Three horses from this weekend past that went in my ‘eye-catchers notebook’……
LIGHTNING STRIKE (Venetia Williams) – Friday – 3.05 Ascot – 8th in the 2m6f Handicap Hurdle
It was perhaps not the manner in which he ran that caught my eye (it wasn’t anything to write home about) but more the fact that he was far from knocked about on his first run since finishing down the field in last seasons Coral Cup at the Cheltenham festival. Venetia’s horses look to be slowly coming to hand at the minute but it would have been safe to assume that this lad needed the run. What is particularly interesting about this horse is the fact he is currently running off a rating of 125 over hurdles, some 15lbs lower than his peak rating from his novice days when he ran 6th in the 2008 Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle (beaten only 8 lengths) and also picked up a Grade 2 hurdle at Sandown as well as a Listed contest at Haydock. His Chase mark also looks tempting (currently rated 136) and it should be noted he is 3 from 5 in that sphere. The horse was pulled up injured in the 2009 RSA Chase and connections didn’t rush him back to the track, giving him almost 2 years away from racing. Providing his ability remains (at least some of it) both his chase and hurdle handicap marks look very tempting. His National Hunt figures suggest he is a horse that doesn’t like to be crowded and it’s highly likely any future wins will come in single figure fields.
Take a look at his form figures broken down by field size –
9 runners or less – 2-1-1-P-7-1-1-3-1
10 runners or more – 9-5-3-6-7-P-0-8
Providing Saturday’s pipe-opener has sharpened him up he must have more than a squeak given the correct circumstances.
THE SAWYER (Bob Buckler) – Saturday – 3.05 Ascot – 5th in the Silver Cup Handicap Chase
There are few secrets about this guy; he likes January (6 of his 8 career wins in the month) and he likes soft/heavy ground (7 of his 8 career wins on the surface). Given Saturdays race was in December and he was a couple of pounds out of the handicap I thought he ran a more than adequate race to finish only 9 lengths behind THE MINACK. He led the field along for the first 10 fences, stayed close by for the next 4, until finally feeling the pinch when the taps were turned to full 4 fences from home. He was far from disgraced and his current mark of 133 has him 1lb below his previous winning mark. He still looks to hold plenty of his enthusiasm and a handicap chase next month on ground with plenty of cut in it could see him return to the winners enclosure.
DIAMOND D’AMOUR (George Bewley) – Sunday – 1.25 Carlisle – 1st in the 2m1f Novices’ Hurdle (Division 1)
On what was an average card on a bleak and cold day at the Cumbria track one imposing grey beast stood out above all else; step forward DIAMOND D’AMOUR. Once he bounded off at the head of affairs he never really looked like being passed and he simply flew over his hurdles and left the rest of the field for dead. The first thing that struck me was that this is a horse made for jumping a fence, a sentiment backed up by both trainer and jockey after the race. He has the size and scope to make an impact over fences and he already makes the shape of a chaser when soaring over his hurdles. The 5yo was one of the large batch of horses that Graham Wylie decided against keeping when Howard Johnson was thrown out of the racing game and it may be that the gelding will benefit from being part of a much smaller operation at team Bewley. He certainly strikes me as a potential ‘stable star’ for the yard and fingers crossed this is a hurdler with a big future over the larger obstacles.
NTF Xmas Quiz
The prizes will be in the form of a free £20 bet to the winner and a free £10 bet to the runner-up.
The NTF Xmas Quiz 2011 will be live on the web-site soon…..