Wetherby Race Preview, 30/10/2020

Friday October 30th

Wetherby 2.10
Cash Out At bet365 Handicap Chase Class 1 Listed 0-155
2m3f85y – Going: Good to Soft (Soft in places) – 12 runners

Happy Diva*
After finishing 2nd to Guitar Pete in this race last year, went on to take the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham, good ground to track leaders at the top of the hill, led 2 out, ridden, slight lead last, hard driven, stayed on up the hill, was closed on last few strides and all out but always holding on from Brelan D’As; subsequently ran Lady Buttons close in Listed mares’ chase at Doncaster, just getting the worst of it close home after a terrific tussle, then after a below-par effort at Ascot in January returned to her best in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, tracked leaders after 3 out, niggled along approaching home turn, produced to challenge and travelled best approaching 2 out, pushed along between last 2, stayed on, the better jump last and led, hard driven, headed 150 yards out, no extra, stuck to task, beaten just over a length behind Simply The Betts. Starts the season off a tough 153 and carries 11-12, but she’s done well when carrying big weights in the past
Born Survivor
Won this race in 2018, making most from the 7th to beat Guitar Pete. In a light 2019/20 season for this one – only the three runs – he was again making his seasonal debut in this race last year and ran 4th to Guitar Pete, led 1st, jumped soundly in front till pushed along 4 out, headed under a push approaching 3 out, faded, looked held as lost 3rd 2 out, no more and beaten 9 lengths; further illustrated how unsuited he is by racing prominently when 4th to Top Notch on his second run in Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, chased leader 7th, ridden into 8th, moved comfortably til nudged along after 3 out, more firmly niggled along approaching home turn, hard ridden, half a chance 2 out under a ride, wandered left, hard driven, faded approaching last, lost 3rd early on run-in; not a factor behind Frodon in Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton in January on final start. Not badly treated but tends to finish weakly; however, overall he’s three from four at Wetherby
Sizing Platinum
Possibly found the trip too sharp when only 4th to Beat The Judge (good 3rd at Cheltenham last week) at Fontwell on first start for a year, led, gave the 2nd a bit of air and unbalanced on landing, clear after 7th, not so far ahead 9th, ridden into 10th, niggled along home turn, more firmly pushed along approaching 3 out, headed and no extra under pressure approaching 2 out, relegatged to 4th on landing, hard driven but no extra going to last, faded run-in, kept on under pressure, was closing on 4th last few strides but not get the place. Might well be suited by going from 2m2f to 1m4f here but there was more of a problem in the Fontwell race – the younger legs of the 1st 3 home (two of them half this one’s age, the other even less) left him behind over the last two fences; tough ask for this 12 year-old, particularly as going back over his record, he’s looked best in the warmer months
Two For Gold*
Winning chasing debut when taking a good novices’ limited handicap over 2m4f at Carlisle last November, ridden into several fences, niggled along approaching 12th, pushed along and not going as well as the 2 in front home turn, hard ridden from 4 out, took 2nd approaching 3 out, ridden and led jumping, stayed on under a ride and 2 lengths up 2 out, put under pressure approaching last, led 4 lengths over it, driven out final furlong to beat I’m To Blame. Stepped up to 3m and posted two more wins, at Warwick in january not going as well as Hold The Note at the beginning of the straight but outstaying him from the last, but no match for Copperhead in Reynoldstown at Ascot on what turned out to be his final start, stayed on and got to within half a length home turn, outpaced as winner asserted going to 2 out, hard driven, all out, faded as winner drew well clear approaching last, kept on last 150 yards. Looks a stayer; got away with running over this trip when the uphill finish at Carlisle came into play, but less likely to over this flatter track. Soft going is a must, and the ground was going that way on Thursday night; likely to force the pace
Having been off form, rather unexpectedly bounced back to his best – proving himself over this trip in the process – when winning decisively over this c/d back in January, up with the pace final circuit, pulled clear with The Paddy Pie from 4 out, pair clear, left well clear by that one’s fall 3 out, mistake 2 out, well ahead last, decisive by 23 lengths from Beau Bay, but the form didn’t look strong, this one seemingly the only horse in the race to give his running. No chance of lightning striking twice in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at the Cheltenham Festival on only other start,  held up, raced wide from 8th, headway and midfield, gradually lost place and in last pair 14th, weakened and detached last when mistake 3 out, weakened further, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out. Goes well fresh but not sure what to expect in a considerably stronger race than the one he won; his trainer James Ewart, after getting 4 wins from 14 runners between August 27th and September 16th, has had no winners or 2nds since then (last 19 runners – one 3rd, rest 4th or worse)
Louis’ Vac Pouch
Not the best at winning; best run last season when 7th in Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival, midfield, keen, started a move 14th, closed on leaders going down the hill to 3 out where in close, pushed along, bumped rival approaching home turn, made a little ground before brushed 2 out then hampered, put under pressure, no impression when blundered last, kept on run-in, passed a beaten one inside last 175 yards, no more, beaten 11 lengths. A flatter-track, smaller-field 2m4f handicap chase will always suit this one better than the likes of that race, but he was most disappointing on reappearance behind Fidux in Prelude at Market Rasen on October 17th, held up, mistake 8th, niggled along and weakened before 9th, detached last 10th, pushed along and started to tail off from 11th, trailing in and making no ground when mistake 2 out and slightly hampered, no more; had nothing to do with it from early on the final circuit. Dropped a bit in the weights, might have needed his reappearance and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did better
Huntsman Son
Missed last season; only chase win to date when successful in a small field at Newbury on 2nd March 2019, held up, flat-backed jump 3rd, ridden into 7th, made ground and tracked leaders approaching 12th, moved best as drew upsides leaders 3 out, not shaken up to take narrow lead 2 out, pushed along, effort and drew clear approaching last, driven out run-in, stayed on well to maintain clear advantage, workmanlike and decisive from Slate House; tailed off in the novices’ handicap chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, mistake 10th, midfield 13th, made ground at the top of the hill and prominent starting downhill run to 3 out moving largely comfortably, pushed along 3 out, tracked leaders under a firm push home turn, pulled wide going to 2 out, hard driven, no impression approaching last, hung left, looked heavy-legged up the hill, weakened, no more behind A Plus Tard. Last time out in May 2019 at Haydock was 2nd to Brave Eagle, bettering previous form. The ground’s a query, but his absence of 538 days is likely to get the better of him; some records suggest that his trainer Alex Hales sent out The Drone to win after over 1,000 days off in May 2018 – under Rules maybe, but he’d won a point for another yard 357 days before
The Unit
Consistent novice in early 2018, kept going that Summer and got two chase wins; when last seen out ran well at Doncaster on December 15th 2018, held up, reached for 10th, not fluent 5 out, moved comfortably home turn, mistake 4 out but continued to move well, mistake 3 out, niggled along, edged closer and took 2nd between 3 out and next, 2 lengths to find when mistake 2 out, hard ridden, put under pressure approaching last, ridden into it, hard driven run-in, no extra, faded last 150 yards. Costly mistakes in the closing stages probably left him with little in reserve and he was beaten 5 lengths behind Amour De Nuit. Withdrawn at Chepstow on October 10th when the going dried up (rather puzzling that, given he’s raced mainly on good and been kept away from soft since 2016), this wouldn’t be the first time Alan King has brought one back after a very long absence (Loverboy won for the yard after 782 days off back in January – The Unit’s absence is a mere 685 days) and he’s well treated
Joke Dancer
Two wins in his first season’s chasing, the best of them at Warwick in January, chased leader, jumped right, ridden into 3rd, nigled along approaching 4th, pushed along bend before 6th, niggled along throughout final mile, more firmly pushed along approaching 3 out, held place under a ride home turn, nearly upsides leader 2 out, sustained effort under a ride, the better jump and led last, ridden out, stayed on well to draw clear, not stopping at the line, beat Rough Night 8 lengths. Lost his form after that final two runs. Shaped okay in handicap hurdle at Wetherby’s first meeting on reappearance though ultimately well held behind Anemoi, tended to jump right, in close and went right 2nd, midfield when a bit slow 3rd, ridden into 4th and 5th, lost a couple of lengths and niggled along after 6th, niggled along turning out of back straight, good ground and prominent home turn, pushed along approaching 3 out, went more markedly right, hard ridden, carried head to one side and faded before 2 out. He’s in cheekpieces for the first time, and his trainer Sue Smith is 0 from 20 runners in cheekpieces between March 2008 and January 2017 – she literally hasn’t sent out a cheekpieced-runner since then; in addition all three of this one’s runs over around 2m4f to date have resulted in double-digit defeats
Royal Village
Useful on his day but no wins since August 2019. Has seemed best in the Summer but posted three double-digit defeats since the resumption, the best of which was at Bangor last month behind Manofthemountain, niggled along before mistake 10th, not fluent 11th and niggled again, ridden along from 13th, made ground and in contention in leading group 4 out, bumped rival 3 out, hard ridden in close 3rd home turn, ridden and faded from 2 out, only 4th and looking heavy-legged when not fluent last, 6th beaten 15 lengths. Withdrawn from the Doncaster Sales earlier this month, there must have been some private deal as he’s changed trainer and owners – he’s now with Micky Hammond; he’s well treated but wouldn’t want the ground to go softer than good to soft, and as already implied it’s not his time of year
No jumps wins since tailed off in Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial at Ayr this time last year, when tailed off behind Elvis Mail on unsuitably soft ground. Best run over fences to date when chasing home Ardera Cross at Cartmel in August 2019, held up last, not fluent 1st and niggled along, more firmly ridden along in last after 3rd, travelled better after 6th and closer order bend before 7th, again pushed along approaching 8th, good ground racing wide and chased Ardera Cross from approaching 9th, chased winner and going more comfortably than him on fairground bend, ridden along approaching home turn, driven and stayed on final 200 yards, closed on winner final 100 yards but never quite getting there. Looked hard work early on in that but stuck to his task, perhaps the track not suiting. Does have some form on soft, but is better on good to soft or good, and fit from three good runs on the Flat in September including at Nottingham on September 27th (went on 6f out, 2 lengths clear approaching home turn, niggled along 4f out, soon more firmly ridden, headed 2f out under pressure, stuck to task, outpaced final furlong, no extra, kept on till eased last 50 yards and nearly lost 3rd – giving the impression he’d have done better if not sent to the front so far out), he’s proven over 2m3f and could go well
Vinnie The Hoddie
Joint best-to-date when winning a 0-120 handicap at Uttoxeter in September, led, in close to 4th and 8th, was briefly joined 9th, travelled comfortably off home turn, moved much the best then niggled along approaching 3 out, 1st 2 drew clear, more vigorously pushed along and stayed on approaching 2 out, asserted, drew well clear approaching last, mistake, ridden out, sustained effort and maintained clear lead, decisive – might have had a bit in hand when beating New Quay there. Matched it next time in a 0-130 at Market Rasen on September 26th, tracked leaders turning out of back straight, ridden along approaching 3 out, effort and disputed lead there, stayed on, headed 2 out, faded under pressure approaching last, lost 2nd on landing, faded run-in, lost ground on 1st 3 and was being closed on by the 5th last 50 yards. In a race with more strength in depth in it than the Uttoxeter one he won, was under a ride to hold his place turning out of the back straight and, having had a view of the front at the third last, was used up once over the last and beaten 5 lengths behind Dead Right. Both races were mid-grade Class 3 and although he sneaks in to the bottom of the handicap, it’s hard to see him making an impact in this considerably better race

Shortlist: Happy Diva, Two For Gold, Nietzsche

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