The Inside Track – March 2024

 In Greystoke Galloper, Inside Track

The Inside Track – March 2024

The wet winter continued, with not even the Cheltenham Festival immune to Mother Nature with some of the slowest times seen for the championship races. It was on Day One of the festival Famous Bridge flew the flag for the yard (and the north) with a fine fourth in a month that saw another haul of podium finishes.

The Kalooki Kid kicked off March at Kelso on a low-key note having looked like having plenty to offer in handicaps after his respectable effort in the rerouted Rossington Main in January. He’ll very likely bounce back from this soon, with some nice valuable handicaps at the spring festivals around the corner.

Bullion Boss made an encouraging return at Carlisle following a 22-month absence and shaped very much like he needed it, having travelled well for most of the race. Stepped back up in trip three weeks later at Wetherby he again failed to get involved in the finish, but his best form prior to his lay-off had all been on much better ground and his mark has now slipped to a very attractive one.

Another stablemate lurking on a very competitive mark is Serious Ego, who ran far better than a simple third of fourteen at Ayr suggests. With a stronger gallop to go at (and possible at a stiffer track) next time he looks a winner in waiting.

Also at Ayr, Coniston Clouds got back on track after his bad fall in January with a solid third placed finish. Another horse who might be seen to better effect with more of an emphasis on stamina, he might be seen back at Carlisle for the final of the Go North series having qualified here.

His name-alike Coniston George filled the same place of the novice hurdle on the card, with the double penalty and firmer conditions negating the benefits that the step up in trip would likely have had. He has had a very encouraging start to his career and there are no doubt numerous options for him both towards the end of the season and looking forward to the next.

For the same connections Headscarf Lil was another that found an Ayr speed test of little use to her and she looks set for another late spring campaign.

The concluding bumper featured both Yakelo and Saracen Beau for the yard and it was the latter on racecourse debut that fared best – shaping very much like a staying chaser of the future and acquitting himself impressively in yet another race with a relative sprint finish. Given how well the form of Yakelo’s own bumper debut had been working out, it was little surprise to see him sent off a short price favourite but things didn’t quite happen for whatever reason. He might yet have a bumper win in him before the season is out and focus shifts to his novice hurdling campaign.

Nells Son enjoyed his return to Kelso and built on his Class 2 second last month to take the Novice’s Handicap Chase in easy fashion. Given how well he fared in big field handicaps over hurdles last season he would be of interest in some the valuable chases left to be run this season.

As mentioned in the introduction, Famous Bridge flew the flag for the yard in fine style at the Cheltenham Festival – still right there turning into the straight and battling on for fourth. Assuming the ground wasn’t too dry, he’d be a major player in the Scottish National.

Clovis Island backed up his close Carlisle second to very good prospect Jagwar to take a Hexham maiden hurdle but was made to work extremely hard for it. Possibly feeling the aftereffects at the end of the month at Carlisle, having travelled strongly throughout most of the race he then backed out of things as they met the hill. His February run at the track will likely prove to be very strong form and he remains an excellent prospect.

Am Still Here is yet to properly find his feet, for the second time in handicaps being found in the market but not quite seeing his race out. It is still early days with him, with plenty of options still to be explored.

At Newcastle Houston Texas again didn’t quite match his seasonal reappearance form but in the fullness of time this may turn out to be very strong form for the grade, with both Cruz Control and the reopposing Jet Legs much younger horses and ones to follow. It’d be little surprise if a nice handicap wasn’t found for him before the season is out at a track like Hexham, with veteran races next season likely to prove quite productive for him too.

Despite his pedigree, Red Cadillac also looks like one who might enjoy longer trips when he tackles obstacles after a solid fourth in the cards’ bumper. He has posted two solid bumper efforts now and will be competitive in novice hurdles next season.

Milcree continued an excellent start to his career, with a remarkable effort over the minimum trip in a sprint finish. For one likely excel over staying trips, the future looks very bright for the son of Milan in the famous Hemmings colours.

For the same connections, Castle Rushen continued his comeback with a fair effort in a very competitive handicap at Uttoxeter on the same day. Finishing just behind the aforementioned Jagwar having not had the smoothest of passages being forced wide through chunks of the race is a good place to build on for races coming up on hopefully slightly better ground.

Better Getalong didn’t manage to bounce back from his disappointment at Ayr last month, having made a significant error as the race was taking shape. Until the start of this year he’d been a model of consistency and it’s likely he’ll be competitive again soon – even at the tender age of 13.

On the same day, the 7 years younger President Scottie took advantage of what looked beforehand to be a favourable looking mark when stepped up in trip for his handicap debut. The omission of the hurdles due to low sun has meant the official handicapper has only put him up 5lbs for this and so he’ll likely take some stopping wherever he turns up next.

The Best Way has now posted 3 highly encouraging runs in novice company having missed two years between his bumper and hurdling debut and looks well set for a productive spell in handicaps. Some of his form is starting to work out well and hopefully with his confidence restored after his spell on the sidelines and starting to look more professional he is very much one to look out for.

Perhaps the most eye-catching performance of the month came in the shape of Jupiter Des Mottes, hammering what looked like a very good set of new prospects on paper having looked very green initially, but then tanking when the penny dropped. He wouldn’t look out of place attempting to emulate stablemate Florida Dreams in taking in the Grade 2 Aintree bumper based on how he ran here.

Tfou returned after a year off at Carlisle with an encouraging 4th in the race that had provided disappointment with the finishing effort of Clovis Island. He’ll likely be back over fences next and looks to have plenty of stamina to call upon, he could be of interest at one of Hexham’s meetings in the coming weeks.

The month concluded with another horse making a reappearance after a lengthy break, with Sauce of Life making his handicap debut having last been seen on the track in November 2021. He shaped with plenty of encouragement at Market Rasen and is now hopefully set up for a productive spring.

Star Performer: Jupiter Des Mottes looked a very exciting prospect by taking apart what looked beforehand a very competitive Wetherby bumper and is one to follow.

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Jupiter Des Mottes on the gallopsMilcree wins at Carlisle