RAGNAR LODBROK A BRIGHT PROSPECT FOR THE FUTURE
Having disappointed on debut in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival and unseated rider at the first on hurdling debut at Wexford, Zambezi Fix was sent off at 66-1 for his second start over hurdles.
Having raced in mid division, he started to cut through the field with ease shortly after leaving the back straight and had progressed into fifth turning the final bend.
Pushed along, he moved into fourth two furlongs out but the effort to make that headway took its toll and he couldn’t go with the front trio, coming home 15½ lengths behind the winner in fourth.
A chasing type, I think there could be plenty more to come from him in the long term as he strengthens up, particularly when going over fences.
A little keen early on, he raced towards the head of the main pack before moving away from them after the last hurdle in the back straight on the final circuit. Nudged along, he closed on the third, Sicario Jack, and joined him at 2 out.
Held together on the run to the last, Mud Runner moved into a clear third and after jumping the last, finished very strongly to be beaten 8¼ lengths.
The combination of this track and 2m looked very much on the sharp side for Mud Runner and I’m hopeful that this full-brother to Weapon’s Amnesty can improve significantly when stepped up in trip.
Blackstone Cliff has shown a tendency to race keenly in the past and that trait was once again on show at Dundalk following a 97-day break. He raced keenly behind the leading pair for the first half of the race and travelled strongly into the straight.
Asked for his effort about 1½ furlongs out, he initially edged slightly left before being straightened out and tried to put in a challenge to the leader a furlong out. However, the early keenness had taken its toll and he finished third, beaten two lengths.
The manner in which he travelled suggests he can be successful off his mark of 47 over the winter and a drop back to 7f would likely be no issue for him.
Pledge Of Honour failed to make the track for Godolphin and was bought by his current connections for £22,000 in March.
Making his belated debut at Kempton, he was a bit slowly away before making some headway into mid division. Showing signs of greenness at various stages, he was pushed along early in the straight. He gradually responded under hands and heels and ran on well to finish third, beaten 2¼ lengths.
This was a promising start to Pledge Of Honour’s career and he shouldn’t be long in getting off the mark if progressing as expected from this.
Having made her debut over hurdles at the start of November, Wild Atlantic Lady was switched back to a bumper for her second start at Limerick in very testing conditions.
Initially racing in mid division, she suddenly dropped back through the field as they approached the finishing line for the first time and was off the back of the pack in second last as they went out on the final circuit.
On the wide outside, she started to make some headway towards the end of the back straight and continued that progress. Under only hands and heels, she ran on very strongly in the straight to finish third, beaten 4½ lengths.
I think this ground was much softer than ideal for her, which may have been the reason why she was allowed to drop back through the field and switched to the far outside in search of better ground, so this was an encouraging performance and under more suitable conditions and with a more positive ride, she can progress from this.
Much of the focus in the opening race on Friday’s card at Newbury was on the hurdling newcomers but it was one with experience who caught the eye.
Held up early on, Trincomalee was awkward at the first hurdle and raced a touch keenly under restraint. He jumped well down the back straight and made a bit of headway into mid division travelling well as the field left the back straight.
However, he then got stuck in a pocket behind Coupdebol as the leading group of four started to move away. Once in the clear, Trincomalee made good headway under gentle urging between three and two out to be only a couple of lengths behind the leader at two out.
His progress continued and he was half a length down at the last where he made a slight mistake. He responded to pressure, while drifting right towards his rivals, but couldn’t quite match Son Of Camas and King Roland and came home in third, beaten 2¼ lengths.
This was a promising run from Trincomalee in a strong maiden hurdle and I think his new rating of 128 underestimates his ability. A strongly run handicap over 2m may be where he is seen at his best.
Cedarwood Road showed some ability in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival and he built on that with a promising run on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse.
His jumping lacked a little fluency and an awkward landing at three out halted his momentum at a crucial stage. Nudged along entering the straight, he closed on the leaders, but another mistake came at two out which ended any chance he had.
He responded to gentle encouragement after and then ran on well after the last under stronger pressure to finish sixth, beaten 12 lengths.
I think this was a good maiden hurdle and given the ground and momentum lost with his errors along the way, this was an encouraging start over hurdles from Cedarwood Road.
Gigginstown had strength in numbers in the bumper at Fairyhouse and filled four of the first five places. While there are reasons to be position about all four, it was Ragnar Lodbrok who caught my eye on his debut.
Having set off in mid division, he gradually drifted towards the back of the field and was still there turning on to the side of the course. Under very light urging, he started to make some headway but was still in tenth turning the final bend.
From that point, he soon started to scythe through rivals and then came under more vigorous hands and heels riding in the straight. He stayed on relentlessly to finish third, beaten 8½ lengths.
This run looked all about Ragnar Lodbrok’s education for the future and given the quality of this bumper, he looks a bright prospect.