Doncaster and Huntingdon previews: Beach and Blue Sky time
David Metcalf | January 29, 2016
Class-dropping Sebastian Beach weighted to go well
Sebastian Beach looks decent value to cash-in on a drop in the weights and land the 3m handicap hurdle on today’s card at Doncaster (14.30) now eased in grade.
The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding shaped with bags of promise in his first two starts over hurdles, finishing second of 16 to the now 133-rated Souriyan at Exeter and third to the 140-rated Beltor at Ludlow.
Sebastian Beach then made all to win easing down by 4 1/4 lengths at Chepstow off an official rating of 122, and was allotted an opening handicap mark of 129 on the back of that success.
Although the five-year-old failed to cut any ice his next three starts, connections thought him good enough to take his chance in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival and Sebastian Beach caught the eye on seasonal reappearance when a not knocked about fourth to the progressive Dan Emmett at Chepstow.
The son of Yeats failed to build on that last time out at Ascot, but the handicapper has since dropped him another 2lb and he is now able to race off a career-low mark of 116.
That makes Sebastian Beach dangerously well-treated, especially as he now drops down into class 4 company having run in two class 3 contest this season.
The better ground at Town Moor will also be in his favour, and another plus is that Sebastian Beach now gets the services of champion jockey elect Richard Johnson in the saddle for the first time.
Hollow Blue Sky handicapped to strike
Hollow Blue Sky is another to have been given a big chance by the assessor and can bounce back to form to land the 3m handicap chase (14.00).
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding was in fine fettle in 2014, winning at Huntingdon and running well to be placed on three occasions off marks as high as 122.
Hollow Blue Sky also ran a solid race to finish sixth of 19 to Bold Henry in a competitive class 2 contest off 121 at Cheltenham, and took advantage of a drop in the weights to register an easy sixth length success at Haydock last April off a mark of 114.
The nine-year-old was out up to 122 for that success, and has since failed to trouble the judge in four subsequent starts in class 2 contests.
However, Hollow Blue Sky is back down to his last winning mark of 114 as a result and that makes him a big player from a handicapping perspective now dropped down into class 4 company.
12.50: Wish In A Well
13.25: Dashing Oscar
14.00: Hollow Blue Sky (NB)
14.30: Sebastian Beach (NAP)
15.05: Thomas Brown
15.40: Big Chief Benny
16.10: Surging Seas
Westren Warrior primed for battle at Huntingdon
Westren Warrior ran a stormer when runner-up last time out on handicap debut and can go one better to land the 3m hurdle contest on today’s card at Huntingdon (14.40).
The gelding looked a smart prospect when winning on debut under rules in a bumper at Sligo last summer, but disappointed when pulled-up on hurdling debut at Exeter after joining trainer Dr Richard Newland.
However, Westren Warrior showed that running to be all wrong next time up at Southwell when an excellent staying on seven length second to Singlefarmpayment whom he now meets on 7lb better terms.
Westren Warrior has since gone on to bolt up by 30 lengths in novice hurdle on heavy ground at Lingfield, and although what he beat is questionable the manner of the victory oozed class.
It was a performance which suggested the seven-year-old needed keeping firmly onside, and that view was confirmed when Westren Warrior finished runner up to Yala Enki in the ultra-competitive Listed class 1 Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton earlier in the month.
The son of Westerner travelled strongly throughout and rallied well on the flat to go down by just two lengths after making a costly mistake two from home.
But for that blunder I think he would have gone very close, and although Westren Warrior has been out up 6lb for that effort he is clearly going the right way and the drop down to class 2 company can see him get back to winning ways.
Arthur McBride holds all the aces
In the 2m 3f handicap hurdle that opens proceedings (13.00), Arthur McBride looks to have been found a glorious opportunity to open his account.
The gelding had very some useful bumper form to his name when trained by Fergal O’Brien, including when 2 3/4 length fourth of 13 to Tea For Two, who is now rated 140 over hurdles and 153 over fences, at Wincanton on debut.
Judged on that run Arthur McBride looked sure to win races when sent hurdling, but he proved extremely disappointing in his first six starts over the obstacles.
However, there was much more to like about his run last time out when runner-up to Solstice Star at Lingfield on just his second start since Joining trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.
The winner has come out and scored again since to give the form a solid look, and having been dropped 1lb since Arthur McBride looks weighted to go one better if building on that effort.
13.00: Arthur McBride (NB)
13.35: Buveur D’air
14.40: Westren Warrior (NAP)
15.15: At The Top
15.50: Wintered Well
16.20: Bags Groove