Friday was the day we were waiting for all week as the home of jumps racing was meant to return for Cheltenham’s November meeting to commence. Unfortunately the driving rain has left the course looking like a lake and racing there has been abandoned today. It leaves us with Newcastle and Southwell to look at as they both hosts jumps cards today and firmly crossed fingers that racing goes ahead tomorrow.
Starting the day with the first race on Newcastle’s card, a 2 mile 7.5 furlong handicap hurdle and it’s hard to ignore top of the market MR LOVE.
He was last seen at Huntingdon smashing up a 3 mile 1 furlong handicap hurdle by 15 lengths. He virtually made all that day after disputing the lead until after the 8th flight he took up the running and put his engine to good use. He quickly drew away from opposition and was pushed clear by Harry Skelton from 2 out to run away a dominant winner. Now he carries a 7lb penalty for that win but William Marshall takes over in the saddle and the young jockey claims 7lbs. The penalty is essentially negated by the jockey booking and things look lined up for him to go in again. He encounters soft ground and a slightly shorter trip but the change in tactics appear to be what livened the 7 year old up last time as he was usually held up in the past. He seemed to much prefer being prominent on his last run so it’ll be safe to assume he’ll be ridden a little more aggressively here. He might get a soft lead up front today as there’s no one who seems awfully keen to go forward. It might be better for William Marshall to take up the running as Mr Love clearly stays further than this trip so he can begin to open up and pile on pressure. If his engine is aloud to do the talking from the front in the late stages he’ll be hard to peg back.
Main rival is looking like Final Fling who comes in off a lofty mark of 101. He’s got to lug around 12st but he is however back on his last winning mark which came back in January of 2018. He made a decent reappearance 20 days ago and ran a creditable 4th. If that run has sparked him up a bit he could be in for a bold bid but he’s got a chunk of weight to give away to an improving rival here.
A little bit further into the card at Newcastle is a race over 2 mile and 7.5 furlongs again but this time for a mares’ handicap chase. Second in the market is SHENEEDEDTHERUN and now the selection has had her pipe opener she looks likely to go in here.
The selection ran at Worcester 23 days ago and ran a great race to finish second. She gave winner Stupid Cupid plenty to think about but a mistake at the last fence seemed to curb her chances of winning. She was giving the winner over a stone that day yet ran well at a big price to finish 5 lengths clear of 3rd. The pace was quite slow too and Stupid Cupid had the better turn of foot to get away from the field. She’s lucky the handicapper left her untouched for that run and she comes in on the same mark of 103 to put in another good showing. It’s likely to be a slow pace again here as there’s no real front runners in the field. There’s only 5 runners entered and it’s hard to identify 1 that will go and make the running. Sheneededtherun was quite prominent at Worcester so could be given a similar ride by Charlie Todd. He also takes a handy 7lbs off her back as she’s now slipped below her last winning handicap mark. She’s run well on soft before so that’s of no concern as the ground at most courses is turning bottomless.
The other 4 runners are all in with a chance as the longest odds in the field is only 5/1. Talkofgold was a winning hurdler but her debut over fences was disappointing and she pulled up in a small runner affair at Perth in the summer. You can imagine she’s gone under rigorous schooling over fences but her technique left a lot to be desired and jumping is the game. Angel Antics has finished behind the selection before at Bangor so is quite comfortably held on that form as there hasn’t been a swing in the weights since. Royal Claret is a class 3 winning hurdler and debuted over fences in a hot contest at Uttoxeter behind Diablo De Rouhet. She’s on a lofty mark of 112 and others are far better treated as she was tailed off 35 lengths in that last run. Finally Kitty Fisher looks relatively unexposed in this company but she’s 10lbs higher in the weights than her last win and that was in a class 5 event. She’s up in class and on a difficult looking mark to work with.
With the rest of the field easy to strike lines through it leaves Sheneededtherun to notch up her first win of the campaign.
Rounding out today’s selections with a 2.5 mile handicap hurdle and there’s one lurking in the middle of the odds who’s a course specialist. ZAMOYSKI has clocked up 3 course and distance wins so the price is likely to quickly dry up.
The 9 year old seems to love the 2.5 mile trip around this course and has won here off marks of 107 and 105 in the past. He comes in today off a handicap mark of 104 so actually looks quite well treated to be going close at a venue he clearly thrives at. Now he’s carrying a hefty 11st12lbs for this effort but still isn’t top weight as Minella Examiner and Oriental Cross are both rated 106. The selection won his first race here back in September 2017 and followed up again a month later with another course and distance win off a 8lb rise. He then must have had some form of issue as he disappeared from the track for 439 days. But he then made his reappearance again at Southwell and made it a hat trick of wins going in off a mark of 107. His form has somewhat tailed off since then and he spent the summer running poorly on the flat. It would seem connections are trying to spark him back up and a return to a course where he has terrific form could just do the trick. He’s done it on soft ground before so the going should be of no real concern. Daryl Jacob is quite an eye-catching jockey booking as he’s hit home a solid 18% win ratio in the last 2 weeks.
At a big price I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to this course brings the best out of Zamoyski again and he puts in another solid effort.