HENDERSON DUO HOLD STRONG CLAIMS ON SATURDAY
Nicky Henderson was in cracking form two weeks ago and at first glance appears to have gone off the boil a little of late. Maybe this is a little misleading as his only runner to complete in the last two weeks finished narrowly beaten at Bangor. I would prefer to back him to continue in form until we have more evidence to the contrary.
Henderson has two runners at Market Rasen on Saturday and both appear to hold strong claims. Bold Record runs in the 5.30 in what appears to be a hot contest for this time of year. Aside from recent winners, Finalshot and Rukwa, he also has the Dan Skelton-trained Present Ranger to contend with. I mentioned this horse in weeks six and seven and his trainer has been waiting for some decent ground for this son of Presenting. If the rain stays away, Present Ranger will be a tough nut to crack. That said, whatever happens on Saturday this could prove to be a race to follow in the coming weeks.
The other runner from Seven Barrows is Jen’s Boy who renews rivalry with Court Affairs from 22 days ago at Uttoxeter. Jen’s Boy appeared to be going second best for much of the home straight on that day but showed a very willing attitude to hold on in a close finish. The form received a boost when the well beaten third horse to finish, Get An Oscar, subsequently won a 0-115 handicap. Jen’s Boy seems to be an uncomplicated front runner and should offer plenty of potential as an in running trade at worst on Saturday – once again providing the going remains good.
Tanrudy is set to wear cheek pieces for the first time in the 6.00 at Market Rasen on Saturday. As mentioned in week seven I would prefer his claims when stepped up in distance from his last race. This does represent a slight step up in trip; however, I suspect the cheek pieces will need to have a positive effect for him to keep in touch round this relative speed track. He certainly has a reasonable chance here; personally however, I will be very happy if he runs okay before competing over closer to three miles the next time we see him.
I strongly suspect that Mr Mafia was massively flattered the last time we saw him when winning over three miles at Southwell. He returns to compete over the same course and distance on Sunday and has plenty on his plate off a 9lbs higher mark. I will only attempt to capitalise on this belief if he is trading at a short price in a race which appears to be a wide open affair with three or four strong contenders. Mr Mafia will certainly need to improve significantly on what he achieved on that last day to be successful here.
I mentioned in week seven that I would not be concerned if Bridey’s Lettuce was dropped in distance to compete over the minimum trip the next time we saw him. He is set to line up over two miles at Southwell on Sunday and seems to have plenty in his favour. His jockey gave the all the way winner (and 50/1 shot!!) far too much rope at Uttoxeter last time out and he will surely be more vigilant this time around. If Bridey’s Lettuce happens to be an each-way price on Sunday he will be of real interest in the 4.20 at Southwell providing the going remains good.
Perhaps the most fascinating runner over the weekend is the Neil King- trained Lil Rockerfeller who is set to compete in the 3.20 at Southwell on Sunday. Despite winning three of his five chases to date he has not looked like a natural over the larger obstacles. The smaller fences at Southwell should help his cause and it will be interesting to see how he performs. Whatever Lil Rockerfeller achieves on Sunday I have him marked down as one to oppose if and when he returns to race over bigger fences against stronger opposition later in the year.
As mentioned in Week Five, Gordon Elliott holds an impressive strike rate at Perth; particularly in non- handicap hurdle races. He does not have a runner in the opening maiden hurdle but has every chance of adding to his impressive overall stats with his two entries on Saturday. Richard Johnson has been booked for both rides and expectations will be high. In the handicap hurdle at 2.30 he takes the ride on Holy Motivation who should relish the testing conditions. His mount in the bumper is a little more difficult to get a handle on. Although Dream Pioneer ran with some promise on his debut run in the middle of June he will have to improve on that sixth place finish here. He may well do just that; however there is inevitably a lot more guesswork involved in assessing his claims compared with the earlier runner.
TRAINER IN FORM: DR RICHARD NEWLAND
Dr Richard Newland has won with four of his eight runners in the past 14 days. He has entries at Perth and Market Rasen on Saturday and one runner at Southwell on Sunday.
It is difficult to judge how Supreme Steel will perform on the predicted heavy ground at Perth on Saturday. Chef De Troupe is the more interesting of his two runners at Perth in my view. He ran well off a similar mark over course and distance at the end of July. Furthermore his earlier French form offers some encouragement as to his chances of coping with the likely testing conditions over the weekend.
On Saturday at Market Rasen, Capitoul has a chance in a very competitive looking selling hurdle; however, the ‘Newland runner’ that caught my eye is Lovato who runs for the first time over fences at Southwell on Sunday. Dr Richard Newland narrowly failed to win with chasing debutant Asylo recently and he has every chance of going close with the 127 rated hurdler Lovato on Sunday. This son of Lauro got stuck in the mud at Cartmel the last time we saw him and he will require a decent surface to give him his best chance of success.
LOOKING BACK: CLUES FROM MARKET RASEN MAIDENS
This week has seen the return of summer jumping after a short break. I will be discussing a race or two from earlier on this week after taking a look at Market Rasen on Sunday 4th August. I like it when maiden hurdle races are split into two divisions as this offers an interesting opportunity to compare like with like on the clock. The two winners on the day were Youracert (Division One) and Ray’s The Money (Division Two) and they came into their respective races with very different profiles.
The Donald McCain horse Youracert was having just his second outing under rules and his first after wind surgery. Jamie Snowdon’s gelding Ray’s The Money, on the other hand, was having his fourth start over hurdles and was also an experienced flat campaigner. Of the two the McCain horse was the least exposed and, perhaps, the more likely to improve for the experience.
When comparing their respective performances on the clock there was not a lot between them from the first hurdle to the winning line. This, however, does not tell the whole story. Ray’s The Money was around two seconds quicker than his rival as they both entered the home straight and had to be hard driven to catch the runaway leader. Youracert was much more considerately handled by Brian Hughes from the final bend to the line and yet was able to ‘join the division two winner’ on the line when comparing the two races side by side.
Hopefully we will have the chance to compare the relative form of the two races in the near future. In an ideal world I would like to see the two winners taking each other on soon and, given that scenario, I would prefer the claims of Youracert – all other things being equal (i.e. similar course, distance and going).
I thought that Illustrissime was a horse to watch closely after his success at Southwell in the middle of July. On the 2nd August at Bangor, however, he was firmly put in his place by the impressive looking See The Sea in a novices’ hurdle. The first point to make is that the mare See The Sea enjoyed an untroubled lead throughout thus allowing Brian Hughes to dictate the pace to his and her liking. Hughes kicked her six lengths clear on the bend after the third last hurdle and was able to hold onto that lead with something to spare at the line. The hurdle to hurdle time comparisons with the handicap hurdle winner later on the card, however, add plenty of substance to the notion that the McCain mare enjoyed a healthy advantage the way the race was run.
When comparing the race side by side on two separate screens Outcrop, the 105-rated handicap hurdle winner was around five seconds quicker than the mare at the fourth last hurdle. From thereon in See The Sea was able to ‘close that gap and join the handicapper on the line’. This adds some substance to the way it appeared to the eye; that is – See The Sea dictated a slow pace before stealing a significant advantage by turning her race into a speed test from after the third last hurdle to the winning line. She was receiving weight from the Dan Skelton trained runner up who was set a difficult task the way the race unfolded.
Consequently, I would be a little wary of supporting See The Sea to follow up under a penalty if trading very short (obviously her claims will be more obvious if appearing likely to enjoy another easy lead); furthermore I would be open minded as to which of the two would come out on top on another day. I will be keeping the faith with Illustrissime and I would certainly prefer his claims if the mare appeared likely to be taken on for the lead the next time they meet.
On Sunday 4th August the Peter Bowen mare Get An Oscar managed to get her head in front in a 0-115 handicap hurdle. I am pleased she won even though she would have been a stronger bet for me if competing in a 0-100 off top weight. She has been raised to 105 after that success and can be competitive again now she has proved herself in this higher grade.