Sceau easy for Royal to stake his claim for Arkle success
Cheltenham on the agenda after Henry VIII romp
Winner, 2m juvenile hurdle, Sandown, Friday, December 8
This gelding from the Gary Moore yard made mincemeat of his opposition, winning by 14 lengths. The key to this performance was his accurate jumping as he took lengths out of his rivals at each hurdle. He is well worth a crack at a higher level.
Quothquan stepped up on his previous form to run a creditable race in second.
Debutant Night Of Glory was pretty useful on the Flat, gaining an official rating of 99. The Sea The Stars gelding seemed very fit for his first venture over hurdles, but his jumping did not hold up. He is sure to come on plenty for the experience.
The favourite, Jukebox Jive, is not very big and he struggled to give weight away to his opponents. He also failed to jump with any fluency.
Esprit De Somoza and Tommy Hallinan are both chasers for the future.
Right Of Reply
Sixth, 2m4f novice handicap chase, Sandown, Friday
This good-looking son of Presenting stopped as if he had been shot in the straight, but he did enough to suggest he will win races once connections have worked on any issues. He had made a significant step forward from his first run just 11 days earlier and his jumping was pretty slick bar one mistake. He had most of the field off the bridle after negotiating the Railway fences, but he weakened quickly as he approached the bypassed Pond Fence.
Touch Kick appeared in grand order and overall his jumping was efficient. He was driven out over the final two fences to win narrowly.
Lithic didn’t take the eye in the paddock and didn’t look happy at a number of fences either, but to his credit he kept on galloping all the way to the line.
Wilberdragon, who was shouldering top weight, seemed fit and well. However, he was unable to dominate, which may be why he was not at his best.
On The Blind Side
Winner, Winter Novices’ Hurdle, 2m5f, Sandown, Friday
This good-looking son of Stowaway looked magnificent in the paddock and travelled sweetly on the bridle. He had clearly learned a great deal since his previous run at Cheltenham and he despatched his seven rivals with the minimum of fuss. There aren’t many novices who possess such a potent turn of foot. I’d just worry about him if he next raced in the Challow Hurdle at the end of this month, though, as that would be his fourth run in a relatively short space of time.
Springtown Lake, an unlucky faller at Wincanton when last seen, showed his true colours by running a personal best in second. His key asset is that he is a very clean jumper and that will stand him in good stead throughout the season.
Red River showed a fair amount of ability to plug on in third. He looks a lovely type for the future.
Marley Firth, who is not the biggest, looked fit and well and ran a respectable race.
The striking White Moon came bouncing into the paddock and seemed ready to take on allcomers but didn’t give his running.
Red Devil Star
Second, 1m7½f handicap chase, Sandown, Friday
A competitive field lined up for this 0-125 event and Suzy Smith’s gelding was the pick of them. He made a mess of the first, which slightly put him on the back foot, but he jumped into contention down the back and looked to have a good chance approaching the last until just unable to fend off the winner. This was another fine effort and he deserves to win sooner rather than later.
Workbench, who was 8lb higher for his last win, had to dig in to his reserves to come out on top. Maybe the first-time tongue-tie/blinkers combination made a difference.
Bally Gilbert appreciated the drop in trip and ran well, but it appears the handicapper has him in his grip.
Gregarious looked very fit. He just lost touch coming around the final bend and didn’t have the speed to challenge over the last two flights.
Second, 2m novice hurdle, Sandown, Saturday, December 9
This chestnut gelding looked ready to go on his first start over hurdles. He seemed to jump his first two flights without too much fuss, but as the pace steadied down the far side he became headstrong and gave his jockey a pretty hard time. It’s a testament to his ability that he was in front jumping the last flight, but he was unable to see it out to the end. This could have been down to freshness and he is a fine prospect if learning to settle better.
The gorgeous Ainchea has a wonderful physique for a four-year-old, but he was green at a number of obstacles. However, he showed a change of pace to grab the rail and in the end that turned out to be the winning move. Colin Tizzard looks to have an exciting recruit to his yard.
Just A Sting looked well and was ridden much closer to the pace than previously, but it looks like an extra half-mile would suit.
The chasing type Get Out Of The Gate seemed in decent nick, but his jumping did not hold up and he will learn a great deal from this when he steps up in trip.
Winner, Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, 1m7½f, Sandown, Saturday
This was a humdinger of a race and I could not fault the appearance of all the five runners, so it says a lot that this horse ran out an 11-length winner. Alan King’s five-year-old jumped immaculately over the 13 fences, clearly helped by the strong pace and the decent ground, and looked the winner once clearing the last of the Railway fences. He looks the best 2m novice around at the moment.
North Hill Harvey did not put a foot wrong and jumped superbly throughout, but he was simply left for dead. The form book shows that his best performances have come at Cheltenham.
Finian’s Oscar, who was sent off as favourite, could not live with the scorching pace once the field turned down the hill. He seemed to be in top gear all the way and was taken out of his comfort zone. He clearly needs to be stepped back up in trip and I wouldn’t write him off after this performance.
Capitaine was tracking the leaders, but the pace they were going caused him to feel the pinch from some way out and he was beaten when falling two out.
Brain Power went off in front, but his jumping could not hold up in the heat of battle and he made a complete mess of the Railway fences. To his credit he fought back coming around the final bend, but he was a spent force when he stumbled and unseated his rider at the last fence. He may need more schooling if he is going to fulfil his potential.
Caid Du Lin
Second, 2m Listed handicap hurdle, Sandown, Saturday
This five-year-old has been on the go for a while and looked fit. He ran a great race and was only overhauled in the last 100 yards, serving it up to the winner all the way to the line. He is still going the right way.
A Hare Breath, whose handicap mark had dropped below his last win, bounced back to his best on his first start of the season and showed tremendous courage to get his head in front, but history suggests he is best when fresh.
Crossed My Mind looked in top order, but his final effort petered out before the last.
Fidux ran a tremendous race in fourth, but his handicap mark keeps being pushed up which doesn’t help his cause.
William H Bonney never landed a blow and I wonder whether the race came a little too soon after his exertions in the Greatwood last month.
Jenkins looks the part, but he does not look like one to trust.
Winner, Tingle Creek Chase, 1m7½f, Sandown, Saturday
This grey gelding announced himself on the big stage with a superb round of jumping. He took lengths out of his opponents over the fences and jumped into contention down the back straight. When asked for a big one at the last he came up willingly and galloped all the way to the line. Whether he could beat Altior or Douvan is another matter, but he deserves to have a crack at them given that he is only rising seven.
Fox Norton looked superb in the paddock, but he was always on the back foot travelling at this speed and his jumping suffered. Even when he came to challenge clearing the Pond Fence, I never felt he was going to quite get there. He requires a step up in trip.
Ar Mad seemed fit but raced keenly from the off, which caused him to make a number of errors on the way round.
Charbel showed a glimmer of light on his return to fences and hopefully this will do his confidence the world of good.