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Juvenile Hurdlers 2021/22

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    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Correction for the Prix Finot guide…

    Just noticed that while Aimant was with Jean Baudron a few months ago, he is now under the care of David Cottin; which means Cottin has two runners rather than the one.

    Apologies for any inconvenience caused!

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Tradition. In and of itself an innocuous work which carries very little meaning without context. However, in the age of tribal polemicism, it is a word which often evokes strong reactions. For some, it is a ghastly impediment to the progress required to save society. For others, it is a value structure to be protected at all costs lest society collapse. As with most subjects of this nature, the truth lies somewhere in between and sometimes, a tradition is a matter of whimsy, largely inconsequential to the fate of humanity. One such tradition is juvenile hurdlers racing at Plumpton in September. Tomorrow’s contest is one which has been held uninterrupted since 1997; an unbroken streak which, due either to abandonments or the racing programme, must stand as one of the longest in the sphere. Furthermore, a glance at the 1965/66 Sporting Chronicle I have to hand shows that Henry Price’s Gliko won Plumpton’s curtain raiser for the season and going back to the 30th of September 1888, Calpurnin and Achilles were taking on older rivals at the same venue.

    Not all tradition needs to be rich and while Plumpton been graced by juveniles of the calibre of Pentland Hills and Balder Succes in the past decade, tomorrow’s contest is generally less auspicious. The winner’s average seasonal RPR of 108.56 is considerably lower than standard, with subsequent Summit Hurdle runner-up City Dreamer being the only notable graduate in recent times. Notwithstanding, tomorrow’s edition looks like a decent renewal as it features two previous winners with reasonable form along with a three newcomers whose flat ratings more than sufficient to be competitive in a race of this nature.

    A sharp, undulating, left-handed circuit, Plumpton’s winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.50 mean, are fairly standard across courses; although they do rise slightly for this particular contest which is generally run on top of the ground. Its clear round rate of 95.09% is the eighth lowest in Britain but while this can catch out newcomers more so than at other venues, such horses actually have a slightly better strike rate (11.63%) than their more experienced counterparts (9.33%) in this particular contest. As such, a well schooled debutant would not be ruled out. Odds-on favourites have a strike rate of 65.63% which is five points above standard, and the winning starting prices are in line with national averages. The going was last reported as Good to Firm, Good in places with watering being undertaken. There is rain scheduled for Sunday afternoon, although it is set to arrive close to post time.

    Fred Bear bg Sheena West f4-0-0 (53) 52 j4-1-2 (107) 104 106
    Kodi Bear (Barathea){16-c}(0.68) 2/1 Silk Affair 1st Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (G3,125), Cheltenham 2009
    While no better than modest on the flat, there is enough in Fred Bear’s profile to suggest he could do better over hurdles. As well as being out of a full-sister to Fred Winter winner Silk Affair, his trainer Sheena West boasts an outstanding improvement rate of 72.97%. Following a promising debut at Newton Abbot, he has improved with each outing and finally earned his deserved success at the fourth time of asking last time at Stratford. Assuming his customary front running role, he went straight into a clear lead with only a couple of rivals attempting to pursue. Going out onto the second circuit, he increased his lead to the best part of a dozen lengths and while his rivals closed when he took a breather over the hill, he still had a three length cushion turning for home which he would maintain to the line. Without ever being bad, the consistency of his hurdling had fluctuated between runs going into this race. However, he jumped with neatness and aplomb this time around and was still able to tidily find his feet when a little late at the sixth. Either feeling the effects of his exertions, or losing a bit of concentration, he was low and untidy at the penultimate flight, and rather missed the last where he stumbled on landing. Nevertheless, he recovered quickly on each occasion and never looked in danger of getting caught before the line. This performance marked a new career best for Fred Bear and is one which justifies his previously stiff looking handicap mark. In essence, he ran the perfect race for a horse of his ability and it can not be said with confidence that there is much more scope remaining for further improvement. In the right contest, he can defy a penalty and can also be competitive in handicaps off his mark of 107. While there are a couple of strong looking opponents here, and the yard has only had four runners in as many weeks since the aforementioned, Sheena West has a record of three wins and two placings in this particular contest and her willing charge should be no pushover here.

    Aggagio bg Gary Moore f7-2-2 (76) 79 j1-0-0 (-) 52 47
    Born To Sea (Verglas){16-a}(3.00) 3/1 Latest Dream 7th 2m½f Maiden Hurdle, Taunton 2009
    Starting his career in France, Aggagio finished there with a valeur of 36.5 and an emphatic success in a Morlaix claimer. He was under the care of Jean-Claude Rouget whose exports have a winner to runner rate of 37.84% in the division, although the improvement rate from their flat ratings stands at just 15.15%. After being claimed for €15,007, he joined Sophie Leech for whom he ran with credit in handicaps at Haydock and Chepstow. Sire Born To Sea has a solid record in the sphere, but there are no decent jumpers to be found on the damline until Kazlian at 5/3. With his trainer on the cold list and without a winning debutant from fifteen, Aggagio was a drifter prior to his hurdling debut at Stratford; despite having the strongest flat form in the contest. He raced in touch for much of the race, but lacked confidence at most jumps and lost his position along the back before eventually finishing tailed off. There was not much encouragement to be drawn from that outing, but he would resume winning ways six days later in a relatively valuable three-runner, nine furlong seller at Goodwood. Starting as second favourite behind Epic Pass (who reopposes here), he was travelling best when the pace picked up and ran out a comfortable four length winner under Oisin Murphy. Bought afterwards for £23,000, he has subsequently joined a Gary Moore yard with a fine record in the division. His winner to runner rate of 33.82% is the strongest of the trainers represented here and his record in this contest reads as four wins and two places from thirteen runners. Aggagio will not be the first juvenile to join Gary Moore having made its hurdling debut for another British or Irish trainer, as he follows the path taken by Iniesta (John Halley) in 2014/15, and Fume (James Bethell) in 2019/20. However, neither showed improvement for the switch in yards and while Aggagio’s flat form is still strong in the context of his race, his dismal performance at Stratford is difficult to ignore.

    Babajan bg Amy Murphy f13-2-3 (68) 76
    Acclamation (First Defence){1-l}(3.57) 2/1 Safari Journey 1st 2m1f Handicap Chase (L,130), Ascot 2010
    Amy Murphy enjoyed her most successful season in the division last term and while Sabre Jet disappointed at Stratford, she will be hoping that Babajan can make a better showing. Formerly with Richard Hannon prior to a 12,000 guineas sale at Tattersalls in July, Babajan won two of his thirteen starts on the flat with both wins coming within a fortnight of each other in January. After scoring in a five-runner Kempton handicap off 69, he followed up in a four-runner contest at Newcastle off three pounds higher. Both of these wins came over a mile and it was over this trip that he maintained his form on his next three outings. Possibly showing the effects of a busy campaign, he was below his best at Haydock in April, but an eight week break did not help his cause as he was poor again at Newmarket on his return. Babajan’s pedigree is not without promise as Acclamation has a fair winner to runner rate of 16.67% and the dam is a half-sister to the useful if inconsistent chaser Safari Journey. Babajan has the potential to make a hurdler, although the disappointment of his latest outings is exacerbated by his propensity to race freely despite having not raced beyond a mile. With a battle for the lead likely in this contest, his aversion to settling could prove costly.

    Business Flight bg Gary Brown f9-0-1 (48) 66 j1-0-0 (-) 42 50
    Fed Biz (Birdstone){9-f}(2.08) 4/3 Up Jumps A Monster 1st Ky Alta Handicap, Northlands Park 2012 (not a jumper)
    Starting his career with Robert Cowell, whose former inmates have won none of their eleven races in the sphere, Business Flight put up his best performance when third off 62 in a seven furlong handicap at Newcastle in March. Since then, he finished well beaten at Kempton and Chelmsford with his form taking a nosedive after changing hands for 9,000 guineas at Tattersalls. The American bred Business Flight has nothing in his pedigree to suggest he might take to jumping and although he has a 4/3 relative called Up Jumps A Monster, that horse never actually raced over hurdles. Sent off at 200/1 for his debut at Worcester, he raced in the rear throughout. He did not jump badly apart from being steady at the fourth and big at the fifth, and most of his impediments came from outside interference. Notwithstanding, he was off the bridle and getting detached before reaching the last in the back and eventually finished tailed off.

    Epic Pass bc Brian Barr f10-1-4 (72) 81
    Awtaad (Clodovil){5-g}(1.00) 3/1 Higgy’s Boy 1st Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (129), Ascot 2009
    Mark Johnston has supplied more juvenile hurdlers than any other, with the count at 202 individuals since 2004/05. The winner to runner rate of his former inmates is a respectable 23.27%, although this drops three points for those sold in public. Furthermore, just a third of the 120 such horses to have raced more than once as juveniles improved for the switch in codes. Nevertheless, ten of the forty-two who cost less than £9,000 at auction were able to win during their initial campaigns over jumps and the latest such candidate is Epic Pass who fetched 8,500 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. Gaining his sole flat success at the second time of asking in a Wolverhampton novice stakes last December, Epic Pass failed to add to his tally in eight subsequent starts. Though he failed to reach the frame on each-way terms, he generally ran consistently, including since his switch to Brian Barr, and his mark of 72 possibly underestimates his overall ability. Epic Pass has maintained his form over twelve furlongs, although it may well be worth noting that these contests were slowly run affairs; including his latest second in Aggagio’s Goodwood seller three weeks ago. Sire Awtaad is having his first crop of juveniles and while he won the Irish Guineas and sons of Cape Cross do produce winning juveniles, he is not the tallest at 16.0hh and there is not much stamina on his pedigree. Dam Kanes Pass was a useful performer on the flat at up to a mile, and winning juvenile Higgy’s Boy appears at 3/1 on the damline. While there are echoes of jumps ability on the distaff side (4/2 Loving You, 4/5 Getaway Trump, 5/4 Bacchanal), the immediate pedigree does not guarantee stamina. Brian Barr is without a winning juvenile from four and his strike rate is stronger with chasers than hurdlers. Epic Pass does not have the worst form or profile, but there are enough doubts to limit enthusiasm in this company.

    Impulsive One bg Nicky Henderson f8-1-5 (80) 85
    Union Rags (Lonhro){4-m}(1.77) 2/2 El Picador 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Musselburgh 2019
    Though not yet featured in the Triumph lists, given that Impulsive One is owned by Simon Munir and has joined Nicky Henderson, his inclusion might not be too far away. Previously trained by William Haggas, whose former inmates have a healthy 31.82% winner to runner rate in the division, Impulsive One won his penultimate outing as a two year old when landing a Bath nursery off 73 last September. Though yet to taste success this term, he placed third in handicaps at Ripon and Redcar over eight and ten furlongs respectively before finishing second of four back at Ripon over twelve furlongs on his latest outing. Impulsive One travels well in his races, and seemingly has little issue with middle distances. There does appear to be a marked preference for firm ground and his pedigree offers little contradiction in this regard. American bred, he is from a Union Rags x Lonhro cross which, while not alarming where stamina is concerned, does not forebode much success over hurdles. Some horses on the distaff side have performed on soft, and the moderate winning juvenile El Picador appears at 2/2 on the damline. Ground concerns and the lack of jumping credentials from the sirelines are obviously detrimental to the overall profile insofar as the season’s bigger prizes are concerned. Nevertheless, he is not without stamina nor quality so while the sights are set relatively low here, Impulsive One should be very competitive in this contest; particularly with the yard’s juvenile representatives at Plumpton showing a record of five wins and two placings from twelve starts. Furthermore, juvenile hurdle newcomers from Seven Barrows have an exceptional first time strike rate of 43.55% and equally impressive clear round rate of 98.39%

    Prey For Glory bg Denis Quinn f9-0-5 (63) 70 j1-0-0 (-) 61 57
    Free Eagle (Shirocco){14-c}(0.64) 2/2 Mourad 2nd Champion 4YO Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2009
    The best bred runner in this contest, Prey For Glory’s pedigree would befit any serious juvenile hurdler. Sire Free Eagle had his first crop last season which boasted three winners, including the useful Coltor. Prey For Glory’s cousin was the highly talented Mourad who, along with landing four graded contests, also did well as a juvenile; finishing third in the Triumph, second at the Punchestown Festival, and fourth in the Prix Alain du Breil. Other useful juveniles on the damline include Darter (3/1) and Maybewave (2/3). Prey For Glory’s flat form is also respectable in this company as while he failed to win in nine starts for James Ferguson, he did finish third on five occasions including successive handicaps at Wolverhampton, Yarmouth and Windsor during the spring. While his BHA rating had dropped half a stone to 63, his form was not disgraceful, although there are some doubts surrounding his attitude. Largely unfancied on his hurdles debut at Stratford four weeks ago, he was held up in the rear and still a long way behind approaching the hill. He made some late headway to plug on for a distant fourth where he had reopposing rivals Aggagio and Baby Sham in behind. His jumping lacked fluency as he was slightly skewed at the first, badly skewed at the second and after getting baulked at the fifth, was early and untidy at the next before clipping the last. The bare form is worth little in and of itself, but the performance was not devoid of promise. Nevertheless, Prey For Glory will want plenty of rain to get into the ground before he might do his pedigree more justice.

    Sir Taweel bg Neil King f8-1-0 (60) 64 j2-0-0 (-) 56 53
    Sir Prancealot (Duke Of Marmalade){8-f}(0.85) 3/1 Big Occasion 2nd Scottish Grand National (132), Ayr 2013
    The first representative of the season for Neil King, Sir Taweel won a mile handicap on the flat off 56 for Mohamed Moubarak in April. While he failed to progress from there, his trainer and pedigree suggested he might find his level in this sphere. The yard has a solid winner to runner rate of 31.91% with juvenile hurdlers and has won three from twelve at this venue. Sir Prancealot has had just the one winner from ten thus far, but the damline includes good jumpers such as Big Occasion (3/1), Forgotten Voice (3/1) and Aigle Royal (4/2). He did not make the most compelling of hurdling debuts at Stratford behind Fred Bear, but was backed during the day from 20/1 to 9/1 to do better at Fontwell a fortnight ago. Ridden to dispute the lead with The Yellow Mini, he was slightly cautious over the first two but clean over the next couple before going through the top of the fifth. He got away from the sixth well enough despite skewing, but after trailing his hind legs through the last in the back, he faded rapidly and his last jumps in the straight were those of a tired horse. Having never raced beyond a mile on the flat, his stamina over hurdles is becoming questionable and he may need a fair amount of time before he develops into something that can be competitive in the sphere. Furthermore, while the yard’s juveniles improve with experience, as well as having a 21.43% strike rate at Plumpton, Neil King has not had a runner since Sir Taweel’s latest disappointment and was going through a cold spell at that time.

    Tara Iti chg Gary Moore f6-1-0 (62) 66 j2-0-0 (-) 58 53
    Sixties Icon (Sir Percy){9-c}(0.78) 3/1 Prince Of India 1st 2m½f Maiden Hurdle, Taunton 1998
    Despite fetching just 17,500 guineas at the Tattersalls online sale back in May, Tara Iti had a profile which arguably exceeded the price tag. His sire, Sixties Icon, has a solid winners to runners rate of 19.05%, with 55.56% of his juveniles improving for the switch in codes, and his progeny has a healthy strike rate of 16.44% between June and December. He is also a stablemate of the aforementioned Aggagio whose trainer’s compelling record is touched upon in the same profile. A winner of one from six for Ed Dunlop on the flat, Tara Iti’s best form this year was getting within three lengths of the winner when last of six in a Brighton handicap on his penultimate outing. His two hurdles performances have been lamentable at best; characterised by agitation and poor jumping. Despite being well backed at Fontwell last time, he was detached from a long way out and while he passed a beaten rival on the run-in, was still tailed off in the end. Tara Iti is proving to be disappointing and unless the first time application of a hood (statistically, no real positive impact on stable’s runners) reaps rewards, it is difficult to be optimistic about his prospects for the time being. More positive tactics could be mitigated by the likely strong pace, although this itself could help him settle better.

    The Yellow Mini bf Michael Wigham f14-0-1 (45) 53 j1-1-0 (-) 100 100[/B]
    Cannock Chase (Primo Valentino){22-d}(1.00) 2/2 Arakhan 1st 2m4f Novices’ Hurdle, Aintree 2019
    Without a win to her name in fourteen starts on the flat, The Yellow Mini raced under the care of Polly Gundry until late July. Her best outing in that sphere came at the end of June when finishing three quarters of a length second in a Bath handicap off 45, though no effort either side matched that performance. Making her hurdling debut at Fontwell a fortnight ago, she was the first runner over hurdles for sire Cannock Chase, a stallion with feasible credentials given his sireline, DI and height. She is also a cousin of a winning novice hurdler and while trainer Michael Wigham had not had a runner in the sphere since November 2016, he had previously sent out two to win first time. Not completely unfancied at 16/1, she was ridden with confidence, disputing the lead from the outset. With the front two racing alongside each other for most of the contest, it was only when her rival, Sir Taweel, began to fade leaving the back that she moved into a clear advantage. French import Ramure managed to get within a length after jumping quicker at two out, but The Yellow Mini kept on doggedly to keep her rival at bay. She also ran with more purpose on the run-in to cross the line with just over three lengths in hand. While she clearly relished this new discipline, her hurdling was not without its blemishes. Distracted by her rival when making minor errors over the first two, she was slightly big over the third and sixth, steady when clipping the next, outjumped at two out and went right at the last. Notwithstanding, these errors were not especially to her detriment and it is an area where she can improve with experience. Though unexposed in this discipline with a performance given credence by a respectable time, The Yellow Mini was much the beneficiary of a fine ride from Gavin Sheehan along with a lack of fitness and experience from her sole serious adversary. Seeing as she was the lowest rated winning debutant in a juvenile hurdle in over five years, it remains to be seen if she can progress further. Nevertheless, the bare form just about sets the standard at the weights, the yard’s sole runner in the interim won on the flat, and the services of Gavin Sheehan are retained.

    As an aside, The Yellow Mini was actually offered on where she was described as a “decent prospect for juvenile hurdling”. Incidentally, her asking bid of £4,500 was not matched. This is by no means a plug for a company with which I have no ties (nor does it even following me on twitter!), rather an observation of the changing landscape of horse trading. Indeed, a couple of prospects on the season’s list have been sourced through another trading website. It is becoming apparent that the monopoly of the traditional auction houses is getting weaker. With this in mind, could the racing post be served by adding a section relaying transfer news from these sites to go along with its extensive coverage of the more established public sales?

    Baby Sham bf Seamus Mullins f11-1-5 (62) 66 j2-0-0 (-) 70 66
    Sir Percy (Shamardal){4-o}(1.00) 3/2 Shubaat 1st 3m Handicap Hurdle (130), Southwell 2014
    A winner of a Chelmsford handicap off 56 on her penultimate flat outing for Stuart Williams, Baby Sham received some support at longer odds before her jumps bow at Newton Abbot back in July. Being a daughter of Sir Percy and a distant relative of winners Shubaat (3/1), Jefferson Davis (3/1) and Well Chief (5/4), her prospects were not unfeasible. She was not disgraced first time as her jumping during the middle stages was reasonable and she was still close rounding the home turn before fading. She was next seen a month later at Stratford and apart from a few novicey jumps at the second, third and two out, her hurdling was not too bad. However, she never reached midfield and was struggling along the back prior to pulling up before the last. A low handicap mark could be a saving grace for Baby Sham, but her bare form and the way she has been finishing her races are a concern as stamina ought not to be an issue on breeding. As such, she is left with too many questions to answer in the context of this race.

    Dark Motive bf Jamie Snowden f6-0-1 (58) 66 j2-0-0 (-) 74 84
    Motivator (Zamindar){16-c}(1.07) 3/1 Prospect Wells 1st National Spirit Hurdle (G2), Fontwell 2013
    Following a six race flat career without a win, Dark Motive made the switch to a jumps yard without changing ownership, despite a falling handicap mark. Previously with Ralph Beckett, former residents of Kimpton Down Stables have a respectable winners to runners rate of 28%, although neither of the pair who ended up with Jamie Snowden managed to win as juveniles. A daughter of Motivator, whose juveniles count twelve winners from thirty-six, her third dam produced three useful sorts in Prospect Wells, Brooklyn’s Gold and Old Way. However, the trainer’s record in the sphere is less compelling as only three of his twenty juveniles have been winners, with none of them scoring prior to January. Her debut effort at Stratford was rather tepid, but she was subject to support prior to running at Worcester on the first of the month. Racing more prominently than she had first time, there were less errors during her second round of hurdling although she was still very untidy at the first and got in close when ridden into the fourth before jumping left at two out. Though still travelling well rounding the bend, she found herself outpaced at the top of the home straight and was labouring from thereon. It was reported that she had lost her right-fore shoe, although it is difficult to guess how badly this affected her performance. Dark Motive ran to a better level of form than first time, but was still some way off her flat best and she may need a fair handicap mark if she is to be competitive over hurdles.

    Fred Bear – ­Modest on the flat but has the pedigree and trainer to do better over hurdles. Fulfilled said notion with progressively improved performances, culminating with a win at Stratford last time. Tougher task under penalty but form is up to standard and willing attitude an asset.

    Aggagio – Relatively strong flat form in France for Jean-Claude Rouget before joining Sophie Leech. Flat form maintained but was poor on hurdling debut. Subsequently won Goodwood seller and has joined strong yard. However, his poor Stratford performance is difficult to ignore.

    Babajan – Dual winner on flat for Richard Hannon but disappointing on last two outings in that sphere. Joins a yard which had a good season last year but lack of form beyond a mile and propensity to race keenly are negatives in this contest.

    Business Flight – Flat form modest at best prior to regressing. 200/1 on hurdling debut where, though not jumping terribly, was beaten a long way from home.

    Epic Pass – Winner on flat for Mark Johnson and inexpensive purchases from said yard hold their own in the division. Consistent at up to twelve furlongs although these were slowly run affairs and stamina for hurdling is not guaranteed.

    Impulsive One – Flat winner for William Haggas, himself a good source of juvenile hurdlers. Strongest flat form in the contest and while pedigree not conducive to winter game, should get the trip. Has joined Nicky Henderson whose record in the division is outstanding; including at Plumpton and with newcomers both in terms of performance and schooling.

    Prey For Glory – Respectable form for James Ferguson but failed to win in that sphere and has questionable attitude. Exceptional pedigree for his new vocation and Stratford debut not without its positives despite being well beaten. Will likely prefer softer ground.

    Sir Taweel – Won on the flat for Mohamed Moubarak and trainer and pedigree indicate he could make a jumper. However, his two hurdle outings to date have been poor, his stamina looks suspect and the yard is on the cold list.

    Tara Iti – No better than fair on flat but did win for Ed Dunlop and has solid pedigree and trainer. Utterly dismal on both hurdles starts to date, including when supported at Fontwell last time. Hood applied and stronger pace could help, but needs to leave previous hurdles form well behind.

    The Yellow Mini – Poor on flat but at Fontwell, became lowest rated juvenile to win on her debut since June 2015. Hurdling not without blemishes and race rather fell apart for her but just about sets standard at weights and Gavin Sheehan rides again.

    Baby Sham – Chelmsford winner for Stuart Williams and interesting pedigree for game. Flashes of promise on hurdles debut but poorer last time. Should stay but poor finishing is a concern.

    Dark Motive – Maiden on flat for Ralph Beckett and switched to hurdles despite falling mark. Feasibly bred for game but has failed to get close to flat form at Stratford or Worcester. Slight improvement between outings but needs to progress much quicker.

    Strong prospects
    1. Impulsive One
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Fred Bear
    3. The Yellow Mini
    Feasible prospects
    4. Prey For Glory
    5. Aggagio
    6. Epic Pass
    Moderate prospects
    7. Tara Iti
    8. Dark Motive
    9. Babajan
    Negligible prospects
    10. Sir Taweel
    11. Baby Sham
    12. Business Flight

    • Total Posts 1799

    Sensational quality and detail as always.

    I like The Yellow Mini in this one – I think the Fontwell form could be alright for the time of year.

    • Total Posts 1799

    BH gets it right yet again.

    Impressive winning hurdling debut IMO.

    sporting sam
    • Total Posts 6435

    Great stuff
    I selected Impulsive one for my soul selection thread today on a weekend when most of my other picks went off a cliff.
    Thank you.

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Cheers Ian

    Don’t want to tempt fate by getting cocky so will just say that I was lucky with that preview… Not that it matters seeing as I am not a tipster :D

    Thanks Sam

    While I am not a tipster, I hope my content has helped keep you from the poorhouse for the time being. Lord knows this place isn’t big enough for two form experts!

    The review for the Listowel race took longer than I hoped but will still see if I can’t get the Plumpton review done today…

    Preview review
    No preview was written due to the partial boycott of HRI for their handling of the Stephen Mahon case. Had one been written, Too Bright might have had the strongest prospects but he was unexpectedly let down by his jumping. Feigh was another disappointment but the form of her debut win was not up to much and as that was the extent of her racecourse experience, an assessment of her consistency could not have been made. Beyond this pair, the remainder of the experienced runners finished in line with their previous ratings.

    Race review
    The strongest race held in Ireland thus far, it is often a contest where participants go on to have an impact on the season’s better races. Guitar Pete, who won this in 2013, and the 2019 runner-up A Wave Of The Sea would each win at the highest level while Chief Justice, Stocktons Wing and Rashaan are among several who scored in pattern company. The field assembled for this year’s renewal was the most substantial available with four promising unbeaten sorts facing the starter. However, while the race ended up going to one who reversed debut placings, the first four places will filled by experienced runners with the fifth going to highest rated flat recruit in the contest. The pace was a fairly even one although the winning time was not especially strong when compared to other races on the card. Several of these failed to settle and the overall standard of jumping was not up to a race of its level. While the front seven put a distance between themselves and the outsiders, they were covered by a half-dozen lengths jumping the last. Despite this being the deepest field assembled in the division thus far, a couple did disappoint and the race’s metrics are patchy. A few of these may go onto better things, but the form may not be particularly strong or reliable as it stands.

    Bell Ex One had already faced the starter on sixteen occasions prior to his hurdling debut, but this dual winner has been running consistently since the spring and ran to a new career when landing a fourteen furlong handicap at Galway on his final flat outing. Ray Cody had yet to have a winning juvenile from four and sire Excelebration had a lamentable record, but his trainer earmarked a hurdling career for Bell Ex One after his Galway win and his debut at Down Royal when staying on behind Realist was very credible. He was well backed first time over hurdles and the support was maintained for his second outing, starting at 4/1 having been 7/1 in the morning. Ridden more positively here, he was initially tucked in behind the leaders but was racing alongside the leader for much of the second circuit. Moving into a narrow advantage turning into the straight, Bell Ex One sealed the race with an impressive turn of foot on the approach to the last and he ran out a decisive three length winner. His hurdling had improved from his debut outing and in contrast to Down Royal, his early jumping was much more fluent. He did begin to make mistakes as the tempo increased as he was steady and slightly untidy at three out, got in close when wandering into the penultimate flight and was steady again at the last where he clipped his way through the top of the flight. Nevertheless, the overall assessment of his hurdling would be a positive one with scope for improvement in his hurdling at speed. While a couple of his rivals underperformed and the field was in a bunch in the straight, this matches the best of Bell Ex One’s flat form. Though he might not emerge as the best from this field by the end of the season, Bell Ex One is a versatile and consistent type with a good attitude so he should be able to hold his own in good company. 115

    Realist was formerly trained by Michael Bell, whose former inmates have a healthy winner to runner rate of 30.77%. He won one of his eight starts on the flat, a Chelmsford handicap off 65 back in April, and his official rating of 74 was the third highest brought into the race. Shaping like a stayer on the flat, this nephew of Oaks runner-up Flight Of Fancy, herself the dam of two winning hurdlers, gave sire Camelot his first winner of the season when scoring very comfortably at Down Royal three weeks prior. Having his first run for Gordon Elliott, he drifted from 2/1 during the day, he was clipped into 10/3 at the off having opened at 9/2 in the ring. Similar to reopposing rival Bell Ex One, Realist was ridden more prominently than at Down Royal and along with being keen in the early stages, was tracking the front runners throughout. He moved smoothly into the vanguard turning in but was quickly outpaced on the run to the last where he missed his stride and stumbled on landing. This did not cost him a great deal of momentum and though the winner was not for catching in any case, Realist did put four lengths between himself and the remainder of the field. Apart from being very steady and untidy at the first, getting close to the fourth and his error at the last, Realist posted a decent round of jumping. He emerges best at these weights and his performance marks a new career high. There will likely be stronger juveniles moving into Cullentra House in due course, but Realist is another who can be competitive in decent events. 118

    Calvados failed to reach the frame in six outings on the flat, prior to her hurdles debut at Ballinrobe, but her latest efforts in that sphere have been her strongest to date. She was well backed ahead of her jumps bow and justified the support with a cosy success. Calvados maintained her form with a spin on the flat at Navan towards the end of August and despite facing representatives from more famous yards, was not unfancied in the market as she started at 13/2 having opened at 8/1. Simon Torrens, who has ridden out his claim since guiding Calvados to victory, placed Calvados in a prominent position. However, Calvados did not do herself many favours as she was given to wandering and made numerous errors that had not been present on her debut. She wandered when slightly big at the second, got in tight when clipping the third, missed the fifth, was close at the sixth and seventh before being slightly big at the last. Though outpaced by the front two, she kept on well enough to finish a clear third and while she could have finished closer with a better round, just about ran up to her Ballinrobe form here. Calvados falls short of the top level, but she could be capable of defying her penalty, particularly with fillies’ races being an option. 109

    Too Bright took ten attempts to get off the mark on the flat, but showed considerable improvement when running away with a Roscommon handicap off 58 in first time tongue strap. A hurdling career was mooted post race and after being backed in from 5/1 to 3/1 at Ballinrobe nine days earlier, Too Bright made a fine start to his new vocation. Overcoming early errors, he ran out an emphatic winner from a decent looking field; marking himself as a potentially serious recruit to the game. However, having been somewhat weak in the ring, drifting from 9/4 to 11/4, he failed to maintain his strong impression here. Held up in touch, Too Bright made just two good jumps, at five and six, and was steady, careless and/or untidy at the other six flights. He began to get niggled along towards the end of the back and found himself outpaced on the home turn. Though he kept on up the straight, a poor jump at the last cost him third and he was beaten nine lengths in the end. His reputation has inevitably taken a knock, but there are viable reasons to maintain faith in the horse. While his needing to jump better is an obvious criticism, it is worth noting that this was his third outing in as many weeks. Furthermore, with this race being two furlongs shorter and ran on better ground at a steadier tempo than at Ballinrobe, it is probable that Too Bright did not have ideal conditions here. 112

    Inca Prince made a winning debut for Henry de Bromhead last September at Dundalk and left the yard with a rating of 86 after finishing sixth in a listed race there in early March. However, his three outings for new trainer Cormac Farrell (no winning juvenile from five going into this race) resulted in him standing on himself in the stalls, refusing to race and finishing detached. Though he was running beyond a mile for the first time and was sent off a 125/1 outsider, there was cause for optimism in the pedigree. Fast Company has a strong winner to runner rate of 34.78% with juveniles going into the race while the useful Definate Spectacle appears at 3/1 on the damline. Held up in the rear, Inca Prince took a keen hold during the early stages and was not especially fluent over the second or third. Nevertheless, he jumped and settled better going onto the second circuit and made steady headway before turning for home in the leading pack. He made mistakes over the last two which cost him momentum, but was able to win the battle for fifth on the run-in. Inca Prince completely outran his odds and though he is still some way off his earlier flat form, this was a definite step in the right direction and he ought to be competitive in ordinary company going forward. 105

    Virtual Hug was twice placed on the flat, although he never ran beyond a mile in that sphere and had a tendency to pull in his races. Withdrawn from his intended hurdling debut at Ballinrobe due to the ground being on the soft side of good, he ran a creditable race from the front when sixth on his hurdling debut at Down Royal. A quietly fancied outsider here, trimmed to 33/1 from an opening 50/1, he was ridden with more restraint than on his debut as he was held up in mid division. His hurdling had been sound but for minor faults at Down Royal and it was much the same here with his only errors being slightly skewed at the first, reaching at the fourth, being steady at the sixth and getting tight at two out. Turning for home, he was bringing in the remaining group but was unable to make any further progress and would only pass the fading Feigh in the straight. While this performance was an improvement from his debut, the conditions were probably ideal here and although a modest contest is within his scope, this is probably the extent of Virtual Hug’s ability. 104

    Feigh passed through the ring as a foal without selling, attracting a bid of only €1,800. By Well Chosen and related to Belmount (2/1), Afistfullofdollars (3/2) and Black Humour (4/1), she is bred more to be a staying chaser than a juvenile hurdler. Going into her debut at Killarney, unraced debutants had a strike rate of just 2.24% in all juvenile hurdles since 2004/05 and were she with any other trainer, she would have started as an outsider. However, her trainer being Willie Mullins she was well supported that day and ran out a very easy winner despite almost being carried out with a circuit to go. The form in behind does not amount to much, but while she was slightly uneasy in the market, she was still sent off the 9/4 favourite here. Disputing the lead in the early stages before getting a clear advantage turning away from the stands, Feigh was joined by the winner along the back. Though she raced keenly for much of the contest, Feigh still appeared to be travelling well enough on the turn for home. However, she was in trouble before entering the straight and would only fade from thereon before finishing twelve and a half lengths behind the winner. Her jumping was a mixed bag as while she was clean enough over half of her hurdles, her round deteriorated as she tired and she was also untidy over the third and fourth; errors which were likely caused by her disinclination to settle. Feigh is still very much a work in progress although while everything she does this season is the proverbial bonus, this outing perhaps shows that she may be limited by her inexperience and pedigree in the short term. 104

    Willows Way was making her racecourse debut here, which placed her in a category of horses with a poor first-time record in this discipline. Representing a trainer whose sole juvenile failed to win, she is closer related to Dubai Millennium (3/2) than anything with hurdling form; although Sire French Navy and damsire Green Desert do have fair records in the sphere. Sent off at 250/1, she jumped slowly and untidily in the rear and though her hurdling improved and she finished best of the outclassed horses, she was still tailed off in the end. There was a modicum of encouragement for the long term, although nothing that would warrant enthusiasm any time soon. 68

    Rich Law No Law had only smatterings of modest form on the flat and he improved marginally between his first two outings over hurdles at Ballinrobe and Killarney, he had still achieved little of note. Starting at 250/1, he raced towards the rear and made mistakes throughout without ever getting involved. While this was the closest he has finished behind the winner over hurdles, it still leaves him with much to find before he can become competitive. 71

    Astrophysicist, a moderate if not hopeless maiden on the flat, is by a sire with three winners from twelve in the sphere and along with being a half-brother to the fairly capable chaser Da Vinci Hand, is also distantly related to useful juveniles Gardens of Babylon, Brexit and Elham Valley at 4/4. Unfancied in the market, Astrophysicist went to the front at the start but was already losing his position passing the stands. His round was littered with some very untidy jumping and he ultimately finished well beaten. 67

    Putonthenews finished nearer last than first on all nine flat outings with only moderate form shown at his peak at Dundalk during the winter. Trainer James Nash does get his fair share of winners in the division and the damline contains pattern class jumpers in Gaspar (2/1) and Flaxen Flare (3/2). Putonthenews was not fancied here however, and while his jumping was not atrocious, he never got involved having raced keenly in the rear. 64

    King Wasp came here after an eleven race flat career which culminated with a mark of 43. His sire has yet to win with his ten previous juvenile hurdlers and the closest winning jumper on the damline is Mellow Music at 3/1 who won a handicap off 74 at Kilbeggan. Racing in first time tongue tie, King Wasp raced towards the rear of midfield, hopped over the second, was slow at the fourth and fifth before finishing virtually pulled up. 18

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    Preview review
    The winner was given a strong prospects and a quite glowing profile. Top ‘reasonable prospect’ rather blew his chances with a horrific blunder at the first, leaving the other ‘reasonable prospect to finish a clear second. Third placed Babajan outran his odds and his position on the prospects list, although he did settle better than anticipated and his trainer’s good run last term was noted. Beyond the placed horses, the well backed Aggagio’s failure to live up to market expectations was not surprising based on his preview, although Prey For Glory looks unlikely to match his pedigree any time soon. Overall, a satisfactory preview with no real call for address.

    Race review
    This looked an above average renewal of this Plumpton contest and though Fred Bear compromised his chances with a first flight blunder, the first two were still much the best on the day. The winner especially so as he calmed down from being lit up by the early incident before putting in some very neat jumps for a juvenile and winning emphatically. Most of the field settled well during the race although there was plenty left to be desired of the jumping from those beyond the front two. The pace, set by the runner up who used the same tactics to win last time, was a sensible one which was broadly identical to the one in the opening maiden hurdle which also had a comparable winning time. With the third fourth and fifth exceeding expectations, and the favourite spoiling his chance early on, little regard can be given to the overall depth of the contest. Notwithstanding, the winner did so in a very pleasing fashion while the runner up almost certainly gave her running so there would be little reason to doubt the credentials of the front pair.

    Impulsive One won one of his eight starts on the flat for William Haggas; himself a trainer whose former inmates have a healthy record in the sphere. His rating of 80 was easily justified on his recent form and he joined a Nicky Henderson yard with an exceptional record with juvenile hurdlers. Despite opening at 11/8 in the morning, he went out to 7/2 at one point on course before being trimmed back into 11/4 at the off. However, there was no rationale for his drift offered during the race itself. Tracking the leaders from the outset, he was lit up by the stumble of Fred Bear at the first, but either through the first time application of the hood, James Bowen’s handling or Impulsive One’s own nature, he had settled nicely after a furlong or so. He made a good impression with his jumping overall, as while he was skewed over the second and reached slightly at the next and though he went through the fifth, his round was characterised by speed, neatness and enthusiasm. Travelling strongly throughout, Impulsive One took the lead turning for home full of running and quickly established a wide advantage after the last before being eased close to the line to win by twelve lengths. This was a most taking debut performance which is difficult to denigrate at this juncture. If one were inclined to look for negatives, it could be suggested that his exuberance, while being an obvious asset, may create problems at the higher level. Moreover, his best form has been on top of the ground and as his pedigree is not conducive to the winter game, he might not fare so well on the soft. Impulsive One has subsequently been installed as the Triumph favourite with three firms which is possibly a premature move; although the 40/1 available in a place is not unreasonable. 120

    The Yellow Mini was moderate at best on the flat, but had been offered as a juvenile prospect prior to her joining Michael Wigham and there is some feasibility in the pedigree. She sprang a bit of a surprise when winning on her debut at Fontwell and while that race rather fell apart, her enthusiasm for the game and the astute ride from Gavin Sheehan were also decisive factors. Steady in the market at 9/2, the front running tactics from Fontwell were employed again here and setting a sensible gallop, The Yellow Mini put in a good round of jumping with only minor errors and her wandering occasionally counting against her. She had all but one of her rivals in trouble on leaving the back and while the winner was in a different league, the remainder of the field were held by the best part of four lengths and upwards in the end. The Yellow Mini posted a new career best effort here and clearly enjoys her new vocation. Being an honest sort, she may lack the scope for much more improvement but there would still be winnable races for her off a penalty. 104

    Babajan won twice on the flat for Richard Hannon and was rated 75 at his peak. However, his two outings since the end of March had been below par and as he had a tendency to pull without having raced beyond a mile, he came into this contest with stamina concerns. Making his debut for Amy Murphy, who enjoyed a fine spell last season, he was easy to back in the market as he drifted from 12/1 to 20/1 during the day’s trading, and doubled in price to 40/1 in the ring. Presumably in an effort to conserve energy, he was held up from the outset. The blinkers he had worn on his last six flat outings were removed, yet Babajan settled without any fuss and although he was off the bridle midway down the back, he stayed on to jump the penultimate flight in third position where he would remain to the winning post. This is more to his credit considering that his jumping was not fantastic as he was close and untidy at four flights during the race. While Babajan did not match his flat form, this performance was a step in the right direction and having settled nicely for his new handler, there is ample potential for him to return to something like his best before too long in this sphere. 100

    Dark Motive ran six times without success on the flat for Ralph Beckett and despite having a decent pedigree for jumping, had not achieved much on outings at Stratford or Worcester. Easy to back in the market, she posted a poor round of jumping as she was steady and untidy at most hurdles. Racing prominently as per usual, she kept in touch with the leaders up to the home turn and while she was unable to keep on, she did not fade as badly as she had done previously. Though beaten twenty lengths in the end, this was her best performance to date in the sphere and she might end up being competitive in the right race off a fair mark. 89

    Baby Sham won a Chelmsford handicap off 56 on her penultimate outing for Stuart Williams and being a daughter of Sir Percy, is not unfeasibly bred for the game. Her debut outing at Newton Abbot was not without promise although she did not complete next time at Stratford. Sent off at 50/1, her longest price over hurdles to date, Baby Sham was held up towards the rear but made enough progress to be within touching distance of the leaders turning into the straight. This would be the extent of her effort as she finished a twenty-six length fifth. Her hurdling was also similar to previous efforts as she was untidy over the first two, reasonable in the middle section of the race before getting close to four and two out. Baby Sham ran her best race over hurdles to day and while she is still short of her flat best, is another who might find things easier with a handicap mark and could be of more interest with more give in the ground. 82

    Fred Bear was modest on the flat but had the profile to make a better hurdler. He had improved with every outing over hurdles and finally got off the mark last time at Stratford. Though not the strongest contest, his attitude and ability were enough to see him go off the well backed 13/8 favourite. However, he made a complete mess of the first where he skewed very badly and lost his footing on landing to the extent that Marc Goldstein did very well to maintain the partnership. Fred Bear remained in his prominent position behind the leader and while he was cautious over the second and slightly skewed over the third, his hurdling was fine for most of the contest. He was still amongst the vanguard on the home turn, but was travelling much the worst of the front three and soon faded in the straight, making tired errors over the last two flights. As he had been progressive over hurdles up to this point, it would be safe to say that this was not Fred Bear at his best and this underperformance can almost certainly be attributed to his first flight error. Assuming he can recover from this outing, Fred Bear should return to his usual, respectable standard when he next takes to the racecourse. 94

    Aggagio was an emphatic winner of a Morlaix claimer for Jean-Claude Rouget and he ran with credit for Sophie Leech on his first two flat outings in Britain. His hurdling debut at Stratford was not good but he returned to winning ways in a relatively valuable Goodwood seller whereafter he joined Gary Moore for £23,000. While this switch in yards had no real statistical reason to assume a much better performance on his return to hurdling, Aggagio was very well backed during the day, starting at 7/2 having been available at 10/1 in the morning. Buzzy down at the start, Aggagio never looked like justifying the plunge as he made errors at all of his flights and never left the rear. While this performance is more rateable than his last, it is still stones away from his flat best and a return to that discipline looks the better option. 87

    Prey For Glory, being a Free Eagle cousin of Mourad, is tremendously bred for the game and should be able to improve on a respectable flat career that saw him placed third on five occasions and finish with a rating of 63. However, he lacked fluency on his debut at Stratford and while he was better over the early flights here, he raced keenly in midfield and weakened before leaving the back. While Prey For Glory may have more feasible openings on softer ground, his inability to settle will continue to cause problems for the time being. 63

    Tara Iti has the credentials to do respectably in the sphere but has been very disappointing thus far over hurdles. Running in a first time hood and starting at 33/1, he raced keenly in the rear as per his previous outings. Though he clipped and skewed over the first, his next three jumps were some of his best seen to date. However, he was steady and close at the fifth and his last three jumps befitted a tired horse. Unless Tara Iti shows better form on soft ground with a handicap mark, he is quickly running out of excuses. 54

    Business Flight was a regressive maiden on the flat and though he jumped adequately on his jumps bow at Worcester, still finished tailed off. It was fairly similar here over the first four flights but he was soon getting detached after passing the stands whereafter his jumping became slow. He was pulled up before entering the straight. 0

    Sir Taweel won on the flat for Mohamed Moubarak and has a reasonable profile for the game. However, his first two outings at Stratford and Fontwell were poor and this was his worst showing to date. Though slightly slow over the first two, he hurdled well enough until going through the top of the sixth. However, he was keen early, never left the rear and was pulled up before two out. With his yard going through a lean spell, he may fare better with a mark once his trainer is in better form. Although this would still be far from assured based on all evidence thus far. 0

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    The big prospects list has been updated to include eight more juveniles.

    While it would be too large to post here, it can be found either on twitter;

    or directly on the blogpost

    Juvenile Hurdle Prospects for 2021/22

    In case you are unsure about whether you want to look at it, here is a list of the contents.

    Thank you :)

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    I have added Iberique du Seuil to the list, but because I still keep it real, I am posting it here before I make the announcement on twitter.

    Iberique du Seuil bg Gordon Elliott b1-0-1 (-) 0 (Mickaël Seror)
    Spanish Moon (Equerry){u}(2.25) 2/2 Defi du Seuil 1st Triumph Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2017
    Mickaël Seror was the source of three juvenile hurdlers last season with two of them being winners. Siroco Jo won at Newbury in March for Paul Nicholls while Heross du Seuil made a winning debut at Kempton for Nicky Henderson. The latter’s younger half-brother, Iberique du Seuil is another who started his career with Mickaël Seror, although he has moved to Cullentra and is set to carry the colours of Noel and Valerie Moran. Iberique du Seuil had his sole outing in an AQPS flat race at Vichy over 2400 metres at the start of August. Held up fourth of six, he was shaken up to challenge two furlongs out but ran very green when coming under pressure. He soon found his rhythm however, and ran on strongly before being denied by a head at the line. Though it can not be said for certain, he probably would have won the race with the benefit of a few more strides. AQPS flat form used to be more difficult to assess, although the introduction of pattern contests in the sphere has been a useful addition to the program when it comes to evaluating form. This is especially pertinent when it comes to the Vichy contest as the first and third from that race subsequently filled same positions in reverse order in the Group III bumper at the same venue sixteen days later. While French bumper recruits are fairly rare arrivals at Gordon Elliott’s, three of his five (Dakota Moirette, Dinaria des Obeaux and Toner d’Oudairies) managed to win as juveniles with each of them earning RPRs exceeding 126 in the process. Although Spanish Moon is capable of producing talented jumpers, he does not have the strongest of records with his juveniles. While dual scorer Grand Roi was one of his four to have raced in Britain and Ireland, his winner to runner rate with three-year-olds in France stands at just 10%. Nevertheless, being a half-brother to Heross du Seuil makes Iberique du Seuil a cousin of another former French bumper horse in 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner Defi du Seuil. Other notable relatives on the damline include the good handicap chaser Caramaran du Seuil (2/1), Reynoldstown winner Jimmy Tennis (3/1) and the versatile and talented Coo Star Sivola at 3/3. While French bumper form will be difficult to compare to the flat or hurdles form bought by other other prospective juvenile hurdlers, Iberique du Seuil would have the strongest credentials insofar as potential, breeding and connections are concerned. There is the possibility that Iberique du Seuil could be much better after his first campaign, but it will still be very interesting to see what he can do this season in the likely event he is sent straight over hurdles.

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    25% share still available in Aliomaana apparently…

    Perth, and Scotland, host their second juvenile hurdle of the season, and month, on Thursday. Held each year since the turn of the century, this race’s average winners’ seasonal RPR of 107.89 is well below average. Notwithstanding, it has been contested by some capable sorts down the years with Spirit Of Park (2000) and Aviation (2005) following up in the Wensleydale, Bula Rose (2001) and Cornell Precedent (third in 2007) finishing second in that Wetherby contest, while 2018 third Cornerstone Lad would go on to win a Fighting Fifth. This year’s edition is headed by Aliomaana who looked to set to get off the mark over course and distance eighteen days ago but for falling at the last. She is the sole experienced hurdler in the line-up with her opposition consisting entirely of jumps newcomers. Nevertheless, it is still a trappy looking affair as each of the debutants have positives in their profiles; three of whom are having their first starts for new trainers. A flat, right handed circuit, Perth’s easy configuration and generally firmer ground contribute to higher DIs than average of 1.50 median, and 1.58 mean. The clear round rate of 98.12% is the fifth highest in Britain and is also one of the kinder tracks for hurdling newcomers. However, as the ground is currently riding Good to Soft and with showers forecast the evening before this race, the trip may take more getting than usual.

    Chica Boom chg Ian Williams f3-0-0 (64) 67
    Tamayuz (Motivator){7-a}(1.12) 2/1 Under Oath 1st 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Down Royal 2005
    Of the trainers represented in this contest, Ian Williams has had the most juvenile hurdlers under his care, and his winner to runner rate of 19.64% is a solid one. That rate increases to 41.67% when accounting for those he also trained on the flat, although it drops to 0% when the official rating falls below 75. Chica Boom is one such horse who switches to hurdling after being allotted a mark of 64. He posted the strongest of his three outings on his debut in late June when finishing seventh of nine in a novice stakes at Chester over an extended seven furlongs. Stepping up to ten furlongs on his next two starts, he failed to match that performance but was not given a hard time by his rider. Withdrawn from his intended handicap bow at Thirsk in mid-August, he embarks on a vocation for which he is not unfeasibly bred. Tamayuz has a respectable 28.57% winner to runner rate in the sphere with half of his progeny improving for the switch in codes. Damsire Motivator has failed to match his strong record as a sire, but Chica Boom is still a cousin of Under Oath, who won a maiden hurdle at four, and a nephew of Whyzzat who landed Ireland’s curtain raiser at Roscommon in early August. There are elements of potential in the profile of Chica Boom, although he has yet to match any of his rivals in terms of performance on the flat.

    Olympus bg Patrick Neville f6-0-3 (66) 69
    Kingman (Montjeu){2-f}(1.00) 2/1 John Constable 1st Swinton Handicap Hurdle (G3,134), Haydock 2017
    Kingman has made a fine start to his career as a flat stallion, although while he is a decent height at 16.1hh, he is also an Invincible Spirit nephew of Oasis Dream which could explain why his best result over hurdles from five runners is a twenty-two length third in a Uttoxeter maiden. His representative here, Olympus, is at least bred to give him a chance as he is a nephew of the talented John Constable, and while Montjeu is not as successful as a damsire as he is a sire, his broodmares’ progeny still win their fair share in the sphere. Starting his career with Tim Easterby, whose former inmates have a 20% winner to runner rate, Olympus earned a rating of 67 after thrice finishing down the field at two. Returning at the start of June in a fourteen furlong maiden handicap at Redcar, he managed to look very slow for a Kingman while finishing an eleven length third in a field that returned at wide intervals. Olympus filled the same position at the end of the month over the same trip at Thirsk, but while he still looked slow, he probably would have finished second if kept up to his work. Three weeks later, he managed to get his runner-up spot at Doncaster over two furlongs shorter, although ironically, he was probably gifted this placing by a discombobulated rival. Since then, Olympus sold for £14,000 at the Goffs August Sale to join Irish handler Partick Neville. While without any prize money from his two previous juveniles, the Limerick trainer has had a successful raid on Perth in the past, although both of his runners at the track on Wednesday were tailed off. Olympus holds Nastasiya on their Redcar encounter, but his breeding is the proverbial curate’s egg and despite the forecast rain, he has yet to show he has the pace to match a couple of his rivals.

    Ultra Violet bg N W Alexander f9-2-2 (35.0/77) 80
    Sea The Moon (Lando){7}(0.54) 2/1 Russian Invader 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Folkestone 2007
    Local trainer Nick Alexander has saddled just two juvenile hurdlers since 2004/05, but while Academy finished last of five on his sole outing at Ayr in April 2012, Wakool did win a novices’ handicap at Doncaster in January 2020. This season, he has two juveniles on his books already in 58,000 guineas purchase Sanosuke and Ultra Violet who went unsold for €26,000 at Arqana. Like Wakool, Ultra Violet is another Flat import from France and with nine runs to his name, is the most experienced horse in this line-up. He finished third on his debut over seven furlongs at Nantes last June, but would need six more outings and a switch to the Joël Boisnard yard before he bettered that position with a second at Sable dur Sarthe on the Second of May, to a filly who predominantly competes in claimers. Ultra Violet finally earned his first win a fortnight latter at Nantes over a mile on sticky ground. Though racing freely on the outer, he took up the running with a furlong to run before winning by a cosy three-and-a-half lengths from handicappers rated 68.2 and 72.6. Towards the end of the month, he followed up under top weight in a good ground mile handicap at Angers off a mark of 32,0 (70.4). Held up towards the rear, he was quite enthusiastic once again but despite having more ahead of him than behind turning for home, ran on strongly to lead inside the final furlong and win with a little more in hand than the neck margin at the line suggests. Though the class of race was nothing extraordinary, the form has been held up by the principals running into places in subsequent outings. Joël Boisnard has supplied eight juveniles to the division since 2008/09 with three of his former charges winning during their first campaigns in Britain. The sirelines are also encouraging as four of Sea The Moon’s thirteen juveniles have been winners, including Tritonic, Allmankind and Gealach, while damsire Lando has a winner to runner rate of 35.71% with seven of his nine qualifying charges improving for the switch in code. Furthermore, the second dam has produced two winning hurdlers including Russian Invader who won in the division in 2007. Overall, Ultra Violet has yet to race beyond an extended mile, he is versatile insofar as ground is concerned while his breeding and racing style suggest he should get the trip. His keenness might be a concern and with the yard without a winner since June, he may not be fully would first time. Nevertheless, he looks an interesting recruit to the sphere and could give Aliomaana a plenty to ponder.

    Aliomaana chf Milton Harris f5-0-2 (74) 75 j2-0-1 (-) 90 100
    Raven’s Pass (Sea The Stars){8-f}(1.29) 2/1 Celestial Force 1st 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (120), Newton Abbot 2021
    Though she failed to win for John Gosden, Aliomaana grabbed a couple of seconds on the all weather prior to fetching 17,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. Juveniles formerly trained by John Gosden often leave little wriggle room for their new handlers, although Milton Harris got three wins out of Pyramid Place last term and was unlucky not to make it two from two at this venue eighteen days ago. Quietly fancied ahead of her hurdling debut at Stratford in August, she was not the tidiest jumper but raced with plenty of enthusiasm before tiring late on to finish third. The first part of that story was similar at Perth as, pulling herself into the lead shortly after the start, she was slightly distracted when steady at the first, but got over the second alright despite wandering on the approach. Though still fairly fresh, she had settled into a sensible rhythm up front and while she was rather skewed at the third and briefly lost her footing on some loose turf passing the stands, was still decent enough over the next. Hopping through the next in a fashion quite accurately described by Mike Cattermole as unconventional, Mitch Bastyan cajoled her at the right moment over the next two and got very neat leaps out of her in the process. While Aliomaana briefly looked in danger from the looming presence of New Reality, she bounded on nicely on the run to the last and appeared the likeliest winner at the time. Unfortunately, having a lapse in concentration, she did not lift her feet high enough and ended up rolling onto the ground. Mercifully, she got up ok and as seen in a video posted last week, her confidence looks unaffected and she was on very good terms with herself. Although she would still be a good half-stone from her best flat form, this represented a decent leap forward from her debut at Stratford. Her consistency on the flat and promise over hurdles would make her more than capable of gaining compensation at this level. One uncertainty might arise from her having yet to encounter soft ground on turf, but she has performed on slower than standard on the all weather and close relatives have won on easier ground. Aliomaana sets the standard with her experience and the yard being in fine form along with a potentially easy lead serve only to enhance her credentials.

    Nastasiya chf Tristan Davidson f7-0-3 (66) 72
    Archipenko (With Approval){5-h}(1.00) 1/1 Timoshenko 1st 2m Novices’ Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2020
    The most expensive participant to have fallen under the hammer in recent months, Nastasiya fetched 29,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. Trained on the flat by Ed Walker, whose subsequent juvenile hurdlers count one winner from eight, Nastasiya placed third on her first two outings at Haydock and Newbury before wrapping up 2020 by finishing down the field off 73 at Wolverhampton. Though not beaten far on her Kempton reappearance, her mark fell to 66 before she returned to form when last seen at the end of June in a ten furlong Bath handicap on good to firm. Running in first time blinkers, Nastasiya took a keen hold in midfield early on, but settled better as the race progressed and while she lacked the pace to get near the winner, she did finish over four lengths clear of the remainder. Nastasiya is set to be Tristan Davidson’s second juvenile hurdler, with his first, Chingachgook, scoring at the third time of asking in March 2019; although the yard is without a winning jumper from twenty since April. None of Archipenko’s eleven juveniles have won from twenty-seven attempts, but Nastasiya’s full-brother Timoshenko did win a Uttoxeter novice as a five-year-old, and cousin Archer’s Up won a Limerick maiden at six. Though she weakened from the front at Redcar behind Olympus over fourteen furlongs, the trip here should be within her compass and her flat ability is sufficient to be competitive at this level. Nevertheless, the sire’s record in the division and the form of her trainer’s jumpers do temper enthusiasm.

    Chica Boom – Trainer has decent record with those he also trained on flat, albeit with better rated horses. Feasibly bred for hurdling but needs to bridge a class defecit.

    Olympus – Fair maiden on flat for Tim Easterby. Top sire has not made a good start with his jumpers and while a nephew of the talented John Constable, Olympus may lack the pace to get seriously involved.

    Ultra Violet – Trainer making interesting forays into the juvenile hurdling scene and his ex-French recruit has decent flat form. Bred for the game and likely to stay, but may not be at his best first time.

    Aliomaana – Respectable flat form for John Gosden and has made promising start to hurdling career. Likeliest winner when falling at the last over course and distance earlier in the month. Sets standard, yard in form and may even get an easy lead.

    Nastasiya – Thrice placed on flat and should stay this trip. Full-sister to a winning hurdler but not bred to hit peak jumping form at three and yard’s jumpers are not in full swing.

    Strong prospects
    1. Aliomaana
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Ultra Violet
    Feasible/ Moderate prospects
    3. Olympus
    4. Chica Boom
    5. Nastasiya

    sporting sam
    • Total Posts 6435

    Hello, BH.
    There is a nice picture of ultra Violet on Nick Alexander’s website and he says the priority is get him round on first run.
    That tempers my initial fancy for the horse’s prospects today. Ultra Violet certainly won easily on the first of his two wins in France.
    I get the impression from the betting patterns that Chica Boom is going to be highly tried here. Hopefully though, Aliomaana can continue his progress before his fall last time.

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Hey Sam

    I saved his brochure somewhere and they’ve reason to be excited for him. Suspected he might not be fully wound up and the news you’ve relayed and his drift in the market would probably go with this notion. Particularly has he has a lot in hand over the other newcomers on flat form.

    Not betting on the race but am expecting a big run from Aliomaana.

    Good luck :)

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Preview review
    The winner, who was given the ‘strong prospects’ had a very solid profile and her getting an easy lead was also raised. Her winning distance of twenty-nine lengths perhaps exceeded expectations, but she was able to make her experience tell and her opponents each had holes in their profiles. Ultra Violet rather disappointed although it was noted that he might not be wound up first time and he did take a long walk in the market. Runner-up Chica Boom started the day as rank outsider but was not at the bottom of the prospects list. That said, outside of the top pair, the remainder were given ‘feasible/moderate’ prospects and their much of a muchness-ness was reflected in their performances. While it could not have been anticipated that all bar the winner would jump so slowly, although three of whom were representing trainers with little experience in the sphere, the preview was a satisfactory one overall.

    Race review
    Aliomaana first, the rest nowhere. Her winning margin was probably exacerbated by the fact she was the only runner who could jump efficiently, but it still stands that she had much the strongest profile going into the race. Furthermore, while the pace she set was a strong one, even compared to those posted in the two novice hurdles and the handicap on the card, that her winning time was upwards of two seconds quicker than each contest attests that not only was this a solid performance in its own right, but it dispels any notion that she was given too much rope by the other jockeys. Beyond the winner, the remainder of the field returned at margins of thirteen, fifteen and twenty-six lengths so while these horses may progress from here at varying rates, it is difficult to argue that there is not merit to their positions on the day.

    Aliomaana had respectable flat form without winning for John Gosden and after a promising hurdling debut at Stratford, was unlucky to break her duck over this course and distance last time out; falling when looking the likeliest winner. She started the day as even money favourite here and though she drifted during the morning and reached 7/4 on course, she was trimmed into 11/8 at the off. She was a little buzzy down at the start, but this is more due to her lively character than any temperament issues. Aliomaana was sent straight into the lead and showing good speed both over the hurdles and in between, her advantage was a wide one by the time she passed the stands. It would be folly to suggest her rivals gave her too generous a lead however as they were constrained by their own slow jumping as much as they were outpaced by the leader. Furthermore, while Aliomaana had been untidy at times during her first two spins over hurdles, save for an unorthodox quasi-hop at the first and getting tight at the second; neither imperfection costing her any momentum; she was very neat and nimble here. Putting in another acceleration three from home, she travelled strongly to the penultimate flight where she wandered on the approach and got in rather close. She was ridden away from that hurdle before being allowed to jump the last as steadily as she liked. Popping over the final hurdle, she was pushed out to see the race through, crossing the line twenty-nine lengths clear of a spread-eagled field. While the margin may appear to be too good to be true, and her rivals did jump slowly, her completing the course in a time at least two seconds quicker than any of the older horses in the other three races held at the trip on the card affords her performance a great deal of substance. Surpassing what she achieved on the flat for John Gosden, Aliomaana also achieved the highest rating by a juvenile filly either in Britain or in Ireland. On the basis of today’s outing, Aliomaana would surely be up to defying a penalty in a similar contest and while plenty can happen between now and Aintree, it is not completely fanciful that she can even collect some black type. 118

    Chica Boom finished closer to last than first during three flat outings, resulting in a rating of 64. He was withdrawn from his latest intended start after getting upset in the stalls, but while he had a bit to find on form with his rivals, he is not unfeasibly bred for the discipline; being a son Tamayuz closely related to young winning hurdlers. Starting the day at 18/1, he received outside support through the day, shortening to 8/1 at the off. Settled in third position, he raced lazily in the opening stages and his cause was not helped by his invariably big, slow and often skewed hurdling. Chica Boom had a dozen lengths to gain on the second leaving the back, but had the measure of that horse jumping two out and while he had no chance with the winner, he did finish thirteen lengths clear of the remainder. However, even with the winner excluded, his slow hurdling prevents this from being described as a pleasing debut. Notwithstanding, while he failed to match his flat form, Chica Boom was still the least experienced runner in this field so he would have the scope to at least be competitive in a similar contest. 96

    Nastasiya was thrice placed on the flat and while her sire has a modest record in the sphere, she is a full-sister to a winning hurdler. Steady in the market and starting at 7/2, she raced keenly in the early stages and was conspicuously big and slow at the first. Heading the pursuit of the leader, she was fine at the second after wandering on the approach, but steady and untidy at the next before being big and slow from there. Losing second on the run to two out, she was ultimately beaten forty-two lengths. Nastasiya was a good couple of stone from her flat form and though she can improve with experience, there was little to foment short term enthusiasm. 76

    Ultra Violet won his last two races in France for Joël Boisnard and his form and breeding were strong enough to make him an interesting recruit to the division as a whole. It was not assured that he would be fully wound first time and this sentiment was reflected in the market as he drifted from a morning show of 7/2 to 8/1 at flagfall. Held up in the rear, his hurdling went from big to slow to getting in too close to his hurdles before jumping the last two in his own time. Even when accounting for a lack of fitness and experience, this was a poor showing. Nevertheless, he was having his first run since May so given the strength of his profile, he can be afforded another opportunity before any rash conclusions are drawn. 68

    Olympus is a nephew of the talented hurdler John Constable and though he showed himself a relatively slow horse, his flat form over the summer for Tim Easterby was still enough to see him sent off the 10/3 second favourite. However, while his hurdling was not as bad as his other rivals outside of Aliomaana, he still lacked speed and fluency and would be relegated from fourth to fifth with six furlongs left to race. Kept up to his work without being sternly ridden, he ultimately finished eighty-three lengths last of five. Though it may be too soon to write him off as a hurdler, there was little to enthuse over in this performance which may be in keeping with his sire’s poor record over jumps. 42

    sporting sam
    • Total Posts 6435

    Very pleased to see Aliomaana win.
    Chica Boom led the procession of followers at a very respectable distance. Strung out like pearls on a very long thread. Looking forward to the next juvenile hurdle.
    Very nice price for the winner when you consider some of odds on prices of some losing favourites.

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1544

    Been a couple with a nice price recently. Haven’t had an opportunity to look at the Market Rasen market but Caramelised, without being bombproof, is another with a clear chance…

    Any thoughts on the race, Sam?

    It is here. Britain’s strongest juvenile hurdle ran to date this season is finally amongst us! Make sure you’re prepared for this momentous occasion by reading an excruciatingly comprehensive guide to the race :D

    Market Rasen’s juvenile hurdle on the ‘Prelude’ card was a selling race in 2003. That contest was won by Quick who was bought in for 3,600 guineas ahead of a career which saw him place at the Cheltenham festival. With the exception of 2005, it has since been a Class 2 contest and carries a very respectable roll call that would warrant a title along the lines of the Triumph Hurdle of the Summer. Indeed, 2006 winner Katchit would follow up in the real deal at Cheltenham later that season while Franchoek, second in 2007, and Barizan, winner in 2009, would each finish second in the Festival showpiece. Recent years have been comparatively barren with the latest graduate to reach the front five in the Triumph being 2015 winner Leoncavallo. Nevertheless, the likes of Fox Norton, Cliffs of Dover and Talking About You have emerged from this race to collect pattern races during the same season. This year’s renewal looks representative with the field headed by a pair who are each unbeaten in two starts and have some of the strongest form in the division seen to date. Strength is further bolstered by a couple of likely improvers who were placed on their sole starts, and potentially a winning Irish raider. Set in the town where one of the first purpose-built combined fire and police stations in the UK was built, Market Rasen is a fairly tight, right handed circuit with minor undulations. Favouring sharper sorts, its average winners’ DIs of 1.31 median, 1.70 mean, are some of the highest in the country and while they drop for this particular contest, this would be more due to class than any real stamina requirements. The clear round rate of 95.74% is fractionally below the national average although it does see more juveniles pull up than standard. Odds-on shots at the course have a 51.22% strike rate but while their record in this contest reads as three losers from as many runners, those with multiple previous wins take more than their fair share of renewals. The ground is currently riding as good and is being watered to maintained. Little to no rain is forecast before post time.

    Caramelised bc Alan King f4-0-0 (73) 75 j2-2-0 (-) 116 120
    Dansili (Cozzene){9-e}(1.67) 2/2 Lord Condi 1st 2m1½f Novices’ Hurdle, Plumpton 2018
    On top of being the winningmost trainer of juvenile hurdlers since 2004/05, Alan King has a winner to runner rate of 48.61% and an overall strike rate of 23.39%. His record in this particular contest is also noteworthy as his fourteen runners have yielded three wins (Silencio, Katchit and City Dreamer) and four places including Franchoek and Cracker Factory. This year, he is represented by a Caramelised who has had the race as a target since completing a course and distance double at Stratford five weeks ago. A four race maiden for Richard Hannon, he had finished nearer last than first on each outing and had shown himself a free running sort. Nevertheless, his rating of 73 is well above average for the time of year and is also the highest brought into this contest. Concerns over an inability to settle manifested on his hurdling debut in late July as he pulled hard up to the point he was sent for home. Held up in touch from the outset, he moved to track the leaders going out onto the second circuit and travelled nicely to challenge for the lead entering the straight. Shaken up to take a length advantage on the approach to the last, it took no more than a hands and heels drive to quickly extend his lead and cross the line seven lengths to the good. Caramelised posted a safe round of jumping without being consistently fluent, and the form of the race was boosted when a month later when the runner-up, Fred Bear, landed division one of Caramelised’s most recent outing half an hour before he faced the starter himself. Backed as though defeat was out of the question, he went from 4/7 to 4/9 in the ring, causing all his rivals to be squeezed out by his market share. Initially tucked in just behind the leaders, he settled better than he had first time around and though he was lit up after the third, Tom Cannon regained the bit by the time they reached the hill second time; which is also where Caramelised moved stylishly into the lead. Shaken up ever so gently on the turn for home, he entered the straight with an advantage of half-a-dozen lengths and, without any impetus from the rider, that gap was extended to thrice the amount at the line. Apart from getting slightly big at the first and maybe brushing the top of two out, Caramelised put in an exhibition round of jumping that would not have looked out of place during a veteran hurdler’s schooling session. Furthermore, the fact that he completed the run-in in a faster time than the previous race while on the bridle shows that he has a tremendous amount of speed for the division. His tendency to race freely might become a concern when the stiffer competition emerges, but he was still better than first time out, which is encouraging given that he is still an entire. The Lincolnshire showpiece was earmarked immediately afterwards and five weeks later, he comes into the contest setting a standard which is the best part of stone ahead of what his rivals have achieved over hurdles. Caramelised’s profile is not entirely bombproof however as the yard has gone a fortnight without a winner; although he has not saddled any short priced flops during the period. Furthermore, while he has not gone right handed over hurdles, 41.67% of Dansili’s juveniles at Market Rasen have either won or reached the frame. On all known information, Caramelised’s exploits and profile give him a healthy cushion over his opponents. Nevertheless, his trainer’s recent form can not be completely ignored and as all of the potential challengers have been off the track for at least a month, it is not impossible for one or two of them to have improved in the meantime.

    Sacre Pierre bg Donald McCain j2-2-0 (113) 98 109
    On Est Bien (Goldneyev){8-a}(1.22) 1/1 Gold Tweet 1st Prix Hopper (G3 4yC), Compiegne 2021
    An unraced horse with a good French pedigree prior to making a winning debut at Uttoxeter, Sacre Pierre is a full-brother to the good young jumper Gold Tweet along with two others who have shown respectable form in Apollo Creed and Chuck Bass. Granddam Jance was a good three-year-old hurdler in 1996 while the 1999 Prix Alain du Breil third Kidder appears at 3/1 on the damline. Fetching €8,000 at the Osarus two-year-old breeze up, his trainer Donald McCain has a strong record in the sphere with a 29.09% winners to runners rate, although his best result from three runners in this contest came when Breakfast finished third in the 2018 running. There was not a great deal of confidence in the market ahead of his Uttoxeter bow in late July as he drifted from a morning show of 11/2 before starting the race at twice that price. Nevertheless, he settled nicely in the rear and was not asked to make his move until three furlongs from home. Though his response to being shaken up was not immediate, he got to within a length of the leaders at the last and showed very good acceleration once given the office by Brian Hughes to win by six lengths. The form has since been boosted with Keepyourdreamsbig winning at Worcester next time out. Irishracing reported that Sacre Pierre was “not that fluent”, but this does him a disservice. While he was sticky at the second, a bit late at the fifth and got close to the last, his better jumps outweighed his flawed ones and he was actually quite neat by and large. He made his second appearance five weeks later at Cartmel and he set the standard over his three rivals. A solid, long odds-on favourite, Sacre Pierre initially tucked in behind the leaders before going to the front entering the wood side second time round. His early jumping lacked fluency as he was steady and close at the first two before clipping the fourth. However, he soon remembered his job at the halfway stage and was neat over the next three. Though he was briefly and narrowly headed leaving the back, Sacre Pierre soon found another gear to see off his challenger. He did wander quite erratically on the approach to the last, but this was much more likely due to a lapse in concentration than any temperament concerns as he was smooth around all of the other turns, and ran true along the run-in. Beyond his being in good shape and confirming the promise of his debut, not much more was learned from that outing. The form was nothing special, but he is capable of jumping well and is not short of an engine. Still very much unexposed with his yard in reasonable form, it will be interesting to see how he handles this step up in class; even if his bare form leaves him with a bit to find.

    Whyzzat bg Denis Gerard Hogan f15-0-3 (56) 74 j2-1-0 (-) 109 105
    Dark Angel (Desert Prince){7-a}(3.00) 2/1 Under Oath 1st 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Down Royal 2005
    Costing 160,000 guineas as a yearling, Whyzzat failed to face the starter for George Scott and was sold to current connections for 9,000 guineas at last year’s Tattersalls July Sale. While he reached the frame on three occasions, he failed to win during his sixteen race flat career, including in claiming company. Though initially rated 75 after his first three outings as a two-year-old, he went into his Roscommon debut with a rating of 58. Denis Gerard Hogan has a modest winner to runner rate of 12.24%, but he also has a strong clear round rate of 98.36% and none of his juveniles have fallen or unseated first time out. Accordingly, Whyzzat posted a good and consistent round of jumping first time with his only flaw coming at the last where he was very slightly steady and clipped the top of the flight. Prominent from the outset, he tucked in behind the leaders and travelling strongly, jumped into a share of the lead at three out. Ridden into a lead of a length after the penultimate flight, he opened the gap to the best part of four lengths which he would maintain to the line. Seemingly exposed on the flat, he showed some aptitude for this game and probably ran close to his flat best first time out. He next appeared at Down Royal towards the end of August and while his Roscommon form was not tremendous, it was solid enough to give him a live chance. However, his trainer had been going through a lean patch and there was little confidence in the market as he drifted from 9/2 in the morning to 11/1 at the off. He had jumped well on his hurdling debut and there was no cause for complaint in his round here either as he took each flight without mishap. Nor was there anything wrong with the way he travelled as he settled well just behind the leaders and was always close enough if good enough. While improvement between first and second outings would generally be a given, it would be an exaggeration to describe this as a flop as he was only a few pounds below his Roscommon performance and the form was substantiated by Bell Ex One and Realist at Listowel last Sunday. Trainer form might be the most plausible explanation although it could also be that he was feeling the effects of having his thirteenth race of the year. Declared to participate in a Dundalk handicap on the eve of this race, this outing could either set him right for Market Rasen, or leave him fatigued for the long journey to Lincolnshire. The yard is still out of form but Hogan’s sole runner at Market Rasen has been a winner and Paddy Brennan has been booked for the ride. Whyzzat’s form leaves him with a bit to find with a couple of his prospective rivals, but he would not be ruled out entirely should he face the starter.

    Crane bg Nicky Henderson f6-1-1 (72) 77 j2-0-1 (-) 73 70
    Oasis Dream (Pivotal){6-e}(1.82) 3/2 Little Green 1st Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Fairyhouse 2011
    Winning on the flat as a two-year-old for Michael Bell, Crane joined a leading trainer in Nicky Henderson for a new hurdling career which began at Stratford in late July. After drifting from 9/4 to 3/1 in the morning, Crane was trimmed back into 11/4 to start the race as second favourite. However, while he was settled reasonably well and was in a good position behind the leaders, he was let down quite considerably by his jumping. Big and slow to get away from the first, he was slightly close to the second, steady and close at the third, and tight over the next three – the sixth he rather hopped over. Under pressure and losing ground from thereon, he was slow over the last and finished the race nearly forty lengths behind the winner. Poor jumping contributed to his undoing, although his stamina is also up for question and his being by Oasis Dream did not give great cause for optimism beforehand in any case. Crane returned to Stratford a month later and he was not fancied to attain immediate absolution. His jumping was better second time round as while he was steady, close and untidy at the first here, he hurdled more fluently from thereon, making only minor errors occasionally. Keen in the early stages, he went to the front from flagfall but eventually managed to settle better when an even more headstrong animal gave him a lead. Crane briefly moved back to the front climbing the hill but was easily brushed aside in a matter of strides by the winner. The runner-up also had his measure quite comfortably but Crane was able to win the battle for third from a very tired rival. While losing ground on Caramelised between their outings, Crane did improve by a few pounds from his hurdling debut. However, he is still a long way from his two-year-old efforts and though the in-form Nicky Henderson won this race with sole runner Royal Irish Hussar in 2013, Crane will need to have improved very dramatically over the past thirty-three days to be competitive here.

    Scots Gold grg Dan Skelton f6-0-0 (66) 70 j1-0-1 (-) 98 103
    Dark Angel (Duke Of Marmalade){8-f}(1.40) 3/2 Major Drive 1st 2m5f Handicap Hurdle (106), Sedgefield 2004
    For four out of the past six seasons, Dan Skelton has had a strike rate in the division exceeding 20% and is already off the mark this term with Knotty Ash scoring at this track back in June. That horse disappointed next time so the master of Lodge Hill will be represented by Scots Gold. Despite failing to place in six starts for Tom Dascombe (whose former inmates have a solid record), Scots Gold was not entirely disgraced on the flat and the form of his penultimate outing at Nottingham, in which he only narrowly failed to reach third at the post has worked out well. Making his hurdles bow at Stratford in Fred Bear’s contest, he started the day as favourite. However, with his yard out of form at the time, he would drift from a morning 7/4 to 3/1 at the off. Settled in mid-division and some way off the pace, he made steady headway along the back before coming under a drive going over the hill. While he managed to get to within a few lengths of Fred Bear approaching the home turn, and was able to outlast the long time pursuer, he was unable to make further inroads on the winner along the straight. He still had upwards of ten lengths over his remaining rivals, headed by the useful looking Aliomaana, and his jumping was good for a debutant; his only errors being a bit late at the fourth, which he still negotiated well, and getting slightly slightly close at three out. It was a likeable debut with a performance close to his flat best and Scots Gold could very well improve for the experience. He would be of greater interest were the yard known to be in form. However, Dan Skelton has not saddled a single runner for three weeks so the only clues in that regard are carried by Dazzling Glory in tomorrow’s opener.

    Stigwood bg Alex Hales f8-0-1 (52) 66
    Kodiac (Sadler’s Wells){22-a}(1.20) Allow Me 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (120), Catterick 2012
    The only hurdling debutant in the line-up, Stigwood ended an eight race flat spell for Eve Johnson Houghton with a solitary placing and a rating of 52. He joined Alex Hales, whose winner to runner rate in the sphere stands at 12.50%, for 8,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale. Sire Kodiac has a strong winner to runner rate of 39.29% and half-brother Allow Me was a fairly useful handicap hurdler. Alex Hales sent the 57 rated Hiconic to win first time out last season before finishing second in this contest. However, Stigwood already has the lowest flat rating without having to contend with his lack of experience which would be crucial in a race of this nature.

    Von Melas bg Michael Easterby f4-0-1 (61) 53 j1-0-0 (-) 55 49
    Battle Of Marengo (Rock Of Gibraltar){16-c}(0.82) 2/1 Karawaan 2nd 2m Handicap Hurdle (106), Tipperary 2021
    Initially rated 64 after three spins on the flat, Von Melas only hinted at that type of mark when plugging on to finish a fourteen length third in a ten furlong novice stakes at Nottingham in early August. He was last seen at Ayr nine days ago where that mark continued to look stiff and he has since been dropped to 61. Prior to his Ayr outing, Von Melas made his hurdling debut at Stratford behind Caramelised thirty-three days ago. He is feasibly bred to do better over hurdles as Battle Of Marengo has had three winning juveniles from nine, and while Rock Of Gibraltar is not as strong a damsire as sire, uncle Karawaan has managed to place over hurdles. However, his pedigree saw him start no shorter than 50/1 and racing keenly in the rear, his hurdling lacked fluency and he merely passed beaten horses towards the end. Though Von Melas is relatively unexposed and his yard’s juveniles typically improve with experience, he has yet to show he can be remotely competitive in this kind of company

    Addosh bf Stuart Edmunds f11-1-4 (71) 78 j1-0-1 (-) 83 79
    The Gurkha (Dubawi){10-a}(0.63) 3/2 State Crown 1st 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (110), Newton Abbot 2021
    Of all the active trainers in Britain and Ireland who have had fifteen of more juvenile hurdlers since 2004/05, only Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have a strike rate higher than the 25.64% of Stuart Edmunds. Before Addosh made her hurdling debut at Stratford, the yard’s first-time strike rate of 42.86% was bettered only by Nicky Henderson and Desmond McDonogh. Prior to selling for 15,000 guineas at Tattersalls in July, she had amassed a win and three places on the flat for Hugo Palmer and her BHA mark of 71 made her strong at the weights both at Stratford and again here. Her pedigree is not without its potential either as while The Gurkha is one of Galileo’s speedier sons, he is related to good jumpers and the sireline does well in the sphere. Damsire Dubawi has a 26.67% winner to runner rate in that role which includes Leoncavallo and State Crown – the latter being a 3/2 relative of Addosh who won a handicap hurdle as a juvenile last season. Steady in the market throughout the day, she did drift out to 15/2 in the Stratford ring, but this was on account of the confidence behind Caramelised and she still started second favourite. Held up in the early stages, she pulled hard in patches but was able to settle reasonably well before too long. Towards the rear at the fifth, she made robust headway in a short amount of time along the back and was travelling strongly just behind the leaders two flights later. Addosh was the last pursuer on the bridle approaching the home turn, but had been completely outpaced by the winner who was long gone before they could see the stands. Nevertheless, while no match for the Caramelised, the remainder of the field were left in her wake and there were sixteen and thirteen lengths between herself, the third and the fourth. Addosh jumped some of her hurdles quite well, although she was steep at the first, very untidy at the third and low at the last while also showing a slight tendency to go right. Overall, it was a satisfactory introduction and while she was a class below the winner, there was enough to suggest she has a future in this sphere. Though not a headcase, she could still settle better which might enable her to run a more consistent race insofar as pace is concerned. Better hurdling should come with experience and she may even be served well by going right handed. Addosh has ample scope for improvement and while there is no obvious reason for her to reverse placings with Caramelised, a good showing can not be discounted.

    Caramelised – Sets clear form standard on his two wins at Stratford and was particularly impressive last time out. Yard has strong record in this race although its lack of any recent winners is a slight concern.

    Sacre Pierre – Unraced on flat but made it two from two at Cartmel recently. Unexposed with scope for further improvement, although he would still have a bit to find with Caramelised.

    Whyzzat – Regressive on flat but won Ireland’s curtain raiser at Roscommon in early August. Slightly disappointing next time but form still decent. Scheduled to race at Dundalk on the eve of this contest.

    Crane – Winner on flat for Michael Bell and joined Nicky Henderson for his hurdling career. However, his two efforts to date leave him with a great deal to find and stamina is not assured.

    Scots Gold – Fair on flat for Tom Dascombe without reaching the frame. Was promising on his hurdling debut at Stratford and form has since been boosted by the third. Trainer form is currently an unknown.

    Stigwood – Moderate on flat and while new trainer is capable of readying one first time, lack of form and experience are massively detrimental in the context of this race.

    Von Melas – Little flat form and lacked fluency when well behind Caramelised on hurdles debut. Fit from recent run but too much to do in this company.

    Addosh – Flat winner for Hugo Palmer and mark from that sphere gives her chance on these terms. Joined underrated yard for hurdling career and while unlikely to reverse placings with Caramelised, debut outing not without promise.

    Strong prospects
    1. Caramelised
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Sacre Pierre
    3. Scots Gold
    4. Addosh
    Feasible prospects
    5. Whyzzat
    Moderate prospects
    6. Crane
    Negligible prospects
    7. Von Melas
    8. Stigwood

    Also, I try not to do this often but it is a relatively big race for the sphere and I did put a fair amount of effort and love into those four thousand-ish words. While it hasn’t been mentioned recently, I am still doing this against the backdrop of the assorted naffness that comes with living in a homeless shelter. So if you have the means, it could potentially be really helpful to my long term stability if you gave the preview a like and/or share on twitter. Plus, you can rest assured that your act of charity won’t end up in my veins which means you get all of the satisfaction of helping the homeless without any of the neuroticism from wondering whether you’ve helped or enabled :D

    Thank you :)

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