Wednesday’s racing brings another nice mix of cards. The end of the flat season is truly insight now as it wraps up this weekend. The jumps are gathering momentum as the higher profile names of last season are starting to make their seasonal debuts for the winter campaigns. Wetherby, Bath and Nottingham are the focuses of the day.
This is a funny little race. 1 mile 2 furlong at Bath on soft going. 3 names take the most attention in Herman Hesse, Tantivy and STAG HORN. These 3 have already opposed. A class 2 maiden at Goodwood saw these 3 finish 2nd 3rd and 4th. But interestingly it’s not the highest finisher that appeals most on reappearance.
Stag Horn may not have finished first of the crop that re-oppose here, but a shift from Goodwood’s sharp finish might suit him more. In running Tantivity sat closer to the pace and took up the running when the long time leader faded. He managed to dig in and stay on for 2nd. Herman Hesse followed the eventual winner along the nearside rail. He looked a bit green on running and finished 4th. Stag Horn had to switch right to get around the fading long time leader. He also came from further off the pace that day and made up places quickly. It’s going to be a tight affair again as only 1.5 lengths separated the 3 at the line last time.
Tantivity would be the logical favourite of the 3 but his price is already showing weakness and he’s starting to fall away in the prices. Stag Horn only having running twice and not looking quite as babyish as his opponents suggests he’s the runner with the most amount of improvement still to come. Archie Watson has had a fantastic season with his 2 year olds and I expect his form to continue with his juveniles with the selection shedding his maiden tag 3rd time of asking. His breeding is eye-catching being out of Golden Horn and a Galileo mare, his stamina should be top class. Oisin Murphy is also a huge booking for the saddle as he’s knocking up wins up and down the country on his route to sealing his first champion jockey title.
This is a race that needs watching, national hunt notebook in hand. 2 high class hurdlers from last season are making the switch to the larger obstacles for the first time in their careers. Sam Spinner for Jedd O’Keeffe and BEAKSTOWN for Dan Skelton.
There’s already been a swing in odds overnight. Kicking myself already for missing the price on this one as he was touching 2/1 late last night and he’s already hit odds on this morning. Contesting the Ballymore novice hurdle when last seen, Beakstown was a real hot prospect for the Skeltons. I was on course for his first win of the season at Uttoxeter and was quite taken with how he travelled through the race and found a bit extra to assert after the last and shed his maiden tag immediately. His season peaked winning the Ballymore Leamington novice hurdle at Warwick, digging deep he took the grade 2 and looked a good shot for the Ballymore Novice at the Cheltenham Festival. Only to find the race too hot for him and pull up before the last.
Sam Spinner on the other hand was tackling staying hurdle competitions last season. He had a strange blip in his form where he was just refusing hurdles and unseated his rider. Twice then beaten by Paisley Park in the Cleeve Hurdle and the Stayer’s Hurdle, 3 miles certainly looks his bag. This drop down to 2.5 miles looks a bit sharp for him. Also his jumping could be very sketchy at some of his hurdles. Never particularly quickest in the air and sometimes a bit tentative, Beakstown should be out-jumping him and out-pacing him to get off the mark as a chaser immediately.
Over to the flat at Nottingham for a 1 mile 2 furlong handicap. The ground is still desperate at Nottingham so we’re looking at another slog in the mud. The flat cards of recent have become spot the mudlark. There appears to be a decent one at an each way price here in GLOBAL GIFT.
Last seen at Chester in a 10.5 furlong race he ran an absolute stormer. Asked for his race sealing effort as they turned for home Global Gift hit the front and started to kick for home. Only in the last half a furlong did he get pegged back and lose 2 places to a couple of fast finishers. The half a furlong less here will suit him more as that extra few yards was where he got nailed last time out. It’s also interesting to note that last time contesting on heavy back in June he won on heavy going beating Zip by 1.5 lengths.
It’s quite a hot race here, Majestic Dawn is dropping in from contesting class 2’s and Junooh is coming off the back of bolting up in a class 5 novice on soft ground. Global Gift may be 4lbs higher than his last winning mark but he’s shown he’s still competitive off current rating 89 going close at Chester. This race will get messy. There’s quite a strong pace forecast on. On bottomless ground if the pace setters go off too quick they’ll find themselves fading late on. Global Gift likes to sit handy so he can come in just off the pace and try pick up the pieces as the pace collapses. A repeat of his Chester effort will see him going close here, hopefully not getting nailed late on this time.
Not very often a horse from my jumps notebook makes an appearance so early in the season. Immediately I made a note of ANTUNES after a demolition job at Uttoxeter under Harry Skelton. Drawing away effortlessly after the last he looked a real prospect of a 2 mile hurdler on soft ground. Straight away he was upped in class and shouldered top weight in a tough handicap at Leicester. A creditable 5th, the weight just seemed to bog him down and curb that impressive turn of foot. Last time we saw the 5 year old he contested a class 4 novice hurdle. Finishing 2nd to an odds on favourite was another solid performance. The form looks solid as the 2 had pulled 21 lengths ahead of the rest of the field and the winner Khage went in again after.
The Skelton charge looks to be at his best when there’s a bit of cut in the ground that he gets here today. Dan seems to have found a perfect race here as he’s got ground conditions to suit and is 2nd bottom weight in the handicap. Getting weight from all but 1 rival makes this selection very hard to ignore. Another winter under him and he’ll have come on physically. Dan is one of the best trainers around for mopping up these handicaps and when Harry is on form he’s nigh impossible to stop.
Main rival is Captain Moirette who finished 8th in the Scottish Champion Hurdle behind Verdana Blue. This represents a stark drop in grade but a hefty handicap mark of 132 looks hard to defy. Plus, the Skelton’s are starting to get motoring now. Dan as a trainer has a strike rate of 21% in the last 2 weeks and Harry has strike rate of 25% in the last 2 weeks. When this yard is on song it pays to take note.