CASHEL (sixth, 1m handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 9)
It’s not easy to win a biggish field (8+ runner) round-course (6f+) handicap here from stalls 1, 2 or 3, with only three runners from 105 scoring since the Tapeta was introduced. CASHEL (stall 2 of 12) did well to run fifth at 25-1 after sticking to the inside rail for the majority of the race.
EL CAMINO (fourth, 1m apprentice handicap, Chelmsford, Thursday, January 6)
They went like the clappers in this apprentice “hands and heels” handicap and the race was set up for Almaan (advised at 7-1 in my daily column). EL CAMINO did well to finish fourth after sitting close to the strong early pace under Liam Browne and will be interesting if taking up an engagement in the 7.00 back here on Thursday night.
ELEVEN ELEVEN (fourth, 1m4f handicap, Lingfield, Saturday, January 8)
The Ivan Furtado-trained ELEVEN ELEVEN failed to settle in this five-runner contest and will be interesting when given a big field/strong pace scenario. He was a neck second of 14 over 1m2f to Selecto at Newcastle on his penultimate start and the winner has gone in again since.
FAR AWAY THOUGHTS (second, 1m median auction maiden stakes, Lingfield, Saturday, January 8)
Backers of 4-7 favourite FAR AWAY THOUGHTS might not be in a forgiving mood after his three-quarters of a length defeat by Party On Girl but Andrew Balding’s colt, who came from off the pace when successful at 40-1 over course and distance on his debut, made the running on the ‘dead’ rail this time. He did well to finish so close in the circumstances and is worth another chance.
HEALING POWER (eighth, 1m apprentice handicap, Chelmsford, Thursday, January 6)
Elle-May Croot must have had a flight to catch as she went off like a scalded cat on 5-1 poke HEALING POWER in this “hands and heels” contest. The strong pace was unsustainable and it was no surprise to see her mount drop away to finish more than 13 lengths behind the patiently-ridden winner in last of eight. Ignore this.
PINK JAZZ (sixth, 8.6f handicap, Wolverhampton, Monday, January 10)
PINK JAZZ has a good record at this time of year but the drift (14-1 from 9-1) and wide trip he endured suggested that today wasn’t the day. The blinkers, worn for his last three wins, were still missing and he’ll be something to bet on when that headgear returns.
RATFACEMCDOUGALL (second, 3m handicap hurdle, Ludlow, Monday, January 10)
RATFACEMCDOUGALL tried to make all but was worn down late by Khan. He clearly appreciated the return to a right-handed track and now has form figures this way round over hurdles of 41472171112 (5-11). He has a good record in March and April and should find another race before the season is over.
REBEL REDEMPTION (ninth, 6f handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 9)
Scott Dixon’s REBEL REDEMPTION was ridden as though we were still on Fibresand here, not Tapeta, going off hard. Such tactics have rarely been successful on the new surface and the 12-1 shot beat only one home. He’s now 0-4 at this venue since joining his current yard and his forcing style will be more effective at Chelmsford where he won twice for John Quinn.
SHYJACK (sixth, 1m handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 9)
SHYJACK raced on the rail from stall 1 of 12 in the same race as Cashel (see above) and his sixth place is also worthy of an upgrade.
VELMA (fifth, 1m fillies’ handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 9)
The pace collapsed in this 1m fillies’ handicap and the race was set up for the closers. The first four home were described as follows…
Midfield, towards rear over 5f out
Dwelt start, towards rear
Dwelt start, raced in last
…with VELMA doing best of the prominent racers in fifth. She wasn’t helped be being switched towards the inside to challenge and might be happier back on Newcastle’s straight mile.
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