It is fair to say the results on Saturday weren't what I was hoping for. Invaluably when you look forward to a good day's racing things don't pan out the way you were expecting. Four runners in the Top 40 resulted in four defeats. While working at Thirsk during the evening I was able to catch up with a few owners and trainers.
Greenbarn produced the most disappointing performance of the day in the opening six furlongs novice stakes at Nottingham. The David Armstrong owned filly had impressed when winning at Pontefract last backend and, despite being forced to carry a penalty at the Midlands track, she was expected to go close and was backed accordingly. Ridden along at halfway, she dropped out quickly and only beat one rival. It was too bad to be true and that was confirmed by her trainer Michael Dods. I spoke to the Darlington based handler at Thirsk and he reported Greenbarn scoped badly afterwards and was full of mucus. It will be interesting to see what handicap mark she is allocated, as a result.
I thought King's Crusader ran a cracker to finish second in the seven furlongs novice stakes at Thirsk and is a winner waiting to happen. Drawn in stall one, David O'Meara's three year old travelled well along the rail in the backstraight. Pulled towards the outside turning for home, the son of New Approach stayed on well and, while he couldn't match the winner Noble Anthem, he was only beaten a couple of lengths and will improve again over further. My Racing TV colleague Chris Dixon is also a race planner for the stable and he reported afterwards that King's Crusader will have another run over a mile on a straight track before stepping up to a mile and a quarter for his handicap debut. He is one to follow.
Out From Under looked potentially well treated off a mark of 82 on his handicap debut at Haydock as he tackled a mile for the first time. However, Roger Charlton's charge was only third which was disappointing. Held up, he moved strongly into contention before being switched to the outside. The response was limited though as his effort petered out. Being a half-brother to a Queens Vase winner and out of a Group 3 winner over a mile and a half, he is bred to stay well. His run at the Merseyside track suggested he may not have stayed the mile. Despite this reversal, I still think he is better than his rating.
Walk of Stars looked a colt with a big future when winning a conditions event at Newbury on his return to action last month. Charlie Appleby's runner was well supported for the Epsom Derby prior to his run in the Lingfield Derby Trial but he found the Ballydoyle trained United Nations too strong. Slowly away and briefly ridden along, the son of Dubawi was very much in contention turning in. William Buick's mount held every chance in the homestraight but couldn't reel in Aidan O'Brien's winner. Similar to stablemate New London, he still looks raw and should improve as the year goes on. On this evidence, Walk of Stars isn't hardened enough to win an Epsom Derby. The King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot looks a more realistic target but Godolphin will want a leading representative at Epsom and perhaps he will take his chance. If putting a positive spin on things, stable companion Adayar was beaten at Lingfield before winning Flat racing's Blue Riband a few weeks later. Time will tell whether lightning strikes twice.
Finally, I also spoke to Tim Easterby at Thirsk and I asked him about Roach Power's performance at Ripon the previous evening. The Great Habton trainer was pleased with the run because he reported the grey had taken a long time to come to himself - like his brother and stablemate Art Power - and took a blow at the furlong marker. Tim thinks he will have benefited a lot from the run and remains one to keep an eye on. He didn't rule out dropping him back to five furlongs at some stage either.
The highlight of the evening at the North Yorkshire track was the victory of Val De Travers in the sprint handicap. Another astute 'signing' for Value Racing Club, the four year old was acquired for 24,000gns last Autumn and he has now won two out of three since joining Mick Appleby. A free going sort, he returned to winning ways making all under Ray Dawson. Rated 63, he won by a length and, with the handicapper unlikely to be too harsh, there are more races to be won with him. It was good to see a decent turn out of members for the syndicate spearheaded by racing manager James Couldwell, who was last spotted polishing off a well deserved glass of champagne.
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