d’Oroux. Sire Jeu St Eloi, a six race maiden over jumps, is now onto his third crop of jumpers and while he has yet to produce any superstars, his winner to runner rate of 33.33% is respectable. Blueking d’Oroux’s dam finished fourth in the Prix Wild Monarch (a listed contest for unraced hurdlers), although the remaining distaff side of the pedigree is rather threadbare as the next winning jumper, classy juvenile Petite Parisienne, appears at 4/2. Blueking d’Oroux was initially under the care of Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé, whose exported juveniles six winners from ten, including Djakadam, Charli Parcs, Dicosimo and, Diego du Charmil; the only previous Chaillé-Chaillé juvenile to join Paul Nicholls – incidentally for the same owner. Blueking d’Oroux began his career at Fontainebleau in mid-March, starting the race at 9/1. Prominent in the early stages before tucking in behind the leaders, he jumped well enough in the main save for steadying slightly at a couple. He was briefly outpaced after two out, but after being ridden into the last, where he reached for the flight, he landed in the lead and was ridden out to win by three-and-a-half lengths. The subsequent form of those in behind has been much of a muchness although the seventh did win a claimer easily next time out and fourth placed Castellet eventually ran second in a listed race. Taking a step up in class for the Prix Champaubert, he was sent off at just under 5/1 while receiving three kilos from Losange Bleu, and four from Whymper. Settled midfield and in touch, he posted another respectable round of hurdling, only slightly steadying at a couple along the back. He was close up and travelling well turning into the straight, but as much as he was in contention during the battle to the line and managed to get the better of Whymper in the final strides, he never looked like landing the decisive blow on the winner. The final of Blueking d’Oroux’s French outings came in the Prix Go Ahead, the first listed race of the season for experienced colts/geldings, and a contest from which Paul Nicholls sourced Sam Winner (2nd in 2010), Keltus (6th in 2013), Qualando (3rd in 2014), and Pic d’Orhy (1st in 2018). Though he was the only runner in the field introduced in a contest worth less than €20,000 to the winner, Blueking d’Oroux started the 2.8/1 second favourite of six. Tracking the leaders off a steady tempo, his early jumping was sound with only minor blemishes up to getting in close to the last in the back. He was outpaced on the turn for home and dropped to last when landing steeply at two out. Like the remainder of the tightly packed field, he had yet to be asked any serious questions approaching the last. However, an awkward, reaching jump put him at a distinct disadvantage on the sprint to the line, and he probably did well to go into fourth, three and a half lengths clear of the last pair. The form of the race has worked out well with the first and second confirming their places at the top of the division in the Prix Aguado, and the fourth an easy winner next time at Clairefontaine. Being bred to make a juvenile and having twice already met with defeat, Blueking d’Oroux could not be readily described as unexposed or scopey. Nevertheless, he mixed it with established, quality performers and given how the Prix Go Ahead unraveled, he may yet prove better than his bare form. As with in France, Blueking d’Oroux will likely find a few ahead of him by the end of the season, but he would still be the type to make an impact during the Autumn and early Winter. Blood Destiny chg Willie Mullins j1-0-1 118 130 (Gabriel Leenders) No Risk At All (High Yield){19-b}(0.33) 3/2 Blood Cotil 154 2nd Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2013 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/blood-destiny Willie Mullins has already amassed a sizable squadron for the upcoming juvenile division, although Blood Destiny is the only gelding with hurdles experience at this juncture. Second to Bo Zenith in the Prix Grandak, Blood Destiny represented a Gabriel Leenders yard that has exported Teahupoo and Kotmask in recent seasons, as well as Haut En Couleurs, Instit and Dandy Mag who all ended up at Closutton. A son of No Risk At All (Gumball, Risk and Roll, Grivetana), one half-sibling, Tadoussac, failed to build on a debut second at Dax while another was pulled up on his sole jumps outing. Cousin Reel Blood landed a weak claimer at Hyeres, but the damline does pick up afterwards. Blood Cotil, one of the stronger juveniles of 2012/13, appears at 3/2 alongside listed winning novices Cap Soleil and Prince Picard, Summary (3/3) and Astadame (3/4) were useful three-year-old jumpers while talented youngsters We Have A Dream and Saint Sam appear at 4/4. Starting the Prix Grandak at 18/1, Blood Destiny was held up and made trifling errors throughout; somewhat hopping over the first two, steep over the third, slightly steady at the fourth, hopping over the fifth and getting close at the last in the back. He was still towards the rear turning in but after an untidy jump two out, was able to make headway approaching the last before running on without threatening the winner. While Bo Zenith looked a class ahead first time out, Blood Destiny shaped as though he should find improvement for the experience. Bo Zenith bg Gary Moore j1-1-0 123 133 (David Cottin) Zarak (Presenting){1-n}(0.75) 1/0 Boreale du Berlais 68.0 2nd Prix d’Iena (L), Auteuil 2014 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/bo-zenith The fourth foal of the undefeated Arc winner Zarkava, and the first to see the racecourse, Zarak’s lofty expectations on breeding were exacerbated by his being a son of Dubawi. While Zarak failed to match the accomplishments of his parents, he was still a talented and versatile racehorse in his own right; finishing second in the Prix du Jockey Club ahead of landing a ten furlong Group Three at Meydan and the Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud over a mile and a half. His stud career has gotten off to a healthy start, earning the mantle of Europe’s leading first crop sire by winners to runners. Accordingly, few of his first crop are bred for the jumps as they predominantly find themselves under the care of flat handlers. This is not to discount Zarak’s potential as a sire of jumpers, however. Although sons of Dubawi have a fairly modest record overall, Waldpark has begun to emerge as an exception and the credentials of Zarak are promising. Standing at a respectable 16h 1″, he had proven ability on soft ground over middle distances and, unlike many active sires, is related to several top class jumpers including Zarkandar (2/1) and Zarkali (3/1) as well as having Zaiyad (5/2) and Zanahiyr (5/4) showing further back on the damline. Zarak’s first winner over hurdles, Bo Zenith, is also bred in the purple, albeit of a more jumps oriented noble cloth. He is the first foal out of Boreale du Berlais, who closed a short career by twice finishing runner-up in a pair of listed three-year-old hurdles. Two of her half-sisters also had pattern form at three with Byzance du Berlais winning a listed handicap ahead of placing third in a Groupe I for four-year-olds, and Baronne du Berlais placing third in the listed Wild Monarch on her debut. Zarak’s granddam, Bonita du Berlais, won the listed Prix de Chambly at three and is a half-sister to that outstanding French juvenile, Bonito du Berlais, along with three other pattern class winners. The extended damline also includes Caid du Berlais, Mr Mole and Walk In The Park. Fetching €110,000 at Arqana last summer, Bo Zenith’s exalted pedigree saw him introduced in a debutants’ race with a an exalted history. The Prix Grandak has been the launchpad of domestic stars Saint des Saints, Bonito Du Berlais, Beaumec De Houelle, On The Go and Beaumec De Houelle, as well as talented exports in Frodon, Far West, We Have A Dream and Quel Destin. Last year’s edition saw David Cottin land a one-two with Porticello leading home Magistrato. He was singly represented this year by Bo Zenith who was sent off the 11/2 third favourite of eleven. Settling prominently, he led the pursuit of the runaway leader and was clear of the remainder turning into the straight. Shaken up after the penultimate flight, he moved smoothly into the lead before the last and was driven out to confirm his dominance by a comprehensive three and a half lengths. There was plenty to like about the way Bo Zenith went about things as he travelled comfortably throughout, responded well to pressure and posted a clean round of jumping with the only semblance of an error coming when he got in tight to the seventh. The winning time was some six seconds faster than the fillies’ equivalent of the contest, although it should be noted that the early pace was more substantial. Bo Zenith answered all that was posed to him in pleasing fashion and the form is taking a decent shape. With the runner-up joining Willie Mullins afterwards, only the third, fourth and fifth have been out since. Nevertheless, third placed David du Berlais won at Clairefontaine after the Prix Go Ahead and fourth placed Jolicouer du Gouet filled the same position in a solid Auteuil conditions event won by fifth placed Eden Bleu. Like last year’s winner Porticello, Bo Zenith has graduated David Cottin’s to join Gary Moore’s habitually strong juvenile squad and will run in the same colours. It is not difficult to envisage him keeping good company in the upcoming season. Cinsa bf Willie Mullins j1-0-0 106 114 (Jean Luc Pelletan) Tirwanako (Sholokhov){16-a}(1.22) 0.5 Dans Le Mil 57.0 2nd 3500m 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Cagnes-sur-Mer 2016 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/cinsa One of several ex-French fillies to join Willie Mullins, the pedigree of Cinsa is not something one would expect to find in an early season Auteuil debutant contest. Tirwanako has sired just one winning juvenile from ten in Britain and France in the shape of Aldopicgros; who collected his first win in a heavy ground handicap and his next two over intermediate distances. The dam was placed at four prior to producing a runner-up in a three-year-old contest at Cagnes-sur-Mer. She is also a sibling of minor winners Petrovski and Pantherus. Though far from an abhorrent pedigree, her starting at 105/1 for the Prix Geographie was understandable. Nevertheless, she was able to outrun her odds in finishing a twelve length fourth despite hopping over the fourth and ninth, and getting tight to the third and eighth. Racing quite keenly while tracking the leader, she was caught for toe on the home turn, but kept on at the one pace to finish within the bunch behind Lossiemouth. Cinsa was initially trained by Jean Luc Pelletan; whose twelve exports (from both codes) count amongst themselves eight winning juveniles including Blood Cotil, Chiaro, Pain au Chocolat and the aforementioned Aldopicgros. While perhaps not one for top honours even in her own yard, and probably more of a long term prospect, Cinsa has enough about her to be at least competitive in ordinary company. Gala Marceau bf Willie Mullins f4-0-2 (36.0/79.2) 74 j2-2-0 127 130 (Sylvain Dehez) Galiway (Kendargent){16-b}(0.67) 2/0 Avenue Marceau 70.0 3rd Prix Alain du Breil (G1,4yH), Auteuil 2009 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/gala-marceau Since 2004/05, Willie Mullins has taken care of forty juvenile hurdlers who started their hurdling careers in France. Half of these would win during their initial campaigns at Closutton; including Apple’s Jade, Footpad, Abbyssial and Bapaume, who did so at the highest level, and future Grade One chasers Djakadam, Twinlight and J’y Vole. Though the first leaf is still some way from turning, Mullins has taken charge of five ex-French three-year-old hurdlers but while three are still undefeated over jumps, it is Gala Marcaeu who looks just about the strongest and most forward at this juncture. Starting her career with Sylvain Dehez (whose sole exported juvenile was the talented but ill-fated Houx Gris), Gala Marceau first saw the racecourse last September in a 1400m Compiegne maiden. As per her starting price of 36/1, little was expected first time in a race won by the eventual French Guineas seventh and Prix de Sandringham third Sicilian Defence. Nevertheless, she emerged with more credit than her eighth place finish suggests as she was beaten just over two lengths despite conspicuous greenness and traffic issues. A month later at Nancy, she was beaten a similar margin when second to Godolphin’s Before Dawn prior to a lacklustre outing on the sand at Chantilly. Her two-year-old career concluded in November with her emphatically breaking her duck in a Le Croise-Laroche maiden on over 1800m on testing ground. The valeur of 36.0 alone would make her a fairly interesting recruit to hurdling as her pedigree affords healthy credentials for the sphere. Sire Galiway’s first two crops of juveniles saw five domestic winners from fifteen, and this is eclipsed by the accomplishments of last season’s top juvenile in Vauban. Gala Marceau’s damline is also thriving with capable young jumpers, starting with the dam herself, Alma Marceau, who landed Clairefontaine’s useful debutants contest, the Prix les Ouvres, Granddam, Avenue Marceau, won the listed Prix Sagan at three before finishing third in the Grade One Prix Alain du Breil. After placing third in the Grand Steeple-Chase d;Enghein, Avenue Marceau then produced Square Marceau (second in a 4yo Listed Chase), Villa Marceau (won a 3yo hurdle at Lyon) and Via Marceau (second in such a contest at Cagnes-sur-Mer). Gala Marceau’s introduction to hurdling came in the season’s first fillies’ juvenile; Compiegne’s Prix d’Essai des Pouliches. Not as prolific as the males’ counterpart when it comes to exports, Never Adapt and Madie du Ma being the most notable in recent years, A Mi Manera, Dallidas, Kada Rique and Caresse d’Estruval are some of the race’s stronger graduates. The yards of Nicolle, Macaire and Chaille-Chaille were represented in this year’s renewal, but the strength of Gala Marceau’s profile saw her start the race a respectable 6.2/1 shot. Held up towards the rear, Gala Marceau was travelling and jumping very comfortably from the outset, making smooth headway along the far side to leave the back just behind the leaders, and turn for home with a narrow lead. She was shaken up after the penultimate flight, and after reaching at the last – her only semblance of an error throughout, was driven to hold Macaire’s well-bred Panther du Berlais by a length and a quarter; the pair upwards of eighteen lengths clear of the remainder. The form immediately took a solid shape with the second and third winning valuable races next time, the fifth going on to be the leading early season filly by earnings, and seventh also scoring next at Nantes. Six weeks later, Gala Marceau took in the Listed Prix Girofla at Auteuil. The first pattern race of the season open to experienced juveniles, the Girofla was unsuccessfully contested by two future winning Mullins juveniles in Tarla and Adriana des Mottes, while Cambaceres heroine Chimere du Berlais finished third in the 2015 running, and the aforementioned Avenue Marceau landed the race in 2008. In her bid to emulate her grandmother, Gala Marceau would make the starting price of 3.9/1 third favourite of six look massive. Using near identical tactics from Compiegne, she was held up before making smooth progress along the back before entering the home turn with a narrow lead. By the time they reached the straight, she had effortlessly moved several lengths clear and after being ridden briefly after the last, would power home for a large looking eleven length success. Once again, save for trailing her hind legs a couple of times, Gala Marceau jumped extremely well and, through collateral form lines, posted the strongest performance from a filly during the Spring season. Given that Willie Mullins can invariably eke out further improvement from his French jumps recruits would make Gala Marceau a most intriguing recruit to the sphere. The only concern at this stage would be her unproven ability on good ground and there is insufficient evidence on breeding to dispel same. Nevertheless, an inability to race on top of the ground is equally unproven and there should be ample opportunity for Gala Marceau to make a real impact on the division this term. High Fibre bg Harry Fry f6-1-2 (89) 95 (Ralph Beckett) Vadamos (Sir Percy){14-a}(0.45) 2/1 Zanjabeel 142 1st Iroquois Stakes (G1), Percy Warner Park 2018 Last term, Vadamos, a 1.65 meter son of Monsun, made a promising start to his career as a jumps stallion with Black Sirius and Vadaly in France, and Calvados in Ireland. However, at the end of the season, his winner-to-runner rate was a less than inspiring 11.76%. With him now residing at Grange Stud, the hope is that his second crop can be one of redemption and many of those hope may hinge on the useful flat recruit, High Fibre. Formerly with Ralph Beckett, whose graduates’ winner rate of 28.57% is contrasted by an improvement rate of 24.44%, High Fibre’s official mark of 89 is in the 97th percentile of juvenile hurdlers. His career began in a six furlong Leicester maiden last June with a lacklustre effort. There was improvement in novice stakes at Newbury and Redcar and his form went to a new level following a near three month break and a switch to nurseries. Racing at York over a mile off 75, he was decidedly outpaced in the early stages, but finished strongest of them all despite traffic issues inside the final two furlongs to finish a near four length sixth of fourteen. High Fibre made good on this eyecatching performance at Newmarket in late October in a nine furlong nursery off the same mark. The 16/5 second favourite of nine, he travelled much more comfortably in midfield and after mounting his challenge at the distance, powered ahead of a strung out field to win by an emphatic five lengths. The subsequent form of the race has been much of a muchness but there was little denying his supremacy and he confirmed his ability on his seasonal reappearance back at Newmarket in April. Running off a revised mark of 85 in a ten-furlong handicap during the Craven meeting, he started the 4/1 joint second favourite. Racing prominently and travelling strongly, he pressed ahead at the distance and looked all over the winner at the furlong pole. However, he wandered under pressure and was ultimately caught by the narrowest margin in the final stride. The winner has not been out since but the third, two lengths behind, won next time at Newbury before finishing third in the King George V handicap at Royal Ascot. While he looked sure to progress had he stayed on the flat, that was his last race for Ralph Beckett. Three months after Newmarket, he was gelded and changed hands privately to join Harry Fry. The new trainer’s record in the sphere of three winners from sixteen juveniles is no better than fair, although he has handled useful sorts in Activial and Forever Blessed and High Fibre will be his highest rated flat recruit. In terms of breeding, the dam finished fourth in a Catterick fillies’ juvenile, but her half-brother Zanjabeel did win a three-year-old maiden hurdle at Punchestown before going on to land the Iroquois Stakes (a Grade One hurdle in America) and the fourth dam produced the decent hurdler Cotton Mill. Furthermore, Sir Percy is one of the finest sires of juveniles around and he is starting to get winners as a damsire. There are trifling concerns over the lack of motivation for keeping High Fibre on the flat a little longer but there are more positives than negatives overall and he would be another to keep an eye on over the coming months. Lossiemouth grf Willie Mullins j1-1-0 123 126 (Yannick Fouin) Great Pretender (Gentlewave){8-a}(0.44) 0.5 Springcroft 1st 3800m Mares’ Conditions Hurdle, Vitre 2019 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/lossiemouth Thirty-five minutes after the Prix Grandak field was sent on their way, the fillies equivilant took place. The Prix Geographie is less prolific than its counterpart for exporting juvenile hurdlers with only Adriana des Mottes (8th in 2013) and Missy Tata (5th in 2015) scoring abroad during their subsequent campaigns. Baie des Iles (6th in 2014) would eventually become a useful sort over fences while Chimere du Berlais, Carlita du Berlais and Ambroise did well domestically. This season’s renewal was taken by Lossiemouth, whose ten length margin is the widest seen in the contest since 2010. A daughter of Great Pretender (Ptit Zig, Box Office, Hacker des Places), Lossiemouth is out of a mare who won her sole hurdles outing in a minor Vitre event at the age of five. Her uncle, Lord Glitters, won the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, but real jumping form on the pedigree starts with the third dam who produced a fair handicapper in Glamour Glitters, and the dam of another useful type in Elenika. Prince Ali, winner of the 2017 Prix Alain du Briel, can be found back at 4/4. Sent off the near 6/1 third favourite, Lossiemouth led from the outset and travelled well throughout. Though ponderous approaching the second, her hurdling was also fluent until she veered left and reached at the last, leaving her hind legs in the flight and stumbling slightly. Lossiemouth was full of running with a few lengths in hand before her error, and after being regathered, was kept up to her work to run out by a cosy ten lengths. The winning time was some six seconds slower than the Grandak, although that race did have the benefit of a stronger tempo. As for the form, third placed South Lodge would finish second next time to Risk Belle (also joined Mullins), Cinsa in fourth is with Mullins, and fifth placed Rose Secrete was an eleven length second to Gala Marceau (with Mullins) in the Girofla. Lossiemouth herself has since joined Willie Mullins, becoming the fourth juvenile to move to Closutton having started with Yannick Fouin; after Koshari, Ria d’Etel and Gorgeous Sixty. Willie Mullins is no stranger to success with imported three-year-old jumping fillies, winning pattern class juveniles with Analifet, Gitane du Berlais and, most notably, Apple’s Jade. Lossiemouth still heads the primordial Triumph betting, although it is probably unknown where she stands in the pecking order of the undefeated Mullins imports, let alone those entering the sphere from other quarters. Nevertheless, she was still impressive in her sole outing to date, and her return will be something to look forward to in the Autumn. Mombasa grg Phillip Hobbs j2-2-0 (-) 121 123 (Francois Nicolle) Martaline (Coastal Path){4-i}(0.44) 1/0 Molly Has 59.0 1st 3400m 4yo Hurdle, Pompadour 2017 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/mombasa-225866 The Corinthian spirit which drives the exploits of David Maxwell is one which raises eyebrows in the modern game, although those with an appreciation of the sport’s heritage would probably be more inclined to wish him well. While he his time is more often spent around the hunter chase circuit, he is not a total stranger to the juvenile hurdling division. In February 2020 he guided Stratagem, a horse who accounted for Solo back in France, to victory in an uncompetitive Kelso juvenile. Stratagem made his debut in October whereas his latest recruit, Mombasa, started in May and in little over a fortnight, established himself as one of the most promising juveniles of the Spring season. He initially did his racing with his rider donning the dark blue and white of Genetique Obstacle; colours also carried by exported juveniles Magistrato, Hell Red, Nassalam and Tanganyika. The first three named all won on their British debuts whereas the latter was beaten on his sole outing at Haydock. Coincidentally, Tanganyika was the only one sold by public auction rather than through a private sale, fetching €40,000 at the same auction Mombasa pass a year later. Mombasa certainly has the genetics to make a strong juvenile hurdler, starting with his sire Martaline who produced We Have A Dream and Riviere d’Etel as exported talent as well as Chimere du Berlais, Beaumec de Houelle, Latino des Isles and, this seasons leading three-year-old, Losange Bleu. The damline is also rich in young jumping talent and though an exhaustive list would belabour the point, a sample of relatives includes her dam Molly Has (winner), granddam Monika (3rd Prix Sytaj), uncles Moises Has (1st Prix Renaud du Vivier), Mocalacato Has (3rd Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy), Mourinho has (1st Prix Paul’s Cray) auntie Momita Has (1st Prix Wild Monarch) and champion juvenile Theleme (5/5). Mombasa was introduced in a Class 2 conditions hurdle at La Teste de Buch on good to soft ground, where he started 4.9 second favourite behind another Francois Nicolle newcomer. Tracking the leader for the opening stages of the contest, he went into the lead after the eighth which he kept at least a share of into the straight. The race was taking a competitive shape on the run to the last, but Mombasa still travelled well within himself and after a neat jump at the last, went clear for a moment before a couple of rivals got to within a head at the line. His fast finishing stablemate probably would have won with a clearer passage, but the winning time compared favourably against the four-year-old hurdle on the card and the fifth placed finisher won a minor event next time out. Apart from being big and slow at the first and getting in close to the fourth, Mombasa jumped well for a debutant and was allowed to take his place in the listed Prix Stanley at Auteuil seventeen days later. The last pattern race of the Spring season, the Prix Stanley and has been won by the likes of exports Long Run, Twinlight and Temple Lord along with domestic stars in On The Go, Device, Le Grand Luce, Bonito du Berlais and Hippomene. Storm of Saintly, Master Dino, Hammersly Lake, Bertimont, Qualando and Adjali also count themselves amongst the former participants. Save for the Prix Go Ahead runner-up, Carlton du Berlais, this year’s renewal did not look the strongest beforehand with Mombasa being the only previous winner in the line-up, and only three of the field starting at single digit prices. Nevertheless, Mombasa could do little more than win and he did so in decisive style. Tucked in behind the leaders early on, he was restrained to the rear passing the stands first time. Making headway halfway along the back, he turned for home within a length of the leaders and jumped into the lead at the penultimate flight. Market rival Carlton du Berlais was travelling marginally better approaching the last, but a tremendous blunder gave Mombasa the clear initiative and though green under pressure, ran on strongly to beat Castellet by two-and-a-half lengths. The winning time was a second slower than the Prix d’Iena – the fillies’ equivalent of the race, but the comparative early paces and closing sectionals do give Mombasa the nod. Nevertheless, good as it looks on paper to win a listed hurdle on ones’ second outing, there are caveats to the form. The proven Carlton du Berlais patently ran below his best, racing unenthusiastically in the early stages and making a final flight blunder which drained all resolve. Moreover, runner-up Castellet (who was giving a kilo to Mombasa) certainly anchors the form as he had yet to run close to a mark of 120 in his four previous starts over hurdles. In fairness to Mombasa, he did jump well throughout and shaped as though further improvement is a given. Shortly afterwards, rather than go down the route of private sale, he was given a wild card entry to the Arqana Summer sale, at which he commanded a sum of €250,000. Ex-Francois Nicolle juveniles have a strong record in Britain and Ireland, with their 35.71% winner-to-runner rate spearheaded by Quilixios and Monmiral. However, these were also private purchases and while the Genetique Obstacle coincidence is easy to dismiss, the fact that none of those winners, including those knocked down for €320,000 (The Saint James), €185,000 (Box Office) and €90,000 (Dogon) found the winners’ enclosure. Moreover, new trainer Philip Hobbs has acquired five six-figure juveniles over the years and while three managed to win, none achieved an RPR exceeding 114. Three of his seven recruits from French hurdles, Chiaro, Pancake and Gumball, did score and his overall record in the sphere; namely a winner-to-runner rate of 45.78% and top talents in Detroit City and Defi du Seuil; is certainly commendable. Mombasa is a good jumper who can act on any ground and has further improvement in him . However, while definitely a welcome addition to the British rank, his being a lucky winner on each outing, including a moderate listed race, and the connections’ presumed reluctance to find a private buyer, does make him look rather expensive at this juncture. Postmark bg Milton Harris f8-2-1 (81+) 93 (Ralph Beckett) Postponed (Oasis Dream){4-r}(1.13) 0.5 Swordbill 107 3rd Introductory Juvenile Hurdle, Newcastle 2018 Since Milton Harris’ mandated sabbatical, his record in the sales ring has been nothing short of impressive. During the previous two seasons, six of his nine juvenile hurdlers bought at public auction would be winners during their first campaigns, accumulating fifteen wins between themselves. Moreover, none of these cost more than 27,000 guineas and the most accomplished of the bunch, Knight Salute, went for just 14,000 guineas. This remarkable eye has instilled confidence and this summer has seen a more expensive type of animal make their way to Sutton Veny. Along with those bought at the July Sale, there was also a £50,000 purchase from the weird and wonderful world of online auctions. Postmark was posted at the Thoroughbid Midsummer sale and it is an investment that has already paid dividends with success in a racing league contest on his stable debut. Previously with Ralph Beckett, he left a yard whose graduates have a healthy 28.57% winner-to-runner rate in the sphere. The improvement rate of 24.44% is less impressive, as per only two of the sixteen winners achieving an RPR exceeding 120. Nevertheless, there will be encouragement from the fact that Postmark has already improved since leaving Beckett, and that the sole previous juvenile to move between these yards was winning fully Galah; who will be sharing an owner with Postmark. A nephew of Leger runner-up Quiff and grandson of 1,000 Guineas winner Wince, Postmark was well backed ahead of his debut at Newbury in a mile novice stakes last October, but was too green to do himself justice and beat only two home. He was better when sixth next time in a similar race at Kempton and was a neck from reaching the frame in a Lingfield maiden on his final start at two. Gelded over the winter, his return came in a ten furlong Salisbury handicap off 76 where he started joint favourite, but was green under pressure in a muddling race where the field was covered by less than two lengths at the line. A bunched finish in a muddling affair was also the order of the day when fourth at Leicester over twelve furlongs next time, although there was no real excuse when filling the same position at Doncaster. A drop to a mile into a novice race, with the first-time application of blinkers, saw Postmark get off the mark at Ffos Las in early July on his final start for Ralph Beckett. Backed down from 11/1 to 17/2, he closely tracked the leader before moving alongside at the three marker. Though the first of the leading pair to come off the bridle and wandering slightly under pressure, Postmark did enough to win the battle with a bit more to spare than the length margin suggested. Shortly after moving to the West Country, Postmark put up much his best performance in a racing league handicap over ten furlongs at Lingfield. The blinkers eschewed for hood and tongue-tie, Postmark raced on the leader’s quarters and moved alongside on the turn for home before being pushed into the lead entering the straight. The race was soon put to bed, and Postmark needed only hands and heels to extend his lead to two-and-a-quarter lengths at the line. What makes this performance more impressive is that despite racing prominently, he still completed each of the final three furlongs faster than anything else in the field. There is probably more to come on the flat but he has been bought for juvenile hurdling and his breeding is not discouraging for that discipline. He will be a first-crop representative of Postponed; winner of the King George, Coronation Cup, International and Sheema Classic. His stallion, Dubawi has a solid record in the division with mixed success as a sire of juvenile sires. Postponed is a good size at 16.1½hh and has four cousins who won over hurdles. Postmark’s half-brother Swordbill placed third in an introductory juvenile at Newcastle, his uncle Total Command won a maiden hurdle in America, and further back on the damline are last season’s useful juvenile, Forever Blessed (2/3), Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Ulundi (3/1) and the classy but ill-fated master Dino (4/3). Not yet the finished article, Postmark has already shown a blend of speed and stamina that will serve him well in the division. With plenty of evidence in the pedigree to suggest that recent improvement can be carried over hurdles, Postmark will be an intriguing case study of what his astute trainer can accomplish with a pricier acquisition. Risk Belle bf Willie Mullins j2-2-0 113 124 (Jerome Delaunay) No Risk At All (Network){4-n}(0.23) 1/0 Belle du Berry 65.0 1st 4100m Grand Steeple Chase de Lyon (L,61.0), Lyon 2016 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/risk-belle Willie Mullins is putting together an intimidating array of juvenile fillies for the upcoming season, although for all that she won on both hurdles starts during the spring, Risk Belle is most likely to make a chaser on breeding. Sire No Risk At All is no slouch when it comes to juveniles (Gumball, Risk And Roll in Britain, Aterisk and La Manigance in France), although his stock are not precocious as a rule. Risk Belle’s dam, Grand Steeple Chase de Lyon winner Belle du Berry, is a half-sister to Utopie des Bordes, Darling des Bordes, Victoire des Borde and Quenta des Bordes; all winners over fences. Nevertheless, these all performed well at a young age in keeping with the legacy of third dam Gamine Royale, who won the Prix Sagan in 1997. In late March, Risk Belle made her debut in the first running of a thirteen runner newcomers race at Nantes for which she was roughly a 13/2 chance. Setting off in a prominent position before dropping nearer to midfield, she put in a good round of jumping and rejoined the vanguard when leaving the back. Travelling strongly, she jumped the last half-a-length behind the leader, but was the more straightforward under pressure on the run-in; ultimately prevailing by a length. Though not the most fashionable newcomers’ race of the early season, the winning time was strong compared to that set by the four-year-olds half an hour later and the form has taken a solid shape for the level; with the runner-up filling the same position at Nantes and Compiegne, and the third winning next time at Moulins. Risk Belle’s second appearance came six weeks later in the Prix du Nivernais at Auteuil on very soft ground. A conditions hurdles for fillies ran over 3000m, it was won by subsequent Mullins chasers in Gitane du Berlais (2013) and Elimay (2017), while other future chasing exports Salsaretta, Baie des Iles and Pepite Rose have been participants. Carrying top weight and sent off the 5.1 second favourite of eight, she was kept towards the rear off a steady gallop before making headway on the turn for home. Travelling smoothly into the lead approaching the last, she was asked to assert leaving the flight and responded in the affirmative, pulling away to win by three and a half lengths. Apart from stumbling slightly after the seventh and skewing over the last, she gave another fluent round of jumping and there was plenty to like about the way she travelled and responded to pressure. The subsequent form has not been tested, and a strict reading of the Prix Geographie form places Risk Belle behind Lossiemouth. There is also the impression that Risk Belle will find her best successes on soft ground and/or over fences, but she would still be one to look forward to during her initial campaign. Scriptwriter bg Milton Harris f4-1-0 (102) 101 (Aiden O’Brien) Churchill (Pivotal){6-e}(0.86) 2/1 Persian Warrior 121 1st 2m Novice Hurdle, Stratford 2009 At the 2021 Tattersalls July Sale, Milton Harris walked away with four juvenile hurdlers for sums between fourteen and twenty thousand guineas. Three of these, Aliomaana, Genuflex and Knight Salute, would all find the winners’ enclosure with the latter named – incidentally the least expensive of the bunch – capping off a fantastic campaign with success in the Grade One Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree. Returning to the well at this year’s sale, Mr Harris brought along a much thicker wallet, and left with five potential juveniles; three costing over fifty-five thousand guineas which far exceeds the previous high of twenty-seven thousand guineas exchanged for Pyramid Place in 2020. Since returning from his hiatus, Milton Harris has had tremendous success with relatively inexpensive auction buys, as per their 60% winner-to-runner rate, so it is highly intriguing to see how he fares with pricier types. Scriptwriter, the most expensive of his July sale recruits, came from an Aiden O’Brien whose stock seldom carry their flat ability over hurdles. Since 2004, only two of the sixteen ex-Ballydoyle juveniles (Sardinia and HMS Seahorse – both joining Paul Nolan) would win in the division, with six of the winless juveniles rated 83 or above – including Table Mountain who cost 200,000 guineas in 2010. Scriptwriter’s debut came in a Curragh maiden last August, the same event used to introduce Wichita and Circus Maximus. He was the mount of Ryan Moore and started the shorter price of two Ballydoyle newcomers at 4/1. He raced prominently before fading into a three length sixth inside the final furlong. No classic horses finished ahead of him, but he did split a pair of next time out winners, with the one behind subsequently finishing second in a Listed race at Dundalk. He got off the mark in a mid-September Gowran maiden when the 11/8 favourite. Tracking the leaders, he was outpaced distance and ran green under pressure before running on strongly to lead close home. The form has not been strong with only two winners in behind; the fourth landing a Dundalk maiden, and the sixth taking a Limerick handicap off 73. His two-year-old season ended with a fifth in Newmarket’s Autumn Stakes for which he was sent off at 14/1. Racing in mid division he was green in dip, but kept on for a six length fifth of ten. Winner Coroebus was a class apart from his rivals, but Scriptwriter was able to get within a length and a quarter of Aikjal (won Group Three International), while finishing a neck ahead of Alflaila (won Listed Pomfret Stakes) and another head in front of Lingfield Derby Trial winner, United Nations. Scriptwriter returned in the Ballysax in which he was the Ballydoyle second string. Held up, he made some headway home turn and kept on in the straight without ever looking a threat. The front pair, headed by Piz Badile, were well clear, but Scriptwriter was only a neck behind Dante third Bluegrass and upwards of five lengths ahead of useful handicap sorts. Overall, the level of form shown on the flat by Scriptwriter is perhaps marginally better than his official rating of 102, which itself would put Scriptwriter within the 99.65% percentile of rated juvenile hurdlers. Scriptwriter will be representing first-season jumps sire Churchill who is, as of yet, completely untested over hurdles. Winner of the National and Dewhurst stakes at two before landing the English and Irish Guineas double, Churchill did finish second in the International but was not wholly proven beyond a mile. While he is out of Galileo, the damline is not entirely conducive to stamina, with full-sister Clemmie restricted to eight furlongs, and granddam Airwave being a very fast mare. Nevertheless, Churchill’s full-brother Blenheim Palace stayed at least eleven furlongs, and his height of 16.2hh and overall class will be positives in this endeavour. Scriptwriter’s damline is not outstanding insofar as jumps prospects go, but there is evidence of ability as half-brother Saeer has placed over hurdles, uncle Persian Warrior won a Stratford novice, and the talented Grumeti appears at 4/3. Given the patchy record of those that Coolmore do not keep within the family for hurdling campaigns, enthusiasm for Scriptwriter is somewhat tempered. Nevertheless, with his highly credible flat ability, feasible pedigree and the tutelage of a trainer who has done wonders with less fashionable types, Scriptwriter would undoubtedly be an intriguing prospect for the upcoming season. Soleil de Cannes chg Iain Jardine f1-0-0 38 j2-0-1 89 92 (David Windrif) Quick Martin (Alhaarth){1-l}(0.60) 0.5 Carlain 67.0 3rd Prix Ferdinand Dufaure (G1,4yC), Auteuil 2012 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/soleil-de-cannes Making his racecourse bow on the all-weather at Chantilly in February, Soleil de Cannes was slow away and lacked the pace to pass any rival before finishing tailed off. Three weeks later, he took in the division’s curtain raiser, the Prix d’Essai des Poulains, at Compiegne. His starting price of 77/1 reflected his form and profile, although his pedigree is more befitting of a jumper. First crop sire Quick Martin’s career highlight was a second in a four-year-old conditions hurdle at Auteuil, although he is a half-brother to smart sorts Oklahoma Seven and Sierra Nevada. In one of breeding’s oddities, the distaff side is actually more compelling as Soleil de Cannes’ half-brother, Carlain, finished third in the Champion Chase for four-year-olds while uncle Honneur Au Roi won listed chase for four-year-olds at Enghien. In his Compiegne bow, Soleil de Cannes finishing a near forty length eleventh was in keeping with his starting price. Racing just behind the leaders, he was slow and awkward at times and while he was still in contention leaving the back, was badly outpaced when the race developed before being allowed to come home in his own time. Gelded afterwards, he returned to Compiegne at the end of March in calmer waters for a claiming hurdle. A 14/1 shot in a field of seven, he was held up in touch but still given to big and slow jumps throughout his round. He found himself outpaced once again but managed to improve from sixth to second between the final two flights before finishing four lengths clear of the remainder without posing the remotest threat to the winner. After the race, Soleil de Cannes was claimed for €23,506 by Tobias Jones to join an as yet unnamed British trainer. Those brought out of French jumps claimers have a perfectly respectable winner to runner rate of 25.64%, and former trainer David Windrif has been responsible for four exported juveniles including the winner Un Guet Apens. Soleil de Cannes’ form is difficult to rate much higher than 90 at this juncture, although the claimer was given something of a boost when the fourth placed Jeu Tentant won a Fontainebleau claimer next time. There may be a moderate enough race for him during the early season, although he shapes as though likely to eventually do better in handicaps over further. Spartan Army bc Alan King f3-1-1 (87) 91 (Joseph O’Brien) Highland Reel (Nayef){1-l}(0.82) 2/1 Gold Award 128 1st 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (117), Ffos Las 2010 When it comes to British trainers and juvenile hurdlers, Alan King is right at the very top. Since 2004/05, he leads the charge by winners alone, standing at 111, and despite the sheer numbers, his improvement rate of 50.60% is stronger than that of Nicholls, Henderson, Moore, Pipe, Hobbs and McCain. His aptitude at every level does not dissipate on the biggest stages as the likes of Katchit, Walkon, Grumeti, Penzance, Blazing Bailey and many others will attest. Indeed, Alan King’s skillset is such that he is also enjoying success on the flat. As such, while it was once a given that the three-year-olds under his care were juvenile hurdlers in waiting, the winter plans of Barbury Castle youngsters is less clear-cut nowadays. Notwithstanding, recent acquisition Spartan Army is now the second highest rated three-year-old in the yard and he ls looking likely to head over hurdles this term. Intriguingly, he is only the fourth Alan King recruit to fetch six figures at auction (after Duroble Man, Pur de Sivola and Grumeti) and his commanding 170,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale will make him the most expensive juvenile to join the team. Previously with Joseph O’Brien, Spartan Army was introduced in a nine furlong backend maiden at the Curragh where he started the shorter than his two stablemates but was not forward enough to do himself justice. That was the last seen of him until he reappeared at Sligo in mid-May for a ten furlong maiden. Held up towards the rear off a sedate tempo, he still had plenty to do leaving the back and while he made good headway racing wide along the sweeping turn, was unable to catch the winner but only missed second by a neck having fared best of those who came from behind. This promise was confirmed a month later at Down Royal where he wore a first-time tongue tie and started the 6/4 favourite of eight. Helping to force a solid gallop, he was ridden at the distance but kept on strongly to avenge the Sligo runner-up and pull upwards of three-and-a-half lengths clear of a strung out field. While the second was denied by a head at Dundalk next time, then a neck in a Down Royal handicap off 72, it is difficult to make too much of the form. Nevertheless, a mark in the high eighties would still be a fair evaluation and given his inexperience, it can be assumed that more is to come. There can be a degree of caution when it comes to those let go by Joseph O’Brien as of the eighteen to have left Owning Hill, just two would win as juveniles. Nevertheless, the most expensive of those prior to Spartan Army, Needs To Be Seen, did manage to win, and with his price removed, the average fee was approximately £16,000. As such, Spartan Army might be regarded more as something sold with prospects in an alternative environment, rather than “surplus stock”; particularly as he was running for Qatar as opposed to Coolmore and its relative bodies. Sales theories aside, there will be few concerns regarding the pedigree. First-crop sire Highland Reel is not the tallest stallion, but his stamina and class give him solid credentials and his early juveniles could hardly have started better; winning the first race of the British season at Hexham, and filling the first three places in Ireland’s curtain raiser at Tipperary. Half-brother Leopolds Rock got off the mark this summer, uncle Gold Award was a useful hurdler and among his cousins are Scottish Champion Hurdler Border Castle, multiple winner Moidore, the fairly useful Hunting Tower and the dam of one of last season’s best juveniles, Pied Piper. The third dam also has jumps winners in Versatile and Tissisat, while Chief Yeoman (4/4) and Sky Khan (4/5) appear further back on the damline. Very little is predictable at this stage of the season, but it can reasonably assumed that Alan King will have several decent juveniles and while more might find their way to Barbury Castle over the coming months, Spartan Army’s class, pedigree and physical build make him a lively contender to be the stable’s flag bearer. Zarak The Brave bc Willie Mullins f5-1-3 (40.0/88) 99 (Stéphane Wattel) Zarak (Boris de Deauville){4-i}(1.55) 1/0 Tempo Royale 57.0 1st 3600m 3yo Fillies’ Hurdle, Saint-Brieuc 2014 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/zarak-the-brave Willie Mullins is clearly taking the upcoming juvenile season seriously, as per his triumvirate of undefeated hurdling fillies, although he also does exceptionally well with French recruits from the flat. Since 2011, he has had fifteen winners from twenty-five with such recruits, including Triumph winners Vauban and Burning Victory, along with other Grade One winners Diakali and Petite Parisienne to go with emerging talents in Saldier, Ivan Grozny and Echoes In Rain. The Arqana Sales have been a fruitful foraging ground for the master of Closutton with the aforementioned Diakali and Petite Parisienne emerging from that ring along with four additional winners. At the Grand Steeple edition of the sale in late May, €200,000 was ceded in exchange for Zarak The Brave – making him the join most expensive purchase for Mullins alongside Tax For Max. Initially with Stéphane Wattel, whose only other sale to the yard Burning Victory, Zarak The Brave has amassed a win and three placings from five starts. His first outing came in a 1900m newcomers race at Deauville last November where he was the 6.9 second favourite of twelve. Held up towards the rear off a steady early gallop, he made headway on the outside turning for home and while too green to catch the front pair, was not given a harsh ride as he led the remainder home by upwards of a length. Three months later, he appeared in a Chantilly maiden over the same trip and was again given a kind ride to finish a one paced fourth, some eight lengths behind subsequent Group Three winner Junko. The following month, Zarak The Brave made his turf debut at Le Croise Laroche for a 2500m maiden for which he started 2.4 favourite of eleven. This time, he was ridden with more purpose and was leading the field going into the first turn. The pace was a sound one and he was the last one on the bridle rounding the final bend whereafter he was shaken up to quickly pull half-a-dozen lengths clear before cruising home seven lengths clear of his rivals. The form of a maiden worth €9,500 to the winner would not amount to much but it was the fastest of the five races held at the distance on the card and the runner-up did score at Nantes next time. Furthermore, the manner of the victory was enough to see him in a Class 2 conditions race over 2400m at Chantilly four weeks later, for which he started the 2.7 favourite. Initially tracking the leader, he dropped back after a few furlongs and was still bringing up the rear turning into the three furlong straight. Shaken up, he made headway to get himself into contention at the distance and had a narrow lead a furlong from home, but would lose two positions in the closing stages without appearing to give his best. Gameness notwithstanding, the form is difficult to crab as the front pair maintained their efforts in similar company while finishing eight lengths clear of the rest. Zarak The Brave was last seen at Angers in early May in a valuable 2300m contest for the venue and he went off favourite at 2.6. Last out of the stalls, he pulled himself to the front by the time they passed the stands first time although he did not tear himself away from the pack. He was challenged at the distance and once again, his head carriage was not entirely pleasing; going down by three quarters of a length in a bunch finish. Nevertheless, the form still measures up as the winner (receiving some three pounds) was third off 40 (88) next time and the third (also receiving three pounds) subsequently finished second in a Quinte handicap off 37.5 (82.5). Accordingly, while the RPR of 99 for the Chantilly third looks flattering, Zarak The Brave’s official valeur of 40 is in keeping with his ability and is enough for a decent juvenile recruit. Insofar as breeding is concerned, the credentials of Zarak, have been covered in Bo Zenith’s profile, appear to lend themselves well for the division. There are no stars on the immediate damline, but the dam herself did win as a juvenile filly and his half-sister, Syncopation, won over hurdles at four. Two uncles were placed over hurdles in modest company and the fourth dam produced Tilleul who won the Prix Finot in 1992. Overall, Zarak The Brave has plenty going for him in terms of stamina, ability, how he was sourced, the trainer he has joined and his pedigree so a good campaign would come as no surprise whatsoever. However, his questionable attitude does temper confidence and even if a gelding operation might rectify things, Vauban (the horse he will attempt to emulate) did have a stronger profile at this juncture.
  9. Strap yourselves in... To mark an eighteen day break for the juvenile hurdlers, we are in for a real treat tomorrow. Guaranteed to be best three-runner summer juvenile held for at least twenty years! Market Rasen - 30th July - Preview Since the 2004/05 season, there have been twenty instances of three-runner juvenile hurdles held in Britain and Ireland. Amongst the sixty participants who constitute such novel events are the Grade One winners Footpad and Balder Succes, Grade Two winners Navajo Pass and Far West, and Grade Three winner Gewncily Berbas who, incidentally, also beat his two other rivals in the Grade Two Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse in 2015. With the withdrawal of Rolypolymoly, Market Rasen is set to host the first three-runner juvenile hurdle to have been held in the summer during this time period. On paper, the race looks like a match although with the two principals demonstrating questionable attitudes, it could also be of interest to those who subscribe to that wives tale about the outsider of three. A sharp, largely flat and right-handed track the course’s winning DIs of 1.28 median, 1.69 mean, are amongst the ten highest in the country although the completion rate of 84% is in the lower third. Notwithstanding, the ground is currently described as good and while rain is forecast overnight, that none of the three runners are known to set the pace means stamina demands should not be too exacting. Captain Square chg Tom Lacey f6-0-2 (69) 74 j2-1-1 (103) 85 97 Sir Percy (Duke Of Marmalade){1-m}(0.33) 3/1 Overturn 167 2nd Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham 2012 By Sir Percy (Knight Salute, Parliament Hill, winner-to-runner rate of 33.33%) and from the family of Chocala (2/1), Fisher Bridge (3/1) and Overturn (3/1), Captain Square probably has the most interesting and complete pedigree seen in the division this season. Moreover, while he was a six-race maiden on the flat for Andrew Balding, his official rating 69 is the highest brought into the race. His first three outings all came over seven furlongs last July where he followed a midfield finish at Sandown (behind recent Thoroughbred Stakes third Sonny Liston) with third (behind 1000 Guineas runner-up Prosperous Voyage) and fourth (behind Royal Lodge winner Royal Patronage) place finishes at Epsom. Captain Square got no closer five lengths to the aforementioned, but he did shape as though further would suit and his allotted mark of 72 was not unduly harsh. However, following an eight month break and a gelding operation, this potential did not play out in practice as Captain Square failed to make any real impression in a pair of twelve furlong handicaps in April. At Southwell, he failed to settle in a falsely run contest, but had no such excuse next time at Lingfield where he beat only one home. Captain Sqaure’s sights were lowered for his return to turf at Leicester and while all but one of his rivals were rated higher, his receiving weight all round and being much the least exposed saw him sent off the even money favourite. However, he failed to settle once again and although he led momentarily at the distance, was clear second best on the day. Following the race, Captain Square was claimed for £12,000 to join a Tom Lacey yard which, prior to Newton Abbot, was two winners from ten in the sphere; both scoring at the first time of asking. Andrew Balding has supplied 108 juveniles to the division since 2004/05 and twenty of those were winners; including the likes of Knight Salute, Hollow Tree and Flaxen Flare. The improvement rare of 22.78% is a low one and of the six previous juveniles who were bought out of selling and claiming races, not one win was achieved from their twenty-eight runs combined. This dire record was ended by Captain Square when he made a successful start to his new career at Newton Abbot nearly three weeks ago; albeit in most fortuitous circumstances. Not without supporters, he started the day as 6/5 favourite and while a plunge horse forced him out, he was still solid in the market; starting the race as 2/1 second favourite. Taking a keen hold just behind the vanguard, there was room for improvement in his jumping as he was low at the first, went left at the third, hopped over the fourth and skewed over the next. As the field left the back second time, Captain Square was the only one to just about keep tabs on the near-certain winner who led him by around four lengths when leaving him in a clear lead at the penultimate flight. Ponderous in his own company, he had to be chivvied along on the run to the last where he was ponderous. Nevertheless, he was so far clear that nothing more was asked of him as he coasted home by fifteen lengths. Given how the contest developed and how Captain Square closed out the race, it is improbable that he would have fared better than second had the leader maintained verticality. The winning time was modest and the would-be-winner was well beaten next time out. Captain Square’s second jumps outing came three weeks ago in a much more competitive contest at Stratford where he was sent off the 7/2 joint third-favourite. Tucking in behind the leaders and racing with enthusiasm, his hurdling was cleaner and more assured than on his debut. Going over the hill on the far side, he moved into a share of the lead although he was caught flat footed turning for home. Moreover, though he traded at less than his starting price in-running, he did not finish with any particular potency as he was relegated to fourth on the run-in before recapturing third from a beaten rival at the line; a finish which could have indicated a lack of pace, a lack of resolve, or both. Given that this is a three-runner contest for inexperienced riders that could be ran in a muddling fashion on a speed favouring track, neither possibility would bode well in these conditions. Nevertheless, the race has since produced three wins and a third (behind one of the winners) from the four subsequent runs which is difficult to ignore – even if this Summer’s juveniles have been a moderate bunch. In terms of breeding, experience and form under both codes, Captain Square has the strongest chance and the yard is enjoying a decent spell of form. Lack of pace and possible resolve are matters of obvious concerns in these circumstances, but perhaps if young Finn Lambert is able to take the initiative and not get into a dogfight (although he has won in close finishes during his short career), then Captain Square could be the master of his own destiny. Anger Management bg John Ryan f6-0-0 (44) 43 Ribchester (Nayef){22-a}(1.22) 3/2 Allow Me 129 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (120), Catterick 2012 Four-time Group One winner and dual Champion Miler Ribchester is set to have his first jumpers this season. No taller than average, Ribchester is of the speedy Iffraaj-Zafonic sireline and his third dam was the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Mehthaaf. Nevertheless, one uncle, Tactic won over a mile and six while another, Bangkok, is being marketed as a dual-purpose sire. While half-brother Golconda Prince was unable to build on his fifth in a Huntington juvenile, another uncle, Taaresh, landed four low-grade hurdles over the minimum trip at Worcester and Wincanton. The first into the fold for Ribchester’s jumps stallion career is the six race maiden Anger Management, whose official flat rating of 44 exceeds his accomplishments. Beaten a combined seventy-seven lengths in two starts at Newmarket last Autumn, his four runs in 2022, between eight and fourteen furlongs, have seen him finish no closer than twelve lengths to the winner. While the fair handicap hurdler, Allow Me, appears at 3/2 on the damline, six others within that proximity have achieved the sum total of nothing over hurdles from a combined twenty-four starts (although Nicholas Bill (Ghofar, Bollin William, Just Jasmine) is out of the fifth dam). Trainer John Ryan does have a decent enough record in the sphere with five winners from twenty-one juveniles, although only one of those would score first-time-out. Via Serica bg Stuart Edmunds f6-0-2 (63) 68 Golden Horn (Nayef){14-a}(1.50) 2/2 Douglas Dc 126 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2022 Since 2004/2005, three-hundred-and-eight British and Irish trainers have saddled ten or more juvenile hurdlers. Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have the strongest winner-to-runner rates, while in third place on 55.56% is Paul Nicholls. Prior to Thursday’s juvenile hurdle at Stratford, Stuart Edmunds held a share of third place with Paul Nicholls although Rendition’s poor debut showing has seen his rate drop to 52.63%. Attempting to arrest this deterioration is the yard’s second juvenile of the season, Via Serica. Starting his career with Brian Meehan, the entirety of Winter separated Via Serica’s first two outings which came in maidens at Nottingham in October over an extended mile, and Newbury in April over eleven furlongs. He was green on each occasion, finishing nearer last than first with upwards of thirteen lengths between himself and the winner. Thirteen lengths was also the margin of defeat in a ten-furlong Windsor maiden, although being a well stung out field where he was within a couple of lengths of two subsequent winners, it did mark a career best. Stepping up in trip and into handicap company in mid-May, Via Serica was a three length third over a mile and a half at Bath off 64; looking green under pressure but, incidentally, finishing ahead of the season’s leading juvenile to date in Mucuna. Sporting first-time cheekpieces, he filled the same position at Windsor five days later where he led briefly at the distance but while plugging on, did not appear to throw himself into every stride. This would be his last run out of Manton Lodge Stables; a yard whose graduates have a fair winner-to-runner rate of 19.05% in juvenile hurdles, and a lesser 33.33% improvement rate. He was withdrawn prior to passing through Tattersalls at Ascot – the twelve such juveniles leaving Brian Meehan in this fashion won one race from forty-four starts. Via Serica’s debut for Stuart Edmunds (winless on the flat since December 2016) came at Sandown over a mile and six where he never left the rear, drifted when making his challenge at the distance before weakening late on to finish six lengths behind the runner-up (the well-handicapped winner in a different league). Making the switch to hurdling, Via Serica has a feasible pedigree for the sphere with Golden Horn showing a 28.57% winner-to-runner rate, cousin Douglas Dc winning a maiden juvenile, and four relatives at 3/2 on the damline (Mikado, Bombyx, National Trust and Freedom Now) all successful over jumps. On official flat ratings, Via Serica is the best treated in the field and jockey James Davies is by far the most experienced of the three. He is in good hands for his introduction although the lack of jumping experience and questionable resolve will count against him, as does the Edmunds yard having another runner completely tail off on Friday. Strong prospects 1. Captain Square Reasonable prospects 2. Via Serica Feasible prospects . Moderate prospects 3. Anger Management Negligible prospects .
  10. Stratford - 28th July - Preview Stratford is set to host the first maiden juvenile hurdle of the season and, as per its title, probably won’t be the classiest affair. Quality form, either on the flat or over jumps, is thin on the ground with the six runners achieving just one win from a combined thirty-nine starts. Nevertheless, it is not a race entirely devoid of intrigue. The two runners with experience reoppose having finished fourth and fifth over course and distance eighteen days ago behind a pair of subsequent winners. Meanwhile, the four hurdling debutants, two of whom graduated the Tattersalls Sale early this month, represent capable trainers in the sphere and all bring ratings above the absolute average of 55 for juvenile hurdlers. That three of these are set to be their sires’ first runners over hurdles adds another dimension to the contest. Despite being a sharp and generally flat track which seldom sees winter ground, Stratford still presents one of the sternest stamina tests for juvenile hurdlers. The winning Dis of 0.93 median, 1.21 mean, are lower only at Cheltenham, Chepstow, Hexham and Worcester with only Hexham having the largest discrepancy between the DIs of winners and beaten horses. The completion rate of 81.20% is also in the bottom ten, although it is somewhat fairer as a jumping test with a clear round rate of 95.41% falling fractionally below average. It is not a venue which is particularly kind to debutants with the comparative strike-rate for newcomers being worse at just two British courses. The ground is currently described as good, good to firm in places, with moderate weather and some watering set to ease somewhat conditions. With there are no habitual front-runners among the six starters, Stratford’s stamina demands may not be as pronounced as usual. Dicktate bg Roger Teal f5-0-0 (62) 64 j2-0-1 (96) 80 90 Lawman (Pivotal){3-d}(1.20) 2/2 Catherine Chroi 46 12th 3yo Maiden Hurdle , Fairyhouse 2021 After finishing well beaten on his debut at Kempton last August, Dicktate was not disgraced during the Autumn over ten furlongs at Bath and Goodwood; for all that he was beaten a combined fifteen lengths. However, his season ended with a tailed off eighth of nine at Newmarket and the revised mark of 64 still looked beyond him on his sole flat start this year when he was beaten twelve lengths at Salisbury with no apparent excuses to be made. Insofar as a switch to hurdling is concerned, the credentials of his sire, Lawman, are better as while his offspring are seldom better than ordinary, their winner-to-runner rate of 20% is solid enough. However, the damline is more patchy as the closest winning jumper, First Man’s success coming in a three-mile Catterick Handicap, appears at 4/3. Roger Teal’s jumps strike rate of 6.7% drops to 0% when isolating juvenile hurdlers with nine horses contributing to his zero from eighteen strike rate. Dicktate was the latest to add to this record when making his jumps bow behind Captain Square at Newton Abbot last month. Drifting from 17/2 to 18/1 in the ring, Dicktate was prominent in the opening stages but his being hampered at the first foreshadowed a round of mostly slow and cautious jumping which saw him fall back to midfield. Already ridden along going out into the second lap, he was disputing a distant third when the leader fell at two out. Having to avoid the faller, Dicktate attempted to pull himself up shortly afterwards and while he consented to continue, it was without enthusiasm, ultimately finishing a twenty length third behind the winner. Dicktate’s latest outing came at Stratford eighteen days ago where there was little market confidence beforehand in his improving for the experience; starting at 25/1. Disputing the lead in an evenly ran contest, he was close and untidy at the second, and steady when getting the fourth wrong. Dicktate was off the bridle from half a mile out and driven entering the straight. He still held a narrow advantage but was headed approaching the last where an awkward jump cost him any momentum that remained as he was relegated to a nine-and-a-quarter length fourth on the run-in. Despite his errors, there was an upturn in his enthusiasm and aptitude and further improvement can probably be expected. However, the standard he sets for the potentially capable newcomers is not a high one so the first-time application of the tongue-tie needs to have a telling effect. Graffiti bg Gary Brown f7-0-0 (64) 70 Sixties Icon (Excellent Art){A34}(0.82) 1/1 Banksy’s Art 100 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen 2018 Starting off over a mile at Goodwood last September for Mick Channon, Graffiti ran twice at Pontefract in the Autumn, finishing no nearer than eight lengths behind the winner in a pair of novice stakes. Following a winter break, he had a couple of spins on the all-weather in handicap company and while he finished last on each occasion, was at least able to finish closer. His initial mark of 71 was quite difficult to justify, and a return to the turf, drop to 67 and switch to Gary Brown’s failed to trigger a change in fortunes. He was last seen looking decidedly slow over a mile when beating just one home at Newbury three weeks ago. Graffiti shapes as though he can get the trip over jumps and his full-brother, Banksy’s Art, managed to place third in a juvenile hurdle. Former inmates of Mick Channon’s have a solid winner-to-runner rate of 24.16%, although this drops to 19.09% when removing those who went to Sheena West; Banksy’s Art amongst them. Gary Brown himself has not had a winning juvenile from the nine he has saddled since Hilali won at this venue in 2012, and the yard’s improvement rate of 16.67% is not sufficient to grant encouragement to Graffiti’s patchy, if not lamentable, profile. Mutara bg Sean Curran f8-0-3 (55) 62 j1-0-0 (-) 75 85 Muhaarar (Lucky Story){3-c}(0.78) 3/2 Ramonex 136 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (120), Catterick 2018 Making his debut at Kempton in February, Mutara finished no better than midfield on his first three outings. However, in five flat outings since his switch to handicaps in early April, he has yet to finish outside of the first four. It should be noted that these performances came off mark decreasing from 55 and that the winners’ enclosure has thus far eluded him; but by the same token, he has been a consistent animal. He was doing his best work towards the finish when third over eleven furlongs at Windsor in early May and returning to the turf after a Wolverhampton fourth, would twice find only one too good. At Leicester, he was no match for a horse who recently completed a four-timer, and at Chepstow last month, was bested by another subsequent winner. Mutara did little wrong on either occasion and has little to answer for in terms of attitude. For all of his honesty, his stamina is not entirely assured and the pedigree is not wholly encouraging. Muhaarar has had one winner from seven juveniles and the jumpers that appear on the damline prior to Ramonex at 3/2 have been poor. Sean Curran has had winners in the division; albeit at a winner to runner rate of 9.09%. None had scored first time out, which afforded lowered expectations for Mutara on his hurdling debut at this track earlier in the month. Starting at 15/2, having been as short as 9/2 om the ring, Mutara was keen early on, and his being badly balked at the first put paid to his confidence as he was big and ungainly over the remaining obstacles. Never out of the rear, or threatening to get involved in the contest, Mutara was eased on the run-in; finishing five lengths behind Dicktate. There is ample scope for Mutara to leave that debut performance well behind, although his prospects hinge considerably more on potential than substance without accounting for the fact that, for all his consistency and decent attitude on the flat, his rating is still the lowest from that sphere. Rogue Mission grg Milton Harris f4-1-1 (71) 70 El Kabeir (Spinning World){2-d}(4.33) 2/1 Primus Inter Pares 107 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (101), Catterick 2008 At the 2021 Tattersalls July Sale, Milton Harris walked away with four juvenile hurdlers for sums between fourteen and twenty thousand guineas. Three of these, Aliomaana, Genuflex and Knight Salute, would all find the winners’ enclosure with the latter named – incidentally the least expensive of the bunch – capping off a fantastic campaign with success in the Grade One Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree. Returning to the well at this year’s sale, Mr Harris brought along a much thicker wallet, and left with five potential juveniles; three costing over fifty-five thousand guineas. The cheapest of the quintet this time around was Rogue Mission, who commanded a comparatively modest sum of fifteen thousand guineas. Gelded before his racecourse debut in early January, Rogue Mission’s four flat outings have all come at Lingfield under the care of Tom Clover. A steady 25/1 ahead of a ten furlong novice stakes, Rogue Mission dove out of stalls, took keen hold in rear and went nowhere under pressure; finishing a ten length seventh of eight. He reappeared three weeks later in an identical contest where he attracted outside support in the ring, shortening four points to 12/1 at the off. He started better on this occasion, although he did have another horse to bounce off when leaving the stalls. Still keen and held up towards the rear, he moved into a prominent position turning for home and although he took a while to gather himself under pressure, Rogue Mission was able to narrowly get the best of an honest battle inside the final half-furlong with the pair finishing a couple of lengths clear. The runner-up sadly lost his life next time out, although the third and fourth have each given the form a bit of substance in subsequent outings. Four weeks later, Rogue Mission was outclassed in a match race against a horse who had finished a length second to a subsequent listed winner before he made his handicap debut over ten furlongs back in May. Returning after a ten-week break off a mark of 71, Rogue Mission was friendless in the market and ran accordingly. Ridden from the stalls, he made a short lived effort while going wide on the home turn, but ultimately finished a near nine length seventh of eight. Tom Clover has previously supplied only one juvenile hurdler in the form of Appreciate; who incidentally also joined Milton Harris. Based on his four runs in the division, Appreciate looked harshly treated by his mark of 90, although he has gone on to land a four-timer this Summer. Rogue Mission’s damline largely consists of milers and three (at 3/2) who went over jumps fared poorly. Nevertheless, half-brother Rare Groove won over two miles on the flat and uncle Primus Inter Pares was a winning handicap chaser over the intermediate trip. These strands of stamina influence will have to offset the lack of same from first-crop stallion El Kabeir. From the Scat Daddy/Johannesburg line (which has enjoyed little success in the sphere), El Kabir was a graded – rather than top class – miler in America, and while his height of 16.1hh is adequate, his DI of 5.86 is a concern. Moreover, while Rogue Mission has form over ten furlongs, none of his races have been strongly run affairs. Rogue Mission has the class to make an impact first-time; particularly for a yard with a 26.67% strike-rate at Stratford. However, even if this is not the most testing juvenile hurdle held at Stratford, Rogue Mission may be one to come on with time if stamina concerns manifest. Never No Trouble bf Donald McCain f9-0-3 (56) 62 Time Test (New Approach){2-f}(0.82) 2/2 Perceus 115 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2015 The most experienced of these on the flat, Never No Trouble comes into this contest with nine runs to her name. Five came as a two-year-old with the highlight being a half-length second in a Thirsk novice stakes over a mile in late August. This effort resulted in a mark of 67 which tumbled over her subsequent outings, the latest coming six weeks ago in a ten-furlong selling handicap at Ripon off 56. Attracting market interest for the first time in her career, she was sent off the 11/8 favourite having opened at 5/2 in the morning. Quick out of the traps, she was restrained to track the leader after a furlong before travelling smoothly into contention three furlongs from home. However, she did not find as much as she promised, ultimately splitting two older rivals of questionable professionalism. Nevertheless, this was just about Never No Trouble’s best performance since her Thirsk second and it was enough to see move from Adrian Nicholls’ to Donald McCain’s for £6,000. The two former Nicholls’ inmates to run in the sphere achieved very little in six outings between them, although five of the nine that McCain has bought out of a race have been winners. Most scored at a modest level although Collingham, who came out of a French claimer, was a decent horse last term. Donald McCain also has a strong overall record in the sphere with a healthy winner-to-runner rate of 30.09% and the yard has been in decent form as of late. However, he is not as successful with those lowly rated on the flat with none of the nineteen rated 60 or lower scoring first time out. Never No Trouble is one of three representing a first-crop sire; namely Dubawi’s son, Time Test. Winner of the York, Joel and Manhattan Stakes, Time Test is not the tallest and was untried over further than ten furlongs, but he is a nephew with the modest winning handicapper, Codeshare, with his third dam producing fair winners in Hue and Political Intrigue. From the family of Nashwan, Never No Trouble is herself a cousin of two winning jumpers in Perceus and Noble Behest, with the useful Seventh Sign appearing at 3/2. Stamina should not be an issue for Never No Trouble here, and her feasible pedigree and capable handler afford her some respect. Nevertheless, there is a class deficit to overcome and while she can match and surpass her flat form, she may benefit from an easier opening. Rendition chf Stuart Edmunds f5-0-1 (68) 73 Ulysses (Pivotal){13-e}(0.85) 3/1 Poet 127 1st 2m½f Maiden Hurdle, Newbury 2012 Since 2004/2005, three-hundred-and-eight British and Irish trainers have saddled ten or more juvenile hurdlers. Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have the strongest winner-to-runner rates, while in joint-third place on 55.56% are Paul Nicholls and Stuart Edmunds. The two juveniles previously bought by Stuart Edmund at the Tattersalls July Sale, Wolf Of Windlesham and Addosh would each earn black type during their first campaigns over hurdles having only cost 15,000 guineas. This year, Stuart Edmunds parted with 24,000 guineas in order to secure the 68 rated maiden, Rendition. Initially with Andrew Balding, Rendition made her debut when midfield in a Wolverhampton novice last December before returning in a similar contest at Chepstow in late April where she still looked green and was not strenuously encouraged to better her midfield finish. A few weeks later, Rendition went to Redcar for a ten furlong fillies’ race on good to soft where she lacked the pace of the two short-priced market principals, but was able to finish four lengths clear of the remainder. A twenty-one length midfield finish at Newbury can probably be dismissed as the race rather fell apart, and she posted what was probably her best effort to date early this month in a ten-furlong fillies’ handicap at Ffos Las off 72. Unable to quicken off a modestly-run contest, she ultimately finished a six-length sixth of ten in a race which is working out quite well. Of the untested jumps stallions in this contest, Rendition’s sire, Ulysses, is the most interesting of the three. The winner of an International Stakes and an Eclipse, and third in the 2017 Arc, Ulysses is not only the classiest but also has the most well-rounded profile. Out of Galileo and Oaks winner Light Shift, he comfortably has the stamina for the minimum trip over jumps and is also an adequate 16.1hh. His pedigree credentials are further supplemented by damline appearances of Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets (3/2) and Kingwell Hurdle winner Elgin (2/3). Rendition has a couple of pertinent uncles in Ace Ventura, who finished third in a juvenile hurdle on his debut, and Alessandro Volta, who won the Lingfield Derby Trial, while the third dam produced winning hurdlers Poet and High Stratos. Even with her BHA mark now down to 68, Rendition would still be the best treated on these terms and with her representing an interesting new jumps sire, brings with her a solid profile for an interesting trainer who introduced Addosh at this venue last summer. Strong prospects 1. Rendition Reasonable prospects 2. Rogue Mission Feasible prospects 3. Never No Trouble 4. Dicktate 5. Mutara Moderate prospects 6. Graffiti Negligible prospects .
  11. Stratford – 10th July – Preview Since 2005, nine juveniles competed at Stratford during the summer before running in the Triumph. While most finished well beaten at the festival, Fair Along and Barizan would find only one too good during the 2005/06 and 2009/10 campaigns respectively. Ironically, the aforementioned failed to score at Stratford before going on to better things. Those that have won corresponding runnings of Sunday’s contest include Callisto Moon and Leoncavallo, who won in 2007 and 2015 before following up in the Wensleydale, and Simarian who in 2008 would land the Grade 2 Prestbury Hurdle. Nevertheless, as is often the case with these events, such horses are outliers and the typical standard of this contest is modest with the average winner’s seasonal RPR being 107.53. This year’s renewal features three previous winners, although their Cheltenham aspirations are quite slim as the standard of the nineteen juveniles seen to date this term has been modest. Neither is there a great deal to be said of the three maidens introduced to the fold from the flat. Notwithstanding, the field is set to be the joint largest seen thus far and the race ought to be competitive if nothing else so it should be an intriguing contest for what it is. Despite being a sharp and generally flat track which seldom sees winter ground, Stratford still presents one of the sternest stamina tests for juvenile hurdlers. The winning Dis of 0.97 median, 1.21 mean, are lower only at Cheltenham, Chepstow, Hexham and Worcester with only Hexham having the largest discrepancy between the DIs of winners and beaten horses. The completion rate of 81.26% is also in the bottom ten, although it is somewhat fairer as a jumping test with a clear round rate of 95.41% falling fractionally below average. It is not a venue which is particularly kind to debutants with the comparative strike-rate for newcomers being worse at just two British courses. The ground is currently good and, with warm weather anticipated, will be watered to maintain. Shipton Moyne made all to make a winning debut at Market Rasen last time and with several of these happy to race prominently, the pace should be an honest one. Captain Square chg Tom Lacey f6-0-2 (69) 74 j1-1-0 (-) 82 88 Sir Percy (Duke Of Marmalade){1-m}(0.33) 3/1 Overturn 167 2nd Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham 2012 By Sir Percy (Knight Salute, Parliament Hill, winner-to-runner rate of 33.33%) and from the family of Chocala (2/1), Fisher Bridge (3/1) and Overturn (3/1), Captain Square probably has the most interesting and complete pedigree seen in the division this season. Moreover, while he was a six-race maiden on the flat for Andrew Balding, his official rating 69 is a pound off the highest brought into the race. His first three outings all came over seven furlongs last July where he followed a midfield finish at Sandown (behind Derby also-ran Sonny Liston) with third (behind 1000 Guineas runner-up Prosperous Voyage) and fourth (behind Royal Lodge winner Royal Patronage) place finishes at Epsom. Captain Square got no closer five lengths to the aforementioned, but he did shape as though further would suit and his allotted mark of 72 was not unduly harsh. However, following an eight month break and a gelding operation, this potential did not play out in practice as Captain Square failed to make any real impression in a pair of twelve furlong handicaps in April. At Southwell, he failed to settle in a falsely run contest, but had no such excuse next time at Lingfield where he beat only one home. Captain Sqaure’s sights were lowered for his return to turf at Leicester and while all but one of his rivals were rated higher, his receiving weight all round and being much the least exposed saw him sent off the even money favourite. However, he failed to settle once again and although he led momentarily at the distance, was clear second best on the day. Following the race, Captain Square was claimed for £12,000 to join a Tom Lacey yard which, prior to Newton Abbot, was two winners from ten in the sphere; both scoring at the first time of asking. Andrew Balding has supplied 108 juveniles to the division since 2004/05 and twenty of those were winners; including the likes of Knight Salute, Hollow Tree and Flaxen Flare. The improvement rare of 22.78% is a low one and of the six previous juveniles who were bought out of selling and claiming races, not one win was achieved from their twenty-eight runs combined. This dire record was ended by Captain Square when he made a successful start to his new career at Newton Abbot nearly three weeks ago; albeit in most fortuitous circumstances. Not without supporters, he started the day as 6/5 favourite and while a plunge horse forced him out, he was still solid in the market; starting the race as 2/1 second favourite. Taking a keen hold just behind the vanguard, there was room for improvement in his jumping as he was low at the first, went left at the third, hopped over the fourth and skewed over the next. As the field left the back second time, Captain Square was the only one to just about keep tabs on the near-certain winner who led him by around four lengths when leaving him in a clear lead at the penultimate flight. Ponderous in his own company, he had to be chivvied along on the run to the last where he was ponderous. Nevertheless, he was so far clear that nothing more was asked of him as he coasted home by fifteen lengths. Given how the contest developed and how Captain Square closed out the race, it is improbable that he would have fared better than second had the leader maintained verticality. The winning time was modest and the form in behind is modest with the second and fourth running a nothing race next time out. Moreover, this is a much more competitive race and he is effectively carrying a penalty for finishing second. Moreover, his pulling in the early stages and laziness in the closing stages at Newton Abbot are causes for concern. Notwithstanding, Captain Square has the best flat form of 2022, shaped as though he should improve for hurdling experience and is bred to appreciate the test afforded by Stratford so he would not be readily discounted. Mucuna bf Milton Harris f8-1-0 (49) 55 j3-2-1 (-) 91 98 Guiliani (Gold Away){14-b}(0.89) 2/1 Capellini 98 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (93), Plumpton 2013 Prior to his forced sabbatical, Milton Harris was no slouch when it came to juvenile hurdlers; saddling Modul to win the Grade 2 Summit and Finesse Hurdles in 2003/04 and subsequently guiding Gulf Punch (rated 45 and claimed for £5000), Pseudonym (also claimed for £5000), Rosie’s Glory (rated 60) and Moonfleet (rated 57) to the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, since his glorious return to the shores of Hoofiana, Harris has proven himself in no uncertain terms with an excellent winner to runner record of ten from twenty capped by last season’s hugely admirable Knight Salute. He has started the current season as he ended the last by winning a juvenile hurdle at Aintree with the 49 rated Mucuna. Her first five outings, commencing last October, came on the all-weather; starting at triple digit prices on each occasion with her best effort coming with a midfield finish in a mile Handicap at Kempton off 46. However, the switch to turf and a step up to ten furlongs saw her get off the mark at Salisbury back in April. Held up in midfield and racing widest of all, she was asked for her effort half a mile from home. It took a while for her to move through the gears, but she did run on strongest of all; taking it up in the final hundred yards and winning by three quarters of a length. The field finished in a heap but while the form amounts to little, Mucuna was clearly the best on the day. She was unable to follow up in a couple of Bath handicaps off 50 during May, finishing fourth on both occasions, but it was apparent that the track did not see her to best effect. The switch to hurdling came a month ago at Aintree and while she was backed from 20/1 into 4/1 second favourite, this was not a clandestine move as there was plenty of evidence for a good showing in a weak race. Although her rating is a low one, Milton Harris, since his return, has trained Romeo’s Bond (55) to win, and Global Agreement (56) to place first time. Mucuna’s pedigree was also feasibly conducive as Guiliani (another first-season sire) is a nephew of Getaway and the damline contains winners Capellini (2/1), listed class handicapper Beringneyev (3/1), Mahogany Blaze (4/3) and Petit Mouchoir (5/5). Held up last of four, in a race ran at a galop comparable to the handicap on the card, Mucuna was novicey over the first three flights as she was steady and awkward over one and two and jumped left while leaving her hind legs in the third. Nevertheless, she was more fluent thereafter and though behind her two remaining rivals when turning for home, was close up and ultimately the last to come off the bridle. Despite being squeezed out at the final flight, she took the lead in a matter of strides and with the rail to help, ran out a decisive and enthusiastic three-length winner. All told, she did not have to improve on her flat form to land the spoils, but her willingness and proven hurdling ability did not go unnoticed. Mucuna returned to the track a week later at Market Rasen and, though very well supported ahead of her Aintree bow, the Market Rasen market was rather lukewarm on her chances as she drifted from a morning 6/4 to 11/4 at the off. Held up off the pace, by some distance at stages, Mucuna’s standard of jumping was just below that of her debut. Having made headway into a threatening position rounding the turn for home, she was caught for toe as the race developed and a pair of awkward jumps over the last two flights did her no favours. The run-in at Market Rasen is the best part of two furlongs so she had plenty of time to put a strong finishing burst together. However, while she managed to eventually grab second in front of the stands, there was still over four lengths between herself and winner Shipton Moyne at the line. The contest looked hotter than at Aintree but the prize went to the rank outsider and as few of her rivals really took to hurdles, the performance can only be regarded as a downgrade. Furthermore, Mucuna also hinted at a preference to jumping to her right, and while this was not a problem at Aintree, it could have been one at Newton Abbot nine days ago if symptomatic of an ingrained physiological issue. Fortunately for her followers, this proved not to be the case; at least not in a way that was entirely detrimental to her winning chances. While the habit of jumping across her hurdles was actually more pronounced on her latest effort, she often went markedly to her left on this occasion which may indicate that she simply likes jumping toward the inner. The Newton Abbot contest was essentially a match between herself and Free Chakarte. Though the longer priced of the pair during the day’s exchanges, they were almost level at the off with Mucuna going off a fraction longer at 6/5. Still racing keenly on her third jumps outing in as many weeks, she was soon tracking the leader having initially raced third of four. Her hurdling was not wholly fluent as along with going to her left, she skewed at the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fifth, big at the sixth and slow away from the last two. Despite these errors however, she was travelling best once the race was between the two principals within the microcosm of a Newton Abbot battle, Mucuna’s stamina edge (and possibly her rider’s allowance) told over her rival’s speed. Indeed, given how the race developed, it is to her credit that she was able to earn the victory and while it probably amounts to little, the race was the strongest in the division this term from a time perspective. There is a Market Rasen beating to overturn with Shipton Moyne and this being her fourth run within a month will be a concern. Nevertheless, Mucuna does meet Shipton Moyne on better terms (even discounting the conditional allowance), the race should be ran at a more even gallop, her form is the strongest in the line-up and Stratford does have the potential to bring out further improvement. Moreover, as demonstrated by Appreciate in the previous race, Milton Harris is adept at running in-form horses multiple times within a short window of time. Dicktate bg Roger Teal f5-0-0 (62) 64 j1-0-0 (-) 63 66 Lawman (Pivotal){3-d}(1.20) 2/2 Catherine Chroi 46 12th 3yo Maiden Hurdle , Fairyhouse 2021 After finishing well beaten on his debut at Kempton last August, Dicktate was not disgraced during the Autumn over ten furlongs at Bath and Goodwood; for all that he was beaten a combined fifteen lengths. However, his season ended with a tailed off eighth of nine at Newmarket and the revised mark of 64 still looked beyond him on his sole flat start this year when he was beaten twelve lengths at Salisbury with no apparent excuses to be made. Insofar as a switch to hurdling is concerned, the credentials of his sire, Lawman, are better as while his offspring are seldom better than ordinary, their winner-to-runner rate of 20% is solid enough. However, the damline is more patchy as the closest winning jumper, First Man’s success coming in a three-mile Catterick Handicap, appears at 4/3. Roger Teal’s jumps strike rate of 6.7% drops to 0% when isolating juvenile hurdlers with nine horses contributing to his zero from eighteen strike rate. Dicktate was the latest to add to this record when making his jumps bow behind Captain Square at Newton Abbot. Drifting from 17/2 to 18/1 in the ring, Dicktate was prominent in the opening stages but his being hampered at the first foreshadowed a round of mostly slow and cautious jumping which saw him fall back to midfield. Already ridden along going out into the second lap, he was disputing a distant third when the leader fell at two out. Having to avoid the faller, Dicktate attempted to pull himself up shortly afterwards and while he consented to continue, it was without enthusiasm, ultimately finishing a twenty length third behind the winner. Those he split were over fifty lengths behind Mucuna next time out, and though experience entitles him to a modicum of improvement, there would have to be a dramatic upturn in enthusiasm and aptitude. Fast Style bg Sam Allwood f5-1-2 (70) 70 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0 Camacho (Dalakhani){3-d}(1.00) 3/1 Colenso 111 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (110), Tramore 2019 Though twelve ex-Roger Charlton juveniles have won since 2004/05, their overall record is ordinary with their winner-runner rate being 18.46%, and improvement rate a modest 20.93%. While Fast Style’s official rating of 70 is the highest in this race, his price tag of 15,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale is low for a successful prospective juvenile from the yard. The rating came courtesy of his getting off the mark at the fifth time of asking in an October Kempton nursery over a mile from a perch of 66. His rating that day of 66 was fair based on his two previous efforts at the venue, but the performance was not enough to keep him at Beckhampton. He joined a Sam Allwood yard which is starting to get its jump winners, although none of the six juveniles to date have obliged in thirteen runs. Fast Style’s breeding is little more encouraging as while Camacho has had three winning juveniles, it is at a below average rate of 11.54% . Grandam Pearl Dance finished third in a Moyglare Stud Stakes, and the first jumpers appear from the third dam; who produced winning handicapper Colenso, as well as the dam of fair French jumper Ejo Pritchard. Despite making his hurdles bow in a weak looking four-runner event at Aintree last month, these factors did not prevent Fast Style’s drifting from a 7/1 morning show to 25/1 at post time. In the race itself, he failed to settle fully behind the leaders, jumped moderately and was detached after jumping the last in the back whereafter he was pulled up. Mutara bg Sean Curran f8-0-3 (55) 62 Muhaarar (Lucky Story){3-c}(0.78) 3/2 Ramonex 136 1st 2m3f Handicap Chase (120), Catterick 2018 Making his debut at Kempton in February, Mutara finished no better than midfield on his first three outings. However, in five outings since his switch to handicaps in early April, he has yet to finish outside of the first four. It should be noted that these performances came off mark decreasing from 55 and that the winners’ enclosure has thus far eluded him; but by the same token, he has been a consistent animal. He was doing his best work towards the finish when third over eleven furlongs at Windsor in early May (Shipton Moyne was seven and half lengths behind) and returning to the turf after a Wolverhampton fourth, would twice find only one too good. At Leicester, he was no match for a horse who recently completed a four-timer, and at Chepstow three weeks ago, was bested by another subsequent winner. Mutara did little wrong on either occasion and has little to answer for in terms of attitude. For all of his honesty, his stamina is not entirely assured and the pedigree is not wholly encouraging. Muhaarar has had one winner from seven juveniles and the jumpers that appear on the damline prior to Ramonex at 3/2 have been poor. Sean Curran has had winners in the division; albeit at a winner to runner rate of 9.52% with zero from twenty scoring first time out. Though of modest ability on the flat, there are elements within his profile to suggest he can at least match his flat form although it is not obviously likely that he can do so at the first time of asking. Rolypolymoly bg Adam West f7-0-1 (63) 69 Heeraat (Monsun){1-k}(0.60) 2/1 Zoffalee 135 1st 2m1f 4yo Handicap Hurdle (112), Ballinrobe 2019 Currently rated 63 on the flat, Rolypolymoly has the highest mark of the three newcomers and could also be the most fairly treated animal in that sphere. After finishing sixth of nine on his debut at Salisbury last September, he round off his two year old campaign with midfield finishes at Goodwood and Kempton which earned him a BHA figure of 67. He ran to a similar level when midfield on his return at Pontefract over a mile in April, but shaped better when stepped up ten furlongs at Nottingham and Leicester, despite taking a keen grip at the latter when finishing just over three lengths behind in third. His last appearance came four weeks ago at Salisbury, carrying top weight in a class four handicap over a mile and a half. He was supported into 7/2 second favouritism having been available at 5/1 but while he settled well enough in midfield, found himself with little room once the race picked up off a modest tempo. Whatever chance he held at the furlong marker was extinguished as he was blocked off once again and he was resigned to beating just one home. Though it can not be said that he was definitely an unlucky loser, he should have finished closer than he did in a race where the front two have both scored since. Rolypolymoly‘s damline offers flashes of optimism for his new vocation as he is out of a Monsun (34.29% winner to runner as a damsire) half-sister to capable hurdler Zoffalee. However, sire Heeraat was a sprint bred sprinter and none of his five juveniles to date have finished better than sixth in the sphere. As such, while he has form over ten and twelve furlongs, these came in falsely run contests so he will be relying on his damline for stamina here. Moreover, trainer Adam West has failed to saddle a winning juvenile from seven in sixteen starts, with the only respite being that two did improve on their flat form without reaching the frame. A generous assessment of Rolypolymoly’s flat profile suggests that there is the ability and potential stamina to make an impact here. However, the record of his sire and trainer, along with the poor record of newcomers in this contest, conspire to temper enthusiasm. Shipton Moyne bf Richard J Bandey f5-0-0 (45) 51 j1-1-0 (-) 82 90 Coach House (Kyllachy){4-n}(3.00) 2/2 Mongolia 58.0/111 1st 3800m 4yo Fillies’ Conditions Hurdle. Angers 2020 Since finishing a ten length sixth on her racecourse bow at Kempton in December, Shipton Moyne was unable to match that effort in four subsequent flat outings. Having ran over a mile at Kempton (beaten twenty-eight lengths) and seven furlongs at Chelmsford (beaten fifteen lengths) prior to a break, her latest flat spin came at Windsor in early May over an extended eleven furlongs where she finished weakly some twelve lengths behind Alan King’s Fast Forward. Prior to switching to jumps at Market Rasen, sire Coach House had a winner from three juveniles, and cousin Mongolia won in the French provinces at four. However, the remainder of the damline (which includes Treve and Triptych) is weak as far as jumpers are concerned until reaching the fair Balkeo at 4/4. Moreover, Kyllachy is an underwhelming influence in the sphere with one winner from twenty-nine as a sire, and zero from three as a damsire. On paper, there was little reason to suspect that Shipton Moyne would be able to reverse the significant gap between herself and Fast Forward, or match the standard set by Mucuna. Trainer Richard Bandey’s previous juvenile had failed to win, although his record at Market Rasen is three winners from six and Shipton Moyne had not gone unbacked; starting the day at 40/1, going as low as 14/1 in the ring before starting at 20/1. Leading or disputing from the outset, the front pair were about a dozen lengths clear passing the post first time although the pace was not overly strong. Her hurdling was not entirely neat as she was given to skewing slightly and landing somewhat steeply. Nevertheless, it was certainly proficient enough to quickly get from one side to the other and as her rival faded on leaving the back, she took full advantage of getting first run on the remainder; maintaining a steady advantage that amounted to four and a half lengths at the line. The performance was something of a revelation although the winning time was weak and if one assumes that the second and third underperformed (there are feasible reasons for both being true) then she did not have to improve a great deal on her flat form to win that contest. There was plenty to like about the way Shipton Moyne went about things at Market Rasen and being unexposed, she is very much open to further improvement; although the suspicion is that improvement will probably be vital in these circumstances. My Rosa’s Gold chf Nigel Hawke f10-0-0 42 (48) Havana Gold (Verglas){16-e}(1.18) 3/1 Pigeon Island 146 1st Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (G2), Kempton 2008 Nigel Hawke, can claim a respectable record in the sphere with a 19.40% winner to runner rate that increases to 25.71% with flat sourced horses. The lion’s share of this success comes from those who started with Jim Bolger; seven of the ten such horses winning as juveniles. Indeed, the winner-to-runner rate for those not trained by Jim Bolger drops to 8% and neither that were trained for the flat in Stoodleigh were successful. Furthermore, Nigel Hawke’s juveniles invariable improve for experience with his first-time strike rate being a mere 4.62%, and second time rate just 5.77%. The latest to attempt breaking this trend is the ten race maiden My Rosa’s Gold. During her career, only twice has she been beaten less than four lengths; when she was eighth off 45 in a Lingfield nursery, and three outings ago at Bath off 46. She weakened on her only try at nine furlongs or beyond, and her latest two appearances saw her beaten eleven and eighteen lengths off 46. Sire Havana Gold has a strike-rate of 5.41% in the division, although the improvement rate of 42.86% is reasonable, albeit from a small sample. The damline is quite encouraging as Verglas has three winners from twelve as a damsire, the dam is a half-sister to two winning hurdlers in Telemachus and Nakoma while the third dam produced the talented Pigeon Island along with winning juvenile Dalmo along with On Alert who won at four. Without the distaff side to the pedigree and her trainer’s overall ability, My Rosa’s Gold would be easily overlooked as a prospective hurdler. Trepidation still persists on the basis of her flat ability and the yard’s slow burning approach, but there may be a longer term future when handicaps become an option. Strong prospects 1. Mucuna Reasonable prospects 2. Shipton Moyne 3. Captain Square Feasible/Moderate prospects 4. Mutara 5. Rolypolymoly 6. My Rosa’s Gold 7. Fast Style Negligible prospects 8. Dicktate tl;dr Captain Square – Flat form amongst the better in this field and is bred to do well over hurdles. Won on hurdling debut but was fortunate in doing so and aspects of his performance give cause for concern. Nevertheless, is entitled to improve and should benefit from conditions. Mucuna – Winner on flat at modest level and with trainer who knows how to train juveniles. Already two wins from three in new vocation and latest effort was best yet despite unfavourable test. Every chance for better here and rider offsets double penalty. Dicktate – Profile not most conducive to game and showed questionable attitude when well beaten on Newton Abbot debut. Fast Style – Highest official rating in line-up but unraced in 2022 prior to Aintree where big drifter and pulled up before leaving back. Mutara – Modest maiden but has shown himself to be consistent at his level since handicapping. Pedigree and trainer not negligible for new career but will probably benefit from experience. Rolypolymoly – Comparatively decent on flat and attitude is improving. Nephew of faily capable sort but records of sire and trainer are not encouraging here. Shipton Moyne – Surprise winner on hurdles bow at Market Rasen but perhaps did not accomplish a great deal. Likeable performance first time and scope for improvement but not certain to confirm placings with Mucuna due to weight and conditions. My Rosa’s Gold – Shown very little on flat but interesting damline. Trainer is capable but usually starts slowly
  12. I think the echoes caused by the sound of my soul being utterly obliterated have just finished reverberating. Tomorrow's race offers no potential of the glory that comes with highlighting a horse right before a huge plunge and a day ahead of it winning how it likes... But it's still a race I guess... NEWTON ABBOT - 1st July - Preview Four runners are set to face the starter in the latest instalment of the juvenile hurdles; the second consecutive one to take place at Newton Abbot. Given that the bulk of what could be written about these participants has already been written in previous previews, and that my energy levels are quite minimal, I am going to be quite lazy on this one. Essentially, I will post their titles, most recent profiles, and add onto them an overview of subsequent performances and anything that may be useful in the context of this contest. Hopefully, this will not become a habit but, out of necessity, it will have to be utilised today. Good juveniles such as Cracker Factory, Leoncavallo and Hiconic, along with eventually useful sorts in Vosne Romanee, Fire Dragon and Olofi, have graced the Westernmost track in the country during the summer. However, as a rule, such events are typically modest affairs with the average winner’s seasonal RPR being just short of 110. This particular juvenile was first held when opening the delayed 2020 season and was taken by Hiconic who ruled that particular summer. Last year’s renewal produced four subsequent winners, although only fourth placed Koi Dodville could be considered above average. Connections of Koi Dodville are represented here by Free Chakarte; one of two previous winners in the line-up. The remaining half of the field has shown little to date. A tight, left-handed track, Newton Abbot’s average winning DIs of 1.40 median, 1.51 mean make it one of the least demanding in the country insofar as stamina is concerned. Jumping is a slightly different matter as its clear round rate of 94.03% is lower than average. Newton Abbot is also one of the less predictable racecourses with the mean ISP of 8.10 also the ninth lowest. The going is currently good, all intended watering has been completed, and no further rain is expected before post time. Beerenberg bg Brian Barr f9-0-2 (56) 61 j1-0-0 (-) 54 68 National Defense (Evasive){14-b}(1.40) 3/1 Tsar Noir 57.0 2nd 4500m Grand Steeple-Chase Ville de Deauville (L,52.0), Clairefontaine 2019 Preview for Newton Abbot 21st June Initially with Joseph O’Brien, Beerenberg finished tenth at Cork last May, and eleventh at Naas in August before fetching 2,500 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. There was a hint of promise on his British debut when fourth in a Kempton maiden before rounding off the year with a tepid performance on his handicap debut at Southwell. 2022 began with a second placing in a Wolverhampton seller over an extended mile where, along with finishing a length and a half ahead of Intriguing Lady, was arguably (but not decidedly) unlucky not to finish closer. Beerenberg’s four subsequent outings all came in handicap company and while his rating dropped to 55, he was never worse than midfield and his third at Chelmsford over ten furlongs saw his mark increase by a pound. Brian Barr has yet to have a winning juvenile from five and none of the four with more than one jumps race to their name was able to match their flat form. National Defense is a first-season sire and his credentials are not outstanding. Less than half of Invincible Spirit’s stallions have produced winners in the sphere, and National Defense is not the tallest at 16.0hh. Nevertheless, he did win over a mile at two and along with being a cousin of Adayar, is from the family of Aachen and Aalim. Beerenberg’s damline also affords distant glimmers of encouragement as the granddam is a half-sister to multiple winner Bright Sparky, and capable French handicap chaser Tsar Noir. Beerenberg is improving at his own rate, although he is still around a stone short of the best flat form and his head carriage could count against him along with his trainer’s negligible form in the sphere. Supplement Available at 12/1 in the morning, Beerenberg was steady in the ring and started the 8/1 fourth favourite of six. Held up towards the rear, he was not a complete natural to jumping as he was given to hopping, skewing and steadying at numerous hurdles. While the leading pair were out of reach by the time he made some headway on the turn for home, he did jump the penultimate flight in third position. However, it is concerning that he attempted to pull himself up when hampered by a faller and his twenty-three length last of four finishers is reflective of his ability and aptitude. Free Chakarte bf David Pipe f6-2-1 (32.0) 63 j2-1-1 (-) 90 98 Highland Reel (Pivotal){13-e}(0.82) 2/1 Libeccio 126 1st 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle, Plumpton 2016 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/free-chakarte Preview for Hexham 4th June David Pipe won this race in 2010 with Lucky Quay, and last year with Koi Dodville; who had been bought out of a French claimer on his previous start. While Koi Dodville cost the same connections €14,506 after finishing second at Saint-Cloud, French Chakarte was slightly pricier at €17,001 following her win at Fontainebleau thirty-eight days ago. The road to Fontainebleau began last June with a staying-on third in a 1400m newcomers race at La Teste de Buch under the care of Simone Brogi. Disappointing on her return to the venue the following month, Free Chakarte was switched to Christophe Ferland’s yard and was next seen at Toulouse in March over 2100m where she finished in midfield; fading having led to the furlong marker. Later that month, a switch to handicapping (off a valeur of 33 (72.6) and more patient tactics back over a mile at La Teste failed to pay off as she got very warm and finished well beaten. Free Chakarte was then dropped to claiming company which saw her finally get off the mark at Royan in a 1600m contest on souple ground worth €8,000. Initially setting the pace, she slotted behind the leaders going into the back before regaining the lead turning for home and fending off a better travelling rival to win by three-quarters of a length. She conceded five-and-a-half kilos to the 29.0 rated runner-up and was nearly nine pounds better than the fifty-six rated third. The form has not been well advertised since, but it would still be worth a rating in the mid-high sixties. Later in April, Free Chakarte completed the double at Fontainebleau in a 2000m claimer worth more than twice the Royan contest. Stalking the leader from the outset, she was asked for her effort at the distance and though her immediate response was to wander under pressure, she straightened out inside the final furlong and had the measure of her rivals to the tune of a decisive length at the finish. She was getting weight from the first three to follow her home, but with them all rated between 30.0 (66) and 34.0 (74.8), another mark in the mid-high sixties would not be wide of the mark. Two of the nine juveniles formerly trained by Christophe Ferland were winners with each also able to score on their first runs in Britain. David Pipe is not shy about buying juveniles from French claimers and five of the twelve sourced in this fashion were winners; giving a winner runner rate of 41.67% which compares favourably to the 20.45% for all other trainers. While three of these would take a few runs to find their mark, the most recent pair – Adagio and Koi Dodville – did score at the first time of asking. Free Chakarte’s sire, Highland Reel, is one of two in this contest having their first forays in National Hunt racing and is also a globetrotting son of Galileo. However, while Mondialiste leaned towards the mile end of middle-distances, Highland Reel won five times over a mile and a half including a King George and a Coronation Cup. Highland Reel is the shorter of the two, measuring at 16.0¼hh, but despite his Antipodean flat heritage, is a 3/3 relative of Starspangledbanner; a sire emerging as rather adept with juvenile hurdlers. While preferring livelier ground as a racehorse, Highland Reel is getting winners on soft. All the same, as a probable source of stamina with good ground ability, Highland Reel has the attributes to enjoy success with summer jumpers. The distaff side of Free Chakarte’s pedigree also has some potential for the sphere as evidenced by uncle Libeccio who finished second in the juvenile handicap at Sandown before winning fairly useful hurdles over middle distances. Though unlikely to set the scene alight, Free Chakarte has less questions to answer than her opponents here and comes into the race with a solid chance. Supplement Free Chakarte shortened from 13/8 to 6/5 in the Hexham ring and was ultimately the only horse in the race. Sent to the front from flagfall, she posted a decent round of jumping with her only errors coming when skewing over the fifth, clipping the sixth and being untidy over the last when a very long way clear of her rivals. There is little to say about the form, particularly as the only seemingly feasible threat fell at the penultimate flight, and the time compared to the other races over the distance on the card was modest. Nevertheless, she was eased inside the final furlong and needed to do little more than required of her on the day. She made a quick reappearance at Aintree six days later and, in what looked no stronger a contest than at Hexham, was sent off the 2/5 favourite. However, while securing the lead was done quite easily, she did not settle quite so well as her first outing and her jumping also declined by a degree or two. Free Chakarte did trade as low as 1.29 in-running and was still leading on the bridle jumping two out, but an untidy jump at the last saw her concede the lead and she was relegated to third inside the final hundred yards. The most obvious explanation – that the race came too soon after Hexham – is probably the most plausible one and having enjoyed a three-week break, she will be the freshest coming into this contest. Moreover, she is weighted to reverse placing with her Aintree victor, Mucuna, and with the sharper Newton Abbot looking to suit her better than the aforementioned, not to mention her being the most apparent pace angle and her win over a mile in France, her prospects look solid. Mucuna bf Milton Harris f8-1-0 (49) 55 j1-1-0 (-) 86 94 Guiliani (Gold Away){14-b}(0.89) 2/1 Capellini 98 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (93), Plumpton 2013 Preview for Market Rasen 17th June Prior to his forced sabbatical, Milton Harris was no slouch when it came to juvenile hurdlers; saddling Modul to win the Grade 2 Summit and Finesse Hurdles in 2003/04 and subsequently guiding Gulf Punch (rated 45 and claimed for £5000), Pseudonym (also claimed for £5000), Rosie’s Glory (rated 60) and Moonfleet (rated 57) to the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, since his glorious return to the shores of Hoofiana, Harris has proven himself in no uncertain terms with an excellent winner to runner record of ten from twenty capped by last season’s hugely admirable Knight Salute. He has started the current season as he ended the last by winning a juvenile hurdle at Aintree with the 49 rated Mucuna. Her first five outings, commencing last October, came on the all-weather; starting at triple digit prices on each occasion with her best effort coming with a midfield finish in a mile Handicap at Kempton off 46. However, the switch to turf and a step up to ten furlongs saw her get off the mark at Salisbury back in April. Held up in midfield and racing widest of all, she was asked for her effort half a mile from home. It took a while for her to move through the gears, but she did run on strongest of all; taking it up in the final hundred yards and winning by three quarters of a length. The field finished in a heap but while the form amounts to little, Mucuna was clearly the best on the day. She was unable to follow up in a couple of Bath handicaps off 50 during May, finishing fourth on both occasions, but it was apparent that the track did not see her to best effect. The switch to hurdling came last week at Aintree and while she was backed from 20/1 into 4/1 second favourite, this was not a clandestine move as there was plenty of evidence for a good showing in a weak race. Although her rating is a low one, Milton Harris, since his return, has trained Romeo’s Bond (55) to win, and Global Agreement (56) to place first time. Mucuna’s pedigree was also feasibly conducive as Guiliani (another first-season sire) is a nephew of Getaway and the damline contains winners Capellini (2/1), listed class handicapper Beringneyev (3/1), Mahogany Blaze (4/3) and Petit Mouchoir (5/5). Held up last of four, in a race ran at a galop comparable to the handicap on the card, Mucuna was novicey over the first three flights as she was steady and awkward over one and two and jumped left while leaving her hind legs in the third. Nevertheless, she was more fluent thereafter and though behind her two remaining rivals when turning for home, was close up and ultimately the last to come off the bridle. Despite being squeezed out at the final flight, she took the lead in a matter of strides and with the rail to help, ran out a decisive and enthusiastic three-length winner. All told, she did not have to improve on her flat form to land the spoils and she is in deeper waters here if her opponents run to scratch. Notwithstanding, her willingness and proven hurdling ability still count for something and with the yard in decent form, Mucuna should put up a respectable showing. Supplement Though very well supported ahead of her Aintree bow, the market was rather lukewarm on her chances as she drifted from a morning 6/4 to 11/4 at the off. Held up off the pace, by some distance at stages, Mucuna’s standard of jumping was just below that of her debut. Having made headway into a threatening position rounding the turn for home, she was caught for toe as the race developed and a pair of awkward jumps over the last two flights did her no favours. The run-in at Market Rasen is the best part of two furlongs so she had plenty of time to put a strong finishing burst together. However, while she managed to eventually grab second in front of the stands, there was still over four lengths between herself and the winner at the line. The contest looked hotter than at Aintree but the prize went to the rank outsider and as few of her rivals really took to hurdles, the performance can only be regarded as a downgrade. Furthermore, Mucuna also hinted at a preference to jumping to her right, and while this was not a problem at Aintree, it could be one at Newton Abbot if symptomatic of an ingrained physiological issue. Mucuna has already beaten Free Chakarte and although the latter is better weighted, this could be offset by her rider’s claim. Notwithstanding, the characteristics of Newton Abbot do give weight to the argument that the Aintree placings can be reversed. Intriguing Lady bf Nigel Hawke f12-0-3 (50) 66 j2-0-1 (-) 61 69 Fascinating Rock (Invincible Spirit){9-e}(1.13) 2/1 Arthurian 87 1st 2m½f Juvenile Selling Hurdle, Stratford 2008 Preview for Newton Abbot 21st June Along with twelve flat outings to her name, Intriguing Lady is the most experienced hurdler set to face the starter by virtue of her running at Hexham early this month. She was formerly trained by Mark Johnston who, since 2005, has been the most prolific supplier of juvenile hurdles with 212 former inmates of Kingsley House taking up the vocation. For context, Mick Channon is next on the list with just three others reaching triple digits. Of those 212, fifty were winners, giving a healthy rate of 23.58%, although less than a third would improve on what they had shown for Johnston. The latter factor would be a matter of concern for Intriguing Lady whose early promise was fleeting and has been supplanted by disappointment. Her debut came at Ayr last August where, sporting a hood, she finished second of four behind a fair and experienced rival and ahead of a pair that have subsequently achieved little. Running green and down the field on her next two starts, she posted her career best on her handicap debut in a seven-furlong Newcastle nursery in October off 65. She was arguably unlucky when sixth in a Chelmsford claimer on her seventh and final start as a two-year-old, but on her first four starts of 2022, finished last in a handicap, last in a claimer, third in a seller won by a 54 rated animal, then eighth of nine in a Southwell handicap. Intriguing Lady was last seen finishing midfield in a Wolverhampton handicap where, sporting her fourth form of headgear, refused to settle before weakening late on. After this final outing, Intriguing Lady went to the Tattersalls Ascot March Sale where she commanded just £2,000. Such an appraisal is not inherently damning to a young hurdler’s prospects, however, as five of the thirty-four juveniles to have left Mark Johnston’s at public auction for less than £5,000 would be winners. Her new handler, Nigel Hawke, has a respectable record in the sphere with a 19.70% winner to runner rate that increases to 25.71% with flat sourced horses. The lion’s share of this success come from those from Jim Bolger’s with seven of the ten such horses winning. Indeed, the winner-to-runner rate for those not trained by Jim Bolger drops to 8%. Furthermore, Nigel Hawke’s juveniles invariable improve for experience with his first-time strike rate being a mere 4.62%, and second time rate just 5.88%. Fascinating Rock’s record is below average by general standards with his sole winner from eight being the Joseph O’Brien trained Faron, and his clear round rate of 81.82% being low by any measure. Intriguing Lady’s uncle did win a juvenile hurdle, albeit a weak Stratford seller, and apart from minor winner Manjaam at 3/2, jumping prowess on the damline is negligible before reaching Mengli Khan at 4/2. Drifting from 9/1 to 14/1 at Hexham, all concerns manifested in the contest itself as she raced keenly, made errors at most flights before weakening tamely on leaving the back and finishing well beaten. Some experience is better than none, the sharper test might suit and the yard came close to breaking its dry run with a neck second last week. However, considerable improvement would still be required for her to feature strongly here. Supplement Intriguing Lady was sent off the 20/1 outsider of the field but there was improvement from her Hexham showing. Held up in the rear, she settled much better and her jumping also saw significant improvement with her skewing over the second being the only error of note. Nevertheless, she was still treading water on the turn for home and but for her remaining rivals pulling themselves up after the penultimate flight mele, she may have finished last. In fairness, she was carried widest of all by the loose horse and though she had no chance with the winner and less chance with the would-be winner, she is beginning to look one that could work with a reasonable mark. Strong prospects 1. Free Chakarte Reasonable prospects 2. Mucuna Feasible prospects . Moderate prospects 3. Intriguing Lady Negligible prospects 4. Beerenberg
  13. Newton Abbot – 21st June – Preview The first three juvenile hurdles this season have all gone to the fillies. This is more a statistical cluster than systematic trend which plays out in the long term and at Newton Abbot, Intriguing Lady will be the sole vanguard for her sex against Dicktate and four other geldings. Held for the first time last season, the only other juvenile contest held at Newton Abbot during June was won by the classy Barizan in 2009. Otherwise, while good juveniles such as Cracker Factory, Leoncavallo and Hiconic, along with eventually useful sorts in Vosne Romanee, Fire Dragon and Olofi, have graced the Westernmost track in the country during the summer, such events are typically modest affairs with the average winner’s seasonal RPR being just short of 110. This maiden juvenile is rather par for the course as the sole participant with experience failed to impress first time, and although a couple of the newcomers have fair flat form for the time of year, neither have substantial profiles. A tight, left-handed track, Newton Abbot’s average winning DIs of 1.40 median, 1.51 mean make it one of the least demanding in the country insofar as stamina is concerned. Jumping is a slightly different matter as its clear round rate of 94.31% is lower than average, and this drops to 91.32% for newcomers which ranks it the ninth lowest in Britain and Ireland. Newton Abbot is also one of the less predictable racecourses with the mean ISP of 8.10 also the ninth lowest. The going is currently good with the ground being regularly watered to maintain. Alphonse Le Grande bg Ed Dunlop f14-1-3 (68) 75 Sea The Stars (Zoffany){1-n}(1.15) 3/1 Darley Sun 130 1st 2m6f Novices’ Hurdle, Stratford 2013 The Dunlop name is synonymous with flat racing with Harry and Ed following in their father’s footsteps by landing numerous top races at home and abroad. However, while the pater John was responsible for introducing Wahiba Sands to the jumps world, his sons have had such an impact on the game. Harry made it one from sixty-six at Uttoxeter last December, while Ed has yet to score in three attempts dating back to May 1989. The latter has had a fair spell on the flat recently and will be hoping Alphonse Le Grande can help him to draw level with his brother. One pound shy of bringing the highest flat rating into the race, Alphonse Le Grande is also the most experienced, and most accomplished runner in this field. A veteran of fourteen starts, he made his debut last July at Newmarket, finishing no closer than nine lengths to the winner in three outings. Switching to handicaps and stepping up to a mile, he was beaten less than four lengths off 67 at Wolverhampton and following a gelding operation and two month break, got to within half-a-length of breaking his duck at Kempton. The maiden victory finally came his way at the ninth attempt, just before Christmas in a Wolverhampton nursery over an extended nine furlongs off 67. Since then, his tally has not been doubled, nor has he has reached the frame in five subsequent outings; one on New Year’s Eve and four this spring at distances up to a mile and a half. Nevertheless, despite looking ponderous on occasion, he had been running to a consistent level while shaping as though he would thrive over further (Being such an anomaly, his last appearance, which saw him finish tailed off at Beverley having never settled, may well be forgiven). While damsire Zoffany was never tried beyond a mile, and dam Dolce Strega won a Group 3 over seven furlongs, stamina is still a key feature in Alphonse Le Grande’s pedigree. Sea The Stars has a fine winner to runner rate of 32.26% in the sphere while granddam is a half-sister to three winning jumpers over twenty furlongs and further; including the 2009 Cesarewitch winner, Darley Sun. Neither ability nor stamina are matters for concern, although even forgiving the latest outing, the trainer’s non-existent record in the division and the possibility that this race may be too sharp are not readily ignored. Beerenberg bg Brian Barr f9-0-2 (56) 61 National Defense (Evasive){14-b}(1.40) 3/1 Tsar Noir 57.0 2nd 4500m Grand Steeple-Chase Ville de Deauville (L,52.0), Clairefontaine 2019 Initially with Joseph O’Brien, Beerenberg finished tenth at Cork last May, and eleventh at Naas in August before fetching 2,500 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. There was a hint of promise on his British debut when fourth in a Kempton maiden before rounding off the year with a tepid performance on his handicap debut at Southwell. 2022 began with a second placing in a Wolverhampton seller over an extended mile where, along with finishing a length and a half ahead of Intriguing Lady, was arguably (but not decidedly) unlucky not to finish closer. Beerenberg’s four subsequent outings all came in handicap company and while his rating dropped to 55, he was never worse than midfield and his third at Chelmsford over ten furlongs saw his mark increase by a pound. Brian Barr has yet to have a winning juvenile from five and none of the four with more than one jumps race to their name was able to match their flat form. National Defense is a first-season sire and his credentials are not outstanding. Less than half of Invincible Spirit’s stallions have produced winners in the sphere, and National Defense is not the tallest at 16.0hh. Nevertheless, he did win over a mile at two and along with being a cousin of Adayar, is from the family of Aachen and Aalim. Beerenberg’s damline also affords distant glimmers of encouragement as the granddam is a half-sister to multiple winner Bright Sparky, and capable French handicap chaser Tsar Noir. Beerenberg is improving at his own rate, although he is still around a stone short of the best flat form and his head carriage could count against him along with his trainer’s negligible form in the sphere. Captain Square chg Tom Lacey f6-0-2 (69) 74 Sir Percy (Duke Of Marmalade){1-m}(0.33) 3/1 Overturn 167 2nd Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham 2012 By Sir Percy (Knight Salute, winner-to-runner rate of 31.82%) and from the family of Chocala (2/1), Fisher Bridge (3/1) and Overturn (3/1), Captain Square has the most interesting pedigree in this line-up. Moreover, while he was a six-race maiden on the flat for Andrew Balding, his official rating 69 is the highest brought into the race. His first three outings all came over seven furlongs last July where he followed a midfield finish at Sandown (behind Derby also-ran Sonny Liston) with third (behind 1000 Guineas runner-up Prosperous Voyage) and fourth (behind Royal Lodge winner Royal Patronage) place finishes at Epsom. Captain Square got no closer five lengths to the aforementioned, but he did shape as though further would suit and his allotted mark of 72 was not unduly harsh. However, following an eight month break and a gelding operation, this potential did not play out in practice as Captain Square failed to make any real impression in a pair of twelve furlong handicaps in April. At Southwell, he failed to settle in a falsely run contest, but had no such excuse next time at Lingfield where he beat only one home. Captain Sqaure’s sights were lowered for his return to turf at Leicester and while all but one of his rivals were rated higher, his receiving weight all round and being much the least exposed saw him sent off the even money favourite. However, he failed to settle once again and although he led momentarily at the distance, was clear second best on the day. Following the race, Captain Square was claimed for £12,000 to join a Tom Lacey yard with two winners from ten in the sphere; both scoring at the first time of asking. Andrew Balding has supplied 108 juveniles to the division since 2004/05 and twenty of those were winners; including the likes of Knight Salute, Hollow Tree and Flaxen Flare. However, the improvement rare of 22.78% is a low one and of the six who were bought out of selling and claiming races, not one win was achieved from their twenty-eight runs combined. Captain Square has plenty going for him on his flat ability, pedigree and trainer’s respectable first time record. However, he is another who may find this contest on the sharp side and that he found himself in a seller while under the care Andrew Balding could be ominous. Dicktate bg Roger Teal f5-0-0 (62) 64 Lawman (Pivotal){3-d}(1.20) 2/2 Catherine Chroi 46 12th 3yo Maiden Hurdle , Fairyhouse 2021 After finishing well beaten on his debut at Kempton last August, Dicktate was not disgraced during the Autumn over ten furlongs at Bath and Goodwood; for all that he was beaten a combined fifteen lengths. However, his season ended with a tailed off eighth of nine at Newmarket and the revised mark of 64 still looked beyond him on his sole start this year when he was beaten twelve lengths at Salisbury with no apparent excuses to be made. Roger Teal’s jumps strike rate of 4% drops to 0% when isolating juvenile hurdlers with eight horses contributing to his zero from seventeen strike rate. The credentials of his sire, Lawman, are better as while his offspring are seldom better than ordinary, their winner-to-runner rate of 20.37% is solid. The damline is more patchy as the closest winning jumper, First Man, appears at 4/3. Hill Station bg Gary Moore f4-0-0 (56) 59 Born To Sea (Tobougg){11-d}(1.00) 1/0 Fulani’s 10th 3200m 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Compiegne 2011 On BHA ratings, Hill Station is the worst treated on these terms with his mark of 56 a fair reflection of a lacklustre four-race career. Three outings last year saw him finish no closer than eighth to the winner and his handicap debut on his seasonal reappearance at Wolverhampton five weeks ago resulted in an eleven length eighth. Unfancied in the market, he was not sharp enough to get involved in the mile and a half contest and was allowed to coast home in the straight as he passed beaten horses. There is little encouragement on the distaff side either as his dam, the only relative with hurdles experience, finished well beaten as a three-year-old in France. Nevertheless, there are elements of encouragement in Hill Station’s profile. His sire, Born To Sea (Aspire Tower, A Wave Of The Sea) has a solid winner to runner rate of 23.33% and his improvement rate of 50% is the strongest of the sires represented here. Gary Moore’s winner-to-runner rate of 36.57%, is much the strongest in this field and his record in Newton Abbot juveniles stands at 40%. Moreover, his first-time strike-rate of 19.25% is well above average and interestingly, when isolating those he trained on the flat himself, his first-time record at the track is four winners from four; the horses in question carrying BHA ratings of 68, 62, 59 and 59 again. Hill Station has to leave his flat form well behind, even though he was tenderly ridden on his reappearance during a time when the yard was coming out of a cold spell. In a contest where the leading contenders have shadows hanging over their profiles, Gary Moore’s record with his sort could be telling. Intriguing Lady bf Nigel Hawke f12-0-3 (50) 66 j1-0-0 (-) 58 72 Fascinating Rock (Invincible Spirit){9-e}(1.13) 2/1 Arthurian 87 1st 2m½f Juvenile Selling Hurdle, Stratford 2008 Along with twelve flat outings to her name, Intriguing Lady is the most experienced hurdler set to face the starter by virtue of her running at Hexham early this month. She was formerly trained by Mark Johnston who, since 2005, has been the most prolific supplier of juvenile hurdles with 212 former inmates of Kingsley House taking up the vocation. For context, Mick Channon is next on the list with just three others reaching triple digits. Of those 212, fifty were winners, giving a healthy rate of 23.58%, although less than a third would improve on what they had shown for Johnston. The latter factor would be a matter of concern for Intriguing Lady whose early promise was fleeting and has been supplanted by disappointment. Her debut came at Ayr last August where, sporting a hood, she finished second of four behind a fair and experienced rival and ahead of a pair that have subsequently achieved little. Running green and down the field on her next two starts, she posted her career best on her handicap debut in a seven-furlong Newcastle nursery in October off 65. She was arguably unlucky when sixth in a Chelmsford claimer on her seventh and final start as a two-year-old, but on her first four starts of 2022, finished last in a handicap, last in a claimer, third in a seller won by a 54 rated animal, then eighth of nine in a Southwell handicap. Intriguing Lady was last seen finishing midfield in a Wolverhampton handicap where, sporting her fourth form of headgear, refused to settle before weakening late on. After this final outing, Intriguing Lady went to the Tattersalls Ascot March Sale where she commanded just £2,000. Such an appraisal is not inherently damning to a young hurdler’s prospects, however, as five of the thirty-four juveniles to have left Mark Johnston’s at public auction for less than £5,000 would be winners. Her new handler, Nigel Hawke, has a respectable record in the sphere with a 19.70% winner to runner rate that increases to 25.71% with flat sourced horses. The lion’s share of this success come from those from Jim Bolger’s with seven of the ten such horses winning. Indeed, the winner-to-runner rate for those not trained by Jim Bolger drops to 8%. Furthermore, Nigel Hawke’s juveniles invariable improve for experience with his first-time strike rate being a mere 4.62%, and second time rate just 5.88%. Fascinating Rock’s record is below average by general standards with his sole winner from eight being the Joseph O’Brien trained Faron, and his clear round rate of 81.82% being low by any measure. Intriguing Lady’s uncle did win a juvenile hurdle, albeit a weak Stratford seller, and apart from minor winner Manjaam at 3/2, jumping prowess on the damline is negligible before reaching Mengli Khan at 4/2. Drifting from 9/1 to 14/1 at Hexham, all concerns manifested in the contest itself as she raced keenly, made errors at most flights before weakening tamely on leaving the back and finishing well beaten. Some experience is better than none, the sharper test might suit and the yard came close to breaking its dry run with a neck second last week. However, considerable improvement would still be required for her to feature strongly here. Strong prospects 1. Hill Station Reasonable prospects 2. Captain Square 3. Alphonse Le Grande Feasible Prospects . Moderate prospects 4. Beerenberg 5. Intriguing Lady 6. Dicktate Negligible prospects .
  14. Apologies for missing the Aintree race - would have been 1.Free Chakarte 2. Mucuna 3. Fast Style 4. All In Peder so probably for the best I was too tired from work to preview a four runner race. Luckily, I was able to get away a few hours early today so here is the preview for a five runner juvenile Market Rasen – 17th June – PreviewThe third juvenile hurdle of the season is set to take place at Market Rasen. While the Lincolnshire track has been the first step towards Triumph glory for the likes of Katchit, Countrywide Flame and Tiger Roll, this particular contest has been fairly typical for the course and the time of year. Exceptions include Orsippus (fourth in 2009), Chic Name (fifth in 2015) and the eventually useful King’s Wharf (second in 2012), but the average winners’ seasonal RPR of 106 is moderate. This year’s line-up is par for the course as while there is a winner and a strong travelling penultimate flight faller taking on a couple of flat winners with interesting pedigrees, the two juvenile hurdles to date have been modest and the flat form is not much better. A sharp, largely flat and right-handed track the course’s winning DIs of 1.27 median, 1.68 mean, are amongst the ten highest in the country although the figures are lower for this race and the completion rate of 83.94% is in the lower third. Notwithstanding, with the ground being described as good (watering to maintain) and none of the five participants being frontrunners, stamina demands are unlikely to be exacting.Bukela bg Brian Ellison f5-0-0 (54) 63 j1-0-0 (-) 75 ?Mondialiste (Val Royal){1-x}(0.92) 2/2 Bentons Lad 102 1st 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle (97), Southwell 2018From 2009, Brian Ellison saddled eight runners without success in this contest before Whiskey And Water won in 2019. This year’s representative, Bukela was initially under the care of Stef Keniry, for whom he was beaten no less than fifteen lengths on each of his three outings last year. Switched to Brian Ellison’s and armed with a basement mark of 55, Bukela showed his first piece of worthwhile form when reappearing in a sixteen-furlong Wetherby Handicap in April. Sent off at 22/1, having drifted from 16/1 to 33/1 in the morning, Bukela was outpaced in the early stages. However, despite showing greenness in the straight, was able to keep on in what was an honestly run contest for a three length fifth of thirteen. The form is taking a fair shape with the winner finishing second at Sandown, and the fourth winning next time out. Bukela’s second appearance of the season came at Redcar over a furlong shorter where he drifted from a morning 3/1 to 5/1. Never getting involved and finishing an eleven length eighth, his being hampered at the start did light him up although it was still a disappointing effort. Switched to hurdles at Hexham a fortnight ago, Bukela became the first of Mondialiste’s offspring to race over hurdles. Standing at a decent 16.1hh, the globetrotting Mondialiste won his first race at four before landing the Woodbine Mile and Arlington Million as well as finishing third in the Prix Jean Prat. Though a son of Galileo, whose winner to runner rate as a grandsire is a decent 27.74%, Mondialiste’s nephew Intello has had one winning juvenile from eight with none improving on their flat form. The damline’s clues to Bukela’s potential hurdling ability are similarly fair at best. Cousin Bentons Lad won three moderate handicap hurdles over intermediate distances, but remaining evidence is sparse until one reaches Lil Rockerfeller at 5/5. Sporting a first-time tongue strap, Bukela attracted strong support in the market, starting the 7/2 second favourite having been available at 10/1 in the morning. Held up towards the rear off an even gallop, he gave plenty of air over the first three flights but was tidier over the next three. Making headway along the back, he was at the quarters of the leaders and yet to be asked any serious question coming down at the penultimate flight; again, jumping big and clipping the flight with his forelegs before stumbling on landing and taking a clattering fall. Bukela did appear to be travelling in accordance with the market confidence but there was still plenty of the race to be run and with the winner disappointing next time, anything other than travelling strongly would have been a negative in what looks a poor race from a form perspective. Moreover, there would also be a concern that the fall might have left a psychological mark as those who fell on their hurdling debut have a 6.83% strike-rate second-time-out (compared to 9.33% for all other second time out runners). Hurdling experience is typically a positive and the market confidence at Hexham would not be dismissed at this stage. However, his flat form is not the strongest in this line-up and there are currently questions to answer.Fast Forward bg Alan King f10-2-2 (58) 64Recorder (One Cool Cat){14-c}(0.80) 2/1 Early Doors 153 1st Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle (145), Cheltenham 2019Trainer Alan King’s record in the juvenile hurdling division is intimidating at all levels. As well as winning Grade Ones with the likes of Katchit, Franchoek, Walkon, Grumeti, and l’Unique, (the first two named introduced at Market Rasen) he also boasts a winner to runner rate of 47.84%, an improvement rate of 50.91%, and of those trained at Barbury Castle during their flat careers, 51.72% would win during their initial campaigns over jumps. Alan King is also adept at readying them first time out as per their 26.14% strike-rate. Even with those rated less than 62 on the flat, three of the eighteen won first-time at a rate of 16.67% (3.37% across all yards). This factor is pertinent to Fast Forward who, after fetching 30,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Guineas Sale as a two-year-old, ended a ten-race spell on the flat with a BHA mark of 58. Starting his career at Sandown last July, Fast Forward finished no better than midfield on his first five outings, but the application of cheekpieces coincided with his reaching the frame in a mile nursery at Newcastle in late November off 46. Following a lacklustre return from a winter break at Southwell in mid-March, Fast Forward broke his duck at Windsor at the beginning of May in a Windsor handicap over an extended eleven furlongs. Weak in the market, sent off at 20/1 having started the day at half that price, Fast Forward settled behind the leaders before being asked for his effort turning into the straight. From there, he was engaged in a protracted battle for the lead in which he ultimately prevailed by a head; the front pair finishing five lengths clear of the remainder. He failed to follow up when next seen towards the end of May in a similar contest at Yarmouth. Ridden more conservatively, he met with an unclear passage at the distance before finishing strongly inside the final furlong; denied a half-length by a subsequent winner. Nevertheless, Fast Forward regained the winning thread when returning to Yarmouth last week, his mark of 55 giving him top-weight. Ridden more prominently in a steadily run contest, he was travelling much the best as the race developed and after hitting the front at the distance, was always doing enough to win by a neck and a head with the fourth a further three lengths behind. There is still room to maneuver in his rating of 58 so it is interesting that connections have opted to switch to hurdling rather than take advantage of his seemingly generous mark. Notwithstanding, there are grounds in his pedigree for doing so as his uncle, Early Doors, won on his hurdling debut as a four-year-old after a brief but fruitful bumper career before going on to win the Martin Pipe Hurdle and the Galway Plate over the next two years. His auntie Yauthym placed in the listed juvenile hurdle at Doncaster, other useful winners, Smaoineamh Alainn and Conclave were produced by the third dam while Scolardy (5/3) and The Young Master (5/6) appear further back. Recorder is one of three first-season jumps stallions represented here and although he retired after winning the Acomb Stakes, his prospects for the sphere are not negligible. As per Bukala’s profile, sons of Galileo can produce juvenile hurdlers and though a little on the short side at 16.0hh, was bred to be a stayer with his being a full-brother to a couple of useful sorts with wins over the Leger trip and beyond (one being Call To Mind), and DI of 0.77. Fast Forward has a progressive profile with his best flat form bettered by only one rival and as he is the only runner to have been ridden prominently with success, he could be the pace angle in a contest won by his strong and in-form trainer with another newcomer, Red Mercury, in 2011.Ha Long Bay chg Adrian Paul Keatley f9-2-0 (70) 74Mastercraftsman (Bushranger){8}(3.00) 3/1 Arch Rebel 145 1st Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Leopardstown 2004Following a nine race spell on the flat, Ha Long Bay comes into this contest with a mark of 70, which gives him the best part of a stone in hand over his rivals. First seeing the racecourse at Beverley last September, Ha Long Bay ran largely with credit on five occasions in novices and nurserys without reaching the frame. Following his winter break, he returned in a seven furlong handicap at Catterick where, racing off 61, was the subject of a plunge; starting the 11/4 favourite having opened at 8/1 in the morning. Caught for toe in the early stages and seemingly making heavy weather of things at the distance with more than half the field still ahead of him, Ha Long Bay was able to finish strongly once the penny dropped, passing five rivals inside the final furlong to win in the final strides by a neck. Reappearing under a penalty at Redcar eight days later over an extra furlong, Ha Long Bay justified favouritism to land a brace. Settled in midfield but making steadier headway, he was battling for the lead at the furlong marker before winning by a neck from a previous winner. The revised mark of 72 put an end to his winning streak but he still ran with credit when a one-paced fourth in a Class 3 at York, before struggling to make an impression at Beverley last time when stepped up to twelve furlongs. Subsequently dropped to 70, the impression is that Ha Long Bay has reached his ceiling on the flat. However, a switch in codes is not an unreasonable move based on his breeding. Mastercraftsman is firmly established as one of the stronger stallions in the division with only Galileo and Montjeu producing more winning juveniles since 2004/05. While the distaff side is primarily based in the States, talented juvenile Arch Rebel is out of the third dam while useful US jumps winners Call Me Sonny and Old Timer appear at 4/2 and 5/3 on the damline. Trainer Adrian Paul Keatley has had a winning juvenile, but that came when Champagne Terri (trained by Keatley on the flat and of a similar ability to Ha Long Bay) scored at the third time of asking; making his overall record one win from thirty-two starts. That Keatley has also gone the best part of a month without a winner with his last ten runners failing to reach the frame, the enthusiasm created by Ha Long Bay’s pedigree and flat superiority is tempered.Mucuna bf Milton Harris f8-1-0 (49) 55 j1-1-0 (-) 86 94Guiliani (Gold Away){14-b}(0.89) 2/1 Capellini 98 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (93), Plumpton 2013Prior to his forced sabbatical, Milton Harris was no slouch when it came to juvenile hurdlers; saddling Modul to win the Grade 2 Summit and Finesse Hurdles in 2003/04 and subsequently guiding Gulf Punch (rated 45 and claimed for £5000), Pseudonym (also claimed for £5000), Rosie’s Glory (rated 60) and Moonfleet (rated 57) to the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, since his glorious return to the shores of Hoofiana, Harris has proven himself in no uncertain terms with an excellent winner to runner record of ten from twenty capped by last season’s hugely admirable Knight Salute. He has started the current season as he ended the last by winning a juvenile hurdle at Aintree with the 49 rated Mucuna. Her first five outings, commencing last October, came on the all-weather; starting at triple digit prices on each occasion with her best effort coming with a midfield finish in a mile Handicap at Kempton off 46. However, the switch to turf and a step up to ten furlongs saw her get off the mark at Salisbury back in April. Held up in midfield and racing widest of all, she was asked for her effort half a mile from home. It took a while for her to move through the gears, but she did run on strongest of all; taking it up in the final hundred yards and winning by three quarters of a length. The field finished in a heap but while the form amounts to little, Mucuna was clearly the best on the day. She was unable to follow up in a couple of Bath handicaps off 50 during May, finishing fourth on both occasions, but it was apparent that the track did not see her to best effect. The switch to hurdling came last week at Aintree and while she was backed from 20/1 into 4/1 second favourite, this was not a clandestine move as there was plenty of evidence for a good showing in a weak race. Although her rating is a low one, Milton Harris, since his return, has trained Romeo’s Bond (55) to win, and Global Agreement (56) to place first time. Mucuna’s pedigree was also feasibly conducive as Guiliani (another first-season sire) is a nephew of Getaway and the damline contains winners Capellini (2/1), listed class handicapper Beringneyev (3/1), Mahogany Blaze (4/3) and Petit Mouchoir (5/5). Held up last of four, in a race ran at a galop comparable to the handicap on the card, Mucuna was novicey over the first three flights as she was steady and awkward over one and two and jumped left while leaving her hind legs in the third. Nevertheless, she was more fluent thereafter and though behind her two remaining rivals when turning for home, was close up and ultimately the last to come off the bridle. Despite being squeezed out at the final flight, she took the lead in a matter of strides and with the rail to help, ran out a decisive and enthusiastic three-length winner. All told, she did not have to improve on her flat form to land the spoils and she is in deeper waters here if her opponents run to scratch. Notwithstanding, her willingness and proven hurdling ability still count for something and with the yard in decent form, Mucuna should put up a respectable showing.Shipton Moyne bf Richard J Bandey f5-0-0 (45) 51Coach House (Kyllachy){4-n}(3.00) 2/2 Mongolia 58.0/111 1st 3800m 4yo Fillies’ Conditions Hurdle. Angers 2020Finishing a ten length sixth on her racecourse bow at Kempton in December, Shipton Moyne has been unable to match that effort in four subsequent outings. Having ran over seven furlongs and a mile prior to a break, she was last seen at Windsor in early May over an extended eleven furlongs where she finished weakly some twelve lengths behind Fast Forward. Sire Coach House has had a winner from three juveniles, and cousin Mongolia won in the French provinces at four. However, the remainder of the damline (which includes Treve and Triptych) is weak as far as jumpers are concerned, Kyllachy is an underwhelming influence in the sphere and is zero from one with his juveniles.tl:drBukela – Modest maiden on flat but not without ability and trainer is capable in sphere. Well backed when falling two-out at Hexham. Too early to confidently ascertain where he might have finished but potential effect on his psyche adds to ponderous profileFast Forward – Progressive on flat, showing good attitude when winning two of last three starts at low level. With outstanding trainer, has interesting pedigree and could be suited by pace composition.Ha Long Bay – Highest rated on flat by best part of a stone and is bred for the game. Switch to hurdling may be due to lack of options on flat and trainer not well established in field.Mucuna – Winning handicapper on flat at low grade. Trainer is highly skilled with juveniles and suitable pedigree saw her make a winning hurdles bow at Aintree. Form probably amounts to little but experience should have her in good stead.Shipton Moyne – Very little on flat and trainer not proven in discipline. Hints of promise in patchy pedigree but still plenty to find.Strong prospects1. Fast ForwardReasonable prospects2. Mucuna3. Ha Long BayFeasible prospects4. BukelaModerate prospects.Negligible prospects5. Shipton Moyne
  15. Hello all... Haven't had time to do a proper opening post with stats, explanations and so forth. Will be nice to do one before long but for now, I am just going to jump in with the first preview essay of the season. Enjoy Hexham - 4th June - PreviewAt the beginning of this century, the season’s opening juvenile hurdle took place at Market Rasen during mid-late July. In 2004, Stratford supplanted Market Rasen by a week before the latter reclaimed its position in 2006 by hosting the first juvenile hurdle to be held in June since summer jumping became a whole thing. Not to be outdone, Stratford raised the curtain on the tenth of June in 2007 before Hexham stepped in to give those competing in the 2008 Epsom Derby an insight into what awaited them if they did not fancy retiring to the breeding sheds. The following year, Stratford hosted the first three-year-old hurdle to be held in May. Everybody agreed that this was silly and apart from Ffos Las going four days ahead of Hexham in 2012, and Newton Abbot getting things underway during “the uncertain times”, British juvenile hurdlers have been making their first forays at the country’s most beautiful racecourse.Titled “Most Important 3-Year-Old Race Today”, Saturday’s juvenile hurdle at Hexham is certainly the most anticipated three-year-old contest of the Summer; in this quarter at least. This season will see the interesting initiative of “Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races”, in a bid to catch up with the French (although the French do allow those with flat form to contest three-year-old hurdles). As such, it is fitting to compare the Hexham contest with the equivalent Prix d'Essai des Poulains held at Compiegne in March. The former has been a launchpad for the likes of Roi Mage, Buddy Banks, Quilixios, Sceau Royal and Grandouet; the latter three contesting the Triumph Hurdle with Quilixios winning in 2021, and Grandouet placing in 2011. However, in terms of participants, Hexham’s less heralded curtain-raiser can claim four during the same period; albeit with Simarian’s seventh in 2009 being the best placing – Lindenhurst and (last year’s winner) Koi Dodville finishing ninth and eleventh respectively, and Rupestrian pulling up in 2010.Amusing quirks aside, Hexham’s race historically takes little winning with the first-past-the-post achieving a seasonal best RPR of 103 median, 105.46 mean, while those winners with flat ratings brought an average BHA mark of just 58.08. Notwithstanding, the contest is not without its occasional useful participants as alongside the aforementioned Triumph horses, City Dreamer, Come On Sunshine and Maria Magdalena also went on to reach the frame in the Wensleydale Hurdle. This year’s renewal has the potential to be quite handy as for all that their profiles are akin to the curate’s egg, several represent strong yards in the division while some pedigrees and flat ratings are above average for the time of year. As far as the track itself is concerned, Hexham, with its left-handed, galloping and very undulating circuit, is probably the most demanding in Britain and Ireland for juvenile hurdlers. Their average winning DIs of 1.135 mean and 0.92 median are lower only at Cheltenham and Chepstow with the gap between winners and beaten horses being the most pronounced in the country. Time of year is immaterial to these figures, reading at 1.16 and 0.90 for this particular contest. While not providing a particularly difficult jumping test, its clear round rate of 97.4% being ninth highest in the UK, only Southwell has a lower completion rate than Hexham’s 77.27%. Consequently, stamina is a crucial attribute for the young horses going into battle on Saturday. A couple of these have made the running during the course of their short careers and as a few have also shown a propensity to become lit up, the pace should be an honest one. The going currently reads as good to soft and while watering was planned earlier this week, that would no longer be the case.Bukela bg Brian Ellison f5-0-0 (54) 63Mondialiste (Val Royal){1-x}(0.92) 2/2 Bentons Lad 102 1st 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle (97), Southwell 2018Since this race’s inception, Brian Ellison has had two winners from five in this contest; with Dilizan landing the 2012 edition, and Come On Sunshine scoring two years later. Each of these were trained by Ellison on the flat, which is also partially true of this year’s representative, Bukela. Initially under the care of Stef Keniry, whose graduates to the division consist of two winners from three, Bukela was beaten no less than fifteen lengths on each of his three outings last year. Switched to Brian Ellison’s and armed with a basement mark of 55, Bukela showed his first piece of worthwhile form when reappearing in a sixteen-furlong Wetherby Handicap in April. Sent off at 22/1, having drifted from 16/1 to 33/1 in the morning, Bukela was outpaced in the early stages. However, despite showing greenness in the straight, was able to keep on in what was an honestly run contest for a three length fifth of thirteen. The form is taking a fair shape with the winner finishing second at Sandown, and the fourth winning next time out. However, he does emerge some fourteen pounds wrong with the reopposing National Charter who finished in third. Bukela’s second appearance of the season came three weeks ago at Redcar over a furlong shorter where he drifted from a morning 3/1 to 5/1. Never getting involved and finishing an eleven length eighth, his being hampered at the start did light him up although it was still a disappointing effort. Quite locally bred, Bukela is set to become the first of Mondialiste’s offspring to race over hurdles. Standing at a decent 16.1hh, the globetrotting Mondialiste won his first race at four before landing the Woodbine Mile and Arlington Million as well as finishing third in the Prix Jean Prat. Though a son of Galileo, whose winner to runner rate as a grandsire is a decent 27.6%, Mondialiste’s nephew Intello has had one winning juvenile from eight with none improving on their flat form. The damline’s clues to Bukela’s potential hurdling ability are similarly fair at best. Cousin Bentons Lad won three moderate handicap hurdles over intermediate distances, but remaining evidence is sparse until one reaches Lil Rockerfeller at 5/5. Brian Hughes was initially booked for the ride, but while he has other bookings on the card, he has neglected to take this mount. Not that Henry Brooke, who is two from eleven in Hexham juveniles, is not an able deputy.Exceed All Limits bg Andrew Crook f2-0-0 (-) 56Excelebration (Tomba){9-c}(11.00) 2/1 Chief Scout 101 2nd 2m Novices' Hurdle, Kelso 2007Gelded prior to making his racecourse debut at in a twelve furlong April novice stakes at Ripon, Exceed All Limits started at 100/1 and ran accordingly, never leaving the rear to finish a thirteen length fifth of five. Though he beat two of his thirteen rivals home over ten furlongs at Newcastle eleven days ago, he was beaten thirty-seven lengths. Andrew Crook has had three winning juveniles from sixteen, although none scored first time nor were they handled by Crook on the flat. Furthermore, only a third improved for the switch to hurdles which is crucial to Exceed All Limits’ chances. Sire Excelebration has had two winners from twenty in the sphere, but one was out of a Montjeu mare and Tomba has had no success either as a sire or damsire.Jad Mahal bg Alan King f4-0-1 (68) 72Dabirsim (Shamardal){4-m}(2.25) 0.5 Selma 119 3rd 3600m 3yo Handicap Hurdle (62.0), Auteuil 2021The profile of Jad Mahal is very much one of contrasts. Trainer Alan King’s record in the juvenile hurdling division is intimidating at all levels. As well as winning Grade Ones with the likes of Katchit, Walkon, Grumeti, Franchoek and l’Unique, he also boasts a winner to runner rate of 48.05%, an improvement rate of 50.91%, and of those trained at Barbury Castle during their flat careers, 52.33% would win during their initial campaigns over jumps. Alan King is also adept at readying them first time out as per his 25.76% strike-rate. Conversely, Dabirsim’s record as a stallion of juvenile hurdlers is lamentable. A precocious and speedy racehorse with precocious and speedy offspring, his four juveniles have amassed a mere £350 from seven outings and his sole winning jumper in Britain did so in a two-mile Warwick handicap off 92. Such trepidation about the breeding is somewhat offset by his half-sister being a fairly useful juvenile hurdler in France last term, although her being by Camelot certainly did no harm. Indeed, being a nephew of Threading, out of a niece of Dubai Millennium, Jad Mahal’s greatest chance to shine would have been on the flat. Since fetching £34,000 at the Goresbridge Breeze-Up last June, Jad Mahal’s racing career has also been one of contrast. After finishing midfield on his debut at Leicester last October, given a relatively easy ride having shown greenness, he posted his career best at Wolverhampton the following month in a seven-furlong maiden. Sent off the 18/5 favourite, Jad Mahal tracked the leaders and though ridden turning into the straight, was close enough if good enough. Though he hung under pressure and was unable to find an extra gear, his keeping-on third – just over a length behind a dual subsequent winner and seven lengths ahead of another – would be the strongest on offer in this contest. However, following his winter break, he failed to build on that effort as he was beaten thirteen lengths when dropping away in a ten-furlong Lingfield maiden at the end of March, and finished last of seven on his handicap debut at Goodwood over a mile which may have been too sharp. The equine embodiment of the curate’s egg, Jad Mahal is an interesting recruit based on his powerful and in-form yard, his useful half-sister, and his sole decent flat performance. However, while connections won this contest in 2019 with Green Etoile, his unaccountably poor form at three, subsequent gelding operation and the dubious record of his sire definitely temper enthusiasm.Moonlight Dawn chg Adrian Paul Keatley f1-0-0 (-) 26Dawn Approach (Danehill Dancer){13-c}(1.18) 3/1 Cape Express 137 1st 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (125), Aintree 2012Represented in last season’s renewal by Space Kid, who finished a well beaten fourth, Adrian Paul Keatley will be hoping for better from the aforementioned’s half-brother, Moonlight Dawn. However, while Space Kid was able to win at two, Moonlight Dawn showed very little promise on his sole outing at Doncaster last October in finishing a twenty-length fourteenth of fifteen. Moreover, while Space Kid’s sire, Tamayuz, is a capable sire in the division, the same cannot be said of Dawn Approach whose fourteen juveniles have collected no wins from thirty-one attempts. The damline offers some respite as the useful Cape Express appears at 3/1 alongside another winner in Leo McGarry, while useful French hurdler Lalezari is out of the fifth dam. However, that would be the sum of Moonlight Dawn’s prospects.Quickdrawmcgraw bg Evan Williams f5-0-0 (52) 52Kodi Bear (Barathea){16-c}(0.68) 1/0 Silk Affair 131 1st Fred Winter Juv HcH (G3,125), Cheltenham 2009Despite having the second lowest official rating in this line-up, Quickdrawmcgraw attracted the highest bid at auction for an experienced participant when going to 17,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Guineas Sale (to stay in the same yard). His rating is one fully justified by his five performances spanning from last June to mid-January. Out with the washing when beaten by fourteen lengths on his debut over five furlongs at Bath, he was beaten the same distance at Chepstow over seven. Given three months off the track, he stepped up marginally in a couple of outings at Leicester; first in a novice stakes where he weakened to finish just over ten lengths behind the winner in sixth having raced keenly (half a length behind Jad Mahal who was making his debut); and in a nursery off 57 where he led briefly at the distance but ultimately filled the same slot, albeit two lengths closer. Quickdrawmcgraw’s sole outing this side of Christmas came in a ten-furlong Lingfield handicap off 54 in which he never left the rear and was beaten just over eight lengths in seventh; although his final furlong time was the fourth fastest in the field. On form, his price tag is difficult to justify, but there are some clues in his pedigree to suggest he may do better as a juvenile hurdler. Kodi Bear has had only one winner from seven in the sphere, but that was Fred Bear (incidentally, Quickdrawmcgraw’s cousin) who won at Stratford last August before finishing second in middle distance handicaps at Fontwell and Plumpton. The dam, Silk Affair, won the 2009 Fred Winter Hurdle and is herself a half-sister to five other winning jumpers including the useful Arthur’s Gift and Direct Bearing. Other useful performers on the damline include Ecco (2/3), Ski Sunday (4/4) and the likes of Silsol, Saglawy, Salden Licht and Sweet Wake at 4/5. The care of Evan Williams is also a positive as, along with boasting a healthy winner-to-runner rate of 28.45% in the sphere, has a 16.25% first-time strike rate with flat recruits and a 31.25% strike rate in the months of June and July; which includes Simarian who won this race in 2008. Moreover, the two juveniles that Evan Williams trained on the flat – the 69 rated Torba and the 52 rated Nick The Silver - were both winners. Quickdrawmcgraw will need to improve markedly on his flat form, but everything else in his profile suggests that, while not an outstanding candidate in this field, should find his level over hurdles in the coming months.Free Chakarte bf David Pipe f6-2-1 (32.0) 63Highland Reel (Pivotal){13-e}(0.82) 2/1 Libeccio 126 1st 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle, Plumpton 2016https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/free-chakarteDavid Pipe won this race in 2010 with Lucky Quay, and last year with Koi Dodville; who had been bought out of a French claimer on his previous start. While Koi Dodville cost the same connections €14,506 after finishing second at Saint-Cloud, French Chakarte was slightly pricier at €17,001 following her win at Fontainebleau thirty-eight days ago. The road to Fontainebleau began last June with a staying-on third in a 1400m newcomers race at La Teste de Buch under the care of Simone Brogi. Disappointing on her return to the venue the following month, Free Chakarte was switched to Christophe Ferland’s yard and was next seen at Toulouse in March over 2100m where she finished in midfield; fading having led to the furlong marker. Later that month, a switch to handicapping (off a valeur of 33 (72.6) and more patient tactics back over a mile at La Teste failed to pay off as she got very warm and finished well beaten. Free Chakarte was then dropped to claiming company which saw her finally get off the mark at Royan in a 1600m contest on souple ground worth €8,000. Initially setting the pace, she slotted behind the leaders going into the back before regaining the lead turning for home and fending off a better travelling rival to win by three-quarters of a length. She conceded five-and-a-half kilos to the 29.0 rated runner-up and was nearly nine pounds better than the fifty-six rated third. The form has not been well advertised since, but it would still be worth a rating in the mid-high sixties. Later in April, Free Chakarte completed the double at Fontainebleau in a 2000m claimer worth more than twice the Royan contest. Stalking the leader from the outset, she was asked for her effort at the distance and though her immediate response was to wander under pressure, she straightened out inside the final furlong and had the measure of her rivals to the tune of a decisive length at the finish. She was getting weight from the first three to follow her home, but with them all rated between 30.0 (66) and 34.0 (74.8), another mark in the mid-high sixties would not be wide of the mark. Two of the nine juveniles formerly trained by Christophe Ferland were winners with each also able to score on their first runs in Britain. David Pipe is not shy about buying juveniles from French claimers and five of the twelve sourced in this fashion were winners; giving a winner runner rate of 41.67% which compares favourably to the 20.45% for all other trainers. While three of these would take a few runs to find their mark, the most recent pair – Adagio and Koi Dodville – did score at the first time of asking. Free Chakarte’s sire, Highland Reel, is one of two in this contest having their first forays in National Hunt racing and is also a globetrotting son of Galileo. However, while Mondialiste leaned towards the mile end of middle-distances, Highland Reel won five times over a mile and a half including a King George and a Coronation Cup. Highland Reel is the shorter of the two, measuring at 16.0¼hh, but despite his Antipodean flat heritage, is a 3/3 relative of Starspangledbanner; a sire emerging as rather adept with juvenile hurdlers. While preferring livelier ground as a racehorse, Highland Reel is getting winners on soft. All the same, as a probable source of stamina with good ground ability, Highland Reel has the attributes to enjoy success with summer jumpers. The distaff side of Free Chakarte’s pedigree also has some potential for the sphere as evidenced by uncle Libeccio who finished second in the juvenile handicap at Sandown before winning fairly useful hurdles over middle distances. Though unlikely to set the scene alight, Free Chakarte has less questions to answer than her opponents here and comes into the race with a solid chance.Intriguing Lady bf Nigel Hawke f12-0-3 (50) 66Fascinating Rock (Invincible Spirit){9-e}(1.13) 2/1 Arthurian 87 1st 2m½f Juvenile Selling Hurdle, Stratford 2008The veteran of twelve outings, Intriguing Lady is the most experienced participant set to face the starter. She was formerly trained by Mark Johnston who, since 2005, has been the most prolific supplier of juvenile hurdles with 211 former inmates of Kingsley House(?) taking up the vocation. For context, Mick Channon is next on the list with just three others reaching triple digits. Of those 211, fifty were winners, giving a healthy rate of 26.47%, although less than a third would improve on what they had shown for Johnston. The latter factor would be a matter of concern for Intriguing Lady whose early promise was fleeting and has been supplanted by disappointment. Her debut came at Ayr last August where, sporting a hood, she finished second of four behind a fair and experienced rival and ahead of a pair that have subsequently achieved little. Running green and down the field on her next two starts, she posted her career best on her handicap debut in a seven-furlong Newcastle nursery in October off 65. She was arguably unlucky when sixth in a Chelmsford claimer on her seventh and final start as a two-year-old, but on her first four starts of 2022, finished last in a handicap, last in a claimer, third in a seller won by a 54 rated animal, then eighth of nine in a Southwell handicap. Intriguing Lady was last seen finishing midfield in a Wolverhampton handicap where, sporting her fourth form of headgear, refused to settle before weakening late on. After this final outing, Intriguing Lady went to the Tattersalls Ascot March Sale where she commanded just £2,000. Such an appraisal is not inherently damning to a young hurdler’s prospects, however, as five of the thirty-four juveniles to have left Mark Johnston’s at public auction for less than £5,000 would be winners; including Rupestrian who won this very contest in 2009 for Tim Vaughan after fetching £4,000 at the DBS Lincoln Sale. Her new handler, Nigel Hawke, has a respectable record in the sphere with a 20% winner to runner rate that increases to 26.47% with flat sourced horses. The lion’s share of this success come from those from Jim Bolger’s with seven of the ten such horses winning. Indeed, the winner-to-runner rate for those not trained by Jim Bolger drops to 9.38%. Furthermore, Nigel Hawke’s juveniles invariable improve for experience with his first-time strike rate being a mere 4.69%. Fascinating Rock has one of the better records of the sires represented in this field but is still below average by general standards with his sole winner from seven being the Joseph O’Brien trained Faron, and his clear round rate of 80.95% being low by any measure. Intriguing Lady’s uncle did win a juvenile hurdle, albeit a weak Stratford seller, and apart from minor winner Manjaam at 3/2, jumping prowess on the damline is negligible before reaching Mengli Khan at 4/2. Even if Intriguing Lady has somehow learned to settle better over the past ten weeks, there were already concerns over her stamina and given her likely freshness and trainer’s modus operandi, the challenge posed by Hexham is unlikely to see her to best effect.National Charter bf Chris Grant f5-0-1 (62) 70Lawman (Big Shuffle){1-h}(1.40) 0.5 Tiki Fire 90 2nd 2m Fillies' Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Hereford 2022Like her half-sister Tiki Fire, National Charter commanded a price tag of 140,000 guineas at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. Also like Tiki Fire, she returned to Tattersalls before embarking on a juvenile hurdling career. While Tiki Fire ran on the flat for Karl Burke, National Charter started off with William Haggas whose seventy-one graduates count twenty-three winning juveniles amongst them. While many ex-Haggas horses were above-average on the flat, those rated seventy and lower still have a solid winner-to-runner rate of 20.75%. National Charter raced just once at two, finishing just over four lengths fourth in a seven-furlong Lingfield novice and shaping as though she would come on for the experience. Nothing went right when tailed off at Newcastle in January, but there was improvement in her next couple of outings when just the wrong side of midfield at Southwell over a mile, and Wolverhampton over a mile and four on her handicap debut in March. Her best effort came last time out, running off 61, over a mile and six at Wetherby where she doubled in price from 6/1 in the morning, before being trimmed into 8/1 in the ring. Held up towards the rear, she made headway along the turn for home and travelling well at the three pole, looked to make a strong challenge after getting the hang of things at the distance. Though she was unable to see out the race as well as the front pair, she held on for third by a neck from a next time out winner while emerging a stone to the good on these terms against the reopposing Bukela. Her sire, Lawman, is the most established of those represented in this line-up while also boasting a solid winner to runner rate of 20.75%. As well as being a half-sister to Tiki Fire, who managed to place in a pair of fillies’ maiden juveniles last term before moving to Germany for £4,800, National Charter is related to several winning jumpers (incidentally of Teutonic stock) in Dollar Star (3/1), Dictum (3/2), Don Cossack (4/3) and Dubai Star (4/4). Local-ish trainer Chris Grant has a fair record in the sphere with his winner-to-runner rate of 18.75% improving to 20% when isolating flat recruits purchased at public auction; including three-time winner Lazy Darren who also fetched 16,000 guineas back in 2007. However, less can be said of his improvement rate of 23.81% and his only first-time winner from thirty-three came courtesy of an ex-French import who won in February 2011 and had upwards of ten pounds over his rivals on flat form. While National Charter is an improving sort with a fairly interesting profile, her trainer’s lack of recent winner and dearth of first-time winners in the sphere are not encouraging.Strong prospects1.Free ChakarteReasonable prospects2.Quickdrawmcgraw3.Jad MahalFeasible prospects4.National Charter5.BukelaModerate prospects6.Intriguing LadyNegligible prospects7.Exceed All Limits8.Moonlight Dawn
  16. Dropped a total bollock on yesterday's preview by downplaying Pump It Up's chances due to her having the run of the race at Doncaster... Even though I suggested she may also get an easy lead in this race. Have managed to stay awake long enough to write a more complete one for Fontwell since it is a better race, but don't take this to mean that I am any more alert to the world! The average winner of Fontwell's February juvenile hurdle has a seasonal RPR of 124.5 median, 129.7 mean, making it a good ten pounds stronger than the average contest held at the venue. While still a class 4 affair, the race has still made ripples on the festival season with Blazing Bailey and Mobaasher (winners in 2006 and 2007) placing in the Triumph, and Ski Sunday and Christopher Wood (third in 2009 and first in 2019) placing in the Anniversary Hurdle. Mr Thriller (first in 2009), Monsieur Lecoq (third in 2018) and Pur de Sivola (third in 2007) are other graduates who would go on to reach respectable heights. This year's renewal is unlikely to affect the Triumph market but it is not a race without merit. The five strong field is headed by three previous winners; two of whom made promising starts to their hurdling careers before disappointing at Cheltenham last time, and the third making good on his potential when leaving previous form behind with an emphatic win at Hereford. A decently priced flat recruit and a well bred jumps type, each with a bit to find on hurdling evidence, complete the line-up. The circuit at Fontwell is a sharp, flat, left-handed one although due to the distance of juvenile contests and the propensity for the ground to get testing, the winning DIs of 1.39 mean, 1.06 median are within the lowest third of British and Irish venues. These figures drop further to 1.06 and 0.91 for this particular contest. With the going described as heavy, soft in places, and two of the previous winning hurdlers doing so having made all, there will be few hiding places for non stayers despite the small field size. Triumph Odds Interne de Sivola 66/1 (75) Silver Shade 100/1 (610) Fred Winter Interne de Sivola 33/1 Silver Shade 33/1 Hayedo 40/1 Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 j3-1-1 (115) 114 118 Sea The Moon (Sholokhov){7-c}(0.65) 3/1 Hill Fairy 1st Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase (L), Cork 2008 https://www.pronoturf.es/ficha-caballo/c58dbcc04143b4253160b8d619314a2e https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/hayedo Starting his career in Spain before racing in France, the German bred Hayedo is set to have his fourth outing over British hurdles. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season, placing second on each occasion. Hayedo's third flat outing is much more easily quantified. Having his first run for Edouard Monfort, Hayedo reappeared in a quite valuable maiden contest at Longchamp over 2000m in May. Keen in the early stages, he pulled himself into the lead and settled better as a result. He would maintain his advantage to the distance and though outpaced by the winner, would keep on gamely to hold second. The form is of a reasonable standard with the length and a quarter winner rated 96.8, and the third rated 88. Hayedo failed to match this form on his sole subsequent outing which came over 2200m at Lyon the following month. Though running a similar kind of race, he did not settle quite so well and while he fought on bravely after being headed turning for home, he found himself swamped in the final strides, finishing just under two lengths behind in fourth. There was encouragement for Hayedo's new vocation in the pedigree. Sea The Moon (Allmankind, Tritonic) has a winner runner rate of 28.57% and an improvement rate of 50%. Sholokhov is untried as a damsire but 30% of his own progeny win in the sphere and the third dam is the matriarch of winning jumpers Hill Fairy (3/1), Hey Little Boy (3/1) and North Hill (3/2). His first run over hurdles came at Fontwell in November where he was backed into 9/1 having opened twice that price in the ring. Initially held up, he moved into midfield during the first circuit and was tracking the leaders going out second time round. However, he began to lose touch nearing the end of the back and was ultimately beaten thirty-three lengths. His caused was not helped by some novicey jumping which grew more dramatic as the race progressed, closing his round by hopping through his hurdles. Hayedo reappeared at Sandown early last month and was once again subject to outside support, trimmed from 16/1 to 10/1 at the off. He was sent into the lead and though he was still prone to hopping through the top of his flights at times, it was a much better round overall. He ceded the lead approaching the penultimate flight and had little left after the last, losing a remote second close to the line. Four weeks later, Hayedo returned in a maiden hurdle at Hereford; drifting from 4/1 to 8/1 during the day, before returning to 9/2 in the ring. Taking a keen hold, Hayedo went straight to the front while demonstrating good improvement in his jumping. He was neat when ridden into the first, but though rather tight at the second, was fluent from thereon. His rivals were all in trouble at the cross section and by the time he entered the straight, he was half-a-dozen lengths clear. Hayedo was steady before hopping through the top of the last, but the runner-up made an even worse blunder which allowed him to storm to a thirteen length success. His task was made easier by the favourite pulling too hard, but the form is close to his flat best and there may be even further to come. He was withdrawn from an intended engagement at Ascot in a contest where the yard had previously sent Goshen, Beat The Judge and Casa Loupi. Nevertheless, Gary Moore also has a strong record with juveniles at Fontwell with a strike rate of 28.26% including two winners and six placings from nine runners in this particular contest. Though there is a concern over his racing keenly, said trait is less pronounced than with his main rivals. If all form is taken at face value, he does have several pounds to find on Interne de Sivola. Nevertheless, he is improving with each run and there is the potential for more from the enhanced stamina test. Hayedo has the least to answer for overall and based on his Ascot entry, is held in decent regard for a trainer that enjoys plenty of success at the track. Interne De Sivola bg Nick Williams j3-1-1 (130) 121 125 Noroit (Cadoudal){u}(0.33) 0.5 Ut De Sivola 2nd Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2012 Regular readers will be aware that previously unraced horses have a modest record in the sphere, with such horses having a winner to runner rate of 7.27%. Said readers will also be aware that this maxim does not necessarily apply to those hailing from George Nympton as their winner to runner rate is 30.77%. Interne de Sivola is one of this season's contributors to this healthy figure and like many of his ilk, has a pedigree which justifies the Williams' anomaly. By Noroit, who has three winners from six with British and Irish trained juveniles, Interne de Sivola is a half-brother to five winning jumpers in Ut de Sivola, Sivola de Sivola, Artifice Sivola, Task Force Sivola and Radsoc de Sivola; all of whom showed useful form as youngsters. Their dam, Kerrana, won twice as a four-year-old at Auteuil, is the auntie of another winner in Dark Caviar, and the niece of New Will and Quick Will. The top-class pair of My Will and Unioniste appear at 3/2 on Intene de Sivola's damline. His racecorse debut came at Warwick in early November where he drifted during the day's exchanges before being clipped into 11/1 in the ring. Initially making the running, Interne de Sivola was content to track a couple of more eager leaders on passing the stands where he would remain to the end of the back straight where he found himself outpaced. In the deep end of the contest, he was able to keep on with the front pair without threatening either, and finished fourteen lengths clear of the remainder. His first public round of jumping was not flawless as he was slightly steady at the third, close to the sixth where he skewed quite badly before hopping over the last. Nevertheless, it was a respectable round overall and the form is decent with the winner, in This World, leading the British contingent on the Triumph market before being ruled out for the season, and the runner-up Graystone scoring twice in good company. A month later at Cheltenham, Interne de Sivola made good on this promise by readily landing the spoils by five and a half lengths. The form was boosted when the second and third, Yorksea and Galah, won next time and save for being awkward at the last, Interne de Sivola put up a decent round of jumping. Cosy as his victory was, there is a possiblility that he was somewhat flattered as he was able to set a steady tempo and get first run on a field which was littered with messy in-running stories. This performance was enough to see him start the 5/1 third favourite in the Grade Two Finesse hurdle back in the Cotswolds three weeks ago. However, his tendency to take a firm grip was exacerbated by a constant challenge for the lead and his jumping suffered as a result; as he reached and hopped over the second and fifth, hit the top of the sixth and flattened the penultimate flight which cost him vital momentum and sealed his retreat. This drop in class will be appreciated and if his win at Cheltenham is taken at face value, he sets a clear standard on form. However, he may be unsettled by a contested lead and his Cheltenham success is a stone superior to his other outings. Silver Shade grg Milton Harris f9-2-2 (73) 80 j2-1-0 (-) 103 111 Kendargent (Alzao){4-b}(0.57) 2/1 Teenage Idol 1st 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (124), Ayr 2012 Milton Harris has enjoyed an outstanding season to date in the division and much of this is down to some astute buying at Tattersalls at the July and Autumn sales. Aliomaana, Knight Salute, Genuflex and Galah have all won this term having gone around the Newmarket ring, with no price tag exceeding 21,000 guineas. Silver Shade cost 18,000 at the Autumn Sale, leaving Mark Johnston with two wins and a mark of 73 to his name. Finishing down the field during three outings at two, Silver Shade returned from his winter break sans testicles. The shedding of two stones reaped immediate results as he finished second over a mile and a half in a Lingfield handicap off 58 before landing a double at Newcastle and Southwell in March and April. Both contests were held over the same trip with neither being especially competitive. Silver Shade had only three rivals to defeat at Newcastle and while he was a most convincing winner, the subsequent form has not worked out. At Southwell, had only the one opponent who he beat in a canter to justify 30/100 favouritism. There is more substance to his Sandown second next time out where he raced over a heavy fourteen furlongs off 73. Although he was no match for Zinc White, he still had enough to fend off the challenge of Pied Piper for second; the latter, who was giving away thirteen pounds, is now a leading candidate for the Triumph. Lacking the pace for a steadily run class 2 on good to firm at Doncaster, Silver Shade was last seen pulling up immediately after the start of a Musselburgh handicap in late June. In the event, he had actually fractured his pelvis, although while unable to run again on the flat for his initial connections, was sound enough to get past the Tattersalls vets with full disclosure. Since 2004/05, thoroughbred family 4-b has had no winning juveniles from six, although this does not appear to be an endemic issue as Three Kingdoms was a useful sort who won three times at four while König Ulrich, a distant relative at 6/4, won the Prix Maurice Gillois (the Arkle chase for four-year-olds) in 1989. Closer on the damline are the good German hurdler Königstreuer at 4/1 while uncle Teenage Idol was a fairly useful winner. Kendargent's record in France is a solid nine winners from forty-eight, and his record across the channel became a respectable three from twelve when Silver Shade made a winning hurdling bow at Kempton in the middle of last month. In what was a weak looking contest for the venue, he was allowed to open at 11/2 in the ring before being trimmed to a slightly more appropriate 9/2. Opting to sit towards the rear in a slowly run affair, Silver Shade took a bit of a grip for much of the journey but was travelling with purpose on turning into the straight. Keeping the front pair firmly in his sights as the race developed, he jumped into the last with a share of the lead and though rather awkward at the last, quickened well enough on the run-in to score by a comfortable length and a quarter. Along with his being awkward at the last, he was also steady and close at the first and made a meal of getting over three out, but his good jumps were neat and economical. Moreover, while it was not the strongest looking contest on paper, the second and third did appear to maintain their form next time out. Silver Shade was thrown into much deeper waters when taking in the Finesse Hurdle a fortnight later. His task was illustrated by his 25/1 starting price and he performed accordingly. Held up towards the rear, he made a short-lived effort at the bottom of the hill but was unable to make any serious inroads and finished a thirty-five length fifth. His cause was not helped by a novicey round of jumping where he was particularly untidy at the first, fifth and seventh. Silver Shade returns to calmer waters and may also appreciate the return to a flat circuit. However, there is still a poor outing to overcome as well as a few pounds to find on both flat and hurdles form. Harlem Soul chg Harriet Brown f8-1-2 (79) 88 j1-0-0 (-) 89 99 Frankel (Giant's Causeway){9-f}(0.68) 3/1 Percussionist 1st Grand National (G1), Far Hills 2010 Mark Johnston is one of the most prolific suppliers of juvenile hurdlers and while only a third will maintain or improve for the switch in codes, former residents of Kingsley Park do have a solid winner to runner rate of 23.56%; a figure which increases to 32.79% for those rated 75 and above on the level. Harlem Soul is one such animal, amassing a win, two places and a final rating of 79 from eight outings. His win came at the fourth time of asking in a four-runner, twelve-furlong Ripon contest in the middle of June, in his handicap debut off an 80 perch. Tracking the leader off an ordinary gallop, he took up the running three furlongs from home and kept on well for comfortable two and three quarter length victory over Nicky Henderson's useful juvenile Impulsive One. However, he was unable to build on this performance on four subsequent outings and though he was not disgraced in quite valuable contests at Haydock and Ascot, he did not have many excuses either beyond a questionable disposition. Sold for 40,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August Sale, he joined Harriet Brown and was gelded during the Autumn. Harlem Soul's pedigree is strong for a flat horse; coming from a Frankel x Giant's Causeway cross, he is a half-brother to Ispolini (Group 3 winner in Germany and Dubai), and his granddam Playful Act, a half-sister to Nathaniel, won the Fillies' Mile. Frankel's record with juvenile hurdlers has been only fair at best to this point and the same can be said for Giant's Causeway as a damsire. Notwithstanding, Playful Act is also a full-sister to the classy Percussionist, who was respectable over hurdles, and the auntie of Supasundae, Distingo, Whispering Gallery and Great Bear. Harlem Soul's hurdling debut came in a Wincanton novice a fortnight where he was an 11/1 shot. His temperament was not alleviated by his castration however as he took a keen hold and gave his flights plenty of air. Initially racing prominently, he tracked the leader for much of the contest, but lost ground on the turn for home; making no further impression and finishing tired. Harlem Soul can improve for the experience, but said improvement would have to be highly dramatic if he is to mature sufficiently to make a strong challenge in this company. My Ticketyboo bg Chris Gordon j2-0-0 (-) 73 78 Shirocco (Subtle Power){1-b}(0.57) 2/1 Sher Beau 3rd John Durkan Punchestown Chase (G1), Punchestown 2006 As alluded to in Interne de Sivola's profile, unraced debutants in juvenile hurdles have a modest record and when isolating Irish breds, their first time strike rate is just 1.71%. If anything can be said for My Ticketyboo's breeding, it is that he has a proper national hunt pedigree. Shirocco has produced the likes of Annie Power and Minella Rocco, damsire Subtle Power was responsible for Lie Forrit and Highland Hunter, the dam is a half-sister to four good winners in Sher Beau, Last Goodbye, Freds Benefit and Glen Beg while coming from the same line as Givus A Buck. However, the aforementioned all started in bumpers and points while Shirocco's winner to runner rate with juveniles is a moderate 12.50%. Chris Gordon does have a winner to runner rate of 23.33%, but his first time strike rate was just 3.57% prior to My Ticketyboo making his hurdling debut at Hereford in early January. Starting the day at 20/1, but starting the race at 50/1, he was in the rear from the outset. After jumping slowly over the first, and big and skewed over the next two, he became so detached that no more of his jumps were picked up by the cameras. Stepping up to nineteen furlongs for a Fontwell maiden at the end of last month, he raced in mid-division for the first circuit and though dropping to the rear for the second lap, was able to pass a couple of beaten rivals on the run to the last before finishing a twenty-nine length fourth of seven finishers. Though awkward over the first and last pair of jumps, he hurdled more fluently for his Hereford experience. It is not unfeasible that My Ticketyboo does have a future as a national hunt racehorse, but he would be highly unlikely to make any real impact in this contest. Strong prospects 1. Hayedo Reasonable prospects 2. Interne de Sivola 3. Silver Shade Feasible prospects . Moderate prospects 4. Harlem Soul Negligible prospects 5. My Ticketyboo
  17. The preview for tomorrow's race at Hereford started off as an essay. However, before long, I was struggling to keep my eyes open and my thoughts were everywhere and nowhere. Whether it's because I'm tired from a long day at work, or it's simply a dire race is anybody's guess. For what it's worth, here's all I managed. The average winning juvenile hurdler at Hereford has a seasonal RPR of just 109.63 while the average participant has a seasonal RPR of 80.03. These figures are each in the bottom ten of British and Irish racecourses. The course is set to host its second running of this fillies' maiden hurdle, the first of which was won by Raffles Gitane who went on to place in the Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham's April meeting. This year's renewal, however, looks par for the course with the four experienced runners failing to win from a combined fifteen starts, and the four newcomers bringing either poor form or patchy profiles. Just north of the city described by Richard I as "Hereford in Wales", the course is right-handed, mostly flat and has a sharp home turn. Its average winning DIs of 1.25 median, 1.42 mean, are on the higher side of standard, although its completion rate of 81.36% is the tenth lowest in the country. The circuit also provides a decent jumping test with a clear round rate of 95.34%; a test which is especially for hurdling debutants whose rate of 90.91% is lower only at Lingfield and Taunton amongst the British racecourses. The going has most recently been reported as soft, heavy in places, with strong winds potentially offsetting the forecast overnight showers. Pump It Up has been shown to set decent gallops in the past and while a couple of rivals have raced prominently, she will most probably be responsible for setting a decent pace. Fiamette chf Jo Davis f3-0-0 (56) 48 j5-0-0 (88) 87 94 Free Eagle (Dr Fong){13-e}(0.57) 2/1 High Stratos 3rd 2m4f Conditions Hurdle, Punchestown 2015 Finishing eighth on all three starts on the all weather last winter, Fiamette's flat mark of 56 exceeded her accomplishments. Leaving Anthony Carson for Jo Davis, she joins a trainer who has had a couple of winning juveniles, although none of her twelve with official marks improved on their flat form. Free Eagle is a positive as he enjoyed three winners from his first crop, and the damline has several winning jumpers nearby in High Stratos (2/1), Poet (2/1), Vanishing Point (2/2) and Alum Bay (3/1). There were few signs of her bettering her flat showings on her jumps debut at Stratford back in August. Racing in a first time visor, she gave chase to the two leaders and was not beaten off until dropping away towards the end of the back. Her hurdling was slow and steady to begin with, but she jumped better when ridden into her flights. Fiamette returned after a sixty-six day break for a warm looking contest at Ffos Las where she started at 150/1 having opened at 66/1. Tracking the leaders from the outset, apart from skewing slightly at the first and clipping the second, there was little complaint to be made of her jumping. She was still in contention turning into the straight and only began to lose touch approaching the penultimate flight from where she would finish a seventeen length fourth. Fiamette was helped by the underperformances of more fancied runners, with the subsequently pattern class Moka de Vassy finishing behind, but it still marked a career best. Her next outing came at Fontwell in early December where she was supported during the day from 33/1 to 10/1 before settling on 14/1 at the off. Her jumping took a slight regression as she hit the top of the second and got in very close to the sixth before finding herself comprehensively outpaced by the front three in the market. Nevertheless, she only failed by a neck to snatch third on the line and was twenty-eight lengths clear of the remainder. Shaping very much like a stayer, Fiamette's most recent outings have come in handicaps over intermediate distances at Fontwell later in December, and at Ffos Las a fortnight ago. In the former contest, running off 98, she attracted support during the day and started the 9/2 second favourite. Setting off in mid division, she took closer order on the second circuit but made no impression from leaving the back before flattening the penultimate flight and finishing a twenty-four length fifth. Dropped to 92 for her latest appearance at Ffos Las, where she again attracted support. She jumped decently, if tight on occasions, and though shaken up at the end of the back, was back on the bit when close and untidy three from home. Though not a serious mistake, it did put an end to her effort and she would lose fourth close to the line where she finished just over twelve lengths behind the winner. This was a step back in the right direction and though Hereford would typically be on the sharp side, the conditions and pace angle are similar to what she enjoyed at Ffos Las in October. Furthermore, the visor which saw her run well on that occasion has been reapplied and the yard has had a winning juvenile at the course. Fiamette would have little more than a few pounds to find on best form, and with her rivals being less likely than herself to enjoy these conditions, a decent performance would not be unexpected. Hang Up bf Fergal O'Brien f4-0-1 (65) 71 Lope de Vega (Authorized){1-l}(1.11) 3/1 Colophony 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (105), Huntingdon 2008 Wearing a hood when making her racecourse debut at Sandown in June, Hang Up looked in need of the experience but was beaten by less than five lengths when sixth of eight behind a couple of next time out winners. Kept to around ten furlongs at Wolverhampton a month later, she ran to a similar level when a four and a quarter length third in a novice fillies stakes. Hang Up was unable to sustain these efforts in a couple of appearances at Kempton in October where she was beaten twenty-three lengths in an eleven furlong maiden, and the best part of twelve lengths in a twelve furlong handicap off 68. Staying in the colours of Malcolm Denmark, she left James Fanshawe, whose former inmates have a 14.81% winner to runner rate in the division, to join a Fergal O'Brien yard with a respectable rate of 23.81%; as well as a first time rate of 15.38% with flat recruits. Sire Lope de Vega's winner to runner rate of 17.39% is little better than fair and his progeny's improvement rate of 28.57% is modest. Nevertheless, Authorized is doing well as a damsire (29.41% WR) and the third dam has produced a pair of winning jumpers in Colophony and Demographic. Hang Up will have to account for her two disappointing efforts in the Autumn, but her Summer form is just about the strongest brought from the flat. Her profile is such that a decent showing can not be discounted, although Hereford is not the most forgiving for a newcomer to the sphere. Madam Malarkey brf Nigel Twiston-Davies b2-0-0 (-) - 42 Pether's Moon (Presenting){1-l}(0.33) 1/0 Grenfell P-T-P Final Hunters' Chase, Cheltenham 2009 Juvenile hurdlers who started off in bumpers have just a 2.36% first-time strike rate and none of the seven such trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies were able to oblige. Nevertheless, Mahogany Blaze did finish third on his hurdling debut for the Naunton based handler; whose winner to runner rate with juveniles is a healthy 32.56%. His latest former bumper horse to try her hand in the sphere is Madam Malarkey. The daughter of a prolific pointer, she will be her sire's first representative in the division. Madam Malarkey is the niece of winning jumpers Shining Light and Brave King, good chaser Castle Warden appears at 3/1 on the damline, while Triumph third Al-'Alawi and Toirdealbhach came from the fourth dam before becoming sires. *Started favourite but ran no kind of race at Warwick on debut *43l last at Taunton on second outing Miss Curiosity bf Seamus Mullins b3-0-1 (-) 87 Life Force (Zerpour){u}(0.33) 2/1 Los Amigos 2m5½f 0-140 Rated Chase, Fairyhouse 2015 First juv for Life Force - very unlikely type although full-brother Vale Of York has had winners in France 2/1 Tom Horn 2/1 Shoughall's Boy 3/1 Jamalade 4/1 Fairy King, State Case 4/3 Coole Avenue ex-Bumper horses poor in juvs but improved on debut to finish second at Newbury in December - easy winner followed up at Cheltenham next time but form in behind not working out. Seamus Mullins 12.07% WR, 3.64% FTO Pretentieuse bf Deborah Faulkner j2-0-0 (-) 56 58 Great Pretender (Limnos){17-b}(0.45) 1/0 Limaranta 70.0 2nd Prix Bournosienne (G3,3yH), Auteul 2006 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/pretentieuse (Patrice Lenogue) €3,000 Arqana Summer Pretty good pedigree, poor form, cheap purchase. 0.5 Ri 57.0 1.3800m HcC 0.5 Emila Romagna 55.0 1.4yC Ploermel 2/1 Limarauth, Mango Bay 3/1 Rash Moment 4/1 Actinium Pump It Up chf Richard Spencer f12-1-3 (49) 59 j4-0-1 (93) 83 98 Charming Thought (Pivotal){1-l}(2.08) 3/1 General Eliott 1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (100), Market Rasen 2011 ***Preview from Doncaster where she finished second having very much got the run of the race "Though rated just forty-nine on the flat, Pump It Up was at least able to win in that sphere, landing a twelve furlong heavy ground handicap at Windsor off 46 back in August. Another representative of Charming Thought, the closest winning jumper on the damline is handicapper General Elliott at 3/1, while 1989 Kennel Gate winner Arden shows up at 4/1. Unfancied on her hurdling debut in a fillies' maiden at Fakenham in late October, Pump It Up started prominently but lost her place towards the end of the first circuit. One paced in midfield during the second lap, she plugged on for a forty-two length fourth, jumping reasonably if slightly awkward in the process. Her latest appearance came in another fillies' maiden at Leicester six weeks ago where she started at 28/1. Leading at a reasonable clip, she jumped well apart from clipping the fourth. Joined by her rivals towards the end of the back, she was outpaced by the market leaders at the top of the straight, plugging on to finish a fourteen length fourth of seven. This probably marked a new career best for Pump It Up although the form has been done no favours by the first three who were each outclassed next time. An honest filly who can jump well, Pump It Up could be competitive off her mark of 86, although that would not be enough to give her a winning chance here." *Subsequently flopped when attempting same tactics in better race at Lingfield last time. Simply Red chf Oliver Greenalll b2-0-0 (-) 57 j2-0-0 (-) 74 90 Proconsul (Motivator){22-d}(0.76) 2/1 Teela 4th Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Sedgefield 2010 ***Preview from Doncaster where she finished fifth, making little impression on Tiki Fire Another to have started her career in junior bumpers, Simply Red was beaten thirty-four lengths at both Market Rasen in October, and Aintree in November. Her fourth dam produced a winning novice hurdler in Resist The Force, but closer relatives achieved very little over jumps and sire Proconsul has yet to have any winners of any description. Simply Red made her hurdling debut at Market Rasen early this month where she started at 100/1. Held up in the rear, making a few minor errors, she never remotely threatened to get involved although she did pass a few beaten horses in the straight to finish a twenty-three length fourth. The form looked quite modest beforehand and has been done few favours by those who have been out since. *stable has been quite tepid recently but does have two winners and place from seven juveniles at Hereford Tiki Fire bf Neil King f7-0-3 (64) 70 j4-0-1 (92) 90 96 Awtaad (Big Shuffle){1-h}(1.46) 3/2 Dictum 1st 2m3f Novices' Chase, Haydock 2007 ***Preview from Doncaster listed race where she finished tailed off Initially with Karl Burke, Tiki Fire placed twice as a two-year-old at Haydock and Newcastle and would largely hold her form on four outings this term without troubling the judge. Selling for 10,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August Sale, she joined a Neil King yard with healthy winner to runner and improvement rates of 31.25% and 54.05% respectively. Sire Awtaad is another first crop sire, but while the Cape Cross line does get juveniles, Awtaad himself is not the tallest, was untried beyond a mile and his three runners to date have achieved little. Tiki Fire is quite tenuously related to Don Cossack (4/3) though the decent chaser Dictum is a slightly closer relative at 3/2. Making her hurdling debut in a fillies' contest at Fakenham, Tiki Fire was quite weak in the market. Racing in a first time hood, she never left the rear of the field and made a couple of serious blunders before finishing a tailed off last. With such a lamentable effort along with the yard's juveniles rarely firing first time, better could have been anticipated for her next outing which came at Warwick early last month. Starting at 100/1, Tiki Fire was once again waited with, hopping over the first and doing so again when landing atop the second. She was tight at the third but was better at the next and was in the process of making decent headway when briefly losing her footing on landing at the fifth. Though she picked up the bit soon enough, her leaving her hind legs in the sixth and stumbling badly cost her valuable ground and momentum. Tiki Fire did her best to get back within shouting distance but the race was gone by the time she entered the straight and after being slow away from two out, would merely plug on to finish fourth. Her effort was better than the bare result suggests and though easy in the market beforehand, she went into last month's Doncaster contest with feasible prospects. Racing in midfield, Tiki Fire was some way off the pace turning for home, but was still able to get first run on the reopposing Galah. Her round of jumping was not as clean, as she clipped the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fourth and was not smoothly away from three out. Headed by Galah approaching the last, without having caught the runaway leader, she could only plug on behind the front pair, four and a half lengths clear of the remainder. Tiki Fire was not disgraced on this occasion and posted her best performance to date over hurdles. However, there is no reason why she might reverse placing with Galah and the yard's horses have not been running to form. *(yard has since been in better form) *Yard one from two at Hereford (both prior to 2010) Strong prospects 1. Fiamette Reasonable prospects 2. Tiki Fire 3. Pump It Up 4. Hang Up Feasible prospects 5. Simply Red Moderate prospects 6. Miss Curiosity 7. Madam Malarkey Negligible prospects 8. Pretentieuse
  18. Preview for tomorrow's fillies' race at Ludlow which, to my eye, looks rather uncompetitive given that Galah and Angels Landing have questions to answer. Doncaster's race on Thursday looks a little more interesting but I would be very surprised if a preview was forthcoming as I am meeting a friend after work tomorrow... Such is life. Still, it's nice that we finally get to see Ile de Jersey... Abandoned last season, Ludlow's fillies' juvenile hurdle is set to be hosted for the fifth time having been established in 2017. The average winners' seasonal RPR of 114.88 essentially matches the standard at the venue. Castafiore and Miranda, who won in 2017 and 2019, would eventually score in Grade 2 company over fences and hurdles respectively. However, insofar as juvenile attainment is concerned, its most accomplished graduates were Hillcrest Fire and Via Delle Volte - who would reach the frame in the juvenile handicap at Cheltenham's fillies' meeting having finished unplaced in this race. Save for the Nicky Henderson debutant, this year's renewal looks to be of a typical standard as the more exposed participants have shown fair form while the unexposed entries do not have a huge amount of scope. A sharp, slightly undulating, right-handed circuit, Ludlow's winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.50 mean, are in the higher third of British racecourses with its clear round and completion rates being very close to standard. Of the six set to face the starter, only Angels Landing has made the running over hurdles and that happened on just one occasion, although it was over this course and distance so a similar scenario may be in store. The latest going description was good to soft and with little more than drizzle and a gentle breeze expected in the morning, the field will not be subject to an especially searching test of stamina. Galah bf Milton Harris f12-4-5 (72) 83 j4-1-2 (112) 101 109 Australia (Invincible Spirit){14-c}(0.68) 2/1 Counsel 4th Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2012 Ralph Beckett is amongst the more prolific suppliers of juvenile hurdlers to the division with fifty-five leaving Kimpton Down Stables to go hurdling since 2004/05. Fourteen of these have been winners, a healthy rate of 25.45%, and while just 25% improve for the switch the bulk of these do bring higher than average flat ratings. One such horse is Galah who finished her two-year-old season with a Thirsk nursery win to her name, and a rating of 81. Her second campaign saw her mark drop nine pounds and though she was not beaten far in four of her six outings in handicaps, a tendency to pull and hang right did compromise her efforts. Consequently, she changed hands for the relatively modest sum of 21,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale to join a Milton Harris team that has been flying this season. Her pedigree is an encouraging one for the game as Australia and Invincible Spirit have solid records as sire and damsire respectively, with their descendants often maintaining their flat form over hurdles. Uncle Counsel was a useful juvenile hurdler who finished fourth in a Summit Hurdle while Cinders and Ashes (3/2) and Minella Rocco (4/2) also appear on the damline. Galah's hurdles bow came in a quite well contested introductory hurdle at Newcastle on the Fighting Fifth card. Starting at 14/1, she raced keenly while held up towards the rear of a tight and steady bunch. She held every chance at the distance but though she was quite readily left behind by the two experienced rivals, she fared best of the newcomers, finishing upwards of three lengths ahead of the remainder. Her round of jumping was lightly tarnished by slight, novicey errors but was satisfactory on balance with her only real mistake being an awkward jump three from home where her path was impeded by a rival. She was out again a fortnight later at Cheltenham where her starting price of 28/1 suggested she may be overfaced. Galah was still quite fresh racing in the rear, but the hood and tie did see her travel more comfortably. She made a couple of positions going down the hill and turned into the straight with a fighting chance. The leader was able to get first run and after another not-bad round of hurdling, Galah's steady jump at the last cost her a stride or two of momentum. Nevertheless, while the first and second were out of sight, the latter an easy winner at Fontwell on Boxing Day, she was able to plug on for an honest third ahead of better fancied rivals who, to some degree, met trouble in running. Galah's next appearance came in a fillies' maiden at Doncaster over Christmas where she set a clear standard and was accordingly sent off the even money favourite. Held up towards the rear off a modest tempo, Galah only had one behind turning for home where the leader stole a march. Nevertheless, she was able to make steady headway in the straight and after jumping into the lead at the last, edged out a length victory on the run-in. Given the way the race unfolded, the performance can not be said to match her efforts at Newcastle or Cheltenham but she did not have to be at her best in any case. Galah returned to Doncaster for a listed filles' contest two weeks ago. The Irish raiding party set a tough standard, but Galah was still disappointing and ran according to her drift in the market from 5/1 during the morning to 12/1 at the off. She settled reasonably well in the rear and there were no major complaints to be made about her jumping. However, she had no response when asked for her effort three from home and the gap between herself and the principals would only grow throughout the straight. With Archie Bellamy taking off seven pounds, Galah has solid enough prospects at these weights. Nevertheless, she was given to unaccountably poor showings on the flat and while these were invariably atoned for, it was usually done so after a longer break. Ile de Jersey bf Nicky Henderson j2-1-1 (-) - 118 Night Wish (Nononito){1-b}(0.54) 0.5 Friary Rock 1st 2m4f Beginners Chase, Wexford 2021 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/ile-de-jersey Nicky Henderson is one of the stand out trainers of juvenile hurdlers and his record with French imports bringing hurdling experience is an impressive one. Since 2004/05, twenty-five of thirty-five such horses won during their initial campaigns and count amongst them accomplished sorts such as We Have A Dream, Peace and Co, Top Notch, Grandouet and Fusil Raffles. For all the transfer activity that has been taking place since the Spring, the yard’s first such recruit is a fairly recent acquisition in Ile de Jersey. Beginning her career with Patrice Quinton, whose five previous exports have yielded one winner in Cyclop, Ile de Jersey first saw the racecourse in early July when she took in a 3,700m contest at Sable. Taking in fifteen flights and tracking the leaders throughout, she jumped well over the first four flights, before making her first errors; trailing her hind legs through the fifth and completely missing the sixth. She was tight but better at the next and while she was early at the eleventh and rather missed three out, her overall hurdling was perfectly acceptable for a newcomer. She finished second to another debutant in the Macaire trained Ixia, who comes from the family of Azertyuiop and Bipbap, and was twenty lengths clear of the third who recently broke her duck in a Machecoul claimer. Ile de Jersey’s second outing came over an additional 100 metres at Vittel where she jumped very neatly and made only a minor error at the fifth. She led the pursuit of the runaway leader and after effortlessly passing him on the turn for home, won the race by fifteen lengths and a distance without having to be extended. Although the form of this contest amounts to very little, the second and fourth have managed to break their maidens. With her races coming over longer distances, it is no surprise that Ile de Jersey is not bred to be a speedy juvenile. Sire Night Wish, group class at up to twelve furlongs in Germany, is having his first crop of juveniles but is already off the mark with two winners in France. While not the most accomplished racehorse, this giant son of Sholokhov has a classic German pedigree (which also includes Melon at 4/4) and has the credentials to be a useful jumps sire. Ile de Jersey is out of a winning chaser at Saint-Brieuc who has also produced the prolific cross-country winner Dunquin, and is herself a half-sister to three other winning jumpers. Given her profile, Ile de Jersey does not look like an obvious speedy juvenile type and Ludlow on decent ground may be leaning on the sharp side. Nevertheless, she does have a good jump in her, she easily caught the clear leader at Vittel with a couple of furlongs to spare and her form sets a clear standard. Furthermore, in terms of sourcing, it could be interesting that she was ridden last time by a Felix de Giles who is very familiar with the Henderson operation that sent Punjabi and Doubly Guest to make winning debuts for the yard at Ludlow around this time of year. Ile de Jersey does have to prove her fitness, although the yard invariably have their French hurdles recruits ready to go straight away with their first time strike rate being a very healthy 57.14% Angels Landing bf Ian Williams f6-1-3 (71) 76 j5-0-4 (100) 101 107 Fascinating Rock (Pivotal){7-a}(1.77) 5/3 Binocular 1st Champion Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2010 Having failed to make the track for Richard Fahey, Angels Landing started her career with Ian Williams in mid-June, running consistently and placing three times on her first five outings before getting off the mark in an eleven furlong Kempton handicap in October off 67. Representing the first crop of Fascinating Rock, but with a threadbare damline, Angels Landing started 5/2 joint favourite on her hurdling debut at Ludlow early the following month. Held up in touch and jumping abysmally, she was one paced in the straight before finishing a near five length third of seven. Her next outing came in a fillies' juvenile at Leicester where she was warmly fancied 13/8 favourite. Tracking the leaders, she was still given to novicey errors but there was a definite improvement in her hurdling. Always close up, she went into a narrow lead on the approach to two out and though readily beaten by the winner, she plugged on well enough to finish two and three quarter lengths clear of the remainder. This marked a step up on her debut, although the form was nothing out of the ordinary and her venture into pattern company next time at Aintree amounted to little. Starting at 33/1 having opened at 12/1 in the morning, Angels Landing raced in the rear and her short lived effort at the cross section was over by the time they reached the straight and she was pulled up before jumping two out. Apart from jumping to her right early on, and reaching at the sixth, Angels Landing did hurdle respectably and can perhaps be forgiven the performance due to the very testing conditions. A month later, Angels Landing was able to bounce back to post her best hurdling effort to date in a juvenile hurdle at Ludlow where she started a warm 10/3 second favourite. Establishing a clear lead early on, she jumped well for the most part and had all bar the winner in trouble leaving the back. Challenged on turning for home, she was soon chasing the winner's shadow and her hurdling rather deteriorated, but she still had enough to finish twenty-four lengths clear of the third. Her latest appearance came at Doncaster two weeks ago, although rather than joining Galah and a stablemate in the listed fillies' race, she took her place in a novice handicap over the same trip; running off a mark of 100. Although she was as low as 5/4 during the morning exchanges, Angels Landing drifted out to 9/4 at the off but still held onto favouritism. Tracking the leaders off a comparatively modest tempo, she was one paced in the straight but still maintained her position well into the closing stages before faltering on the run-in and merely clinging on for a eight length third. Seemingly content on any ground with proven form over a course where her likely easy lead will suit, Angels Landing has several factors in her favour. However, the manner in which she folded recently, in conjunction with her trainer's moderate recent form, does not instill iron clad confidence. Austriana bf Sam Allwood f4-0-0 (60) 60 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0 Teofilo (One Cool Cat){4-n}(0.82) 2/2 Irving 1st Fighting Fifth Hurdle (G1), Newcastle 2014, 2015 Starting her career with William Jarvis (only one winner from seventeen as a source of juveniles), Austriana started off reasonably well with a seven length fourth of seven in a mid-June, ten-furlong Newmarket novices stakes. However, her taking a keen hold would not abate with experience as finished no closer than fourteen lengths to the winner in similar contests at Newbury and Newmarket, and a Chelmsford handicap off 64 in August. Fetching 2,000gns in the Tattersalls September Online sale, Austriana joined a Sam Allwood yard that thus far has little experience in the sphere. Her pedigree is a compelling one for her new vocation as Teofilo has a fine winner to runner rate of 32.56% with his juveniles, and as well as being the niece of fairly useful winner Iolith, Austriana's cousin is the high-class hurdler, Irving. This did not translate into confidence ahead of her Catterick hurdling bow in November as she drifted from 50/1 to 80/1. Her free running nature did follow her from the flat as she pulled extremely hard in the rear and made numerous errors as a result before becoming detached leaving the back and pulling up before the last. Dooby bf Sam Allwood b1-0-0 (-) 24 j1-0-0 (-) 47 63 Pearl Secret (Duke Of Marmalade){16-c}(3.00) 3/2 Ruz Gwenn Ha Du 1st 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Nimes 2021 Juveniles who begin their careers in junior bumpers have a modest record when they go over hurdles. The winner to runner rate is a modest 5.15% while their first time strike rate stands at just 2.26%. Moreover, the record of those who recorded RPRs lower than 60 have just one win from two-hundred-and-eighty-five; which did not come first time out. Dooby made her debut in a Wetherby bumper early in December where she lost her position half a mile from home and finished tailed off. Both trainer and sire alike are zero from three with juvenile hurdlers, although Charlie Price has ridden more winners for the yard than stablemate Austriana's rider. The dam won a bumper but never raced over hurdles and the closest winning jumper on the damline appears at 3/2. Dooby made her hurdling debut in the same Doncaster contest won by Galah in December, starting at 150/1. She tracked the leader and jumped well enough before skewing at the fourth and lost her position approaching three out before finishing tailed off in last place. Rattling Rosie grf John Groucott f5-0-1 (67) 71 j3-0-0 (74) 57 54 Lethal Force (Medicean){22-a}(1.67) 2/1 Endless Ocean 1st 3500 3YO Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2008 Formerly with Tom Dascombe, Rattling Rosie's flat mark of 67 is just about acceptable in the context of this division and the damline does feature winners such as Endless Ocean (2/1), Call Me Bubbles (3/2) and Solarius (4/4). However, Lethal Force is currently on thirty-five runs in the division without a win and the dam achieved little in two starts over jumps. Rattling Rosie's switch to the division perhaps had less to do with providing an opportunity for her trainer's first winner in the sphere, and more to do with her failure of a stalls test. Her hurdles bow came at Bangor in November where, starting at 100/1, she raced in the rear and jumped awkwardly. Though she made minor headway, passing beaten horses, she still finished fifty-four lengths adrift. Her second appearance came at Market Rasen where she was again clumsy, cautious and awkward in the rear before being beaten forty-four lengths in a weaker contest. Rattling Rosie's third outing came at Hereford in the new year where she pulled hard in midfield, skewed at the first, was big at the second and blundered badly at the fourth from where she lost her position and ultimately finished an eighty-four length seventh. This earned Rattling Rosie a mark of 74 which overestimates her hurdling performances to date while still leaving her with stones to find with the best of these. tl;dr Galah - Four time winner on the flat and confirmed promising hurdles efforts at Newcastle and Cheltenham with decisive win at Doncaster. Disappointed on return to that venue in listed contest and may require longer break in order to bounce back. Solid enough form claims otherwise. Ile de Jersey - Ex-French, second to well-bred debutant at Sable and well clear of remainder before off the mark in bloodless fashion at Vittel over 3800m. Bred to appreciate further in time but with leading yard with fine first time strike rate which also introduced Punjabi at this venue in January 2007. Angels Landing - Up there with best of these on flat and has placed on all four completed starts over hurdles without winning. Best effort came at this track on penultimate outing and lead is probably hers if she wants it. Not disgraced in recent Doncaster handicap but manner of her folding in conjunciton with recent stable form will be of concern. Austriana - Intriguingly bred and debut flat outing at Newmarket not without promise in isolation. However, pulled hard on all four runs in that prior to inexpensive sale and did so again on hurdling bow at Catterick in November. Dooby - Poor on sole bumper start and while modicum of promise at Doncaster behind Galah, still finished a tailed off last. Much to prove. Rattling Rosie - Fair maiden for Tom Dascombe but three hurdles outings have resulted in a mark of 74 which she has yet to earn. Outstanding prospects 1. Ile de Jersey Reasonable prospects . Feasible prospects 2. Galah 3. Angels Landing Moderate prospects . Negligible prospects 4. Dooby 5. Austriana 6. Rattling Rosie
  19. I'm sure I have plenty of thoughts on recent events but this week has seen a new shift pattern at work as well as the passing of a dear friend. Absolutely not fishing for sympathy btw since I have been processing it with the friends still here, the one that went back to the universe would find such things utterly unbecoming and I have no doubt in my mind that I will be decent soon enough. Just a disclaimer as to how I am not really with it at the moment. I have done a preview for the Scottish Triumph although it was written on autopilot so whether it is any good is anybody's guess... MUSSELBURGH (Scottish Triumph) - 6th February Since Dalaram won a maiden on this card in 2004, en-route to taking Chepstow's Free Handicap in the Autumn, each subsequent juvenile hurdle at Musselburgh at this meeting has contained the word "Triumph". While a conditions race until attaining listed status in 2014, the contest was titled the "Triumph Trial". Though it had only really been a 'trial' in name only, Carlito Brigante, Sametegal and Hargam (winners in 2010, 2013 and 2015) would finish fourth, third and third again in their respective Triumph Hurdles. Orsippus, Starchitect and Project Bluebook reached the frame both here and in the Fred Winter with the first named joined by We Have A Dream in subsequent winners of the Anniversary at Aintree. Comfortably and consistently the strongest juvenile hurdle held in Scotland, its simpler title of "Scottish Triumph Hurdle", adopted in 2020, is a perfectly apt designation. This season's renewal features just one Triumph entry who also happens to be the sole newcomer to the sphere. Nevertheless, five previous winners with respectable form make for a competitive affair with the field rounded off by an Iain Jardine flat winner who attempts to keep the prize in Scotland for just the second time; James Ewart's Vosoges being the only previous Scottish trained winner. A sharp and almost flat left-handed track, Musselburgh's average winning DIs of 1.26 median, 1.41 mean are on the higher side of standard and its clear round rate of 96.27% is close to average. Odds-on favourites have a decent strike rate of 70.97% and the median winning SP of 2/1`is the fifth lowest in Britain. Newcomers have a somewhat lower chance against experienced rivals than at other venues, but their clear round rate 96.88% is actually higher than the average; one of a handful of racecourses where this is the case. All of this combines to indicate that Musselburgh is one of the most straightforward racecourses around. In this particular contest, those having their first run at the venue have won 56.25% of the races. Nevertheless, 31.25% of the winners have previously scored at the venue with such horses having a 59.41% strike rate. While there is just one confirmed front runner in the field, a couple of others have raced prominently in the past. Neither of these are short of pace so an honest gallop looks likely without there necessarily being a risk of an easy lead. The going has most recently been described as good, good to soft in places. However, the aniticpated steady showers, including those of a sleety nature, could see some ease in the ground before post time. Triumph Odds Innatendue 66/1 (80) Fred Winter Odds Malakahna 25/1 Calvados 33/1 Impulsive One 40/1 Inca Prince 50/1 Sonning 50/1 Bulls Aye chg Iain Jardine f10-1-1 (70) 80 j1-0-0 (-) 64 58 Intello (Shamardal){14-c}(1.07) 2/1 Think Ahead 1st 2m1f Maiden Hurdle, Cartmel 2017 The only Scottish trained runner in the field, Bulls Aye's sole flat success came at this venue where he landed a seven furlong novice auction stakes in September 2020. His best piece of form in that sphere came on his three-year-old return when he was third over the same trip in a June handicap off 78. However, while he was consistent enough on his remaining five flat outings last year, he was unable to reach the frame and appeared not to stay on his sole start beyond a mile. Given a break of a couple of months, his attention was switched to juvenile hurdling. Though the records of his sire and trainer in the sphere are no better than fair, Bulls Aye is a nephew of a couple of winning hurdlers. The dam is a full-sister to Think Ahead, and a half-sister to Duke Of Sonning who won as a juvenile in 2015. Making his jumps bow in an introductory hurdle at this venue in early December, Bulls Aye was sent off an unfancied 28/1. Taking a keen hold while restrained towards the rear, he made mistakes at the third and fourth before finishing a tailed off fifth of six. He was last seen at the start of the year when last of seven in a Newcastle handicap where he also raced keenly. Bulls Aye's flat class would be respectable in ordinary company. However, he appears to be stretched by even sharp tests over hurdles and his inability to settle will further compound an already difficult task here. Impulsive One bg Nicky Henderson f9-1-5 (79) 83 j4-2-2 (127) 116 129 Union Rags (Lonhro){4-m}(1.77) 2/2 El Picador 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Musselburgh 2019 Winning one of his eight starts for William Haggas, Impulsive One had shown useful form on the flat at up to twelve furlongs. Making the switch to Nicky Henderson, he built on that foundation over hurdles with wins of twelve lengths at Plumpton, and ten lengths at Huntingdon on his first two outings. He was more impressive at Plumpton as he was able to settle better when given a lead. Nevertheless, there was much evidence of speed, neatness and enthusiasm on each occasion as he travelled strongly without ever looking in danger. Impulsive One's third outing came at Kempton in mid-October and though slightly uneasy in the ring, drifting from 4/7 to 5/6, he was still sent off the clear favourite. Without getting a lead in the four-runner field, Impulsive One was again forced to make his own running which was not ideal given his headstrong nature. Notwithstanding, his hurdling was his most polished to date and he was still on the bridle approaching the penultimate flight. There he made his only real error as he went through the top, but it did not cost him any real momentum and while he did not have enough to fend off Knight Salute's challenge on the run-in, he was still able to put nearly seven lengths between himself and the Alan King recruit in third. Given that he was conceding four pounds to the winner, seven if one accounts for the claim of the aforementioned's talented rider, Impulsive One emerged as best at the weights which in turn, is still one of the strongest British performances seen in the division this term. Having undergone a wind operation, he was able to match this performance in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster two months ago. The yielding ground was as soft as he had encountered to that point over hurdles and he opened at 8/1 in the morning. His price had halved by post time and while still fresh, he comparatively well and posted a very neat round of jumping. Tracking the leaders throughout, Impulsive One travelled strongly to make his challenge approaching the penultimate flight. However, though he jumped the last within a length of the lead, and passed Porticello shortly after, he could not match Knight Salute's turn of foot and lost second to Porticello just before the line. He was only beaten by a length and while he was in receipt of five pounds from the first two, the form was given a strong boost later in the month when Porticello landed the Grade One Finale Hurdle at Chepstow. Impulsive One was last seen at Wolverhampton thirty days ago racing in a fourteen furlong handicap off 80. He was unable to justify 6/4 joint favouritism, placing fourth of fifth, although the entire field did get first run on him from a slowly ran contest. Interestingly, he is set to be Nicky Henderson's sole representative at this meeting and this is a contest the yard has won three times from its five runners. Incidentally, his cousin El Picador won once and placed second twice at Musselburgh as a juvenile before unseating in the 2020 running of this contest. Impulsive One has the strongest form in this field, should get a lead, represents a trainer who likes to win this race and may find further improvement around this circuit. He will likely prefer the ground not to deteriorate but if it holds then his prospects would be strong. Inca Prince bg Ruth Jefferson bg f6-1-0 (84) 87 j5-2-2 (121) 122 125 Fast Company (Hawk Wing){5-g}(1.00) 3/1 Definate Spectacle 2nd Tipperary Hurdle (G2), Tipperary 2007 Starting career with Henry de Bromhead, Inca Prince made a winning debut at Dundalk last September and left the yard with a rating of 86 after finishing sixth in a listed race there in early March. However, his three flat outings for new trainer Cormac Farrell (hitherto winless in juvenile hurdles) resulted in him standing on himself in the stalls, refusing to race and finishing detached. Though he was running beyond a mile for the first time and was sent off a 125/1 outsider for his hurdles bow at Listowel in September, there was cause for optimism in the pedigree. Fast Company had a strong winner to runner rate of 34.78% with juveniles going into the race while the useful Definate Spectacle appears at 3/1 on the damline. Held up in the rear, Inca Prince took a keen hold during the early stages and was not especially fluent over the second or third. Nevertheless, he jumped and settled better going onto the second circuit and made steady headway before turning for home in the leading pack. He made mistakes over the last two which cost him momentum, but was able to win the battle for fifth on the run-in. Sporting a first time hood, he continued his progression in a Gowran Park maiden a fortnight later. He was steady in the ring at 8/1 but unsteady in the race itself; immediately pulling himself to the front from a midfield position while doing his best to pull out Adam Short's arms. Though decent enough over the second and third, his hurdling was also wayward despite getting a lead along the back where he was especially close to the fourth and seventh. Nevertheless, he was still travelling well when jumping the penultimate flight with a narrow lead, and comfortably extended that gap to three lengths before meeting the last on completely the wrong stride. He was immediately headed on landing and would be relegated to third on the run-in. Apart from the fifth winning next time, the subsequent form has been disappointing. The same can not be said of Inca Prince's third start where he ran into two subsequent pattern winners at Down Royal at the end of October. Though still keen for much of the race, his rider did manage to restrain him in the rear and his jumping was much better as a result. Winner Fil Dor was in a class and race of his own, but Inca Prince did finish within a length of Sea Sessions who would land a listed fillies' race at Aintree the next time. A move to Ruth Jefferson followed with his British debut coming in a fairly average contest at Catterick in December. Starting the solid 85/40 favourite, he went straight into the lead and though still conspicuously keen, at least appeared to travel better up front. Inca Prince was in a clear lead going along the back at which point the field was well strung out. Nothing else looked like landing a blow prior and kept up to his work, he passed the post upwards of six lengths clear of the rest. The pace he set was a sensible one rather than one which would burn off average horses, but while the runner-up ran completely flat next time at Wetherby, the third did score in the same contest. Inca Prince's returned eighteen days later for a fair contest at Musselburgh on New Year's Day where he was a steady 5/2 third favourite of six. He was fairly keen early but set a strong pace which saw him enter the back with a dozen length lead. Though challenged by Collingham between the final two flights, his rival faded on the run-in; leaving Inca Prince to score by a driven out seven lengths despite slowing during the final furlong. The runner-up was beaten fourteen lengths off 100 next time, but Collingham (who was probably below his best here) did finish second in the Chatteris Fen before easily winning at Catterick on Friday. Inca Prince does not have a great deal to find at the weights and has the benefit of experience around Musselburgh. Furthermore, he is unlikely to be pressed too strongly for the lead, nor should he be inconvenienced if the heavens open. Sonning grg Alan King f7-1-2 (76) 81 j4-1-2 (116) 110 115 The Gurkha (Rainbow Quest){8-d}(0.56) 3/2 Diakali 1st Prix Alain du Breil (G1), Auteuil 2013 Costing 80,000 guineas in the 2020 Craven Breeze-up Sale, Sonning was not disgraced when lacking experience in three outings as a two-year-old and made a winning return from his winter break at Beverley in mid-April. Running in a ten furlong, good to firm handicap off a mark of 71, Sonning raced off the pace and although it took a while for the penny to drop, he weaved his way through traffic before running on gamely to win by a neck from Mark Johnston's Happy. He failed to win during three further flat spins, but still got his head down to run to his best when denied second by a head at Leicester. From the first crop of The Gurkha, Sonning distaff side counts little in the way of immediate hurdlers, although the first one that shows is the top class Diakali at 3/2, who was also a very accomplished juvenile hurdler. Winning jumpers Diamond Frontier, Diamond d'Amour and Diamond Kut also appear at 3/2 while Divapour can be found at 3/3. Sonning started his hurdling career with a flat rating of 76, and those trained for both codes by Alan King, particularly with such a mark, generally do well in the division. There was strong market confidence before his Wincanton bow that saw him go from a morning show of 11/8 to 1/2 at the off. Attempting to separate Adrian Heskin's arms from his torso, Sonning was held up in touch for much of the contest. He was still travelling well enough turning into the straight, but an untidy leap two out cost him valuable momentum and with the race out of his reach after the last, he was allowed to coast home upwards of five lengths clear of the remainder. Sonning was able to get off the mark at the second time of asking at Catterick a month later. He started at evens in a contest where the course and good, good to firm ground will have been ideal. Taking a keen hold behind the leaders, he pulled himself to the front by the first in the back without taking himself into a clear lead. Travelling strongly, it was only in the straight where he began to assert and after a brief shake of the reins, he would coast home by eleven lengths. Very little can be said of the form but other than skewing a couple of times early on, satisfaction could be derived from a slick round of jumping. Sonning next appeared in mid-December at Plumpton for a novice hurdle against older horses. Easy during the morning exchanges before starting at 3/1, he was keen as he tracked the leaders early on, before moving into second passing the stands. Sonning went into the lead going down hill in the back and was still travelling well as he entered the straight. However, his hurdling became rather untidy and though he maintained his position when challenged between the final two, Sonning weakened after the last and finished third; five lengths behind the front pair. Returning to Wincanton eleven days ago, he made the switch to handicap company, running off 119. He was especially keen while held up towards the rear and was untidy on several occasions. Slight headway was made on the cross section but made no further impression prior to finishing a thirty-one length fourth. Sonning is capable of winning more races over hurdles and could find himself well handicapped if he finds a sharp enough contest in time. However, he will need to learn how to settle better in the meantime and the ground is unlikely to be dry enough for him here. Calvados bf John C McConnell f7-0-1 (52) 62 j5-1-3 (-) 111 115 Vadamos (Nathaniel){5-h}(0.38) 3/1 Madrasa 1st 2m3½f Novices' Handicap Hurdle (95), Wetherby 2015 An improving, if still modest maiden on the flat, Calvados would be the first Irish representative of sire Vadamos, as well as the first produce of Nathaniel's broodmares to partake in juvenile hurdles. In a Ballinrobe maiden back in August, Calvados got three careers off to the perfect start. Backed from 6/1 into 10/3 second favourite, she jumped nicely for a debutant and ran out a comfortable five and a half length winner. After finishing third at Navan on a return to the flat, she filled the same position on her next two hurdles outings at Listowel and Punchestown. Both times she found herself behind Bell Ex One, but had ran to a respectable level on each occasion. At Listowel, she kept on to split Realist (a subsequent hurdles winner in America) and Inca Prince, while at Punchestown she emerged better at the weights than runner-up Sea Sessions with the trio nineteen lengths clear of the remainder. Calvados would follow Sea Sessions to Aintree for a listed fillies' contest in early December. Held on bottomless ground, the pace was slow from start to finish. Racing close to the lead throughout, Calvados made minor errors but was better when the pace picked up somewhat along the back. She jumped the last alongside the leader and though Sea Sessions stayed the better of the pair, Calvados was able to hang on for second. Her latest appearance came in the Grade Two at Leopardstown over Christmas where she started an unfancied 33/1 outsider. Held up towards the rear off a steady pace, Calvados met with blocked paths just as the race unfolded on the home turn where she would probably have found herself outpaced in any event. She kept on but a large jump at the last put paid to any aspirations of finishing closer than an eighteen length sixth. John McConnell has had two winners from five in Musselburgh juveniles which is in keeping with his 31% strike rate with all runners at the course where he had another winner on the Saturday. He saddles two in this contest and while stablemate Innatendue holds the Triumph entry, Calvados has the services of Sean Bowen who has had ten wins from thirty rides for the yard. There is a bit to find with a couple of the geldings but her weight allowance would throw her into the mix and if the ground does go any softer, pedigree and racecourse evidence suggests that Calvados could be in her element. Innatendue bf John C McConnell b4-2-2 (-) – Spanish Moon (Sleeping Car){u}(2.00) 1/0 Trotot 1st 4000m 5&6yo Conditions Chase, Le Lion d’Angers 2012 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/innatendue-1 The sole hurdling debutant in the field, Innatendue joined John McConnell after a €100,000 private sale at Arqana in the Autumn. Racing exclusively in bumpers to date, her career started with Etienne & Grégoire Leenders; a yard responsible for two winners (Dandy Mag and Ronde de Nuit) from three exports. Innatendue's debut came in an early August, 2400m fillies race at Le Lion-d'Angers where she started the 6.9 third favourite of nine. Switching on and off the bridle in midfield, she crept closer with half a mile to go and though she made a meal of getting to the front, she got the lead at the furlong marker before holding on by a neck. Nothing behind her has managed to win since, but the form of her next two outings is substantial. Though she still looked very slow the following month at Craon, it would be harsh to detract from her effort in chasing down Il Est Divin (second in a Groupe II next time) to half a length. In October, Innatendue finished third in a Groupe III at Moulins where she ran in a similar fashion behind Ile O Vent and Ingrandes. This pair would finish fifth and fourth in the Groupe I bumper at Saint Cloud, but not before Innatendue managed to beat the latter in a Groupe III at Durtal at the end of the month. It was a well contested multi way battle from the moment they entered the straight and Innatendue had her head down at just the right moment passing the post as she would have placed second or third a stride either side of the line. Though tying into some high strands on the AQPS circuit, the fact the first eight were covered by less than four and a half lengths does detract from the form. Nevertheless, Innatendue has shown a decent attitude to go with her patent stamina. Insofar as hurdling is concerned, Innatendue has some credentials in the pedigree. Two of Spanish Moon's six British and Irish juveniles have been winners, uncle Quimperial won a three-year-old hurdle while cousin Desir du Large finished third in the Johnstown novice. However, Spanish Moon's winner to runner rate with three-year-olds in France drops to 10% and his highest rated offspring in that country have been chasers. Furthermore, while hurdlers do appear on the damline, there is a heavier lean towards chasing. The dam gained both of her wins over fences as did half-brother En Temps Voulu, while the two other winning siblings did so in cross country races. Bonaniversere Papa (2/1) was a winning chaser, the useful Gondleen and l'Artiste Francais (both 3/1) showed their best form over fences while Chriseti (3/1) was a leading light in cross country. Innatendue's entry in the Triumph does not escape notice. However, the yard has a more feasible candidate in Calvados, its first time strike rate is a low one, and everything about the profile suggests that even if Musselburgh was ploughed before racing, she would still find things happening too quickly. Malakahna bf Ian Williams f2-1-1 (-) - j3-1-1 (115) 109 116 Manduro (Dalakhani){1-h}(0.33) 2/1 Dariya 1st 2m1f Mares' Handicap Hurdle (102), Newton Abbot 2020 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/malakahna Ian Williams made four acquisitions at the Arqana Deauville Sale in July with Saint Riquier going on to place in pattern company. The next of the quartet to be seen was Malakahna who was introduced in a fillies' contest at Fakenham in late October. Ian Williams had only had one previous winner from his seven juveniles imported from the French flat, although this was also his other sourced from Christophe Ferland who, incidentally, won first time out. Malakahna, who cost €40,000 in the aforementioned sale, made her debut in a 2300m newcomers contest at Tarbes in May where she ran on to finish just under eight lengths third behind animals rated 92 and 80. She got off the mark on her second outing the following month in a 2400m Toulouse maiden on soft ground. Shaping like an absolute plodder, she needed the entirety of the straight to bridge the length gap between herself and the leaders before crossing the line a quarter length to the good. Nevertheless, the form looks reasonable with the next two being subsequent winners rated 75 and 72 with the trio over five lengths clear of the remainder. Befitting the racecourse evidence, she has a stout pedigree which is also suitable for her new discipline. Manduro has a strong 32% winners to runners rate while damsire Dalakhani is solid at 22.58%. The damline is teutonic in nature with the granddam being a half-sister to Davidoff and Denaro, while Don Cossack appears further back at 4/3. Though her credentials were solid, the sharp nature of Fakenham's circuit looked unlikely to play to Malakahna's strengths and she started the race at 12/1. Settling in mid-division, she stayed out of the well contested battle at the head of the field and as the leaders dropped away during the final lap, she loomed alongside Aliomaana on the cross section. Her rival was persistent but she had given best by the time they turned for home and Malakahna was ridden out for an eight length win with the remainder a distance behind. The form with the runner-up is decent although given the way the race transpired, she was perhaps flattered by the ease of her success. Her hurdling also left something to be desired as she completely missed the first, was tight at the fourth, stumbled after flattening three out and pecking at the last. Malakahna was given an opportunity to show her class in the listed fillies' hurdle at Aintree on Becher Chase day where she was sent off the 11/2 second favourite. Ridden prominently out wide in a very slowly ran affair, she clipped the first and got in close to the third, fourth and sixth. Though still in contention entering the straight, she was somehow outpaced at the distance and a fairly laboured one paced to the line, finishing a seven length fifth. Malakahna was last seen at Sandown a month ago for a four-runner class 3 contest where she started the 15/8 second favourite of four. Held up in touch off what was a reasonable pace in the heavy ground, her jumping was marked by steady and sometimes careless jumping. While an early departure and an unfit non-stayer assured Malakahna of at least a second place finish, she had absolutely no answer when the winner pressed on at the distance and left her thirteen lengths in his wake. Malakahna would not be completely out of this on her best form, and she may well be content whatever the conditions or pace composition. However, this would also give her less scope for improvement and she does have to account for her below par outings where her jumping left plenty to be desired. tl;dr Bulls Aye - Sole Scottish trained runner in the field. Won on this track on the flat but failed to progress and looks a doubtful stayer. Failed to show on hurdling debut and continued inability to settle will likely exacerbate an already tricky assignment. Impulsive One - Flat winner for William Haggas who was fast and nimble when winning minor events at Plumpton and Huntingdon. Found out by Knight Salute at Kempton and Doncaster but showed improved form which sets standard in this contest. Sole runner at meeting for top yard which has won this race three times. Has strong prospects if the ground holds. Inca Prince - Promising flat career ended with whimper but has been rejuvinated by hurdles. Unlucky not to win at Gowran on second start and Irish form was enough for him to make all and run out emphatic winner at Catterick on British debut. Made all over course and distance last month and while that race was run to suit, the time was still decent. Course form an asset and should give good account although this may be tougher. Sonning - Winner on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise when scoring at Catterick. Fair effort in Plumpton novice before moderate show in Wincanton handicap. Plenty of speed and capable of jumping well. However, will likely need the sharpest of tests to be seen to full effect at this juncture. Calvados - Modest but improving maiden on flat who made winning hurdles debut at Ballinrobe in August. Failed to score since but placed next three outings in good company before being unsuited by how Leopardstown Grade Two unfolded. Something to find but weight allowance will help and conditions may bring out further improvement. Jockey booking an interesting one for yard with good record at venue. Innatendue - Yet to race over hurdles but two wins and two places from four French bumpers. Form has strands in high levels of AQPS scene although she does look decidedly slow and will probably find this too sharp first time. Malakahna - Respectable form on flat in France and won on British debut at a Fakenham which looked unlikely to suit. Race rather fell apart for her there however, and she failed to justify her initial impression at Aintree and Sandown. Not without a shout at best but questions over her latest efforts, and her jumping, loom large. If Soft side of Good to Soft Strong prospects 1. Calvados Reasonable prospects 2. Impulsive One 3. Inca Prince Feasible/Moderate prospects 4. Innatendue 5. Malakahna 6. Sonning Negligible prospects 7. Bulls Aye If Good side of Good to Soft Strong prospects 1. Impulsive One Reasonable prospects 2. Calvados 3. Inca Prince Feasible prospects 4. Sonning Moderate prospects 5. Malakahna 6. Innatendue Negligible prospects 7. Bulls Aye
  20. Probably underestimated Graystone although he was helped by the breather before home, PDR’s withdrawal and IdP not pressing him. Fleurman never looked happy after his mistake at the first and Message Personnel didn’t have any excuses and looks a longer term project as per previous suspicions. Regarding Saturday, as exciting as the Cheltenham race looks, I will be going to Doncaster tomorrow so while I will endeavour to get a preview done for the race, there is a small chance that it may be delayed or worse... The recent proliferation of pattern class national hunt races for fillies and mares has not overlooked the juvenile hurdling division. Doncaster has often close to the forefront of such developments in this regard. When the mares programme was expanded during the 2007/08 season, Doncaster would host the first Grade Two over two miles at its Great Yorkshire Chase meeting. As well as hosting the second oldest extant juvenile contest restricted to fillies, its maiden during December 2019 saw the introduction of the second fillies listed contest after Aintree; preceding the handicap at Cheltenham's April meeting by a few months. Entering its fourth year, this race has not yet established itself as a highlight of the racing calendar, but it has been developing from strength to strength. Last season saw the first participants at the Cheltenham festival, albeit with the first two, Her Indoors and Talking About You, finishing down the field in the Fred Winter and Triumph Hurdle respectively. This year's edition looks to be of a comparable standard and is essentially a repeat of the Aintree contest early last month with the first, third and fourth (all Irish trained) reopposing. Though no filly has landed the double, Aintree's race has been responsible for all three winners of this contest, although French import La Renommee and recent course winner Galah should add another dimension to proceedings. A mostly flat, left-handed galloping venue, the average winning DIs at Doncaster 1.12 median, 1.34 mean, are just slightly lower than average. This would be in keeping of the good drainage at the South Yorkshire venue as supported by the 90.02% completion rate. The clear round rate of 97.03% is also a fair one although hurdling debutants can find the circuit trickier than usual. Just the one likely front runner is set to face the starter. Her having previously done so at a measured tempo suggests a similar pace scenario here. The going is described as good, good to soft in places. In lieu of any rain, selective watering is scheduled although the anticipated breeze will probably mitigate any real softening of the turf. Triumph Odds White Pepper 33/1 (38) Sea Sessions 50/1 (60) La Renommee 66/1 (75) Six Feet Apart 66/1 (75) Sea Sessions bf Ross O'Sullivan f8-1-3 (66) 73 j3-1-2 (-) 114 117 Territories (Daylami){16-e}(1.40) 2/1 Pigeon Island 1st Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (G2), Kempton 2008 Trained by Ross O'Sullivan from the outset, Sea Sessions finished no closer than five lengths to the winner during her first four outings. A drop into claiming company saw her finish second at Fairyhouse in late May, before going one better at the same venue in early July; whereafter she was subject to a friendly claim of €15,000. Though contested on soft then good ground, both efforts came over ten furlongs with comparable form shown on each outing. She appeared to be crying out for a sterner stamina test and while beaten into fourth at Navan, had no issues with the half-mile increase in trip. Her final flat start came when second at Killarney over eleven furlongs off 64 in early October, making her hurdles debut at Punchestown ten days later. From the first crop of classy miler Territories, her sire's being by Invincible Spirit and standing at just 15.3½hh is not conducive to a productive jumps career. Nevertheless, along with being half-sister to winning handicapper Tomorrow's Angel, the dam is a full-sister to Pigeon Island, and half-sister to other winning jumpers Dalmo and On Alert. Sea Sessions debut came in a fair contest featuring three previous winners, but she still attracted support in the market; starting at 11/2 having been 10/1 earlier in the day. Keen early and held up towards the rear, Sea Sessions had to jump over a fallen rival after the first, but apart from getting tight at the fifth and skewing over the penultimate flight, put in a decent round. In midfield but still some way off the pace leaving the back, Sea Sessions was in touch turning for home and finished best of all to grab second and get to within half a length of the winner on the run-in. Her next appearance came at the end of the month in a five runner contest at Down Royal. She had actually backed into 5/4 joint favouritism with Fil Dor, although while she was the only runner to attempt to follow the winner three furlongs from home, her pursuit was a vain one to the tune of sixteen lengths. Nevertheless, she did hold on for second from subsequent dual scorer Inca Prince, and her round of jumping was, save for a couple of minor errors, sound once again. Sea Sessions was able to gain her first win over hurdles at in the listed fillies' contest at Aintree early last month where she was started joint fourth in the betting at 8/1. Held on bottomless ground at a sedate gallop, Sea Sessions raced quite keenly in midfield. Though not showing explosive acceleration, she found herself a couple of lengths behind the lead at the last where she made her only real mistake of the race. The race to the line was conducted in slow motion and though wandering under pressure, settled the race when getting her head in front at the half-furlong marker. While this performance was respectable from a form and jumping perspective, the sectionals paint the contest in a very poor light and the race would likely have little bearing on future events save for those held in similar conditions. Notwithstanding, the overall profile of Sea Sessions is a fair one and though very much at ease on a ploughed field, she also has good ground form on both codes and should not be readily dismissed as a plodder. Cherokee Dance bbf Ian Williams f11-1-6 (70) 75 Honor Code (Cherokee Run){9-f}(3.00) 5/3 Tom Mix 2nd Prix Count Schomberg (L,55.0), Auteuil 2016 Starting her career with David Simcock, for whom she managed a Newcastle second from four outings, Cherokee Dance missed a couple of engagements before joining Ian Williams for 11,000 guineas at the tattersalls July Sale. She found only one too good on her first run for her new trainer over a mile and a half at Newcastle in September. Though disappointing on her first turf outing next time, she followed a close up finish at Kempton by breaking her duck at Wolverhampton in mid-December. Racing off 63 and weak in the market, drifting from a morning 10/1 to 28/1, Cherokee Dance tracked the leaders and kicked on turning for home to win by two and a quarter lengths twice. She has since been kept busy, finishing a creditable second in three handicaps without any excuses or vices. The American bred Cherokee Dance is from the second crop of Honor Code. Of the eleven stallion sons of A.P. Indy to try with juvenile hurdlers, only three have produced winners to date. The damline is bereft of jumpers until Tom Mix at 5/3, although Cherokee Run is the broodmare sire of winning juvenile Unanimite. Ian Williams has a fair winner to runner rate in the division of 19.35%, which increases to 37.50% when isolating fillies. However, his first time strike rate is just 4.08% with British flat recruits and none of his seven juveniles at Doncaster have finished in the frame. Furthermore, while her mark of 70 is respectable for the division, all but one of Cherokee Dance's opponents have already attained higher ratings over hurdles. Galah bf Milton Harris f12-4-5 (72) 83 j3-1-2 (112) 101 109 Australia (Invincible Spirit){14-c}(0.68) 2/1 Counsel 4th Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2012 Ralph Beckett is amongst the more prolific suppliers of juvenile hurdlers to the division with fifty-five leaving Kimpton Down Stables to go hurdling since 2004/05. Fourteen of these have been winners, a healthy rate of 25.45%, and while just 25% improve for the switch the bulk of these do bring higher than average flat ratings. One such horse is Galah who finished her two-year-old season with a Thirsk nursery win to her name, and a rating of 81. Her second campaign saw her mark drop nine pounds and though she was not beaten far in four of her six outings in handicaps, a tendency to pull and hang right did compromise her efforts. Consequently, she changed hands for the relatively modest sum of 21,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale to join a Milton Harris team that has been flying this season. Her pedigree is an encouraging one for the game as Australia and Invincible Spirit have solid records as sire and damsire respectively, with their descendants often maintaining their flat form over hurdles. Uncle Counsel was a useful juvenile hurdler who finished fourth in a Summit Hurdle while Cinders and Ashes (3/2) and Minella Rocco (4/2) also appear on the damline. Galah's hurdles bow came in a quite well contested introductory hurdle at Newcastle on the Fighting Fifth card. Starting at 14/1, she raced keenly while held up towards the rear of a tight and steady bunch. She held every chance at the distance but though she was quite readily left behind by the two experienced rivals, she fared best of the newcomers, finishing upwards of three lengths ahead of the remainder. Her round of jumping was lightly tarnished by slight, novicey errors but was satisfactory on balance with her only real mistake being an awkward jump three from home where her path was impeded by a rival. She was out again a fortnight later at Cheltenham where her starting price of 28/1 suggested she may be overfaced. Galah was still quite fresh racing in the rear, but the hood and tie (retained here) did see her travel more comfortably. She made a couple of positions going down the hill and turned into the straight with a fighting chance. The leader was able to get first run and after another not-bad round of hurdling, Galah's steady jump at the last cost her a stride or two of momentum. Nevertheless, while the first and second were out of sight, the latter an easy winner at Fontwell on Boxing Day, she was able to plug on for an honest third ahead of better fancied rivals who, to some degree, met trouble in running. Galah's latest appearance came in a fillies' maiden at this venue four weeks ago where she set a clear standard and was accordingly sent off the even money favourite. Held up towards the rear off a modest tempo, Galah only had one behind turning for home where the leader stole a march. Nevertheless, she was able to make steady headway in the straight and after jumping into the lead at the last, edged out a length victory on the run-in. Given the way the race unfolded, the performance can not be said to match her efforts at Newcastle or Cheltenham. Nevertheless, she put in a clean round of jumping and the three previous course winners taking in this contest have amongst them win and a place. Galah does have a few pounds to find with a few of these, and she will not want to find herself caught flat footed. Nevertheless, she jumps well and knows her way around Doncaster so a respectable showing can be anticipated. La Renommee bf Richard Newland f1-0-0 j2-1-1 (-) 116 115 Doctor Dino (Ballingarry){3-d}(0.71) 1/0 Grande Cavale 1st 3400m 4yo Fillies Maiden Chase, Ecommoy 2011 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/la-renommee Dr Richard Newland is a trainer whose record with juvenile hurdlers is a solid one. Since his first foray into the sphere in the 2009/10 season, his winner to runner rate stands at 40.91%, and he has yet to saddle a faller or unseat from eighty-two runs. The bulk of his recruits were bought at sales having raced on the flat in Britain or Ireland. However, three of his juveniles brought jumps experience from France with Katpoli winning during his first campaign, and Rose Sea Has and Rikoboy going on to land chases having previously ran over the larger obstacles in the country of their birth. Le Renommee, who privately changed hands for €120,000 during the Arqana Autumn sale, has yet to tackle fences in public but very much has the profile of a chaser. Initially with Ettienne Leenders, the source of winning juveniles Dandy Mag and Ronde de Nuit, La Renommee first saw the racecourse in a 2900m fillies’ maiden at Clairefontaine in August where she finished fifth of ten. Her hurdling debut came the following month at Les Sables-d’Olonne in a 3450m conditions hurdle held under floodlights. Making all, she raced quite keenly and jumped big and to her right in the early stages. With a gap between her rivals, she started getting in tight to her hurdles but was mostly fluent. The field closed on her turning for home, but La Renommee though she edged right under pressure, was always doing enough and passed the post two and a half lengths clear of the rest. There were only four finishers and the runner-up was moderate next time, although the third did score next time from a subsequent winner of a quite valuable contest. La Renommee’s second hurdles outing came in the Prix Pre Catelan at Auteuil. The 3500m contest is a conditions race for fillies with two or less hurdles runs to their names and its history is fairly ordinary. None of the four exports from the race would win as juveniles although Utopie des Bordes (2nd 2011) and Benie des Dieux (4th 2014) would eventually be useful sorts long term. Ahead of only one in the market, starting at 13/1, La Renommee was keen once again while held up in the rear, but was much neater in her jumping. Though the pace was steady, she found herself rather detached on the turn for home. Though she made considerable ground to eventually finish second by a short neck, her case was helped when the favourite fell at the last, and the new leader did everything in her power to throw the race away in a slow motion finish. Flattered to finish so close to the winner, she is better measured against the third, a neck behind, who had previously won an ordinary Toulouse contest, and was well beaten when next seen at Auteuil. The form is ordinary and the sectionals were slower across the board when compared to the colts and geldings division of the contest. Le Renommee is capable of being competitive in ordinary company during the coming months, but she can be viewed more favourably as a chasing prospect. Doctor Dino does have a strong record with juvenile hurdlers, but is capable of getting good chasers such as Le Bague au Roi; who also happens to be La Renommee’s cousin. Dam Grande Cavale won a four-year-old chase, uncle Walt was a decent staying chaser, auntie Midnight Theatre a winning pointer, while Clan Royal (3/1), Monty’s Pass (5/5) and Harbour Pilot (5/5) also appear on the damline. There are some relatives who came to hand earlier in Plaisir du Roy (2/1), Reine Angevine (2/2) and Roboratif (3/1), although on balance and racecourse evidence, Le Renommee is probably one for the longer term. Particularly as she has a three month absence to overcome and is unlikely to find this contest run to suit. Six Feet Apart bf Joseph Patrick O'Brien f2-0-1 (-) 79 j3-1-0 (-) 111 112 Mount Nelson (Arcano){8-c}(3.00) 2/1 Rainbow Peak 2nd 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (135), Aintree 2014 Not seeing the racecourse until September last year, Six Feet Apart made her debut in a nine furlong maiden at Punchestown. Lukewarm in the market at 12/1, she raced some way off the pace towards the rear and entered the straight with only three behind her. Doing her best work late on, she gained five places inside the final furlong to finish a seven and a half length third; splitting a pair of next time out winners. On the second of her two flat outings, she was beaten roughly the same distance when seventh at the Curragh, drifting in the market beforehand and fading inside the closing stages. A switch to hurdles came at the start of November and it is a career for which she is feasibly bred. Though prior to her jumps bow, Mount Nelson had only two winning juveniles from seventeen, although most were moderate on the flat and 45.45% of them were able to improve for the switch to hurdles. From the family of Celtic Swing (3/1), Six Feet Apart is a niece of winning hurdlers Rainbow Peak and Toss The Caber. Though uneasy during the morning of her introduction in a Fairyhouse maiden, Six Feet Apart was backed into 10/3 second favouritism in the ring. Racing prominently throughout, Six Feet Apart reached at the first and sixth but otherwise put up a fluent round of hurdling first time. Travelling best at the distance, she cleared the last with a length lead and was able to double that margin in the final strides. The form was no better than fair, with fourth placed Doctor Churchill gradually improving afterwards, but it was close enough to her Punchestown performance and she was professional in her execution. She accompanied the Irish contingent for her next outing in the listed event at Aintree where she was a fairly solid 6/1 third favourite. Tucked in behind the leaders, she was in close enough order approaching the penultimate flight. However, it was here she made her only real error as she flattened the hurdle having barely lifted her feet. She rallied to some degree but would fold after the last before finishing a six and a quarter length fourth. Three weeks later, Six Feet Apart took another step up in class when contesting the Grade Two at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Unfancied at 33/1, she was held up in touch off a steady gallop. She jumped well and had yet to be asked a question when getting slightly squeezed out on landing at two out. Though not a serious impediment, it did cost her some momentum as the race was hotting up and she was unable to get back on terms, finishing a fifteen and a half length fifth of seven. Joseph O'Brien's only visit to Doncaster as a trainer came when he saddled Lord Justice and Zig Zag to finish second and third in the 2016 Summit Hurdle. Six Feet Apart is still relatively unexposed and though she has ground to make up on a couple of rivals, these conditions ought to suit so a similar kind of effort is not unfeasible. Tiki Fire bf Neil King f7-0-3 (64) 70 j3-0-1 (92) 90 96 Awtaad (Big Shuffle){1-h}(1.46) 3/2 Dictum 1st 2m3f Novices' Chase, Haydock 2007 Initially with Karl Burke, Tiki Fire placed twice as a two-year-old at Haydock and Newcastle and would largely hold her form on four outings this term without troubling the judge. Selling for 10,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August Sale, she joined a Neil King yard with healthy winner to runner and improvement rates of 31.25% and 54.05% respectively. Sire Awtaad is another first crop sire, but while the Cape Cross line does get juveniles, Awtaad himself is not the tallest, was untried beyond a mile and his three runners to date have achieved little. Tiki Fire is quite tenuously related to Don Cossack (4/3) though the decent chaser Dictum is a slightly closer relative at 3/2. Making her hurdling debut in a fillies' contest at Fakenham, Tiki Fire was quite weak in the market. Racing in a first time hood, she never left the rear of the field and made a couple of serious blunders before finishing a tailed off last. With such a lamentable effort along with the yard's juveniles rarely firing first time, better could have been anticipated for her next outing which came at Warwick early last month. Starting at 100/1, Tiki Fire was once again waited with, hopping over the first and doing so again when landing atop the second. She was tight at the third but was better at the next and was in the process of making decent headway when briefly losing her footing on landing at the fifth. Though she picked up the bit soon enough, her leaving her hind legs in the sixth and stumbling badly cost her valuable ground and momentum. Tiki Fire did her best to get back within shouting distance but the race was gone by the time she entered the straight and after being slow away from two out, would merely plug on to finish fourth. Her effort was better than the bare result suggests and though easy in the market beforehand, she went into last month's Doncaster contest with feasible prospects. Racing in midfield, Tiki Fire was some way off the pace turning for home, but was still able to get first run on the reopposing Galah. Her round of jumping was not as clean, as she clipped the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fourth and was not smoothly away from three out. Headed by Galah approaching the last, without having caught the runaway leader, she could only plug on behind the front pair, four and a half lengths clear of the remainder. Tiki Fire was not disgraced on this occasion and posted her best performance to date over hurdles. However, there is no reason why she might reverse placing with Galah and the yard's horses have not been running to form. White Pepper bf Gavin Cromwell f14-1-4 (82) 80 j4-2-1 (-) 123 121 Fast Company (Arcano){11-a}(1.67) 2/1 Jobekani 4th 2m Maiden Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2010 The most experienced of these on the flat and over hurdles, White Pepper also possesses the strongest form from either sphere. Her fourteen race flat career began in July 2020 and after finishing down the field in a trio of maidens, would twice reach the frame in Nursery handicaps at Down Royal and Gowran. A return to maiden company and a step up to ten furlongs last May saw her place at Sligo and Navan. However, it would not be until her thirteenth start that she would finally break her duck in a twelve furlong fillies' maiden at Tramore in mid-August. Starting the day at 13/2 in a field comprising of three others rated on the cusp of 80, White Pepper went as low as 7/4 during the exchanges before settling at 3/1 come post time. Tracking the leader for most of the contest, she was asked to make her challenge on the turn for home and having edged to the front inside the final furlong, would cross the line two and a half lengths to the good. There is little to be said of the subsequent form, and her participation in the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood in August proved to be as overambitious as the 33/1 starting price suggested as she trailed in last of five. Following a month off the track, her attentions would turn to hurdling. While distantly related to Old Vic at 5/1, there is little hurdling form on the damline. Nevertheless, her late sire Fast Company has quite the record with juvenile hurdlers with a winner to runner rate of 40.74%, and an improvement rate of 69.57%. Gavin Cromwell has a solid winner to runner rate of 20.31%, but is very able at getting improvement over hurdles at a rate of 60.61%. White Pepper was the subject of strong support for her hurdling bow at Gowran Park in early October, opening the 10/3 joint second favourite having been 12/1 during the morning. She settled well while tracking the leaders on the outer, but was not the most fluent first time as she was big at the first, skewed at the second and close at the fourth and sixth. She found herself outpaced on the turn for home and did herself no favours when reaching badly at two out and skewing at the last. Nevertheless, she was able to keep on to finish just over four lengths behind in fifth. White Pepper was less fancied next time at Galway three weeks later, with several compelling newcomers seeing her start at 6/1. Nevertheless, with cheekpieces reapplied, she raced with more purpose up front, seeing off the challenger for her lead after passing the stands and going several lengths clear along the back. The field closed in on the cross section, but after a good jump at the penultimate flight, was clear again entering the straight before passing the post thirteen lengths to the good. She was slightly big and untidy over the first two, but was neat for the remainder of the race and though ran at comparable tempos, the winning time was faster than those set by the older novices Choice Of Words and Colonel Mustard. This performance saw her start the 6/4 favourite for the listed race at Aintree, but while she was able to dictate and look to hold every chance in the straight, she was steady before hitting the last which saw her lose her footing along with any momentum. She would fight on to the half-furlong marker, but called it a day once passed, finishing a three and a half length third. Though slightly disappointing, she was far from disgraced in a race where nobody came out looking brilliant. Her chance for redemption came at Fairyhouse in a useful looking contest where her starting price of 4/1 was trumped by Britzka (third to Fil Dor on Boxing Day) and a seemingly improved reopposing Iberique du Seuil, and matched by Feigh (third to Fil Dor at Fairyhouse). Disputing the lead early on, White Pepper went to the front turning into the back. While slightly tight on occasions, her quick hurdling saw her pull a few lengths clear. Though challenged when rounding the home bend, she was still travelling well within herself at the distance and went into a two length lead on the run to the last which she would hold up to the line. White Pepper has the strongest form on offer without having to concede any weight, and she looks unlikely to be inconvenienced by either the conditions or the tactical make up of this contest. tl;dr Sea Sessions - Fair winner on flat and niece of useful Pigeon Island. Rewarded for promising seconds to Bell Ex One and Fil Dor with win in listed Aintree contest ahead of three of these. Form perhaps unreliable as conditions were quite irregular but has respectable overall profile and is not a one dimensional plodder. Cherokee Dance - Has improved since joining Ian Williams and has ran with credit in busy month since breaking duck at Wolverhampton. Pedigree not most enticing and while yard has fair record with fillies in the division, first time strike rate not the strongest. Most rivals have already shown hurdling form that exceeds flat best. Galah - Fairly useful four time winner for Ralph Beckett and has good pedigree for game. Confirmed promise of thirds at Newcastle and Cheltenham with course and distance win last month. Bit to find on form but jumps well and has course experience so can run respectably. La Renommee - Winning hurdles debut under floodlights in France but flattered to finish so close at Auteuil in October where race fell apart. Joins good yard but bred to be a chaser over further and will likely find this too sharp first time. Six Feet Apart - Late starter and lightly raced on flat. Feasibly bred for jumping and scored on hurdles bow at Fairyhouse in November. Folded late on at Aintree but while outclassed at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, was inconvenienced at crucial stage. Needs to improve but unexposed and can run with credit. Tiki Fire - Fair maiden on flat for Karl Burke and no show on hurdling debut at Fakenham. Better at Warwick and continued improvement behind Galah last month. No reason why she might reverse placings however and stable not in flying form. White Pepper - Most experienced of these on flat and hurdles and also most accomplished. Well backed on hurdling debut and did well to finish as close as she did given poor hurdling. Much better in cheekpieces on second outing when winning by thirteen lengths at Galway in good time. Slightly disappointing in mud at Aintree where final flight error cost her quite heavily, but back to best last time at Fairyhouse when comfortably accounting for Fred Winter types. Conditions and tactics unlikely to present any issues. Strong prospects 1. White Pepper Reasonable prospects 2. Sea Sessions 3. Galah 4. Six Feet Apart Feasible prospects 5. La Renommee Moderate/Negligible prospects 6. Tiki Fire 7. Cherokee Dance
  21. Wetherby - 27th January - Preview Wetherby is set to host its sixth juvenile hurdle of the season. The likes of Porticello, Skycutter and Battle Angel have already won at the West Yorkshire venue, but while only a class four, the upcoming contest could be a useful affair. Traditionally a fairly reasonable event, the most accomplished juveniles to come out of previous editions were Devilment and Lil Rockerfeller. First and third in 2015, the former would finish second in the Anniversary Hurdle while the latter would win a good handicap at Sandown and go on to become one of the most popular hurdlers in training. Of this year's participants, Graystone is arguably unlucky to not be a dual winner coming into the race, Message Personnel and Illico des Places are looking to supplement their wins in France, Piecederesistance won on the flat for Andre Fabre before finishing third on his hurdles debut in November, Johnny Boom won thrice in northern handicaps before a reasonable first run over jumps at Newcastle. The field is completed by newcomer Fleurman who possesses an intriguing profile and a Triumph Hurdle entry. Winning DIs at the course are just lower than average, and stamina demands at the venue can be particularly exacerbated on testing ground - as per the 0.75 median, 0.76 mean for this particular contest (although the ground this week should be firmer than usual). Wetherby can also be a tricky place to jump around for juveniles with its clear round rate of 94.55% being the fourth lowest in the country. Newcomers can also find hurdling around the venue quite challenging, although while their strike rate is 2.09% lower than that of experienced horses, the disparity is in the narrower half of racecourses. The going is currently described as soft, good to soft in places, with the possibility of some light rain overnight. Six are set to face the starter but with one confirmed frontrunner, and another couple who might want to make the running, the pace should be an honest one. Triumph Odds Graystone 66/1 (55) Message Personnel 66/1 (70) Fleurman 80/1 (34) Graystone rgg Lucy Wadham f11-3-3 (75) 80 j4-1-2 (121) 117 125 Dark Angel (Distorted Humor){8-k}(3.00) No jumps relatives Costing 50,000 guineas at the Craven Breeze-up at two-years-old, Graystone is a son of Dark Angel out of a half-sister to a Grade 1 winning American filly. Though precociously bred, Graystone's first piece of flat form came when winning on his first outing at three in a seven-furlong Yarmouth handicap off 66. From there, he would mostly perform consistently and maintain steady improvement; reaching a new level when stepped up to ten furlongs. Failing by a head to win a soft ground Beverley handicap on his penultimate flat outing, he made amends on his final start in that sphere when winning his third race at Kempton off 71. Graystone had a tendency to race freely on the flat and while Dark Angel gets winning juveniles. his record is only fair. Furthermore, given the American pedigree, there are no jumpers on the damline until one goes back eleven dams and forward seven to find Beau Trempoli. Nevertheless, Lucy Wadham does very well with her juvenile hurdlers (thirteen winners from twenty-seven prior to Graystone) and with a BHA mark in the eighty-second percentile of flat rated recruits, Graystone went off the 5/1 second favourite for his hurdles bow in a useful looking Warwick contest in early November. Setting off in a prominent position, he skewed over the first and became lit up after getting close to the second. Errors persisted in his round, but while the winner had flown, he got the better of the third by three lengths. The form, which looked reasonable at the time, has since been given some major boosts. In This World has not been out since but his victim in an AQPS bumper, Fil Dor, has emerged as favourite for the Triumph after some emphatic performances. Meanwhile, third placed Interne de Sivola won at Cheltenham ahead of two subsequent winners. With this in mind, Graystone's second appearance over hurdles, coming in an all aged maiden at Huntingdon, can only be regarded as disappointing; as per his starting price of 1/2. Held up in the rear of midfield, he was already shaken up six furlongs from home and while he made some headway into contention towards the end of the back, he had no extra to give and would merely plug on into third on the run-in. His jumping also left plenty to be desired and the form has been besmirched by the clear winner and the fourth. Nevertheless, a return to Warwick brought about a return to winning ways as Graystone, sent off an unsteady 11/4 second favourite, was able to register his first win over hurdles. Reverting to a front-running role while taking a keen grip, Graystone was always travelling well within himself and had all but one of his rivals toiling on entering the straight. He was still given to making careless mistakes but apart from clambering over the last, where he had the race in safe keeping, there was nothing alarming about his aptitude and he ran out a comfortable seven length winner. He set a clear standard on hurdles form on his most recent outing at Taunton towards the end of last month, but was deposed as favourite by the Paul Nicholls newcomer, Irish Hill. Still racing freely, Graystone went into a clear lead, posting his best round of jumping in the process. His rivals were closing on him as they entered the straight, but to the eye, they did not appear to be doing so at a sufficient rate to reign in the leader and Graystone went as low as 1.03 in-running. However, having hurdled well to the penultimate flight, it was here that he made his first serious error; getting in very close without lifting his legs. His second error coming at the last where he skewed in the air, landed steeply before stumbling to the ground. The consensus is that he would most likely have won the race, although along with the sharp decline in his jumping, it is also worth noting that the final furlong was completed over two seconds slower than the previous. Even accounting for the fact that the final furlong featured no hurdles, the comparative times set by the all-the-way winner in the fillies' race later on the card suggested more equilibrium could have been expected. He was withdrawn on the evening of an intended engagement at Ascot last weekend, reportedly due to an infection, but is presumably healthy enough for this task. Graystone sets the standard on bare form, is racing on fair terms, represents a yard in fair form and is entitled to the according respect. It is also possible that he might get another uncontested lead. However, there is a chance this could be spoiled by either Illico des Places or Piecederesistance, and even if he does get his own way up front, Wetherby is a more demanding circuit than Warwick or Taunton for a front runner near the boundaries of his stamina. Illico des Places bg Tom Symonds j3-1-0 (-) 62 94 (FR119) Jeu St Eloi (Anabaa Blue){6-e}(2.00) 0.5 Gatsby des Places 1st 3yo Hurdle, Royan 2019 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/illico-des-places With his sole French start coming in a debutants contest at Châteaubriant, on a sleepy Sunday provincial meeting in May, Illico des Places had to wait a while for his profile page on the racing post site. Nevertheless, despite his rustic introduction to the sport, he showed the potential to be a useful sort. The field barely came out of a canter during the opening stages during which Illico des Places pulled extremely hard. Jumping himself into the lead at the fourth, he was still fairly headstrong but was not allowed to run away under Gaëtan Masure. Though he went through the top of the seventh, was flat footed at the eighth and got in close to the tenth, his jumping was neat overall and at times, quite taking. Holding a dozen length advantage turning into the straight, one might assume that there was another circuit to be completed given the lack of urgency displayed by the other riders. Nevertheless, this advantage was increased to eighteen lengths at the line which was achieved with the utmost ease. A race of its nature would take little winning, but the form has taken a reasonable shape. The second and the third each finished runner-up next time in similar company, Message Personnel won at Dieppe ahead of joining Dan Skelton, the last placed won a Compiegne handicap while the pulled up horse won a small race at Erbray. Former trainer Francois Nicolle has a strong record of producing talented juveniles with last season's Quilixios and Monmiral enhancing the standards previously set by the likes of Botox Has, Allblak des Places and Coko Beach. Sire Jeu St Eloi has had just one British runner to date, but his first two crops in France have resulted in ten winners from thirty-two foals. Half-brother Gatsby des Places has won on three of his four completed starts while winners Kentucky Star (2/1), Double Double (3/1) and Happy Reunion (3/1) appear nearby on the damline. In Tom Symonds, he joins a trainer who has yet to win with any of his juveniles recruited from British flat trainers, despite six of them being rated 70 and above. However, his record with French recruits is a different story altogether as five of the six have been winners, including Don Bersy and Song For Someone. Though he was thrown into fairly shallow waters for his debut, Illico des Places did not get such a light introduction for his British career, starting in a Kempton introductory hurdle a fortnight ago. Going off the 10/3 second favourite, he was once again decidedly fresh, pulling himself into a clear lead only to be caught on the turn for home and weakening tamely thereafter. His round of hurdling could perhaps be described as exuberant, although apart from flattening the first, he was quick and neat overall. His latest hurdles outing came seventeen days ago at Ludlow where he appeared to have the credentials and conditions for a big run. However, having started the day at 3/1, he opened at 11/2 in the ring before drifting out to 13/2 before the off. Extraordinarily, he was dropped right out at the rear and still had a tremendous amount to do leaving the back. Though he made some headway late on, it was only to challenge for a remote third; a battle which he ceded to a much longer priced opponent. This strategy did little to quell his headstrong nature and his hurdling was rather tight at times. If more appropriate tactics are applied then a fair performance cannot be dismissed. However, it is not difficult to be cynical and expect a more involved showing in handicap company. Message Personnel bg Dan Skelton j3-1-0 (128) 117 122 Saint Des Saints (Muhtathir){4-l}(0.50) 2/1 Wonderful Charm 3rd Peterborough Chase (G2), Huntingdon 2014 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/message-personnel-1 Prior to this campaign, Jean-Philippe Dubois had been the source of four juvenile hurdlers in Britain and Ireland, two of whom were winners, and another being last season's useful Saint Sam - now an exciting novice chaser. His two exports to date this season were one time Triumph fancy, In This World, and Message Personnel; each of whom joined Dan Skelton. Making his debut in an ordinary contest at Chateauxbriant in the middle of May, Message Personnel brought up the rear in a steadily ran contest and was rather caught flat footed when the tempo increased on the second circuit. The winner, Illico des Places, was long gone by the time he reached the straight and while ground was made on the runner-up, Message Personnel was unable to get the better of his third placed stablemate. Nevertheless, he jumped well apart from getting slightly close to a couple and he was able to make amends next time in a slightly more valuable event at Dieppe on the first of July. Racing again in the rear but keeping tabs on the leaders, Message Personnel travelled well and made smooth headway on the turn for home. He was within a couple of lengths of the leaders at the penultimate hurdle where his task was made easier by the fall of the favourite who in turn, hampered the second favourite. Notwithstanding, he ran on well to beat what was left, quickening on the run-in to emerge the three-and-a-half length winner. Given the incident at two out, it is difficult to get a good grasp of the form but there were two previous winners involved at the time and the runner-up has gone on to become a fairly useful handicapper. Dan Skelton has a strong record in the sphere with a winner to runner rate of 38.37% contributed to by the likes of Allmankind, Bedrock and Nube Negra. Saint des Saints is more given to producing chasing types, but his record with juveniles is still very strong with 32.43% of his British and Irish juveniles being winners including Monmiral, Djakadam and Fusil Raffles. Classy chaser Wonderful Charm (2/1) would be the most esteemed of the relatives on the nearby damline, but his dam and third dam were each able to show good form at three and four years old and Muhtathir's broodmares have a 30% winner runner rate in the sphere. Message Personnel made his British debut at Cheltenham nearly seven weeks ago. He had been vying for favouritism during the morning before ultimately starting the 10/3 second favourite. Held up in midfield off a steady tempo, Message Personnel did not post an assured round of jumping. Clipping the top of the first, he was steady at the second, got in very close to the third, big over the fourth, close again at the fifth and skewed over two out. He was also outpaced when the race developed at the bottom of the hill and having found a gear on the approach the last, his being carried left in mid-air at the flight cost him a few strides and he would merely plug on for ten length fifth. The form has worked out quite well, the second and third each winning next time, and his performance would leave him with little to find here. The likely honest pace should suit him much better and if he can jump more like he had done in France, he ought to improve a fair amount on his Cheltenham showing. The Skelton yard has had a winner during each of its four race days and its strike rate with juveniles at Wetherby stands at 42.86%; including its sole runner in this contest, Solo Saxophone, who won the race in 2018. Message Personnel is perhaps more a longer-term prospect, but the stable's record at Wetherby is very encouraging and the anticipated improvement on his Cheltenham effort would put him right in the mix. Fleurman grg Olly Murphy f7-2-1 (85) 91 Mastercraftsman (Montjeu){11-a}(1.09) 3/1 Ravenswood 1st 2m6f Handicap Hurdle (128), Ayr 2002 Ralph Beckett has supplied fifteen winning juvenile hurdlers from fifty-five since 2004/05, although the winner to runner rate of 27.27% does overshadow the improvement rate of just 25%. The sales saw two of his fetch six figures for the first time. Zinc White has work to do if he is to justify his £310,000 outlay at Goffs London, although this does take some pressure off Fleurman, who fetched 130,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. Gelded before making his debut at Kempton in December 2020, where he was patently green, Fleurman beat just one rival home in novice stakes during the spring at Epsom and Windsor. Nevertheless, stepped up to a mile and four on good to soft ground, Fleurman showed marked improvement in a Salisbury handicap off a mark of 64. Racing in third, some way behind the front two, Fleurman found himself outpaced as the pack engulfed the tearaways half a mile from home. Nevertheless, he stayed on well to lead inside the final furlong to win by a length, and two and a quarter. He was next seen a month later in a handicap over the St. Leger distance at Doncaster. He once again found himself outpaced on the turn for home, but made a strong looking challenge at the distance and while ultimately coming off second best in a messy battle, he lost little esteem in defeat with the pair nearly five lengths clear of the third. A return to Salisbury in July saw a return to winning ways in another fourteen furlong handicap, this time off 73. Tracking the leader from an easy gallop, Fleurman eased to the front three furlongs for home and was not for catching as he ran on powerfully for an emphatic eleven length success. Margins of such nature would generally be viewed with scepticism, although the runner-up has maintained his form and the third was a winner next time out. Fleurman was unable to sustain his progress on his final outing; a class 2 handicap at York off 85. Notwithstanding, he was far from disgraced in his fifth placed finish having found himself outpaced before plugging on in the closing stages. After Tattersalls, he joined an Olly Murphy with a healthy winner to runner rate of 28.57%, and given the general quality of his flat recruits, a respectable 52.38% improvement rate. Fleurman’s mark of 85 is the highest brought from the flat by a Warren Chase juvenile hurdler, and there is further encouragement in the pedigree. The late Mastercraftsman is one of the most prolific sires of winning juveniles, counting twenty three since his first crop in 2014/15 including Mister Blueyes and Wolf Of Windlesham. Montjeu is a leading sire and grandsire and while he is not quite at the same level as a damsire, his broodmares still have a solid winner to runner rate of 20.90%. Though a nephew of Cheveley Park Stakes winner Millisle, there is still jumps ability on the damline. Uncle Love Marmalade placed over hurdles as a juvenile, the third dam produced three winning jumpers in Ravenswood, Soubriquet and Kris Green, while the fourth dam produced champion national hunt sire Old Vic. With a rating in the 95th percentile, assured stamina, good attitude, useful pedigree and a very capable trainer, Fleurman has plenty going for him in his profile. This is a tough contest first time, but he does receive weight from the principals, and if he jumps well first time out (Olly Murphy has a 100% clear round rate from twenty-eight newcomers) then he comes into the race with a very live chance. Johnny Boom chg Brian Ellison f11-3-2 (69) 75 j1-0-0 (-) 89 96 New Bay (Invincible Spirit){11}(1.77) 2/1 District Attorney 2nd 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (84), Sedgefield 2014 While a BHA mark of 69 is perfectly adequate for juvenile hurdling, Johnny Boom has the most to find here in terms of pure ratings. Notwithstanding, after a low-key start, he developed a solid profile on the flat for Richard Fahey. His career started in mid-January with four runs at Southwell coming in the space of a month. He was gelded after the third outing and ran a fair race to finish midfield off 51 on his handicap debut. Given a two-month break, he reached the frame in a mile handicap at Redcar and a step up to ten furlongs saw him readily get off the mark at Beverley in June. Johnny Boom handily defied a six pound penalty in a similar contest at Yarmouth and while he had excuses when well beaten at Beverley, resumed winning ways at Pontefract in early August off 62; pulling out more to fend off a fast finisher. Though green at the start of his career, Johnny Boom matured a fair deal over the summer months and had also shown versatility insofar as conditions are concerned with wins on good to firm and soft. His last outing for Richard Fahey came at Newcastle in September where he made considerable ground in the straight, and after a three-way battle in the final half-furlong, was denied by a bob of the head. Those who leave Richard Fahey have a solid 20.83% winner to runner rate which increases to 33.33% for the juveniles joining Brian Ellison. Fetching 38,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Johnny Boom became the most expensive of those making the short trip from Musley Bank to Norton. His pedigree is not overly compelling insofar as jumping is concerned. He represents the first crop of New Bay who has yet to have a winner in Britain or France, and though from the family of Martaline and Allmankind, his being a Dubawi relative of Oasis Dream standing at 1.62m is not the most attractive profile. The nearby damline is bereft of winning jumpers, with the closest being Beyond Conceit at 4/2. Johnny Boom's hurdling debut came in a warm introductory juvenile at a snowy Newcastle in late November. The shortest priced of the newcomers at 8/1, he raced keenly in the rear of the field before pulling himself into a more prominent position half-way. His jumping was decent to begin with, but he rather lost his confidence after being steady and close at the fifth. Though with the pack turning for home, he found himself outpaced at the distance before trailing home a twenty-one length last of six. He had a spin on the flat at Southwell just over a fortnight ago and while his finishing an eight-length last would be respectable were it a pipe opener, he was backed into 5/2 favouritism having started the day at 9/2. Johnny Boom is entitled to step up on his Newcastle outing and the yard does have a 16.67% strike rate with juveniles at Wetherby. However, he still has a fair amount to find in this company and the stable has been in stronger spells of form. Piecederesistance bg Micky Hammond f4-1-3 (40.0/88) 90 j1-0-1 (-) 88 85 Gleneagles (Footstepsinthesand){3-n}(0.66) 2/1 Derivative 1st 2m5½f Handicap Hurdle (111), Wincanton 2003 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/piecederesistance The Prix As d'Atout is a two-year-old newcomers race held in September at Saint-Cloud. The legendary handler Andre Fabre won the race in 2016 with Trais Fluors who would finish second in the Prix Jean Prat the following year. Andre Fabre also won the race in 2018 with Influencer who, while not top class, was able to pick up a race at Longchamp before being sent to Dubai. Andre Fabre then won his third renewal in five years when, carrying the colours of Michael Tabor, Piecederesistance justified 2.9 favouritism to score by a cosy length and a quarter. Classic aspirations would abound, but such dreams were short lived as he failed to reward odds-on backers in a Compiegne conditions race the following month. Piecederesistance was seen twice during the Spring of 2021 and while not showing poor form when finishing third at Fontainebleau and Nancy, his headstrong nature was such that after a gelding operation, connections opted to let him go for €33,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale. There he joined Micky Hammond whose winner to runner rate is a fairly standard 19.48%, although none of the previous six sourced from the continent would win in the sphere. Second season jumps sire Gleneagles has had a couple of winning juveniles from twelve, although just one from six maintained their flat form over hurdles. The damline is more substantial as the second dam has produced four winning jumpers, headed by Derivative, with the third dam having three winners to her name including Legal Beagle. Boasting a decent enough pedigree and the strongest flat form by a considerable margin, Piecederesistance was well fancied to make a winning hurdles debut at Sedgefield in early November, backed in to 10/11 from a morning 6/4. He led the field from the outset and although he clipped the first three and pulled tremendously hard throughout, he approached the third last appearing to have the race at his mercy; trading as low as 1.32 in-running. However, he did not get high at the flight and scrambled on landing, pecking the ground with his left bum cheek. This cost him two places and considerable momentum, and though he rallied to get back within striking distance entering the straight, he had run his race after jumping two out and with a tired jump at the last, ultimately finished a sixteen length third. While it is quite likely he would have won but for his calamitous error, a horse of his conspicuous ability should have been able to win such a weak contest without mishap. Missing an engagement at Wetherby over Christmas with hives, Piecederesistance's return comes in a much stronger contest. There are races to be won with this talented animal, but there are considerable questions to answer regarding his temperament and he will likely find his feet with a handicap mark once he has sufficiently matured. tl;dr Graystone - Fairly useful on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise with a win at Warwick. Looked poised to double tally when falling at last at Taunton but was probably tired at the time. Has the strongest form, yard in fair nick and fairly weighted, but possibly vulnerable on this track. Illico des Places - Looked promising when making winning debut in French provinces where he had Message Personnel behind. Ran too freely for own good at Kempton but subject to bizarre ride at Ludlow where he was dropped out but still pulled hard. Cynicism aside, has questions to answer. Message Personnel - Improved from first to second outing to win a fair race at Dieppe. Nicely bred though potentially more a chasing type. Race not run to suit on British debut at Cheltenham but will likely have learned plenty and represents yard with fine record at Wetherby. Fleurman - Sole newcomer in the field. Dual winner for Ralph Beckett and brings mark of 85. Compelling pedigree, assured stamina and good attitude. Gets weight and could go very well in likely event he jumps first time out. Johnny Boom - Lowest rated on flat but still won three times in sphere, showing versatility and developing a decent attitude. Not the most obvious pedigree and outpaced on hurdling debut at Newcastle. Well backed but finished last on recent spin on the flat. Piecederesistance - One time classic hopeful for Andre Fabre but while form after winning debut was not bad, his refusal to settle saw him sold for €33,000. Reasonable pedigree and while still pulling hard, looked likely to win weak Sedgefield contest on hurdling debut but for serious error three out. Has ability but whether he can apply seem looks questionable in this company. Strong prospects 1. Message Personnel 2. Fleurman Reasonable prospects 3. Graystone Feasible/Moderate prospects 4. Illico des Places 5. Piecederesistance 6. Johnny Boom Negligible prospects .
  22. Warwick – 23rd January – Preview Held in all but two of the past seventeen years, a juvenile hurdle has been held on this Warwick card. Though never having conditions beyond that of a Class 4, or even a maiden at times, it has still been a contest of reasonable standing. Hawk High and Don Bersy, winners in 2014 and 2017, followed up in the Fred Winter and Victor Ludorum respectively while 2009 scorer Trenchant took the Dovecote and finished fifth in the Triumph before becoming a solid Grade 2 performer. The six horses who started at evens and below all obliged, and while there are some interesting flat and bumper recruits, all eyes will be on the Finale Hurdle runner-up, Saint Segal. A mostly flat, sharp and left-handed circuit, Warwick’s winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.50 mean are on the higher side of average. However, for this particular contest, the figures drop to 1.00 and 1.27; 0.26 lower than the beaten participants. Nevertheless, this is largely due to the typically wintery conditions which are unlikely to prevail this weekend. Newcomers have a record against experienced runners which is comparable to other racecourses, although previous winners are at a discernible advantage in this contest, enjoying a 40% strike rate. Seven are set to face the starter, but none of them are confirmed front runners. The going was most recently described as good to soft, and with no rain anticipated in the meantime, this might not be the most searching stamina test. Saint Segal bg Jane Williams j2-1-1 (126) 118 128 Saint des Saints (Ballingarry){9}(0.71) 1/0 Bal Celtique 3rd Prix Predicateur (L,57.0), Auteuil 2016 The only winning hurdler in the contest, Saint Segal is very much the ‘class act’ on account of his finishing runner-up in the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow last month on only his second racecourse appearance. Those unraced prior making their debuts in juvenile hurdles have a first time strike rate of just 2.25%. Nevertheless, prior to his Bangor outing, the figures for those trained by the Williams’s at George Nympton (including Me Voici and Reve de Sivola) is a slightly more respectable 4.08%, and for French breds, 4.35%. The latter is especially pertinent for Saint Segal as he is bred along traditional lines for the discipline. Costing €51,000 as a two-year-old, his sire, Saint des Saints, has a winner to runner rate of 32.43% which includes the likes of Monmiral, Le Rocher and Fusil Raffles. Dam Bal Celtique finished third in a listed handicap at Auteuil and has already produced a pattern placed filly in Celtic Girl. Introduced at Bangor back in November, Saint Segal was sent off a fairly steady 3/1 favourite. Tracking the leader, he was shaken up to challenge three furlongs out before going into the lead under a drive a furlong from home; after which he was pushed out on the run-in to win by three cosy lengths. Slightly novicey over the first couple of hurdles, Saint Segal settled into a sound enough rhythm and while he clipped a few towards the end, there can be no real dissatisfaction with his jumping. The pace was not the quickest, but the time was still quite reasonable. Though the form is not completely without substance, the runner-up failed to justify favouritism at Leicester next time and the third quite likely ran below his best. Notwithstanding, Saint Segal’s career began on a solid foundation and the sharp step up in class was not seen as unrealistic given that he started the 13/2 fifth favourite. Held up in midfield, Saint Segal was slightly big at the first, but otherwise jumped soundly and made good headway to enter the straight in a prominent position. Alongside the winner jumping the penultimate, the pair both clipped and flattened the last (usual two out) without losing much momentum. Saint Segal wandered somewhat under pressure and had no answer to Porticello’s strong finish. Nevertheless, he had done enough to hold off the third by three quarters of a length with the remainder over seven lengths behind. His place in the line-up fully justified, Saint Segal’s effort ranks within the top five seen in the British division to date and he shaped very much as though further is to come. The lack of obvious pace might be an issue, but it was a steady affair in which Saint Segal got off the mark at Bangor. Although the opposition he is not without ability or potential, most have questions to answer and the credentials of Saint Segal are solid. The yard, which likes to send good horses to Warwick, is in good form and with the talented Chester Williams taking off three pounds, it would not be absurd to suggest that Saint Segal has a good stone in hand of his rivals. Dragon’s Fire bg Alex Hales f8-1-0 (68) 76 j2-0-0 (-) 55 63 Equiano (Dubawi){7-f}(0.57) 3/1 Atlaal 1st Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (L,131), Kempton 1990 Alex Hales has a fairly modest winner to rate of 11.76% in the sphere and of the eight he trained himself on the flat, only Hiconic would score as a juvenile. Dragon’s Fire is the most accomplished of such horses on the flat, however, with his peak rating of 75 exceeding that of Hiconic’s by nearly twenty pounds. That mark came courtesy of a win on his third outing in a seven furlong, heavy ground Lingfield maiden back in May. Though he did well to find a gap in order to make his winning challenge, hindsight has shown that the form of that contest did not warrant such a mark. Consequently, without being disgraced in five subsequent outings, Dragon’s Fire was unable to get competitive in handicaps and his mark would drop ten pounds in the process. He also failed to see out his races on occasions and his being by Equiano, without a winner from eight juveniles, gave little cause for optimism over hurdles. The damline, on the other hand, is a little more encouraging as uncle Hatsnall won multiple points, cousins Eddiemaurice, Gale Green and Hint Of Grey were all winning jumpers, and the third dam produced good hurdler Atlaal as well as the dams of useful sorts Sadlers Wings and Head Waiter. None of this counted for a great deal in the market ahead of his hurdles bow at Kempton over Christmas, starting at 50/1, nor in the race itself. Held up in the rear, he made enough headway after halfway to still be in the pack approaching the turn for home, but was already weakening badly as they straightened up and finished tailed off. Apart from being big at the third, Dragon’s Fire did not jump badly, but he patently did not see out the trip. He was the subject of quite considerable support a fortnight ago at Ludlow, sent off at 16/1 having started the day at 100/1. However, while there was no complaint to be made about his jumping, he found himself outpaced along the back (having initially tracked the leaders in fourth) before fading in the straight to finish a tired fifty-five length eighth of ten. Dragon’s Fire is a fluent hurdler and conditions may be more in his favour here. However, his lack of stamina looks critical even in these circumstances. Hasty Parisian chg Milton Harris b2-0-1 (-) 87 Champs Elysees (Vinnie Roe){1-t}(3.00) 2/1 Paisley Park 1st Stayers’ Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2019 Milton Harris has enjoyed a fantastic season in the division with six juveniles amassing nine wins between them, giving him a winner to runner rate of 66.67%, and a strike rate of 32.14%. Hasty Parisian is set to be his first juvenile hurdler of the campaign to come from the bumper field. While such horses have a poor first time strike rate of 2.25%, Milton Harris did saddle Jacamar to make a winning jumps bow at Wincanton a couple of years ago. It was here that Hasty Parisian first saw the racecourse early last month, supported from a morning price of 9/2 to start the 3/1 favourite. Settled towards the rear of a steady moving bunch comprised of several flat breds, he was able to stay on during the closing stages without having the pace to get involved, finishing just under five lengths behind the winner in fourth. The subsequent form has not been strong, but Hasty Parisian did show improvement in a similar contest at Exeter on New Year’s Day. Fairly uneasy in the market, going from 11/2 to 7/1, he settled in midfield where the pace was very sedate once again. He made his challenge turning for home and despite wandering under pressure, was able to keep tabs on the leading pair before being outpaced in the closing stages; beaten two lengths into third with eight lengths between himself and the remainder. Bred very much for a career over jumps, sire Champs Elysees has yet to produce any star juveniles but his winner to runner rate is a very respectable 25.45%. The damline is inundated with jumping talent with his uncle, the top staying hurdler Paisley Park, being the most notable relative. Dam Va’vite won four times over hurdles, the first coming as a six-year-old, before producing Presenting Yeats and Mr Yeats; each multiple winners for Milton Harris. Alongside Paisley Park, Va’vite is a half-sister to four other winners in Present Value, Henry King, Mr Grey and Society Shares. Her uncle, Priests Leap, won consecutive runnings of the Theyestes Chase while her cousin, Unexpected Depth, was a useful staying handicap hurdler. Legionar is reportedly the star bumper horse in the yard, but Hasty Parisian has still run to a respectable level. He should make for an intriguing recruit, although his pedigree and the way he has shaped in his races suggest that this contest will probably be too sharp for him first time. Jaramillo bg Warren Greatrex f7-2-1 (85) 93 Oasis Dream (Montjeu){1-l}(0.75) 3/1 Global Thrill 1st 2m1f Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2015 Rated 85 on the flat and fetching 100,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Jaramillo would be one of the more high-profile recruits to the division. Starting his career at two with Roger Varian, Jaramillo finished thirteen lengths behind Derby winner Adayar in a Nottingham maiden before placing second behind a long odds-on shot at Wolverhampton. His return in a ten furlong Leicester novice stakes saw him get off the mark; although given his very awkward head carriage, he won more through happenstance than desire. Nevertheless, the form turned out to be reasonable even if it did not quite justify the allotted mark of 87. Jarmillo’s next three outings saw his mark drop by eight pounds with a gelding operation and the application of cheekpieces doing little to fend off the dreaded squiggle. Following a three month layoff, he was able to cap his flat career with victory in a ten furlong Newcastle handicap. Held up towards the rear, he made comfortable headway in the straight and took the lead just inside the distance. While his head carriage was still very much one of a thinker, Jaramillo still kept to a straight line at least and was ultimately able to score by just over four lengths. His next trip was to Tattersalls where he became the second most expensive juvenile to leave Roger Varian after Duroble Man went for 130,000 guineas in 2013. Former residents of Carlburg Stables have a strong 33.33% winner to runner rate in the sphere, although their improvement rate is a modest 27.27% with none achieving an RPR exceeding 120. Warren Greatrex does get improvement from 55.00% of his flat recruits however, and his 23.33% winner to runner rate is solid. His record with juveniles at Warwick is zero wins, but eight places from eight runners while his first time strike rate with flat recruits rated 70 and above is a fair 14.29%. However, the yard is going through a decidedly lean patch at the moment and Jarmillo’s pedigree is not the most encouraging. While Montjeu is a healthy influence, Oasis Dream has a winner to runner rate of 8.33% in the sphere and uncle Guarino achieved little in four jumps outings. The third dam did produce a fair winner and the next dam is the matriarch of Ginistreli (4/2) Genuflex (4/4) and Good Prince (4/4). Going by class and connections, Jarmillo should make for a decent recruit to the sphere and he is known to go well fresh. However, there are enough doubts in his temperament, pedigree and current stable form to temper enthusiasm at this juncture. Lifesjustaflicker bg Sophie Leech j1-0-0 (-) – 0 Hot Streak (Nayef){14-c}(2.00) 1/0 Pitter Patter 6th Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed), Taunton 2014 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/lifesjustaflicker The fast and precocious Hot Streak would not be anybody’s first thought when it comes to prospective jumps stallions, and though Nayef was a fairly capable sire in the division, his record as a damsire has been quite modest to date. Nevertheless, Lifesjustaflicker, a 3,500 guineas yearling, is out of a fairly useful novice hurdler. Sophie Leech, who has a solid winner to runner rate in the division of 22.22%, and a clear round rate of 100% from fifty-nine runners, splits her runners between Britain and France. It was the latter country where Lifesjustaflicker made his racecourse debut just before Christmas, in a 3300m conditions race at Cagnes-sur-Mer. Sent off the 8.1 fifth favourite of nine under James Reveley, Lifesjustaflicker raced keenly in a prominent position before being restrained to track the leaders on the second circuit. He moved back into second turning for home but faded and was detached before they straightened up; calling it a day just after the penultimate flight. Lifesjustaflicker did not impress with his jumping as while never in danger of hitting one, he was given to hopping and being overly cautious. He did show up for a long way, but his hurdling technique needs to improve and even if the questions posed by his flat finish have been resolved, he needs to prove his class and stamina for this type of contest. Thunder Ahead bg Alan King f8-1-2 (78) 82 j1-0-0 (-) 78 84 Dark Angel (Oasis Dream){1-l}(1.00) 4/1 King In Waiting 2nd Prelude Hurdle (128), Market Rasen 2011 Since 2007, thirty-two horses have gone juvenile hurdling having started their careers with Harry Dunlop. Nine of those won during their initial campaigns giving a decent winner to runner rate of 28.13%. Peter Grimes and Our Phylli Vera each joined Alan King, with the former scoring first-time out at Bangor in 2009; incidentally, the same contest Saint Segal won this season. The latest to make the switch between the two yards was Thunder Ahead, who fetched 35,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. Making his racecourse debut at Linfield in early March, it took Thunder Ahead seven attempts to get off the mark. Though there were hints of temperament, he generally ran to a consistent level and he was able to break his duck on his penultimate flat outing which came in a Wolverhampton handicap off 74 over an extended twelve furlongs. Tracking the leaders from the outset, Thunder Ahead cruised into the lead on the turn out of the back and had kicked a few lengths clear on entering the straight. The rest of the field attempted to close, but Thunder Ahead had built up a decent cushion and had three quarters of a length in hand at the line. He was out eleven days later at Newbury, but while he travelled well into the straight, the heavy ground and additional furlong and a half proved too much and he faded to beat just one home. A switch to hurdles beckoned, although while he joined one of the strongest yards in the division, his pedigree is not ideal for the game. With his winner to runner rate of 15.69%, and improvement rate of 46.43%, Dark Angel just about has a passable profile for a sire. However, less can be said of Oasis Dream’s prowess as a damsire with corresponding figures of 8.33% and 33.33% respectively; and one must go back to the fourth dam before finding winning hurdlers in Lion On The Prowl and King in Waiting. His trainer and flat form were enough to send him off the 11/4 second favourite for his hurdling bow at Wetherby four weeks ago. However, he failed to justify the relative confidence. Racing keenly and held up towards the rear, he never made any real headway and finished a thirteen length fifth of seven. He was also novicey at every hurdle, giving the flights too much air, making poor shapes and being slow to get away. Furthermore, the sectionals were atrocious, and little positive can be said of the subsequent form coming out of the race. Thunder Ahead is entitled to improve for the experience and may be more at home around Warwick on good to soft. Nevertheless, he has plenty of questions to answer and the yard has been in better form. Winterwatch bg Harry Fry f6-2-3 (79) 86 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0 Lord Of England (Konigstiger){5-h}(1.00) 3/1 Winward Island 1st 3400m Steeple Chase, Quakenbrück 2003 Since 2004/05, Andrew Balding has supplied the juvenile hurdling division with 102 horses. Twenty of them would win during their initial campaigns although just 25% would actually improve. Harry Fry has a 20% winner to runner rate and the first former Balding horse to represent him over hurdles is set to be Winterwatch. Gelded and hooded ahead of his racecourse bow at Southwell in April, Winterwatch followed a one paced third with a more lively second in a twelve furlong Leicester maiden before getting off the mark at the third time of asking in a soft ground, twelve furlong maiden at Catterick in early July. Starting as second favourite, he settled in third of four and after sweeping into the lead on the turn for home, was kept up to his work to run out a commanding four length winner. The second and third have not been seen since and the beaten favourite patently underperformed. The form of his follow-up win can at least be substantiated by it coming in a handicap; in particular, one at Lingfield over thirteen furlongs in early August off 75. Racing keenly behind the leader, Winterwatch pulled himself to the front passing the stands where he would continue to test his rider’s strength. He turned for home with a three length lead and though he tied up close home, he was able to hold on by a neck at the line. After finishing midfield in some racing league contest, Winterwatch’s final flat outing came at Newbury in September. While still refusing to settle, he was kept towards the rear and was in the process of making a threatening challenge in the straight. However, he found himself caught in a pocket at the distance and was unable to fully recover from having to switch a furlong from home. While it could not be said that he should have won but for his traffic problems, it could be argued that he may have placed better than his respectable third. Withdrawn from the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Winterwatch moved to Harry Fry who said in a stable tour that schooling has been going well, although his hurdling introduction was a month overdue. Lord Of England has had three winning juveniles from six to date, while in France, his winner to runner rate with three-year-old jumpers is also an impressive 46.15%. National hunt horses do not appear immediately on the damline but the third dam has produced a winner and a placed horse in Germany while winning German chaser Wakita also appears at 4/2. There was plenty to like about Winterwatch’s profile in terms of form, breeding and connections ahead of his hurdles debut earlier this month, which was reflected in his starting the 16/5 second favourite. However, concerns over his inability to settle came immediately to the fore. Fighting for his head in the rear of the field, Winterwatch was spectacularly big over the first two flights before jinking violently to get rid of Sean Bowen at the first. The yard is in good form (even if it is yet to win with a flat sourced recruit in the sphere), and the jockey is content to get back on Winterwatch. However, any enthusiasm would be considerably outweighed by caution at this juncture. tl;dr Saint Segal – Bred to be a French juvenile hurdler. Made winning debut at Bangor and proved his place in Finale Hurdle with a good second. Sets very clear form standard, open to further improvement, and should not be undone by conditions or complexion of race. Dragon’s Fire – Fair winner on the flat but questions over stamina have been compounded by evidence from two juvenile contests. Jumps well but will likely need a glacial tempo here. Hasty Parisian – With strong yard and reasonable form in bumpers. Record of ex-NHF juveniles not strong but yard has saddled such a winner first time. Bred to make a very capable staying hurdler and shapes as though this may be too sharp. Jaramillo – Much the best of these on flat and left Roger Varian for 100,000gns. Temperament and pedigree are not entirely solid and trainer’s recent form has been modest. Lifesjustaflicker – Inexpensive, flat bred yearling who made debut in Cagnes-sur-Mer hurdles race last month. Showed up for long way but folded very tamely and not a fluent jumper. Trainer has decent record in sphere but much to prove here. Thunder Ahead – Good class winner on flat for Harry Dunlop and despite patchy pedigree, not unfancied for hurdling debut with top yard at Wetherby last month. However, barely put a foot right in what appears to be a very poor race and stable not at its strongest. Winterwatch – Fairly useful dual winner on flat for Andrew Balding and looked a compelling recruit to the sphere. However, looked an absolute eccentric on hurdling debut before bucking off his rider at the third. Outstanding prospects 1. Saint Segal Reasonable prospects 2. Hasty Parisian Feasible prospects 3. Winterwatch Moderate prospects 4. Jaramillo 5. Thunder Ahead 6. Lifesjustaflicker 7. Dragon’s Fire Negligible prospects .
  23. ***NOTICE*** During the time I was writing this essay, Graystone got bored and decided to do something else instead. The essay has been written and I will leave it as is for posterity. However, Hayedo, who initially had "feasible prospects", has been bumped up to top "reasonable prospect" on account of his likely uncontested lead. Enjoy Ascot – 22nd January – Preview The Aurelius Hurdle, named after the St Leger winner who would go on to win a steeplechase at Ascot’s newly established National Hunt circuit, was first held in 1968 when Banquo would reach the frame in both this and the Triumph. Paddy’s Return won both races during the nineties, but the contest was discontinued, with something of a bang, in 2003 as it was taken by Tamarinbleu; who would win the Clarance House Chase four seasons later. Incidentally, it was on the 2008 card that this particular juvenile contest was established. One of just two juveniles held at Ascot, the other being the handicap towards the end of the season, it has since produced a Triumph winner in Zaynar, an almost Triumph winner in Goshen, Triumph placed Top Notch and Grandouet, along with future Ascot Chase winner Balder Succes. Its most notable winner came in the first renewal won by Binocular, who was the latest hurdling debutant to land the race before Tritonic made a strong impression last season. This year’s renewal contains a nicely bred Dan Skelton newcomer with a good flat rating, although the experienced participants do set a good standard; headed by four winning hurdlers with respectable form. A galloping, right-handed track with decent drainage and a steady climb from Swinley Bottom, Ascot has below average winning DIs of 1.14 median, 1.33 mean. However, though stamina is far from optional at Ascot, the figures are more indicative of the class of runner the course attracts. There is little difference between the winning DIs and those of beaten horses, and the completion rate of 93.07% is the second highest in Britain behind Haydock. The clear round rate of 98.54% is the third highest in the country, and that all ten odds-on favourites have obliged since 2004/05 further emphasises how fair Ascot is for juvenile hurdlers. Two of the previous winners in the line-up did so having forced the pace to a solid tempo looks likely. The going is currently described as soft, good to soft in places, and rainfall is not anticipated before post time. Graystone rgg Lucy Wadham f11-3-3 (75) 80 j4-1-2 (121) 117 125 Dark Angel (Distorted Humor){8-k}(3.00) No jumps relatives Costing 50,000 guineas at the Craven Breeze-up at two-years-old, Graystone is a son of Dark Angel out of a half-sister to a Grade 1 winning American filly. Though precociously bred, Graystone’s first piece of flat form came when winning on his first outing at three in a seven-furlong Yarmouth handicap off 66. From there, he would mostly perform consistently and maintain steady improvement; reaching a new level when stepped up to ten furlongs. Failing by a head to win a soft ground Beverley handicap on his penultimate flat outing, he made amends on his final start in that sphere when winning his third race at Kempton off 71. Graystone had a tendency to race freely on the flat and while Dark Angel gets winning juveniles. his record is only fair. Furthermore, given the American pedigree, there are no jumpers on the damline until one goes back eleven dams and forward seven to find Beau Trempoli. Nevertheless, Lucy Wadham does very well with her juvenile hurdlers (thirteen winners from twenty-seven prior to Graystone) and with a BHA mark in the eighty-second percentile of flat rated recruits, Graystone went off the 5/1 second favourite for his hurdles bow in a useful looking Warwick contest in early November. Setting off in a prominent position, he skewed over the first and became lit up after getting close to the second. Errors persisted in his round, but while the winner had flown, he got the better of the third by three lengths. The form, which looked reasonable at the time, has since been given some major boosts. In This World has not been out since but his victim in an AQPS bumper, Fil Dor, has emerged as favourite for the Triumph after some emphatic performances. Meanwhile, third placed Interne de Sivola won at Cheltenham ahead of two subsequent winners. With this in mind, Graystone’s second appearance over hurdles, coming in an all aged maiden at Huntingdon, can only be regarded as disappointing; as per his starting price of 1/2. Held up in the rear of midfield, he was already shaken up six furlongs from home and while he made some headway into contention towards the end of the back, he had no extra to give and would merely plug on into third on the run-in. His jumping also left plenty to be desired and the form has been besmirched by the clear winner and the fourth. Nevertheless, a return to Warwick brought about a return to winning ways as Graystone, sent off an unsteady 11/4 second favourite, was able to register his first win over hurdles. Reverting to a front-running role while taking a keen grip, Graystone was always travelling well within himself and had all but one of his rivals toiling on entering the straight. He was still given to making careless mistakes but apart from clambering over the last, where he had the race in safe keeping, there was nothing alarming about his aptitude and he ran out a comfortable seven length winner. He set a clear standard on hurdles form on his most recent outing at Taunton towards the end of last month, but was deposed as favourite by the Paul Nicholls newcomer, Irish Hill. Still racing freely, Graystone went into a clear lead, posting his best round of jumping in the process. His rivals were closing on him as they entered the straight, but to the eye, they did not appear to be doing so at a sufficient rate to reign in the leader and Graystone went as low as 1.03 in-running. However, having hurdled well to the penultimate flight, it was here that he made his first serious error; getting in very close without lifting his legs. His second error coming at the last where he skewed in the air, landed steeply before stumbling to the ground. The consensus is that he would most likely have won the race, although along with the sharp decline in his jumping, it is also worth noting that the final furlong was completed over two seconds slower than the previous. Even accounting for the fact that the final furlong featured no hurdles, the comparative times set by the all-the-way winner in the fillies’ race later on the card suggested more equilibrium could have been expected. Graystone does set the standard on bare form, is racing on fair terms, represents an in-form yard and is entitled to the according respect. However, despite the pull in weights with Irish Hill, he is not certain to confirm any perceived superiority and the likely pace angle will probably work against him here. Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 j3-1-1 (115) 114 118 Sea The Moon (Sholokhov){7-c}(0.65) 3/1 Hill Fairy 1st Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase (L), Cork 2008 https://www.pronoturf.es/ficha-caballo/c58dbcc04143b4253160b8d619314a2e https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/hayedo Starting his career in Spain before racing in France, the German bred Hayedo is set to have his fourth outing over British hurdles. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season, placing second on each occasion. Hayedo’s third flat outing is much more easily quantified. Having his first run for Edouard Monfort, Hayedo reappeared in a quite valuable maiden contest at Longchamp over 2000m in May. Keen in the early stages, he pulled himself into the lead and settled better as a result. He would maintain his advantage to the distance and though outpaced by the winner, would keep on gamely to hold second. The form is of a reasonable standard with the length and a quarter winner rated 96.8, and the third rated 88. Hayedo failed to match this form on his sole subsequent outing which came over 2200m at Lyon the following month. Though running a similar kind of race, he did not settle quite so well and while he fought on bravely after being headed turning for home, he found himself swamped in the final strides, finishing just under two lengths behind in fourth. There was encouragement for Hayedo’s new vocation in the pedigree. Sea The Moon (Allmankind, Tritonic) has a winner runner rate of 28.57% and an improvement rate of 50%. Sholokhov is untried as a damsire but 30% of his own progeny win in the sphere and the third dam is the matriarch of winning jumpers Hill Fairy (3/1), Hey Little Boy (3/1) and North Hill (3/2). His first run over hurdles came at Fontwell in November where he was backed into 9/1 having opened twice that price in the ring. Initially held up, he moved into midfield during the first circuit and was tracking the leaders going out second time round. However, he began to lose touch nearing the end of the back and was ultimately beaten thirty-three lengths. His caused was not helped by some novicey jumping which grew more dramatic as the race progressed, closing his round by hopping through his hurdles. Hayedo reappeared at Sandown early last month and was once again subject to outside support, trimmed from 16/1 to 10/1 at the off. He was sent into the lead and though he was still prone to hopping through the top of his flights at times, it was a much better round overall. He ceded the lead approaching the penultimate flight and had little left after the last, losing a remote second close to the line. Four weeks later, Hayedo returned in a maiden hurdle at Hereford; drifting from 4/1 to 8/1 during the day, before returning to 9/2 in the ring. Taking a keen hold, Hayedo went straight to the front while demonstrating good improvement in his jumping. He was neat when ridden into the first, but though rather tight at the second, was fluent from thereon. His rivals were all in trouble at the cross section and by the time he entered the straight, was half-a-dozen lengths clear. He was steady before hopping through the top of the last, but the runner-up made an even worse blunder which allowed Hayedo to storm to a thirteen length success. His task was made easier by the favourite pulling too hard, but the form is close to his flat best and there may be even further to come. Hayedo is entitled to run in a race of this nature under a penalty and is the representative of an in-form Gary Moore yard whose last three runs in this race resulted in a win (Goshen) and two placings (Beat The Judge and Casa Loupi). However, while his form is only marginally the weakest of the previous winners, the prospect of another uncontested lead is not assured. Irish Hill grg Paul Nicholls f4-2-1 (38.0/83.6) 80 j1-1-0 (-) 106 119 Kingston Hill (Monsun){14-a}(0.47) 2/1 Idjen 1st 3800m Conditions Hurdle, Wissembourg 2008 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/irish-hill The sadly departed Jeremy and Mastercraftsman, each from the Danehill Dancer line, have been two of the most successful sires of juveniles in recent years despite their Dosage Indexes being 1.82. Two other sons, Fast Company and Choisir, have improvement rates of 65% and 73% despite having DIs of 2.06 and 2.60 respectively. Indeed, the former is already developing a nice record as a grandsire of juveniles with Olympic Glory and Starspangledbanner building positive records for themselves. Kingston Hill, a St Leger winning son of Mastercraftsman out of a half-sister to the useful hurdler Lord Jim, has a DI of just 0.90 and is a smidge taller than leading juvenile sire Authorized. Naturally, Kingston Hill makes for a most intriguing addition to the ranks of jumps stallions which explains why he was transferred from Coolmore to the operation’s National Hunt base at Castle Hyde Stud. His first crop did not achieve a great deal due to a lack of firepower. However, recent Paul Nicholls recruit Irish Hill is a couple of stones superior to the other Kingston Hills seen in the division thus far. Starting his career with Peter Schiergen, whose exports to the juvenile division have a winner to runner rate of 20.83%, not including the useful maidens Landin and the Paul Nicholls trained Ecco, and an improvement rate of 58.33%. Though previously based in Germany, Irish Hill has raced exclusively in France and made his debut at La Crouse Laroche over 2,500m when third to subsequent Groupe III runner-up Tides Of War in April. He got off the mark later that month when winning a 2400m maiden at Lyon on good to soft ground by three quarters of a length. Irish Hill raced lazily when well beaten at Nantes in June, but regained the winning thread towards the end of July on his final appearance in France at Longchamp. Stepping up to 2,800m, he travelled on the good ground with much more vibrancy while tracking the leader, and though his rival was a tough nut to crack, Irish Hill was able to get his head in front inside the final half-furlong before scoring by a length and a quarter. The form has a solid look to it with four last time out winners in behind, the runner-up was a 72.6 rated filly in receipt of four and a half kilos, and the third won a quinte handicap next time out. Paul Nicholls already has a few French recruits with hurdling form out this season including winners Magistrato and Iceo. Nevertheless, his continental flat imports also have a strong record with 57.89% of them winning as juveniles including the likes of Zarkandar, Pierrot Lunaire and Zubayr. The damline, being of a predominantly Teutonic nature, does not have much in the way of famous hurdlers but there are still several who have won in the sphere including Idjen (2/1), Imago (3/1), Interpret (3/2) and Iligan (4/1). Subject of a flattering report from Tom Malone, Irish Hill has ample class and stamina to make an impact in the sphere. Irish Hill’s British/jumps debut came just over three weeks ago at Taunton. It was a decent looking contest for the venue, but that did not prevent Irish Hill from being pushed into even money favouritism. He settled nicely enough while tracking the leader, although he did not make the best initial impression with his jumping as he was steady over the first two, went right at the third and was slow at the fourth. Nevertheless, though still given to brushing a couple while taking half a stride to get away from his flights, his hurdling did improve as the race progressed and was heading the pursuit of the leader turning for home. The deficit was not closing all too quickly, and he traded at 30 in-running before being left in the lead at the last. However, the leader’s capitulation and the closing sectionals make an argument for the race not being as cut and dry as it appeared. After side-stepping a tumbling Bryony Frost, Irish Hill stayed on to fend off the challenge of the closing Girandole, putting two lengths between himself and the runner-up, with the pair a further twenty lengths clear of the remainder. Paul Nicholls had a decent strike rate of 20% with continental flat recruits before Taunton, and that rate increases to 48% for their second outings. Irish Hill began his jumps career on a very solid platform and having shaped very much like an improver with pace and conditions looking likely to suit, he comes into this contest with a substantial profile. Twilight Twist bg Alan King f6-1-1 (70) 74 j3-1-1 (123) 111 120 Twilight Son (Pour Moi){14-c}(0.57) 3/1 Krosno 1st 4YO Maiden Hurdle, Naas 1998 Alan King is one of the most dominant trainers of juvenile hurdles in the game and his last four runners in this particular contest – Balder Succes, Gibralfaro, Nayati and Tritonic – were all winners. He is set to saddle two in this year’s renewal in Twilight Twist and Restitution. Costing 5,000 guineas at last year’s Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up, Twilight Twist earned his sole flat victory when staying on well under pressure to narrowly land an ordinary Wolverhampton novice auction stakes in November 2020. He would fail to double his tally in four outings at three and reached the frame just the once when third off 70 in a twelve furlong handicap off back at Wolverhampton in mid-July. First season jumps sire, Twilight Son, is a reasonable height, but is not otherwise a particularly compelling prospect for the sphere; being a precocious, speedy sort. Nevertheless, some of this speed is mitigated by damsire Pour Moi, and those trained for both codes by Alan King have a strong winner to runner rate of 47.83%; to which Twilight twist contributed when making a winning hurdles bow at Huntingdon on Halloween. Warm in the market and starting the 9/4 second favourite, Twilight Twist was keen early while being restrained in mid-divsion. He got in close to the first, and steadied when clipping the penultimate flight, but posted a mostly fluent round first time. Making headway on the home turn, he entered the straight disputing the lead and though his rival was persistent, he was able to pull out a decisive length with the pair well clear. He returned four weeks later for a warm introductory hurdle at Newcastle where he was a solid 11/8 second favourite. Tracking the leaders in a steadily run, six-strong affair, he was untidy at the first and became lit up after hitting the second. Twilight Twist had settled better towards the end of the back and was in a decent jumping rhythm. Smoothly moving to the lead either side of three out, he looked to be travelling with purpose at the distance. However, he pecked after hitting the top of the penultimate flight and was headed shortly afterwards. Any remaining hope and momentum was lost when he flattened the last, before finishing nearly five lengths behind his market rival. Twilight Twist was out again a fortnight later, taking in a class two at Cheltenham. Though clashing with the Summit at Doncaster, it was still a good quality affair for which he was less fancied than usual at 11/1. Keen again in the early stages, Twilight Twist sat in midfield and apart from missing the fifth (he had been hampered by a larger rival at the previous flight), put in a fluent round of hurdling. Though towards the rear on top of the hill, Twilight Twist was still in close enough order, but was again hampered by the same oafish rival and entered the straight detached in last place. His path was blocked on landing after the last, but he stayed on well to make up five places on the run-in to get within half a length of the third. Even without the trouble in running, the performance marked a new career best and the second and third each boosted the form when winning over the holidays. Initially penciled in for the Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham next week, Twilight Twist has been rerouted to assist Restitution in his yard’s quest to maintain its strong record in this contest. There is a fair deal to like about Twilight Twist’s improvement with each outing, and the decent pace can help him to settle better. However, while Alan King’s charges are not running abysmally, he has gone thirty-seven runs without a jumps winner which is most unusual for a trainer of his calibre. Doctor Parnassus bg Dan Skelton f10-0-5 (75) 83 Make Believe (Authorized){1-n}(0.45) 0.5 Metier 1st Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (G1), Sandown 2021 The sole hurdling debutant in this field, Doctor Parnassus was formerly trained by David O’Meara; the supplier of four winning juveniles to the division from eleven including the useful Redicean and the promising Dr T J Eckleburg. Though he failed to win in ten attempts, Doctor Parnassus reached the frame on four occasions including when last seen in a twelve furlong, soft ground, Pontefract maiden in early October. The 7/2 third favourite of eight, he made the running at an even tempo and posted what was probably a career best in that sphere. He was able to see off the favourite’s challenge from the top of the straight, but was caught and passed close home by the smart hurdling mare Indefatigable. The resolve of Doctor Parnassus had previously been called into question, and though he ran to the line, his head carriage under pressure was still somewhat suspect. Notwithstanding, his stamina and class were arguably sufficient for his 66,000 guinea price tag at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale without even accounting for his compelling pedigree. Make Believe made a good first impression as a jumps sire last season with three winning juveniles from nine including Sage Advice and First Impression. Damsire Authorized is one of the strongest influence in the sphere and the distaff side is also creditable. From the same family as Teofilo (3/1), Doctor Parnassus is a half-brother to Tolworth winner Metier, out of a full-sister to the capable Constancio, with another winner in Deadly Approach coming from the third dam. In Dan Skelton, Doctor Parnassus joins a trainer with a good credentials in the sphere. His winner to runner rate is 37.65%, his improvement rate of 53.66% is the highest in the field, and his flat recruits are generally ready to go straight away with those rated 70 and above boasting a 34.78% first time strike rate. This is a tough introduction for a newcomer, but Doctor Parnassus has ticks in most of the right boxes and though he needs to fully confirm his tenacity under pressure, a decent first showing would not be unexpected. Girandole bg Mark Gillard f3-0-1 (50) 49 j2-0-2 (105) 103 117 No Nay Never (Whipper){4-r}(1.67) 3/1 Honoured 3rd 2m½f Novices’ Hurdle, Bangor 2011 Beginning his flat career in July, Girandole was beaten no less than twenty-four lengths and started no shorter than 150/1 in three outings. By No Nay Never, whose sole winning juvenile came in a hot potato of a race, the closest hurdler on the damline with form is the novice placed Honoured at 3/1. Mark Gillard has a 12.5% winner to runner rate in the sphere, yet such was the desperate quality of the field, Girandole was not only able to start at 20/1 for his hurdling debut at Exeter, but also finish second. Held up in the rear off a slow pace, Girandole had just one behind turning for home but was able to travel strongly into a prominent position by the time they reached three out. He was never reaching the winner, who wandered alone in front, but managed to hold on to third from another outsider. Despite the low quality of the contest, Girandole’s performance marked a new career best effort and he took another giant leap forward at Taunton three weeks ago. Sent off at 25/1 having received some outside support, Girandole was held up in midfield and apart from getting tight at the fifth, posted a good round of jumping. With tired rivals falling by the wayside, he found himself in third position turning for home and after being left in second at the last, looked to make a strong challenge as he traded at 2.52 in-running. The winner, Irish Hill, was able to repel him but he still finished twenty lengths ahead of the rest. Strictly at the weights, he has a chance of reversing the form although Irish Hill was clearly the superior racehorse of the two. Notwithstanding, while he was flattered by the pace of the race, his finishing clear of the rest can not be discredited and although this contest looks beyond his scope, there is a race out there for this good and safe hurdler. Restitution bg Alan King f4-1-3 (76) 80 j1-0-1 (-) 93 94 Frankel (Kendargent){4-i}(0.49) 2/2 Galasina 5th 3550m 3yo Hurdle, Fontainebleau 2021 The stablemate of Twilight Twist and the intended sole arrow for his trainer, Restitution joined Alan King for 50,000 guineas having previously been trained by John Gosden. The master of Clarehaven rarely leaves wriggle room in his former pupils, with their winner to runner rate being a moderate 14.85% and only 20.63% improving on their flat form. Two previous juveniles have made the journey from Newmarket to Barbury Castle, with Tiffin Top landing a Hereford maiden in March, and Sam Lord scoring at five but doing better back on the flat. Third on his debut at Newcastle in December 2020, Restitution made a winning return in a Yarmouth maiden, landing odds of 1/4 in workmanlike fashion. Gelded and given a five month break, during which time he was sold in the Tattersalls Autumn sale, Restitution finished twelve lengths behind a former stablemate at Kempton before placing third on his handicap debut at the same venue off 76. He had been squeezed out inside the final furlong, but was being edged out at the time and would only have finished closer in the same position. His stamina and attitude looked appropriate for a hurdling career, although his pedigree is more passable than exciting. Frankel has yet to excel with his juvenile hurdlers as he has done on the flat, with his figures no better than fair and few of his progeny holding their form between codes. The likes of Noble Request (5/2) and Flying Tiger (5/3) can be found in the echoes of the damline, but the closest jumps relative is a cousin who finished down the field at Fontainebleau. Nevertheless, his flat form and trainer were enough to see him start a solid 9/2 third favourite at Kempton last month. Running mid-division in a strung out field, Restitution made some headway from the far side and turned for home within a couple of lengths of the leader. However, he was left in the winner’s wake shortly on entering the straight and lost second place moments later before toiling home a twenty-nine length third. Slow at times, particularly in the closing stages when tired, his jumping was also marked by a propensity to go right did not help, even around Kempton. Restitution is entitled to improve for the experience, particularly as it came on the softest ground he had hitherto encountered, and the yard does have a fine record in the race. However, he still has the most to find of those with hurdles form and his being joined by a stablemate could be disconcerting given that the yard has been struggling for winners recently. tl;dr Graystone – Fairly useful on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise with a win at Warwick. Looked poised to double tally when falling at last at Taunton but was probably tired at the time. Has the strongest form, yard in good nick and fairly weighted, but vulnerable even without the prospects of a contested lead. Hayedo – Capable maiden in France on flat and improved with each run over hurdles. Off the mark last time in Hereford maiden when making all to win by thirteen lengths. In-form yard has good record in the race and not much to find on form, but would prefer an uncontested lead. Irish Hill – Exciting recruit for top yard and well fancied to make winning debut at Taunton. Did not impress in early stages but learned as he went and though seemingly fortunate to be left in front at last, could arguably have closed on fallen rival. Considerable improvement anticipated based on both the way he shaped and his trainer’s record with this sort. Conditions and complexion likely to suit. Twilight Twist – Inexpensive but reasonable winner on flat. Patchy pedigree but those trained for both codes by Alan King have good record and hurdles debut at Huntingdon was a winning one. Jumping errors did not help at Newcastle but still solid performance and Cheltenham outing much better than face value. Roped in to help maintain yard’s strong record in contest, but said yard is going through cold spell. Doctor Parnassus – Maiden on flat with possibly suspect attitude, but stamina and ability not in question. Those formerly with David O’Meara usually posess scope and pedigree is very interesting. Yard has healthy figures in the sphere, including with this type first time out. Girandole – Decidedly modest during short flat career and unlikely profile for hurdling. However, proved debut second at Exeter was no fluke by filling same position at Taunton last time. Possibly flattered by race’s complexion and likely to be outclassed here, but safe and honest nevertheless. Restitution – Winning son of Frankel formerly with John Gosden. Neither factor is regularly sustained over hurdles and though with Alan King, was well beaten on hurdling bow at Kempton. Capable of being competitive at some point but needs to leave debut running far behind. Potential question of confidence as was initially the sole intended runner for this contest. Strong prospects 1. Irish Hill Reasonable prospects 2. Hayedo 3. Doctor Parnassus 4. Twilight Twist Moderate prospects 5. Girandole 6. Restitution Negligible prospects .
  24. Hopefully, the amusing bit in the introduction about the "Chatteris Fen" who lived in my imagination was enough to offset the frustration of watching the underestimated Collingham get gubbed in the real Chatteris Fen by the biggest danger by a head. If not, let's see if the Kempton preview is any better... Kempton – 15th January – Preview The first juvenile hurdle to appear on the Lanzarote Hurdle card came in 2002. Curiously, the fourth placed finisher from the first three editions emerged as the most accomplished graduate. Rigmarole would win a Bula and a Kingwell, Spectroscope won the Triumph and placed at Aintree and Punchestown while Cherub finished fourth in the Triumph before winning at Punchestown. Since then, the beaten horses have done no better than being also-rans at the Festival although five winners did return to place in the Adonis the following month (L’Unique would also win the Anniversary while Sadler’s Risk finished third at Liverpool), and Redicean landed the double in 2018. This years edition probably won’t be the worst running of the race; that honour goes to the 2016 renewal where the only subsequent wins came in handicaps off 99 and 80. Nevertheless, while good yards are represented and the only flat maiden was rated 80 at one point, the overall profile of the contest is not particularly substantial given that all of the runners have questions to answer. Though a flat, and fair, right-handed circuit, Kempton’s winning DIs of 1.04 median, 1.25 mean are lower than average. However, while it can get testing, these figures would likely be more indicative of the quality of runner than it being a particularly demanding circuit; especially as the figures for this particular contest are 1.15 median, 1.35 mean. Both the clear round and completion rates of 96.97% and 89.10% are kinder than average. Kempton is also a fair course for introducing a juvenile, ranking seventh in the country for comparative strike rate, and second for comparative clear rounds. Furthermore, Kempton also ranks highly for the success of odds-on favourites as well as having low average starting prices, indicating that outcomes at the venue are generally rational. Just the five are set to face the starter and though a couple have made the running in the past, they did so under sufferance. As such, unless something takes the initiative, a steady tempo would not be unexpected. The latest going description was soft, good to soft in places, with little to no rain forecast before post time. Cuban Cigar bg Richard Hannon f25-2-7 (68) 78 j1-0-0 (-) 85 79 Havana Gold (Green Desert){16-b}(1.15) 3/1 Poirot PU Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle (L), Wetherby 2005 Richard Hannon Snr saddled Right Win, Gran Alba and Lift And Load to win graded races over hurdles, but his last six juvenile hurdlers failed to win anything and the family tradition has been revived by junior with Cuban Cigar. A veteran of twenty-four flat outings prior to his hurdling debut at Leicester, Cuban Cigar was a largely consistent mid sixties/mid seventies performer and picked up a couple of races on the all-weather. Breaking his duck on his eleventh outing in a seven furlong Kempton handicap off 66 at the end of March, he doubled his tally nine races and twenty-one weeks later at Wolverhampton over an extended nine furlongs off a pound higher. His flat career showed him to be patently tough, consistent and mostly honest, with stamina limitations and a preference for flat, all-weather tracks. Cuban Cigar’s pedigree does not lend itself to a hurdling career as sire Havana Gold’s sole winning juvenile from thirteen did so in a good ground Kempton handicap off bottom weight, and the damline is devoid of jumps ability until Model Man (5/2), Far Pavilions (5/3), American Trilogy (5/4) and Melodic Rendezvous (5/4) stem from the fifth dam. He went as low as 6/1 on the morning of his Leicester bow at the end of November, but drifted out to 20/1 at the off. Held up towards the rear, his jumping lacked fluency as he was big and skewed over most of his hurdles. He did make some headway on the turn for home and jumped three out within a couple of lengths of the lead. However, he was soon weakening and though less imaginative, his jumps were tired ones as he faded to finish a thirty length fifth of nine. He was back on the flat a fortnight later when fourth of six at Wolverhampton. Cuban Cigar’s flat form is acceptable and this race could be limit of his stamina in terms of pace and distance. However, while it is curious that connections are persisting with this hurdling adventure, there is little in Leicester outing or his overall profile to suggest that he will pose a serious threat in this sphere on this surface in this company. Dawn Tapper bg Joe Ponting f12-1-0 (51) 63 Dawn Approach (Shamardal){23}(1.17) 1/1 Dawn Hoofer 3rd 3-Y-O Hurdle, Punchestown 2018 Joe Ponting, who trained Dollydo to win a point-to-point at Tiverton when he was still at school, is one winner from one in his rookie season of training juveniles, courtesy of Gavin wining a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in November. His second juvenile hurdler is set to be Dawn Tapper, who came from a Jim Bolger whose former inmates have a winner to runner rate of 27.16% in the sphere. That rate does drop to 20.83% for trainers who are not Nigel Hawke and his least expensive winning juvenile hurdler sold at auction was Drumshambo for 8,000 guineas in 2009. Dawn Tapper fetched just 4,500 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, although his 53 rating was still higher than other ex-Bolger winners in Punch Bag (48) and peat Moss (50). Furthermore, Dawn Tapper also managed to win a race on the flat in the form of a seventeen runner, nine furlong Leopardstown handicap on soft ground, off a mark of 54. He ran to a similar level on his next two outings when beaten at Dundalk and Roscommon, but these performances during August were the standouts in his eleven race tenure, exceeding five prior and four subsequent efforts by upwards of a stone. Since joining Joe Ponting, Dawn Tapper had a spin around Wolverhampton a fortnight ago and while he beat only two of his eight rivals home, was beaten less than four lengths. Sire Dawn Approach has yet to sire a winning juvenile from twelve, Dawn Tapper’s full-sister Dawn Hoofer was a reasonable maiden in the sphere and the third dam produced fairly useful jumps winners New Millennium and Diamondgeezer Luke. There are bits and pieces of Dawn Tapper’s profile that are quite likeable, but the patches and class deficit give little cause for optimism first time out. Dirham Emirati bg Gary Moore f5-1-1 (78) 81 Vadamos (Rip Van Winkle){23}(0.30) 2/1 Point of Principle 2nd Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (G3,135), Chepstow 2018 Both the highest rated and most expensive flat recruit in this line-up, Dirham Emirati commanded 62,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale in order to bring a mark of 78 to the sphere. Starting his career with David Simcock in a Kempton novice stakes last February, he shaped with promise when finishing midfield; learning enough to get off the mark at the second time of asking at Newcastle a month later. Stepping up to a mile and a half, Dirham Emirati travelled comfortably behind the leader and after taking the lead at the distance, was pushed out for a comfortable two length victory. His cause was helped by the favourite disappointing, but the subsequent form allows for a rating in the mid to high seventies. Given a ten week break, he returned with a reasonable third at Thirsk on soft ground before being comfortably and predictably outclassed in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. Following another break of two months, and a switch to the yard of Kevin Philippart De Foy, Dirham Emirati folded inside the final furlong to finish last of four in a fourteen-furlong Chelmsford handicap. Though beaten eight lengths, it was not a disgraceful effort as he was conceding weight all round and the front pair each won next time out. Though purchased by Philip Middleton to go hurdling, Dirham Emirati was switched to Gary Moore’s yard after being withdrawn from the Goffs December Horses-in-Training sale. Gary Moore’s strong record in the division is news to few and his winner to runner rate with flat recruits is a healthy 31.43%. There is also a fair deal to like about the pedigree. Vadamos is having his first crop of juveniles and while only one of his twelve British/Irish horses have won to date, Calvados and Big Boy Bobby have posted respectable efforts and his French crop of three-year-olds count two winners from four. The distaff side has a shade of purple about it with Cerulean Sky, Honolulu, Moonstone, Orchestra and US Army Ranger all closely related. Furthermore, granddam L’Ancresse, an Oaks and Breeders Cup runner-up herself, has produced winning hurdlers in the useful Point of Principle and former Cisswood Stables resident Light Well. Dirham Emirati’s form, pedigree, stamina and connections make him a compelling recruit and he ought to be treated with the upmost respect here. Notwithstanding, though potentially a statistical anomaly, the fact that Gary Moore has saddled only one winning juvenile from forty-nine is somewhat troubling. Glide Down bg Alan King f6-0-3 (72) 78 j1-0-1 (-) 94 101 Point Of Entry (Silver Hawk){9-f}(1.44) 2/2 Tap Tap Boom 4th Prix Pierre de Lassus (G3,4yH), Auteuil 2018 In contrast to Gary Moore, Alan King has a fantastic record with his juveniles around Kempton. Since 2004/05, sixty-eight runs have resulted in twenty-one wins, and his record in this particular contest is even stronger with four of his eleven runners winning and another three reaching the frame. However, while those winners were all at least fairly useful (Pouvoir, Fidux, L’Unique and Redicean) this season’s representative is probably a class below that standard. The sole flat maiden in this contest, Glide Down raced six times in that sphere and his official rating of 72 does put him in the mix. Two runner-up placings at Salisbury and Chelmsford sandwiched a fourteen length second behind Derby winner Adayar at Nottingham. Gelded over the winter, he returned with a close third of five at Lingfield in March before finishing last of four and sixth of eight in handicaps at Lingfield and Newbury. There were excuses on each occasion, but his mark dropping to 72 still seemed a fair reflection of his overall abilities on the level. Glide Down was then given twenty-five weeks to prepare for his hurdling career. Being an American male, he does not have the most obvious sirelines as Point Of Entry’s other offspring have achieved little over hurdles, and the Dynaformer line is rather spurious; although he is the grandsire of Adagio. The distaff side is also predominantly set across the Atlantic, but a few of Glide Down’s cousins have done quite well over hurdles including Tap Tap Boom, Thumbs Up (the other one), Turf Trivia and New York Turf Writers Cup Hurdle winner Dark Equation. Glide Down’s hurdling debut came at Market Rasen in early December. Starting at 7/2 in what was a rather tepid contest, Glide Down raced freely while tracking the leaders. He was novicey over the first couple, but jumped better until getting close to the last in the back. Making his challenge on entering the straight, he completely misjudged the penultimate flight and stumbled on landing. Though back in the mix at the last, an awkward landing gave the initiative to Tease And Seize who extended his superiority to just over four lengths at the line. The winner was not disgraced in finishing midfield in the Finale Hurdle, and the third would go one better in a modest contest at Wetherby last week. Nevertheless, the performance could not be rated much higher than 100 which is not the most unassailable target for his rivals. Furthermore, while his hurdling experience will count for something, the yard has rather gone into hibernation as of late and recent comments on Glide Down suggest that his running here is more in the spirit of exploration than annexation. Silver Shade grg Milton Harris f9-2-2 (73) 80 Kendargent (Alzao){4-b}(0.57) 2/1 Teenage Idol 1st 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (124), Ayr 2012 Milton Harris has enjoyed an outstanding season to date in the division and much of this is down to some astute buying at Tattersalls at the July and Autumn sales. Aliomaana, Knight Salute, Genuflex and Galah have all won this term having gone around the Newmarket ring, with no price tag exceeding 21,000 guineas. Silver Shade cost 18,000 at the Autumn Sale, leaving Mark Johnston with two wins and a mark of 73 to his name. Finishing down the field during three outings at two, Silver Shade returned from his winter break sans testicles. The shedding of two stones reaped immediate results as he finished second over a mile and a half in a Lingfield handicap off 58 before landing a double at Newcastle and Southwell in March and April. Both contests were held over the same trip with neither being especially competitive. Silver Shade had only three rivals to defeat at Newcastle and while he was a most convincing winner, the subsequent form has not worked out. At Southwell, had only the one opponent who he beat in a canter to justify 30/100 favouritism. There is more substance to his Sandown second next time out where he raced over a heavy fourteen furlongs off 73. Although he was no match for Zinc White, he still had enough to fend off the challenge of Pied Piper for second; the latter, who was giving away thirteen pounds, is now prominent in the Triumph betting. Lacking the pace for a steadily run class 2 on good to firm at Doncaster, Silver Shade was last seen pulling up immediately after the start of a Musselburgh handicap in late June. No explanation was given for his pulling up, nor were any caveats given in his catalogue page where he was presumably sound enough to get past the Tattersalls vets. Since 2004/05, thoroughbred family 4-b has had no winning juveniles from six, although this does not appear to be an endemic issue as Three Kingdoms was a useful sort who won three times at four while König Ulrich, a distant relative at 6/4, won the Prix Maurice Gillois (the Arkle chase for four-year-olds) in 1989. Closer on the damline are the good German hurdler Königstreuer at 4/1 while uncle Teenage Idol was a fairly useful winner. Kendargent is the winningmost sire of juvenile hurdlers represented in this field with two from his eleven, while his record in France is a fairly solid nine winners from forty-eight. Silver Shade’s mysterious pulling up last time does linger in the mind, but assuming good health, he probably has the least questions to answer in this field. His flat form is amongst the best, his pedigree is very feasible and the yard, which leads the country for juvenile debutants with clear rounds of jumping, is in healthy form without any misgivings over the track. Furthermore, neither stamina nor conditions present any concerns and with the possible opportunity for an easy lead, Silver Shade may prove difficult to catch at this level. tl;dr Cuban Cigar – Has ran twenty-five times on the flat and is hardy, consistent and honest enough in that sphere. Stamina not assured however and did not look a natural on hurdles bow. Dawn Tapper – Inexpensive Jim Bolger dispersal but feasibly bred and should stay trip. Despite winning in Ireland, does have a class deficit to overcome and unlikely to be good enough first time. Dirham Emirati – Highest rated and most expensive of these on the flat. Solid enough pedigree and with yard that does very well in sphere; although not so much at Kempton Glide Down – Fair maiden on flat and second on hurdling debut at Market Rasen sets a fair but not unassailable standard. Stable has fine record in this race but this year’s representative looks a class below and not much enthusiasm drawn from trainer’s words or recent form. Silver Shade – Dual winner on flat for Mark Johnston and best form is threatening in context of this race. Has to account for mysterious pulling up when last seen. Nevertheless, with highly capable yard, has perfectly acceptable pedigree, with conditions and possible race composition likely to suit. Strong prospects 1. Silver Shade Reasonable prospects 2. Dirham Emirati Feasible prospects 3. Glide Down Moderate/Negligible prospects 4. Dawn Tapper 5. Cuban Cigar
  25. Huntingdon’s Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle is firmly entrenched as a named contest on the calendar without ever holding pattern status. Rather boringly, it was only established in 1987 and instead of some obscure 1890s horse who landed sixty races during a single campaign as a four-year-old; including the Stewards Cup, the Ebor and a four-mile selling chase at Catterick – all while holding down a full-time job carting barrels around at the local brewery, the race is just named after some place in Cambridgeshire. Lack of romance notwithstanding, the Chatteris Fen has still been contested by some very useful sorts with its first three renewals setting an unassailable standard for future runnings. Aldino led home Nos Na Gaoithe, Celtic Chief and Osric in 1987, Kribensis and Young Snugfit filled the first two placings the following year while Royal Derbi was the outsider of three when winning in 1989. The nineties were rather more subdued but the race was still won by likeable sorts such as Royal Square, Cornwall Prince, Salwan, Kadi, Clifton Beat and The French Furze. Afsoun, Giocomo, Vol Solitaire, Songe and Zamdy Man were the best representatives following the dawn of the new millennium, while since the race was moved to January in 2016, Sceau Royal, Gumball and Master Blueyes have maintained the race’s reputation. Nothing in this year’s edition is in the hunt for Triumph Hurdle favouritism although with three graduates going on to finish second in the Fred Winter (namely At Your Request, Divin Bere and Style de Garde), the race could be seen as a fair trial for that level and it would be no surprise were a couple of these to take in that festival handicap. The line-up features four winners, two undefeated in Britain, with the field completed by the two highest rated flat horses in the field who each finished runner-up on their sole hurdles outings. A flat, right-handed circuit with easy turns, Huntingdon’s average winning DIs vary quite wildly between 1.13 median (close to standard) and 1.57 mean (quite high). Capped at 4.00, the mean figures are lower than average which, when accounting for softer ground, is especially pertinent in this particular contest where the average winning DI is just 0.85. The clear round and completion rates of 96.36% and 86.84% are very ordinary although the Chatteris Fen has had a wide array of betting results with five from seven odds-on favourites obliging alongside four other winners at double figure prices since 2004. Though only six runners are set to face the starter, a couple of these have made the running during the past and while a breakneck gallop is not expected, the pace should be an honest one. The going is currently described as soft with little to no rain anticipated before post time. Triumph Odds Kotmask 50/1 Parliament Hill 50/1 Collingham bg Donald McCain f13-3-4 (33,0-72.6) 82 j3-1-2 (117) 116 121 Samum (Mull of Kintyre){6-d}(0.78) 0.5 Chez Hans 1st 2m2½f Handicap Hurdle (131), Newton Abbot 2021 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/collingham Juvenile hurdlers bought out of French flat claimers have solid winner to runner rate of 22.81% which increases to 32% when the horse won its claimer. Adagio and Noble Request are two notable examples, although few will develop into much above average. Nevertheless, Donald McCain’s first juvenile to come out of a French claimer, Collingham, has made a promising start to his hurdling career. Initially with Christian von der Recke, Collingham first racecourse appearance came in a Compiegne claimer last October where he won by three lengths, and was claimed afterwards for €30,009 to join Fabrice Vermeulen. Runner-up on his remaining three outings at two, he began 2021 with a valeur of 39 (85.8 BHA) but his poor runs outnumbered his good and that mark would drop six kilos in the run-up to July. That month saw him dropped into a modest Aix-les-Bains claimer over 2500m on soft ground. Held up in midfield, he was outpaced on the turn for home but though he made a meal of going through the gears, he was able to hit the front 100m out and regain the winning thread by a length. His final start in France came in a slightly better claimer at Clairefontaine in similar conditions. Here, he found it easier to stay in contention and after getting to the lead 300m out, would run on strongly to win by two and a half lengths. Changing hands for €17,800, he embarked on a British hurdling career which was certainly feasible on breeding. Samum has a solid record with juveniles in Britain and France while the dam has already produced two winning jumpers in Chandos Belle and Chez Harris; the former incidentally taking the Von Der Recke, French claiming route to the division, but failing to win for Paul Nicholls before eventually becoming quite useful. Collingham made his hurdling debut at Musselburgh in early November and was well supported in the ring getting backed into 8/11 from an opening 6/5. Initially prominent in a decently run race, he was restrained during the back stretch and began the home straight with a couple of lengths to find. He jumped two out with a share of the lead but as at Aix-les-Bains, he was not immediate in quickening. Nevertheless, the penny did drop after the last and he pulled ahead towards the line for a five length win. His jumping was a little untidy at times but few of his errors cost him any real momentum. The form was respectable without being much better than average, and a sterner examination was given back at the venue some four weeks ago. He was sent off a steady 3/1 behind the odds-on Skycutter who was soon in a very clear lead. Collingham led the pursuit and though there was still well over a dozen lengths between the two entering the straight, that gap had been reduced to a length by the furlong pole. However, the effort to close the gap, where he completed the penultimate furlong over a second quicker than the winner, proved telling with the pair finishing almost a distance clear of the remainder. Skycutter did not advertise the form in the Finale although he enjoyed nothing like the gift he received here. Collingham’s third outing came at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day and he started the 85/40 second favourite of six. Initially in a prominent position, he allowed the leader to get away from him by the time they reached the back. Though he made considerable ground rounding the home turn and was trading as low as 1.11 when looming menacingly when approaching the penultimate flight. However, the uneven energy expense once again proved his undoing and he ended up losing the battle for second on the run in. Other than being close at the third and tiring late on, Collingham’s jumping was satisfactory overall. Although the runner-up was a 50/1 outsider, the form is still respectable and even a critical comparison of the time recorded against the 0-150 handicap on the card paints the juveniles in a positive light. Though dropped six pounds to 117, Collingham’s form is still the strongest in this contest and his defeats come with mitigating factors. The softer ground and more even tempo should play to his strengths and as the chosen representative of his in-form yard’s two entries for this race, Collingham sets a solid standard for his rivals here; even if most are promising and scopey sorts. Genuflex bg Milton Harris f11-1-5 (74) 79 j4-1-2 (113) 104 114 Holy Roman Emperor (Galileo){1-i}(1.13) 0.5 Gendarme 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (88), Limerick 2021 A winner on the flat for Richard Hannon, Genuflex earned his initial victory at the third time of asking in a Windsor nursery off 74 last August. Though he failed to supplement this success in eight further attempts, Genuflex did run to form over ten furlongs during the spring and summer including on his latest outing in that sphere when showing good tenacity but failing to make all in a Nottingham classified stakes. He subsequently joined the capable Milton Harris for 20,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. By a Holy Roman Emperor who wins his fair share, and being a half-brother to a winning handicap hurdler, there was every chance he could build his profile over hurdles. He was well backed to do so on his stable/hurdling debut at Ludlow early in October and only subsequent Huntingdon winner, Mister Allegro, prevented his landing the 20/1 come 5/1 plunge. Though occasionally tight at his hurdles, Genuflex posted an efficient round of jumping overall and travelled well in midfield for much of the contest. In contention turning for home, he found himself outpaced between the last two and was slow getting away from the final flight. Nevertheless, he plugged on along the run-in to snatch second in the final strides with subsequent improver Saint Riquier another four lengths behind. Entering calmer waters at Sedgefield eleven days later, Genuflex’s profile saw him sent off a worthy 4/11 favourite. Making his own running from the outset, he raced keenly while setting a modest tempo. Though he hit the top of the third, rather missed the sixth and ran down the penultimate flight, his jumping was neat enough overall. Genuflex entered the straight half a dozen lengths clear of his rivals and after being shaken up away from two out, was in cruise control for the rest of the race; crossing the line seventeen lengths clear of the remainder. Stepping up to Listed company for Wetherby’s Wensleydale Hurdle, Genuflex appeared to be quite overfaced, although he was supported in the ring from 14/1 into 10/1 at the off. Held up in the rear off a quite modest gallop, he still had only one behind turning for home. It was a tightly packed bunch however and was able to follow the increased pace in the straight, jumping the last within a length of leader Porticello. Though he was no match for the ultimately comfortable winner, he did get the better of a battle for second in the final strides. This marked a new career high, exceeding the best of his flat efforts in the process. A two month rest was broken by a lofty engagement in Chepstow’s Finale Hurdle over Christmas. Available at 20/1 in the morning, Genuflex drifted to a more realistic 50/1 at the off and ran accordingly; jumping without confidence and failing to get into contention from the rear before finishing a tailed off last. This return to calmer waters will suit and with his yard’s last venture to a racecourse resulting in a double, a respectable effort would not be unexpected. Nevertheless, Genuflex would still have a few pounds to find in this company and with less scope for improvement and a possible preference for a faster surface, there will probably be more appropriate targets in the future. Kotmask chg Gary Moore j2-1-0 (-) 109 113 Masked Marvel (Martaline){20-a}(0.38) 0.5 Kapkiline 3rd Prix Ferdinand Dufaure (G1), Auteuil 2018 https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/kotmask Arriving to these shores as something of an unknown quantity, Kotmask had just the one run to his name which came in an ordinary contest at Dieppe in mid June. Sent off at 11/1 in an eleven runner contest, he went straight to the front and was taking quite a pull, but was able to settle better once getting a lead. His jumping was marked by inexperience as he was often steady on the approach and untidy at numerous obstacles. Kotmask was still in contention turning for home, but ultimately found four of his rivals too strong and was beaten by just under thirteen lengths. The remainder of the field were upwards of twenty lengths behind and although pattern class form has not emerged from this Dieppe outing, the first four have held their own in quite valuable conditions contests and count winners at Compiegne and Pau amongst themselves. The five exports of Gabriel Leenders last term included three winners as well as the Triumph and Punchestown placed Haut En Couleurs. Sire Masked Marvel does respectably with his three-year-old hurdlers in France, among whom is another Leenders export in Teahupoo. With a name like Kotmask, the damline is predictably inundated with talented French jumpers and a brief role call of nearby relatives includes half-sister Kapkiline, Kobrouk (2/1) Katgary (2/1), Kotkieglote (3/1), Katenko (3/1), Kotky West (3/1), with Kotkijet coming out of the fifth dam. His British debut came early last month where he was well supported on course; backed from an opening 11/2 to 7/2 at the off. While fairly keen early on and pecking badly at the first, that was his only real error in the contest and he soon settled well enough to be prominent in the main body behind the clear leader. Part of a two pronged pursuit during the second circuit, he joined the pacesetter leaving the back and after a better jump at the last gave him the lead, Kotmask was pushed clear on the run-in for a twelve length success. While it was not the strongest contest held at Fontwell, the form is solid enough for the level with the runner-up placing second in a handicap next time and the third maintaining his form on the flat. The performance leaves Kotmask with the least to find with Collingham and with further improvement likely for his in-form yard, he should give the aforementioned plenty to think about. Lifetime Legend bg Neil King f11-0-4 (74) 83 j1-0-1 (123) 89 95 Pride Of Dubai (Galileo){5-h}(0.60) 3/1 First Mohican 4th Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (G2), Kempton 2014 Andrew Oliver has supplied thirty-seven juvenile hurdlers to the division since 2006 and while Mega Fortune and Dodging Bullets were very talented sorts, their overall winner to runner rate is only fair at 18.92%. The most expensive of these to sell at auction was Lifetime Legend, who changed hands at Tattersalls for 55,000 guineas in the Autumn. Though a maiden after eleven starts, Lifetime Legend was capable of some fairly useful form on the flat. After finishing second at Galway in September 2020, he bit off a little more than he could chew at pattern level, but returned in the spring with a respectable third of thirteen at Cork in a ten furlong maiden. His next few outings were no better than fair but after a summer break, he began to reach his best form. Finishing fourth of fifteen in a Galway handicap over an extended mile, he was gelded before placing third in a Killarney handicap off 73 over eleven furlongs on soft, despite pulling hard early on. He filled the same position in a Leopardstown maiden a fortnight later where he looked one paced over ten furlongs on good ground. His tenure with Andrew Oliver ended with a tame effort at Navan and after his trip to Newmarket, would join a Neil King yard with respectable figures in the sphere; namely a winner to runner rate of 30.61% and an improvement rate of 54.05%. Lifetime Legend is a representative of sire Pride Of Dubai’s first crop of hurdlers. Being a precocious two-year-old from the Machiavellian line as well as being a cousin of Invincible Spirit, Pride Of Dubai does not have especially compelling credentials for the discipline. There is a little promise on the damline, however, as the third dam was responsible for First Mohican and The Price while the Munster National winner Star Clipper appears further back at 4/3. Lifetime Legend’s hurdling bow came at Wetherby over Christmas and he was the subject of strong support throughout the day, moving from 11/1 to 3/1 before going out slightly to 4/1 at the off. Settling in mid-division, his round was littered with novicey errors as well as a tendency to jump to his left. He turned for home just behind the leaders and though unable to reach the winner, stayed on to split the first and third by a length and three quarters apiece. A strict collateral reading of the form marks the performance as a respectable one. However, the sectionals from that contest were atrocious and the winner was well beaten in moderate company next time out. Lifetime Legend is entitled to improve for the experience but he has the most to find in this field on hurdling form and his jumping left handed will not held him around Huntingdon. Though not shown on the BHA site, an official rating of 123 is being reported which, if true, would make him one of the worst handicapped juveniles in training. Parliament Hill chg Olly Murphy f4-0-0 (69) 77 j1-1-0 (-) 119 109 Sir Percy (Shamardal){7-a}(0.82) 2/1 Rainbow Dreamer 2nd Finesse Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Cheltenham 2017 Lightly raced on the flat in Ireland, Parliament Hill was gelded after his sole outing at two and during three outings in the spring, would twice place fifth in maidens at Tipperary and Navan; either side of a down the field finish at Leopardstown. An optimistic interpretation of his form would deem his official mark of 69 as somewhat generous, and though perhaps lacking a turn of foot, he appeared to race honestly enough. Juveniles formerly trained by John Joseph Murphy have a solid enough record in the sphere and new trainer Olly Murphy is also adept at preparing young hurdlers. The pedigree is also a useful one for the division as sire Sir Percy has a strong winners to runner rate of 31.82%, uncle Rainbow Dreamer was a useful juvenile and along with Warrsan, Needle Gun and Luso, the damline also includes dual winner Dalaki (3/1) and the top class Nichols Canyon (4/3). Parliament Hill was introduced to hurdles at Leicester in late November where he was supported during the morning from 4/1 to 13/8 before starting the race half a point higher. Keen in the early stages, he was eventually settled and tracking the leaders on the outer. Leading on the bridle three from home, he was asked for his effort approaching the last before running out a cosy five-and-a-half length winner. Parliament Hill looked inexperienced at times after clipping and skewing at the first and stumbling slightly at the fifth, was awkward over the last two while under pressure. Notwithstanding, he won nicely in the end and though the bare form is nothing special, he would have the most scope for improvement in this line-up and represents yard enjoying a good spell of form. Rewired chg Dr Richard Newland f11-2-3 (78) 83 j1-0-1 (-) 106 106 Power (Montjeu){1-n}(0.54) 0.5 Keen Move 2nd Premio Criterium d’Inverno Hurdle (G2,4yH, Pisa 2016 Dr Richard Newland has some of the nicer figures in the juvenile hurdling division with his winner to runner rate of 40.91% in the top ten for trainers with twenty or more horses, and his record of eighty-one juveniles without a fall or unseat being second only to Oliver Greenall. His sole runner in the sphere this term has been Rewired, who came from David Menuisier with two wins and a rating of 78 to his name. Shaping well enough on his debut at Newbury in September 2020, he was off the mark next time when coming out on top of a blanket finish at Lingfield before consolidating his ability with a very narrow second in a ten furlong Newmarket nursery on heavy ground off 69. It took a couple of outings to shake off the cobwebs in the spring but was better than the result at Sandown on Eclipse day when fifth off 72 having met trouble in running. Compensation was gained at Esher a month later when making sure of a prominent position in a seven runner field, going for home at the distance and having enough to repel the runner-up’s late lunge by a neck. Raised seven pounds, Rewired finished last next time at Newcastle and though a return to Sandown saw him finish a two length fourth, too much was made of him at Chester in October. His final flat outing was a creditable one at Doncaster in first-time cheekpieces when Ryan Moore was rather too patient on his mount who was nearest at the finish but could only reach second place at the line. Fetching 45,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Rewired was to embark on a new career for which he is feasibly bred. He is from the fifth crop of Power who has five winners from fifteen in the division while boasting a most promising improvement rate of 88.89%. His half-brothers Keen Move and Grey Mist each produced respectable jumps form as youngsters, the third dam had a couple of minor winners and the likes of Mariah Rollins (4/4), Pendra and Mercian King (4/5) appear further back on the damline. Rewired made his hurdling debut in a warm looking contest at Kempton eighteen days ago where he started at 5/1 having opened at twice that price in the morning. Held up towards the rear of midfield, he began to make headway on the far side but while he went into second approaching the penultimate flight, the winner had already flown; leaving Rewired seventeen lengths in his wake at the winning post. Rather awkward over the first three flights, Rewired hurdled better as the race progressed and though well beaten by the impressive winner, he still finished twelve and thirty lengths clear of the next two. Rewired is another recruit with a likeable profile who showed plenty of scope on his hurdling debut and represents an in-form stable. The bare form of his Kempton debut leaves him with a little to find and his propensity on the flat to follow a good outing with a modest one is a concern, but a strong showing in this contest can not be dismissed. tl;dr Cottingham – Three times a winner on the flat in France, the latest being a Clairefontaine claimer. Landed the odds when making a winning British/Hurdling debut at Musselburgh in November and two subsequent defeats at that venue are better than they appear at face value. Form in the book sets the standard and ground and likely pace could play to his strengths. Genuflex – Fairly useful on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise with wide margin win at Sedgefield. Ran to a new career best when second in Wensleydale Hurdle but ran no sort of race in Finale over Christmas. Will appreciate drop in class but is most exposed and may prefer quicker ground. Kotmask – Regally bred insofar as French jumpers are concerned and debut at Dieppe for Gabriel Leenders was not without promise. Emphatic winner at Fontwell on sole start for new trainer and form is probably strongest of those behind Collingham. Conditions should suit, yard in-form and improvement can be expected. Lifetime Legend – Eleven race maiden on flat but some reasonable form for Andrew Oliver. Patchy pedigree but well supported when second on jumps introduction at Wetherby. Bare form looks reasonable but sectionals were very poor and form has since been let down by winner. Entitled to improve but most to find. Parliament Hill – Lightly raced maiden in Ireland but mark of 69 probably underestimates his ability. Nice pedigree for the division and well supported for hurdling debut at Leicester in November. Patently inexperience but still a very ready winner and though bare form nothing special, probably has most scope for improvement in this line-up. Rewired – Dual winner on flat and brings highest rating from that sphere. Appropriately bred and joins good yard for juveniles. Put in his place but clear of rest on hurdles bow at Kempton. Plenty of scope and yard in form but could be inconsistent on flat. Strong prospects 1. Collingham Reasonable prospects 2. Kotmask 3. Parliament Hill 4. Rewired Feasible prospects 5. Genuflex Moderate prospects 6. Lifetime Legend
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