Saturday, March 21, 2009

Notes from a Saturday at Stratford

Glorious sunshine in the morning led to an off-the-cuff decision to go racing with daughter and her friend in the afternoon. I hadn't done the homework, so we only had a couple of small bets but it was all very pleasant...

The ground looked pretty quick but they didn't go particularly quick in the opening two mile three novice hurdle. Early doors Liam Treadwell was allowed something of a soft lead on 28/1 outsider Sargentos; the jockey must have thought Christmas had come early, because he cannily increased the leeway with the result that by halfway it was in the region of ten to twelve lengths. Those chasing got to work and had greatly reduced the margin coming to the end of the back straight but 5/4 favourite Deep Squeeze had used plenty of energy to get competitive and couldn't reel in the leader who won by two and a half lengths for local trainer John Allen. There appeared to be a bit of money for the Pipe trained The Accordionist but the gelding was never better than fourth and weakened from two out; on this showing two miles on decent ground looks his trip. Overheard in the Club Enclosure from one of the course's security personnel: "That's the biggest fix here today..."!

The two mile six and a half furlong seller looked a weak affair. Eleven year old The Wooden Spoon (4/1 co-favourite) showed plenty of determination to see off his rivals up the home straight. I'd picked up a word for 14/1 shot Starstruck Peter who looked to be going best of all as they came around the home turn but he faded to finish a one-paced third. Both the other co-favourites, Cantabilly and Super Ross, fell, at the fourth and fifth respectively. Unsurprisingly there was no bid for the winner.

Nacimo was priced up favourite in the Racing Post for the Gerry Holloway 60th Birthday Handicap Chase but he was declared a non-runner. In his absence Milton Des Bieffes looked the one to beat; he had recently won over course and distance and could easily be forgiven his last effort over a shorter trip - I took 13/8. He went off in front, got close to one early on but then proceeded to jump really well and stayed on up the home straight to collect by seven lengths. Winning owner Nick Shutts, interviewed over the PA after this race, was almost apologetic for withdrawing his A Few Kind Words from the 4.35; they've clearly had to be patient with that one and the ground here was clearly too fast - the hint was he could win races if kept sound. Beforehand I'd feared Hen Knight's Musical Chairs who was backed from 11/2 in to 4/1 and finished second; there may be a race in him in due course.

Drama aplenty in the conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle at four o'clock with Present falling at the sixth, bringing down 3/1 favourite What Happened and badly hampering Little Hotpotch - Carey Williamson had no chance and was unseated. A thrilling finish followed with Heebie Jeebie (16/1), Bolton Hall (9/1) and Quiny Boy (11/2) all leading at different points up the home straight. Bolton Hall looked to have fought off Heebie Jeebie but Quiny Boy, a tricky ride I'd say, decided to put it in and won in the final stride.

To my mind the market for the novice handicap chase at 4.35 had a decidedly lop-sided look to it. All the money was for Paradise Expected but this event appeared a relatively open affair and so it proved. Of course, all you had to do was pick the winner... That proved beyond me; I chanced Twiston-Davies' Bali Bay who didn't jump well and was beaten some way out. I've been experimenting with Twitter recently and tried for the first time texting to the service (from the paddock) where eventual winner Jackella (7/1) was on his toes. In the race Jackella's saddle slipped early on; coming to two out, amateur rider James Tudor lost his irons completely but still managed to get his mount home in front - an excellent display of horsemanship. 16/1 chance Maree Hall jumped the first in front and then missed out the water jump and had to be pullled up.

In the concluding bumper I quietly fancied Daaloob (5/2) against market leader Sure Josie Sure. The selection saw off his market rival but had no answer to 22/1 winner Extreme Conviction.

Whilst writing this, I had to nip out of the room for a 'comfort break'; on returning I found that other members of the Tips' household (the rotters) had raided the computer and added the following, completely unsollicited...

"'Fish Fingers was quite a star turn until one furlong out...' And, anyone who has paid attention and can fill in the gaps will win fifty pence!"

What does that mean?

1 comment:

Sandracer said...

No idea.

Maybe Fishfingers is your nickname, instead of good old Peter. & Starstruck Peter was going well until 1f out.

I dunno.