by Max Lindley (Assistant Racing Secretary)
As we enter a new month October proved successful with 8 winners from 39 runners. Plus 3 or 4 smart performances which necessarily weren’t winning ones e.g. Miss Crick only going down by a short margin in listed company. We are really picking up now in terms of runners with the jumps season starting to take shape, where hopefully we might have a drop of rain in the next few days so we can kick on with some schooling on the grass and looking ahead to Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting the following weekend. The horses remain in good form with 10 of our last 13 runners being placed.
We had a quiet start to the week with no runners until Wednesday in which we sent 4 runners to Nottingham and Chepstow. We were represented in both divisions of the 1m 1/2f maiden where both Moans Cross and Royal Sunday ran pleasing races. Moans Cross ran well bringing in to account they went slow early and was slightly keen in the process. The race took shape quickly with the eventual winner stretching them out drawing clear inside the final furlong. All things considered it was a promising debut where he will be more streetwise next time. Royal Sunday performed with plenty of encouragement also making his debut. Similar scenario racing keen however stuck to his task well inside the final furlong. There will be plenty of improvement on the back of that and a step up in trip will benefit him further. Criq Rock finished third on his hurdling debut. He jumped pleasingly on the whole but got caught flat footed when the pace lifted approaching the third last and Alan was thrilled with the run. Given how he raced in bumpers it was great to see him switch off and travel so plenty of positives can be taken. We then had a long nervous wait between the first and last race in which Holy Street was making his racecourse debut in the 2m bumper where he finished fourth. He is definitely better than he showed there and can certainly be forgiven his first run. He is held in high regard by the team and is sure to redeem expectations with that run under his belt. We then sent two talented horses to Newbury on Thursday where Dusky Legend made a winning seasonal return after several months off. She beat two last time out winners comprehensively and was fast over her obstacles. She has the form in the book and continues to progress. A step back up to Pattern Company now looks on the cards. There were high hopes for Hidden Cargo in the bumper and he finished third. He travelled in to the race easily but just ran green. He was beaten by a smart rival who showed plenty of speed to put the race to bed – it will probably turn out to be a decent race in time with the finish dominated by newcomers. With a handful of non-runners Friday we were solely represented by David Cricket who finished a fast finishing third at Fontwell. He never really travelled and was finding it hard to keep in touch from an early stage. As they turned for home he was a good few lengths off the first four but made up significant ground to only be beaten 2 lengths. It was hard work in the ground so he did very well to get as close as he did and will head over hurdles next.
There was plenty of top quality racing Saturday where the main highlight was Sceau Royal lining up in the Elite Hurdle. Thankfully it all went according to plan and he ran out an impressive winner. He jumped brilliantly, then approaching the last was gaining the upper hand when Zubayr fell (was fine after), he then quickened smartly after the last and hit the line well. Alan was delighted with his performance and his next target will either be the Fighting Fifth or the Christmas Hurdle. We then switched codes to the November Handicap in which William Hunter produced a career best to finish fourth. He travelled in to the race comfortably before getting his momentum halted, where he was stopped in his run entering the final two furlongs. It was unfortunate as he was finishing fast once he got a clear run through but didn’t have enough time to reel in the first three. He will now be put away until next flat season where there is plenty to look forward to. Lastly was Elgin who finished an encouraging second in the bumper at Aintree. He shaped well but just got outpaced by the winner who looks potentially useful. He was running with a penalty (giving the first and third 7 pounds), so it was pleasing to see him hold on for second, where that run will put him spot-on for next time. Novice hurdles may be next as his schooling has been pleasing at home.
The weekend closed with two runners on Sunday at Sandown where Azzerti opened the card. Although he was only beaten 5 lengths in to third it was disappointing he couldn’t finish closer given he came there with every chance approaching two out looking the likely winner. The winner was rated 138 beforehand so he’s a good yardstick in terms of the form. Paddys Runner ran a sound race to finish third staying on well after jumping the last. Judging on that performance a step up in distance may improve him further.