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Juvenile Hurdlers 2020/2021

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  • That Balinrobe race could be a good one to play Zanahiyr, there's a chance the market will like the Mullins horse and as he has a Triumph hurdle quote he could be assumed to be the best of them.
    Interesting to see how this gets priced up...


    • Originally posted by Istabraq View Post
      That Balinrobe race could be a good one to play Zanahiyr, there's a chance the market will like the Mullins horse and as he has a Triumph hurdle quote he could be assumed to be the best of them.
      Interesting to see how this gets priced up...
      Early prices...


      • Tom George's Bannister runs in a conditions hurdle at Auteuil tomorrow while Nicky Henderson's first juvenile of the season, Overpriced Mixer, is entered at Kempton on Sunday along with Viroflay of Paul Nicholls. The preview to that race, and the one at Sedgefield, should be up by tomorrow afternoon.

        Preview review
        As with Wetherby on Wednesday, the first three occupied the same positions in the prospects lists but in the reverse order. The positive elements of the performances were justified within the preview as were the negatives. Particularly Naizgai's fitness, Magna Moralia's sincerity and Cabot Cliffs' ungainly head carriage under pressure. Jan Wellens also jumped terribly and the others were tepid. While I would be the first to stress that I am not a tipster, I am quite pleased with the preview insofar as it being informative.

        Race review
        The race looked fairly interesting beforehand although most of the profiles were fairly patchy. The winner had shown that he was capable of doing well but his attitude was questionable and he drifted out to 94/1 in running. The runner up jumped better but did not travel as well as he had last time and the third wanted for fitness while hanging badly and lacking the fluency shown on his debut. They pulled clear of the remainder but between them, the form may not be too reliable. The pace was a strong one and the winning time was comparable to the Class 5 handicap later on the card.

        Cabot Cliffs was having his first run for Dan Skelton and completed a treble on the card for a yard which does well in this sphere. He also became the first winner over hurdles for his sire Gleneagles. However, he did not look at all straightforward as he pulled extremely hard in the opening stages and though he was eventually a decisive winner, his high head carriage and wandering on the run-in were not endearing. He got in close to the first and skewed his way over it but apart from being slightly awkward in the straight, his jumping was fine for the most part. He jumped the fourth well but ended up knuckling a stride after landing and did quite well to recover. His wind operation was clearly a success and this rates as a new career best. With the two market leaders running below their best, he did not have a great deal to beat and questions remain over his attitude. Nevertheless, if he improves on this effort, as he is entitled to do, then he could develop into a fairly capable hurdler. 109

        Magna Moralia lacked fluency on his debut but travelled well throughout. Here, his jumping was better but he appeared to run rather flat at the business end of the race. He skewed over the first and got slightly close to the sixth but was fine otherwise. However, while he went as low as 1.3 in running, the winner always appeared to be travelling the better and Magna Moralia eventually finished rather tired. Being a winner on the flat on soft ground, his ability to handle the ground was not a major concern. He is capable of being competitive at this level but while he is a consistent type, he does not look the most reliable when faced with a challenge. 104

        Naizagai looked like a decent prospect when making a winning debut at Cartmel in early August but that was the last time he was seen prior to today. He had undergone a wind operation shortly after that win and was sent out to make all once again. However, he made errors at most of his hurdles and was a tired horse when headed approaching two out. More worryingly, he had a tendency to hang badly right and favoured that direction at each of his jumps. Given that Cartmel is also left handed, this habit is a new development. He may be better going the other way but there is likely an underlying physiological factor at play and until that is addressed, he could struggle to build on his debut promise. 100

        Jan Wellens saw that the underperformance of Dutch Art juveniles reverted to the norm with another lacklustre performance. He managed to blunder at the first four flights, was steep at the fifth and while he was OK at the next, he was tired over the remaining obstacles. While he has won on the flat, his jumping needs to improve dramatically before he can do the same over hurdles. 77

        You Owe Me jumped poorly when a tailed-off last on his hurdling debut. While his jumping was better here, his only real error was trailing his legs through the third, he was already getting reminders and dropping away by the fifth. He finished tailed off once again and has shown next to nothing thus far in this sphere. 17

        Bentley Wood has respectable sirelines and had some reasonable form to his name from last year. However, although his jumping was fine in the early stages, he made a couple of errors in the back straight and finished completely tailed off. 0

        Originally posted by Kevloaf View Post
        Early prices...
        As ever, I won't be betting on the race but I don't see why the front two are in that order. I get Willie Mullins has a reputation but so too does Gordon Elliott. Crassus being as short as he is is fair enough given that he already has some respectable experience. Everything else also looks about right.


        • Betting the night before on non feature races is a surefire way to lose your accounts so I wouldn’t recommend to anyone that hitting this tonight is the way to go, wait for betfair to wake up in the morning and the market to mature.
          Certainly a price I’ll be monitoring in the morning...


          • Well done to all who played Zanahiyr

            Had an unexpectedly busy weekend which means I have accrued a bit of a review debt. Hopefully it won't be long before it is cleared but in the meantime, here is the preview for tomorrow's race.

            The first fillies only juvenile takes place this Tuesday at Tipperary and it also doubles as a maiden hurdle. Those with hurdling experience have shown flashes of potential however and the Joseph O'Brien newcomer could be relatively useful. Juvenile hurdles at Tipperary are a rare beast and as there have been only three such races since 2008, a firm profile is difficult to gauge. It appears to provide a sound test when good and a very stern one when soft and with the clear round rate being very low, it may suit the more assured jumper.

            Capel At Dawn chf David Harry Kelly f11-2-2 (75) 76 j1-0-0 (-) 69 64
            Dawn Approach (Street Cry){32}(1.00) 2/1 Short Takes 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2011
            Twice a winner on the flat for Joseph O'Brien, albeit at distances no further than a mile, Capel At Dawn joined her new yard ahead of her hurdling debut at Punchestown last week behind Quilixios. She was predictably outclassed in the end but she travelled well up to two out and apart from a tired mistake at the last, was the best jumper in the field. Capel At Dawn's flat rating is the highest in the field and there was plenty of promise in her debut effort. However, that the Joseph O'Brien yard were willing to let her go is a concern and she has yet to prove her stamina for the discipline.

            Dashing Diamond bf Martin Hassett f12-0-3 (60) 62
            Excelebration (Raven's Pass){20-d}(7.00) 3/2 Falling Rain 2nd 3YO Hurdle, Fontainebleu 2015
            Dashing Diamond has had twelve runs on the flat with her best effort coming last time out when second in a Limerick handicap ten days ago. Contested over an extended mile and three furlongs on heavy ground, she proved no match for the controversially handicapped Dreal Deal. Nevertheless, she was still over five lengths clear of the remainder headed by Waterville Lady who was runner-up at Cork three days later. Her breeding is less encouraging however as Excelebration is still without a winning juvenile hurdler from forty-two runs and Raven's Pass is without one as a damsire from seven. Local trainer Martin Hassett has yet to saddle a juvenile hurdler and while he is responsible for the useful Mary Frances, his overall strike rate is a low one.

            Half Of Seven bf Patrick Griffin f1-0-0 (-) 0
            Harbour Watch (Diktat){4-r}(1.40) 1/1 Duchess Ravenwaves 1st Handicap Hurdle (111), Hexham 2019
            Tailed off on her sole flat start at Windsor last August, Half Of Seven has since switched from the Jonjo O'Neill yard and was last seen refusing to enter the stalls at Nass in June. She is a full sister to winning handicapper Duchess Ravenwaves and a cousin to useful jumpers Nambour and Novarov. Harbour Watch has had five winners from fifteen juvenile hurdlers including Act Of Valour and Overpriced Mixer while Diktat is responsible for three winners in the sphere including Secret Edge. However, none of Patrick Griffin's charges in the sphere have been winners and Half Of Seven is left with plenty to prove despite her intriguing pedigree.

            Miss Daingerfield bf Henry De Bromhead f3-0-0 (66) 57
            Zoffany (Silver Hawk){6-a}(2.00) 0.5 Humaniste 1st 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, Fairyhouse 2018
            Miss Daingerfield achieved little in three maidens and was yesterday a tailed off last on her handicap debut off 66. Zoffany has a solid 29.41% winners to runners rate in the sphere and half-brother Humaniste was a decent winner in the division. While Henry de Bromhead is responsible for Aspire Tower, his overall record with juveniles is well below average and Miss Daingerfield would not have the most compelling profile if she is to make a quick reappearance.

            Rock Chica bf Thomas Mullins f6-0-0 (38) 40 j1-0-0 (-) 93 94
            Rock Of Gibraltar (Bahri){1-l}(1.86) 2/1 Chica Buena 1st Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle (Listed), Aintree 2018
            Rock Chica's flat rating is not a generous one but the yard has won in the division with low rated animals. The records of Rock Of Gibraltar and Bahri in the sphere are above average and the dam is a half-sister to the decent Chica Buena. While she made some bad blunders on her jumps debut at Punchestown, Rock Chica was decent at a few of her other hurdles and was able to finish just over fifteen lengths fourth to Scholastic at the end of last month. The race has produced a winner in Varna Gold and others who have since been out appear to have at least maintained their form. She is entitled to have improved for that effort and is respected in this company.

            Sister Eliza bf Gordon Elliott f4-0-1 (65) 61 j3-0-0 (-) 98 104
            Footstepsinthesand (Imperial Dancer){2-f}(0.82) 2/1 Holy Show 6th Maiden Hurdle, Listowel 2009
            Beginning her flat career at the end of june, Sister Eliza ran four times without much success before contesting three hurdles races within the space of a month. Beginning at Ballinrobe, she jumped decently apart from being slow at the last and finished two lengths fourth in a fairly average race. Although she was held by stablemate Longclaw, she was in the process of running a respectable race next time at Down Royal before being brought down at the penultimate flight. She was on the ground for a while afterwards and ran no sort of race eleven days later at Punchestown. Sister Eliza will be fresher for the six week break and her form and experience would make her a strong contender here.

            Zoom Zoom Babe bf Joseph Patrick O'Brien f11-1-4 (74) 80
            Footstepsinthesand (Sinndar){1-t}(0.88) 1/0 Blues In Cee 4th Finesse Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Cheltenham 2009
            After winning on her fourth and final start as a two-year-old in a Leopardstown nursery, Zoom Zoom Babe has been out seven times on the flat since June. While she has yet to add to her tally, she received no luck in running when finishing within two lengths of the winner in handicaps at Leopardstown and Gowran Park. However, she had no such excuses on her penultimate start when tiring in a Tipperary handicap over an extended mile and a half. She also enjoyed a clear run last time at Navan where she was a three length sixth of eleven in a soft ground handicap over a mile. Footstepsinthesand has a good record with average horses in the sphere and Sinndar, along with being one of the very best sires, is also a useful damsire for the discipline. The dam was no better than an average juvenile hurdler and half-sister Yeah Babe (Yeats) has shown little in five starts over hurdles. Joseph O'Brien already has a winning juvenile filly to his name this season and Zoom Zoom Babe could be another fair recruit.

            Strong prospects
            1. Sister Eliza
            Reasonable prospects
            2. Zoom Zoom Babe
            3. Rock Chica
            Feasible prospects
            4. Capel At Dawn
            5. Dashing Diamond
            Moderate prospects
            6. Miss Daingerfield
            7. Half Of Seven


            • Originally posted by Kotkijet View Post
              Well done to all who played Zanahiyr
              Outstanding work flagging this Kotkijet, much appreciated...


              • The reviews for the weekend's action are definitely on their way. However, I spent this morning distracted by building a spreadsheet that looks ahead to the upcoming sales. Since I have been preoccupied with an amusing toy, it is only fair that I share some of the findings.

                Looking exclusively at three-year-olds, here are the twenty-five highest rated lots with the winner-runner records in juvenile hurdles of the sires and the trainers as sources.

                Top twenty-five lots by sires with five or more juvenile hurdlers since 2008/09.

                Top twenty-five lots by trainers whose horses competed in juvenile hurdles after leaving their yards since 2008/09

                And because Tattersalls isn't the only sale in town, (figuratively... it's still the only sale in Newmarket), here are the twenty-five highest rated three-year-olds entered for the DBS sale.

                Originally posted by Istabraq View Post
                Outstanding work flagging this Kotkijet, much appreciated...
                Cheers Istabraq. As I am always keen to stress, my input on these forums are intended to be informative rather than advisory. Nevertheless, I am sure that everybody here is sensible enough to use the information in conjunction with their own judgements and was genuinely pleased for those who went in when Zanahiyr did the job


                • BALLINROBE
                  Preview review
                  Had Crassus not fallen, it is likely this would have been another instance where the prospects list matched the finishing order. Zanahiyr had all of the right credentials and Dark Voyager had most of them while being iffy in battle. It is difficult to speculate on how Crassus would have fared but Belgoprice was given another tender ride (even if he would have been outclassed) and Flylikeaneagle met his limited expectations.

                  Race review
                  Saturday's contest may have been a maiden held at an unfashionable venue but it would probably be Ireland's best juvenile hurdle held thus far this season. The two principals were both improving sorts from the flat, had both shown good form in that discipline, were both representing top yards and both jumped very well before finishing well clear of the remainder. It is a shame that Crassus came to grief two out as he had been jumping well up to that point and was still full of running. Nevertheless, there is little reason to assume that the first two are not good quality recruits and the juvenile hurdling landscape is exciting for their emergence. The pace was no better than fair but it still allowed class to tell without turning the race into a damaging slog.

                  Zanahiyr is a well-bred sort for the division, being by a sire who has already shown his quality with juveniles, and coming from a family inundated with classy hurdlers. Settling just behind the pacesetters, he jumped very well at most of his obstacles and the only mistakes he made were reaching slightly at the fourth, getting close to the sixth and being rather big at the last. Though he was briefly outpaced by his main rival approaching the last, he had the class to power clear of Dark Voyager on the run-in and ran strongly to the line. He was still showing signs of greenness as he went slightly wide at the last, but he responded well to the instructions to get back to the rail and he was very resolute in the concluding battle. A horse with plenty of size about him, he may well mature into something for beyond this season since Gordon Elliott described him afterwards as "not just a juvenile". But for the time being, he is a juvenile and a very exciting one at that. An initial rating in the low 130s would be reflective of his accomplishment rather than his potential. Nevertheless, he has all of the attributes necessary to become a leading player in the division. 130

                  Dark Voyager is another interestingly bred horse for the division as his half-brother, A Wave Of The Sea, was a Grade One winning juvenile last season. Setting a steady gallop, he jumped well at all but the final obstacle where he took off a little too early and stuttered slightly on landing. He wandered slightly approaching the fifth, which was by the paddock turn, and though he appeared to be travelling best approaching the last (trading as low as 1.2 in running), he did not appear to give his all on the battle to the line. These quirks are not massive concerns as they did not necessarily him cost him the race. However, they may be instrumental in making the difference when a thorough effort is essential. He drifted out to 40/1 in the Triumph markets as a result of this performance but in truth, he lost little caste in defeat to a very promising horse and he will be of interest wherever he is seen next. 128

                  Belgoprince had been suspended after receiving a soft ride when last seen at this venue and not much use was made of him here either. In fairness, his jumping was poor throughout and there was only one flight where he did not get in close or skew in the air. He was outpaced by the leading two on merit but got the best of the mildly contested scrap for third. Belgoprince has shown flashes of promise in the past but it is unlikely we will see the best of him in a half-decent race. 86

                  Flylikeaneagle had some form on the flat for Mark Johnston but was an inexpensive purchase out of that yard and his starting price of 50/1 was warranted. He was green, steady and slow at most of his jumps and never looked like getting involved. He would need to contest a lesser event before his ability can be properly assessed. 85

                  Crassus had not been at his best on the flat recently but he made a promising start to his hurdling career at Punchestown in the beginning of September. He missed an engagement at Killarney a fortnight earlier due to a runny nose but he looked decent here. He travelled and jumped very well and had overtaken the winner in mid-air at three out. He would unfortunately fall at the next while still full of running and it appears that he almost did not notice the flight as he made no real attempt to lift his front legs on the approach. It is difficult to gauge how he would have finished as he had yet to be asked a question although the two in front did stay well which is a quality yet to be proven by Crassus. Thankfully he got up safely and if he is not perturbed by the experience, he is more than capable of winning an ordinary race. 124

                  Preview review
                  The prospects list list did not faithfully reflect the finishing positions but there was a lively market preceding the race which told a couple of stories. Viroflay drifted from odds-on to briefly losing favouritism before the off and his lack of fluency was most conspicuous. Kentucky Harboot was the subject of support which was not entirely warranted on paper and he accordingly ran to a career high. I am not entirely sure why Chinese Whisperer was placed above Overpriced Mixer but there was also a move for the aforementioned which went awry in the race. Ultimately, it was not a high quality renewal and the winner was entitled to score as a result.

                  Race review
                  This race has a decent history of producing useful sorts but while a couple of these had the potential to match their predecessors, the initial impressions are that this was a fairly weak renewal. With the Paul Nicholls horse jumping poorly and the Alan King horse looking below standard, the race did not take a great deal of winning and was almost thrown away at the last by Overpriced Mixer. While the pace set was a fair one (the field covered the same amount of ground in the first minute as the listed race), the winning time was over four seconds slower than the other races held on the card. The front two pulled well clear but there was a lack of tangible talent in behind.

                  Overpriced Mixer was bought out of the Jamie Osbourne yard for £90,000 last year and there is encouragement on the sirelines although the damline does want for useful hurdlers. His new yard is one of the very best in the division and is starting to go through the gears, although the better juveniles of Seven Barrows tend to make their appearances in the Wensleydale at the earliest. Nevertheless, Overpriced Mixer was entitled to be competitive in this company and he was the best jumper in this field. It was not an error free round as he slightly dived at the sixth, was not entirely clean getting away from two out, and veered so badly to the left at the last that Nico de Boinville had to finish the race without his stirrups. As a result, his initial mark will not necessarily reflect his superiority and he can improve with experience. Progression through the ranks is not impossible although it is unlikely he will be one of the top juveniles of the season and his contraction to as low as 20/1 in places for the Triumph is difficult to justify. 111

                  Kentucky Hardboot won a handicap at Yarmouth off 55 on his stable debut in June but was last seen being withdrawn for refusing to enter the stalls. His sire had yet to sire a juvenile hurdler who even completed a race while his trainer had never been represented in the sphere, but Kentucky Hardboot was close to becoming both their first winners in the division. He dived slightly at the first, was somewhat big at the second, and got in close to the sixth and penultimate flights of hurdles. He was slightly baulked at the last but it did not affect his momentum and he tried his best to take advantage of the winner's stirrupless condition. In isolation from his market support throughout the day, this was a surprising effort. Nevertheless, he travelled well and was still fifteen lengths clear of the remainder so there is no reason to doubt the validity of this performance. He is capable of being competitive at an ordinary level but should be limited in how far he might progress. 111

                  Can't Stop Now doubled Starspangledbanner's place tally a few seconds after the second, but he was rated eleven pounds higher than the runner-up on the flat and represented a yard that has sent out winning juveniles. He pulled hard early and his foray into hurdling began with a succession of novicey errors. His jumping improved from the fourth onwards however, and he only began to lose touch with the winner approaching the penultimate flight. He finished tired in the end and while this may be mitigated if he learns to settle better, he would still need to prove his stamina for any track sharper than Kempton. 96

                  Viroflay was an odds-on shot in the morning but went as high as 15/8 in the ring. His breeding, connections and French flat form gave him a strong chance in this company but it looked ominous for him from flag fall. Having already sweated up beforehand, he pulled hard approaching the first before getting in very close to the flight and bunny-hopping over the hurdle. He did the same at the second and skewed at the third and fifth. He began to labour way before the turn for home and would weaken gradually from thereon. His jumping did get cleaner as the race progressed although it is possible that may be a symptom of fatigue as he was always careful at least. This was his first run for 273 days and he is entitled to improve for fitness and experience, but this was not a compelling beginning of his new career. 88

                  Little Tipsy was novicey in the early stages of her hurdling bow at Huntingdon before passing beaten horses to finish a distant fifth. She was also novicey in the early stages here before passing beaten horses to finish a distant fifth. 74

                  Now We're Touring once again finished just behind Little Tipsy after making a series of minor errors throughout. The first time cheekpieces elicited only the smallest amount of improvement and he makes little appeal at this juncture - even if this was a new career best effort. 76

                  Chinese Whisperer represented a yard which has won this contest five times from its last seven runners and had halved in price between the morning and post time to start at 7/2. However, while his jumping was not bad (he got in slightly close to the first two and was slow at the fifth), he was treading water before turning for home. He is not a highly rated recruit in terms of flat ratings but better was clearly expected. Given that the stable had three winners over the weekend, including the Long Distance Cup and the Prelude Chase, it can only be assumed that Chinese Whisperer was a big disappointment. He may be able to make some amends in the future but at face value, there was scant promise here. 29

                  Crazy Love had shown nothing on the flat but there were reasons on breeding, and from the trainer's record in the race, to anticipate better than the nothing she shown here. Her jumping was slow and novicey and she never travelled before pulling up after three out. 0


                  • SEDGEFIELD
                    Preview review
                    The top prospect won but it was such a poor race that the bottom prospect would have been an equally valid winner. Hurdling experience, despite it coming in the shape of poor form, was useful for the runner-up and even the pulled-up Spit It Out still held a chance at the top of the hill. It was said that the long odds-on favourite had a patchy pedigree and the unraced fourth still had feasible prospects in light of the moderate line-up. Gold Desert's jumping was not fantastic and perhaps too much stock is being put in his trainer's clear round record.

                    Race review
                    While the race looked moderate beforehand, it looked even worse in hindsight deSpite being won by one of the likelier newcomers. The market leaders jumped without fluency, the field bunched up on numerous occasions and the winning time was over twelve seconds slower than the maiden hurdle later on the card. The winner drifted to 35/1 in running, two others went down to 1.05 and 1.26 and even the rank outsider went as low as 12.5. While the winner might be capable of better and was the best horse on the day, there is little other reason to consider the form to be either strong or reliable.

                    Gold Desert fetched 23,000 guineas at the July sale after earning a rating of 71 in four winless starts for Richard Hannon. Along with the relatively decent flat form, the strength of his case came in his being by Mastercraftsman who is one of the leading sires in the division. Furthermore, his yard had returned to the winners' enclosure recently and is good for sending out juveniles who do not fall or unseat. However, while Gold Desert's jumping was reasonable at times, he wandered and was hesitant at the first, steadied into the fifth, and skewed before landing awkwardly two out. He was also shaken up briefly after the fifth but he travelled reasonably well at the business end of the race and though he was ridden for much of straight, had enough in reserve to grind down the leader on the run-in. He did not achieve a great deal here and at face value, this level of form would see him struggle in most races under a penalty. However, he is entitled to improve for the experience, as is the often case with those from his stable, and he should emerge much the best of this field. 93

                    Poker Master jumped fine on his debut at Fontwell despite being tailed off, but was much worse last time at Market Rasen in a decent contest. That experience was put to good use here and though he got low at a couple, was able to maintain a prominent position and look like the winner for much of the straight. However, after clearing the last with a two length lead, he passed the limits of his stamina and was unable to repel the winner's steady charge. This represents a new career best for Poker Master but while there is still some room for improvement, he might need a similarly poor contest if he is to be competitive. 92

                    Park Lane Dancer was the lesser fancied of the two John Quinn runners, but he was backed down from 11/1 in the morning to 6/1, and was the more fluent of the pair. Racing from the rear, she was already getting pushed along after the fourth. Nevertheless, she was able to make steady progress and was closest at the finish. Apart from going slightly left at the fifth and being somewhat awkward at the last, her jumping was very reasonable. There is no reason why she can not improve but it bears reiterating that this was not a good race. 90

                    Where's The Tape was making his racecourse debut for a mostly unproven sire and trainer. She is a descendent of Allez France and distantly related to some top juveniles but there was not much else to recommend her. A slow jump at the first notwithstanding, she put in an acceptable round of jumping and stayed on to briefly run into third on the run-in. This is all the more creditable considering that she cantered loose prior to the start of the race. Once again, what she achieved probably amounts to little from a form perspective, but it was not the worst introduction to the discipline. 83

                    Time Voyage was last seen in listed company on the flat and represented a fine stable for both the track and the sphere. She was sent off the 4/9 favourite largely due to the quality of the opposition but although she was a straightforward type on the flat, she was not a natural jumper. There was nothing dramatic about her lack of fluency but she skewed over each of her first five hurdles and while she was still travelling reasonably at the top of the hill, she weakened quickly in the straight. She may well be better than this in due course but would not be an obvious candidate to transfer all of her flat ability to the national hunt game. 71

                    Mesmeric won a race in the stewards room for Mark Johnston but was later sold for just 3,000 guineas. There is some encouragement on the sirelines but the yard has gone a long time without a winner. Mesmeric skewed right at the majority of his hurdles and though he raced prominently for much of the way, was a spent force before the straight and was one of three who pulled up before the last. 63

                    Wrightia was, like the winner, also by Mastercraftsman and out of a Galileo mare. However, that was where the similarities ended as she was rated over two stone inferior on the flat. While she was steady at the first and slightly skewed at the second, her jumping was better from there. However, she lost her place some way from home and was pulled up before the last. 55

                    Spit It Out jumped reasonably well on his hurdling debut at this venue last time and did so here until he started to get tired. For a moment, he appeared to be travelling with intent at the top of the hill, but he soon weakened quickly and was another who pulled up before the last. 62


                    • Great work once again Kotkijet.
                      I’m surprised you don’t have a greater gap between Zanihiyr and Dark Voyager, to my eyes he relished the battle and having got the second last wrong and gone a little wide around the bend the margin could have been greater, it’s interesting you questioned the desire for the battle of the runner up, if correct that’s not something that will resolve itself though I haven’t watched the race back and had eyes firmly fixed on Zanihiyr so couldn’t comment with any authority.
                      I wouldn’t be expecting the runner up to reverse form any point soon....


                      • Cheers Istabraq

                        I am a novice when it comes to rating races but for the time being, I am keener to rate performances on face value rather than complicating matters with speculative variables or potential improvement. While I might make allowances for a winner pulling a cart or being heavily eased, in a race such as Saturday's, I will take the form as-is. I suspect Zanahiyr's superiority will grow in due course but I would prefer to see this demonstrated in isolation from this contest.

                        I don't believe Dark Voyager is a dodgepot with an aversion to being in front as he was happy to charge clear of his rivals when winning at Galway. Nevertheless, on the evidence of his penultimate flat run and the race on Saturday, along with his high head carriage, I don't think his heart would be strong in a real battle. He should be able to win races which he is entitled to as well as be competitive in better races.

                        In most races, I would agree with your last statement, although I would not write him off entirely in a race which placed more of an emphasis on speed.


                        • Lingfield was once the proud home of the Summit Junior Hurdle, a Grade 2 for Juvenile Hurdlers held in mid-December. However, due to the course habitually being either frozen or waterlogged at that time of year, the race was moved to Doncaster. In the absence of that contest, juvenile hurdles have become a rare sight at the lovely venue and the last such contest for three-year-olds was held when Keychain won the 12:50 for the Brendan Powells in November 2013. However, it returns tomorrow with a small but potentially reasonable field featuring a Jonjo O'Neill horse who was runner up on his hurdling debut, a Dan Skelton newcomer running in the same colours as Allmankind, and a representative for Milton Harris who won the old Summit Junior Hurdle in 2003 mit Mondul. While there is a dearth of races from which to extrapolate tangible trends, Lingfield's seconds per furlong figures rank among the slowest and the winning DIs are lower than that of the average runner.

                          Edebez bg Seamus Mullins f3-0-0 (52) 47 j2-0-0 (-) 85 78
                          Zebedee (Barathea){4-r}(1.67) No immediate jumps relatives, 7/5 Le Breuil
                          Edebez achieved little in three flat runs last year and his two hurdles efforts in the summer were similarly fruitless. While his jumping was not poor, he was beaten a combined fifty-three lengths and struggled with the trip on each occasion. Lingfield will offer an even sterner challenge than a good ground Newton Abbot so it is difficult to see him being competitive here after a 78 day break.

                          Jersey Grey grg Alexandra Dunn f5-0-0 (48) 52 j1-0-0 (-) 84 101
                          Rajsaman (Peintre Celebre){16-h}(0.74) 0.5 Grand Banks 1st 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Compiegne 2018
                          Jamie Osborne's ex-inmate Overpriced Mixer made a winning start to his hurdling career at Kempton last Sunday and while not in the same bracket as the Seven Barrows resident, Jersey Grey's hurdling debut at Chepstow was not without promise. A mediocre flat career saw him sent off at 125/1 but while he finished twenty-three lengths behind Hell Red, he put in a clean round of jumping and was not too far from the remainder of the field. Related to hurdling winners and by an unexposed sire with fair juveniles in France, there was reason to believe that Jersey Grey could fare better over hurdles. The trainer has yet to saddle a winner from thirty-six runs in the discipline but was in good enough form to land a 4288/1 double at Wincanton last week.

                          Nevendon bg Dan Skelton f3-0-1 (75) 71
                          Nathaniel (Shamardal){1-s}(1.06) 3/2 Two Miles West 3rd Sharp Novices' Hurdle (G2), Cheltenham 2005
                          Dan Skelton's record with juvenile hurdlers is comfortably above average by all metrics and has started this campaign in a promising fashion. Cabot Cliffs won for him at Uttoxeter while Lustleigh was in the process of making a solid racecourse debut before falling at Wetherby. All three of his juveniles imported from the Micheal Bell yard have been winners including last season's Grade One winner Allmankind. Nevendon runs in the same Gredley colours although his flat form is not of the same standard. After finishing twelve of thirteen at Newmarket on his sole run as a two-year-old, he posted his best effort when a seven length third at Kempton back in July. He made much of the running in the twelve furlong contest but was headed at the distance and was green under pressure as he faded in the closing stages. The front two looked useful beforehand but neither have been seen since and none of the nine in behind have won since. Nevendon was last seen finishing twenty-three lengths behind Red Missile at this venue in early August and the official mark of 75 looks steep. Nevertheless, his sire Nathaniel has made a flying start to his career in this division and while the damline is a classy one (half-sister to Prix Morny winner Pretty Pollyanna from family of User Friendly), it is rather threadbare insofar as jumpers are concerned. Two Miles West appears at 3/2 and Sea Freedom, a fair novice and sire of a multiple jumps winner, appears at 3/1. While there are concerns over the quality of Nevendon's flat form, it may still be the best available in this field and his sire and trainer are worthy of the utmost respect.

                          Opine bg Jonjo O'Neill f8-0-0 (52) 57 j1-0-0 (-) 105 109
                          Authorized (Numerous){4-n}(0.94) .5 Tamarix Jode 6th 3yo Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2016
                          Another runner formerly trained by Michael Bell and representing a top stallion in the sphere, Opine went a long way to justifying the market support ahead of his hurdling debut at Huntingdon three weeks ago. He did not achieve much during eight runs on the flat, but his latest second to Dutch Admiral was much his best performance to date and he finished at least nineteen lengths clear of the remainder. His jumping left much to be desired as he jumped big and got in close to several of his obstacles. It was to his credit that he would finish as well as he did and with the tendency of the stable's juveniles to improve for their first outings, Opine comes into this race with a leading chance.

                          Pyramid Place bg Milton Harris f4-0-0 (69) 66
                          Authorized (Zafonic){20-a}(0.81) 0.5 Jukebox Blues Pulled up sole hurdles run.
                          Pyramid Place, trained by the Milton Harris mentioned in the introduction, is another produce of leading juvenile stallion Authorized. His flat career consisted of four outings on the all-weather between November and February. While he was unable to reach the frame, his performances were consistent as he was thrice able to finish fourth over distances of a mile to a mile and a half. He left John Gosden for 27,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August sale to join a yard that does get winners, albeit with a low strike rate of 5.63%. Former inmates of John Gosden's have a poor record in the sphere with just five of the forty-nine since 2008/09 able to win races which emphasises the difficulty of extracting anything that was missed by the master of Clarehaven Stables. There is nothing in the way of accomplishment over jumps on the damline although while Zafonic mares rarely produce classy juveniles (Toprichen a possible exception), their winners to runners rate of 30.77% is the best in this field.

                          Star Of Wells bg David Loughnane f7-0-1 (66) 71
                          Sea The Stars (Dansili){5-b}(1.00) 3/1 Motorway 2nd Handicap Hurdle (128), Cheltenham 2008
                          Also sold at the Tattersalls August sale was Star Of Wells, who fetched 7,500 guineas prior to leaving Tom Ward's care. His first outing was for William Haggas which saw him start favourite in a Sandown Maiden won by Kameko. He did not quite match those expectations and his best effort for his first stable came when a four length second in a Kempton Novice Stakes. Star Of Wells had shown little in three runs for Tom Ward but he was a respectable fourth last time for Dave Loughnane in an extended mile handicap at Wolverhampton last week. Rousted along from the start, he settled just behind the leaders and never really gained or lost that position. His new yard has only had the one winning juvenile from seven but stallion Sea The Stars is another useful stallion in the sphere with the likes of Starchitect and Stars Over The Sea contributing to his handy 42.11% winners to runners rate.

                          Strong prospects
                          1. Opine
                          Reasonable prospects
                          2. Nevendon
                          Feasible prospects
                          3. Jersey Grey
                          4. Star Of Wells
                          5. Pyramid Place
                          Negligible prospects
                          6. Edebez


                          • PUNCHESTOWN
                            Preview review
                            When the preview was written, it was done under the assumption that the ground would at least have "good" in the description. In the event, the soft to heavy ground changed the complexion of the race as it was ultimately won by the only one who handled the conditions. Rock Chica was given reasonable prospects on her jumping potential and she put in a good round. The two Footstepsinthesand fillies ahead of her did not relish the conditions and Sister Eliza's jumping was not as good as it has been previously.

                            Race review
                            The contest did not look especially strong beforehand and it transpired to be a one horse race. The pace was steady but as with the previous juvenile at this venue earlier in the season, the field finished very tired. There was a big move for Dashing Diamond from 6/1 the night before, to 11/8 favourite at the off. However, she fell at the first.

                            Rock Chica achieved next to nothing in her six outings on the flat, but she made a reasonable start to her hurdling career at Punchestown last month. Even though she made a few blunders there, she also showed some aptitude and apart from getting slightly close to the sixth, put in a decent round here. Racing prominently from the beginning of the back straight, she jumped into a clear lead three out. After being ridden into the penultimate flight, was kept up to her work before coasting home from the last with an unassailable lead, giving her rider his first winner under rules. Quite what she achieved is difficult to assess as she was the only runner in the field who went through the ground. It is unlikely that the form amounts to much, but she is going in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how she fares in these conditions in a more substantial contest. Nevertheless, the 40/1 quote she received for the Triumph Hurdle afterwards is comical. 105

                            Zoom Zoom Babe was quoted at 40/1 for the Triumph Hurdle prior to this debut outing which as absurd now as it was yesterday morning. While she was a winner on the flat as a two-year-old and was a respectable performer on the flat, her yard would almost certainly have several more substantial candidates emerge between now and spring. She had to be ridden into the first where slightly hesitant, and she reached for the sixth, but otherwise, it was a solid round of jumping. Though she went odds-on in-running, that was likely due to the fall of the favourite as she never travelled with any real threat. She did enough to fend off her remaining rivals but was a tired horse in the straight and would need an easier test if she is to be competitive. 79

                            Capel At Dawn was a dual winner on the flat for Joseph O'Brien and was the highest rated horse in the field. Her jumping was good behind Quilixios at Punchestown and apart from getting close to the fourth and tired in the straight, jumped well again here. She had yet to prove her stamina however and her reserves were depleted by the end of the contest. Capel At Dawn is capable of being competitive in this sphere but may only do so in the least demanding conditions. 70

                            Sister Eliza had shown fair form over hurdles prior to a lacklustre run which prompted a break. However, her jumping was not as good as it had been previously after she dodged the faller at the first. She was then close to the second, low at the third, blundered at the fifth, hesitated at the next and was tired in the straight. Her stamina had been questionable beforehand and while she was still close enough entering the straight, she soon weakened quickly. Sister Eliza is another who is capable of better, but may only perform in kinder conditions. 64

                            Half Of Seven had not been seen since her sole start 435 days earlier and was fractious before the race. She led from the start, set a steady pace, and jumped well until three out where she surrendered the lead and rapidly dropped out of the race. She was virtually pulled up but this was not the worst introduction and this reasonably bred filly could improve for stripping fitter. 0

                            Dashing Diamond had feasible prospects coming into the race although neither her pedigree or trainer were particularly endearing beforehand. However, she was backed as though defeat was out of the question which suggests a good run was expected from this locally trained filly. Unfortunately, her stride was completely wrong approaching the first where she got in way too close and took a rolling fall. Thankfully she emerged unscathed and it will be interesting to see whether she can justify the market support next time, provided this is not the extend of her hurdling prowess. 0

                            To Fly Free 20/10/2020 Exeter
                            To Fly Free's second start over hurdles saw her finish second to Soldier On Parade which resulted in her handicap mark rising four pounds a month later. She had been beaten on merit at Sedgefield off 98 but was favourite, albeit an uneasy one, to make amends here. She was more careful than usual over the first three hurdles and her slow jumping saw her drop to rear. She was more fluent from the fourth onwards and while she remain towards the back, she took a more prominent position turning into the straight. There was a moment where she looked like mounting a serious challenge but was rather bullied on the approach to the penultimate flight and would lose touch with the front two from there. To Fly Free was far from disgraced, particularly as the yard had gone nineteen runs without a winner. Nevertheless, some leniency from the handicapper would not be unwarranted. 96


                            • While there have been very few juvenile hurdlers running at Lingfield in recent years, there have been none at all at Sligo during the period from 2008/09 to tomorrow. Indeed, the only 3-y-o hurdles which show up on a Racing Post search for the venue took place in 1996 (Patrick Martin's 'Go Sasha', DI 2.11) and 1997 (Irene Oakes-Cottin's Amocachi, DI 3.73). A sharp, undulating right-handed track, it has been described as a testing testing one and it's course record over tomorrow's distance is one of the slower in the country. While it is another maiden contest, there is a fairly useful field assembled. Crassus bids to make amends for his fall at Ballinrobe, Made In Pimlico has form behind Duffle Coat and Longclaw while Battle Of Benburb represents the Quilixios form. There are also a few newcomers including a flat recruit for Gordon Elliott and a transatlantic import for Ted Walsh.

                              Battle Of Benburb bg Gavin Cromwell f3-0-1 (76) 75 j1-0-1 (-) 102 97
                              War Command (Aqlaam){7}(1.33) .5 Masters Apprentice 1st Handicap Hurdle (119), Sedgefield 2019
                              Battle Of Benburb only made his racecourse debut in early September but had shown enough in three starts to suggest that he could do well over hurdles. Particularly as he represents a yard with a good record in the division. His debut came at Punchestown ten days ago and although his jumping left much to be desired, he demonstrated good tenacity by fending off the fourth while looking vulnerable throughout the closing stages. On the day, he was no match for the promising Quilixios or Scholastic (since posted a new career best on the flat), but there were plenty of positives to take out of the race. His being by War Command does pose questions insofar as his stamina is concerned, but he did finish a staying on third over eleven furlongs at Killarney on the flat and he is worthy of respect here.

                              Boom Boom Boom chg C Byrnes f4-0-0 (52) 52 j1-0-0 (-) 84 89
                              Raven's Pass (Echo Of Light){8-d}(1.55) 2/1 Cubomania 2nd Dan Moore Memorial HcC (139), Fairyhouse 2019
                              Earning a rating of 52 after four winless starts for Stuart Williams, he was sold for 6,000gns at the Tattersalls August sale. His hurdling/stable debut came at Killarney earlier this month and while he was big and steady at several flights, he was not beaten out of sight. However, it was not a particularly classy contest and he has plenty to find with those who have hurdling experience.

                              Complete Fantasy bg Peter Fahey f5-0-0 (57) 70
                              Make Believe (Night Shift){42}(1.67) 0.5 Monkeylou 3rd 3-y-o Maiden Hurdle, Ballinrobe 2018
                              While he earned an RPR of 70 on his racecourse debut at Naas last April, Complete Fantasy has not been anywhere near that mark in four subsequent outings. His best effort this season saw him beaten ten lengths in a Roscommon handicap in late June and he was last seen on the flat tailed off at Fairyhouse a fortnight later. He is a half-brother to a horse who placed third in a weak juvenile at Ballinrobe and his dam is a half-sister to a winning seller. Much further back on the damline is 2005 Grand Prix de Automne third Sunspot and Night Shift has been a winning damsire in the division. Another out of the Quilixios race, he was sent off at 80/1 but following a mistake at the first, he was pulled up after his saddle had slipped.

                              Crassus bg Noel Meade f9-0-2 (69) 76 j2-0-1 (-) 115 124
                              War Command (Seeking The Gold){4-m}(1.89) 0.5 Indian Chief PU Maiden Hurdle, Sedgefield 2019
                              Crassus made a very promising hurdling debut at Punchestown in early September when a six length second to Duffle Coat. Finishing best of those who raced prominently, Crassus jumped and travelled well for the most part and was comfortably on top of all bar one of his rivals. The first and third have each won races since and the yard is currently in better form than it was at the time of the race. He missed an engagement at Killarney a fortnight earlier due to a runny nose but he looked very decent last Saturday at Ballinrobe. He travelled and jumped very well and had overtaken Zanahiyr in mid-air at three out. He would unfortunately fall at the next while still full of running through what simply looked the result of a lack of concentration. It is difficult to gauge how he would have finished as he had yet to be asked a question although the two in front did stay well which is a quality yet to be proven by Crassus. Strictly on form, Crassus would appear to have an outstanding chance and if he stays the trip, he could be difficult to beat.

                              Glorious Zoff bg Gordon Elliott f6-0-1 (72) 74
                              Zoffany (Overbury){4-r}(1.40) 3/1 Spate River 1st Handicap Hurdle (94), Southwell 2012
                              Another purchase from the Tattersalls August sale, Glorious Zoff left Charlie Hills for 26,000 guineas. Ex-residents of Faringdon Place, including recent winner Cabot Cliffs, have a healthy 44.12% winners to runners rate and a 52.17% improvement rate in the sphere. Gordon Elliott's prowess with juvenile hurdlers is similarly laudable. Glorious Zoff is officially rated 72 and while he has yet to race beyond a mile, he has looked rather one paced in his races. Zoffany would be the strongest sire represented in this race and while Overbury's record as a damsire of juveniles is fruitless, his stamina influence should be useful. There is not a great deal of encouragement however and the fact that he hung on the undulating Bath circuit may be a concern.

                              Made In Pimlico chg Brendan W Duke f7-0-0 (40) 47 j3-0-1 (-) 102 110
                              Dragon Pulse (Giant's Causeway){8-k}(1.25) no jumps relatives
                              Made In Pimlico had shown only modest form on the flat as a two-year-old and was pulled up quickly halfway through his hurdling debut at Tipperary. However, at Listowel he surpassed anything he had previously achieved to finish a respectable fourth behind Longclaw. While there was the danger of that effort being a fluke, he was inexplicably sent off at odds of 50/1 next time at Gowran Park. Despite getting slightly close to a few, his jumping was the second best in the field and he travelled well throughout. He had to be switched out wide in the straight before getting a clear run after the last but while he was never catching the winner, he ran on strongly to be a decisive runner-up. Made In Pimlico has proved that he is a capable sort over hurdles although his best efforts have been on good ground at the minimum trip. Nevertheless, if he can maintain that ability in tomorrow's conditions, he should not be taken lightly.

                              Sweet Will bg Gavin Cromwell f3-0-0 (66) 65
                              Dragon Pulse (One Cool Cat){3-d}(2.43) 2/1 Tapimix 8th Novices' Hurdle, Newton Abbott 2008
                              Making his debut at Killarney in July, Sweet Will finished three lengths behind subsequent juvenile winners Longclaw and Orchestral Rain when an overall thirteen length sixth. That form was not matched in two subsequent starts that month and he has not been seen since. The second string of a trainer whose record in the sphere is above average by all metrics, he is by a sire whose record is only fair. Juveniles out of One Cool Cat broodmares have a 25% winners to runners rate but while Liskennett and I'm So Lucky appear at 5/3 on the damline, there is little in closer proximity.

                              Urban Boom grg Des Donovan f11-0-0 (37) 59
                              Gregorian (Equiano){7-e}(0.50) no jumps relatives
                              Urban Boom has had eleven starts on the flat, but since leaving Johnny Murtagh over the winter, his form consists of five successive duck eggs which have caused his rating to drop to just 37. Gregorian is without a winner in the division from nine runs and his trainer is without one in three. There are no notable jumpers on the damline.

                              Whoareyouanyway rog Paul W Flynn f5-1-1 (80) 82
                              Lethal Force (Exceed And Excel){9-f}(3.00) 4/1 The Budgee 1st Handicap Chase (C,123), Leopardstown 2008
                              Success in a Dundalk nursery last December gave Whoareyouanyway the highest flat rating in the field. However, he has since refused to enter the stalls and on the one occasion he obliged, he finished last in a seven furlong handicap at Gowran Park early last month. He has since left Ger Lyons, whose graduates have a solid record in the sphere, to join Paul Flynn - the recipient of seven of seven Ger Lyons expats, none of them winners. Lethal Force has had one winner from six but his overall strike rate in the field is just 3.45%. Exceed And Excel has had two winners from eight as a damsire although one would have to go back to the fourth dam before any useful jumpers can be found.

                              Roma Delight bf T M Walsh f2-0-1 UsF ?
                              Paynter (Devil His Due){8}(2.20) 2/1 Arch Rebel 1st Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Leopardstown 2004
                              While Longclaw had a few races in the states, the only horse to have gone juvenile hurdling after exclusively racing across the pond since 2008/09 was Phil Middleton's Or So in 2015. Roma Delight is the latest such curiosity who had a nine race career for Jeremiah O'Dwyer which resulted in three seconds. Her latest outing came when sixth in a Turfway Park claimer back in February and while it is not clear whether or not she was claimed out of that race, she did run with a price tag of $30,000. Assessing the standard of form is a difficult task but the general idea is that an Equibase rating at claiming level is a few pounds lower than its Timeform and RPR equivalents. Roma Delight twice ran to 70 last December although her figures this year were 58 twice and 53 last time out. Sire Paynter has, unsurprisingly, never had a European runner over hurdles although his sire, Awesome Again, did produce Musselburgh handicap hurdle runner-up Uncut Stone. Nevertheless, Roma Delight's half-brother Downtown Rebel was third in a Ballinrobe 3-y-o hurdle in 2017 and her dam is a half-sister to the top class juvenile Arch Rebel. Ted Walsh has not been a prolific trainer in the division in recent years with just one winner from his last eleven, although he did send out Commanche Court to win the Triumph Hurdle in 1997, and Top Strategy to finish third in the 2004 renewal of that race.

                              Strong prospects
                              1. Crassus
                              Reasonable prospects
                              2. Made In Pimlico
                              3. Battle Of Benburb
                              4. Glorious Zoff
                              Feasible prospects
                              5. Roma Delight
                              Moderate prospects
                              6. Boom Boom Boom
                              7. Sweet Will
                              8. Whoareyouanyway
                              Negligible prospects
                              9. Complete Fantasy
                              10. Urban Boom


                              • Apologies for the brief AWOL and absence of the last couple of previews. Sparing too many details, this lapse was largely a combination of a minor existential malaise triggered by a couple of IRL incidents and something of a burn out. While this is not within the general scope of this thread, nor the interest or business of the reader, I figured it was worth sharing in the vein of there being no shame in not being fully OK. Thankfully a brief ego death and the upcoming spectacles at Wetherby and Down Royal have rekindled enthusiasm for the time being, but it does no harm to remind anybody who may be feeling a bit sh‎it that they are far from alone.

                                With that out of the way, here is a catch up on recent races.

                                Preview review
                                Jersey Grey was given much more kudos than his starting price of 18/1. Pyramid Place was underestimated on account of his coming from John Gosden, but he had plenty of time to physically develop since he was last seen in February.

                                Race review
                                Although Nevendon had the capacity to be fairly useful, his flat form was somewhat overstated and nothing else was particularly intriguing beforehand. The overall quality of jumping was below par and the runners went through the soft ground fairly slowly. The field had every right to finish as they did so the form should be fairly reliable, if not of a standard exceeding the ordinary.

                                Jersey Grey achieved little on the flat but had shown promise on his debut when putting in a clean round of jumping behind Hell Red at Chepstow. He got slightly close to the first and fifth and was not especially fluent at the final two. Nevertheless, his round was still the cleanest in this company and he handled the ground as well as anything. Tracking the leaders throughout, he jumped into the lead at the penultimate flight and while his lead was being eroded on the run in, he had just enough left to repel his challenger. The front two pulled clear and although the third came home in his own time, he was held when hampered at the last. The standard of this form is no better than average, but it pays a handsome compliment to his Chepstow victor. 107

                                Pyramid Place did not reach the frame in four starts for John Gosden during the winter, but he was a consistent animal who ran to a fair level. Horses who leave the Gosden yard rarely do well in juvenile hurdles, but he had over seven months to physically develop which is a trait carried by the offspring of Authorized. Keen early and held up in the rear, he had a tendency to jump to his left and like the winner, was none too fluent in the straight. He made slow and steady headway along the back and got to within five lengths of the winner at the last. He did not get away from it quickly and took time to find his stride on the run-in. Ultimately, he only failed by a short head and given his lack of fitness and experienced, may well emerge the better of the pair. 107

                                Nevendon represented the same trainer and owner as last year's Finale winner Allmankind and came into the race with the highest flat rating. However, the mark of 75 looked steep for what he achieved in three starts, particularly as he only came close to same on one occasion. Prominent from the outset, he was close and low over the first which caused his rider to briefly lose her irons. Nevendon wandered on the approach to the second and from there, he made errors at every flight from skewing, getting too low and jumping too big. Dropped to third on the approach to two out, he was held to the tune of a dozen lengths at the last and came home in his own time after being slightly hampered by the stricken horse. He can improve to be better than this, but even his best flat form would leave him little better than average. 82

                                Edebez was last seen in early August on the second of his two runs behind Hiconic. He was beaten a combined fifty-three lengths on those outings which will have suited him better than the conditions he encountered here. Untidy at several of these jumps, he finished this race well tailed off. 48

                                Opine earned a rating of just 52 after eight starts on the flat but made a fairly promising hurdling debut when second at Huntingdon in spite of some novicey jumping. While he got in close to the first and was big at the second, his jumping settled down from there until the straight. He had lost the battle for the lead after two out and was about to lose second when taking a tired tumble at the last. This was a drop in form to the tune of a good stone and while the ground was softer than at Huntingdon, that should not have been an issue on breeding. Opine drifted from evens to 6/4 in the ring and given his lack of flat form, he may be prone to inconsistency. 93

                                Star Of Wells was initially rated 74 after his two year old campaign for William Haggas but did not match that on his first three outings this year. He was not disgraced in a Wolverhampton handicap on his latest start and was backed into 6/1 from 10/1 in the ring. However, he never really travelled with purpose and was close and untidy over a few of these before pulling up before two out. 0

                                Preview review
                                Four of the first five positions were taken by the strong and reasonable prospects, with the unfancied Boom Boom Boom given the best prospects of the remainder. Glorious Zoff's hanging at Bath was given too much weight but his credentials were still sound. Boom Boom Boom had ground to make up on his rivals with hurdling experience but was not a forlorn hope.

                                Race review
                                While just a maiden contest, those with experience brought with them a fair level of form. However, Glorious Zoff emerged as yet another exciting recruit in the division for his new yard. The jumping was broadly in line with what can be expected in this type of contest. Nevertheless, they went a fair gallop and the winning time was the fastest of the three races held over the distance on the day. The field finished strung out but Made In Pimlico, whose jumping lacked its normal fluency, was the only real disappointment. There is no reason to doubt either the quality or reliability of the form at this level.

                                Glorious Zoff left Charlie Hills for 26,000 guineas after a six race flat career which saw him earn a rating of 72 without any wins. Though he never raced like a mile, he shaped as though the stamina demands for his new vocation would be well within his scope. He joined a yard which already has sent out winners Zanahiyr, Quilixios, Duffle Coat and Longclaw this season, yet strictly on this performance, he looks as good as any of them. Always close to the leaders, his jumping was not perfectly fluent. But while the errors he made were minor, he impressed in the way he readjusted himself to mitigate against any loss of momentum and was very nimble over the last when the race was already in safe keeping. Travelling well in himself throughout, he cruised upsides the leader approaching the second last before jumping into the lead at that flight. Never so much as shaken up, he eased his way into a handy lead on the run to the last and increased his superiority in a nonchalant fashion. Winning from a field which exposed as fairly useful, with a flat profile no better than average, the instinct is to restrain enthusiasm. However, the manner of his victory over several opponents who have every right to win races of their own, the useful winning time, and the further improvement due from his imperfect yet intelligent jumping all combine to make Glorious Zoff an exciting recruit to the division. 134

                                Crassus saw a lull in his form on the flat during August, but followed a useful debut second with a potentially better effort but for falling late on at Ballinrobe a week prior to this contest. He was well backed to shed his maiden tag at the third time of asking and would have done so quite comfortably were it not for the winner. His jumping was solid prior to his fall last time out but it was not as assured this time. Not that it was especially detrimental to his performance, rather he required more proactive encouragement from his rider as he was less inclined to attach his hurdles. This is understandable given that he fell last time and it is hoped that his confidence can return as he is very capable of winning one of these. Particularly as he was finally able to demonstrate his stamina for the discipline. 116

                                Boom Boom Boom achieved little in four runs prior to fetching 6,000 guineas at auction in August, but he was not beaten far on his hurdles bow at Killarney. His jumping was rather cautious on that occasion and it was a similar story here, although his tendency was more to get close to his hurdles. The best of those to come from the rear, he entered the battle for third three furlongs from home before securing that position at the last. A new career best by a fair margin, he has scope for further improvement and is capable of being competitive in a similar contest. 111

                                Battle Of Benburb was having his fifth start since making his debut in early September, and while he has shown ability and tenacity, his inexperience is still rather conspicuous. Although he had yet to make any calamitous errors, he does have a tendency to jump skewed and to the right. This was less prevalent on this occasion however so he is moving in the right direction in this regard. A slight stumble after the last killed off his prospects for regaining third, but he still had plenty in hand over the remainder of the field. He may not want conditions much testing that this, but he has yet to run a real stinker in his short career to date and should hold his own in ordinary company. 109

                                Made In Pimlico had done only moderate things prior to September, but he posted a massively improved effort at Listowel behind Longclaw and proved that was not a fluke when second last time at Gowran Park. Though his rounds are never perfectly fluent, they had included enough good jumps to render them efficient on balance. However, while he was not necessarily bad here, he had a tendency to get slightly close to almost all of his jumps and the accumulation of these small errors manifested in a regressive performance. The ceiling of his abilities would still breach little but fair company, but he would want to regain some confidence before he can return to producing respectable efforts. 95

                                Complete Fantasy only made it over the first when sent off at 80/1 on his hurdling debut, but was able to complete the course here, matching his starting price of 40/1 in the process. Held up in mid division, he was steady going into most of his hurdles and never progressed into a threatening position. He was firmly beaten in the end but it was not a lamentable performance and has given himself something to build upon. 91

                                Urban Boom came into the race with a sequence of duck eggs to his name and his starting price of 200/1 was a fair reflection of his chances. Always at the rear of the field, his slow jumping included a couple of blunders and he never made an impression on the race. 69

                                Sweet Will was the second string of Gavin Cromwell but the first of his three flat starts hinted at ability. However, he was steady and big at his early jumps and was another who never got involved by any measure. 53

                                Whoareyouanyway won a nursery last December but had given trouble at the stalls this year and his only completed flat start saw him finish last. He was untidy at a couple of his jumps and was pulled up before the last after losing touch a fair way from home. 0

                                Preview review
                                No preview was written for this race. But as several of these had reviews from previous runs, a brief reflection with the benefit of hindsight would not go amiss. Perry Owens was described as the horse to take out of his Ballinrobe race and one who would appreciate softer ground which was ultimately proven here. Sideshift's breeding suggested stamina concerns but the record of those that go from Michael O'Callaghan to Gordon Elliott is decent. Bigz Belief lacks fluency and has stamina concerns but is capable of being competitive in lowly company. Lucky Fella runs honest enough races but looks nothing better than ordinary. Londonofficecallin is a reasonable if imperfect jumper but still needs to improve in terms of class. Craic Eile's jumping is largely fine but prefers a sounder surface and Dazzling Darren could have improved for freshening up but is becoming exposed.

                                Race review
                                The race was not of an atrocious standard, but it looked unlikely to impact any of the season's better races beforehand. There were sound reasons for the horses to finish where they did, and the pace was an even one, but the winning time was slowest on the card. The form looks reliable but there is a palpable lack of quality overall.

                                Perry Owens had not been seen over hurdles since August where he overcame a lack of fluency and balance to rally into third place at the line. His yard was going through a lean spell at the time and after a tepid effort in a Killarney handicap eleven days later, was given a break of sixty-four days. While he was close to the second before hopping over the flight, his jumping was much better here and did well to overcome an error at the penultimate hurdle where he trailed his near-fore leg. Wearing blinkers for the first time, he raced prominently from the off but ended up getting outpaced with three furlongs to run. An unfortunate error two out cost him further momentum but after regaining his stride, he stayed on strongly and after a clean jump at the last, maintained the pressure on the leader before getting the better of him near the line. Perry Owens gave Free Eagle his second winning juvenile from three with the other also scoring on soft ground. While he would not have pretentions to being a high class juvenile, he is a capable and honest performer who should be competitive in an ordinary contest under a penalty. 113

                                Sideshift ran eight times on the flat for Michael O'Callaghan, winning an extended ten furlong handicap at Dundalk in July off a mark of 60. He changed hands for 27,000 guineas in August to join a yard which can do little wrong in the division. Like several from his new stable this season, he was a big drifter before the off and running in a first time hood, tended to wander and be hesitant on his approach to the early hurdles. Nevertheless, he travelled well enough to the point that he traded as low as 1.23 in-running but after a sixty-six day break, just failed to see out the trip on this occasion. There is room for improvement as his confidence develops and while was clear best of the rest, may be better suited to a sounder surface. 111

                                Bigz Belief already had two starts over hurdles under his belt, both coming at Punchestown the previous month. There was promise on his debut and he improved on the second outing while being rather let down by his jumping. It was a similar story here as he was slow and untidy at most of the hurdles and this was pronounced over the final two obstacles. His form is improving with experience and the application of a hood. Another who ran to a fair level but may benefit from less taxing conditions. 107

                                Alexei Vronsky was bought for 15,000gns at the Tattersalls August sale, and ran six times on the flat for Michael O'Callaghan which included a win in a ten furlong good-to-firm Roscommon handicap on his return in mid June. Previously withdrawn from two engagements on account of soft ground, he made a decent showing on his hurdling debut for a stable which has historically produced good juveniles. Apart from skewing at the third and getting close to the last, his jumping was perfectly acceptable and he made decent headway leaving the back straight. He was unable to sustain his effort and finished fairly tired on his first start for seventy-two days. Nevertheless, this was an encouraging hurdles debut and there should be more to come on firmer ground. 102

                                Lucky Fella made his racecourse debut in late September at Punchestown and returned to that venue a fortnight later. He was beaten more than twenty lengths on each occasion and his jumping left something to be desired. Once again, he was untidy at his first two jumps, wandered into the fourth and got in close to the sixth. He was slightly crowded at the penultimate flight but that would not have affected his performance. This effort was broadly in keeping with his first two outings and while he is a honest enough horse, he is becoming exposed as no better than average. 96

                                Londonofficecallin was no better than a fifty rated horse on the flat but has marginally improved over hurdles. His jumping here was no better than on his hurdling debut at Killarney earlier in the month and was once again well beaten in the end. While not devoid of ability, he appears to lack the class to be competitive in ordinary company. 95

                                Craic Eile achieved nothing in all but one of his seven flat outings, but while he was comfortably beaten on his hurdling debut at Punchestown, he did impressive in his jumping. It was not a bad round on this occasion although he rather reached at the third and was very close to the fourth. His stamina had not been assured beforehand and from being in contention at two out, was rapidly losing touch by the last. There may be better to come on an easier track but it is possible that there are no suitable conditions in the sphere. 88

                                French Asset was the highest rated flat horse in the field having started his career with Sir Michael Stoute. His best effort came when second in a good to firm eleven furlong handicap in July off 75. Representing a yard which can do well in the division, he was easy to back in the market and his jumping was marked largely by greenness. Another coming off a long break, he began to lose touch a half mile from home before finishing ahead of only one rival. He may do better with experience as his dam is a sister to a couple of fair hurdlers, but this was not the most compelling introduction. 82

                                Dazzling Darren, a stablemate of French Asset, was not unfancied in the season's curtain raiser at Roscommon back in early August, but he did weaken quite badly to finish a near thirty length fifth. He only really made one error there which was also the case on this occasion. However, he never travelled with any purpose in the rear and this was ultimately a lacklustre performance. He is capable of better but ultimately looks unlikely to be a threat outside of handicap company. 72