KELSO – Sunday October 8th
Going – Good (Good To Soft in places) – Seemed Good all round to me. A Going Stick reading was given as 7.0, but since that was taken at 16:00 on Saturday must be of questionable value.
Kelso gets back into the swing of things after the ‘Kelso-lite’ introduction via the September twilight which I missed due to other commitments.
A pleasant enough day and a decent crowd looking to be well in excess of 3,000 in attendance. The sun was out for the first few races and then conveniently disappeared before proving a problem as it got lower. The ground seemed more for less perfect and my impression was of good ground throughout. Drainage work hasn’t taken place after the turn for home, an area that has turned a bit gooey on occasion in recent times.
1.35 2m (96-117)Handicap Hurdle (Division 1)
The most competitive of the handicap hurdles on the afternoon, with a number of horses at or near their best. Brian Ellison’s NEWSTART just prevailed in a blanket finish, staying on from two out and having a little more in reserve.
MARTILA was second on seasonal debut, will come on for this run and can make a mark in a grade higher class in time.
DESERT ISLAND DUSKL is decent at this level when on his game. He was thereabouts from three out and saw his race out to the line.
SUPERIOR COMMAND made significant progress to the last and kept on to the line. This run will have helped his fitness.
PRINCE KHURRAM is a sound marker and more or less ran to his form, fading to a close fifth on the run-in.
Jean MacGregor has struggled to find competitive horses in recent times, but in SIERRA OSCAR she may have one that can win a race. He got to the heels of the leaders going to the last but could find no more.
2.05 2m (96-117) Handicap Hurdle (Division 2)
A weaker division than the first race, but won by a lightly raced sort that can progress from here. PICTURE PAINTER just got the better of a prolonged battle with a determined front runner. He weaved about a bit under pressure, but has the right attitude and is going the right way.
DANCEINTOTELIGHT set off a decent pace and saw off all but the winner by the run-in, and even then didn’t go down without a serious battle. A good front running ride from Abbie McCain who is a useful jockey to have on your side with an allowance and against fellow amateurs.
ALPHABETICAL ORDER finished a respectable third on return to hurdling after 3 year break.
DARK AND DANGEROUS was up there to two out, but seems in the grip of the handicapper.
ASUM ran well for a way but was reported as bleeding from the nose.
2.40 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
A very interesting contest, the leading pair duelling to come well clear of their rivals.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS, a decent winner of two bumpers, proved stronger of the leading pair in the closing stages. He came away encouragingly on the flat and Kevin Ryan has a decent novice on his hands, one that can go on with this run behind him. He first caught my eye when sluicing up in a bumper at Musselburgh in January. Bred to win a sprint, but he showed no signs of stopping at the end of two miles here though I suspect he will be kept to decent ground.
SOME REIGN will have benefitted from the outing and put it to the winner up the straight. Marginally outpointed he will doddle a similar event with this run behind him.
BAL DE RIO ran a perfectly respectable race to take third and will find an easier opportunity.
Although looking over-rated at an official 134, BULKOV does at least set the standard and ran a fair race in fourth, if left behind from two out. His true level looks somewhere in the 110-115 area, so needs a serious drop to be competitive in handicaps.
KELPIES MYTH tried to match the first four but dropped away before two out. He will come on for the outing.
The rest were running in a different race, but TEMPLE MAN stayed on in the closing stages without ever getting into the contest. He showed promise in bumpers and can step up significantly on this in time.
3.15 2m 7.5f Class 4 Novices’ Chase.
A weakly contested novices’ chase, and on the face of it a likely doddle for POINT THE WAY. It turned out far from the case though. The winner doesn’t impress as a looker, and a note of caution was raised by admittedly light bandages on his forelegs. The second put it to him going to the last and he hit the fence, but held enough in reserve to prevail. One to be a little wary of under a penalty.
AN LAOCH made a most encouraging chasing debut. Travelling well three out he put it to the winner from two out and only gave way on the run-in. He lost a front shoe which won’t have helped and seems to have found his game over fences.
ROBINTHEAULAD had every chance but gave the impression he was getting the worst of the argument when falling four out. The jury is out though he has ability.
WSTEND THEATRE is an ordinary performer but completed in his own time.
HERE COMES LOVE is a poor maiden but pootled round for fourth prize, left behind from the tenth fence.
3.50 2m 5f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
COOLE HALL confirmed the promise of his Perth debut just holding off MAYO STAR, the pair a few lengths clear. They both look fair novices at this stage and will stay competitive in similar class in the north.
BESTARIUS wasn’t as far forward as some Nicky Richards runners can be. He ran a respectable race in third, outpaced from before the last but keeping on to the line.
WIDE AWAKE has been difficult to train but showed a degree of promise on this occasion. Held up at the rear, then tapped for pace three out, he made significant progress from the home bend before flattening out approaching the last. There’s just a hint that patience may be rewarded for enthusiastic owners Midnight Racing Club.
4.20 2m 1f (127-154) Handicap Chase
Probably one of the best if not the best short distance handicap chase to be run in the North this autumn.
FOREST BIHAN was a decent novice last year, second in a Grade 1 at Aintree, and continued on an upward curve. Taking up the running after two out he saw his race out well to the line. He’s on the fringe of the top class and may need to be cannily placed this year but will likely take his place in Grade 1 chases over two miles.
SIMPLY NED is handicapped to his mark now, but he’s a trier and stuck to his task on the flat, as last year closing to the line in second. Presumably Nicky Richards will be looking out for the better two mile handicap chases but tyhey are few and far between.
THEFLYINGPORTRAIT won this last year and performed admirably ‘defending his title’. Disputing or leading from the start, he was headed two out but didn’t give way easily.
ROCK ON ROCKY had a tough task but kept on to take fourth place some way behind the first three. This was a decent enough effort and he will have his chances dropped in class.
DOUBLE W’s weakened from two out and could be a bit high in the handicap after a successful spring campaign.
JUST CAMERON never got into a challenging position in the last mile, WISTY didn’t look comfortable being taken on for the lead and ALAMEIN struggled in this decent class.
4.50 2m 5f (79-107) Handicap Hurdle (Division 1)
A race lacking horses in form horses and not a great contest for Class 4.
CRAIG STAR boasted the best recent form here, twice a winner in Ireland last year and there or thereabouts in most race recently. He came clear from two out with only a loose horse for company, getting a bump from that animal on the run-in. Note sure that the winner achieved an awful lot here and if he goes up a fair chunk he may struggle.
REIVERS LODGE kept on to finish a clear second best and is competitive at this level, though remains a novice.
CASTLEOWEN showed moderate form last season after moving from France. He led two out before weakening approaching the last. The race will have brought him on and it’s encouraging that he got competitive here.
IT’S PANDORAMA was there two out but held afterwards and is plenty high enough in the handicap.
JUSTATENNER came down at the third, but was the loose horse pestering the winner and does at least seem to have a competitive streak. That is encouraging from a horse that hadn’t shown a lot since moving to Barry Murtagh from Colin Tizzard.
5.20 2m 5f (78-107) Handicap Hurdle (Division 2)
This division looked even weaker than the first. The winner has been difficult to make progress with but the two lightly raced horses in behind offered some encouragement.
Nick Alexander’s patience with BENNY’S SECRET as rewarded. This one was on my list to follow as a novice but has been adept at avoiding winning for the most part. Given a peach of a waiting ride by Lucy Alexander, Benny’s Secret showed sufficient resolution on the run-in to hold on close home. Not an obvious one for a follow up.
JUST CHILLY is a lightly raced sort that had shown some glimmers of form. He coped well with the step up in trip, holding every chance from two out and just held on the run to the post. Her trainer can squeeze a similar contest out of her off a mark which is unlikely to move much from the 78 here.
CHAPEL STILE ran acceptably well on fourth hurdles run. He has found his level and will be competitive in similar contests around this trip.
ROMULUS DU DONJON had a chance but was held before the last and doesn’t look particularly well treated currently.
BETANCOURT could follow up handicap debut win under a penalty, fading from two out having been in touch up to that point.