It’s Friday and my horse tracker has lit up like a Christmas tree with entries and declarations. The jumps is well and truly in full flow and we saw some real class at Newbury yesterday. Warwick, Hexham and Fontwell host cards today so we’ll dive into each and try and pull out a few more winners.
Starting off Friday with a 3 mile 1.5 furlong handicap chase and top of the market is LA CAVSA NOSTRA. The 7 year old made his seasonal reappearance 10 days ago and looked a real interesting staying chaser.
He came out at Chepstow and was trying a new trip under rules of 3 miles 2 furlongs. He won really impressively and the staying route seems to have drawn his talents out. He beat some handy rivals in Christmas In April and Len Brennan. The form has had an immediate boost with Len Brennan going in yesterday and winning at Sedgefield. Although La Cavsa Nostra has to shoulder a 7lb penalty for the win at Chepstow Sam Waley-Cohen takes over in the saddle and can claim 3lbs. With a portion of the penalty negated by Waley-Cohen it looks likely that this one can follow up a 6 length victory with another win. He’s completely unexposed as a staying chaser and it’s hard to know just how much in hand he could have. His previous form was nothing to shout about but he did have 3 point to point runs last year and it might have shed some clues as to where his talents really are. Warwick is currently riding good to soft so there should be no complaints about the underfoot conditions as it’s a repeat of what he faced at Chepstow.
Main competitor is definitely Boughtbeforelunch and he ran creditably in his pipe opener at Worcester 29 days ago. He just found Ballymalin too good that day as the 2 slugged it out on their way to the line. The handicapper has left him on the same mark and he could well go well again here now he’s had a spin on around a course. The downside for him is the going and any further rain will not be welcomed by the Paul Webber trained 6 year old.
If La Cavsa Nostra can back up after 10 days and Waley-Cohens’ claim takes the edge off the penalty it’s hard to not see him winning again.
Skipping over to Fontwell for a 2 mile 1 furlong mares’ maiden hurdle. There’s a name at the top of the market I’ve been waiting for in MYSTIC DREAMER.
The 5 year old won a bumper at Cheltenham in April last year and the form has worked out unbelievably. In 2nd that day was Floressa who came out yesterday in a class 2 hurdle and came 2nd to yesterday’s Nap Silver Forever by a short head. Floressa won her hurdle debut by 19 lengths hard held. Back in 3rd in the bumper was Yeavering Belle. She’s unbeaten over timber after winning both her starts. 4th was Urban Artist who came out and debuted over hurdles back in October and won by half a length too. Finally 7th, Penny Mallow, came out and won her hurdle debut a few days ago as well. The form is stacking up unbelievably so you’d be in the right frame of mind for thinking Mystic Dreamer could be quite good herself. It’s one of the best pieces of bumper form I’ve stumbled across in some time and it’s definitely worth following.
Mystic Dreamer is a hold up horse and she likes to come off the pace to strike late. She motored up the hill at Cheltenham from the back in her bumper win and looked really smart in doing so. Deja Vue and Early Morning Rain appear to be our 2 that’ll set the pace for Mystic Dreamer to pounce on. The slight concern is going to be the ground. She’s run once on soft and didn’t put in a great performance. But that was a class 1 bumper and it might just have been the talent that caught her out and not the juice in the turf. She’s already beaten nearest market rival Early Morning Rain so I’m expecting this mare to continue the winning trade from the bumper she won.
A trip to Hexham next for their 3 mile conditional jockeys’ handicap chase. This is a funny little race and only 2 are really catching the eye in The Boola Bee and SMUGGLER’S STASH. We haven’t seen the latter for 571 days so it’s going to take some training performance for him to be stripped fit here but he’s bringing the smartest form to the table.
Back in February and March 2018 the selection was picking off 3 mile class 5 handicap chases on heavy going for fun. Winning by 1.75 lengths the first time the handicapper had his say and gave him 4lbs. Smuggler’s Stash responded by winning by 5 lengths and looking even smarter in doing so. After 3 miles on soft you’d think the tank would be running empty but he just kept finding on the flat and pulled away from 2nd. After those 2 wins he jumped up in class but finished tailed off behind Achill Road Boy in a 3 mile 2 furlong race at Carlisle. He stepped up to class 3 for his next run and ran well coming 3rd of 9 and only 6.25 lengths behind the winner. Things obviously haven’t been straight forward since then and he’s missed the entirety of last season. But he returns to 3 miles, heavy ground and a workable looking handicap mark of 102. Now in this 0-100 affair he’s slightly overweighted obviously and is tasked with carrying 12st4lbs. But its not all despair and misery as Theo Gillard is jocked up for this conditional Jockeys’ race and he claims back a handy 5lbs. It’s a big ask for him to be win ready on return but he looks the classier horse here even if he’s got to lug around top weight.
The Boola Bee is the immediate danger and is current favourite. Including claims theres only going to be 4lbs difference in weights between the 2 and The Boola Bee has been pumped up to a career high mark of 96. The 6 year old might just find this too steep and his last win came off of a handicap mark of 77. The rest of the field just don’t look like thorough stayers. If Smuggler’s Stash is wound up enough for this he should be really hard to beat.
Rounding out proceedings with a Mares’ bumper at Warwick there’s one in here who catches my eye and the price just looks a bit wrong. JUST FOR FEE ran at Worcester in a bumper 29 days ago and finished a respectable 4th. It was a good position to finish when you consider how the race was ran.
This head case is a free going one. The flag dropped at Warwick and she went for it. Before they turned out of the home straight she’d nearly pulled William Kennedy’s arms off so he let her have her head and she galloped 15 lengths ahead of the chasing pack. As she turned into the back she’d opened up by about 20 lengths and was still going hard. Swinging back for home the pack made the decision that this mare wasn’t going to just come back to them and she needed catching. Quickly. It wasn’t until late on that a few strong travellers managed to swallow her up and pass her. Even then only 3 did as she clung on for 4th. Now it’s not the ideal way for a horse to run. She’s burning petrol needlessly smashing her way forward but the fact she kept on for 4th means there’s a pretty decent engine in there and today a first time hood goes on. The application of first time headgear might just help her settle down a little bit. Despite the fact she’s clearly very keen she might not be pulling 25 lengths clear here. She’ll be front-running for definite but I imagine it’ll be more controlled this time if the hood has it’s effect.
If she can compose herself and save some of that petrol she’ll have enough to keep pushing and might catch some of these napping. If they’re waiting on her to come back to them and she kicks on again she’s going to be really hard to get too. She nearly put the geldings to the sword, it could be easier against her own sex.