Plenty for me to report today so I won’t hang about.
I start, as is my usual Monday modus operandi, with my NTF ‘1 to follow from the weekend’…
NTF 1 to follow from the weekend: DOESLESSTHANME…
DOESLESSTHANME (P Nicholls) – Faller in 2m Class 2 Hcp Chase at Worcester (3.10) – Sunday 12th May
Paul Nicholls’ 9yo only actually got as far as the 6th fence in this valuable Sunday contest, where he took what looked a fairly heavy fall. In fairness to the horse the leader at the time Gallox Bridge jumped violently across the front of him in mid-air and the resulting fall can hardly be blamed on sloppy jumping from the Nicholls runner. Until that point he looked to be travelling and jumping well on his first start on Good ground since his victory at Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting in 2012.
So where to now for DOESLESSTHANME?
As already mentioned Sunday was his first start on what I would describe as his favoured ground since his convincing victory at Ayr in 2012. In between that run and Sunday’s start he ran 4 times, all of which were on Good to Soft or worse and in none of those runs has he really shaped as though he has been ready to reproduce his best. Added to all this he has probably been suffering from running from a mark that was above the ceiling of his abilities and/or under race conditions (wrong at the weights in non-handicaps) that would not have suited. The upshot of this is that he has slipped back down to a mark of 145 (only 1lb higher than his Ayr victory) and if Sunday is anything to go by Nicholls is now keen to use a claiming jockey to lessen his burden further to try and get him back to winning ways.
If we look at the horse’s monthly splits we can see he does have a much healthier strike-rate outwith the winter months…
Form from Mar-Oct – 111011F121
Form from Nov-Feb – 621F24531F213226
Admittedly he has never run in the heart of the summer but the temptation must now be to keep him on the go so that he is able to run on the better ground. If not keep him on the go at the very least scrub him off and then bring him back for some of the early season action around October time. He certainly has a strong record when fresh…
Record after a break of 90 days or more – 121121
He isn’t really at a stage in his career where he will be able to go on a run of victories and it’s highly likely that a win will see him handicapped out of things again, however, he is now back around a mark he can win from and there should be plenty of opportunities for him to get his preferred ground. Even if he is now given a summer break he is a horse we should keep in mind for his comeback run as he does have strong figures when returning to the track from a break.
Doeslessthanme ideal conditions – Good or better ground (Good to soft at a push) | Runs well fresh | Handicap marks around 140-145 or below
The curious case of Mr Mole…
A monkey? Maybe.
Talented? Without a doubt.
Breathing op this summer? Highly likely!
Cries of “are you Harchibald in disguise??” were heard up and down the country on Saturday as the talented but quirky MR MOLE again consented to NOT put his best hoof forward, this time in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock. If I’m honest, however, he only just failed to make it as my 1 to follow runner. “Are you mental Ben?!?” I hear plenty of you cry. Well yeah, maybe, but in this instance I think we can make a case for the 5yo. Clearly he has bundles of ability, of that there is little doubt, and he does look like he is a horse that has to be nudged and cajoled into a contest as quietly as possible, again of that there is little doubt, but I also feel he is a horse that has some strong (or at least is starting to show some strong) preferences.
For starters lets look at his record fresh…
Form after a break of 60 days or more – 111
Form when running within 59 days or less – 22P3
He is quirky and he wants/needs a sustained rest period.
Lets now look at his Left-Hand/Right-Hand preferences…
Form on Left-Handed tracks – 32
Form on Right-Hand tracks – 1121P
That is hardly conclusive but what got me on to thinking of this angle was his run in the Swinton this Saturday. When Harry Derham first went for a run at the winner Barizan he aimed Mr Mole down the left, the horse was having none of it. He then switched him to Barizan’s right and all of a sudden he picked up and consented to run on, albeit the race had gone by that stage, nevertheless Mr Mole noticeable straightened up and picked up. Granted this again is not conclusive proof but we are dealing with a quirky customer here and these little pointers may be all it takes to get him in the winners circle. Is this a sign he is more at home going right-handed?
The other angle that is noticeable from his limited form figures is his form over different trips…
Form over 2m – 2m 1/2f – 22P
Form over 2m1f – 1113
Once again it is far from conclusive evidence but it could just be a sign that he wants a bit further than a break-neck 2m-2m 1/2f contest. There are stamina influences in his pedigree so up in trip a little wouldn’t be out of the question.
Lastly I can’t help but wonder if Ruby may be a benefit to have on-board him? In his 7 career starts it is interesting to note that Ruby is yet to get the leg-up on him. It is a JP McManus horse so understandably when AP McCoy is available he is the first port of call, however, Ruby’s quiet riding style would surely be a benefit for this lad…
Mr Mole still has me interested, for now, and it would be no surprise to see him stroll home in a valuable handicap in October/November time on seasonal debut; fresh, right-handed, 2m1f or further…I’m probably on him!
Tony Star & Tour D’Argent…
Two previous ‘to follow’ runners were in action at Haydock on Saturday, Tony Star and Tour D’Argent, both contesting the valuable Class 2 intermediate handicap chase. Tony Star once again ran well at a decent Each-Way price without winning although he does just about continue to pay his way. I still think he is on a decent mark and although the each-way money gets pocketed he is proving to be a little frustrating. He equaled his career best on RPR figures and surely there is a race in him sooner rather than later. Tour D’Argent was running under the highlighted (chase) conditions for the first time since he made the NTF to follow list back in February and although he finished a well adrift 6th in the end there were glimmers of hope. The fact of the matter is that he was badly hampered by the ill fated Ulysse Collonges, who unfortunately broke down. That effectively put a stop to Tour D’Argents forward momentum and his chance was gone after that, he is easily forgiven this run and hopefully other opportunities will be found for him.
FREE NTF Summer Stunners guide…
I’m in the process of firming up this summer jumping guide and it will be with all you guys on the FREE NTF service shortly.
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Ben – (NTF).