Thursday, 11 February 2016

Lets Go Racing !

A quiet couple of days for the blog as I've been continuing my review of last seasons sprint races.

Today both Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton have a few runners each out as they take advantage of some better going at Doncaster and Huntingdon.

Paul Nicholls seems to be getting his stable back to the old routine and the horses are generally running well with his record since last Thursday reading 1241F1225366122 which is his best spell for a while.

Paul Nicholls
Doncaster -
1.45 Rock On Oscar was a point to point winner and ran just once for the stable last season when he ran too free to do himself justice. He is a big scopey individual that could be a work in progress as they teach him to settle and Nicholls sees him as a chaser in the making.
He started the season over 2m 5f at Kempton on 02/11 where he took a keen hold and having come there to win the race he was headed in the final strides by Duelling Banjos. Nicholls was surprised how well he ran as he thought he needed the race to put him right. If he can learn to relax he could be a fair type as he was also the stables only entry at the 5 day stage in the Grade 2 Class 1 novices hurdle at Cheltenham before Christmas.
His next run though was at Taunton where he wore a hood for the first time to try and calm him down and he also stepped up in distance by 3f to 3 miles in a Class 4 novices hurdle run on good to soft going.
He tanked along throughout that and looked to be coming to win his race but he was found wanting when asked to go and do so.
Hopefully a bit more will have been learnt about him now and he drops down to the shortest distance he has contested yet 2m 3f 120y and the stable will be hoping that he settles better for Nick Schofield at the likelier stronger pace. With the stables horses now finishing their races much better he stands a good chance of converting his undoubted ability into a win.

4.05 Nexius joined the stable from Keith Dalgleish for whom he was a progressive hurdler, went up 22lb, for winning twice at Musselburgh and Haydock. He is a novice over fences and started his season at Bangor in a Class 4 novices chase over 2m 4f 72y on good going. He was up against Hendersons Theinval to whom he was 22 lengths behind when conceding 3lbs at Aintree when Theinval won a Grade 3 hurdle in April - so he had it all to do against that rival but in the end it was the improving Coologue who prevailed and Nexius finished 20 lengths behind Theinval in 4th having weakened approaching the third fence from home.
He faces similar conditions today with Pine Creek and Blue Fashion the ones to beat and Nick Schofield takes over the reins. It's 107 days since his last run as the stable have presumably been waiting on the better ground so if he has come on for the run which seems likely he will be more involved this time.

1.55 San Benedeto and Baoulet Delaroque both contest this race and Sam Twiston Davies has chosen the latter who won well at Wincanton last Thursday and therefore has a 7lb penalty to carry which makes him 8lb well in today with the handicap ratings which haven't yet come into effect for this race.
He was purchased by Anthony Bromley who was of the opinion that he might be a dark horse to keep on the right side of. He ran an eye catching race at Enghien in April even though he was still babyish and immature. He was said to have come on a fair bit over the summer and he started reasonably well for this stable at Chepstow when 4th in a Class 5 maiden hurdle. He then went to Doncaster for a race of a similar type and beat the well regarded Divine Spear although that rival may have to a certain extent sealed his own downfall there but he then went on to frank the form.
For that he was given a lenient handicap mark of 124h and Nicholls stuck him in a Class 3 handicap hurdle mentioned above which he won easily and this race was mentioned post race as his likely next target. This is a better race than the Wincanton one but he may improve for the better going and as he seems to be progressive sort in any event he should run well once again and Twiston Davies sticks with him - however the stables San Benedeto should be thereabouts too.

Dan Skelton runs five today but I will concentrate on those ridden by his brother Harry at Huntingdon.

Dan Skelton
1.55 Value At Risk was a high class hurdler and won on his first start for the stable at Newbury beating the progressive Foryourinformation by 22 lengths. He then ran on bad ground on Cheltenham trials day in January when he was only just denied before running a respectable 5th in the Albert Bartlett over 3m having led turning for home. Plan "A" though has always been chasing as he is big and strong individual however that plan has been put on hold as he has fallen on his only two starts over the larger obstacles.
He was switched back to hurdles last time out at Ascot in a very competitive Grade 3 handicap over 2m 3f 58y on soft which was won by Rock The Kasbah. Value At Risk took a keen hold there and he eventually weakened approaching two out which was understandable as it was effectively his first race having fallen at fence two on both his chase starts.
This is an easier race and he has dropped 3lbs to 139h in the handicap ratings - however he is still the horse carrying the most weight if you take off Harry Cobden's 7lb claim from San Benedeto. He has been well backed this am but he is giving weight to unexposed types so that puts me off.

2.30 Squire Trelawney has been with the stable a while but his first win came at Wincanton in a 6 runner Class 4 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 4f on good in October when beating Sonny The One. He had been off 557 days prior to that win so there may have been an element of the "bounce" factor at Ascot next time out in a Class 3 handicap over 2m 5f 8y where he finished 5th of 6 having made a number of errors and being tailed off.
He is usually a sound jumper so it will be hoped he can do better in that department today in this Class 4 novices limited handicap chase. He will have no problem staying the trip and the easier grade should help him be more competitive if the jumping errors have been ironed out during his break since November.

3.05 North Hill Harvey was purchased for £100,000 at Cheltenhams April Sales after winning an English point to point with ease. He is another chaser of the future but he should make his mark over hurdles too. He started the season finishing 2nd to Barters Hill at Huntingdon where after making a mistake two out he was allowed to come home in his own time with there being 21 lengths back to the third horse home.
He jumps well and the stable have been impressed with him and he duly showed improvement next time when winning at Cheltenham in a Claas 3 NH novices hurdle over 2m 1f on soft going.
He always travelled well there and after making headway from two out he took up the lead after the last flight to quicken away for a four and a half length victory.
The stable were very impressed with that run and this race was the immediate plan thereafter. He has to shoulder a 4lb penalty but if he's good enough that will not make any difference to the result - however he faces some potentially decent sorts once again and Henderson's Minella Awards is the betting's answer to the best of those and it's a race to watch for me.

1 point win Rock On Oscar @ 3/1 generally
1 point win Baoulet Delaroque @ 9/4 generally - drifting out

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