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VAN GERWEN TO HIT THE BULLSEYE AT START OF FLAT SEASON
The fitting of cheekpieces on his last two outings have signalled a superior level of form from James Bethell’s gelding, albeit at a modest level.
On Fire broke his maiden duck emphatically here 20 days earlier and may well have improved again off his new mark (70) in chasing home progressive Final in this extended 1m 4f handicap.
It paid to lie handy and On Fire was caught a bit out of his ground before running on into second spot, edging out in form Codeshare.
Will strip a good bit sharper for his first run in 195 days. Leontes could never recover from a sloppy break, staying on at one pace to finish fifth to Unabated in this Class 2 sprint handicap.
The winner clocked a decent time and three-year-old Leontes, a dual winner last July at Hamilton and Chester, will be placed to advantage this season by Andrew Balding.
Call Me Vic is at his very best when encountering good ground/flat track and he had been given a nice break by Tom George since beating Baileys Concerto at Aintree in December before this reappearance run on a drying circuit.
The 10-year-old was no match for Bodega but there was little disgrace in attempting to concede 20lb to the winner. Call Me Vic was a dual winner in high summer last season and more of the same seems on the cards.
Oliver Sherwood’s mare was on a hat-trick after sluicing through the mud to score at Lingfield and Wincanton last month, but as her trainer had feared beforehand she found the ground a tad lively in this ultra-competitive mares’ handicap.
Hitherjacques Lady helped force the pace and was still travelling better than most turning for home before her lack of pace was exposed on the run to the penultimate flight. She has a future.
Iain Jardine is starting to have fun with this slow-burner and more success beckons. Mr Globetrotter, a son of Henrythenavigator out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, saw out this two-mile trip strongly, taking the measure of William Knight’s well-backed favourite Author’s Dream after travelling strongly into the race under a confident Lee Clifford ride.
There are some pretty weak events at this trip on the all-weather and Jardine often targets modest staying races at Musselburgh (especially the amateur riders’ handicaps) during the summer months.
Almost made a winning return following a 135-day absence, hitting the front over a furlong out and looking all over the winner until smothered in the dying strides by Foxy Forever and Excellent George.
Les Eyre’s four-year-old won at Thirsk in early May last season and this will have tuned him up nicely for an early turf campaign. Van Gerwen also showed a liking for Pontefract last season and he is sitting on a winning mark.