Cleeve Notebook Horses – w/e 19th November

Horse: Doing Fine (9-Y-O Bay Gelding)
Trainer: Neil Mulholland

This staying chaser has caught the eye on both starts this season, and is running as though the trainer has a target in mind... and that is possibly the race he came second in at Sandown last December.

He is a thorough stayer who gets every yard of 3m 4f+, and on both his starts this season over shorter, he has been doing his best work late on. He ran at Cheltenham last time out where he was outpaced for most of the final mile. However, he stuck to his task and powered up the hill to finish a very decent third. It was a run which suggested he has a win in him from this mark, when his stamina is truly brought into play.

Neil Mulholland's stable is just starting to fire again having been in awful form. Apparently, some dodgy hay was to blame. These issues now appear behind him, and any of his horses that looked out of form in recent weeks may be worth a second glance. Doing Fine is definitely worth following when stepped back up in trip.

Race Type: Handicap Chase
Race Distance: 3m4f +
Ground Type: Good to Soft -Soft (best form been with ‘good’ in description)

Horse: Beau Du Brizais (5-Y-O Grey Gelding)
Trainer: Phillip Hobbs

This young French grey was having only his second start over fences when last seen, and he was arguably unlucky not to get closer to the winner. He arrived here on the back of a fall on chase debut and understandably the jockey was patient with him, but overall he travelled and jumped really well.

Just as the jockey was starting to move him closer he had to avoid a faller. This cost him a fair bit of momentum and he had to get the horse back into a rhythm. It wasn’t severe interference but enough for it to count near the business end of the race. The winner dictated from the front and held on by just over a length. Brias Du Brizias was closing him down all the way to the line, and I suspect if he had been able to jump the last upsides, he may well have taken this.

Still, it was a good run and I would like to think Hobbs can find a weak Class 4 handicap chase for him somewhere. He is unexposed in this sphere and should have wins in him.

Race Type: Handicap Chase
Race Distance: 2m 6f - 3m 
Ground Type: Good (wins on good, has run well on soft)

Horse: Flying Jack (7-Y-O Bay Gelding)
Trainer: Maurice Barnes (pictured)

I think Flying Jack was going to win his last race at Hexham until he came down two from home. He travelled very smoothly throughout the race and was about to take it up when hitting the deck. He was set to swoop past the eventual winner, which makes me think he would have stayed there.
He is now 0 wins and no places from 5 runs over fences, the last run being his first chase over 3m on soft ground. His one career win to date was over 2m4f on good, so ideal conditions are a bit unknown.

Hopefully he comes out of this race ok and can make amends next time. Saying that I’d want a decent price if backing him, but he was running like a horse coming into form and looks to have something in hand. (it was a weak race though) I’d like to think his trainer will find a race for him... back at Hexham maybe. This was the first time he has been sent off over fences at single figure odds and I suspect they have found the key and think he is running at a level he can be very competitive at.

Race Type: Handicap Chase
Race Distance: 2m4f-3m
Ground Type: Versatile (good through to soft)

Horse: Bastien (6-Y-O Bay/Brown Gelding)
Trainer: Alan King (pictured)

I very much doubt this unexposed Alan King hurdler went unnoticed at Sandown, but he is worth keeping onside. In any case he looks very well handicapped.

I do not think the race as run to suit as he was tapped for toe at a crucial time, just as the pace lifted. It looked slowly run affair and when the leaders went through the gears he took a while to get going. By the time he did he had plenty to do. He stayed on very well and was only beaten 2 lengths, so it looks like he needs further than 2m4f or a race run at a stronger pace.

This was his first handicap hurdle run and you would like to think there will be plenty more to come. He displayed a willing attitude here, responding generously to his jockey’s urges. That attitude and conditions to suit should see him win races in time.

Race Type: Handicap Hurdle
Race Distance: 2m4f+
Ground Type: Good to Soft/Soft

Horse: Mick The Poser (3-Y-O Bay Gelding)
Trainer: Jennie Candlish (pictured)

This horse looks like he can pick up a low-grade handicap hurdle or two at some point this season. Aged only 3 I thought he ran with credit when last seen at Carlisle where he finished fourth, beaten under two lengths.

Running over 17f on soft he tracked the pace and if anything was a little keen at times. He had every chance after the last but had no extra at the line. He wasn’t beaten far on what was just the third hurdle run of his life. He was racing at a track with a stiff climb to the line and I wonder if he was just out-stayed. The yard has been having a quiet time as well.

Given his age and lightly raced profile, there should be plenty more to come, and it may be that he will be seen to better effect on a flatter track or could just improve for experience. A prominent racer to keep onside.

Race Type: Handicap Hurdle
Race Distance: 16-17f (yet to run beyond this over jumps)
Ground Type: Good to Soft/Soft

Horse: Lip Service (8-Y-O Chestnut Gelding)
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien

Lip Service made his return at Cheltenham on Sunday and gave the impression that connections will have plenty of fun with him. He is lightly raced and one of a few in recent days that I’ve noted as having left the Tony Martin yard. He was making handicap hurdle debut here after 217 days off and was doing his best work late. He’s had a few interruptions in his career and fingers crossed he can be kept sound.

He was slow away in this race and was held up in last place for most of the race. There is a chance they were unsure he would stay 2m5f around Cheltenham in testing ground, hence the exaggerated waiting tactics. He crept into this and eventually ran on for fourth of nineteen, having never really been put into the race to my eyes.

He did run as if he stayed, but it could be he was just passing beaten horses. So the jury is out as to his ideal conditions. It could be that they have a plan for him, and you would have to assume,that he could have plenty in hand of his current mark. It will be interesting to see where he turns up on his next few starts. It look as though he has been tricky to train but with any luck there should be more to come from him.

Race Type: Handicap Hurdle (they may go chasing)
Race Distance: 2m4f-2m6f (may get further)
Ground Type: Seems versatile (decent runs on Good – Heavy)

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