The Inside Track – February 2024

 In Greystoke Galloper, Inside Track

The Inside Track – February 2024

The Greystoke team continued their good form in February, with horses running consistently well and differing offerings from Lady Luck!

The month didn’t get off to the greatest start with Universal Folly hitting the pause button on his rich vein of form since restarting his chasing career last April. Well up in trip for the Edinburgh National he was never travelling and was well looked after when the writing was on the wall after the fifteenth. He’s been a model of consistency for over a year now (not finishing outside of the top 2 in 8 starts before this) and will no doubt be back in form soon.

Parisencore is another in the same silks running well over both hurdles and fences and arguably put up a career best over the smaller obstacles in the Scottish County Hurdle in the following contest. A finishing position of 7th doesn’t tell the full story, with him right in contention approaching the last which he flattened to cost him his chance. He showed again he is well up to quality handicaps over two miles in both disciplines and there are no doubt more good races to win with him.

The trip to Scotland finished with a slightly disappointing run from one of the yard’s bright lights Florida Dreams. Having gone up to 3miles after a very encouraging run in the Grade One Tolworth at Aintree the time before, he never really seemed to be fully on his game but remains with huge potential heading into the spring with a tilt at the Sefton Novice’s hurdle still a realistic possibility.

The first win of the month came from Coniston George at Carlisle – bouncing back quickly from disappointing at Wetherby to back up his win earlier in the season at Kelso. He looks open to plenty of further improvement and may well be suited by further than 2 miles in time.

After a length spell on the sidelines, The Best Way got the opportunity to build on his encouraging bumper debut back in May 2022 with a highly encouraging run into midfield in the same race. He backed this up later in the month with another solid outing at Ayr and looks one which will improve plenty as he learns, still looking very raw at the business end of the races.

Serious Ego very much knows his job at this stage of his career and shaped like the run was perhaps needed after a little break since running at Ayr in December. He too also ran later in the month, with Sedgefield not quite providing the test he seemingly needs to show his best these days. A return to Hexham could be on the cards to see him to best effect.

Red Cadillac made a very encouraging start to his career for his ownership syndicate in a bumper that has already started to work out with winner I am Max taking an Ayr novice hurdle. He showed plenty of pace as the race developed and then stayed on well up the hill for third.

Despite the big field at the Ayr maiden hurdle contested by President Scottie, there were only three horses in the betting and it came down to two of them – with he and Myretown pulling miles clear of the rest. The slice of fortune, which was to be reclaimed later in the month, came as Myretown took a heavy fall leaving the Milan gelding to saunter home. A handicap mark of 117 looks more than fair and is the type that could go very well in a valuable big field handicap in the spring.

Another handicap hurdler to follow is Nab Wood, with his 8lb rise for a demolition of a Kelso contest potentially looking lenient given how easily he cantered into a slowly run race from the rear. He may need the ground conditions in his favour but will take some stopping when seen next.

Nells Son continued his development over fences with a solid 2nd in the class two handicap chase behind Empire Steel in what were his optimum conditions. With a little further improvement in his jumping, a truly run big field handicap may unlock a big performance in him.

Haydock was the scene for two runners in the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings, the latter being a highly encouraging return for Castle Rushen until the desperate conditions took their toll. He would rate a good fancy next time facing a lesser examination over shorter or less testing ground with the handicapping knocking another 2lbs off his mark being in his favour.

The fortune seen at Ayr was sadly repaid in spades in the Grand National Trial as Famous Bridge, tanking as the race was taking shape made an error from out of the blue to unseat his jockey at the seventeenth. Aintree now looks a massive longshot given the plethora of (largely Irish) entries ahead of him in the weights but with festival entries and options such as the Scottish counterpart another big race performance is anything but.

Back at Musselburgh there were a couple of below form runs for Kian Calling and No Regrets, both will hopefully bounce back quickly.

Clovis Island produced a performance at the opposite end of the scale a few days later at Carlisle, giving red hot favourite Jagwar all he could handle and more. The pair pulled 33 lengths of the remainder and he now has a lot of options moving forwards into the spring.

The month finished a little quietly, with the likes of Houston Texas, Marown and Better Getalong not quite managing to find their best. Of the three, Marown is the one that remains of immediate interest from an each way betting standpoint and will hopefully deservedly get his head again soon.

March is the business end of the season, with the Kalooki Kid looking to get things off to a flyer at Kelso and plenty of big races to be targeted.

Star Performer: Nab Wood looks a horse that will be extremely difficult to stop given his conditions.

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Winners enclosure - Nab wood, Nicky and the ownersNells Son in the winners enclosure at Kelso