Saturday, 8 December 2018

Musselburgh - First December Meeting

MUSSELBURGH - Monday December 3rd

Graciously granted one day off work in December aside from the christmas holidays I didn't wish to waste it and took myself along to Musselburgh for their first December fixture.

A rather sombre end to the day as we found that four horses had perished during the meeting. The four died under different circumstances, Kensuke's Kingdom broke down after the finish, Smart Ruler had a heart attack, Sierra Oscar went wrong after three out, and Leatherbelly seemed to suffer a serious leg break on the home turn. No particular reason to link the four but nevertheless a tough day for the course and the sport. The course sadly didn't keep us up to date with the fate of Kensuke's Kingdom after announcing that the vet was attending the horse on the track. I did tweet when I spotted the horse ambulance attending but the great unwashed are apparently not worthy of news on a horse's well being, be it good or bad.

A low quality card so I will concentrate on just a few markers for the future.

GLENLORA led for a long way in the staying novices' hurdle before fading to finish fourth of four finishers. Showed enough promise to suggest Sandy Thomson can find a race for her in time. Not sure if there's a mares only staying novice programmed in the coming weeks but Glenlora would have a chance.

THOMAS TODD stayed on encouragingly to win the staying novices' handicap chase. A winner of a maiden point, he didn't seem a stand-out, but his manner of victory suggested more to come. SIMONE is my 'follow over a cliff' horse and the mare was once again very weak when push came to shove having jumped well in front to four out.

LIFE KNOWLEDGE led for a long way in the Class 5 two mile handicap hurled. He looked a bit headstrong, but kept on admirably once passed by Spin Of A Coin. Twice a flat winner but lightly raced over hurdles, it wouldn't be out of the question that he could land a similar contest.

NENDRUM was clear and had the 2m 4f Class 4 handicap hurdle at his mercy when stepping at two out and coming down. He's a tad frustrating but has won before, goes well here and there should be a race to be won with him soon.

The four runner bumper looked an interesting event but was marred by the horrible injury suffered by poor Leatherbelly. The first two are worth following and YES NO MAYBE SO forged clear from WEAPONS OUT in the final furlong. Breeding and make up suggest both can turn into jumpers.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Horses to Follow - National Hunt

Here's my list of horses to follow over the winter. I published this on The Racing Forum last week and first results were disappointing last weekend, but with rain now arriving I suspect many will get their conditions.

ACDC (Chris Grant)
Marked down as one for the stamina test handicap in the North, but threw a curve ball when winning over 2m 3f at Wetherby recently. That said the trainer is aiming at the Scottish National long term.

BETTER GETALONG (Nicky Richards)
Progressive last season but found Grade 1 company too tough at Aintree. Rated 138 and could make a mark in decent handicap hurdles or in novice chases.

BIG BAD DREAM (Donald Whillans)
Starts off in hurdles this season after showing promise in bumpers without winning. Long term he will make a staying chaser but can make a mark in hurdles when stamina is at a premium.

BLACK PIRATE (James Ewart)
Comfortably won a couple of bumpers before running a very creditable second in a decent event at Ayr in April. Very interesting novice hurdle prospect for the Langholm yard

CLOUDY DREAM (Donald McCain)
There or thereabouts in decent company last season if just falling short at Grade 1 and 2 level. If his trainer is canny as a non-winner last season there will be events available where weight conditions are favourable.

CRIXUS’S ESCAPE (Gillian Boanas)
The trainer has taken over the Reveley yard and has a very interesting prospect. Winner of a maiden then a novice event at Hexham this one starts on a workable mark in handicaps.

CUCKOO’S CALLING (Keith Dalgleish)
Won a couple of bumpers last autumn. Fell a bit short of the mark on the Flat subsequently, but there are soft opportunities in the mares/fillies’ only division in the north and she can win races over hurdles. 

DALI MAIL (Donald Whillans)
Doddle up in a Kelso bumper in February having run a creditable third to a nice sort on previous outing. Raced keenly and well held when upped to Grade 2 at Aintree, but has shown enough to suggest novice hurdles are well within his compass.

DONNA’S DELIGHT (Sandy Thomson)
Winning novice hurdler last season and thereabouts on each run. Could go be a handicap hurdler this season with chasing the long term goal for this brother to a fair staying chaser Knockanrawley.

HIGHLAND HUNTER (Lucinda Russell)
Winner of a Kelso bumper and then not totally disgraced when a bit keen in Grade 2 company at Aintree. Looks a ready made hurdles winner.

IDEE DE GARDE (Nicky Richards)
Won nicely in a bumper at Ayr in January. A nice individual who should pay his way in novice hurdle company.

NORTHERN SOUL (Ruth Jefferson)
Not hurried last season as Ruth took over on the passing of her father. The type to make a mark in novice hurdles in the coming months. Had the better of a prolonged scrap with Legal Eyes at Market Rasen, and that sort of competition is no harm in a young horse’s education.

NUTS WELL (Ann Hamilton)
A decent performer who has rather gone under the radar. Impressed when forging clear on the run-in from some decent opponents at Kelso on return recently. That was on quick ground but he goes just as well in heavy and will be competitive in minimum distance handicap chases.

OFF THE HOOK (Nick Alexander)
Ran second three times over hurdles and remains a maiden. Has ability and should land a race or two in maiden/novice hurdle company. Has raced at minimum trip to date, handling heavy going well enough.

SAINT LEO (Sandy Thomson)
Lightly raced Ray Anderson Green purchase from France. Won last season over fences so not a novice and hence may need careful placing, but this youngster is likely to prove a decent acquisition.

SLANELOUGH (Rose Dobbin)
A decent performer over hurdles for the last two seasons and showed promise on chasing debut at Carlisle when fourth behind useful animals. Should have no trouble landing a novice chase in the coming months.

TESTIFY (Donald McCain)
Impressive in winning small field chases before disappointing in bigger fields. Worth a chance this season as he is on a workable handicap mark.

Quickly stepped up to chasing after progressing throughout last season. Was last of five on chasing debut at Carlisle but that was a tough race, stable runners have tended to need the run this season and still showed sufficient promise to suggest chase wins are not far away.

TAXMEIFYOUCAN (Keith Dalgleish)
Useful dual purpose animal, winner of a Class 2 handicap on the flat in 2017 and not disgraced over hurdles in Class 2 company. His trainer is a decent placer of his horses and can win a handicap or two with a lightly raced hurdler.

UPTOWN FUNK (Keith Dalgleish)
Good ground performer and lightly raced over hurdles. Recorded his hurdles win at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day and one to keep an eye out for at the free draining East Lothian circuit over the winter.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Back for 2018-19 - Kelso 'Halloween Meeting'

KELSO – Saturday October 27th

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

I’ve had quite a few things on in recent months involved with work, Rotary Club, Young Enterprise and home stuff so haven’t been able to update. I hope to make more time in the coming weeks and have a few meetings lined up as the Scottish jumps season gets into full swing.

A bright but chilly day at Kelso. The cold had really bitten by the last race and there were no more than a handful atop the roof for the closing event.

The ground was generally good all the way round, a few quicker patches, particularly down the side of the course, though my heel made a mark in most places and there’s a lush covering of grass. Wind was very chilly and pretty much across from the right heading up the straight.

1.50 2m Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

As a hurdles event this was not strong, but there are a few to take forward as chasers of the future and there may be a minor hurdle or tow to be landed.

The winner GOLDENCARD is viewed as a long term chasing prospect but had speed enough to see these off. Setting the pace, Brian Hughes wound things up from three out and nothing got to him. The winner is likely to contest a novice hurdle under a penalty and will then be put away awaiting the good ground in the spring.

THELONGWAYAROUND is a nice chasing sort with a bit of developing still to do. He chased vainly after the leader from two out but held a clear second place and a step up in trip will do no harm.

STAROZOV from Jackie Stephen’s stable can be made fitter. He was tapped for speed from three out but was by no means disgraced and saw his race out. This was an encouraging start as was that of stablemate CAPTAIN KURT who fairly rattled home in the closing stages under hands and heels.

2.25 2m 7½f Novices’ Handicap Chase (Class 4)

KING GOLAN dominated an event over a shorter distance here last time and once again was unchallenged. Given an uncontested lead he once again jumped accurately and had plenty to spare once asked to kick on in the final straight. He’ll go up a fair bit for this, but if able to dominate in similar fashion can pick up another race or two.

Those others with form didn’t particularly encourage and there was plenty of scruffy jumping. BOCASIEN DESBOIS kept on but got no closer to winner than last time.

ST QUINTIN showed a modicum of promise in third place on chase debut after a stable swap and long lay-off. He will presumably be kept on good ground and is not a totally lost cause.

3.00 3m 2f Handicap Chase (Class 2)

This was a weak Class 2 event.

DANDY DAN ploughed through the second fence and didn’t treat the next with an awful lot of respect. However, he was putting the leader under pressure when the latter came down two out. Dandy Dan is a five-year-old novice with plenty of promise going forward and saw out this trip most convincingly.

RED GIANT was aiming a little higher after being unfortunate in missing out at Sedgefield. He jumped round well enough but was found for pace in the last half mile.

I JUST KNOW may need it softer but set a far tempo in front. He was under the pump but still leading when totally misjudging the ditch two out. He led the National until coming down at Becher’s in April and presumably that would be his target in 2019.

LOFGREN made mistakes, never got into the contest and was tailed off when pulled up two out.

3.35 2m Handicap Hurdle (Class 4)

The curse of the low sun struck with the two hurdles in the straight omitted. That aside the second last is at a completely different angle from the last in current arrangement and I do wonder if that could have been kept in. In the event the race turned into a four furlong sprint from the last.

IOLANI is in good heart and battled determinedly to hold off challengers to record a narrow win. He’ll go up a bit for this, though it’s hardly jump form and he shouldn’t, but can make it four in there’s not too much rain.

LITTLE STEVIE ran as well as he has done for ages in second. DESERT ISLAND DUSK is often thereabouts in this company and a rooftop regular landed the place part of 40/1 each-way which would rank as one of the better bets of the autumn.

4.10 2m 1f Handicap Chase (Class 4)

Reasons to oppose all of these and four still had a chance two out. Plenty of faffing about before start as various parties discussed the low sun which was deemed not a problem as cloud started to provide some cover.

MIDDLEBROW is a weak finisher but got left in front as runners came to the end of their tether. He just held on after a renewed challenge from CIVIL UNREST who is performing well for a veteran, and has that ability to keep on to the line that James Ewart’s horse demonstrate.

CHAIN OF BEACONS looked the likely winner at the last but ran out of steam close home on return from a wind operation. The run won’t have done him any harm and he has a generally positive profile results wise in recent times.

VENGEUR DE GUYE was run out of it from two out and needs softer ground.

SUDSKI STAR resented being taken on for the lead and was struggling from four out.

4.40 2m 5f Handicap Hurdle (Class 4)

ONE NIGHT IN MILAN stayed on well to follow up his Thursday Carlisle win. Keith Dlagleish is a trainer that can continue to exploit this one’s upward profile.

SOMETHING BREWING ran creditably in second and would have every chance of picking up a similar contest, while GREEN ZONE had his chance approaching the last and appeared to run to his level.

BUCKLED set the pace but couldn’t respond once passed two out and BIG TIME DANCER was similarly outpaced from that point.

5.15 3m 2f Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 4)

There was a farce at the start of this race. WYFIELD ROSE planted herself and it was quite clear she wasn’t interested in racing, yet the starter let them go without any apparent efforts to withdraw. The BHA Stewards offered a statement afterwards on Twitter (and in the Stewards Report) that Wyfield Rose was deemed a runner. If these are the rules then the rules stink and if I’d backed the errant animal then I would be furious. My comment to this effect on Twitter was ignored by @BHAStewards.

CHANCEITON showed up well in points for Lucinda Russell last term and came with a nicely timed run to lead before the last and win a shade cosily. This one will continue to make hay where stamina is at a premium.

DAVID JOHN looked to have seen off allcomers until challenged on the run to the last and lost very little in defeat. This was a significant step up on stable debut three weeks ago.

 HANDY HOLLOW ran a sound race close up in third with the remainder well seen off.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Fife Hunt Point-to-Point 2018

BALCORMO MAINS (Fife Hunt Point-to-point) – Saturday April 28th 2018

Going: Good, Good to Soft in places

This meeting has struggled with field sizes in recent years but, with decent ground prevailing, this year we were blessed with better field sizes and competitive contests. The weather was fine, if a just a little chilly, and an excellent attendance. There were notably more non-racing attractions present than in previous years, giving my wife a chance to spend a bit of money!

For those that don’t know the Balcormo circuit it has 7 fences per circuit with one open ditch, the terrain rising and falling gently. The standard race distance is around 3m 2f.

2.00 3m 2f NPPA Conditions Race

Seven runners from nine entries in the first was a promising start to the afternoon, and of the two non-runners one ran at Perth on Friday and other later in this card.

This contest gave locally trained CHANCEITON a good opportunity to build on a sound performance when second in the Buccleuch Cup at Kelso. Consistent all season, the 7 year old gelding recorded a third win racing prominently and kicking on from three out to win with a bit in hand. Lucinda Russell could keep this one as her pointer, but he suggests sufficient ability to make a mark in moderate company under Rules.
FRANKIE’S PROMISE was a hurdles winner in 2014, rather disappointing since but showing a bit more zip on this occasion. He made one or two slow jumps but was up there most of the way, unable to match the winner from three out but not disgraced.
WHITEABBEY race up with the pace early but couldn’t match the first two from three out. She won three small field races in 2015 but finds one or two too good in more competitive company.
ANOTHER DARK RUM struggles these days but was in touch until predictably left behind in the last half mile.
Veteran CRAZY DIAMOND was coming off a two year break. At his best he would have been bang there but lack of sharpness told one the last circuit and he came home in his own time.
ROYAL CHATELIER struggled to keep in touch after the first few fences and was pulled up before three out. He would be better with more cut though is another now at the veteran stage.
MILANS WELL won handicap chases in his younger days but looks a back number these days. He was struggling down the far side for the last time and pulled up before three out.

2.30 3m 2f Restricted

This looked a weak contest, the winner having shown very little this term.

EXIT TEN harried the leader from two out and got in front close home. He won on good ground at Corbridge suggesting this is his surface.
AFTERCLASS  led or disputed all the way but was run out of it in the final 100 yards. This was a significant step up on recent efforts.
LEFT BACK proved slow under Rules, but has progressed in the pointing field. On that basis third was a tad disappointing, not helped by his tendency to go left at his fences and wide round the right-handed bends. He was disputing two out but gave that one a thump and couldn’t get back to the first two after that. He does have age on his side.
SOUND BARRIER was outpaced from the fourteenth and has been out of sorts this season.
POETIC PRESENCE has been well held in moderate Rules contests (hurdles rating of 79 at best) and found this company too tough from four out.

3.00 3m 2f Intermediate

Unfortunately this was declared ‘no race’ as two entries had run in earlier contests and the third didn’t turn up.

At a meeting which is always going to be battling against a comparatively small horse population in the area. With Gemma Cochrane now working in Ireland there’s only  Nick Alexander training a string of pointers in Fife along with the odd one or two that Lucinda Russell keeps on the go. In general field sizes are dependent on runners from the Southern Counties of Scotland and any English raiders. It’s a struggle to provide six races with conditions sufficient different to guarantee they will fill, so it’s probably a bonus that the other five races filled well enough.

3.30 3m 2f Mixed Open

A race sponsored by Pentland Land Rover providing the biggest prize purse ever for an Open at a Scottish point, so a field of 6 was disappointing from what looked a strong initial entry.

Despite some slow jumps, hurdles winner NICKI’S NIPPER was produced late by Aimee Waugh to win this contest on pointing debut. Rated 102 over fences at best she probably ran near that mark here in conditions which suited.
THOMOND was on my Horses To Follow list under Rules this season but has been disappointing since a move to Fife from Noel Meade. He was sixth in the 2017 Topham Trophy but hasn’t matched that since and should have won this if he was near his best. He has become frustrating and couldn’t resist the winner from two out.
VIACOMETTI was outpaced going to two out and could only stick on at one pace. He came here off a break awaiting the ground and might be one to look out for in a similar event in the last few weeks of the season.
ALLTHEKINGSHORSES led and kicked on from the tenth, but was headed four out and weakened. He’s been out of sorts this season but does seem to raise his game a bit when visiting Balcormo.
SAFARI JOURNEY struggles to see out the trip and was feeling the pinch when depositing Aaron Anderson on the turf three out.
ROLLING THUNDER, a chase winner for Donald McCain, was in the mix when falling heavily two out. After a minute or two he rose to cheers from the crowd. He clearly retains ability and, assuming the fall has no lasting effect, can win an Open.

4.00 2m 4f PPORA Club Members’ Conditions Race

The biggest field of the day pitched up for the ‘short trip’ Conditions Race, those not standing their ground from the original 15 having either run in other races here or at Perth.

TAMBOUR MAJOR led or disputed, pushed on from the eighth and resisted a stern challenge from the last fence. Ground and trip suited well here as the winner returned to his best from after a couple of lack lustre runs this term.
NINE ALTARS played up at the start and was left well adrift. Charlotte Dun let him ease his way into the race on the second circuit but he didn’t have enough in the locker to get past the winner. This looked a missed opportunity.
ROSSINI’S DANCER would have taken this comfortably at his best, but he just lacks the pace these days though keeping on for third from two out.
THE ICE FACTOR was outpaced from three out but probably ran to his form.
UP TO AL disputed for much of the way but gave way from four out.
I didn’t note the finishing order but MR ROBINSON and ALLERTON never got seriously involved and finished well behind, while ROSKEEN BOY was well behind in the final mile.
RAFTIERI is desperately slow and should have been pulled up. As it was he tried to refuse at the last but was forced to jump almost from standstill, just clambering over against the wing. He hasn’t been competitive for ages and ‘racing’ him serves no purpose these days.

430 3m 2f Open Maiden

Difficult to know what to make of this race as the leaders hared off in front and the first three were waited with.
TRELIVER MANOR raced most prominently of the first three to finish. Age is not on his side but he might conceivably step up a grade. Settled third, he disputed at the fifteenth and held off a late challenge.
ROYAL FLUSH looks basically a non-stayer but benefitted from a canny ‘super-waiting race’ under Aaron Anderson, making rapid progress through tiring rivals to challenge the winner on the flat. I suspect this just fell for him and I would be wary of expecting a repeat.
FLOWER BALL kept on steadily for third. He’s only six, there is reason to expect better in time and he may be favoured by softer ground.
BURNETTS JOINT is a big old boat who gets around in his own time. He doesn’t truly see out three mile trips.
CAHERELLY was a long way behind from halfway. He has shown glimmers of ability on occasion, but this was not encouraging.
CARRICKCROSS BOYE is headstrong and led at too quick a pace for his own good. The petrol ran out with a circuit to go and he pulled up before the fourteenth.
CHOIX DE L’AMOUR was the only one to try to match the leader and disputed from the sixth into the final circuit. He faded quickly from the fifteenth and was pulled up.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Kelso - First April Meeting welcomes ITV Racing

KELSO – Saturday April 7th 2018
Going – 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 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.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Horses To Follow - March Update

With a lull due to the snowy weather it gives a chance to catch up with Horses To Follow performances to date:

BAL DE RIO – L, L, L – A tad frustrating to date but has plenty of ability and can find a race, possibly on good ground.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS – w4/6, w2/5, w7/1 – I’m not sure some have cottoned on to how good this one is. Beat the southern challengers on soft ground that wouldn’t have shown him at his best at Musselburgh. Very decent.
BIGIRONONHISHIP – L – Faded to a stand still on the run in over 3m 2f at Carlisle with no report of an ailment, so presumably his stamina gave out in testing going.
BIG RIVER – w11/5, L, L, w6/4 – Heart problems earlier in the season, but looked back to his best recently. Entered in the RSA at Cheltenham but more significantly in the Midlands National.
CELTIC FLAMES – L, L, w5/2, L, L, L – Made a very promising chasing debut when winning at Hexham, but below that in the main since. However, should have won at Musselburgh but for a misjudgement by Derek Fox and there is a staying chase iwn in him.
CLOUDY DREAM – L, L ,L,L – A twilight animal consistently finding one too good. Presumably aimed at the Ryanair at Cheltenham but once again there will probably be noe or two too good.
COCKLE BAY – Not yet run
FAGAN – L – Run behind Black Corton doesn’t look half as bad as I thought and he will be waiting for good ground.
FLY RORY FLY – Yet to appear for his new stable
JONNIESOFA – w 11/4, L –A very promising novice chaser. Well held in a 3 runner ebvent at Haydock, but that course in a bog is no fun.
JUST MINDED – L, L, L, L – Running as if he has a problem.
LADY SAMBACK – Entered once but withdrawn due to the state of the ground.
PLANET NINE – L, L, L, w11/2, w3/1 – Has come into his own when presented with a stamina test
SIMONE – L,L – Well below par at Musselburgh last time and jury is out right now.
SOME REIGN – L, w1/2, L, L, L – Another graduate of ‘that contest’ at Kelso. Won well next time but not reached that level since and temperament is a question.
TESTIFY – w11/4, w5/2 w8/15 – Very useful novice chaser who has gone under the radar a bit. Five entries at Cheltenham and worth an interest in his chosen engagement as he has done nothing wrong to date.
THOMOND – L, L – Below expectations in two hunter chases and a point. That said, he has been one who has popped in an unexpected decent performance in the past so not a lost cause.
TOTAL ASSETS – L,L,L,L – Not running badly but handicapper may have her measure. That said she goes well at Kelso and there will be opportunities at the Borders course.
WAITING PATIENTLY – w4/5, w13/8, w2/1 – Saw off a class field at Ascot, including a most determined Cue Card, and looks as good a chaser as has come out of the North for some years. If the ground is soft and he turns up for the Ryanair would take some beating.
WEYMSS POINT – L, w7/1, L – Won well at Wetherby and not disgraced under a penalty when third there next time.

Runs - 52
Wins – 18 (34.6%)
Returns – 60.22 (115.8%)

Very pleasing win percentage and returns to date. Good that there are a few good ground horses for the spring.

I've been a bit out of the loop recently so haven't been able to post any meeting reports. Kelso was lost yesterday but the hope is to stage the meeting next Sunday. Even a slight temperature rise has started to shift the snow here in fife so fingers crossed the game up here will be back on the og by next weekend.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Early January - Horses To Follow and Kelso

PLANET NINE was a fair third at Catterick yesterday. It’s taken time this season but the penny is starting to drop over hurdles.

On Saturday WAITING PATIENTLY puts his unbeaten chasing record on the line against the likes of Josses Hill, Smad Place and God’s Own at Kempton. This one is on the way up and probably better than his current 156 rating giving him every chance here.

BIG RIVER takes in the Listed Novices Chase at Warwick. Presumably back on track after his heart scare, Lucinda Russell’s gelding would have every chance if at his best.

The weather forecast is favourable so we should be back at Kelso on Sunday after losing the two December meetings to frost.

COOLE HALL looks a class better than the others in the opening staying novices’ hurdle.

Of the list horses SOME REIGN has his chance in the two mile novices’ hurdle, but after refusing to race at Musselburgh he came up short last time. At his best he can win this.

Two decent races on the card with a Class 2 two mile handicap hurdle followed by a Class 2 middle distance handicap chase. In the latter contest CARALINE had struggled for a while but made a return to form at Wetherby on Boxing Day and in that form has every chance.

THOMOND makes his debut for the Alexander stable in the hunters’ chase. Only five runners here but all are capable of winning hunter events on their day and it makes for an interesting end to the card.