Weekend Thoughts: Review of 1st and 2nd March 2014

Good ground at Doncaster. The first two races were won respectively by Victor Hewgo and Mayfair Minx. Both won easily appreciating the ground underhoof. Aintree is likely to their next port of call where they would be players in their chosen events. Night In Milan continued his love affair with the track. He jumped well throughout, led four fences from home and stayed on strongly. The Topham Trophy may be his next assignment. Storm Survivor returned to form in second place and looks one to follow in the coming weeks. Monbeg Dude plodded on into a distant fifth place; finding trip, track, and ground against him. Nevertheless, it will freshen him up for the Grand National where his stamina will come into play, if avoiding the odd mistake he makes. Tistory bolted up in the novice hurdle. If he can avoid further setbacks, he has the engine to make an impression at a much higher level. The better ground clearly suited him. Good to soft ground at Kelso. Desoto County appreciated the ground running out a cosy winner of the novice hurdle. He has plenty of improvement to come and looks a chaser in the making. Clever Cookie was an impressive winner of the Grade Two Premiere Hurdle. Best on good ground, he is a rapidly improving individual with a highly promising future ahead of him. The second and third are sold yardsticks suggesting the form will stand up to inspection. Good ground at Aintree would see him lining up for the fun. Maggio came over from Ireland and recorded his fourth course win in the Premier Chase. Clear at the second last, he stayed on gamely with two decent handicapper chasing him home. Happiest on sharp tracks, his record at Kelso now reads, 2, UR, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1. Newbury’s meeting took place on heavy, holding ground. Westaway justified market support when scooting clear after the last fence. In good heart, he may run under a penalty before reassessment. Billy Twyford won the three-mile handicap hurdle in game fashion. His trainer suggests he will improve on better ground. All his wins have come on left-handed tracks. In the Veterans Handicap Chase, Burton Point bounced back to form under a front-running ride from AP. However, he was unable to hold off Summery Justice who notched another win for the in-form Venetia Williams stable. In an incident packed Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, Jumps Road just held on to beat Kuda Huraa. The second may well have won but for a mistake at the last. However, both Seventh Sky and Tiqris were travelling comfortably, when the former fell, bringing down Philip Hobbs’s horse. The Greatwood Gold Cup went the way of Venetia Williams and Shangani. Both the winner and runner-up had a ding-dong battle from the second. Landing on the run-in, Rebel Rebellion hung to his left almost causing both horses to collide with the rails. Tom Scudamore aware of the situation had no choice but to force his mount through what gap there was, forcing Rebel Rebellion to his right. The winner stayed on strongly, deservedly landing the spoils. Well-supported Ulck Du Lin ran disappointingly. Once again he left the impression he needs to drop back in trip. The Junior Bumper ended the card. The first four home all looked decent sorts that should improve over the coming weeks and months. Over in Ireland, two handicappers caught the eye in victory. On Saturday at Navan, Concordin (raised 8lb by the Irish Handicapper following this run) put some disappointing runs behind him and should improve considerably as the ground dries out. At Leopardstown on Sunday, Art Of Payroll hacked up in a two-mile handicap hurdle. With a 5lb penalty (raised 10lb by the Irish Handicapper following this run), he may sneak into the County Hurdle. Given that scenario, he would be a major player.