Jeremy Grayson with horses that caught his eye
Jeremy Grayson with the horses that caught his eye around the smaller tracks
WORCESTER,9JULY (GOODTOFIRM) 2m Maiden Hurdle (class 5)
On another stiflingly hot summer’s day at the Pitchcroft, the quickening of conditions during the afternoon rendered this the first experience of racing on officially good to firm ground in SHADOW SADNESS’s 27-race career, and whilst Oliver Greenall’s recent acquisition from Christian von der Recke coped up to a point, an outpaced effort up the long run-in suggests this had become marginally too sharp a test for him. His technique on this hurdling debut passed muster apart from at the final flight, however, and connections have something to work with. Down the field in the 2015 German Derby but a Group 3 winner at Frankfurt just before that, the Soldier Hollow gelding is enough of a stayer nowadays to have landed a 14.5f contest just three months ago and is taken to prove most effective as a hurdler upped to 2m4f sooner rather than later. A wetter denouement to the summer would hold no terrors whatsoever either, considering successes in his previous vocation on all ground types from good to heavy.
UTTOXETER, 10 JULY (GOOD, GOOD TO FIRM IN PLACES) 2m7f70yds 0-115 Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
CHATO hadn’t returned to Uttoxeter since obliging in a newcomers’ bumper for Alan King almost two years to the day, and this best form effort since then immediately reaffirmed his affinity for the place. Indeed, a 7l third might have been better still had the Malinas gelding not tried to go with the accelerating winner as far from home as he did, a move which knocked the edge off his finishing effort up the run-in. Progress had been a bit limited over the course of seven further runs for King after that successful debut, but none of them had been over as far as today’s trip or with recourse to headgear (cheekpieces were added here), and David Pipe’s sixyear-old is taken to find just the modicum of improvement required to make success in a similarly routine summer staying handicap a formality. Good to soft ground appears to suit him no less than good.
FFOS LAS,13JULY(GOOD TO FIRM,GOOD IN PLACES) 1m7f182yds 0-110 Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
The suspicion remains that ST JOHN’S still has more to offer as a 2m4f-2m5f hurdler, his flatlining effort close home when second over such a trip at Ludlow in May likelier the result of early fractiousness than of any stamina limitations. An outpaced return to 2m here merely reaffirmed that impression, for all that the eventual 5l third probably rates a very similar form effort, and Evan Williams’ five-year-old son of Aqlaam is taken to step up markedly on either of these performances the next time he is re-raised in distance, assuming he consents to race suitably sparingly. Pan-flat tracks aren’t a prerequisite if his best win and place form in junior bumpers for Rod Millman in 2016-17 is any guide, but good or quicker ground does look a must.
2m4f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
The booking of former point-to-point rider turned 10lb stable conditional Rex Dingle for COUER TANTRE’s first outing since Boxing Day might have read like a tacit admission that Anthony Honeyball’s seven-year-old is beached on a mark he can’t win off, but a decent argument to the contrary was presented in the shape of a solid 3l third – at least the equal of his previous best hurdling form win or lose – around a course possibly more galloping than ideal and at a trip longer than any he’s won over. The notion of the “calendar horse” for trend purposes doesn’t always stand up to closer scrutiny, but it is nonetheless striking in the case of the Fruits Of Love gelding that his three hurdling successes to date (2m1f-2m2.5f) have all been recorded in August, and all at Newton Abbot (where his record stands at 3-4) to boot. Take him to record a repeat win in either of the two class 3 handicaps
he won at the Devon venue last summer, should they be on his itinerary next.
NEWTON ABBOT ,14 JULY( GOOD, GOOD TO FIRM IN PLACES) 3m2f105yds 0-125 Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle (class 3)
With over 30 wins over jumps and on the Flat in total now, Page Fuller has presumably gone beyond the point of recall in terms of returning to point-topoint riding in the future, and victory aboard LORD TOPPER in this pro-am lady riders’ event gave the 22-year-old a perfect start to her professional career (replete with her percentage of the handy £8,000 win pot). For the gelding’s part, a success here by as much as 16l does owe something to the opposition melting away somewhat, but a strong-travelling performance at the head of affairs throughout in the firsttime blinkers also played a part, breaking the resolve of one rival after another. Jamie Snowden’s son of Sir Percy can expect a rise to a career-high mark following this rout, but decent ground and an extreme test (relatively speaking) over hurdles appear to bring out the best in him. Equally forward tactics back over this C&D, or perhaps stepped up to Stratford’s 3m3f trip, may yet see him follow up this best ever effort.
2m2f110yds 0-110 Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
There was always the chance that a competitively handicapped new recruit to the Dan Skelton yard entered up copiously in the following days was going to dot up in this modest event for the grade, and it wouldn’t be surprising were the animal in question, Ange Des Malberaux, well on the way to running up a sequence by the time you’re reading this. FRIARY GOLD’s 12l second was more or less as good as could have been hoped for in the circumstances, notwithstanding an early disinclination to settle and a few sticky leaps, and Katy Price’s Mountain High gelding remains at an early enough stage in his handicap hurdling career for there still to be hope of better. A non-stayer/non- finisher in three Irish points for Declan Queally in 2016-17 and similarly unable to last out when tried over 2m5f over hurdles last autumn, the temptation to step the six-year-old back up in trip following this performance is probably best resisted for now. Rather, and assuming he won’t run into a similar sort of handicap blot every time, something of today’s nature can be dropped on before long, most likely on a surface as sound as today’s.
2m75yds 0-105 Handicap Chase (class 4)
The old dictum has it that nobody sets out to breed a 2m chaser on purpose, and as a son of Galileo out of a dam who won over this far on the Flat it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that NEW MILLENNIUM’s original intended purpose might have been that of a stayer of extreme distances on the level, as opposed to a sprint chaser. The fences have indeed tended to get a bit in the way on each of this summer’s three chase starts, including here, but a near2l second to yet another new Dan
Skelton acquisition represents his most affirmative statement to date in his newest vocation, and Philip Hobbs ought to see his perseverance with this enthusiastic five-year-old rewarded in a similar contest under identical tactics. Headgear hasn’t been tried since the gelding’s initial Flat days with Aidan O’Brien, when the hood provoked a most adverse reaction, but some form of aid may be worth considering again with this now older and more tractable animal in the hope of inspiring him to greater fluency. A sound surface suits him perfectly adequately.
STRATFORD, 15 JULY (GOOD, GOOD TO FIRM IN PLACES) 2m70yds Juvenile Hurdle (class 4)
The occasional exceptions such as Countrywide Flame notwithstanding, this isn’t quite the time of year to be expecting to find potential high-quality juvenile hurdlers in action, and the fact Alan King was sending out PARMENTER here for an initial attempt in this sphere over two months earlier in the season than he had the likes of Katchit and Franchoek may suggest his daughter of Dick Turpin doesn’t number among his livelier prospects this term. A 4l second to one with previous experience from the red-hot Richard Newland operation lays down a solid marker, however, all the more so considering Stratford’s sharp 2m wouldn’t necessarily be the best suit for a filly of substance who stayed at least 1m4f on the level.
Equally effective on sound or soft surfaces if her peak Flat form is any guide, the niece of one-time Adonis Hurdle winner Giocomo shouldn’t prove hard for King to win a small juvenile with in the short term, perhaps either made more use of than here or switched to a more testing track.
WORCESTER ,17 JULY( GOOD) 2m7f 0-140 Handicap Hurdle (class 3)
MR McGUINESS’s 38l defeat here is easy to put a line straight through, considering the hampering the Kalanisi gelding suffered four flights from home which relieved Charlie Poste of his irons. Any drop down the weights for this misadventure will be welcome as Rosemary Gasson’s eight-year-old has returned this summer close to a careerhigh official rating; but even if none is immediately forthcoming, previous precedent suggests he’s likeliest to defy his current sort of mark around a flat, left-handed course having won exclusively around Southwell and Worcester.
What would be more interesting still, however, is a switch to handicap chasing around one of his favourite tracks next time, as the Ludlow beginners’ chase of his sole outing over fences to date last autumn was a poor fit both in terms of track orientation and race type. Gasson’s strike-rate of 16% over fences these past five seasons is a decent enough return and four times better than her hurdling equivalent, and as all bar one of her 15 successes in that period has been sent off longer than 2-1 – and one third of them at double digit odds – a next-time chasing success for Mr McGuiness might just reward backers at a pretty tasty price. A drop back to 2m4f or thereabouts wouldn’t inconvenience.
Couer Tantre (second left)