Notebook update: Southern stars
Ian Ogg provides the final update of the 2016 season as the Flat Notebook bows out with a couple of winners.
Tim Easterby, trainer of the well backed winner Southern Strife
Evening racing (under natural light) has come and gone as the evening's are closing in and attention has started to turn to the National Hunt season with numerous yards opening their doors to the public.
There is a good deal of quality Flat racing still to come before the final curtain but the Notebook will join those casting an eye over the winter game and gradually shift our attention.
There's a fair bit to reflect on before we do though, not least the performance of Southern Strife (9/1) who landed a bit of a touch at Carlisle on an evening when trainer Tim Easterby – on his 55th birthday – collected with all four runners.
There was a little bit of money around in the morning for the Dubawi gelding who was fitted with blinkers ahead of his handicap debut but he had drifted to 16/1 just before the off. It didn't look great when he lost his position just after the start either but David Allan worked hard to keep him motivated and the pair gradually worked their way into a challenging position before asserting close home.
He needed every yard of this stiff nine furlongs and a step up in trip may well help offset the 5lb rise in the handicap he received for this victory; there should certainly be more to come.
She was kept to a mile and a half despite looking in need of further when taking the eye on her reappearance and she appreciated having a better pace to aim at having made her own running at Epsom when looking ill at ease on the track.
Luke Morris had to be strong throughout, especially when it appeared as though she tried to hang in behind the leader in the straight, and she again shaped as though a stiffer test will be in her favour. Given the narrow nature of her success, it was rather surprising to see a 7lb rise dished out even though the first two did pull clear but it would be no surprise if Sir Mark Prescott were able to eke out sufficient improvement from his daughter of Dalakhani to cope with her revised mark.
Nuno Tristan has run at both Doncaster (11/4) and Ayr (12/1) since the last update. He disappointed in a smaller field than he had been used to at Town Moor but bounced back to his best when third in the Silver Cup, beaten just three quarters of a length.
He's been a little unlucky not to have picked up a decent prize now having finished fifth, third and fourth in similar events and the handicapper isn't helping having rather harshly given him another 2lbs to carry.
George Bowen proved rather disappointing in the same race at Ayr (14/1) having reportedly been unlucky not to win at the Curragh (10/1) prior to that. He has only been dropped by 1lb too which still leaves him 1lb higher than for his last success just over a year ago but he has shaped as though his turn may not be too far away.
D'bai (8/1) arguably did enough to warrant his inclusion in the list when finishing third in the Champagne Stakes and the Royal Lodge entry should appreciate the step up to a mile if allowed to take his chance on Saturday but he may need his sights lowered.
There weren't any real excuses for Haggle (11/4) at Sandown although she didn't exactly enjoy the run of the race. The suspicion remains that she is capable of better but she does have that to prove now.
At Sandown's next meeting, Yorker (7/4) proved surprisingly easy to back given the amount he appeared to have in hand on official ratings and that unease proved justified as he missed out by a neck in a driving finish. He still holds his entry in the Champion Stakes and connections may feel that it is a shot to nothing but he didn't exactly advertise his claims with this display for all that the drop back to a mile may not have been ideal.
Qatar Man (2/1) did improve from his debut but still couldn't get the job done back at Chelmsford when going down by half a length. Connections should be able to find a race for him but he will be priced accordingly.
There will be a gradual shift over to the jumpers so you will still be able to find the Flat runners in the Notebook here and a few of those in the list do hold entries for the next few days.
They will gradually be replaced by their 'winter brethren' and I will be back, I imagine, in around a month or so with an update on their progress.