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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Phillips View Post
    Ratings are overrated.
    Pun intended?

    I suppose it depends on who is rating them... I think that they can be overrated because most people are familiar with them which can lead to people expecting too much from them. There was a time when speed figures and pace dynamics were essentially ignored universally until they weren't and the same can happen with any factor and approach. I am not a fan of ratings being taken as gospel and would only consider them in broad terms but they can still serve a function.

    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    BH, I’ve just been skimming through the RPRs for the races so far and see that they have the Irish Longclaw race marked up as the strongest by far. I wondered if this squares with your view? From the rating perspective they have Longclaw at 125 as opposed to Hiconic best of 115 and Naizagai 117.
    I was actually on my way to addressing this as a follow up to your post on Saturday. I would have gotten back sooner but it was suggested by a friend yesterday that I spend the day doing literally anything other than juvenile hurdling stuff...

    My approach to compiling ratings has been freshly mined and is still entombed in all manner of crust. Consequently, these ratings should only be taken as unrefined guesswork.

    121 Hiconic
    120 Longclaw
    120 Naizagai
    115 Soldier On Parade
    114 Global Agreement
    114 Jeff Kidder
    111 Orchestral Rain
    105 Bannister
    103 Pink Jazz
    102 Calidus Mirabilis

    The way I have arrived at these marks is through a combination of;-
    • thirty-five pounds between flat and jumps ratings
    • overall flat standard based on official ratings or a general measure of merit from collateral form and general improvement or regression
    • the degree to which the principal horses maintained or improved on their flat standard based on general fluency
    • supplementary pounds based on the working assumption that horses will improve on their debut marks more often than not
    • the relationship between the horses in the race and their attributed factors


    By this metric and my interpretation of same, the best performance of the season was by Hiconic when she won at Stratford. The runner up Bannister performed to somewhere around the low seventies despite being very inexperienced. A simple reproduction of a 73 rating would give him a mark of 108. He jumped well enough and the form horses came clear of the outsiders but he was quite fresh after a long lay-off and got tired towards the end which puts him down to 105. Pink Jazz in third is a capable of running to the low sixties but somewhat inconsistent. He was keen to begin with but settled quickly and jumped well so put into the context of splitting Bannister and Kings Creek could be given a rating of 103. Alan King's Kings Creek jumped and travelled like a professional so there was no reason to assume that he did not meet his flat rating which would justify a performance mark of 98. These factors along with the improvement in jumping and travelling, the distance and weight she had over her rivals and the manner of her victory would give Hiconic a rating of 121. Next time at Newton Abbot, Hiconic and Pink Jazz reopposed but on this occasion, the latter was drenched in sweat, pulled like a train and made numerous mistakes. They finished the same distance apart but while Hiconic carried a little more weight, she was not travelling as well and had to work hard to beat a stoutly bred racecourse debutant and sixty rated newcomer who played havoc at the start and put in an awful round of jumping. On this, I saw fit to drop Hiconic's performance rating by seven pounds and Pink Jazz's by twelve yet RPR saw Hiconic put up a seven pound improvement and kept Pink Jazz on the same mark which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    Naizagai was a mid-high seventies performer on the flat but he raced with great relish for a yard that is in outstanding form and the front two pulled a long way clear from a French horse who jumped well. The runner up was exposed and lowly rated but was also well backed, jumped well and enjoyed the ground. Here, Naizagai's rating could either be dragged down by the runner up or boosted by the third. Even though a mark of 120 for Naizagai means that the runner up exceeded his flat best by a stone, on distances I would still be putting the French horse on a mark twenty-four pounds lower than her flat potential mark. Mick and Peat Moss were given regressive marks on account of their attempt and failure to match the much faster winner for early pace.

    Longclaw had a lofty flat mark and had not ran to it this year but given his trainer and the manner of performance, the rating assumes that he matched his better two-year-old efforts. The runner up improved on his best flat form by half a stone first time out over hurdles but he was on a steep upward curve on the flat in any case and such improvement is not uncommon with his stable. Orchestral Rain is another whose rating took a leap forward but he only had a sole outing on the flat to improve upon and the fourth placed Calidus Mirabillis regressed from his best on the basis of less than fluent jumping and a tired finish but he still broadly matched his contemporary official rating.

    The waffling nature of these explanations perhaps demonstrate why I would prefer to use words rather than numbers when evaluating juveniles! Nevertheless, I would be interested to learn more ideas about how such ratings might be compiled - even if they are only used to quantify a horse's ability in general terms.

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  4. #62
    Senior Member barjon's Avatar
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    Mmmm, whilst flat rating (for what it’s worth, Colin) is a useful starting point we are in a different ball game and I wonder how we’d get on without it. Time maybe (for what that’s worth!)? Interestingly the Naizagai race was run in the virtually identical time to the following Novice Hurdle - where the winner was rated 120. Naizagai carried 5lbs less and earned an RPR of 117. Well within shouting distance of where you have him. I think any ratings are a useful supplement to your words (however waffling!!!) which should carry much the main weight.

    Ps: here’s how RPR have them:

    Longclaw 125
    Jeff Kidder 120
    Naizagai 117
    Orchestral Rain 116
    Hiconic 115
    Gloabal Agreement 110
    Soldier on Parade 107
    Last edited by barjon; 10th August 2020 at 1:32 PM.

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    I’ve some thoughts on how you can apply ratings that may be a little different BH. Your friend may fall out with me though!

    You’re already doing a fantastic job differentiating horses by DI and course So whereas the handicapper, Timeform, and the RP ratings apply blanket ratings, I think there is scope to apply ratings by course characteristics. It feels like a logical next step.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Phillips View Post
    Ratings are overrated.
    Certainly by some but it all depends on so many facets relative to their compilation, accuracy and/or implementation.

    The idea of allocating a numerical figure on the ability of a racehorse was revolutionary when Phil Bull introduced it and, for me at least, remains the single most important guide to a horse's ability but obviously depends on how accurate the figure is. Certain ratings are fundamentally flawed, in which case they are largely a waste of time, but some are extremely useful to have as an aid to assessing the likelier potential outcomes of a race in advance.
    Two's company, three's allowed.

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    Just a quick reflection on the today's race - a full review will be posted tomorrow at the earliest.

    I regularly stress that I am not a tipster and I think today's result was a good example of why!

    In this regard, it may be inappropriate and possibly egotistical for me to issue an apology but one would still be in order. There would be little call for contrition for the act of being incorrect but I believe I was rather careless when considering Little Brother. There is little irrational about the result itself and the qualities which contributed to his success - hurdling experience, positive tactics, ability to battle - were attributed to other runners in the analysis. This is not to say that I would have given him strong prospects but his chances certainly could not have been considered moderate.

    I maintain that I am not a tipster and that I have no control over whether or not people risk money based on my observations or indeed how these sentient creatures perform on the day. I am however responsible for ensuring that whatever I contribute is done to a satisfactory standard and in this instance, I did not perform my best. To this end, I apologise.

    When analysing a field of such a size, oversights can occur - particularly when such an analysis is done in one sitting and posted way in advance. In order to mitigate against such events, future previews will probably be posted rather later than they are currently.

    tl:dr;- whoops-a-daisy!

  9. #66
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    You're being a little harsh on yourself there BH, you get extra slack simply by virtue of the obvious effort you put in.
    Alba Gu Brath!

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    Absolutely agree with simmo. The only possible clue that he had rather more about him was the gamble on him at Roscommon which maybe indicated that much more was expected of him by his connections than he actually delivered on the day.
    Last edited by barjon; 10th August 2020 at 8:46 PM.

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  13. #68
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    Monday's apology looks a lot more dramatic than it felt at the time but I suppose tone is difficult to faithfully convey through words over the internet. It was not so much my being harsh on myself as it was an acknowledgement of incorrect form. I view mistakes and errors as opportunities to develop - itself a positive gift seldom afforded by "success". Sentiments such as "that was negative" or "those actions were negative" are unhelpful and a much better approach is "what went wrong?","did it really go wrong?", "what can be learned from this?" and "how can these lessons be applied going forward". So without further ado, let us drag the corpse from the rubble of this unmitigated disaster and flog it for a bit before firing it into the sun...

    First item, the process. Given that the winner had conspicuous attributes mentioned numerous times elsewhere in the thread, let alone the very same review, had been missed completely was not a deliberate oversight but it was certainly careless. The analysis was done in one sitting without breaks and posted without a proof read. This led to lapses in concentration and an absence of quality control. This is perhaps due to an atavistic impulse to develop and project ones ideas before they are influenced or pre-empted by others. To mitigate, the following process should help - research, notes, first draft, break including an unrelated activity, final draft, submission. Furthermore, said atavistic impulse, now acknowledged, can be firmly dismissed on the basis that 1) the degree and extent of independent research warrants an indifference to any premature external influence 2) the work justifies itself and 3) the author is not in competition with any other analyst. In the unlikely event that after the first draft has been written, a facet of information has been revealed by another writer's insight then it ought to be acknowledged and celebrated in the spirit of universal collaboration.

    Second item, overestimated horses. Corn On The Cob Horse - front running tactics would have been less effective in field with several prominent runners which is something to be mindful of in the future. Good ground possibly an issue in hindsight - firmer than forecast - maybe leave preview closer to race or revisit in event of altered conditions. A Mere Bagatelle - still needed considerable improvement. Maybe being too clever.

    Third item, underestimated horses. Little Brother - ability to race prominently without need to lead, battling qualities, fair jumping on debut with anticipated experience should have been given their due attention beforehand. Too much was read into the missed gamble first time. Gambles are placed by human beings backing their judgement and while they can offer clues, are still fallible and can confuse matters. Too dismissive of stallion and trainer due largely to low sample sizes and below average strike rates. Both of their improvement rates were respectable beforehand. Also dismissive of Gale Force Ten as a stallion on the basis of his sire being Oasis Dream. While it is true that Oasis Dream has a poor overall strike rate as a grandsire, in terms of producing stallions who get winners, Oasis Dream is on 75% for those with ten or more sons which puts him below only Galileo, equal to Danehill Dancer and ahead of every other grandsire including the likes of Montjeu and Linamix. When taking French three-year-old results into account, these horses then surpass him but the rate increases to 80% which puts him on a par with Green Desert and Monsun and ahead of Danehill, Dansisli and Sadler's Wells. Notwithstanding, his winner to runner rates and overall strike rates are still the lowest of the fifteen qualifying grandsires. If one wanted to complicate matters further, it could be noted that Gale Force Ten's damsire Kirkwall was predominantly a national hunt stallion. However, the take-away should be that Oasis Dream stallions have a poor strike rate but that does not paint the entire picture - particularly where his less exposed stallions are concerned. Perry Owens was dismissed because his recent form was poor and his trainer's recent form was also below the usual standard. However, a horse having a sole poor run after a break is not necessarily negative - Hiconic being a prime example. Furthermore, Noel Meade is exceptional with his juvenile hurdlers and his 75% improvement rate will automatically improve to 77% once Perry Owens and Jeff Kidder return to the racecourse. The yard was still in decent enough health to send out the latter to finish second last week and is more than capable of getting good performances from lower rated flat horses.

    With that out of the way, the preview for Monday's race.

    The second race of the Irish season took place at Ballinrobe seven days after the curtain raiser at Roscommon. The former did not look quite as strong as the latter beforehand by virtue of the fact that there was a difference of a stone in the highest official flat ratings. This notion could be further justified by the fact that the first two here were beaten nearly eighteen and thirty-five lengths at Roscommon. Nevertheless, the strength in depth between the races was broadly level, the race itself was run at a good tempo and the winning time was the fastest of the four races on the card at the distance. The front four were also clear of a strung out field. Although given the nature of the track and numerous mistakes by many in the field, it is far from certain that the placings will hold. Notwithstanding, it otherwise has a solid look.

    Little Brother was a winner on the flat but where the market is concerned, he disappointed on his hurdling debut last week after being backed into second favouritism. His jumping there was not terrible but left room for improvement and that perhaps remains the case as he did not post a foot perfect round. Nevertheless, he travelled well and close to the front, which helps at Ballinrobe, before knuckling down to draw away from the runner-up. The application of first time cheekpieces possibly helped but the drying conditions certainly did. Little Brother would be vulnerable on either softer ground or a more challenging circuit, especially to the third placed horse. Still, he has a nice attitude and his jumping can improve further so another race of this nature in these conditions would see him with a chance. 111

    Calidus Mirabilis was best placed of these at Roscommon and though the winner reversed placings by over eighteen lengths, this was still an improved effort. He dived at his hurdles on a couple of occasions here but he got over those and the rest of the flights quickly and only made one real mistake three out. He helped to set a strong gallop and put in a fine effort overall although he probably won't want conditions much sterner than this. 109

    Perry Owens would be the one horse to take from this race. His jumping was rather poor, particularly early on, he wandered into the penultimate flight, became unbalanced turning for home and was still a good ten lengths behind the winner at the furlong marker. Despite all of this, he was able to rally to get within two lengths of the winner. There is plenty to work on in the jumping department but if that improvement can be found then a contest such as this should be within his grasp. 109

    Sister Eliza came from nowhere to finish third in a seven furlong handicap at Galway last time but was ridden more prominently here. Her jumping was decent save for a slow jump at the last but she was always close enough if good enough and does not appear to have any excuses. She can come on for this run but her prospects seem limited to this kind of level and it would be surprising if her capacity extended beyond this class. 102

    Belgoprince did little in the way of racing on his hurdles debut and it was a similar story here. Though he jumped off with the rest of the field, he still kept himself to himself towards the back of the field while learning how to jump over hurdles. He made something resembling headway after the last and won the battle for fifth place while looking rather confused by the process. He is blatantly capable of much better. 100

    Voice Of Hope was making his seasonal reappearance and was a bit reticent with his jumping at times before finishing rather tired. It was not brimming with promise but there was enough there to suggest that he can improve for fitness and experience, particularly on softer ground. 100

    Varna Gold raced in the rear while making slow jumps but made good headway to join the leaders three from home. He shortly faded thereafter which could either be indicative of a lack of stamina or that the move took too much out of him. Not without promise but not immediately compelling either. 91

    Tommy The Hat is a 57 rated eight race maiden on the flat and although his jumping was good, that was the only positive to be drawn. Other than a potential but unlikely lack of stamina for this particular task, there was no real explanation for his being well beaten beyond a general lack of class. 75

    A Mere Bagatelle jumped well enough while leading on his debut at Roscommon but adopted more patient tactics here. There was some headway four out but he would fade shortly after. Perhaps more positive tactics might help in the future but he would still likely need handicaps before finding himself in the frame. 72

    Corn On The Cob Horse had acquitted himself with much credit in three honourable front running defeats in flat handicaps this year but was not to repeat the dose on this occasion. Racing wide early on, Corn On The Cobb Horse found himself in a protracted battle for the lead and was lit up by the effort. While he was able to get his lead, it was a disputed one for much of the way and Corn On The Cobb Horse had enough some five furlongs from home. This was a disappointing effort and while Corn On The Cobb Horse does not have the profile of a dour stayer, he was beaten too far out for stamina to have been the key factor. Corn On The Cobb Horse was backed throughout the day but he did drift closer to the off which might be tangential to the ground conditions drying out. Another factor would almost certainly be the fact that Corn On The Cobb Horse did not enjoy fighting for the lead. In fairness to Corn On The Cob Horse, his jumping was absolutely fine and if he is not soured by the experience then he can step up markedly on this performance provided there is the likelihood of a soft lead on a suitable track. However, given that his valour is Corn On The Cob Horse's main asset, that an experience such as this might be detrimental to same could be a concern. 56

    Blue Sky Thinker was rated forty on the flat after six starts which is about forty-six pounds superior to what he achieved here. Apart from a hesitant jump at the first, there was not much to complain about in that department. He was simply beaten very very far. 0

    Money Mike was making his racecourse debut but apart from being distantly related to good horses, did not look particularly intriguing beforehand. He would finish hopelessly tailed off. 0

    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    Mmmm, whilst flat rating (for what it’s worth, Colin) is a useful starting point we are in a different ball game and I wonder how we’d get on without it. Time maybe
    Flat ratings are not gospel but they are a fair indicator of a horse's overall ability and perhaps as strong a guide as any. I have just done a quick check on this by comparing those with official flat ratings and more than two hurdles runs by their respective ratings.

    Flat Rating / Jump Rating / Avg Diff
    113-100 / 127.21 / -12.37
    99-90 / 117.84 / -10.89
    89-80 / 114.02 / -4.71
    79-70 / 102.83 / -6.41
    69-60 / 96.18 / -3.32
    59-50 / 89.33 / -0.38
    49-40 / 82.65 / 1.72

    Jump Rating / Flat Rating / Avg Diff
    164-140 / 86.46 / 23.47
    139-130 / 79.31 / 19.69
    129-120 / 75.70 / 12.85
    119-110 / 72.94 / 6.44
    109-100 / 66.86 / 2.55
    99-90 / 63.02 / -3.50

    The most talented flat horses won't usually make the most talented jumpers and vice versa but in general terms, particularly among more average horses, flat ratings are a good guide. In the absence of flat ratings, factors such as breeding and connections would be used beforehand and these can also be used to make adjustments to ratings both prior and after a race. I think jumping proficiency would also be a useful factor although I would like to be better at assessing same when watching clips. I do look at time although over jumps, I suspect times might be better at indicating the strength of pace than quality of field. Although if anybody has done research that shows otherwise then I will happily reconsider my position.

    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    I think any ratings are a useful supplement to your words (however waffling!!!) which should carry much the main weight.
    Fair enough. I will add them to future reviews but they are obviously to be taken with several condiments!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maruco View Post
    I’ve some thoughts on how you can apply ratings that may be a little different BH. Your friend may fall out with me though!

    You’re already doing a fantastic job differentiating horses by DI and course So whereas the handicapper, Timeform, and the RP ratings apply blanket ratings, I think there is scope to apply ratings by course characteristics. It feels like a logical next step.
    Hi Maruco

    I am not entirely sure what you are suggesting here. The DIs from past winners at any given racecourse are largely to indicate the stamina demands that a juvenile race at such a course might entail. In truth, I think an aggregation of winning times divided into seconds per furlong possibly affords a more accurate guide. I usually look at past juvenile races at the courses when such research is demanded by an upcoming race. I could potentially do a few more courses for comparison in groups of flat/undulating, sharp/galloping, stiff/easy finish etc but I am uncertain as to what particular benefit. In terms of applying ratings, I am even more stumped as to how this might be applied. Particularly as ratings are generally utilised on an ad-hoc basis and put into context by individual traits. If there is to be specific research to be done by these metrics then it would demand a vast amount of data which I unfortunately do not have in my possession. Furthermore, it would probably require more evidence than juvenile hurdlers can provide in a single season given that it is most unlikely that a sufficient amount of juveniles will have ran across a sufficient variety of racecourses to provide anything resembling reliable data.

    If anybody happens to have a spreadsheet with a truly comprehensive set of data going back a couple of decades then I would be willing to play around with it to see if anything interesting can be extrapolated. But otherwise, I am not sure how what I can do with your suggestion.

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    As someone who has no real interest in juvenile hurdlers, BH, thank you so much for bringing the subject alive. Your writings are always worth a read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len Madeiros View Post
    As someone who has no real interest in juvenile hurdlers, BH, thank you so much for bringing the subject alive. Your writings are always worth a read.
    That's kind of you to say Len. Thank you. I suppose it is like anything in life really in that even the seemingly mundane can be fascinating if approached with a curious and open mind.

    Race seven of the juvenile hurdling season comes to us once again from Market Rasen and in Soldier On Parade, features the eleven length winner at the venue from nearly three weeks earlier. With six races already in the bag, the majority of the field comes into the race with hurdling experience. However, while one might assume that the proliferation of jumps form would make for a clearer assessment of the upcoming race, the principles emerge as a fairly tightly knit bunch. Prior to the curtain raiser, the average winning DI from the past fifty-three Market Rasen juvenile hurdles was 1.00 median and 1.40 mean - 1.27 when outliers were removed. Latest winner Soldier On Parade's DI of 4.60 is an inaccurate anomaly given that he is by a Melbourne Cup winner but these figures along with average course times indicate that the track is fairly standard in its stamina demands. The ground is currently good although with rain and humid weather forecast in the interim, conditions may end up rather sticky, placing more emphasis on stamina. Market Rasen juvenile hurdles have been contested in recent years by the likes of Tiger Roll, Fox Norton, Countrywide Flame and Katchit. Although it is unlikely that there is anything of that calibre lining up on Sunday, enough of the field have decent profiles and it could turn out to be a nice race for the time of year.

    Soldier On Parade bg Amy Murphy f7-0-1 (65) 68 j2-1-1 (-) 107
    Dunaden (Mujadil){1-u}(4.60) 2/1 Out Of Control 1st Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2009
    Soldier On Parade's official flat mark has dropped slightly since his jumps debut but it still reads well in the context of this field and the form of his last two runs in that discipline has held up nicely. Such encouragement is extended by the fact that he is almost certainly a better hurdler based on his two runs thus far. Well backed before his debut at Bangor, he jumped and travelled well for a first outing before pulling clear with the eventual winner. Next time at Market Rasen he made all for a comfortable if not effortless success. He was a little keen early on which affected his jumping but apart from being guessy at the last, was neat and tidy at the rest of his jumps. He was entitled to win the way he did and the runner up aside, there was not a great deal finishing behind him. Nevertheless, it was still a performance which affords him respect in this field and his being a course winner representing a still in-form yard gives him few questions to answer.

    Bannister bg T George f1-0-0 (-) 66 j1-0-1 (-) 94
    Olympic Glory (Kendor){4-n}(1.00) .5 Ciboure 2nd Conditions Hurdle, Far Hills 2019
    Bannister was green on his sole flat start last season in a mile novice stakes at Windsor where he finished fourth of thirteen. While that race has not produced many winners, the form of those around him is worthy of a rating in the low seventies. He was also green on his jumps debut at Stratford and early exertions were to the detriment of his jumping and finishing. Nevertheless, it was still a fair effort and he battled well to hold on to second place. The winner since followed up at Newton Abbot and the third was beaten the same distance in the same race. RPR deemed those to be improved efforts but while that is up for debate, it still grants credence to the form. Tom George enjoyed a double at Cartmel with his last couple of runners and in Olympic Glory, Bannister has a very interesting stallion in the division. Winning with two of his five juveniles in the UK and Ireland last season, Olympic Glory is also responsible for Blackiron who is a dual winner in France this season. If Bannister can settle better, which is plausible given the lead he might be given from Soldier On Parade, then the seven pound pull in the weights could prove favourable given an assumed improvement on his debut effort.

    Dragon Man bg M Young f3-0-0 (47) 45 j2-0-0 (-) 47
    Dragon Pulse (Editor's Note){23}(1.50) 2/1 Mad George winless in two hurdles starts
    Dragon Man was nearly one hundred and ten lengths behind Bannister at Stratford on his hurdling debut but got to within sixty-three lengths of Soldier On Parade at Market Rasen last time. Not an atrocious jumper but does not look a natural either and is highly unlikely to make an impact in this field.

    Historic Heart chg Nigel Hawke f4-0-1 (75) 70
    Fracas (Giant's Causeway){14-c}(1.00) 3/1 Direct Lady 3rd Festival Hurdle, Leopardstown 1992
    One of two hurdling debutants in the field, Historic Heart's half-sister is the dam of stablemate Peat Moss who was third at Newton Abbot in the first juvenile of the season. They also share the same sire and both started off with Jim Bolger. However, Historic Heart is officially rated twenty-five pounds superior. Initially rated 78, his being beaten thirteen lengths in a Doncaster handicap suggests that mark was too stiff and this notion is supported by the fact that the form in his better races has not worked out especially well. His stable does well in this sphere with a near 22% winners to runners ratio and has won juveniles with a couple of ex Jim Bolger horses in Repetitio and Level Of Intensity. Although he is probably flattered by his flat rating, he can still make a respectable debut at the course which, a few seasons ago, saw his yard represented by Tiger Roll.

    Kings Creek bg A King f5-0-0 (62) 65 j1-0-0 (-) 87
    Elusive Quality (Indian Ridge){1-l}(3.24) 2/1 Point Of Origin 1st Handicap Chase (86), Huntingdon 2004
    Alan King's record in this type of event is outstanding. Out of every yard with fifty or more juveniles since 2011/12, only Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have better winners to runners ratios. The stable is set to send out two this Sunday and Kings Creek has the stronger credentials. He was well backed before his debut at Stratford where he finished nearly six lengths behind Bannister. His jumping and travelling that day were fine which while encouraging in and of itself, does not leave much room for improvement. Furthermore, he is not an assured stayer and his already having had a wind operation and the potentially sticky conditions which await this Sunday may prove problematic. Not to mention that the Alan King yard has yet to have a jumps winner from its twenty-one runners since lockdown.

    Navajo Eagle bg Denis Quinn f3-0-0 (50) 50
    Gleneagles (Victory Gallop){4-r}(0.91) 3/3 Master Dino 1st Prix Renaud du Vivier, Auteuil 2018
    Gleneagles won two group races on the flat with his first crop of two year olds last season and will on Sunday make his first engagement with the world of juvenile hurdling. Several sons of Galileo have proven themselves very useful at producing juveniles including Nathaniel, Soldier Of Fortune and Teofilo. Navajo Eagle is related to some decent jumpers such as Ulundi (3/2), Master Dino (3/3) and Palarshan (5/5) but his flat form lacks promise as he his best of three efforts still saw him beaten eighteen lengths in a Chelmsford novice stakes in July.

    Party Potential bg A King f7-0-0 (49) 56 j1-0-0 (-) 81
    Congrats (Half Ours){8-f}(4.45) US Family
    The second of the Alan King entries and the weaker on paper. His flat rating, his jumping fluency and overall attitude are a step below those of his stablemate who himself comes into this race looking vulnerable. Party Potential’s run at this venue twenty days earlier saw him jump better than some of his rivals but he was still twenty-six lengths behind Soldier On Parade and as the potential increase in stamina demands negates the winner's penalty, there is little to suggest that he can close that gap.

    To Fly Free bf David Pipe f6-1-1 (72.6) 79 j1-0-1 (-) 89
    Soldier Hollow (Canford Cliffs){19-b}{0.57) 3/1 Video Tape 2nd Grand Course de Haies d'Auteuil 1985
    A winner on the flat in France, To Fly Free would contest a listed race at Bordeaux in May. However, she finished last there and disappointed in her next two races before selling for €6,000 at Arqana. David Pipe has been in form recently with two wins this fortnight and has a respectable record with juvenile hurdlers. A winners to runners rate of 36.54% increases to 66.67% when looking at those imported from the flat in France although To Fly Free would be the cheapest of those with public price tags. She made her UK and hurdling debut at Cartmel last week and after jumping nicely, was still travelling approaching the penultimate flight. However, she weakened shortly afterwards and would finish a twenty-four length third. She had been with the yard for less than three weeks and her pedigree suggests that it was more a lack of fitness than a lack of stamina which saw her fade so quickly. Her amateur jockey's claim of seven pounds on top of her sex allowance of the same amount give her prospects an interesting look on bare form and weights alone before her flat rating or assumed improvement are even taken into account. The yard's juveniles can take a few runs to get going and the conditions may place further emphasis on her unproven stamina, but she is still entitled to respect in this company.

    Strong prospects
    1. Bannister
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Soldier On Parade
    3. To Fly Free
    Feasible prospects
    4. Kings Creek
    5. Historic Heart
    Moderate prospects
    6. Party Potential
    Negligible prospects
    7. Navajo Eagle
    8. Dragon Man

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    Ireland's third juvenile hurdle of the season takes place at Tipperary on Monday and it will be the first three year old hurdle hosted by the venue since 2016. Indeed, only six such races have been hosted at Limerick Junction this century which means that attempting to use dosage indexes to ascertain the stamina requirements of the race might be a forlorn task. For the record, the average DIs of the six winners are 1.92 median and 2.33 mean which would make sense given that it is a fairly sharp and flat track. However, it has also been reported that the track can get very testing when soft which given the forecast is a distinct possibility. This theory appears to be justified by the fact that when the ground is soft, pattern level races over the course and distance have been won by some dour types over the years including Solerina, Jezki, Ivan Grozny and Essex. Half of this field comes into the race with hurdling experience and those without do not bring a high level of flat form which would theoretically make this the least competitive race of the season thus far.

    Bass Reeves bg Noel Meade f6-0-0 (49) 59
    Es Que Love (Diesis){11-a}(1.00) 5/1 Old Vic leading National Hunt stallion
    Noel Meade has an outstanding record with juvenile hurdlers and both of his forays into the division this season have finished in the frame. Bass Reeves, his representative in this race, was initially set to make his debut at Ballinrobe last week but was withdrawn after a going change. Bringing with him an official mark of 49, Bass Reeves started off with a mark of 58 which was earned when he finished last of eight in a Leopardstown maiden last July and he followed that by finishing well beaten in a pair of Curragh nurseries in the Autumn. His seasonal reappearance came in June when beating only two of seventeen home in a Leopardstown handicap and he has not been seen since. Es Que Love has only had the one juvenile this far (a maiden from four starts) and the Clodovil line has not really been tested (Gregorian has zero wins from three juveniles). Diesis has a good record as a damsire and his 40% winners to runners rate is best in this field. Noel Meade is never to be underestimated in the division and has won juveniles with lesser rated hometrained horses than Bass Reeves. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to get from the poor flat record and patchy profile.

    Calidus Mirabilis bg Joseph Patrick O'Brien f12-2-1 (68) 75 j2-0-1 (-) 108
    Hot Streak (Oasis Dream){4-j}(1.50) 4/5 La Limagne 1st Prix Tanerko Handicap Hurdle, Auteuil 2018
    Calidus Mirabilis has been ever present in Irish juvenile hurdles this season and with a fourth and a second, brings the highest standard of hurdling form. Boasting an official rating of 68, he also sets the standard for flat form. Twice a winner on the all-weather at the start of the year, he nearly added a third when a neck runner up in a Dundalk handicap in July. After finishing an eighteen length fourth on his jumps debut at Roscommon, he stepped up on that effort in terms of both fluency and form when only losing the lead on the run in at Ballinrobe last week. To reiterate, Calidus Mirabilis easily sets the form standard and his prominent racing style can serve him well here. However, even though he finished a close fourth on soft ground in a seven furlong Down Royal nursery last August, there will be doubts over whether he can maintain his form on this going. Especially as his pedigree and overall form suggests that he might prefer less give.

    Clever Currency chg Paul W Flynn f4-0-0 (45) 47
    Red Jazz (Intikhab){21-a}(0.60) 2/1 First Symphony 1st Maiden Hurdle, Clonmel 2008
    Clever Currency had three runs on the flat for Patrick Neville at up to seven furlongs and while he was never last or completely tailed off, his official mark of 45 seems correct. He made his debut for his new stable at Leopardstown in July but unseated after attempting to jump a roadway. Red Jazz's offspring are without a win from seventeen outings in this sphere which is identical to Intikhab's record as a damsire. The dam is a half-sister to a winning hurdler and Grade One winning juvenile Cherub (5/4) appears in the distance of the damline but there is little else to enthuse over in this profile.

    Corn On The Cob Horse grg M C Grassick f12-0-3 (64) 66
    Camacho (Verglas){8-h}(1.12) 2/1 Whiskey Sour 3rd/4th County Hurdle, Cheltenham 2018/19
    Corn On The Cob Horse went into his hurdling debut last Monday with a compelling profile based on his reasonable flat form, solid pedigree, front running tactics and admirable battling attitude. However, he would prove to be disappointing as he was not pleased with being taken on for the lead and would give up the ghost a long way from home. With Calidus Mirabilis reopposing and potential front runner Summit Rock in the field, Corn On The Cob Horse may once again struggle to get his own way up front. However, he is more likely to enjoy the soft ground than the former and with hurdling experience under his belt, should be able to fend off the newcomer - particularly as his jumping is already decent. Corn On The Cob Horse has been abandoned by Luke Dempsey for his stablemate but while he will ridden by a claimer here, Simon Torrens has tasted success at this venue and on front runners. Furthermore, Corn On The Cob Horse ran a good second at Fairyhouse under another claimer. Anybody risking anything resembling money on Corn On The Cob Horse either deserves the Victoria Cross for bravery or should consider the implications of such a nihilistic approach to life. Nevertheless, on the balance of probability, it is still possible to justify a vastly improved effort from Corn On The Cob Horse.

    Differentiate bg Gavin Cromwell f8-0-2 (55) 58 j1-0-0 (-) 88
    Maxios (Kris S){2-d}(1.21) 2/2 Maxios 3/1 Exit To Nowhere
    Despite improvement in the last two of his eight flat runs, Differentiate's form did not really entitle him to finish better than the thirty-seven length seventh he posted at Roscommon on his hurdles debut. Nevertheless, in this company, he is no more than a stone from the highest rated, the two in front of him in a Sligo handicap have finished first and second over hurdles (albeit both carried more weight) and there was enough at Roscommon to suggest he would make a better hurdler. His jumping was fine, and he kept on towards the end suggesting that a sterner test would enable him to step up on that performance. There is further encouragement to be taken from the fact that both his sire and in-form trainer are well above standard in this discipline. If there are reasons to dampen his prospects, they may lie in his still needing further improvement and that hold up tactics might not suit. However, if he is not ridden too far from the leaders then it is reasonable to expect a fair showing here.

    Made In Pimlico chg Brendan W Duke f7-0-0 (42) 47
    Dragon Pulse (Giant's Causeway){8-k}(1.25) no jumps relatives
    Made In Pimlico came up against classic contenders in his first three maiden races but was beaten a long way on those occasions and failed to finish better than midfield in four nurseries off low marks. While his trainer has an above average record in these races, his sire has just a 3% strike rate and with a long absence to overcome, Made In Pimlico makes little appeal first time out.

    Poets Touch bg Andrew Slattery f1-0-0 (-) 59
    Poet's Voice (Candy Ride){12-b}(3.00) no jumps relatives
    Poets Touch made his racecourse debut last month at Killarney where he was a sixteen length seventh behind the winner and nearly six lengths behind fellow debutant Orchestral Rain who would finish third at Roscommon. One of two representatives for Andrew Slattery, he is also by the same sire as his stablemate although on breeding, Poets Touch would be the less likely of the two to appreciate conditions. His case is not a mediocre one but the likelihood is that a few of these will prove too strong at this juncture.

    Strip Light chg M Halford f3-0-0 (68) 67 j1-0-0 (-) 86
    Outstrip (Dark Angel){1-p}(2.00) 3/1 Fine Lace 2nd Juvenile Hurdle, Chepstow 2010
    Michael Halford's first juvenile runner for a long time had his fate sealed early on when making a bad mistake at the first on his hurdling debut at Roscommon. Although his official flat rating of 68 is one of the highest in the field, it almost certainly flatters him and he is unlikely to appreciate the softer ground on breeding. While he has shown enough to suggest he can be competitive in some capacity, he would need to demonstrate more fluent jumping before he can be given serious prospects over hurdles.

    Summit Rock bg T G McCourt f8-0-0 (56) 69
    Exceed And Excel (Iceman){16-a}(1.00) 2/2 Quick Jack 1st Galway Hurdle (136), Galway 2015
    Taken out of his intended hurdles debut at Roscommon with a stone bruise, Summit Rock was initially handed a rating of 74 after three runs in Dundalk maidens for Dermot Weld last year. That rating was based on the sole occasion he was beaten less than four lengths and that came in a maiden that has produced only one subsequent winner. After selling at Goffs for €6,000 in February, Summit Rock has been well beaten in four handicaps and his current rating of 56 is greater than the sum of those efforts. While he is related to winners on the dam's side, including Rodolfo, Ballistic Boy and Galway Hurdle winner Quick Jack, his sire has a poor record in this sphere.

    Thekeyisnottopanic bg C W J Farrell f3-0-0 (55) 49
    Rock Of Gibraltar (Areion){16-c}(2.43) 3/1 Salden Licht 3rd Aintree Hurdle (G1), Aintree 2011
    Thekeyisnottopanic has struggled thus far in his three attempts in maiden company this year. There have been good horses finishing a long way ahead of him such as Russian Emperor, Tiger Moth, Dawn Patrol and Amhran Na Bhfiann and Thekeyisnottopanic actually led the first named on his debut at Naas. But his rating of 55 is harsh based on what he has produced up to this point. Rock Of Gibraltar is capable of siring juveniles and has a roughly average winners to runners rate but his overall strike rate of 6.77% and improvement rate of just 25% will not be of much use here. There are very good jumpers of German stock on the damline such as Saltas (3/1), Serienschock (3/2) and Sternrubin (4/3) and his damsire has produced a winning juvenile in France but at this stage, his rivals won't have much reason to panic.

    Voice Of Hope brg Andrew Slattery f7-0-0 (63) 72 j1-0-0 (-) 96
    Poet's Voice (Montjeu){14-c}(0.82) 3/1 Pack The Punch 3rd Maiden Hurdle, Wexford 2015
    The stablemate of Poets Touch, Voice Of Hope's hurdling debut was delayed by a week as he was only a reserve at Roscommon. As such, his first foray over jumps came at Ballinrobe last week on ground which probably did not suit. Nevertheless, the bare form was an improvement on where he had left off as a two-year-old and much closer to his better efforts on softer ground. Furthermore, in the context of this race, only Calidus Mirabilis brings better hurdling form. His jumping was not altogether fluent but he is entitled to improve for the experience and with the forecast rain and his stripping fitter, there is every reason to suspect that he can leave that effort behind.

    Divine Covey grf Padraig Roche f6-0-0 (65) 67
    Dark Angel (Paco Boy){2-f}(3.00) 2/1 Sign Manual 1st Handicap Hurdle (110), Catterick 2016
    Running in The Queen's colours under the care of Richard Hannon, Divine Covey had earned an official rating of 68. Her final start in England came in a seven-furlong Newbury nursery where she was less than two lengths third, only half a length behind a subsequent winner while finishing ahead of three. She was offered at the Tattersalls Autumn sales and picked up for 15,000 guineas. However, she has finished tailed off on both of her outings for her new trainer this year and while he trained Grade Three winning juvenile Way Back Home, his other four since 2011/12 failed to reach the first three. Divine Covey's dam is a half-sister to a winning hurdler and Dark Angel does get juveniles including Guitar Pete, Silver Streak and recent Cartmel winner Naizagai. However, it would be preferable to see more stamina in her pedigree. Furthermore, of the twenty-two juveniles sold at public auction from the Richard Hannon yard, only two (Pete So High and Lil Rockerfeller) would win during their first season over hurdles. Divine Covey showed a good level of form last season but her recent form and general profile leaves her with many questions to answer.

    Merry Poppins grf J Motherway Unraced
    Authorized (Peintre Celebre){1-w}(0.68) 2/1 In On The Act 3rd Juvenile Mdn Hurdle, Plumpton 2006
    Merry Poppins was set to make her debut at Roscommon but was withdrawn after being reported lame. Only Mastercraftsman (21) has sired more winning juveniles than Authorized (20) in the UK and Ireland since 2011/12 and the latter has done so with fewer runners. Peintre Celebre is also an above average damsire by class, winners to runners and improvement metrics. Merry Poppins will be only the second juvenile hurdler from the yard since 2011/12 and her damline is threadbare insofar as hurdling talent is concerned so a strong argument for her cannot be made based on decent sirelines alone.

    Sweet Sixteen bf M C Grassick f7-0-1 (59) 64
    Maxios (Second Empire){7-f}(0.69) 4/2 Annie Power 170 1st Champion Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2016
    Stablemate of Corn On The Cob Horse, Sweet Sixteen has an appealing pedigree. Counting stallions with ten or more runners, Maxios is in the top ten in terms of winners to runners, class and overall strike rate and the damline features Annie Power (4/2), Sadlers Wings (4/2) and Aachen (4/3). Sweet Sixteen began her career with Amy Murphy but while there were hints of promise on her first three starts in novice auction company, she would be beaten a combined forty-eight lengths in a couple of backend nurseries. After fetching just €4,000 at the Goffs February sales, she finished down the field in a couple of Leopardstown handicaps - the latest coming eleven days ago. Sweet Sixteen should have no trouble getting the trip has every right to make a better hurdler on breeding. However, she was still sold cheaply and her recent form leaves her with something to find on her hurdling debut.

    Strong prospects
    1. Corn On The Cob Horse
    2. Calidus Mirabilis
    3. Voice Of Hope
    Reasonable prospects
    4. Differentiate
    5. Bass Reeves
    Feasible prospects
    6. Sweet Sixteen
    7. Poets Touch
    Moderate prospects
    8. Divine Covey
    9. Strip Light
    Negligible prospects
    10. Summit Rock
    11. Clever Currency
    12. Thekeyisnottopanic
    13. Merry Poppins
    14. Made In Pimlico

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    Preview review
    In terms of overall content, I can only be pleased with that preview. Reasonable explanations for what happened in the race could be found and there were no real surprises. It was not perfect and there are two faults that should be addressed. The first being that the prospects/rankings section needs sorting out. One can ruminate on the fact that the winner was not given strong prospects despite setting the standard and having "few questions to answer" but the problem is that the section has no formal standard. Ambiguity is the enemy of consistency so while I like the actual words and numbers, the strict definitions and structure needs to be standardised. Secondly, Bannister's overestimation was contingent on his settling better which is a far cry from being predictable. While greenness can reduce and jumping can improve with experience, keenness is probably more a trait that dissipates with age than the amount of hurdles jumped.

    Race review
    Yesterday's race at Market Rasen looked like a fair contest beforehand and the front running Soldier On Parade repeated his victory at the venue from three weeks earlier. It was ran at a fair pace and while the winning time was just over two seconds slower than the Class 3 handicap (won by confirmed trailblazer Brandon Castle), it was still a second and a half quicker than the closing bumper. There were no hard luck stories but the jumping from most of the participants was below average. Nevertheless while the front five were covered by just over nine lengths, they were all entitled to be there on paper and the form has a reasonably solid look about it.

    Soldier On Parade made all to win at Market Rasen on his second hurdles start and did the same thing again here. The winning distance of eleven lengths was reduced to just two and a half lengths this time but the opposition was much stronger. As on his first two starts, his acceleration around four furlongs out made all the difference and while his rivals were closing towards the end, he never looked in danger. While he was less keen than on his latest start, there was not a huge improvement in his jumping as he steadied into the second, made a slight error at the fourth and was not fluent at either of his jumps in the straight. Nevertheless, he was still a decisive winner under a penalty from a reasonable field and though his jumping is not foot perfect, he has a decent attitude. 116

    To Fly Free was not an expensive purchase from the flat and is beginning to look like an astute purchase. She jumped well on her debut at Cartmel and was still travelling well before fading quickly two from home. The impression that day was that it was more a lack of fitness than stamina which caused her to drop out and that impression was confirmed as she was the fastest finisher in this field. She miscalculated the penultimate flight of hurdles and rather hopped over the last but was otherwise as close to foot perfect as you can see an early season juvenile and it is possible that she may have been distracted by the winner's jumping in the home straight. This was a satisfactory second outing in this country and given that her yard can bring their juveniles along, she can improve further still on this effort. 100

    Historic Heart is officially rated 75 on the flat although that rating almost certainly flatters him. Nevertheless, this was a pleasing debut as he was able to finish ahead of experienced hurdlers of a vaguely similar flat standard. He jumped the first fine but the rest of his round was a bit of a mixed bag which provides room for improvement. Historic Heart also found himself outpaced approaching the business end but was able to plug on to take third place near the finish. He is another who can step up on this performance and be competitive at this level. 103

    Kings Creek had jumped and travelled fine on his debut at Stratford but was beaten over fourteen lengths by the winner. Here he finished nearly eight lengths closer to the winner and reversed placings with runner-up Bannister although his jumping had been less fluent, particularly in the first half of the race. It did improve as the race progressed and it is possible that he is a better jumper at a stronger gallop as he was ridden more prominently at Stratford. The downside to this however is that he might struggle to sustain a strongly run effort over jumps which leaves him in something of a limbo. 103

    Bannister's fate was sealed from the start as he pulled his way through the first half of the race and was effortlessly dropped by the winner at the start of the home turn. His keenness did his jumping no favours either has he was slow to get away from his early jumps. There is no reason to suspect his heart as he did try to plug on but it was to no avail at the end. Bannister has talent and his jumping was decent at times but until he learns how to settle then he is going to struggle in open company. 100

    Dragon Man was having his third start over hurdles and this was his best effort in the division thus far. He also jumped the fourth hurdle well and won the battle up the straight for sixth place. However, he was also poor at a few jumps and was beaten over fifty-two lengths at the end. 57

    Navajo Eagle lacked fluency over his first hurdles in public and while his jumping improved through the race, he still finished tailed off. His flat form is not strong and needs to show much more in order to be competitive. 57

    Party Potential finished over twenty-five lengths fourth on his hurdles debut and did not improve on that performance here. A stablemate of Kings Creek, he looks to have the exact opposite problem insofar as jumping is concerned. Whereas the aforementioned jumped poorly for being held up, Party Potential jumped poorly for racing prominently. His jumping can improve for being held up but his overall standard of form and suspect stamina might see him continue to struggle in this discipline. 0

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    barjon (17th August 2020)

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    Thanks for such an exhaustive and informative report. I thought Soldier On Parade ran a stronger race than last time and although his jumping was patchy it was good enough to cause his main early challengers to waste energy recovering their positions after the hurdles on several occasions - that probably didn’t help Bannister’s cause. As for Party Potential I couldn’t understand why he was competing with Soldier On Parade for the first 5 hurdles after which he disappeared like a burst balloon. If I had to choose an improver from the pack behind it would be Price’s Kings Creek. Thanks again
    Last edited by barjon; 17th August 2020 at 2:23 PM.

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    The review for today's race at Tipperary will appear tomorrow at the earliest. In the meantime, here is some rather topical research I have done on juveniles winning on their racecourse debuts.

    Since the beginning of the 2011/12 jumps season and prior to today's race at Tipperary, there had been 429 horses who made their debuts in juvenile hurdles in the UK and Ireland. Thirty-three of them won during their first season although only eight of those did so on their first outing which works out at a 2% strike rate. Here is a look at those winners, the races they won and what they went on to achieve.

    Ballynacree bg C Roche 18th February 2012, 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Gowran Park
    Westerner (Montelimar){9-c}(1.80) 2/1 Risk Accessor 1st Slaney Novice Hurdle
    By Westerner and out of a half sister to Risk Accessor and Galetollah who was placed over hurdles, Ballynacree was definitely bred more like a store horse than a typical juvenile. His debut came in a seventeen runner maiden where the market was headed by Willie Mullins' 93 rated flat recruit Shamar and another french flat recruit in Gordon Elliot's Cause Of Causes. Ballynacree was not fancied that day at 40/1 but while his task was made easier by a final flight fall by Cause Of Causes, he still ran out a convincing six length winner. He was runner up to Lord Windermere next time at Naas but was soon back in the winners' enclosure when taking a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse. Ballynacree only had two more starts, finishing third in a four year old hurdle at Limerick on Boxing Day before tailing off in a Naas Beginners Chase in March 2014.

    Knight Of Pleasure chg Gary Moore 5th January 2013, Juvenile Hurdle, Sandown
    Exit To Nowhere (Kaldounevees){1-b}(2.27) 4/1 Sir Fontenailles 3rd Prix Maurice Gillois 1983
    Another jumps bred horse, Knight Of Pleasure was out of a dual winning jumper with multiple winning siblings from the extended family of Tamarinbleu. He started at 20/1 in a seven runner affair where the market revolved around 1/3 favourite For Two. For Two, representing Paul Nicholls, had won at Auteuil and finished second at Aintree in two prior starts and the next in the betting was a Plumpton winner with an official rating of 110. Knight Of Pleasure would go on to finish eighth in the Fred Winter and win a handicap at Fontwell that autumn off 124 but that would be his last win. Half of his remaining eight races were comprised of a fruitless novice chasing career and he would be last seen in a Wincanton handicap hurdle in November 2015.

    Tiger Roll bg Nigel Hawke 10th November 2013, Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen
    Authorized (Entrepreneur){31}(0.58) 2/1 Khachaturian 1st Beginners Chase, Kempton 2009
    Between his selling for £10,000 as a Darley cast-off at Doncaster in the August and his debut in November, Tiger Roll's half-brother Ahzeemah won the Lonsdale Cup and finished runner up in the Irish St Leger. Stamina is repeated in his pedigree as his dam was runner up in the Vintage Crop stakes, and jumping is not absent either as his granddam won a Haydock Novice Hurdle by twelve lengths and produced dual winning chaser Khachaturian. The race at Market Rasen was a moderate affair and the field was headed by 2/11 favourite Zamoyski whose expectations were based on his winning a flat handicap off 80 and finishing sixteen lengths third in the Wensleydale Hurdle nine days earlier. The only other meaningful contender was a 67 rated horse from the flat. Little can be said of Tiger Roll's subsequent excursions that is not already common knowledge but just in case, he was bought by Gigginstown, finished second in a Leopardstown Grade One, won the Triumph Hurdle and eventually two Grand Nationals.

    Alterno bg Desmond McDonogh 17th March 2016, 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Wexford
    Fastnet Rock (Vettori){8-f}(3.00) 2/1 Authinger 1st Beginners Chase, Down Royal 2014
    That Alterno would start as 9/4 second favourite for the eight runner Wexford maiden in which he made is debut is indicative of how poor a contest it was. Favourite Shamash was a 75 rated flat horse making his hurdles debut and third favourite Windsor Higgins was rated 47 on the flat and lost in her two hurdles races by seventy-one lengths combined. Alterno was also Fastnet Rock's first jumps winner but while the dam's side was better known for its classic winners in Cape Verdi and Aquarelliste, it still contained winning jumpers such as Albert Hall, Forgotten Voice and Boarding School. Alterno would find himself outclassed next time in a Fairyhouse Grade Two and would endure a further thirteen defeats over hurdles before taking a Downpatrick Handicap the following August off 95.

    Diable de Sivola bg Nick Williams 24th July 2016, Juvenile Hurdle, Uttoxeter
    Noroit (Lost World){3-o}(0.33) 2/1 Gringo 1st Novices Chase, Perth 2010
    Diable de Sivola was bred to race over the jumps in France. His dam won hurdle races at Strasbourg and Fontainebleau and his half sisters had also won over obstacles. He faced five rivals at Uttoxeter including two previous winners who went off ahead of him in the market, the next best going off at 20/1. Diable de Sivola would not win again as a juvenile but he did run sound races in defeat including when beaten by less than two lengths in a Grade Two while giving weight to Defi du Seuil as well as finishing fifth in the Fred Winter. Indeed, that debut effort would be his only win to date despite twenty-one attempts over hurdles and fences and earning marks in the mid 130s in both disciplines.

    Montestrel bg Jane Williams 14th October 2018, Juvenile Hurdle, Chepstow
    Montmartre (Desert King){9-e}(0.57) 2/1 Laveron 1st Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil 2002
    Montmartre had already shown himself a capable sire of juveniles with Petite Parisienne and Kalkir and Montestrel's dam was a half sister to German Derby third and top class French Hurdler Laveron. Furthermore, prior to his Chepstow debut, Montestrel also had three winning siblings over jumps. Sent off at 20/1, he appeared to face stiff competition that one could expect from the race including Auteuil winner Quel Destin, Fontsainebleu winner Fanfan du Seuil and Alan King's 78 rated flat horse Elysees. Nevertheless, he put up a game effort to win by a length and a half. Montestrel has only had two subsequent outings finishing last behing Quel Destin in a Cheltenham Grade Two and a thirty length fifth in a Taunton novice.

    Bua Boy bg Denis Gerard Hogan 21st April 2019, 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Cork
    Doyen (Priolo){5-h}(0.89) 1/½ Princely Conn 3rd Galway Hurdle 2016
    Doyen has spent most of his career as a national hunt stallion and while the dam hails from the family of North Light, Golan, Bonny Scot, Tartan Bearer etc, she collected black type over hurdles and produced the useful Princely Conn. The race that Bua Boy won was so late in the season that it barely passes for a juvenile. Containing sixteen runners, the favourite was a Willie Mullins horse also making his racecourse debut while the next in the betting were a couple of flat winners and a hurdles runner up on the only previous start. Third on his return in a Wexford novice, it would be another six races before Bua Boy regained the winning thread, picking up a brace of handicaps this summer at Galway and Sligo.

    Langer Dan bg Dan Skelton 9th October 2019, Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow
    Ocovango (Milan){3-i}(0.71) 3/1 Celestial Gold 1st Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury 2004
    Langer Dan was Ocovango's first runner over hurdles and until yesterday, the only one. His other offspring were all introduced to the sport by means of bumpers and Langer Dan's pedigree is all about jumping. Out of an unraced Milan half-sister to five decent jumps winners including Klepht and Welsh Shadow, the granddam produced the top class Celestial Gold and Fiveforthree. A couple of generations back will reveal L'Escargot and The Pilgarlic and after another couple of steps, one can find another Aintree legend in Mr What. The Ludlow race won by Langer Dan was not a strong one with the strongest contenders being a Down Royal third and a Plumpton runner up. He was sent off 11/4 second favourite on the strength of his pedigree and trainer and followed up in the Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby. He did not win again last season but did finish second at Cheltenham's December meeting before closing his season with a sixth in the Fred Winter.


    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    Thanks for such an exhaustive and informative report. I thought Soldier On Parade ran a stronger race than last time and although his jumping was patchy it was good enough to cause his main early challengers to waste energy recovering their positions after the hurdles on several occasions - that probably didn’t help Bannister’s cause. As for Party Potential I couldn’t understand why he was competing with Soldier On Parade for the first 5 hurdles after which he disappeared like a burst balloon. If I had to choose an improver from the pack behind it would be Price’s Kings Creek. Thanks again
    Thank you for your words and thoughts. Just with Naizagai at Cartmel (and others such as Dunkirk, Tingle Creek, Dublin Flyer etc), an aggressive round of jumping can cause a lot of damage to would be challengers and I agree that was much the case at Market Rasen yesterday. In the early stages at Stratford, Bannister pulled his own way to the front but he certainly appeared to be enjoying his jumping more. Perhaps the key to him might be allowing him to run free around a sharper track while they wait for him to settle? As for Party Potential, they were probably trying anything with him because he looks fairly short on class. Not sure that Kings Creek is an obvious improver as he already seems forward enough but he could possibly do something with a handicap mark...

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    Preview review
    The front three were 16/1, 10/1 and 66/1 but there were feasible reasons for them all to fill those places as well as for the odds-on favourite to underperform. Tipperary is usually a track that suits those who race prominently although those in front went off too quickly and the race ended up falling apart. The winner's magnificent sire was mentioned but the fact that she had two black type siblings was completely ignored due to the fact that it was flat black type. While flat pedigrees are not that interesting if the horse has already been exposed in that discipline, they carry considerably more weight when the horse is making its racecourse debut. Furthermore, given that the winner was given moderate prospects on her intended debut but negligible prospects in a weaker contest is alarming. The previews would work perfectly fine without a prospects section and I have no designs whatsoever on being a tipster. However, predicting outcomes is a fun part of the sport for many who follow it and while I do not gamble, it serves a useful quality control purpose as it can highlight areas of the sphere which I may be overlooking. Nevertheless, it needs a complete overhaul and definitive codification before the preview for Saturday's race.

    Race review
    Despite being held at the usually easy Tipperary, Ireland's third juvenile of the season was a truly attritional affair more befitting the end of December than the middle of August. The first three finished a long way clear of the remainder and were all held up off a suicidal pace. While they carried long odds, their prominence was not wholly unpredictable. It was rather contingent on the race being poor one however and that would appear to be the case on initial impressions. The race fell apart from the front and the winning time was five seconds slower than the following 80-109 handicap won by a positively ridden 66/1 shot. This is not to say that those who ran well emerge without promise and can not build on these efforts. Nevertheless, the bulk of the field were unsuited by the conditions which heavily diminished the overall substance of the race. Incidentally, this was the first juvenile of the season which saw either a fall or an unseat. For all that juvenile hurdles have a bad reputation for jumping, that fifty-nine horses running eighty-eight times in nine races without losing their jockey or uprightness is quite impressive.

    Merry Poppins started the day at 33/1 but had halved in price before the off. It was said that she had schooled well and that transpired to be true. Nevertheless, there were also clues on breeding beforehand - primarily the fact that her sire Authorized is one the best in the division. Since 2011/12, he is now tied at the top for individual winners, 57% of his juveniles achieve RPRs of 108 and above and 78% of his recruits from the flat improve for switching code. While there are no notable jumping relatives on the damline, Merry Poppins is a half sister to two flat winners with ratings exceeding 100. Furthermore, damsire Peintre Celebre has a respectable record in the sphere with six of his twenty-six juveniles prior to yesterday being winners. In terms of the actual performance, Merry Poppins was as much a beneficiary of a brilliantly patient ride as she was a good jumper. Her willing attitude in the battle to the line was also important to her success here. While it is not easy to gauge her level, only 2% of juvenile hurdlers win on their racecourse debuts and though the bare form is not great, her ability to jump, battle and handle soft will serve her well. 106

    Differentiate was beaten thirty-seven lengths on his debut but he was entitled to improve considerably on that outing. His yard does very well in this sphere and being by, and a closely related to, Maxios, these were his conditions. Sweating up beforehand, he made a slight error at the third but got away from it quickly enough and after a lack of concentration caused him to blunder two out, he was good over the last and perhaps could have won with a more spirited effort. This was by far a career best and he can be competitive again on this type of going. Although while he does not look like a nightmare, there are concerns regarding his mentality which might need ironing out if he is to progress further. 112

    Sweet Sixteen started at 66/1 but although her official rating of 59 is both low and fairly steep, she is still rated within a couple of pounds of Calidus Mirabilis after her sex allowance. Furthermore, being by Maxios and coming from the same family as Annie Power, Sadlers Wings and Aachen, she is bred to be a juvenile hurdler. Carrying a more experienced rider than her stablemate, she was the first of the front three to make her forward move and though she led turning into the straight, never really looked like being able to fend off her challengers and would fade to be beaten fourteen and a half lengths. This was her best run this year and her jumping was fine. She can improve further for this run although she may be seen to best effect on soft ground in a low grade. 92

    Calidus Mirabilis opened at 4/9 with one firm the day before the race and while 4/5 was a more realistic starting price, there were still concerns over his ability to handle testing conditions. He had led last time at Ballinrobe but although he did not force the pace here, he still raced prominently. His jumping was fine until they reached four out where he made a tired blunder. He steadied into the next and finished the race in his own time. This was a below par effort but while the rider was brought in front of the stewards and reported that the horse hung on occasion, his being a non-stayer is a fairly obvious explanation. It was also reported that he suffered a wound on his medial left cannon but he may have picked that up during his tired blunder and was otherwise normal post-race. He is capable of winning a race over hurdles as he had done on the flat but would need much more suitable conditions. 62

    Poets Touch, available at 50/1 in the morning, was backed down to 8/1 at the off. He jumped well and was the last of the front runners to be beaten but he was very tired by the time he reached the straight. This was only his second racecourse appearance and there was enough promise here to suggest that he can be a contender at some point. Possibly on firmer ground. 55

    Corn On The Cob Horse, everybody's favourite front running grey, was held up at the rear of the field. Although he made some moderate headway in the closing stages, he could not follow the moves made by the placed horses. Corn On The Cob horse has been beaten by nearly one hundred and twenty lengths in two starts over hurdles and though he is capable of better, he likely needs an easy lead on an easy circuit on yielding ground and nothing else before that can happen. It is possible that these early performances might grant him a very favourable handicap mark if he is ever afforded those circumstances. 53

    Thekeyisnottopanic was well beaten on three flat starts and although his jumping was perfectly respectable on his hurdles debut, he never threatened to improve from the rear. Needs to find vast improvement in order to become competitive. 33

    Clever Currency was involved in a slight skirmish at the second but put in an otherwise fine round of jumping. He raced prominently and ran freely before fading badly towards the end of the back straight. While those exertions finished his chances, he did not appear to have many going into the race to begin with. 1

    Voice Of Hope made a promising seasonal reappearance at Ballinrobe and was sent off second favourite. His jumping was better here than it was on his debut but he parted company with his rider at the fifth. He was fine in his approach, but his hind hooves appeared to land just atop the flight which caused him to slip and crumble on landing. The jockey had no chance of staying aboard and it looked much more an unlucky mishap than a serious error. The horse rather faded back when he was running riderless but if he is none the worse for this incident then he can easily be forgiven the outing.

    Bass Reeves was representing a Noel Meade yard which had done well thus far this season. He brought with him a low flat rating but that would not necessarily eliminate his chances as the yard has won this type of event with lower rated animals. However. his jumping completely lacked fluency and he was very cautious going into all of his hurdles. His hesitancy going into the sixth caused him to skid on the approach and he tripped over the flight as he attempted a bunny hop.

    Made In Pimlico made little appeal before his hurdles debut and was eased from midfield and quickly pulled up at half way.

    Divine Covey had shown some promise last season for Richard Hannon but disappointed in two runs in Ireland this season. She was also eased at halfway and would eventually pull up before two out.

    Summit Rock had a history of racing freely on the flat and did so again on his hurdling debut. His early jumping was fine save for getting in close to the second. He made a tired leap at the sixth and was dropped approaching three out before pulling up shortly after that flight.

    Strip Light made a bad mistake at the first flight on his debut and his jumping here once again lacked fluency. He hinted at ability on the flat but he looks completely unnatural over hurdles

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    Uttoxeter hosts the eighth juvenile hurdle of the season tomorrow. Nine runners are set to face the starter and while there two horses with flat ratings of 79 and above, the participants have accrued fifty-two races between them without collecting a single win. This race, effectively a maiden, does not appear to have the strongest field which is in keeping with those held at this venue. Although Patman du Charmil and Always Waining won here in 2005, since 2011/12, only three juvenile winners at Uttoxeter earned RPRs of 125 or above during their first season. Two of them were long odds-on shots and the third was a Nick Williams racecourse debutant. The course is a sharp one but can get testing in soft conditions so the stamina demands are rather ground dependent. The median DI of the past 46 juvenile winners is 1.29 and the mean is 1.42, 1.34 without outliers which would support the notion that Uttoxeter is not an inherently demanding racecourse.

    Represented in this field are three sires having their first crop over hurdles. Namely Gleneagles, Golden Horn and Hunter's Light. With this in mind, I have had a look at some basic statistics of ten stallions who do well with juvenile hurdlers and ten who do not. The columns read;-

    Stallion / Year of Birth / Year to Stud / Latest Stud / Latest Fee / Latest Year / Sire / Grandsire / DI / Height (metres) / Timeform rating / Runs / Wins / Places / Age of First Win / Age of Last Win / Shortest Winning Distance / Longest Winning Distance / Firmest Winning Ground / Softest Winning Ground. The figures beneath are the mean and median averages.

    (As Saddler Maker retired a maiden, I have used his places instead of wins)

    Leading sires of juvenile hurdlers

    Unsuccessful sires of juvenile hurdlers


    While the sample size is small and things get less clear cut as more sires are assessed, the figures at these extremities are largely predictable. The better stallions of juveniles have lower DIs, are taller, are unlikely to have won at any distance shorter than a mile and more likely to win on softer ground. The timeform figures are better for the non-juvenile stallions although if you remove the jumper Kapgarde and the maiden Saddler Maker from the reckoning then their average figure rises to 127 which puts them ahead. The relatives on the damline are also in keeping with expectations as the juvenile sires are invariably related to quality horses with stamina, jumpers and/or jumps stallions. There are, however, those with poor records who are still related to stouter stock. Excelebration is from the family of Seymour Hicks, Upgrade and Self Defense while Lilbourne Lad's great granddam won the Irish St Leger as did his uncle. However, these two also have speedy sires in Exceed And Excel and Acclamation respectively.

    Insofar as the stallions represented in tomorrow's race are concerned, here are their statistics.



    Anything extrapolated from these figures should not be given too much credence before the progeny has had a chance to prove itself. A lower DI or being shorter in stature does not necessarily preclude one from success in the sphere, particularly in the case of Cape Cross whose DI was 3.44. Nevertheless, if one was inclined make tentative observations, there would be nothing immediately off-putting in the stats of Golden Horn or Hunter's Light although while the Sadler's Wells line does well, Gleneagles is rather diminutive and did not win beyond a mile or on anything softer than Good to Yielding. Nevertheless, much more evidence would be required before a more thorough assessment might be made.

    Billy The Squid bg F O'Brien f3-0-0 (47) 34 J2-0-0 (-) 94
    Requinto (American Post){19}(0.43) 2/1 Edylan 1st 5YO Conditions Hurdle, Angers 2019
    Billy The Squid showed almost no promise on the flat and looked equally moderate following his hurdles debut at Market Rasen. However, he put up by far and away a career best in first time blinkers when finishing a six and a half length fourth at Newton Abbot last time. Despite presence of Hiconic, this was not a strong race as the principles either underperformed, jumped poorly or were not inherently speedy types. Furthermore, it looked for a while that he would also be tailed off yet he still managed to grab fourth. The run was not without promise, the yard is still in good form and this does not look like a strong contest. Nevertheless, a reproduction of that form would still not be good enough and can only be assumed to be an anomaly until proven otherwise.

    Dutch Admiral chg D Bridgwater f4-0-1 (83) 80 j1-0-0 (-) 79
    Dutch Art (Affirmed){9-e}(1.91) American family 6/7 Danny Whizzbang
    Dutch Admiral has the best flat form available and David Bridgwater is a capable trainer in this division. However, the yard's horses have not been performing since coming out of lockdown and the stallion Dutch Art creates an even greater concern as his record with juvenile hurdlers is very poor. This concern manifested on Dutch Admiral's hurdling debut where he showed a complete lack of fluency and despite keeping close to the winner would drop back to be beaten twenty-eight lengths into fifth. The best of his flat form shows that he can win races but he looks unlikely to do so over hurdles any time soon.

    Fraterculus chg Oliver Greenall f3-0-0 (79) 76 j1-0-0 (-) 83 (Jim Bolger)
    Teofilo (Anabaa){5-f}(1.08) 6/7 Optimus Prime 2nd Novice Chase, Punchestown 2018
    Fraterculus had flat form with Jim Bolger worthy of a mid-seventies rating and he represents a solid trainer along with a well above average sire and damsire. However, he ran green when well beaten on his debut and his jumping was poor in the early stages. Nevertheless, it would be premature to dismiss his prospects on that basis as it was his first run since a gelding operation, his jumping and position did improve during the middle section of the race and the cheekpieces that he wore in Ireland return here. There is every reason to imagine that he can leave that effort behind but he still needs to demonstrate an improved aptitude first and there is also a chance that he may not enjoy softer ground.

    Global Agreement chg Milton Harris f11-0-2 (56) 64 j1-0-0 (-) 110 115
    Mayson (Royal Applause){10-a}(2.33) 2/1 Daring Bid 1st Novices' Hurdle, Bangor 1999
    Seemingly exposed after eleven winless starts on the flat, Global Agreement produced a career best effort when runner up on his hurdles debut at Cartmel, and may have finished closer but for his rider dropping the whip. At face value, it was an improvement that exceeded a stone and while he was well backed and jumped perfectly well, such a leap forward after eleven starts must be met with suspicion. Particularly as his pedigree did not make much appeal beforehand. The winner at Cartmel was trained by a yard that could do no wrong, the third would strip fitter for the outing, in fourth was the aforementioned Fraterculus and the next two were a pair of moderate stayers who were burned off by the speedy front running winner. Furthermore, there were numerous occasions during the race where Global Agreement struggled to keep up with the main pack of the field. He still sets the hurdles form standard and by some margin but there are enough reasons to have reservations until that form is reproduced.

    Hipster Macalo bg Mrs Jane Williams Unraced
    Cokoriko (Sabrehill){u}(1.00) 2/2 Sacre Toi 1st Handicap Chase (113), Kelso 2013
    Hipster Macalo is the third unraced newcomer of the season representing the Williams yards, the first two having competed at Newton Abbot. Hector de Sivola had his chances ended early after being badly hampered, but Balko Saint ran well to finish runner up despite looking as though a sterner test would suit. As discussed the other day, the strike rate for racecourse debutants in this division is just 2% although that increases to 8% for runners sent from George Nympton. One of those winners was Diable de Sivola, the winning newcomer at this course mentioned in the opening paragraph. Sire Cokoriko was twice a winner over hurdles as a four year old in France and comes from the same Garde Royale sireline as Corri Piano, Kapgarde and Robin des Champs. He has made a fine start in his own right with Polirico, Coko Beach and Five O'Clock among his first crops. The damline offers some encouragement as Hipster Macalo's half-sister, Galice Macalo, fell when holding every chance in Aintree's listed fillies' juvenile hurdle last season. There are numerous other winners on the damline, albeit without any being top class. The prospects of any unraced horse are typically guesswork but Hipster Macalo has a solid profile and the yard sent stable stalwart Aubusson to finish second at the course on Tuesday. In a race as weak as this, Hipster Macalo would have a respectable chance by default.

    Navajo Eagle bg Denis Quinn f3-0-0 (50) 50 j1-0-0 (-) 44 57
    Gleneagles (Victory Gallop){4-r}(0.91) 3/3 Master Dino 1st Prix Renaud du Vivier, Auteuil 2018
    Navajo Eagle's best effort on the flat saw him beaten eighteen lengths in a Chelmsford novice stakes and the switch to hurdles did not induce any improvement. His jumping was poor early on at Market Rasen earlier this week and while it got better as the race went on, he still finished a tailed off last.

    Utopian Lad bg David Loughnane f11-0-5 (64) 71
    Society Rock (Amadeus Wolf){1-p}(2.43) 2/1 Go Figure 1st Handicap Hurdle (94), Perth 2007
    A consistent sort on the flat, Utopian Lad has finished second or third on his eight starts since a gelding operation last August. While he has yet to win a race, he does not appear to be ungenuine and although he has been known to race keenly and is inclined to drift to the left, he appears to have generally settled better in recent outings. He is rated 64 on the flat which possibly underestimates him given that the form of his races is standing up. He should stay the minimum trip over hurdles and he is distantly related to useful jumpers Gardens Of Babylon (4/4) and Mister McGoldrick (5/3). Society Rock has sired a juvenile winner although his better runners have more stamina from the damsire which is not offered here. Furthermore, while David Loughnane saddled Yellow Tiger to win a juvenile last season, his improvement rate between codes is not strong and he is without a winner in thirty-five runs. Comes into the race with reasonable prospects but there are still a few concerns to overcome.

    Topkapi Star bf Amy Murphy f9-0-2 (60) 74 (Roger Varian) 7/24 10/68
    Golden Horn (Thousand Words){5-h}(1.00) 3/2 Daybreak Boy 1st Conditions Hurdle, Clonmel 2019
    Amy Murphy's first juvenile winner, Soldier On Parade, has also been one of the best juvenile hurdlers seen out this season and the yard has enjoyed six winners in the past fortnight. Initially with Roger Varian, Topkapi Star was given an official mark of 74 after she finished third ahead of three subsequent winners in a Doncaster fillies' maiden last July. She then finished fourth off that mark in a Thirsk nursery ran over a mile in September. However, in all five subsequent starts, she has been beaten by at least eleven lengths including four for this yard and three this summer. She has been tried in blinkers and a visor for her last few starts and here she will be trying a hood for the first time. Topkapi Star would be entitled to some respect given her earlier form along with the form of her yard. Furthermore, the tall, solid and classy Golden Horn could make a useful addition to the juvenile stallion ranks. However, there are too many questions pertaining to her current form for there to be much optimism for tomorrow's race.

    Unbridled Light chf Anthony Honeyball f5-0-0 (38) 38
    Hunter's Light (Poliglote){1-r}(0.63) 2/1 Assureur 2nd 4yo Handicap Hurdle (L), Auteuil 2008
    Sire Hunter's Light was a durable racehorse whose granddam was a full sister to Darshaan. Furthermore, damsire Poliglote is a fine source for quality jumpers and Anthony Honeyball has a respectable record in this discipline from few runners. However, after five starts on the flat including two this season in low grade staying handicaps, Unbridled Light has earned an official rating of just 38 which dampens any enthusiasm generated by her sirelines.

    After some deliberation, I have come up with an initial codification of the prospect definitions. With the exception of "outstanding", each category can contain as many horses as is necessary. Sometimes, there might be several with strong prospects, sometimes there might be none. But the important thing to remember is that these are not tips and I am not a tipster.

    Outstanding - Sets clear standard with no questions to answer.
    Strong - Sets or is close to standard and can be reasonably expected to perform to its best OR has such potential in its profile that in the context of a poor or patchy field, can be given strong prospects by default.
    Reasonable - Sets or is close to standard OR has a strong profile. Due to profile or conditions, a good showing is not entirely assured but would still not be a surprising event.
    Feasible - Something to find on form but aspects of the horse's profile or race conditions could see improvement.
    Moderate - Something to find on form and profile not entirely encouraging OR Form is of a reasonable standard but profile or conditions are discouraging.
    Negligible - Something to find on form and poor overall profile OR plenty to find on form despite profile.

    Strong prospects
    1. Hipster Macalo
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Global Agreement
    3. Fraterculus
    4. Utopian Lad
    Feasible prospects
    5. Billy The Squid
    Moderate prospects
    6. Topkapi Star
    7. Dutch Admiral
    Negligible prospects
    8. Unbridled Light
    9. Navajo Eagle

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    Preview review
    There was a strong sense that the race was a poor one and that is the impression given in hindsight. Had the unraced newcomer possessed a modicum of ability then he would have been a threat, but he never travelled a yard. The winner had shown poor form this season and while her stable has been flying as of late, it was still in good shape when she was running poorly. Sire Golden Horn has made the perfect start with his hurdlers but the race took very little winning.

    Race review
    Prior to the off, the field had accumulated fifty-two starts without collecting a single win between them. While the standard of flat form was not abysmal, the principles all had questions to answer and it ultimately transpired to look a weak race. Very few of the horses travelled well at any stage and the overall quality of jumping was poor. The winning time was over eight seconds slower than the following five runner handicap hurdle.

    Topkapi Star was initially given a mark of 74 as a two-year-old with Roger Varian. However, her mark had slipped to 60 after a series of poor runs this season and that would still have been higher than the sum of her efforts. She had been tried in blinkers and a visor on her last few outings and was tried in a hood for her hurdles debut. Backed from 16/1 to 11/1 before the off, she would travel and jump perfectly well for a debutant which also happened to be better than anything else this field could muster. This was a rejuvenation of sorts and she emerges as a horse who at the very least demonstrated she can perform in this discipline. This win gives Amy Murphy her second winner in this division from as many animals and Golden Horn a 100% record as a jumps sire. In terms of competence and attitude, this was a pleasing debut and it would be no surprise to see her improve. However, strictly from a form perspective, it is difficult to justify a rating exceeding the mid-nineties and her penalty might be a factor if she faces stronger opposition than this. 93

    Billy The Squid represented another stable that can do little wrong and while he achieved next to nothing in three flat starts, has improved on each of his hurdles outings, posting another career best today. His jumping was atrocious on his debut, but it did not improve a great deal last time at Newton Abbot and he was still big and slow at several hurdles here. He at least travelled better although his lack of experience when being involved in the business end of a race was rather telling. Nevertheless, he demonstrated that his latest outing was not a fluke although his attainment here is also indicative of this contest's weakness. There are races of sufficiently low standard for Billy The Squid to be competitive in the future although he may have better prospects once handicapping. 98

    Fraterculus has a nice size about him but is still an immature sort which was much to his detriment on his debut at Cartmel. He made another couple of bad errors here and his mind was not completely on the task at hand, but this was an improved effort and he finished much the best of those who raced prominently. Given his size, greenness and flat ability, he would probably have the most scope for improvement among this field and can win races in the long term. However, these factors may keep him vulnerable in the immediate future. 95

    Global Agreement finished thirty-two lengths ahead of Fraterculus at Cartmel but would suffer a fifty-one length reverse here. Despite being a well-supported favourite here, there were suspicions that his debut effort flattered him on the basis of his unconventional and exposed profile and the Cartmel race falling apart. He did not travel particularly well here but that was also the case last time. However, his jumping was not at all up to scratch on this occasion which will have cost him dearly since that was a definite asset on his debut. He was beaten too far for this to be truly representative but while he can do better, the Cartmel performance may have been the result of a perfect storm. 76

    Dutch Admiral was fourth in a listed race at Dundalk back in February, but he demonstrated little aptitude for hurdling on his debut at Market Rasen. He demonstrated even less this afternoon. If he is to be competitive, it would much sooner be back on the flat. 56

    Utopian Lad is a consistent sort on the flat and has shown enough to be competitive in this sphere. He went slightly to his left at the first but wandered wildly on the approach to the second and was subsequently lit up for a while. Nevertheless, he was not bad over the next few flights, did well to correct himself on the approach to the sixth and was still in the lead leaving the back straight. However, his concentration and jumping went to pieces turning for home and his errors were exacerbated by tiredness to the extent that he almost fell at the last. This was not an effort devoid of promise as he demonstrated a capacity to jump well at speed. Given experience and more favourable conditions, it is reasonable that he can leave this performance well behind. 54

    Unbridled Light had shown nothing on the flat but did make faint appeal on breeding. However, she got worked up in the preliminaries and was keen in the early stages. After racing prominently, she eventually weakened and was pulled up in the straight. 0

    Navajo Eagle started at 125/1 which was a fair reflection of his prospects. He was hampered at the second whereupon his rider lost his irons. Those irons were not recovered and he was pulled up after the fourth. 0

    Hipster Macalo made appeal on breeding, represented a yard with a history of success with newcomers and looked well beforehand. However, he started slowly, jumped slowly and would only lose ground. At one stage, he struggled to put distance between himself and the aforementioned Navajo Eagle who was in the process of being pulled up. To be tailed off so early in such a poor race was an astonishingly bad debut. It would be impossible not to improve on this effort but by the same token, it is difficult to enthuse over his immediate prospects. 0

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    Comprehensive as ever, BH. Shame none of them seem worth the effort!! The horrible corkscrew jump at the second (which contributed to the Navajo Eagle’s jockey losing his irons) seemed to knock the stuffing out of Global Agreement. I was actually quite impressed how well Navajo Eagle kept at the head of things with his jockey”s legs hanging uselessly by his sides, jumping a couple of hurdles quite nicely as well, before he ran out and was then pulled up.

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    Hipster Macalo was too cool for school I'm afraid

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    After losing a couple of fixtures due to the lockdown, racing returns to Sedgefield on Thursday and the card opens with a juvenile hurdle. While it is not the most fashionable racecourse in the country, it has attracted some useful juvenile hurdlers in recent years including Countrywide Flame and Runswick Royal. Despite being an undulating track with an uphill finish, it does not place a great emphasis on stamina with the median average winning being 1.35 and the average winning time per furlong being quicker than average. Furthermore, front-runners have a tendency to be favoured on account of the short run-in. The quality of this field is no better than average although there are a few decent yards represented and interesting profiles on show.

    Douglas Fir bg Russell Ross f1-0-0 (-) 44
    Australia (Danehill Dancer){14-c}(0.75) 2/1 Rocky Wednesday 3rd Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Fairyhouse 2011
    After finishing a twenty-one length last of six in a Chelmsford maiden last October, Douglas Fir was sold out of the Mark Johnson yard for £1,800. Selling out of Kingsley Park for such a low sum does not always make for a forlorn hope in juvenile hurdling as both Linger and Raven's Tower fetched no more than £2,000 before winning three races apiece during their first seasons. Furthermore, both the sire and damsire have good records in the division and their lines crossed to create the decent Lord Lamington - another expat of the Mark Johnson yard. Additional encouragement can be taken from the dam being a half-sister to useful juvenile Rocky Wednesday and multiple jumps winner Bohemian Spirit. Nevertheless, the lack of form, the low price tag and the fact that his trainer has yet to saddle a winner weigh heavily on an otherwise intriguing profile.

    Historic Heart chg Nigel Hawke f4-0-1 (75) 67 j1-0-1 (-) 91
    Fracas (Giant's Causeway){14-c}(1.00) 3/1 Direct Lady 3rd Festival Hurdle Leopardstown 1992
    Historic Heart has the highest UK or Irish official flat rating in the field and his hurdles form is also the strongest of the three runners with experience. While his flat rating almost certainly exceeds what he has shown, his six length third behind the penalised Soldier On Parade at Market Rasen is still worthy of respect. While some of his jumping lacked fluency, he tackled several of his hurdles sufficiently well to expect further improvement. His trainer has a good record in these events and of the four juveniles he has sent on the long journey from Devon to Sedgefield, two have collected wins. If these is a drawback to his profile, it may be that his being a poor traveller might work against his favour at this track.

    Mukhtoon bg Tim Easterby Unraced
    Mukhadram (Unfuwain){2-n}(1.67) 0.5 Amour de Nuit 2nd Persian War Novices' Hurdle (G2), Chepstow 2017
    Two horses without any racecourse experience are set to line up on Thursday, and Mukhtoon has much the stronger profile of the pair. Sire Mukhadram had his first crop of juvenile hurdlers last season and managed a winner from three runners which is in keeping with the Shamardal line's ability to hold its own. Mukhtoon is a half-brother to two winning hurdlers and his pedigree also features classy flat runners Wootton Bassett, Silver Patriarch and Papineau. Damsire Unfuwain and trainer Tim Easterby are each capable of producing winners in this discipline and in Market Maker, Hawk High and Our Thomas, the latter has sent three to win on their hurdling debuts - although they all had form on the flat beforehand. Racecourse debutants have a mere 2% strike rate in juvenile hurdles and Mukhtoon has a few interesting rivals to overcome. However, his is not a bad profile and a strong showing would not come as a major surprise.

    Sans Logique bg David Pipe f5-1-2 (80.3)
    Toronado (Whipper){22}(0.75) 0.5 No Thanks 6th Novices Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2020
    David Pipe has a strong record with juvenile hurdlers and while he initially had three entries for this contest, it is Sans Logique who makes the journey to County Durham. Three other horses of his age have made the journey from Pond House to Sedgefield in recent years with Paricolor winning, Ainsi Fideles falling when looking like winning and squiggly Lucky Quay finishing second at 2/5. Initially with Jean-Claude Rouget, Sans Logique moved to the Fabrice Vermeulen yard and, under his care, won a maiden at Marseille Vivaux before being claimed out of a Vichy contest for €15,001. He won his maiden by three lengths from a strung-out field and the form has stood up well. The runner up has since finished close in handicaps and has an equivalent mark of 70.4. The third placed filly won a handicap next time before finishing a neck second in a competitive handicap at Clairefontaine and is currently rated 74.8. The winner of the claimer has since won a similar contest and while Sans Logique's mark of 80.3 might flatter him slightly, it is still the strongest form available in this race. Though horses bought out of French claimers do not have the best success in juvenile hurdles, David Pipe is an exception to this rule with two winners and recent Market Rasen runner-up To Fly Free from four runners. Toronado failed to win with his first three juveniles from last season's crop although his sole French hurdler has been successful. It is possible to be concerned with the fact that Sans Logique can take a keen hold although he has a strong jockey in Tom Scudamore and his free running style could be an asset at Sedgefield.

    Jean Marie chf Stef Keniry f3-0-0 (22) 18 j1-0-0 (-) 0
    Cityscape (Hero's Tribute){1-c}(2.33) 2/1 Red Moloney 6th Supreme Novices Hurdle, Cheltenham 2009
    Jean Marie showed nothing in three starts on the flat and that she is out of a half-sister to Red Moloney is the only positive in her profile. That positive was rendered moot on her hurdling debut at Bangor where she demonstrated zero aptitude and was pulled up a long way from home.

    Swiss Silk bf Anthony Brittain Unraced
    Swiss Spirit (Alhaarth){9-f}(4.00) 2/1 Topolski 1st Top Novices' Hurdle (G2), Aintree 2011
    The other newcomer in the field, Swiss Silk is out of a half-sister to the very useful Topolski and is from the family of Croco Rouge and Taipan. She is also distantly related to top hurdler Supasundae (6/5) and damsire Alhaarth is capable in this discipline. However, stallion Swiss Spirit is from a very speedy family, which is a negative for an Invincible Spirit sire in this discipline, and his hurdlers thus far have achieved next to nothing. While Anthony Brittain has saddled twenty flat winners so far this season, his sole hurdles runner pulled up after jumping poorly in a Market Rasen hurdle in 2018.

    Talking About You bf Sean Curran f6-0-1 (60) 60 j1-0-1 (-) 89
    Sixties Icon (Mastercraftsman){9-h}(0.50) 3/1 Princess Caerani 2nd Mares' Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow 2014
    Alongside Historic Heart, Talking About You is the only other runner in the field with worthwhile hurdling form. This came when finishing third to Hiconic at Newton Abbot at the beginning of the month. The only thing worse than her jumping that day was her behaviour as she sweated badly and looked as though she might be withdrawn at the start. She was improving on the flat at a low level and she makes appeal on breeding as both Sixties Icon and Mastercraftsman have very respectable records in the field. If she learns how to jump and settle then she could be capable of eventually winning over hurdles. However, while improvement can be expected on debut efforts, there was still enough amiss with her performance to be too enthusiastic about her prospects.

    Ten Thousand Stars chf Brian Ellison f7-1-1 (62) 69
    Toronado (Green Tune){1-n}(0.88) 2/1 Le Vagabond 3rd Juvenile Hurdle (G3), Fairyhouse 2015
    Brian Ellison has sent out twenty-one winners in juvenile hurdles since 2011/12 and his strike rate is the best of all the trainers in this field. He sends out his first juvenile hurdler of the season in Ten Thousand Stars who won a seven-furlong Newmarket novice auction stakes last year for Adrian Nicholls. That race was not a strong one by Newmarket standards and she was receiving weight from her rivals but the subsequent form still warrants a mark in the high sixties. She has not reproduced that form although she did run creditably in defeat at Windsor in June when less than five lengths fifth in a ten-furlong handicap behind a four time winner and a pair who were each runner up next time. However, following a month off and a switch in yards, she was beaten thirteen lengths at Hamilton where she was held up and ran in a first-time hood. Ten Thousand Stars is a half-sister to winning juvenile Green Etoile and there her pedigree features other winning juvenile hurdlers Le Vagabond (3/1) and Umberto (3/1). Her form is perfectly acceptable for this level and her profile is a solid one. She does however have to put her latest run behind her and a couple of these have more substantial claims.

    Strong prospects
    Sans Logique
    Historic Heart
    Reasonable prospects
    Ten Thousand Stars
    Talking About You
    Feasible prospects
    Mukhtoon
    Moderate prospects
    Douglas Fir
    Negligible prospects
    Swiss Silk
    Jean Marie

    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    Comprehensive as ever, BH. Shame none of them seem worth the effort!!
    To butcher Ralph Waldo Emerson;- “In my works, every horse I review is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him/her”

    Quote Originally Posted by barjon View Post
    The horrible corkscrew jump at the second (which contributed to the Navajo Eagle’s jockey losing his irons) seemed to knock the stuffing out of Global Agreement. I was actually quite impressed how well Navajo Eagle kept at the head of things with his jockey”s legs hanging uselessly by his sides, jumping a couple of hurdles quite nicely as well, before he ran out and was then pulled up.
    If a horse gets the stuffing knocked out of itself by its own volition, should we be inclined to view its performance more sympathetically? After all, not only is the horse capable of sabotaging its own efforts but the experience itself might leave a mark. But indeed, if we learned anything new about Navajo Eagle, it is that jockeyless racing could be the key to him!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    Hipster Macalo was too cool for school I'm afraid
    With a name like that, he can still turn heads without really needing to be good at anything!

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