Crackentorp went very close to ensuring that Friday would end up being a good day, but sadly he found a couple that bit too good for him on the day and ended up finishing just over a neck behind in 3rd. The race was run to suit him, which was badly needed to give him the best chance of defying such a high mark and he was also positioned very nicely by David Allan. He was momentarily outpaced when the tempo lifted, but worked into contention to have every chance with a couple to run, at which point I was expecting him to really drive on. Unfortunately he didn't do that and looked more likely to drop out until the jockey put down his whip. He then started to run on strongly to rally in the very late stages and would probably have ended up victorious if the race was over a few yards further. It was a cracking run, I certainly can't complain and he will remain of interest for the rest of the season, especially at this track (will be back in a few weeks).
I couldn't believe the massive price about Reflect, so much so that I was tempted to have a very sizeable bet on him and thankfully the cautious side of my brain came out on top. He was very weak in the market, which we just didn't want to see and despite holding every chance with a couple to run, he didn't see out the race at all. As he hadn't run at Newmarket before, we had to back him on the assumption that he'd go around there and the reason I've come up with for this defeat is that he just didn't. It will be interesting to see what connections do now, because there's no doubting that this horse has ability and it may just be that he needs a flat galloping track to be at his best. Both of his career-best efforts have come at Haydock and he will be one to note if lining out there or at a similar track. 10-furlongs (1m 2f) is his trip, I'm sure of that (even though he stays further) and there's a nice pot in him when Richard Hannon has him readied.
Maverick settled a lot better than he usually does and that was great to see. It gave him a better chance of getting home over the longest trip that he has tackled to date, but he simply did not and my judgement on him being able to improve over further seems to be very incorrect. Having travelled well towards the front-end, he looked likely to play a hand in the finish if he was able to see out the trip but he dropped away in no time and wasn't given a hard time by Jim Crowley. Connections were talking about giving him a break now and sending him off to Sweden again, so we mightn't get the chance to back him again. If he does reappear over a mile on quick turf, I will be really interested in backing him, especially if there's a lack of pace in the race. He is talented, capable of winning a nice race and just wasn't able to give his best here.
-6.00pts on the day. Form of last 10 selections; 4-0-1-0-5-8-0-3-0-0 (1 winner & 1 place).
Since Secret Witness winning for us the other day, nothing has really went to plan and that is both gutting and frustrating. Hopefully today will swing things back in the other direction for us and we've got no less than 4 selections. Again, I can't be overly confident of anything given the nature of the races but they're all worthwhile bets at the prices and that's about as much as I can say. The rest is going to be in the laps of the Gods (Horses!) now and if we get a bit of luck, hopefully one of them would go on to oblige. As ever, I hope you have a good day folks and all of my fingers and toes are crossed as tight as I can get them. GL.
No fewer than 17 runners are set to line up for this 7f contest and landing on the winner is no easy task at all. Taking a chance on Amazing Amoray coming back to form might be the smart thing to do, as there is no doubting that David Barron's 4-year-old gelding is quite well-handicapped on the performance that he produced when winning a 6-furlong maiden at Leicester last year. That was just his second career outing, his first run for nearly a year and although some of those in behind weren't much use, the manner of the victory was so eye-catching. The handicapper gave him an opening mark of 82, which was deemed to be lenient and connections must be disappointed that he couldn't go on to take a handicap off such a rating. To be fair to the horse, he only ran a few times after that and never encountered anything like the good-to-firm ground that he won his maiden on, so maybe therein lies the problem. Today, he will be getting some quicker ground again and maybe that'll help to see him reach his potential, which it that of a horse much greater than his current rating of 76. The assessor has dropped him a further 3lbs for his reappearance run over 7f at Doncaster, his first venture at this trip. On that occasion, he wasn't best placed to show his hand but stayed on well enough to suggest that he would be coming to hand at some point. That run was six weeks ago, so it's strange that he hasn't been out since but maybe he just needs time in between his outings. Ryan Moore is booked today and that's certainly eye-catching. The Newmarket track should also play to his strengths and if the gallop is strong enough, he should be up to running a big race. 7/1 is on the large side and he's worth taking a chance on, with further improvement likely throughout this season.
Backing any David Barron runner fills me with worry due to his consistent tendency to want to get them well-handicapped before landing a punt, but Bertiewhittle is likely to be his Ayr Gold Cup horse for the year and he's going to need to shoot up the ratings if he's to even get into that race. This ultra-consistent 4-year-old improved the guts of two stone throughout 2011, winning on 3 occasions off marks of 72, 79 & 84. The latter victory came in a valuable three-year-old handicap at Newmarket over this 6f trip, a race in which he was a rather cosy winner despite meeting traffic on a couple of occasions. He shaped as if he'd be capable off marks in the mid-nineties and I'm certain that connections will be able to get him a win or two this season despite his lofty rating of 91. This will be his second outing of the season and he should be a lot sharper after having had a good blow at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago. He was luckless in-running that day, having got badly hampered coming into the closing stages and would have posted a much more respectable performance had he found no trouble. Despite the winner (who will be Group class) coming from his side, the others were favoured by how the race was ran and he would not have been winning it anyway. It's a great run to come here on the back of and any sort of improvement should see him run a big race. This easier track may not play to his strengths, but a good gallop should ensue and he will be finishing off his race very well at least. Jimmy Fortune being booked is very interesting, as is the fact that Barron makes the really long journey down south for just one runner (rarely runs anything here). I suspect that they are keen to get another victory into him soon, so that he'll get into his long-term engagements and at least it looks like he'll be a "trier". 11/2 is a very good price for a horse with such an obvious chance and he's worthy of medium sized support. Mac's Power, Naabegha and Lutine Bell were the others that I considered and they're worth keeping an eye on with a view to backing in the future.
There's usually a massive bias to being draw high around Thirk and although plenty of low-drawn speed could even that out somewhat, I'm sticking with the bias to continue. Excel Bolt is the most eye-catching member of the field, as he's lightly-raced and was a very talented juvenile (won his first two starts before placing in the Group 2 Norfolk at Royal Ascot). Sadly for his patient connections, he's had a few problems with injury and that restricted him to just a couple of starts last year, both of which were no-shows. Bryan Smart had him gelded over the winter though, and he ran an ultra-encouraging race in a conditions' event at Musselburgh back at the beginning of April. The ground being on the soft side of good would not have been ideal, but he still managed to get within a few lengths of some useful rivals by finishing in 3rd place. There's no doubting that he will have to step up on that form if he's going to win this, but you'd expect that the outing will have done him the world of good and the return to a quicker surface will as well. The Thirsk track is his sort of place and getting allotted stall 17 (of 17) is a massive bonus. Bryan Smart's yard have struggled for winners in the past fortnight and usually that'd be a worry but they have had plenty of places, so hopefully that's a sign that there's not an underlying problem in the yard. Excel Bolt should post a good performance here off an attractive looking mark of 95 and anything close to 7/1 is a tasty price about him.
Owning a horse with the raw ability of Hazelrigg would make anyone happy, but his connections must be tearing their hair out because he quite simply doesn't want to go through with his efforts more often than not. If he doesn't fancy it today, he'll just hold his head proudly in the air and refuse to do much more. I do think, however, that this event could fall into his lap if they go as hard from the front as is likely and maybe it'll be all over before he's had time to shirk the issue. In all likelihood, what I've said is just pure wishful thinking but if he wants to, he could win this race doing cartwheels and as a value punter, I see plenty of reason to accept what is a decent price about him. This represents a sizeable drop in grade and the last three times that he ran in Class 4 company resulted in form reading; 1-1-2, with the defeat being by just a quarter-length, when he again decided not to play ball and go past his rival. He has run twice this season, both of which were solid efforts on the book but there's no point in going into too much detail about them as you'll never know what he's really giving in a race. The most recent was just a couple of days ago, in a Class 2 event at York and maybe the quick turnaround will have a positive effect. This race is a hell of a lot easier and he'll be racing on quicker ground as well - yet another help. Adam Carter is on board for the first time and takes off 5lbs to leave the horse looking so well-handicapped off 80 but that might not matter at all I suppose. Carter is at least a brilliant man to have in the plate with sprinters and maybe he'll get on well with the horse, well enough to convince him to go past his rivals I hope! The pair are well drawn over in stall 13 (of 14) and although it's a very speculative punt, it's worth having a small go at the price. This horse could really do anything from finish out the back or win whilst swinging on the bridle. He is crazy!
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