Cartmel Race Preview, Sunday August 23rd 2020

Sunday August 23rd

Cartmel 2.15
William Hill Extra Places Every Day Handicap Chase Class 2
2m1f61y – Going: Good to Soft (light rain forecast) – 11 runners

Best known for winning the 2017 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr  (a fortnight before that, he won the conditionals/amateurs handicap hurdle at Aintree which closes the Grand National meeting), but coming into this race, has had no wins since taking a three-runner beginners’ chase at Kempton in November 2018. Best chase form when 3rd to Magic Saint in 2m handicap chase at Newbury in November, but reverted to hurdles after disappointing behind all-the-way winner Marracudja in Castleford at Wetherby over Christmas. Running over trips around 2m4f – which he doesn’t stay – struggled in National Spirit at Fontwell  (mistake 7th and pushed along away from it, struggling disputing last 3 out, no impression when blundered 2 out, well back last behind William Henry) and in Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival (pushed along after 3 out, not making much impression though keeping on when mistake 2 out, rider unbalanced and eventually unseated). When last seen showed little on the Flat at Newmarket in June behind Holy Kingdom, held up rear, ridden 5f out, no impression, weakened final half mile. The Newbury-form would get him in the frame here; races off 142, and was off 143 when he took the Scottish Champion
Demi Sang
Best effort since joining current connections in Listed handicap chase at Wetherby back in November won by Guitar Pete, held up, slow 2nd, brushed 6th, trying to make ground when mistake 12th, at most nudged along turning out of back straight, closed on leaders home turn, hung left under a push but took a closing 4th 3 out, shaken up, sustained effort and took 3rd 2 out, no impression under a ride approaching last, driven, not stay on last 175 yards and only closed on runner-up Happy Diva (subsequent Betvictor Gold Cup winner) as she tired – a rare good run for this one but he didn’t put much into his finishing effort, hanging and not staying on once over the last. Hasn’t yet been over fences in 2020, over hurdles last 4 and was tailed off behind Craigmor at Market Rasen last month on his first start since the resumption. A C/D winner back in May 2019, best form gives him a good chance and with lots of pace in it, it’ll be run to suit this hold-up horse
Wells De Lune
Won this race in 2018 (had Theflyingportrait behind), and last year ran 4th to Ardera Cross, led, headed 8th, started to struggle, about to lose touch and ridden when jumped left and across rival 9th, hard ridden and lost ground on the rest from 3 out, looked held when in close and brushed last, some 20 lengths back fairground bend, kept on a little under a push and some 15 or so lengths back home turn, no more, beaten just over 12 lengths in the end. Very little recent form and last time checked out tamely in Class 2 handicap hurdle at Southwell on July 30th, led, headed 6th, pushed along, weakened through field, weakening further and tailing off when pulled up before 2 out behind Highly Prized. With his decent Cartmel record (five wins from seven starts) it would probably be unwise to completely dismiss him, but he’s hard to fancy on recent efforts
Won over this course and distance in June 2016. A 130s-rated two-mile handicap chaser nowadays, with best effort last season coming at Kelso in September 2019, pushed along to make a start, chased leader, led 4th, was challenged home turn and niggled along, firmly pushed along after 2 out, soon put under pressure, stayed on well to pull clear approaching last, pushed out run-in, decisive by 6 lengths from Tidal Watch. Recent form doesn’t inspire, and at Southwell on August 10th disputed lead to 3rd, raced 3rd when all over the place 6th, lost place 8th, well held and reminders 10th, no more, tailed off 3 out, trailed in behind Solar Impulse. Interesting dropped in the weights, but will struggle to dominate with Wells De Lune in the field
Tonto’s Spirit*
This time last year made all to beat Garo De Juilley (Chepstow Silver Trophy winner in the past) in a novices’ chase over this course and distance, led, 3 lengths clear 6th, ridden into 8th, a length up approaching 9th, was joined 10th, not shaken up before last, moved the better after it, niggled along fairground bend, hard ridden and reminder 2 1/2 f out, stayed on, led 2 lengths home turn, hard driven, sustained effort final furlong, ridden out, workmanlike and decisive; subsequently beat Nietzsche at Sedgefield in October. No recent form, tailed off on the Flat and behind Isaac Wonder in handicap chase at Southwell on both starts since the resumption, but best form would get him into this – yet another likely to contest the lead
Northern Beau
In December 2019 won a 2m handicap chase at Cheltenham (second course win), chased leader, hard ridden and reminder after 5th, niggled along before in close to 7th, effort to chase leader 9th, again came under a push 10th, going worst of the leaders at the top of the hill, put under strong pressure home turn, effort and led turning in, went 2 lengths clear under a drive approaching last, driven out up the hill, stayed on well to hold off Eamon An Cnoic, but raced lazily and was off the bit the whole way. Not out since February. Round this tight track it’s not hard to visualise her being taken off her legs
Before joining Lucinda Russell, this French import won at Chatillon in March 2019, chased leader, led 4th, went 2 lengths clear 6th and 4 or 5 lengths clear 8th, around 8 lengths clear 2 out, ridden along home turn, runner-up closed a little approaching last, ridden after it and ran on to pull clear. On first and so far only start for current connections this French import did little behind Cornerstone Lad in a 2m handicap hurdle at Wetherby last November (16/1 to 66/1, SP 50/1), held up midfield to rear, pushed along and outpaced 6th, weakened, tailed off from 2 out. Best watched
Ardera Cross*
This oddball is most effective granted a test of stamina at 2m and is ineffective over further; he won this race last year beating Nietzsche with Wells De Lune back in 4th, chased leader, niggled along approaching 7th, led 8th, ridden into and jumped right 9th, pressed on and some 4 lengths clear 2 out, pushed along after last, stayed on in front fairground bend though Nietzsche was going better, gap reduced to 2 1/2 lengths turning in, put under pressure, stayed on well final 200 yards, was closed on but always holding on close home. Has had a couple of starts since the resumption but both have been over 2m4f, and he was tailed off behind Pammi at Perth last time. This race is more like it
King Alfonso
Mid-grade exposed handicap chaser who won at Worcester and Ffos Las last Autumn. Stepped up in class and 33/1, ran a fair race behind Imperial Presence at Stratford on August 6th when last seen, midfield, headway to track leaders 7th, led 10th, headed and mistake 11th, lost ground 12th, pushed along and struggling to stay with leaders 3 out, made a little ground and not totally done with 2 out, put under pressure and outpaced turning out of back straight, left behind home turn under pressure, well back last, closed a little on fading 3rd run-in. This looks a stronger race and he’s unlikely to be in the shake-up
Yccs Portocervo
At the second time of asking over fences, bettered his hurdling form when going in at Uttoxeter on August 8th though it wasn’t pretty, tracked leaders, reached for 2nd, slow 5th and lost ground, tracking leaders again 8th, in close to 11th and lost place, rear turning out of back straight some 4 or 5 lengths off leader, pushed along home turn, hard ridden 3 out, closed on leaders nearing 2 out, went for an ambitious gap between horses immediately after, bumped, no room and forced to switch outer, at most half a length down last, hard driven, stayed on well, just got up from Beni Light under strong pressure final strides. Having won at Fakenham in the past this one can handle a super-sharp track, but he needed a strong ride at Uttoxeter and this is dropping in trip in a better race
Court Royale
Steps up in class after winning a 0-115 handicap chase at Stratford on July 21st, prominent, head of main group from 3rd as 1st 2 drew clear, shuffled back and midfield 6th, not fluent 7th, headway 8th and tracked leaders who weren’t so far clear by that point, ridden into 3 out moving comfortably, moved comfortably as disputed lead approaching 2 out, led there, niggled along turning out of back straight, hard ridden home turn, stayed on though wandered nearing last, 3 lengths up jumping, ridden out, stayed on well run-in, workmanlike and decisive from Atlantic Storm. Well treated on back form and, though stepping up in grade and seeing Cartmel for the first time, shouldn’t be dismissed

Shortlist: Tonto’s Spirit, Ardera Cross

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