KELSO – Saturday April 7th 2018Going – Heavy
After a spell of abysmal weather Kelso finally got the northern racing show back on the road. Going was heavy but had at least dried a bit after a couple of days without rain. There were a few soggy patches on the course, though the back straight on the chase wasn’t far short of soft. In general my impression of the ground was that it was holding.There was steady rain for much of the afternoon.
With ITV Racing present the course attracted some decent sponsorship, a 7-race card boasting record total prize money.
1.50 2m 7½f Sue and Harvey Smith Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (115-122)
The smallest field for the televised races, but this was a decent contest with all four having a live chance and the betting market reflecting this.ACDC has proved a fair chaser this season, given tough tasks on occasion but responding well to the challenges set. He was in his element in these testing conditions, travelled well and pulled clear from two out. He is a pleasing chasing sort to the eye and looks cut out for the likes of the Borders National or Eider Chase next season.
JUST GEORGIE led four and rallied when headed but had no answer to the winner. He looks handicapped to his mark at this point.HILLS OF DUBAI was stepped up in trip and didn’t see out the extra distance in the conditions. That said he jumped well in front and should be considered if given a less exacting task next time.
TEDDY TEE is a little bit scrappy over his fences and this is costing him. He looked to be feeling the pinch when sprawling after three out and was understandably pulled up.
2.25 2m totescoop6 Handicap Hurdle (117-139)
KEYBOARD GANGSTER is a headstrong type and had been difficult at Haydock on his previous outing. Callum Whillans did a fine job of keeping him tucked away in the field and having made smooth headway to lead two out he battled hard to hold on. Given the amount of ground he gave away at Haydock last time he may have been well treated off 130 here. He’s lightly raced and there could be more to come if his tearaway side can be held in check.REVERANT CUST was under the pump and going nowhere three out, but Finian O’Toole persisted and his mount made progress under pressure all the way up the straight. He still didn’t look like winning but closed quickly on the run-in to miss out by ¾ of a length. He often hits a flat spot in his races, but does see out his contests.
TAXMEIFYOUCAN chivvied the winner from two out and was just outstayed to the line. This was a decent race for his handicap debut and he comes out of it with much credit. A lightly raced animal to keep on the right side in similar contests.GASSIN GOLF is frustrating and was outpaced before two out. He saw out the contest but is 1 from 27 over hurdles.
MONFASS ran well until weakening on the run-in and deserves his chance in a lesser chance.
TRESHNISH has been well held on the two occasions he has encountered heavy ground.
GOLDEN JEFFREY raced freely and weakened from two out having led to that point.
NIETZSCHE had an apparently easier task that some he has been set of late, but this brought no return to form. He’s never won on heavy and his record suggests just yielding ground sees him at his best.
3.00 3m 2f Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase (127-152)
A classy contest considering it’s festival time in the racing calendar.SMOOTH STEPPER didn’t see out the four miles at Newcastle, but jumped well here and took command from two out.
BAYWING lost nothing in defeat. A blunder two out was his undoing and he couldn’t pick up the winner after that but this was a decent effort after being raised in the weights following success in the Eider Chase.LAKE VIEW LAD was in with a chance when blundering three out. From that point he couldn’t get in a blow but saw out his race to the line. He has done his stable proud this season and will be an interesting sort for them in this level of contest next term.
BLAKEMOUNT had 11 months off and hasn’t quite picked up in two races since returning. He led down the back straight for the final time but gave way from three out.SELDOM INN should perhaps have won more chases than he has, but his jumping can be chancy and some iffy jumps meant he never got in a blow. He’s probably one to keep in mind for small fields though as he wouldn’t be under so much pressure over the obstacles.
YALA ENKI is decent at this level on his day but couldn’t dominate here and was beaten in the straight.CHIC NAME Held a chance until going down on his nose at the thirteenth after which he struggled. He was pulled up along with WILD WEST WIND (decent at best but collecting the alphabet of late), SAMSTOWN (has had a wind op) went well to halfway but lack of hard fitness told after a lay-off and veteran HARRY THE VIKING who didn’t seem to fancy it on this occasion.
3.35 3m 2f Edinburgh Handicap Hurdle (117-146)
KRIS SPIN revelled in these testing conditions, at their worst of the afternoon during this race. He ground out a victory from a determined second with the rest seen off from two out. His record in heavy ground is 2351211 and, most notably, he’s not been out of the first two over hurdles in heavy.DONNA’S DIAMOND had a tough task under top weight here but proved very tenacious, seeing his race out to the line. A Grade 2 winner this season he was by no means disgraced in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. He’s another with a sound record in these conditions.
TAKINGRISKS, who has been chasing since January last year, couldn’t match the first two from three out and inherited third place on the run-in.
ARTHUR’S SECRET ran a brave race, giving way from two out. He was out on his feet after the last and was sensibly eased to walk over the line and dismounted. Apparently none the worse he was presumably just very tired.LASTBUTNOTLEAST made the running for two miles but weakened quickly from two out. He did win a 3-runner chase but his jumping left a bit to be desired no that occasion.
LANDECKER is not the easiest sort at the best times, hated these conditions and was never going. He is a fair performer on his day though and might pop up at a decent price this spring.
4.10 2m 1f Ashleybank Investments Reg and Bettie Tweedie Handicap Chase
CARALINE ran up a sequence two seasons ago and has been near to that form this term. She’s a determined mare and when it became a battle of wills from the last there was only going to be one winner, despite her carrying top weight.VENGEUR DE GUYE isn’t a prolific winner but does run some decent races at this level. He led before the last but was held on the run-in.
CHARLIE SNOW ANGEL ran a creditable race in the lead turning for home and only giving way from two out. There are easier contests at this level.MARTILOO should have been suited by these conditions and is proving a tad frustrating, in general finishing rather weakly after holding chances. She was beaten two out.
OAK VINTAGE led to five out and stayed in touch to three out before the tank registered empty. He can handle this ground but probably needs less testing conditions to be seen at his best.
4.45 2m 5f Belhaven Best Handicap Hurdle (88-114)
HAUL US IN is progressive and made all here, gamely hanging on when pressed from the last hurdle. He’s only been raced on soft or worse and hasn’t been out of the first two in heavy ground.ROAD TO GOLD had struggled over fences, but kept on well enough here if held in the closing stages on return to hurdling. He was probably unlucky to run into a progressive opponent here and may pick up a race soon if the ground remains soft.
ANOTHER MATTIE was outpaced from three out but stayed on up the hill.MARAWEH (fourth) ran passably well after a spell in the doldrums and will presumably pootle around Perth a time or two this summer for his Tayside owner’s group.
XPO UNIVERSAL was last of the five finishers, but wasn’t disgraced and still in second when a stumble after the last cost him momentum and he was beaten.
5.20 totesport.com Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 5)
Only a small field for this event, a theme of Kelso hunter chases so far this term.
DUHALLOW TORNADO is an exciting addition to the ranks of Northern Hunter Chasers. He led or disputed all the way and kept on more than adequately from the last. I’m not familiar with his jockey Tom Strawson, but he did a very tidy job. The winner is only a 6-year-old and this looks a very interesting combination going forward.LEAVETHELIGHTON was given a very good ride by Charlotte Crane who held on to him until as late as possible but her mount just didn’t have the toe to get past a better animal. His rider has yet to ride a Rules winner but, on this evidence, she shouldn’t have too long to wait.
CULTRAM ABBEY sets the standard but has been finding one or two too good this term. He’s not lost much in defeat though having come up against decent opponents.NINE ALTARS never looked like moving out of last place and was allowed to come home in his own time. I presume we may see this one at Balcormo in 3 weeks time.