By Peter Naughton
Can be forgiven this poor performance in very testing conditions. The booking of champion jockey Richard Johnson had looked significant and Evan Williams' six-year-old was wearing cheekpieces for the first time. Pushed along after the fifth, having been held up, he weakened at the next and was pulled up before the second last.
Rock And Roll King is a son of King's Theatre so deserves more chances on better ground. He looks attractively handicapped and could be well worth following in the spring.
I interviewed David Easterby on Racing UK after Sam's Gunner produced a very strong finish at Catterick. The improving gelding is trained by legendary Mick Easterby, who plans to send him to Wetherby for another novice next month.
The EBF Final at Sandown in the spring is the long-term plan.
The trainer’s son and assistant told me: "We are aiming very high with this horse because he's very good and I hope the handicapper isn’t too harsh because there are reasons why there could be holes in this form. I'd love to be light enough to ride Sam’s Gunner."
Made a pleasing start in unsuitably heavy ground. Amy Murphy's five-year-old boasts an impeccable jumping pedigree and is closely related to Pendra, who was a classy performer for Charlie Longsdon.
Murphy saddled impressive Kalashnikov to win here on debut and Tupolev was strongly fancied to record a similar performance.
Racing in mid-division, the gelding chased the leaders four-out and although lacking an instant turn of foot behind well-backed winner Black Pirate, he kept on well inside the final furlong. There is more to come, especially over further and on better ground.
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