Out in the sticks
Jeremy Grayson offers a further selection of potential next-time winners in the summer jumping season
Jeremy Grayson eyes up next-time summer jumps winners
NEWTON ABBOT, AUGUST 10 (GOOD, GOOD TO FIRM IN PLACES) 2m167yds Maiden Hurdle (class 4)
The third winner over hurdles this calendar year for Michael Bell (the fourth would follow on the same card two hours later), TAPER TANTRUM had far too much class to spare on this first introduction to jumps and would have obliged by far further than the eventual length verdict had solitude not lulled him into making an inattentive mistake at the final flight. The gelded son of Azamour, a very close second over 1m2f on Polytrack as recently as eight weeks beforehand, ought not find a sharp 2m-2m1f beyond him, but the modest early fractions and rapid second half of this particular contest played to his Flat-speed strengths in any event rather than testing his assumed stamina for this discipline. A soft-ground nursery success exactly two years previously suggests that a wetter second half of the summer wouldn’t necessarily preclude further gains.
2m2f110yds 0-140 Handicap Hurdle (class 3)
The Triumph Hurdle Trial winner in November 2013 but being seen for only the tenth time since then following some very light campaigning in the meantime, Nicky Henderson surely isn’t continuing to bring back ROYAL IRISH HUSSAR if the now six-year-old isn’t showing him enough at home. While a refusal to drop the bit early on under amateur Hugo Hunt was enough to condemn the son of Galileo to another defeat on this first hurdles outing in almost exactly a year, the 8lb drop down the weights he’d received ahead of it should prove eminently exploitable when assisting his rider more. He can still be regarded as an open book where trips of 2m2f and beyond are concerned, having never yet raced suitably tractably on his few starts over so far, and whilst lit up by the sometime application of cheekpieces as often as not, he could yet prove an irresistibly well-handicapped proposition if any other headgear can prove to have a more mollifying effect.
WORCESTER, AUGUST 11 (GOOD, GOOD TO FIRM IN PLACES) 2m Mares’ Intermediate National Hunt Flat Race (class 6)
Mares’ bumpers don’t always contain conspicuous strength in depth at this time of year, so Peter Bowen might consider LADY ROBYN a shade unfortunate to have happened across a midsummer example containing representatives from the Pipe, King, Greatrex and Skelton operations. A just over two-length third having been made more use of than on her Rules debut (sensibly so, considering her stamina to spare as a four-time Irish Point runner-up) might have been better still without Sean Bowen losing his whip a furlong out, and this Robin Des Champs six-year-old clearly possesses the ability to oblige in most workaday races of this type at this time of year. Wetter ground wouldn’t inconvenience.
2m4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
The hat-trick wasn’t landed, but ABLAZING isn’t one for writing off on the evidence of this third place finish, considering both the Mastercraftsman gelding’s utter disinclination to settle off the back of the ultra-sedate pace and a series of early mistakes (possibly also the result of the slow early exchanges, or the switch to brush hurdles, or both). Johnny Farrelly’s charge, bred to be very classy over 7f but unraced for Aidan O’Brien, has come a long way since failing to land a blow in novice and claiming company last autumn and effectively remains an untried proposition at longer trips than 2m, today’s event serving as no indicator at all of his likely aptitude for 2m4f. Good ground and the continued application of blinkers both appear to be key.
MARKET RASEN, AUGUST 13 (GOOD) 2m3f34yds Novices’ Chase (class 4)
As a four-year-old filly she might have been receiving 15lb from the pair of Nicky Henderson inmates that she split, but this was still a highly taking first attempt over
fences for REJAAH considering the busy spring/summer itinerary which had preceded it. Four times a hurdling winner on good or good to soft ground around sharp 2m-2m3f courses since March, including once here, Nigel Hawke’s daughter of Authorized didn’t find the fences flying at her too quickly and indeed took them with a more pleasing economy than many chasers of twice her age and experience. Age/sex allowances not with standing, she might not have the substance or class to defy some of the better novice chasers as they start to appear in the autumn, but she’d be worth keeping out for one further chance at taking an equivalent contest to this before taking a well-earned winter break.
2m7f191yds 0-100 Handicap Chase (class 5)
Both of CASPIAN PIPER’s previous chase wins had been gained in summer 2015 around galloping 2m5f-2m6f left-hand circuits, but a good head second here under his preferred front-running tac- tics served as a long overdue reminder that neither a trip this far nor a clockwise circuit ought to hold any terrors – the second of his two Pointing successes in 2013 for Hugo Froud had been gained over the full distance around the sharp, right-handed Holnicote. Unlikely to be moved up much, if at all, from his current mark (2lb below his last winning one) following this narrow loss to a rival from a yard just turning the corner, he shouldn’t be too hard to place to advantage in another low-grade event on his preferred good or faster ground before summer’s end. 2m2f140yds 0-110 Handicap Hurdle (class 4) Unraced over this short a trip since her novice days but blessed with the stamina reserves to see out an extended 2m4f around a galloping track on heavy ground, a slowly run event over this already sharp test played right out of the hands of PIXIEPOT. A length second to a rival better suited to the tactical affair which ensued was no shabby effort in the circumstances (not least as she was never going the pace to get into a decent jumping rhythm), and at the same time represented a big step up on the fairly anonymous midfield finish on her seasonal reappearance three weeks previously. Peter Niven’s Alflora mare was being beaten only marginally further than this off 4lb higher last December and is yet to miss the frame in five handicaps when racing off marks lower than 95; for so long as no punitive action following this effort takes her to a discomfiting mark, she has it in her to drop on a truer-run contest of this or lower stature, regardless of ground conditions.
SOUTHWELL, AUGUST 14 (GOOD) 2m4f62yds 0-105 Handicap Chase (class 4)
Patience will possibly be wearing thin with SONNE OF PRESENTING among some of his followers after this third consecutive defeat as a beaten favourite, this time a three quarters of a length
second to a rather more exposed rival, but there are grounds for taking a conciliatory view about all of those performances. Twice unable to see out 3m on soft ground in novice handicaps earlier this summer, Kim Bailey’s six-year-old had the same course,distance and ground at his disposal here as when a slightly for- tunate hurdles winner in June. Southwell’s portable fences are not every horse’s cup of tea, however, and the son of Presenting frequently appeared to be struggling to take a cut at them. Switched to a Market Rasen or Stratford but kept to the same sort of distance and underfoot conditions, compensation shouldn’t be far off in coming.
2m4f62yds Handicap Chase (class 2)
This not long established event is a welcome addition to the likes of the Summer Plate, Lord Mildmay and 32Red Chases among the high-quality 2m4f-2m6f chases to be staged during the summer months, and for entirely hubristic reasons it was very pleasing to see Ballykan,featured in Out in the Sticks last month, oblige in the latest renewal at odds of 7-2! The outcome would have been closer, rather than different, had WADSWICK COURT jumped the last straighter, but it still looked a clear personal best over fences for Peter Bowen’s eight-year-old and got him back on track following his unseating in a rough Perth contest five weeks previously. A fair second at Newton Abbot in June without the benefit of a recent run augurs well should a tilt at the Lord Mildmay over the same C&D be in the offing,but there’s surely hay to be made in 2m2f-2m5f novice chases as well as or instead of that. The Court Cave gelding remains winless on ground quicker than good to soft, but looked perfectly capable here of being able to put that right.
Royal Irish Hussar