The horse racing broadcaster recaps a strong week for his stable of tracked horses and introduces three new additions.
A good week for the tracker, with three runners yielding two wins and a third.
First up was Taxiing who was heavily backed before getting off the mark at Wolves at 11/8. A tricky one, this, as to whether to retain or release as I am mindful of the progress Rohaan made in these colours on the All Weather. The yard of David Evans is going well but it was the rise of just two from the handicapper that has decided the issue, and he will be kept for now.
Into The Park (9/4f) had the run of the race out in front but routed his field and is a horse I really like. He has the option of carrying a penalty in a novice, which would give him a fourth run and more experience before going handicapping. There could be a good prize in him and I very much still want him in the stable.
King’s Threshold ran third at 7/2 but jumped soundly and travelled well for a long way. Again, this was a marginal call but this time it is the 10-week absence from Kempton that makes me happy to keep him as well. The yard had a quiet patch during that period and he may just have needed the run – he sweated up a touch beforehand as well.
My week at the tracks
The weather played a bit of havoc with the intended venues this week, starting with ITV covering four races from Wolverhampton last Friday.
A couple of well-backed horses in Palace Boy and Ellexis looked well ahead of the handicapper in winning their respective races, but it was 66/1 chance WISEACRE who caught the eye enough to be added to the tracker. The horse had changed hands for £18k after winning by 12 lengths at Lingfield last June. Having been raised 12lb for that, it looked as if it may have been job done as he was sent to the sales and this was his first start for Des Donovan.
It looked interesting that Hollie Doyle had taken the ride, and he was very much ridden with an eye to the future. When any horse wins as easily as Wiseacre did at Lingfield it is easy to assume that he beat trees, but that Lingfield race contained four next-time-out winners. The handicapper did not drop him but there was sufficient promise in the run to add him to the stable tracker.
From there it was on to the All-Weather card at Lingfield, rather than jumping at Ascot, but it was a decent card with good prize money on offer. The highlight was the performance of Oh So Grand, who once again displayed a fine turn of foot to win the grandly named Winter Oaks (it is a handicap).
However, stable companion TWIRLING is added to the tracker having got no room up the inner and eased as a result. It is still early days for her and she is reported to be a good work horse at home, so she is worth keeping an eye on. Her grinding style is better suited to the other All-Weather tracks than the sit and sprint that suits Lingfield.
Elsewhere on the card, Amazing was a little unlucky to be caught close to home and a rise of only 2lb will see her still competitive, while multiple course winner Forge Valley Lad came from further back than those involved in the finish and may be close to a win. Earlier on, AL RUFAA and Duc De Morny both had excuses, having to be taken back from their wide gates and never finding the leaders coming back to them. The latter was placed in a Group 2 in France as a juvenile and Tom Closer’s horses are going well, so can be judged better next time. It is AL RUFAA that is added to the tracker, though, as he was also forced wide and his shrewd yard are adept at finding openings for this type of horse.
On Sunday it was back to business as usual with the Lingfield Millions card, which included one of the races lost on Friday. L’Homme Presse vs Protektorat lived up to its billing and it was good to see the former back for Venetia Williams. It will be interesting to see how he comes out of the race. The owner seemed to suggest the Ascot Chase in the middle of February would be next, but it would be asking a lot to run there and at Cheltenham given his injury profile. Protektorat got into a much better rhythm than at Haydock but still does plenty when ridden forward and was always being held. No additions from this card.
An extra meeting at Plumpton on Monday provided a welcome chance to attend one of my favourite tracks. Nothing much out of the ordinary but it looks as if Andy Irvine’s horses are coming to hand after a quiet start to the season.
From a regular haunt to a first visit to Leicester for quite a while, for what turned out to be quite a competitive jumps card. A little out of my patch, so nothing added, though it was a reminder that it is quite a stiff track and several made rapid progress and failed to get home (Jessie Lightfoot, After Many Days and Rajjamataz) so I will be keeping an eye on how they fare next time.
Retained: Taxiing, Into The Park, King’s Threshold
Added: Wiseacre, Twirling, Al Rufaa