Newbury, Wednesday December 29th
Panic Attack, looking at this 4yo she stood out in terms of quality and duly stamped her authority by winning over 5 lengths. David Pipe’s filly by Canford Cliffs travelled with great ease behind the leaders and once she strolled to the front jumping the third last, she hardly had to be asked any serious questions to run out an emphatic winner. I am sure she can take a step up to a higher grade.
Born To Please, who is not much to look at, came from way off the pace to pick up the pieces in the closing stages. Given her Flat form I can see no reason why an extra half a mile would not be to her advantage.
Mystic Dreamer looked fine and ran a respectable race in third.
She’s A Novelty looked in great order, but may have been a little keen in the early stages and paid for her early exertions.
Introductory Hurdle, 2m 69yds
I thought this was a decent renewal and Cascova ran a promising race after 403 days off. Looking well in himself this strapping 5yo was well to the fore from the off and his jumping was good overall. He made a slight mistake at the last which knocked the stuffing out of him. This lightly raced type showed he still retains plenty of ability.
The standout pre-race was the 3yo Good Ball. This chaser of the future looked well and showed a fair amount of ability throughout the contest. He travelled well, but when the pace increased you could see he lacked the toe needed to respond. I like the way he stuck to his guns, which saw him eventually win going away. Paul Nicholls looks to have a nice horse on his hands.
The 50-1 outsider Finistere looked as if the run would bring him on, which is unusual considering he is trained by Dan Skelton. This gelding by Coastal Path got in to a lovely rhythm down the back and even when he cleared the remaining hurdles he looked a winner until he was overhauled close to the line.
Gowel Road, this chaser looked fit, but you could see he was still showing signs of greenness given the way he raced. With this experience to call upon he could be a different candidate when he next turns up.
Grumpy Charley, this strapping grey ran as if he would appreciate an extra half a mile.
Mansionbet’s Bet 10 Get 20 Novice Limited Handicap Chase, 2m6f 93yds
Paint The Dream produced a breathtaking performance. He went out in front and dominated this race from start to finish. Not touching a single fence this 6yo won fairly easily. His trainer can now decide if he wants to carry on in handicaps or switch back to novices.
Demachine came here on the back of two impressive victories, but once he straightened up for home I never thought he was going to reel in the winner and was beaten fair and square.
Sevarano looked fine beforehand, but made a mistake at the first. I don’t know if it knocked his confidence, but he never looked entirely happy thereafter.
Earth Moor looked grand and the way he performed I think he will appreciate going up in trip.
Mansionbet’s Bet Odds Guaranteed Mandarin Handicap Chase, 3m2f
This race used to be won by some brilliant chasers over the years including Mill House in the sixties, Night Nurse in the eighties, Party Politics in the nineties, but is now just run as an ordinary handicap.
The bottom weight Amateur looked very fit and was given a waiting ride by his jockey. Placed in midfield he picked his opponents off one by one as he cleared the cross fence, and I like the way he stayed on all the way to the line, winning by a neck. If he gets the same scenario he could win off his revised mark. Nestor Park, this good-looking gelding by Walk In The Park ran his best race to date only to be mugged on the line. I am sure the handicapper will have his say after this.
Cuban Pete looked well along with Manofthemountain, Commodore Barry and Get On The Yager.
Challow Novice Hurdle, 2m4f 118yds
Bravemansgame, this long-striding gelding produced a silky performance to take this Grade 1. Popped out in front he measured his hurdles efficiently and I like the way he increased the pace around the final bend to skip over the remaining hurdles, winning impressively. His trainer has suggested he may go straight to Cheltenham for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle, but no horse has won this race and gone on to Cheltenham success.
Star Gate lost his unbeaten record, but I thought this 4yo put up a better performance than when he won the Winter Hurdle at Sandown. The Glancing Queen, this daughter of Jeremy looked in tip-top order and looked a big player coming around the final bend. But, for one reason or another was unable to pick up in the closing stages.
Wilde About Oscar, who looked the part, was a touch keen in the early stages and was unable to finish the contest off given his early exertions.
Does He Know, this tricky character came here on the back of three victories, but was not on his best behaviour, being taken out of the main ring and put in a saddling box to calm down. As he was taken out towards the track, he wouldn’t let his jockey jump on his back, and in the race itself as he approached the fifth flight he cocked his head and ran out. He may be one to treat with caution. Overall I thought this was a decent renewal because all five runners won previously, so I would take a positive view.
Funambule Sivola, this 5yo looked in tip top shape and won this competitive handicap quite cosily. Steadied in midfield he moved up smoothly and his jockey did not have to ask for maximum effort, which saw him come out on top by a narrow margin. Even when he is reassessed I still feel he has a fair bit in hand off his new mark.
Shut The Box, this chestnut gelding looked in good nick and produced a good effort in securing the runner-up spot. Even though he was fighting a losing battle I like the way he kept on all the way to the line.
Exelerator Express, I thought this fella looked well, but his jumping was not up to scratch and he got close to a number of fences. He still has mileage off his current handicap mark.
The favourite King D’Argent was jumping well out in front, but over jumped the cross fence and unfortunately paid the penalty.
Sandown, Saturday, January 2nd
Métier, Harry Fry’s Mastercraftsman gelding ran away with this Grade 1 success. He travelled strongly throughout the contest and when he given his head, quickly put daylight between himself and the rest of the field. Over the years this race has supplied winners at the Cheltenham Festival via the likes of Forest Sun, French Holly, Monsignor, Noland, Yorkhill and Summerville Boy. Métier looks one of the best novice prospects around, but I am not totally sure how strong a Grade 1 this was.
Shakem Up’Arry who is a future chaser, tried to lead from start to finish, but his lack of toe was exposed in the closing stages.
Tile Tapper looked fine and ran through tired horses to secure third position.
Do Your Job is a cracking chasing prospect and ran well to a point, but got very tired in the closing stages. Galice Macalo looked a lot calmer than on her two previous occasions, but in the race itself she took a fierce hold, which sealed her fate coming around the final bend.
Grandeur D’Ame was making his debut and ran well to a point, but his lack of conditioning and race craft told in the closing stages.
Star performance of the meeting:
IBLEO, I thought this gelding by Dick Turpin was given a mega confident ride by Charlie Deutsch who sat off the early pace and brought his mount through steadily to win cheekily.
Look out for this horse:
DICKIE DIVER, I thought this gelding by Gold Well made a cracking introduction to fences and showed he retains plenty of his old ability. I think he will benefit from going over 3 miles next time.