Jeremy Grayson with horses that caught his eye

Jeremy Grayson with the horses that caught his eye around the smaller tracks

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

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)

Lord Top­per

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