This week's edition of the Timeform Notebook focuses on three horses operating on the northern jumps scene...
Owned by J.P McManus and trained by Jonjo O'Neill, Ballyclough had an interesting profile entering handicaps for the first time. He had shown enough ability to win a bumper and a maiden hurdle on his first two starts before struggling in a stronger novice event at Bangor, finishing down the field when not given a hard time. He looked fairly treated on his return from a ten-month absence but was simply given far too much to do, held right up in the early stages and never remotely looking like getting into contention under considerate handling. Better days lie ahead for the lightly-raced and unexposed Ballyclough, most likely when the market in his favour.
Returning from an 18-month absence, Yurok made a highly encouraging first start over fences at Carlisle, jumping accurately and making steady late headway over a trip that will surely prove to be short of his optimum. The Sue Smith-trained eight-year-old had shown promise over hurdles, enough to merit inclusion as one of Timeform's 50 horses to follow for the 2011/12 jumps season, but, unfortunately, he didn't make it to the racecourse. Thursday's initial effort over fences suggests that he will be able to make up for lost time, with novice chases in excess of two miles likely to suit.
The final horse that makes it into this week's edition of the Timeform Notebook is Crowning Jewel. He was presumably having a pipe-opener on his seasonal reappearance, competing in a novice hurdle over an inadequate two miles, but he shaped well nevertheless, finishing strongly having been briefly outpaced two furlongs out. It wasn't the first time that Crowning Jewel has caught the eye; he is actually one of this season's fifty horses to follow based on some promising efforts last term. Fairly treated on an official mark of 122, Crowning Jewel can make an impact returned to handicap company.
In a surprising twist, we have some positive news to report this week as Miss Dashwood and Princess Caetani registered victory. Miss Dashwood had already justified her inclusion by winning a shade cosily at Wolverhampton and, back at that venue, she followed up, winning with more in hand than the bare margin would suggest. She tends to travel powerfully through her races but idles on hitting the front. This trait should ensure that Miss Dashwood will stay ahead of the handicapper and land the hat-trick of wins.
Princess Caetani's success wasn't achieved in anything like as comfortable fashion but, having been on the wrong end of a few photo finish decisions, you will hear no complaints from us. She clearly revels in the mud and is likely to go well again if turned out before the end of the season.
Moving on to the less satisfactory results, English Summer was well fancied to go close having been narrowly denied the last twice but, though running respectably, he couldn't match either of those efforts. Marshgate Lane was the other disappointment, briefly threatening three furlongs out, but hanging badly left and reportedly losing his action.
It will be a quiet week on the Notebook front as Restaurateur and Semeen are our sole entries. Restaurateur has a couple of engagements, including on the polytrack at Kempton. His profile suggests that he is highly effective on the surface and he has the potential to make up into something of an all-weather specialist.
It is possible that Semeen didn't handle the undulations when last seen at Brighton. He remains fairly unexposed and should prove to be more effective on Lingfield's fairly conventional all-weather track.
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