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.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Horses to Follow Update

My apologies for not updating the blog in recent weeks. My mother fell ill in mid-November and subsequently passed away so I have been pre-occupied with family matters. 

I hope to be at Kelso on December 29th and get back into the swing of things nito the New Year.

The Horses To Follow list has done quite well to date and below is a summary of performances and prospects:

BAL DE RIO – L – Ran into a decent one in Slanelough at Carlisle. The only prominent finisher yet to win from ‘that race’ at Kelso and is entered at Sedgefield on Boxing Day on a pretty reasonable mark of 115.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS – w4/6, w2/5 – Won at Kelso in a race which has thrown up multiple winners and then sluiced up from a 132 rated animal at Musselburgh. Looks all over a Graded class novice hurdler that I suspect will be kept to better ground.
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 – Put in a sound performance on Kelso debut, but suffered a fibrillating heart on his next outing at Haydock. Presumably recovered after treatment by the vets at the excellent Easter Bush facility as he is entered at Kelso on the 29th December.
CELTIC FLAMES – L, L,  w5/2, L – Made a very promising chasing debut when winning at Hexham, but was well below that form at Newcastle. The latter course can throw up some odd results and I’d give this one another chance.
CLOUDY DREAM – L, L ,L – Three very creditable second places on the face of it, but carried his head at an odd angle when running at Cheltenham. Quoted in the betting for races at various distances at Cheltenham.
COCKLE BAY – Not yet run
FAGAN – L – Put in his place by Black Corton at Cheltenham which was disappointing.
FLY RORY FLY – Yet to appear for his new stable
JONNIESOFA – w 11/4 – Picked up where he left of two seasons ago when jumping like a veteran to win at Carlisle on chasing debut. Entered at Wetherby and Kelso in Christmas week. A very promising novice chaser.
JUST MINDED – L, L – Ran as if there was a problem on last outing and a watching brief is advised at the moment.
LADY SAMBACK – Entered once but withdrawn due to the state of the ground.
PLANET NINE – L, L – A bit one paced over 2m 4f to date but has ability and should step up on this form in time, maybe over three miles.
SIMONE – L – Unlucky to run into a decent mare at Musselburgh, bearing in mind this department is generally weakly contested up here. That said, the effort was step up on Perth form and this one should win soon. Entered at Doncaster and Kelso on December 29th.
SOME REIGN – L, w1/2, L – Another graduate of ‘that contest’ at Kelso. Won well next time before blotting his copybook when refusing to race at Musselburgh recently.
TESTIFY – w11/4, w5/2 – Two decent efforts over fences to date, particularly given that it could be argued he’s run over a distance short of his best. Has beaten decent opponents on both occasions and the McCain stable look to have a very decent novice chaser on their hands.
THOMOND – Yet to appear for his new stable.
TOTAL ASSETS – L – Decent enough effort in a competitive Class 3 chase at Catterick last time and capable of winning a race or two in the coming months against less stiff opposition. Entered at Kelso on December 29th.
WAITING PATIENTLY – w4/5 – Very impressive at Carlisle on seasonal debut and arguably the best northerner chaser ahead of stablemate Cloudy Dream.
WEYMSS POINT – L, w7/1, L – Won well at Wetherby and not disgraced under a penalty when third there next time.

Record to date
WINS 10 (33%)

A good win percentage though prices maybe a little disappointing. Still we are in profit and 33% wins is better than I might have expected.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Kelso: Winning Chase Debut for Big River

KELSO – Saturday October 28th
Going - Good

Turf in superb condition once again for the first autumn Saturday meeting.

The form of the maiden hurdle from the previous meeting first by TEMPLE MAN (5th prev.) who won the first division and then by SOME REIGN ,winner of the second division, who was 3 lengths down to Beyond The Clouds last time. The latter is entered at Wetherby on Saturday in a novice event under a penalty but it will take a very good one to beat him. Looking back to the previous meeting KELPIE'S MYTH (sixth having made much of the running) now comes into the equation as a future winner.
The opening heat including a number of animals that look like long term projects and performed encouragingly at this stage. SILVER BULLION is a big boat of an animal sure to come into his own over fences, but possessed sufficient speed to win a bumper and get involved in a five way battle here.
ECHO EXPRESS is more of a hurdling type and looked the most likely winner until headed virtually on the line and should gain consolation in a run of the mill maiden or novice.
ROCKALZARO was bang there all the way to the line as was the free-going POOKIE PEKAN, a definite chasing type, who was headed two out but battled tenaciously to finish a close fourth.
MOORES NOVELTY looked as if the race might do him some good, but loomed up behind the leaders approaching the last before weakening on the run-in

SOME REIGN had to be ridden out to win his maiden, but was doing very little in front and the distances to the others don’t tell of his superiority. Better to come methinks!
TRESHNISH stayed on nicely for second here and looks one to improve over further with experience.
Lucinda Russell's BIG RIVER impressed on chasing debut, potentially the stable star this season with the enforced absence of Grand National winner One For Arthur. He jumps big and bold and could well contest top level staying novice contests this season. Big River's task was made somewhat easier when Paul Nicholls charge GIVE ME A COPPER jinked sharply at the 'chicane' going away from the second fence and unshipped Sam Bowen. The latter seems a keen going sort.
The other three contestants weren't remotely of the class of the winner by well done to Chris Grant, whose ACDC showed promise on chasing bow, and Kenny Johnson who fielded two to hunt round for 3rd and 4th prize money.

The feature handicap chase was won in comfortable style by Nicholls trained AS DE MEE, but he was probably favoured by the small field and doesn't look totally straight forward. WAKANDA ran a sound race on seasonal debut and will strip fitter for this run, while ASH PARK ran well from out of the weights and will be interesting back in a lower class race. FIRTH OF THE CLYDE had stamina to prove here and wasn’t a factor from the home turn, while THE CLOCK LEARY may be a bit high in the handicap now and struggled in this company.

It was good to see Alistair Whillans's MEADOWCROFT BOY win the two handicap hurdle. He was a 137 performer at best but clearly had problems and raced here off 105. He won well enough to suggest he might have a bit in hand at this level and may be able to follow up.
CIVIL UNREST ran creditably in the second, this 0-117 is his level, and he will have his chances in the coming months. ALIZEE DE JANEIRO stayed on for third place and is another capable at this level on her day and a previous course winner.

The Class 4 2m 7f handicap chase had a selection of contestants with plenty of previous offences to be taken into consideration. I’ve been dismissive of HAVANA JACK in the past, but he has worked his way through the hunter ranks and improved enough to win this race. He rallied well when challenged from the last and Leonard Kerr should take credit for the improvement he has coaxed with this animal.
ACHILL HILL BOY raced prominently and harried the winner from two out. He ploughed through the last and couldn’t get back up to the winner but this was decent effort.
NOTONEBUTTWO isn’t the most consistent animal but does get competitive in this class when things fall right. Good thing is that he often starts at a fancy price (33/1 here) and can be worth a little interest where there’s nothing progressive to latch on to.
DOKTOR GLAZ got no nearer than chasing the leaders from two out.
FRENCH SEVENTYFIVE led or disputed to four out and, though held, didn’t completely throw in the towel from four out. He was 10lbs wrong here and if he could perform like this would have a chance in a Class 5 event.
MO ROUGE was out the back most of the way and is not enamoured with steeplechasing.

The card finished with two divisions of a 2m 6f 0-105 handicap hurdle not strong in depth and the results favoured those at the top end of the weights. BUCKLED held off TOO MANY CHIEFS in the first heat, both having won in similar company last term, with the veteran BESCOT SPRINGS showing he retains some ability in third place. The second heat was dominated by less exposed animals at the top of the weights, consistent REIVERS LODGE coming clear from CHAPEL STILE, with CEEGEM staying on for third having been outpaced. If I was taking one from the two heats it would be the latter, though the form looks no better than average for the class.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

An Exciting Novice Hurdler at Sedgefield

SEDGEFIELD - Wednesday October 25th

A fairly standard autumn card at Sedgefield but one or two interesting pointers and one potential star.

The star act is clearly the Brian Ellison trained RAVENHILL ROAD who dotted up on the bridle on hurdling debut. This one was an easy winner of two bumpers and a point and recorded a very decent time to win this contest. He may well be destined for the very top of the novice hurdling ranks.

It might be worth noting INNISCASTLE LAD, 23 lengths back in second, who was clear of the remainder. He built on the hint of promise shown at Bangor and is capable of making his mark against standard opposition in the north.

INDIAN VOYAGE has dropped significantly in the handicap and took advantage in a Class 4 handicap chase. His previous wins have come in bursts so he is worth keeping an eye on for the next few weeks.