THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY DRAGHOUNDS – COTTENHAM
Saturday February 8th 2020
12.00 Hunt Members – 4 entries
A small but select field for the opening Hunt race and hopefully all entries will turn up. Mr Sacto the oldest horse in the race has to be respected on his old form, a winner of two Hunter Chases but on current form he has it all to do, tailed off last time out and hopefully he will get round safely for his novice jockey. General Arrow, the youngest member of the field, has to put a poor performance behind him when weakening quickly and pulling up at Larkhill but anything is possible with the flying combination of Tom Ellis and Gina Andrews, this horse was definitely on the upgrade last year winning three races. Net D’Ecosse has the highest rating in the field and won very impressively at Higham last time out by 25 lengths unchallenged. He also put in a decent effort in a very hot race just before the New Year, our only worry is that he has run twice at Cottenham and been beaten twice so he has questions to answer about the course. Forever Field makes his pointing debut, formally trained by Nicky Henderson, he has some high-class Novice Chase wins to his name but has never won beyond 2m 4f, has finished 2nd over 2m 7f at Ludlow. Ludlow is a sharp right-handed track, which resembles Cottenham, hopefully a change of scenery has sweetened him up and is our selection.
Selection: Forever Field Alternative: Net d’Ecosse
12.35 Mens Open – 12 entries
With 12 entries, the men’s open race has the highest number of entries. Recent winners Net d’Ecosse and Just Cause both hail from the yard of James Owen. Net d’Ecosse holds an entry in the first and may head in that direction, leaving Just Cause to chase the glory in this renewal of the men’s open. The winner of both his races this season, Just Cause strode away from Sugar Baron and Zeroeshadesofgrey to win the men’s open at Higham on his latest start, winning by 30 lengths. With a victory around this track to his name he should go close again in spite of a 3lb penalty. Ballykan has run twice this season, finishing runner-up on both occasions to Call Me Vic, the second of which was around this course at the end of December, in which Mahlers Star well behind. On the same day Burtredgipandgump also finished second, five lengths behind Laser Beam, whilst carrying a 6lb penalty, with the third well in arrears. The consistent Dandan, who usually runs his race, tends to do his winning later in the season having never won a race before 14th March since crossing the Irish Sea. Crazy Jack failed to trouble the judge last season, but was the winner of a 2 ½ mile hunter chase at the Stratford HC meeting in 2018, and his racing record suggests that sub 3 mile races are more to his liking. Goodthyneaway boasts winning NH form last year for Dan Skelton, in races up to 2 ¾ miles and Enjoy Responsibly finished either 3rd or 4th on his last six outings for Oliver Sherwood.
Selection: Just Cause Alternative: Burtredgipandgump
1.10 Ladies Open – 11 entries
Some quality in this Ladies Open with the likes of Southfield Theatre, Top Smart and Can Mestret, together with recent Higham winner Knockedoutloaded, in the field, should make this a worthwhile contest. Southfield Theatre has the obvious winning credentials and the Bradstock’s would be greatly welcomed at Cottenham, if deciding to run here. The form over the past two seasons is impressive and this season alone he has beaten Ravished at Larkhill before going down by only a length to Virak, an equally top-rated horse, at the same course. Knockedoutloaded gave Alex Knight her first winner at Higham but would have been severely tested by Top Smart if the latter had not unseated Izzie Marshall, two out. Can Mestret only ran once last season, so might need the run, which also applies to the Turner’s veteran, favourite Sa Kaldoun.
Selection: Southfield Theatre Alternative: Top Smart
1.45 Restricted (2m4f) – 9 entries
Back to the average with only 9 entries. Those who have run this season will probably have the advantage. Bold Gesture from the Pennock yard has progressed from a 2nd to Oscars Fame in the short Maiden on this track in Dec to an unchallenged win in the Higham Maiden in Jan and warrants a place finish. A 6yr old with claims is Caliente from the well known Rowley yard, placed but well beaten on his only 2 Restricted runs last season, ur at the first here in Dec and a distant t.o in the Restricted at Larkhill in Jan but this shorter distance my suit. Draft Pick a very distant 5th in the mid Jan Larkhill Restricted. Having his 4th run this season is Frank and Honest an all-out Maiden win here in Nov followed by a one pace 3rd to Neetside in the Dec Wadebridge Restricted and falling when 5th here in Dec – may find this company too strong. Manu Cornuto, Short Maiden Cottenham winner last season but pu on 2 subsequent Restricted runs and fell at the 2nd in the Dec. Restricted on this track and pu when t.o. at Higham – just watch. Rivercourt Guy from the Kemp yard pu on his first 2 runs last season but went on to an unchallenged 25L win in the May Garthorpe Maiden – undoubtedly will need the run if last season is anything to go by. Robins Legend has run twice in Restricteds on soft ground and may struggle but the ground and distance may suit. Signed and Sealed a prolific runner last season winning the short Maiden at Garthorpe so this distance again could suit. The Alchemyst from the Wright yard out last season won an Irish Maiden and ran a distant weakening 4th at Higham – one to just watch.
Selection: Bold Gesture Alternative: Caliente
2.20 Open Maiden – 11 entries
At first glance this looks something of a “no-brainer” with the Philip Rowley trained My Bobby Dazzler pretty much in another league compared to the rest of the field. Having already run this season when coming 3 lengths second to Fedelta in a Larkhill Open Maiden on 5th January, with the rest of the field strung out like washing, this looks like a steering job for top jockey Alex Edwards. Of the rest Ballydorn, from the in-form Ellis yard, would look likely to trouble the favourite although this one is still a Maiden at 8 which doesn’t augur well for her chances. The “Gina” factor also helps her chances but a poor run at Ampton in the hands of brother Jack would place a big question mark over her likely success. Andrew Pennock does have the knack of making silk purses out of pigs ears but Morning Smiles sadly still remains more of a pigs ear. Richard Collinson in the plate may help but I doubt if even he can bring the bacon home! Alan Hill, the master of Cottenham has Ringa Ding Ding entered – after a promising first outing when a close up 4th he went out like a light early in the race and we expect something may have been physically amiss. Providing the problem has been addressed this one is sure to put in a solid round so probably one for a forecast bet! Finally, and not without interest, is Tekap who missed last year but had a promising season as a five year old. Now 7 this will be one that will need a thorough looking over in the parade ring – Archie Wright is as good as any jockey round Cottenham and this might just be the real surprise package in the race. Sadly, however we must go for a common sense selection and this is My Bobby Dazzler with Ringa Ding Ding as our reserve but don’t dismiss Tekap completely.
Selection: My Bobby Dazzler Alternative: Ringa Ding Ding
2.55 Open Maiden (2m4f) – 10 entries
A mix of older and younger horses in this maiden run over the shorter trip and some doubtful stayers will be hoping to prevail at the line. Ballydorn represents the Tom Ellis yard and she looks the most likely winner. She was 3rd in a mares maiden at Barbury Castle in April, beaten 4 L by Hott Lips. However she pulled up at Ampton on her seasonal debut in the race won by Huntsman’s Jog. No Gale hails from the Andrew Pennock yard and he also pulled up in the Ampton race. He was placed in two Irish points, on his final Irish start he was 3rd, beaten 4 L behind Who’s In The Box at Bartlemy. Josh The Plod has been placed 2nd on three occasions but pulled up on his seasonal debut at Higham last month and is probably best watched today. Ringa Ding Ding was 4th at the first meeting here beaten just over 1 ½ L by Frank And Honest but pulled up on his next outing again here in late December. Trained by Alan Hill who’s yard is now getting into it’s stride. He can’t be ruled out in this contest. Peep O’Day Dell has been placed 3rd on two occasions but pulled up on his seasonal debut at Sheriff Hutton last month. Courtly Love has been placed 2nd on her last two starts. On her last pointing start she was beaten 10 L by Signed And Sealed at Garthorpe in May but then finished well down the field in a point to point bumper at Stratford later that month. Spread De Message has been pulled up in all three Irish starts but did show a modicum of ability on his latest outing. It’s a tricky race to call but as Gina Andrews is jocked up on Ballydorn and her husband’s yard is in such good form we will side with her as our selection. Tentatively we will side with Ringa Ding Ding as our alternative for the Alan Hill yard who have a decent record at this venue.
Selection: Ballydorn Alternative: Ringa Ding Ding
Race 1: Forever Field / Net d’Ecosse
Race 2: Just Cause / Burtredgipandgump
Race 3: Southfield Theatre / Top Smart
Race 4: Bold Gesture / Caliente
Race 5: My Bobby Dazzler / Ringa Ding Ding
Race 6: Ballydorn / Ringa Ding Ding