GET AN OSCAR SET TO TAKE CENTRE STAGE
I mentioned in week three of my blog that the Peter Bowen mare GET AN OSCAR would be worth a second look if taking her place in a 0-100 in the near future. She holds an entry in the 0-100 handicap hurdle at Worcester on Monday (5.15). She also holds two entries the following evening at Uttoxeter.
She will probably be very competitive whichever race she ends up in; personally, however, I would be most keen to support her each-way should she line-up on the Monday at Worcester.
The Dan Skelton trained VALUE AT RISK takes his place in the 0-140 handicap chase at Market Rasen at 4.20 on Sunday. He has not been the most reliable of horses in the past; however, his recent wind surgery does make him of more interest this weekend.
His latest success was earned at Market Rasen over a slightly shorter trip than the one he faces on Sunday. If the wind surgery makes a positive difference he should run very well for a long way at worst. He is likely to race prominently round this relatively sharp track and should offer plenty of potential as an in running play.
He may well prove to be good enough to come out on top in this 0-140 handicap chase; nonetheless, he is a horse that I would tend to want to take some insurance out on just in case he ‘downs tools’ after the turn for home.
THE SWEENEY is rated 128 and carries top weight which makes this a 0-140 contest in name only. This Emma Lavelle trained 7-year-old won over this course and distance on his latest outing and has been raised 6lbs as a result.
On that day I thought he was still the favourite to win when his nearest rival, Late Night Lily, came down at the second last hurdle. At the time I felt confident that, although he had just been joined, his rider had left something up his sleeve for the latter stages.
He had appeared to be travelling as well as any when seemingly running out of stamina at Kempton in a decent contest in December. The fact that he was then sent for wind surgery would suggest his breathing was the real issue. He has now performed in an improved manner in each of his three subsequent races and has every chance of remaining competitive off this new mark of 128.
On his penultimate start he was beaten by Serosevsky and Champagne Champ at Wincanton. I suspect that the former is very good on his occasional going days whilst the latter followed up with a runaway success at Ffos Las and is now rated 11lbs higher than he was on that day at Wincanton.
The Dr Richard Newland stable (see Trainer in Focus, below) is going extremely well at the moment and, therefore, any runner from the yard warrants a second look. ASYLO will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies who boasts that excellent strike rate for one of his main trainers.
He looks very likely to run extremely well and, at the same time, in an ideal world he might want a few drops of rain to increase his chances further. His profile certainly implies that he is at his best on good to soft ground. Last time out he was just held by Nayati who followed up off a 3lbs higher mark by running a close third in a much better race at Cartmel last Sunday. Whatever he does on Sunday I will mark Asylo’s claims up the next time he competes in a similar race on slightly softer ground than the predicted good going at Market Rasen.
I thought that MISTER UNIVERSUM may have just bumped into one at Southwell two weeks ago. The winner of that race was the ex- Paul Nicholls-trained Zubayr who was having his first run for Ian Williams over hurdles. That was Mister Universum’s first run after wind surgery and probably represented an improvement on his previous hurdles form. He looks primed to perform to his best on Sunday and seems to me to be the one they all have to beat.
Of the rest, the 12-year-old TAMARILLO GROVE steps up in distance after two recent Newton Abbot successes. His record is not good when racing over close to two and a half miles and his age would suggest that this attempt over further is more in hope rather than part of any grand plan.
REALLY SUPER is still relatively unexposed over hurdles; on the downside he has been raised 19lbs due to three positive efforts in weakly-contested races at Worcester. JAUNTY FLYER has clearly been a difficult horse to train. He has not performed well in his last four races and we have to go back to April 2018 for the last occasion he showed any ability.
This leaves MORE BUCK’S who I see is also ‘jocked up’ to run on the flat at Carlisle on Saturday evening. His main target is a repeat attempt at the Listed Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen on Saturday 22nd July. He is high on my shortlist for that race so whatever he achieves here or at Carlisle I hope he returns safe and sound for his next outing. He is actually very well treated over hurdles compared with fences; that said a quick glance at his hurdles runs would tell you why.
The 4.50 at Market Rasen is a particularly trappy contest and unfortunately, we have been left with just seven runners at the final declaration stage. Therefore, I would prefer to focus my financial interest on two other possible each-way bets.
GET AN OSCAR is the first one providing she turns up at Worcester on Monday. NIKKI STEEL is the other one as long as all eight runners stand their ground in the 3.45 on Sunday at Market Rasen. Hopefully one or both of them will trade at an each-way price.
TRAINER IN FOCUS: DR RICHARD NEWLAND
Dr Richard Newland has three horses entered for Market Rasen on Sunday and has a strong record at the Lincolnshire track. He has enjoyed 36 successes from his 150 runners at the course to record an overall strike rate of 24%. Moreover, at the time of writing, he boasts a 53% strike rate (9/17) in the last 14 days.
All three of his entries on Sunday hold obvious claims and will be competing in handicap races; consequently Dr Newland’s record in handicaps at the course of 24.14% is worth a mention. Certainly one would have made a significant profit on the exchanges following his handicap runners over the years.
He has a very strong profile for this race and I am hopeful that he will be very competitive. He has won over this same course, distance and going (predicted good at the moment) carrying an identical weight whilst running off the same rating he will compete off on Sunday. He has arguably failed to stay the intermediate trip he has been asked to compete over in his three subsequent completed chases. He should go well on Sunday back in his optimum conditions. Sam Twiston-Davies takes the ride and holds a 34% strike rate for the trainer at Market Rasen.
He runs in the ‘Amazing Maze Maize Handicap Hurdle’ which is a race I have covered in a little more depth in the above section.
Dr Newland has a 50% strike rate in races for amateur jockeys at this course. Unfortunately his 2/4 record is too small a sample size to be getting too carried away with! Miss Lilly Pinchin rode this horse into third place last time out over a similar trip at Newton Abbott. This was his first run in 128 days and one would expect him to strip fitter for that experience. He has won two of his four races whilst under the care of his new trainer and has a perfectly sound chance of making that three from five on Sunday. He is another that should run his race and be competitive in the closing stages.
(All statistics courtesy of proformracing.com)
LOOKING BACK - CARTMEL & WORCESTER
With a circuit to go in the Oakmere Homes Handicap Chase at Cartmel last Sunday the first five horses were separated by no more than two lengths. Of those, Princeton Royale, Double Treasure and Get Out The Gate ultimately finished tailed off. They clearly paid a hefty price for having gone far too fast for much of the race. Consequently, the performances of the other two in that group can be marked up on account of remaining competitive until half way up the run in.
DEMI SANG led at the last and actually went clear on the turn for home; from thereon in he probably ran out of stamina over this two miles and five furlongs trip. I suspect there is a very good chance we will see him revert to a shorter trip the next time we see him. He had won his previous race over a shorter distance at the same course and was raised 9lbs as a result. I doubt very much that this defeat was much to do with his new rating; consequently, he will remain of interest the next time he runs providing he is stepped back down in trip.
PLAY THE ACE did by far the best of the front runners when finishing in third place. He certainly appeared to pay for staying too close to an overly aggressive pace. He remains an extremely well handicapped horse and is worth keeping on side over the next few weeks.
The eventual runner-up BEAU SANCY was detached and going nowhere with a circuit to go due to some less than fluent leaps. He still had plenty to do after the last but then quickly swept through into the lead early in the home straight. I strongly suspect that he is flattered by how striking he looked at this point in the race. The leaders were all tiring badly thus accentuating his impressive looking surge through the pack.
Beau Sancy will surely need to be stepped back up in trip to be seen to best effect. If he competed on a sharp track over this sort of distance in the near future I would be very keen to oppose him; conversely, he will be of major interest when competing over three miles and more.
The actual winner of the race, Lofgren, was out the back even as the field approached the final fence. He is almost certainly flattered by this victory and will also be raised significantly for his troubles. His connections won’t mind as they have picked up a big prize here; nonetheless, I would not be in a hurry to back Lofgren to follow up this success off his revised mark.
In the previous race on the card the Peter Bowen-trained FATEH finished an apparently disappointing fourth when starting as the favourite for the Furness Fish & Game Handicap Chase. Personally, however, I have seriously marked him up for this performance. His jockey popped him out in third place on the approach to the first fence but soon dropped back down the field in what was a very fast run race. He made his only real mistake at the final fence first time around; however, he was slower than his rivals over each of the final six fences. I thought he did really well to remain so close to the leading group for so long. Fateh was surely running over a trip well short of his best and he should be very competitive when stepped up half a mile (or even more) in distance.
On the first day of that two-day meeting at Cartmel (Friday 28th June) the Anthony Honeyball trained Ennistown enjoyed a near perfect trip round against five lesser rated rivals. He is a horse that has stopped in front on more than one occasion in the past; consequently, it was massively in his favour to follow the leader the 123-rated FRANCKY DU BERLAIS into the home straight.
The two horses were competing off level weights and Ennistown had 12lbs in hand of his rival based on official ratings. Therefore, he did no more than would have been expected of him whilst also benefitting from the run of the race. He will not always enjoy such positive circumstances and, consequently, I would be wary of expecting him to follow up if trading very short on another day. His new mark of 137 probably overstates his ability level as a chaser at this point in time and I would be keen to oppose him if he were asked to test that mark in a handicap chase in the near future. His fairly stylish looking success at Cartmel will hopefully result in him trading shorter than his profile merits the next time we see him.
On the other hand, Francky Du Berlais is a horse to mark up; particularly if he is stepped up to compete over three miles. He appears to be well treated off 123 and hopefully his mark can be exploited in a handicap sooner rather than later. Francky Du Berlais jumped really well for a horse having his first try over fences and his connections have every right to be pleased with his performance.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained EQUUS MILLAR was another horse to make a pleasing debut over fences this week. He won the ‘Now We’re Talking For Healthy Minds Novices’ Chase’ at Worcester on Wednesday by 9 lengths from the 97-rated Red Inca with Innocent Touch just behind in third place. Equus Millar was slow over the second fence down the far side and then less than fluent at the final fence. That aside, he jumped really well for a chasing debutant and I would be hopeful that he could win a similar race very soon under a penalty.
It will be interesting to see what the handicapper will do to this 126-rated horse on the strength of finishing more than 10 lengths clear of the 138 rated Innocent Touch. That might be something to be concerned about further down the line; in the short term, however, Equus Millar should prove hard to beat if turned out quickly in another low-grade novice chase under a penalty. One point worth remembering with this horse is that his hat trick bid over hurdles was thwarted in part when he failed to handle the good to soft ground at Chepstow in October 2018. He will need top of the ground to be seen in his best light and could be one to win a few low-grade small field chases before the winter.