Richard Mann takes a closer look at this week's jumpers' bumper action, while a potential star of the future for Gary Moore might have been unearthed.
This week’s All Weather Weekly starts with a slightly different theme, brought about by the wet weather we've experienced all across the country in the last week or so. As such, we have seen the welcome return of jumpers' bumpers to our All Weather tracks, races I rather enjoy as a betting medium.
The initial reaction when these races were introduced a few years ago were for jumps fans to scoff at the idea of jumpers not actually jumping, while those who prefer the Flat saw the cards as having no actual relevance to the All Weather season.
Still, they have become something of a necessity and I do think they can provide some decent betting opportunities if you’re prepared to put the work in. Time and time and again in these events, we see highly-rated jumpers chalked up shorter than inferior NH rivals with very little attention paid to their respective abilities on the Flat - yet it is those with the greater ability on the level that consistently appear better suited to the demands of these events.
Even though the races are run over two miles, proficient milers on the Flat are generally the ones that have the greater kick at the finish and Lingfield’s meeting on Monday was a prime example.
In the Watch Off The Fence On attheraces.com "Jumpers' Bumper" at 3.15, French import Royaume Uni left behind a couple of really poor efforts over hurdles when blitzing a field of more established jumpers with a telling turn of foot. His useful form on the Flat in France had apparently been ignored for much of the morning until late money saw him sent off joint-favourite.
Half an hour later, recent 1m2f Flat winner Lucky’s Dream won the second division of the same race in similarly authoritative fashion.
Even the 66/1 success enjoyed by apparent no-hoper Jarlath in the "Off The Fence" On youtube.com/attheraces "Jumpers' Bumper" National Hunt Flat Race wasn’t that puzzling when taking a closer look at the form.
Jarlath’s previous run on the Flat had seen him finish a very creditable sixth of 14 in a competitive handicap at Goodwood in October 2018, and his recent efforts over fences confirmed he still has plenty of ability at the age of 10. The clues were there if you looked hard enough. I, of course, hadn’t.
7/1 and 11/2 victories for former capable Flat performers Wise Eagle and Set In Stone at Newcastle on Wednesday saw the theme continue, but the stiffer nature of the track at Gosforth Park did bring the stamina-laden jumpers more into the mix.
This might be something to note if the weather in the next few weeks means more of these meetings are staged.
As already mentioned, Royaume Uni looked very good when winning at Lingfield on Monday and I’ll be fascinated to see which way trainer Gary Moore goes with this one.
The four-year-old son of Galileo is bred in the purple and while good enough to win a maiden in France last summer, former handler Andre Fabre evidently didn’t think he was worth persevering with.
Since joining Moore, two modest efforts over hurdles had suggested Fabre was indeed correct and that Royaume Uni was going to prove wasted money, but the return to what was essentially a Flat race at Lingfield saw him in a much better light.
While evidently bought to go jumping, I just wonder if Moore might be able to persuade connections that a Flat campaign tailored towards the many valuable staying handicaps in the summer might be the way to go with him.
Moore continues to prove himself a master in both codes and I wouldn’t be at all surprised were the obviously talented Royaume Uni to prove another flag-bearer for this terrific yard in the months ahead.
It was in my first All Weather column of the winter when I arrived kicking and screaming about a John Gosden-trained filly named Under Wraps, so promising was her debut run.
I duly backed her next time at Lingfield on December 16, and was left feeling thoroughly deflated - skint to boot - when she could only finish fifth in what hadn't, to my eye at least, looked that strong a race on paper.
Not for the first time, it seems my first assessment was wrong, and the Lingfield fillies' novice stakes won by Primo Bacio has actually started to work out nicely, with the second and fourth, Durdle Door and Gurkha Girl, finishing first and second in the same heat at Kempton last week.
The eighth home, Skulk, also won in striking fashion when returning to Lingfield on Saturday, while the 10th was a horse named Komore who has since finished third at Newcastle at 125/1.
This isn't where I suddenly start to beg for forgiveness because Under Wraps failed to provide the column with a winner last month, but I do think there is good reason to think that Lingfield race was an above-average one for the time of year and, given the nice pedigrees possessed by some of those towards the rear of the field, I suspect the form will continue to work out well.