The Inside Track – January 2024

 In Greystoke Galloper, Inside Track

The Inside Track – January 2024

A relatively quiet January in terms of runners thanks to another inclement month but another couple of winners kept the momentum going into the new year.

President Scottie kicked the month off up at Ayr, again finding the Lucinda Russell trained Espirit Du Potier too good on the day but he’s now eligible for handicaps with an opening mark of 111 which may underestimate him.

On the same card Marown also came second, for him for the fourth time in seven starts – this time just going down by a neck. His time can’t be far away, although it wasn’t to be at Newcastle towards the end of the month. On this occasion he didn’t quite have his A-Game and although a respectable third he has shown much better form and should always be considered on the shortlist in class 3 handicaps.

Aubis Walk was the third representative to run on the Ayr card, though she couldn’t join the other two in podium finishes. A few novicey jumping errors and a lost shoe contributed to a backwards step from her chase debut but she remains very much one to follow.

After a three month break Big Bad Bear returned to the track at Musselburgh although it was to be very much a case of blowing back off the cobwebs with a mixed round of jumping before being pulled up. Having nearly taken the scalp of Harbour Lake off a mark of 119 in October ’22, a return to form off a revised mark of 105 would make him a powerful adversary.

The first winner of 2024 came in the shape of Findthetime at Newcastle, albeit in slightly fortunate circumstances. He looked a very likely second two out until the departure of long-time leader Gardner, but having only been put up a pound for winning he still has plenty of scope for adding to his 2 chase wins this winter.

Rickety Gate gave his young jockey William Hamilton a first ride under rules and finished a respectable 5th in what will likely be a hot race for the grade at Doncaster. The second Pipers Cross has again finished an unlucky second since and the winner Townhill could well be competing at a higher level by the end of the season.

Glittering Love was returned to a marathon trip in the Yorkshire National at Catterick but didn’t manage to make his mark on the race. He ran well in a staying test at Hexham last March and would still be interesting there as a 12-year-old if he was to return there this term.

The biggest sigh of relief for all connected to the yard was hearing Coniston Clouds was ok after a nasty looking fall at Sedgefield. Travelling powerfully, he took the twelfth fence all wrong and thankfully both he and Danny McMenamin returned home safely.

The second winner of the month was Nab Wood, who as forecast improved significantly up in trip despite being kept to novice company. A couple of the other principles may have failed to fire but it was an authoritative display and a rise of only 6lbs seems generous.

On a big day at Doncaster, Nells Son crossed the winning post before lunchtime with a respectable fourth in a highly competitive handicap chase. He was always slightly behind the 8-ball with a couple of sticky jumps but it was a very encouraging return to form and it would be surprise if he didn’t land a decent race in the spring.

In the Grade Two River Don (which last year featured a close second from subsequent Albert Bartlett winner Stay Away Fay) The Kalooki Kid came a highly creditable 4th despite not being suited by the relative sprint for home. This shouldn’t be his ceiling and is another one for whom the spring could yield some big race success.

An early mistake was sadly to do for star of the season to date Famous Bridge in the feature Great Yorkshire Chase (formerly the Sky Bet Chase). He appeared completely unsettled thereafter and was well looked after by Sean Quinlan for another day, potentially returned to Haydock for the Grand National Trial next month.

Star Performer: Nab Wood – Won with any amount in hand at Kelso and off a favourable mark has plenty of options open to him and looks every inch a staying chaser in the making.

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Nab Wood, victorious at Kelso at the weekend is for saleConiston George on his way to victory at Carlisle