Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles: Off The Beat can click down in trip

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Fri 8 Jan 2021

There’s been a couple of decent results for horses flagged up in this column in recent weeks, the latest being Carey Street at Wolverhampton on Thursday evening as she benefitted from a drop back in distance and slightly more circumspect ride to get her head in front under Hollie Doyle.

That was the punting highlight for me on what has been a fairly quiet start to what has felt like a pretty disjointed start to the new year with several abandonments meaning it’s been a trimmed down jumps programme in recent days.

There was a good card at Sandown at the weekend and though the Tolworth didn’t appear to be a strong renewal pre-race, it was hard to not be impressed by Metier’s win in a good time.

He’s entered in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month and will head into that valuable handicap with a solid chance despite having been bumped up 7lb.

On the same card, Guard Your Dreams continued his progress to make a winning handicap debut and he’s another entered in the Betfair Hurdle following a ride in the weights so there’s every chance it was an informative afternoon in Esher.

However, on a week where there wasn’t a huge amount going on, I’ve highlighted a few horses at the lower grade meetings that can hopefully pay their way in the near future.

Zhiguli – Gary Moore

Zhiguli showed improved form to win on his second handicap outing when successful at Huntingdon just before Christmas and suggested he still has mileage in his revised mark when runner-up at Taunton last week.

A keen going horse who seems to need some cover, he travelled into the race well but was caught on heels on the inside turning for home and a result was shuffled back and conceded first run to another in-form last time out winner.

Though unable to make up the ground he’d surrendered, Zhiguli managed to close up late suggesting he’s still on a good mark when things drop right. A good pace at around two-and-a-half miles or a bit shorter on a galloping track may prove his optimum test.

Off The Beat – Sandy Thompson

Off The Beat appeared to fail for stamina when stepped up to 3m at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day and may be of interest when back down in trip.

Having travelled well, Off The Beat made good progress as the field turned for home but was unable to sustain his effort in the straight. His pedigree doesn’t scream stayer and the way he moved through the race here points towards him being more effective when dropped back in distance.

He hasn’t had too much racing and has dropped in the weights from his opening mark so could soon be found a good opportunity.

Merweb – Ron Harris

A 20-race losing streak perhaps sets the alarm bells ringing with Merweb but I think the Ron Harris-trained six-year-old is in better form than recent results suggest and isn’t doing a great deal wrong.

Unlucky in the run having travelled well at Wolverhampton on his penultimate start, he tried to overcome a wide berth at Lingfield last week and in doing so ended up working too hard in front.

Still able to see of his fellow pace-setter, he was swamped late on but could hardly be expected to maintain the gallop given his earlier exertions and is well worth marking up.

He won’t always be forced into using up so much energy early in a race and is on a mark of which he can do some damage so looks an interesting horse for a low level handicap in the weeks ahead. He’d be of particular interest if given a go at Southwell with is attributes and pedigree marking him down as an ideal candidate to thrive at that track.

Every Excuse

I usually only flag up one horse in this section but I’m sticking three in this week as there’s been a few warm favourites turned over with valid excuses and I think each of this trio are capable of winning soon.

Anyone who watched Rohaan’s defeat at Lingfield last week would have noted this horse as one who crossed the line with a bundle to give after a misjudged ride saw him left too much to do and though he’s already risen a huge amount in the ratings this season, this run suggests the handicapper is yet to have his measure.

Unlike Rohaan, Blue Dawn is yet to win a race but he was notably strong in the market prior to his latest effort at Wolverhampton but can be excused his defeat on account of his saddle slipping.

He ended up getting a run on Marco Ghiani and did too much before understandably flattening out – he has a low level handicap win in is soon.

Fair Star was flagged up in this column as a horse of interest a few weeks ago and has since been beaten twice but neither race has gone his way and he’ll be winning again as soon as he gets a decent pace to aim at, ideally over 12f.

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