TWO RUNNERS AT CATTERICK ON WEDNESDAY.
We have two runners at Catterick on Wednesday, with Graham Lee taking both mounts. First up in the 1.20pm is Rockcliffe, who runs in the one mile, and six furlongs, 0-55 handicap.The trip, track, and predicted Good ground are all plus points, but the jury is out, whether he still has the pace as a seven year old to go toe to toe with his younger rivals on the flat, in what looks a very competitive race for the grade.
Our other runner is Quoteline Direct who goes in the 4.20pm. He was a revelation when sent jumping last November, earning an official mark of 118,which makes his flat mark of just 56 look very attractive.He has raced twice since racing resumed, both times at Beverley over their stiff 12 furlongs, proving that he stays the trip.This is his first time in a 0-55,a race which looks slightly weaker than the other two he has raced in, so far this season.
Good luck to the connections, RM&T, S Toomes, J Hill & Partners, and JFW Properties Ltd.
Rockliffe arrived at Oakwood Stables in the Autumn of 2016, having already had a very busy career with the Mick Channon yard, racing 5 times as a 2 year old, and then a further 14 races at 3, in the space of 8 months. His sole success came over 1 mile and 2 furlongs at Bath off a mark of fifty five, in the May of his 3 year old season.
He made his debut for us over hurdles at Ludlow, finishing 4th, showing aptitude for the discipline. This was followed by 2 quick runs on the flat, where it looked like the exertions of a long season had caught up with him, and he went off for his winter break.
He returned at Pontefract the following April, finishing 6th of the fourteen runners, and perhaps looking in the grip of the handicapper, over the course of his next 5 races the handicapper did relent, but Rockliffe still couldn't get competitive.
We decided to drop him in to a seller at Ripon, and that saw him finish 2nd to his stablemate Calypso Delegator. He then returned to hurdles, but the soft ground he encountered didn't suit, so he had a short break until the following February. On his return, and from a handy looking mark of 82, he won up at Musselburgh, he then followed up at Sedgefield after another 2 month break. He was now at the top of his game, being placed in his next three races, under both codes.
It was December 18th, 2018 at Catterick which will always stick in my memory, stepping up to 2 miles and 4 furlongs for the first time, everything just fell into place for Rockliffe. As usual the brave and admirable Danceintothelight set a very strong pace, setting the race up for a finisher, and under Amie Waugh, Rockliffe, who had been travelling well throughout, breezed to the front, it was just one of those races, nothing else appeared to run it's race, and Rockcliffe looked like a horse who should have been running in two grades higher. In subsequent races under both codes he has failed to reproduce that run, but is now well handicapped again. Watch out for him on good ground, because he does know how to win.
Quoteline Direct is one of our long time residents, having joined the team after being purchased at the Doncaster Breeze Up Sales back in 2015. He couldn't have made a better start to his career, as he made a winning debut at Pontefract at 22-1, a venue he would visit many more times over the years. He was highly tried in his next two races running respectably in the nursery at the Ebor meeting, and then finishing 3rd in a conditions race at Redcar.
It took him 5 races to get off the mark as a 3 year old, at Thirsk, he actually finished 2nd, but was later awarded the race as the winner was disqualified because of testing positive. He ended his 3 year old season by finishing 3rd after being denied a clear run on his first attempt on the All Weather at Wolverhampton.
As a 4 year old and now running over his optimum trip of 10 furlongs, from marks in the low sixties he won once and was placed 4 times from 9 starts. His golden period occurred the following year when winning twice at Pontefract, and placed a further four times, taking his rating from sixty two to seventy five.
This past flat season he has struggled with his rating, but still made the frame on 6 occasions.Then in November of last year when approaching his 7th birthday it was decided that it might be worth having a spin over hurdles. Having 8 flights in front of him has given him new zest, despite refusing to settle and pulling very hard like an inexperienced 2 year old he finished 2nd of sixteen at Catterick. Back at the same track on New Years Day he proved that initial run wasn't a fluke by being placed, but once again he threw his chance away by taking too strong a hold.His latest run at Sedgefield was more of the same, finishing a solid 3rd, and probably bettering the form of those Catterick runs.
Quoteline Direct has proved to be a real surprise package over hurdles, but it hasn't gone unnoticed by the handicapper who has given him a mark of 118. A novice hurdle must be there for the taking once he settles, and if he can transfer his jump form back to the flat, then we have plenty of options.