Saturday, 29 December 2007

New Year Sprint Day

MUSSELBURGH – Saturday December 29 2007
Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

Horse racing met ‘human racing’ as Musselburgh held it’s New Year Sprint meeting, the cross-ties (a term which is presumed equivalent to semi-finals) and final of the event formerly known as the ‘Powderhall Sprint’ taking place between the horse races.

A decent holiday crowd on a sunny day were treated to some pretty decent racing.

12.15 2m 4f Maiden Hurdle

Thirteen runners here, but many who weren’t competitive.

LABOREC, who had run in two pretty decent novice events at Aintree, was settled nicely in behind the leaders, led at the last and held off a couple of challengers.
GUNS AND BUTTER, who looked hard fit, was brought through to challenge in the straight, but couldn’t summon up the extra pace on the flat. There’s probably a small race for this one.
One that caught my eye in the paddock was the big, strong gelding SEA SENOR. He has bits and pieces of decent form but disappointed on his previous run. He had every chance at the last but couldn’t summon the pace to hold the first two. He strikes me as one which might make a chaser.
MYSTIFIED led until 3 out then only offered one pace, being overtaken by CRIPSEY BROOK whose form here pretty much matched his 5th on hurdling debut.
I couldn’t get excited about any of the others.

12.45 3m 0-100 Handicap Chase

MISTER JUNGLE led early, was headed 6 out by Stoneriggs Merc and looked to be in difficulties entering the straight. However, it’s clear that he does stay and showed bags of determination, keeping on doggedly all the way up the straight, he got his head in front right on the line. His form has not been great this season, but this was a decent effort at its level. It would seem that three miles would be a minimum requirement.
STONERIGGS MERC didn’t do much wrong, and proved he stays three miles, looking the winner most of the way up the straight. I wonder if the 2 miles 6 furlong trip at Kelso might suit him?
SPORTS EXPRESS never got to the leaders but did stay on for third place. Back over fences, BAWRAAH was another one who never got to the leaders, he couldn’t find any extra pace once turned for home. COUNT FOSCO threatened after turning for home but faded from 2 out. CASH ON FRIDAY is probably better at shorter, but never got into the argument.
ASTON has ability, but was not on good terms with himself, jumping poorly and lasting 11 fences before being pulled up.

1.20 2m 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

LOS NADIS confirmed previous form, leading most of the way and staying on too strongly for the rest.
LA VECCHIA SCUOLA looked the danger on form, but she made an awful hash of the second and, though recovering, struggled to get back into the race. She stayed on into fifth and should be kept in mind for another chance.
FIRST BUDDY made a decent hurdling debut. He pulled hard early, but went well once settled and was in contention down the straight though held on the flat. On this evidence he must surely win a hurdle.
DANISH REBEL kept on for a distant third, and DESERT RAT, having been prominent early, faded into fourth.
CALZAGHE went well before almost coming down at the sixth, after which he had no chance.

1.50 2m 4f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

I wasn’t a fan of PATAVIUM on the flat but he performed really well here. Settled behind the leader jumping well, he took over 4 out and hurdled swiftly and accurately in the straight then held of JACK THE BLASTER, the two of them clear of TICKATEAL.
JACK THE BLASTER did nothing wrong and should pick up another race.
TICKATEAL moved up on the final bend but never got to the leaders, similarly ROYAL MELBOURNE who was fourth.
HEAVENLY CHORUS was outpaced on the home bend, finishing a one paced fifth.
TIGER KING is possibly on a stiff mark now, prominent early but fading in the straight.

2.19 New Year Sprint

16 year old Craig Robertson of Gala running off a 9.5m start won by 0.03 seconds from David Rae (8.5m) of Hawick. The heats and final were closely contested affairs, suggesting that the ‘sprint handicapper’ knows his job!
The young winner this year, 16 is the minimum age for entry, is in contrast to last year’s winner Tony Bowman who was 71. Bowman didn’t get past the heats this year.

2.20 2m Introductory Hurdle

Though the opposition may not be great shakes, KALAHARI KING doddled up here. He should progress.
LUNA LANDING was well held in a moderate maiden here earlier in December. He led until headed by the winner in the straight, but stayed on under pressure for second.
SPEEDY DIRECTA, a long distance traveller from Oxfordshire, raced prominently and kept on in third. COLLATERAL DAMAGE moved up to challenge three out, but couldn’t go with the first two, fading into fourth.
KNIGHT VALLIANT looked impressive when winning the first leg of Luna Landing’s maiden here in early December, but he was put in his place here, having every chance and seemingly not good enough, finishing sixth with TUCKER (fifth) turning round previous form.
STILL AT LUNCH had shown form in moderate bumpers, but struggled here. He pulled hard, looked distinctly green down the back and never got out of last place.

2.55 2m 0-125 Handicap Chase

I had a fair handle on this event since I’d seen all bar Some Touch in live action over recent months.

The importance of swift accurate jumping was illustrated perfectly by the winner SHARES. Over the four fences down the back straight he gained a length on the field at each, then his jumping was superior to that of SOME TOUCH over the final four fences. I doubt he’s as quick on the flat as his rival, but his jumping was the key. SHARES was 12/1 here, and I availed myself of that since he's consistent at this level. His Ayr run can probably be excused due to the heavy ground, Ayr can be hard work in the mud, and his fourth at Kelso was a creditable hurdles performance.
SOME TOUCH hit a couple when the chips were down, but his form suggests he will probably find a race soon. He went well enough in front, but being harried by the hard-puller YANKEE HOLIDAY probably wouldn’t have helped him. YANKEE HOLIDAY wasn’t disgraced in third, and despite his headstrong nature is competitive at this level.
MAJORCA was not out of it when unseating three out.
GETON and GUERILLA never got to the leaders and look to need a drop in class.

3.25 2m 0-135 Handicap Hurdle.

At the overnight stage this had threatened to be a one horse race, but with Thursday’s easy Kempton winner Palomar being pulled out it suddenly became a competitive heat. All the runners had a chance entering the straight, and I fancy there might be a winner or two to come out of this contest.

ALONG THE NILE had a creditable novice victory on his debut, and dealt creditably with more experienced rivals here. Four were in with a chance approaching the last but swiftly away from the flight, Along The Nile got the upper hand on the flat. I can’t see him going up a huge amount for this win, so another victory would seem likely.
FOLK TUNE raced prominently, held every chance and couldn’t summon up the extra pace, but he’s in decent form and goes well at Musselburgh.
The best pointer here might be for STAINLEY who put up decent performance on bottom weight. He led jumping accurately, and once challenged battled well before being found wanting for pace after the last. There will be less competitive races for him, particularly if eased I class a little. Make a note of this one for a two mile handicap on similar ground.
REGENT’S SECRET and DANCING LYRA had every chance between the last two, but couldn’t summon extra reserves. MASAFI settled in second and was in contention early in the straight, but faded. CLASSIC GOLD similarly faded in the home straight, but his best form is on top of the ground and the overnight rain would not have helped.

Monday, 10 December 2007

December 9/10 Kelso and Musselburgh

KELSO – Sunday December 9
Gong – Good To Soft (rain most of the afternoon)

One of the best cards of the season at Kelso for this meeting. A bit of a soggy day, with the wet weather carrying over from Saturday.

12.20 2m 6f 110yds 0-105 Nov Hcap Hurdle

A moderate contest to start the day, with few of these showing any strong recent form.
Lightly-raced MENSIO stepped up on previous form, setting a decent pace, quickening clear into the straight and then holding on grimly on the long run-in. DORIS’S GIFT had shown glimmers of ability previously and came out of the pack to chase the winner, staying on determinedly but just held. Rated 79 and 76 respectively the first two at least have a chance of making progress up from their marks.
BEAU SADDLER plugged on into third, once again being tapped for speed down the side of the track. I suspect 3m+ staying hurdles in the North will probably be his most likely chance of success.
MR FLOPPY moved up 4 out, but lost his action and pulled up 2 out. MR EQUITY raced prominently but had nothing at the business end, and many of the rest were being shoved along with a circuit to go.

12.50 2m 6f 110yds Novices’ Chase

Kelso does throw up some cracking novice events, even if they are sometimes light on numbers.
NUDGE AND NURDLE, owned by the Yes No Wait Sorries and clearly named after my own batting style, make a very encouraging chase debut. Not hurried into the contest he moved up going very well 2 out and, once in front, battled well to hold on. Sometimes battling qualities are more a mark of quality of victory than ease of a win.
MR STRACHAN raced in second, challenged on the flat but was just held.
ICE TEA possibly had a little to find here but was not disgraced, jumping very well in front until ‘missing out’ the last after which he found the front two too strong.
LOVE THAT BENNY had a good run in the summer but possibly needed the run after a long off, since he was left behind from 3 out.

1.20 2m 6f 110yds Mares Only Novices’ Hurdle

Many were struggling with a circuit to go here. ZAFFARELLA was disappointing, dropping away and pulling up going out into the country for the final time.
VALENTINES LADY was prominent the whole way and battled well when clearly getting tired. UNCOMMITTED led at the last but then found the winner too strong.
Two were coming off long lay-offs, BONNIE ROCK was the only one making any forward progress at the finish, so is presumably favoured by a stamina test, and CRYSTAL RUNNER went third 3 out and kept going well enough to finish fourth.

1.50 4m 0-140 Borders National Handicap Chase

Another one of the Nationals!
Top weight RAMBLING MINSTER showed the class he possesses to win this with a bit in hand. He moved up 4 out, led on the flat and was always doing more than enough. PETITE MARGOT ran very creditably in second and should be a force in similar events this season.
KING KILLONE stalked the leaders on the final circuit, but ultimately had to settle for third. STRONG RESOLVE, a winner here recently, found the move up in class a bit more than he could handle, but lost nothing in defeat having been in the firing line from the start then fading on the flat.
On the evidence I’ve seen TRISON’S STAR doesn’t stay 3m 4f let alone 4 miles, so it seems odd that Ferdy Murphy persists with him over these trips. Until there’s evidence to the contrary, I’d oppose Trison’s Star in races further than three and a quarter miles. He was struggling going out on to the final circuit here and soon pulled up.
RUSSIAN SKY was up with the pace for a way then struggled, but this is way above his normal class.

2.20 2m 110yds 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

BUFFY was up with the pace as usual but knuckled on landing over the fifth. I wouldn’t worry about the blip, keep Buffy in mind.
KEMPSKI pulled to the front and set the pace but weakened from 2 out.
AUGUSTINE moved up 2 out, led on the run-in and was always doing enough to hold on.
SOUBRIQUET kept on well when headed on the flat and this was a decent effort in defeat.
The third LE ROUFGE FATAL and fourth HUSH TIGER had every chance.

2.50 2m 6f 110yds 0-145 Handicap Chase

Another decent class chase won by the lightly raced PATRICKSNINETEENTH, making the long haul from Cropredy in Oxfordshire. This 10 year old gelding has plenty of ability which has sometimes been hidden by his stop-start career. He is still more than capable at this level.
SCRIBANO EILE, stepped up significantly in class, ran a cracker in second, just being held on the flat. On this evidence he must surely win again very soon.
EURO AMERICAN plugged on for third, and EVER PRESENT, who is 9lbs higher than his latest winning mark, went well to 2 out before fading.

3.20 2m 110yds Maiden Hurdle

I thought Lucy Normile might have a decent prospect on her hands when SILVER BY NATURE won a bumper at Perth in April. Having shown up well over two and a half miles on his hurdle debut, Silver By Nature battled gamely to win here.
VICTORBANO was headed on the flat but didn’t give in easily.
SKIPPING CHAPEL disappointed on his previous outing but ran creditably here. He’s bred to turn in to a jumper so it’s worth keeping this one on a list of horses to keep an eye on.
SILVER STEEL was held by Silver By Nature at Perth and got no closer over hurdles. He probably has ability though, so don’t give up on this one yet.
Favourite SINITAS couldn’t go with the first two on the flat.

MUSSELBURGH – Monday December 10
Going – Good (Going stick 8.8)

This course soaks up any amount of rain, and despite a pretty miserable weekend in the Edinburgh area the ground still came up as genuinely good. The weather was bright but chilly, free soup tokens given out at the gate were welcomed.

A pretty run-of-the-mill Monday card, but there may be a few pointers for the future given that there were a number of novice contests.

12.20 2m Maiden Hurdle

A few interesting newcomers here. KNIGHT VALLIANT had the look of a jumper more than some and in retrospect I made a mistake siding with the jump form of Yachvili. KNIGHT VALLIANT looked well readied for the race, was prominent and jumped well, coming away from the rest with the minimum of fuss. He had fair form on the flat, but putting hurdles in his way seems to have been helpful.
YACHVILI had no answer when the winner went past two out and could one find one pace to finish fourth. He weakened over 2m 4f last time and seemed to lack two mile pace here, so placing may be a problem.
TUCKER is a strong sort and was a clear second best. His jumping wasn’t as sharp as the winner.
RUN TO SPARE probably needs further and stayed on to snatch third on the line.
NANTON’s flat form suggested he might get into the argument here, but he was never close enough to challenge.

12.50 3m C.J. 0-105 Handicap Chase

A case could be made out for any of these in what appeared a fairly open contest.
FINLAND fell at the third. WORLD VISION seemed to be going well enough but Tom Dreaper lost his irons at the eleventh and had to pull up, so the run can be ignored.
BALLITO was nicely backed, jumped and travelled well and left Four County Lad behind from two out. FOUR COUNTY LAD led from the second to three out and was well clear of the rest.
PHYSICAL FORCE just snatched a remote third on the line, but was well out of it in the home straight. LOST IN NORMANDY was left behind in the straight.
DOLLY DAGGER led early but didn’t jump well enough to have any chance.

1.20 2m Maiden Hurdle

The strong favourite here was POWERBERRY, dropped in class from his Irish runs. He was held up, but left flat footed as the leaders accelerated turning for home. He stuck on and didn’t lose ground, but only gained second on the run to the line. The obvious conclusion is that a longer distance will suit.
SEEKING JUSTICE had been down the field in similar company in Ireland, but in general it’s tougher to win Irish maiden hurdles. He led 3 out and went clear from 2 out. When questioned by the stewards, his trainer reported that the horse was suited by the better ground on this occasion. Since good ground is quite rare at this time of year in Ireland then that doesn’t seem unreasonable.
SUPERIOR STAR probably repeated the level of his Kelso effort in reaching third place. LUNA LANDING was ridden prominently but faded and finished fourth on a satisfactory hurdling debut.
TITINIUS promised to get involved but weakened in the straight. I believe connections were not displeased with the run and have a contest identified at Christmas time.
P’TIT VOUSTER led but faded quickly from 3 out.

1.50 2m 4f Novices’ Hurdle

CHECKERBOARD stayed on to win, being kept up to his work. On the face of it not an impressive performance, but he wasn’t stopping and I rather suspect he will be suited by further.
THE GLEANER a strongly built, very calm sort in the paddock, had every chance 2 out but a mistake at the last gave Checkerboard a decisive advantage.
JAZRAWY stayed on late for third. He’d pulled the jockey’s arms out on the way down so it was a reasonable effort. Needs to settle, but would not be without a hope of winning something.
MR BARNACLE led round the paddock by two handlers, showed a modicum of promise in fourth.
LOCKSTOCKANDBARREL who ran creditably in a handicap last time, led until running out of steam 4 out. ROURKE’S STAR and JOSHUA’S GOLD weren’t anywhere near good enough.

2.20 2m 4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

A competitive looking contest won in some style by top-weight KING DANIEL. He led 5 out and nothing got to him in the home straight, though BLUE POIS was gaining at the line. Given that each will probably get a 3 or 4lb rise it keep them in the equation in similar events.
SUPER BABY looked very fit but didn’t have the pace of the first two.
NICOZETTO who looks a hard puller, was held up but found himself unable to get in a blow in the straight. He did keep on well enough to suggest that a return to a longer trip will be of assistance.
SNOW’S RIDE was well placed when falling 4 out, and is still competitive at the weights given the ground doesn’t turn too soft. EVER SPECIAL was hampered by the fall but seemed to be struggling anyway.

2.50 2m 4f 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Chase

A lot of these were either lightly raced over fences or chase debutants. The winner OCARINA showed what an advantage a decent jumper can have at this level. Always prominent, he did hit one early on, but jumped well after that and was too good for the others once turning for home.
STONERIGGS MERC bandaged in front, moved into contention down the back, keeping on for second.
CASH ON FRIDAY kept on for third place but was never any closer, similarly COUNTRYWIDE SUN who kept on into fourth.
DIAMOND MICK went well enough in front to the eleventh but then faded.
LOADED DICE jumped poorly on his last outing. He wore blinkers here and, after early reminders he never got going and was pulled up. STICKY END looks a well built jumping type but is proving rather slow.

3.20 2m NH Flat

The one to impress me most in the paddock was DREVER ROUTE. This didn’t translate on the track. He was kept handy, but tapped for speed on the home bend and was always on the limit chasing the leaders, eventually finishing fourth. He has the look of a racehorse, but may just need a little time.
BROADWAY STAR finished second at Hexham first time out, and stepped up on that, forging clear in the final furlong.
CLASSIC MOON ran two decent races in big field Irish bumpers, and confirmed promise in a creditable second.
ROOM AT THE TOP is possibly getting the hang of racing, staying on for third.

Friday, 23 November 2007

KELSO - November 23

Going: Good To Soft (Good in places)

There was an inspection following overnight frost, but the meeting was never in danger. The course soaked up the previous week’s rain, with the going recorded just on the soft side of good.

A decent sized Friday afternoon crowd on a chilly but bright autumn afternoon at the delightful Borders track with a decent competitive card and some tight finishes.

12.10 2m 110yds Novice Hurdle (2nd last omitted- flight damaged)

No pace on early here, as they ambled from the start and Chief Scout led them for much of the way in a soft lead. The runners really only got busy from three out, at which point AKAREM, a decent performer on the level, put his superior flat pace to good use. He had been off for a season, but looked fit enough for this comeback and won with any amount in hand.
I’M DELILAH came down at the last when looking booked for second. Provided she gets over the mishap this performance suggested she’s a hurdles winner in waiting.
TOSHI was third at the last but fell over Tony Dobbin as the latter rolled clear of I’m Delilah. It wasn’t a bad run and he has some ability. Could be that a novice handicap might be worth looking at with this one.
CHIEF SCOUT looked finished by the last, but raised his effort enough to battle back for second. A reasonable performance though will need to be aimed at easier contests.
SUPERIOR STAR was not disgraced in third on his hurdles debut. Rider Padge Whelan reported that ‘they kicked the top off’ suggesting the going report was pretty much spot on.
COMPROMIZNOTENSION finished fourth. He looked rather stiff in his hind quarters walking round the paddock. I'd want proof of his hurdling and well-being before committing money on this one.
The rest were either struggling down the back straight or left for dead once the pace increased three out.

12.40 2m 6f 110yds Novice Handicap Chase (0-125)

The winner, SCRIBANO EILE, had a nice collection of letters in front of his name, but had hinted at ability and proved it here. His jumping varied between excellent and a bit fiddly, and can possibly be improved, but he made all to win this.
CANTGETON might be the significant one coming out of this race. He jumped really well, got to within a length at the last, but couldn’t find as much as the winner. The jockey and trainer were in agreement that 2m 4f would be a better trip. Bear in mind that he was giving an unexposed winner 17lbs here.
I felt RUSSIAN SKY was one to oppose last season, but I can’t criticise his attitude in recent times. He was up there until jumping right and losing ground over the third last and second last, possibly feeling the pinch. However, he stayed on pluckily on the run-in. This 0-125 contest was possibly a bit above his normal level, and since he was on 10st 2lbs here there a bit of scope for a drop in class, programme book permitting.
LORD COLLINGWOOD went well enough till weakening after 2 out, SILENT BAY having cried enough after 3 out. BALLYHALE was never in contention, and chasing debutant LOADED DICE needs to sharpen his jumping.

1.15 2m 1f Beginners’ Chase

Odds-on favourite DARK CORNER blundered at the first, then made a right pig’s ear of the second which saw him depart. Disappointing since his Perth debut was promising.
MONSIEUR, who was headstrong on the way to the start, was restrained but soon pulled his way into the lead. He jumped well up the straight but then walked through the open ditch after the stand, and Barry Keniry will probably be thankful to walk away from a hard fall.
WATER TAXI has run some decent chases in similar company, and was finally rewarded with a victory, holding off the tenacious OPEN DE L’ISLE. Both jumped well enough, but with only three finishers the form may be of questionable value.
I liked SMART STREET as a novice hurdler last season, but he faded behind the front two here. An important point should be made however, that he was sent to the front in his hurdles and has been held up over fences. I wonder if forcing the pace might be the key.
HIGH COMMISSION had gone well enough on chasing debut, and was still in touch when keeling over 3 out.

1.50 2m 2f Handicap Hurdle 0-125

Only the front four ever got competitive in this event.
PALOMAR looked dropped in on Bangor form and proved that to be the case as he won without an awful lot of fuss. Palomar was equipped with a cross noseband and ear plugs, perhaps suggesting a wayward nature which may now be under control. He moved up smoothly down the back, led at the last and then idled in front and had to be encouraged, but had any amount in hand. His jumping was untidy at times, so there may still be scope for improvement.
BUFFY led until headed at the last by Palomar, and was pipped for second close home. Nevertheless, this was a good run, she’s unlikely to be raised much for it and this augurs well for future events.
SEEYAAJ looks well handicapped over hurdles. He moved up with the leader two out, got briefly outpaced going to the last, but then stayed on again to take second. He’s in good heart and as a dual purpose performer there must surely be a race for him soon.
SHARES moved into contention 2 out but found no more after, but there was no real challenge from the other five in the field.

2.25 3m 1f 0-120 Handicap Chase

STRONG RESOLVE has had a pretty decent career including some sparkling form in 04/05. He proved he’s no back number in this event, and lived up to his name to hold on from No Picnic. Strong Resolve led or was prominent all the way, but looked second best turning for home. However, he dug deep on the run-in to get up close home.
NO PICNIC lost nothing in defeat and looks likely to pick up a staying chase soon.
BARON MONTY made progress two out, but never got to the first two. This was his seasonal debut, there looked a little to work on, and he should progress with this run under his belt.
MISS MATTIE ROSS was well back in fourth and was never better placed.
INNISFREE, even allowing for being hampered 6 out, struggled from a long way out and pulled up 3 out.
MORE LIKELY won nicely here in January, but recent runs have been below par. She didn’t jump particularly cleanly and was being niggled at before falling six out.
CRACKADEE started slowly, was never in touch and pulled up after a circuit.

3.00 2m 6f 110yds Handicap Hurdle 0-115

A few were in with a chance three out, but CHEF DE COUR was cruising between the last two and went away from Tartan Snow on the run-in. The winner has had a couple of spells off, but now looks in good heart and can move up in class.
TARTAN SNOW did nothing wrong in defeat and is worth noting in similar events on the Northern circuit.
MISS SHAKIRA(3rd) and BEAU SADDLER(4th) seemed to be struggling two out, but stayed on through tiring rivals, admittedly a fair distance behind the first two. On this evidence both appear to be handicapped up to their form.
NAPALM went well until hitting two out and then went out like a light. SOUBRIQUET was another in contention until falling away from 2 out, and
LOCKSTOCKANDBARREL hurdled well and led to three out, at which point the gauge read ‘empty’.
OVERSERVED never got into contention, eventually plodding into 5th. Lightly weighted BUCKSTRUTHER was prominent early, but faded on the final circuit.

3.35 3m 4f Handicap Chase 0-110

The start was delayed here to let the sun go behind the hills, as it would have been straight in the runners’ eyes jumping the first in the straight.

TRISONS STAR was last seen out when never going in the Highland National. He led until the last here but faded on the run-in. His wins were at shorter distances and he’s yet to prove he stays this far.
PETITE MARGOT stayed on from 3 out and found pace on the flat get in front close home. RYEMINSTER ran another decent race and, though 2nd for the third time in a row, deserves credit for the effort.
HIDDEN BOUNTY stayed on, wandered about a bit on the run-in and couldn’t quite go with the first two. Better than his last effort and perhaps a sign that he’s finding his old form. Hidden Bounty is getting on in years, but no back number.
OLD NODDY raced prominently, but was weakening when falling heavily at the last.
SPORTS EXPRESS couldn’t go with the leaders from four out. HIGH FIVE was 9lbs out of the handicap, and it showed as he was never in touch, overtaking only the slowcoach BLACK SMOKE (pulled up) and the rapidly weakening MARINGO(last of the 7 to finish).

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

November Update

Apologies for not updating a bit more regularly recently, but I've been very busy with work and just haven't had a chance to do racing justice.

A few observations on autumn jump racing in Scotland and the North recently.

SNOW'S RIDE has progressed nicely on the fast ground and after his fortunate 'win' at Kelso, picked up a race at Sedgefield. The ground is turning against him now, but one worth bearing in mind when the ground dries out in the spring. If kept on the go he may just find an opportunity at Musselburgh, a course which soaks up the rain better than most.

SCHINKEN OTTO returned to form with a win at the same Sedgefield meeting, but he's another one who is favoured by fast ground.

JOHN DILLON won the juvenile hurdle and should win again, but STROBE was well clear of the rest in second, and did enough to suggest he can pick up a hurdle or two.

I rather wrote off LOST IN NORMANDY last season, but he's hit some form and won well at Newcastle. He'll no doubt be put up quite a way in the handicap, but stays and jumps well, seems to handle cut as well as fast ground and might remain competitive up to 0-110 class.

In a competitive bumper, Nicky Richards' NOBLE ALAN won very smoothly and should take another race or two. WATERLOO ROAD was well held by the winner, but held off the rest. KINGSBEN comes from a stable with a useful record in these events, made decent late progress and is one to watch out for next time.

GLINGERBANK was a nice winner of a novices' chase at Kelso on Nov 10. Should progress from this, and a step up from 2m 1f will help.

The weather has gone downhill a bit this week, and it's forecast chilly for Friday, but I should be at Kelso to report on what looks a competitive card.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

KELSO - Saturday October 20

Abbreviated notes on this meeting since I flew in from holiday in Portugal on the Saturday afternoon, and my requests for the pilot to circle Kelso weren't heeded! Notes made from watching ATR replays.
Elsewhere, I've been trumpet blowing for MIDDLETON DENE since the same Kelso meeting last October, and this one recorded a win at Cheltenham on Friday, decently priced at 11/2.
LEG SPINNER won a hurdle at Perth earlier in the year, and capped the season off with a 14/1 victory in the Cesarewitch. Once again fine placing by his trainer Tony Martin.
2.10 2m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle
In-form BORDER TALE won this nicely, coming clear on the run-in from an 8 horse bunch led by TIGER KING.
2.45 2m 6.5f Nov Hurdle
FRANKIE FIGG won from the front at Hexham last time, and once gain set off at a decent lick. The field came back to him 4 out, but he had a fair bit in hand once push came to shove. MR WOODS made a decent hurdling debut and will surely win a minor novice event. THE SALTIRE TIGER was third but is well exposed at this level.
3.20 3m 1f Handicap Chase
This didn't look a great event. INNISFREE led but ran out of steam and is quite high in the handicap going into the winter. SPORTS EXPRESS plugged on well enough for victory, MISTER MAGNUM stayed on through tiring rivals for second and well exposed veteran HARLOV was third.
3.50 2m 6.5f C.J. Handicap Hurdle
Race was rendered a farce by confusion over safety flag wavers around 3 out. Some missed the flight, but the ones which jumped it were 'in the right'. HUMOUROUS 'won' the race but was disqualified. Even allowing for missing the hurdle he had a fair bit in hand, but on previous indications he'll be handicapped as if he won. SNOW'S RIDE has hit decent form and stayed on to finish second and be awarded the race. COLLEGE CITY ran an honest enough race.
4.20 2m 1f Beginners' Chase
An event won by the useful Ungaro last year. There didn't look to be anything as good in this renewal. MEDISON did jump nicely in front, won well and should be placed to win again. OR DE GRUGY ran respectably in second. SMART STREET tended to make the pace over hurdles, but didn't see the front here. He stayed on without being over-pressed by his jockey, giving the impression there's more to come over fences.
4.55 2m 0.5f Maiden Hurdle
JASS won the NH Flat race on this card last season, a race from which the second, third and fourth all progressed well. It's taken Jass a few goes over hurdles, but these were seen off well enough. Not sure the race is upto an awful lot though.
5.30 2m 0.5f 3yo NH Flat
This race was for older horses last year, but this was a very interesting event for juveniles. ISAAC NEWTON led into the straight but ran out of steam. THis was competitive and he'll find easier races. AUTUMN HARVEST went clear rather impressively. Following were MOON PHASE, SOUTHERNESS and DESERT VISION, all from decent yards and capable of winning.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Ayr - Thursday Sept 20

Apologies, dear reader, for not posting recently, but I had trouble with my log-in to the blog.

Anyway, rewind a couple of weeks and here's the report from the first day of the Ayr Western meeting.

Going - Good To Soft(Good in places) becoming softer during the afternoon with some heavy rain.

I finished 'the set' of course in Scotland with a visit to Ayr.

Some competitive racing on offer for the first day of the Western Meeting.

2.20 6f 2yo Auction Maiden

The strong wind blowing across the course seemed to unsettle a few of these in the paddock. A few of them looked a bit green. NORTHERN BOLT, stepping up on his debut performance was settled nicely in the lead. Asked for an extra effort two out he responded well, and stayed on well enough in victory to suggest he’ll get 7 furlongs. ELIZABETH SWANN came out of the pack to chase the winner, did nothing wrong and will win a race. DARING DREAM stayed on in third and HAMISH MCGONAGALL stayed on but never threatened the leaders. EMPERORS JADE was very green in the paddock and on the course. He looks quite a nice colt for the future. DREAM EXPRESS seemed to dislike the first time blinkers and didn’t give his running. RIDLEY DIDLEY was slowly away but showed decent early pace before falling away quickly from 2 out. Andrew Mullen commented ‘this is going to be as green as grass’ as he rode FORREST STAR to the start. He was spot on in the race, but his mount picked off a few late on, and with time might make a racehorse. CHANTEUSE DE RUE was green and will need time. RIVERSIDE is a compact strong looking sort, but missed the break and didn’t get into the race. She’s bred to show some speed.

2.50 1m 2yo Novice Stakes

This race lost a fair bit of interest when favourite REDESIGNATION clipped the heels of Ivestar early on and unseated his rider. GRACEFUL DESCENT, very relaxed in the parade ring, was headed by IVESTAR in the final furlong but showed plenty of determination to battle back. On the face of it this was probably about the level of her previous form. IVESTAR was just pipped, stepped up on previous form and should win a race. AAIM TO STORM threatened approaching the furlong pole but found no more. SHEPHERDS WARNING was swamped by the other three in the final furlong. Claiming races seem his level. Newcomer PONDAPIE ambled out of the stalls and didn’t get into the race but he made up a lot of ground in the final couple of furlongs. With experience I suspect he will step up on this. DANZIG FOX, coming off a lay-off following a course win, was hampered by Redesignation's departure and never in it. IBROX, presumably to the glee of any Celtic fans present, showed little.

3.20 5f 0-70 Handicap

It chucked down with rain before this event.

A ‘whose turn is it today’ sprint handicap. CHARLES PARNELL burst out of the pack at the furlong pole to take this. He handles the softened ground OK and is probably best at 6 furlongs so may well be capable of taking another race this autumn. HOTHAM has been consistent without winning and again put it all in, only to find one too good. HOWARDS TIPPLE only has a single win to his name, but has been consistently in the firing line. BRUT once again showed good pace, but couldn’t hold on in the rush to the line. FUNFAIR WANE ploughed a lone furrow up the centre and wasn’t beaten far. I suspect he may take another race before the turf season ends. THROW THE DICE showed his usual decent early pace on the far side. The others on that side lost touch and this probably didn’t help, but he was still a close fifth.

3.50 1m 2f Seller

Quite a competitive seller for better than usual prize money. SWEET WORLD had a bit to find on the official ratings, but his determination in front made the difference here. He made the running and was challenged on all sides in the rush to the line, but held off all-comers. He has three wins on Polytrack to his credit and I’m sure Alan Jarvis will try to place him to advantage over the coming months. BRASTAR JELOIS has been running consistently and stuck on well enough in second. TOP JARO stuck on for third without threatening to win. TIZZY MAY was scrubbed along early, got into the mix 2 out but only found one pace. PRINCE NOEL started slowly, moved up 2 out but didn’t get to the leaders.

4.20 1m 2f 0-100 Handicap

The leaders went off quickly here and paid the price. ROSBAY led and fell away after 2 out. Probably went a bit quick for his own good. PECULIAR PRINCE has won races contesting the pace in Ireland, I saw him win over a mile at Bellewstown in 2005, but he was held from the furlong pole. I wonder if a drop back to 9 furlongs or a mile might help. DAN DARE raced prominently and faded. SMOKEY OAKEY did best of the early leaders, leading around the furlong pole but unable to find that bit extra and finishing fourth. I think there’s a race to be won with this one. THE GREY BERRY is very nice ‘keen’ looking sort. He was in decent form over the summer and came back to winning form, showing a good burst in the final furlong to take this. He goes on most ground and is effective at a mile and 10 furlongs, so I don’t think he’s stopped winning. BEST PROSPECT led 1 out, seemed to carry his head at an odd angle and was caught close home. VERY WISE ran a sound race but couldn’t find enough to challenge the first two. DESCARTES wore a cross noseband which suggests he pulls, was mounted at the walk and was never competitive. He’s lightly raced and has presumably had problems. 4.50 1m 3yo 56-70 Handicap Heavy rain hit the course before this event and the ground seemed to have softened. Irish trained NANS BEST didn’t settle early, but clearly had enough left as he battled on well close home. DARK ENERGY made progress from 2 out and was gradually gaining in second place. DUCAL PIP SQUEAK was up with the pace and plugged on for third. GRETHEL stayed on for fourth without threatening those in front. KUNTE KINTEH was up with pace but faded from 2 out. TREMELO POINTE went out like a light after the 2 furlong marker.

5.20 7f 50yds 56-70 Handicap

SANDS OF BARRA came there cruising after 2 out, pushed to go clear and then battled well to maintain the advantage. He was a bit in and out early in the season, but has hit a rich vein of form lately. CROCODILE BAY bustled up the leader in the final furlong and had a bit to spare on the remainder. MYSTICAL AYR looked very fit and came through to take third. The one that interested me here was ESOTERICA. His jockey commented after the race that he didn’t handle the ground, but since he recovered from getting behind early he did well to finish fourth. He needs a sound surface to be at his best, so it’s possible opportunities might be limited now, but keep an eye out when the sun shines next season.

Subsequent Notes

October 1

Just to prove me a bit off the mark, Best Prospect won the other day. Looking at this one's handicap marks though I notice that he had come down from 96 to 82, and was running off a pound lower than the Ayr race. While I don't think the odd pound makes that much difference, the fact that he was now eligible for a 0-85 event really was significant. Of course the downside is that he'll probably move back out of that class, though as an in-form competitior might cope with a 0-90.

I'd like to say, having ignored Nuit Sombre's Newcastle run for the reasons given that I was on him when he was 33/1 winner last week. Sadly, I didn't even notice he was running!

Esoterica was disappointing at Musselburgh yesterday, admittedly from a fairly wide draw, and his form may just have tailed off for the season.

Interesting to see Ouef A La Neige won when stepped up to 9 furlongs in the claimer at Musselburgh. This one's been campaigned at sprint distances formost of the season, but it's possibly significant that the two wins in this season's form have been at 1m and 1m 1f. Princess Ellis won the opening sprint handicap at Musselburgh in decent style. Sometimes the 'fairer sex' show improvement at this time of year and this one is worth watching out for in the next month. Would certainly be interesting if appearing under a penalty.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Newcastle Monday August 27

I pointed the car south of the border for a first visit to Newcastle. A decent crowd in on the Bank Holiday and competitive racing with a few potential pointers to the future.

2.10 7f 2yo Maiden

The favourite CRAIGSTOWN brought forward a solid performance from Goodwood and was duly made 2/5 favourite. However, I had an eye on the Kevin Ryan newcomer ALEXANDER CASTLE, who looked pretty fit for his first run. I'd seen Ryan's newcomer Anosti win at Hamilton, looking as if there was something to work, so a fit newcomer from that yard hit the right spot. In the event the colt was very impressive, taking over inside the last furlong and a half and galloping away from the field without being asked for too much extra effort. ALEXANDER CASTLE is well entered up in staying 2yo events, so worth keeping an eye on, though I suspect those of us who snapped up better than the 5/1 SP had a corking bet, and a couple of chaps next to me at the paddock were also on.
INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU took a while to settle in the paddock. He also pulled hard going down, but set a decent pace and, although well held by the winner, showed the rest a clean pair of heels and looks a future winner.
NARMEEN looks a strong sort, but her form's exposed and she plugged on for third. Meanwhile the favourite CRAIGSTOWN was scrubbed along 2 out and only found one pace.

2.45 1m Claimer

Too many of these didn't perform and with the 3rd DOMESDAY having shown little previously it's questionable if the form is worth a lot.
PENEL stayed on best, but was entered for only £5000 here. He has a few wins on all weather in his record, so may be worth a glance in similar events on that surface.
YO PEDRO is a frustrating sort. His jockey commented that things went well until he saw too much daylight and he needs covering up. He may win a race but needs things to go for him, so isn't a sound betting proposition.
NUIT SOMBRE, wearing bandages on his forelegs, raced alone on the far side and looked to lead 2 out, but was a spent force in the final furlong. I'm not sure that the ground on that side was a problem, but lack of company may have been, so this run can probably be ignored.
BAYLAW STAR, another bandaged in front, led early on the near side, but fell away.

3.20 1m 2yo Handicap

A competitive nursery labelled the 'Blaydon Race'. A group near me couldn't understand why they played 'The Blaydon Races' before the start.....doh!
They went very fast early on, so those prominent such as BOOMTOWN, DREAM EXPRESS and MADISON HEIGHTS probably didn't do themselves justice. MADISON HEIGHTS in particular is a big, striking individual and I'd keep him in mind for a staying nursery.
Those held up came through at the end, the 25/1 shot TUANKU battling well and staying on nicely. The race went his way, but this was a sound enough performance.
WELCOME RETURN battled well after being headed and lost nothing in defeat. Jockey Kevin Darley spent a good deal of time discussing the performance with connections, commenting that Welcome Return was progressing well, and he particularly mentioned that he felt the ideal target for this filly is the mile nursery at the Ayr Western Meeting.
MARNING STAR belied the 50/1 with a determined performance to finish a close third. RELINQUISHED ran respectably in fourth without threatening to figure in the finish.
NATURAL RHYTHM looked in a good nick, a good deal better than when I saw him at Hamilton in July. He’s been heavily campaigned recently, but seems to have blossomed. He was held up going well, but was blocked when going for a run and didn’t have the pace in this company to get out of trouble. With enough ability to win again, an easing in class would be helpful.

3.55 2m Handicap

I didn’t see an awful lot of this as I was down at the two mile start getting some photos. However from my position I could see SOM TALA set sail for home entering the straight and, under pressure from a long way out, he kept on but couldn’t find more than one pace. I think this lack of extra pace is the problem, and being raced prominently in long distance races is his best chance for success.
KASTHARI led 2 out looking the winner, and didn’t do much wrong but was headed close home by grand old Gosforth Park specialist MARJAN who triumphed to a huge cheer from the crowd. Len Lungo’s charge is clearly a real favourite in these parts and received a rousing reception when he returned. The 8 year old KASTHARI is clearly no back number.
DOWNING STREET ran a fair enough race in fourth, but he’s paying the penalty for a 13lb rise following his 13 length win at Thirsk, a race which rather fell into his lap.

4.30 1m 4f 3yo Handicap

John Dunlop trained DOUBLE BANDED had shown a degree of promise at Newmarket and advanced on that leading close home here. He won’t be penalised too much for the win and there may be more to come.
LA VECCHIA SCUOLA has been upped in distance rather dramatically,, having won over 5 furlongs earlier this season, but performed very well, leading most of the way and holding off BOZ before being ‘done’ by the winner. Kelly Harrison got a day suspension for careless riding, interfering with Boz, though it made no difference to the placing of either. BOZ had every chance but was third best.
FALCON’S FIRE, looking very fit, moved up from 7 furlongs, but had won a hurdle recently. He raced just off the pace, found himself struggling to hold the leaders 2 out but then found a second wind once pulled out and finished quite well in fourth.
ALWAYS BEST was up with the pace but weakened in the straight.

5.05 6f Handicap

The field was a quite well spread out at the finish for a good ground sprint.
DAKOTA RAIN was disappointing last time but came back to form here, leading one out and going clear. No reason why he shouldn’t continue to be competitive even with a rise in the weights.
The second RAINBOW FOX is consistent, did nothing wrong here and is worthy of consideration in similar class. GUEST CONNECTIONS was presented to challenge on the outside but hung fire, and is possibly a little quirky.

Of the others CHARLES PARNELL ran respectably in fourth, YORKSHIRE BLUE looked very well but never threatened, and the same could be said of CONNECT. LORD OF THE EAST went down very early, having to be mounted on the track as getting him to stand still seems a bit of a trial. He then performed very poorly.

5.35 5f 3yo Handicap

A lot of these got very fractious, and although three were due to go down early at least five were down as soon as they could be.

NOMOREBLONDES made this a one horse race, quickly away, settling in front and then pulling away in the final furlong. Looked a decent performance to me and there could be more to come.
MANDURAH ran well enough in second if never threatening the leader. PEGASUS DANCER, one of those who was stroppy in the paddock, couldn’t get to the leader and headed a group of four just behind Mandurah. BAYBSHAMBLES misbehaved in the paddock, and I was told had done it before, but stayed on belatedly in fourth and may be interesting with a drop in class. TRIPLE SHADOW ended fairly close without threatening and DUALAGI had every chance on the outside but simply didn’t have the speed at crunch time. Favourite WOQOODD, a winner over 6 furlongs last time, never figured.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Perth Sunday August 19

Going - Hurdles - Good to soft, soft in places Chases - Soft, good to soft in places
Open ditch down the far side omitted.

Made my notes, then dropped the notebook somewhere on the course. Language experts are still trying to decipher the hyroglyphics as we speak! The following notes are done from memory.

2.20 3m 0.5f Claiming Hurdle
A poor looking race. Run at a slow pace but the runners still came home very tired. The fact that 10yo winner SONO was recording a first win sums this contest up, although to his credit he did keep on stoutly. Graham Lee got 4 days for overuse of the whip. TOTALLY SCOTTISH looked best on form but idled in front. ARISTI ran as well as could be expected in third. CROC AN OIR needs a faster surface. TUSCANY ROSE didn't stay. KISSINTHEPEACH went well enough in front, but was starting to feel the pinch when coming down 2 out.
2.50 2m Beginners Chase
DALDINI had run some decent races recently and staying on well under 'strong encouragement' by Tjade Collier. THE STICKLER ran well enough but wasn't as good as the winner. ANOTHER SUPERMAN tried hard but was held from the last. He looked absolutely knackered in the unsaddling enclosure, and may need a rest. KYLE OF LOCHALSH proved once again that he is slow.
3.20 2m 4.5f Novices Hurdle
I've been enthusiastic about MIDDLETON DENE since seeing him placed in a NH Flat race at Kelso last October. Although under pressure 3 out he stayed on well to win with a bit in hand. That's three novice wins, so the penalties probably take him out of such company now, so it's a question of how the handicapper treats him. PIGEON ISLAND is generally fitted with a few aids, tongue tie and blinkers here, and lacks something at the business end. Whether it's physical or mental I don't know, but he needs easy company to notch a win. ORMELLO won a £15000 event in France, but I can only conclude that there are some moderate horses running for decent money over the Channel. He couldn't go with the first two from the home turn. The remainder offer no optimism.

3.50 2m 4.5f Handicap Chase
What should have been a 0-100 chase turned out to be a 0-84 event after the top 7 in the handicap were pulled out. While I can appreciate that the change in the ground is no help, this sort of occurrence does the sport no good whatsoever. Even the bookies weren't sure which horses were running! In a race of selling class the enigmatic RUSSIAN SKY consented to put best foot forward. After an all the way duel with LOST IN NORMANDY he outbattled the latter on the run-in. LOST IN NORMANDY was coming off a lay-off and this was a decent run. CASH ON FRIDAY ran respectably in third and may find a minor race. GEE AKER MALAYO had been running well over further at Hexham, a stiffer track, and lacked pace over the final fences. Favourit, MISTER MAGNUM was under pressure early on the final circuit and dropped away from 4 out. TRUE TEMPER ran respectably in hunter chases but in the conditions couldn't handle the handicappers. If he goes back to the former events next season he still has ability to win a small event.

4.20 3m Handicap Chase
PRESTBURY KNIGHT looked an interesting prospect based on hurdle form, and in his second chase doddled up here with any amount in hand. CATCH THE PERK followed up his hurdle win here with another decent run. VIC THE PILER ran well enough in third and should continue to be competitive at this level. BLUE RISING was niggled along for much of the way and didn't quite get into the firing line. I suspect a stiffer track would help more as he performed well at Towcester on his previous outing. He's only 6 and with the right stable, so I would imagine he will be placed to advantage some time. INNISFREE struggled from a way out and probably found the conditions a bit too taxing. LORD ON THE RUN was never going well enough, and 11yo THE KEW TOUR is really struggling these days and I wonder if retirement beckons?

4.50 2m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle
This revolved around the Monteith tables three runners. Favourite ROSSIN GOLD faded very tamely from 3 out. KRISTIANSAND made the pace but couldn't hold TIGER KING over the last two. Both are at the right end of the handicap so I'd expect both to be placed to win. ENGLISH CITY ran well in the spring, but seems to be struggling a bit at the moment, though picked up third prize money some way behind Kristiansand.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Perth - Wednesday August 1

A fairly brief summary due to time constraints and having to watch the meeting recording on ATR's website. Once again the hurdle on the far side was omitted.

2.30 2m 0.5f Novice Hurdle
The 30/100 favourite HAWKWELL made the pace but never dominated and faded tamely. The exposed and moderate CASH FLOW beat SIR QUIGLEY. I doubt the form is of too much value. 3.05 2m 0.5f Beginners' Chase
DALDINI and KING DIAMOND contested a strong pace. to his credit DALDINI kept up the gallop, but was foiled close home by chase debutante THE ENTOMOLOGIST. COMPTON EAGLE was not out of the argument when falling at the last. These three should all be competitive in novice company in future.
3.45 2m 0.5f Claiming Hurdle
Veteran DREAM CASTLE, whose career has been stop-start due to injury, proved too good for these and made all. ANDRE CHENIER's form didn't pick up with a drop in class and return to hurdles.
4.15 2m 4.5f Handicap Chase
LOFTY LEADER had things more his own way in this contest. He was caught by the fast improving LOVE THAT BENNY. The runner up's decent form suggests LOVE THAT BENNY can go on from this.
4.50 3m 0.5f Novice Handicap Hurdle
RIVER TIGRIS ran well, forcing the pace and keeping on when passed at the last. Worth noting for a similar contest. INCAS seems to have recovered from a poor spell of form, and back over hurdles did the job nicely. PAPERCHASER ran better than recent runs but couldn't go with the first two.
5.20 2m 4.5f Handicap Hurdle
LUTEA has been in good form, led till the last and then faded. Perhaps reaching a mark which will make winning a bit tougher. FORTUNATE DAVE was being shoved along a mile out, and although still in touch in straight found these a bit tough. GOLD RUN dead heated the previous evening and came out 20 hours later to win nicely here. Lightly raced, he will be penalised for this but is progressive and may well overcome a rise in the weights. SHANAHAN was outspeeded by the winner but not disgraced.
5.50 2m 0.5f NH Flat
PISTOLET DOVE did enough to hold off Irish challenger YASHVILI. The winner may be capable of better, but this looked a moderate contest.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

July 31 Perth (good, good to soft in places)

The flight in the back straight was missed out as at the previous meeting. I presume there is a rule that means hurdles are in a set position, as it would make sense just to move the hurdle.

6.30 2m 4.5f Maiden hurdle

I misjudged this race as I thought it would be between Pouilly and Jim The Gent. In the event JIM THE GENT pulled a bit early on and though leading two out, couldn't resist the challenge of DRIVERSFORD, who had made a promising debut in Ireland. The latter should go on from this, while JIM THE GENT may need slightly firmer ground, and he certainly wasn't inconvenienced by the longer trip.
POUILLY was hampered on the bend before three out but still threatened two out, only to fade. He's bred to be a staying chaser.
BEAUFOY went well to between the last two hurdles and was left behind by the first and second.

7.00 2m 4.5f Selling Handicap Hurdle

BLACK CHALK, a winning chaser, led at a decent pace but was found wanting in the straight. Worth watching back over fences.
BAMBY hadn't shown much previously but won this with any amount in hand and looks better than selling class.
FLOWER HAVEN ran well enough but couldn't get near the winner, and NAMED AT DINNER stayed past a couple over the last two.

7.30 3m Handicap Chase

Another fine performance by the in-form veteran MIGHTY FINE. Leading at a decent pace, he had half of these struggling very early and was clear entering the straight. In the end he ran out of steam on the run-in, but still found a little more to hold on from TOM SAYERS, but the two were well clear of the rest. MIGHTY FINE's credentials are there for all to see, and TOM SAYERS won't come up against such a tough opponent regularly.
The Johnson owned pair ITSMYBOY and COMMERCIAL EXPRESS were out the back for a long way but stayed on up the straight. The latter ran well considering his hike in the weights.

*** Sad postscript to the story is that the gallant performer MIGHTY FINE collapsed and died after the race.

8.00 3m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle

An ordinary staying event run at a gentle pace.

BARRACAT led for a long way but dropped away in the straight. He was in good form last winter, if inconsistent, but seems to be struggling a little now.
EL BANDINDOS was having only his fifth run, so might have more scope than the rest here. He stayed on very well and I would expect this one to follow up. THE RIGHT PEOPLE did nothing wrong in second and will be competitive in similar contests. The remainder basically plodded.
PANTHERS RUN showed some promise here in a novice event last time, but seems to have two ways of running.

8.30 2m 4.5f Novice Handicap Chase

GUNSON HIGHT won a chase at Hexham but fell last time. This time he whacked the first, rider lost his irons and the horse ran out. He's got ability but hisjumping is dicey at the moment.
LAWAAHEB led to 4 out and then weakened.
RUSSIAN SKY disputed the lead for a long way but faded in the straight. He often flatters to deceive and is one to oppose.
MISTER MAGNUM was badly hampered by KNOW THE ROPES on the run-in, but battled back determinedly. The winnere shows the right attitude and is at the right end of the handicap. KNOW THE ROPES got tired and hung towards the rail, but performed well enough.

9.00 2m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle

This looked a competitive event.

SUPPLY AND FIX took them along at a decent pace, was headed on the flat and only beaten a length. His rider, Jennifer Kidd, is a useful amateur, but was outridden in the straight. I reckon SUPPLY AND FIX can make amends if professionally handled or if aimed at an amateur hurdle.
GO FIGURE battled well to dead heat, has only had five races, is at the right end of the handicap and should in again.
GOLD GUN looked to have done neough only to be joined right on the line.
Form looks strong.

Friday, 20 July 2007

July 19 Hamilton (Good to soft)

I was at the meeting as part of my company's corporate hospitality do, so possibly didn't pay as much attention as I might normally have done. Yours truly, representing 'downstairs' I managed 2 winners out of 7 races (two selections in each race!) beating 'Keith from upstairs' who only managed one. The fact that both of landed long odds-on Loulwa, it was a bit like winning a penalty shoot-out 2-1 after 7 attempts each!

2.20 5f 2yo Maiden Auction

Newcomer ANOSTI won this readily, going clear in the final furlong. In the paddock I reckoned there was still a bit to work on with this one so I'd expect improvement. It'll be interesting to see how she's campaigned, as I believe she's in a couple of sales races. In the short term I would certainly be interested if she were aimed at a nursery.

ELIJAH PEPPER led until 1 out, hanging right, but kept on well for second place. STORM JOURNEY improved on previous form in third challenged the second to the line.

RED DELIGHT was badly outpaced from the start, but picked up nicely up the hill and kept on well, She'd been staying on over 6f at Thirsk, so a longer trip will see her to better advantage.

2.50 6f Claimer

SPIRITUAL PEACE hadn't looked madly keen on occasions. He did enough to hold on from REGAL RAIDER in what looked a very moderate event. The latter might be suited by a return to 7 furlongs.
THE SALWICK FLYER showed good pace and kept for third. All the more remarkable considering he'd unshipped her rider on the way to start and run 3 furlongs back past the stands. He still wasn't settled going down, but improved on previous form, so a lowly handicap or seller would seem at his mercy.
THROW THE DICE showed good pace to lead until 1 out. A drop back to five furlongs may help.

3.25 1m 65yds Handicap

IGNITION put a poor run at Musselburgh behind her, she was badly drawn there, setting a steady pace and increasing the gallop to hold on up the hill. LOCAL POET had every chance a furlong out, but the step up to the extended mile was probably a little too much. He's in good form and back at 6 or 7 furlongs would have every chance of picking up a race.
HOWARD'S ROCKET has huge feet which might suggest soft ground suits. Maybe it had dried a bit too much as he couldn't raise the tempo in the last furlong.
Maiden MANDARIN ROCKET had been in good form but fell away tamely up the hill.
JABRAAN held a chance on stands' side 2 out, but didn't get to the leaders, and this could be as good as he is.
NORTHERN DESERT looked in very good nick, but pulled hard early and didn't get to the leaders. I suspect he needs more of a gallop.

4.00 6f Handicap
Irish challenger RICHELIEU was last until 300 yards out, and had to come right round the field to challenge MOZAKRHAF. In the event the former couldn't any nearer than a neck behind the winner, but his Irish form looks very sound and he looks sure to figure in similar events. MOZAKRHAF showed plenty of determination when the chips were down.
JOYEAUX kept on well enough but that looks about as good as he is off this mark.
GEORGE THE BEST was upped in class, and kept on well in the final furlong. He seems generally in good heart and a drop in class again should see him pick up a race.
BRUT showed good pace but faded from a furlong out.

4.35 1m 5f Handicap

Perth hurdle winner BALAKAR led in the final furlong and looked sure to win. Meanwhile some way back......outsider ATLANTIC COAST was detached and Royston Ffrench stoking the coal big time at the 3 furlong pole, and was still last 2 out. The horse then took off, hanging toward the stands' rail, zoomed past the rest and won with a degree of comfort. He clearly has plenty of ability, but I think I'd want to see him run again before risking money. He might just be be value to oppose if coming out under a penalty. All credit to his rider for persevering when some might have called it a day.
The 11yo BALAKAR is probably running out of opportunities and really doesn't need these sneaky tricks from the youngsters.
GOLDEN GROOM ran an honest enough race from 4lbs out of the handicap in third.
QAASI made progress 2 out to threaten but could find no more. THEY ALL LAUGHED had every chance but didn't quite get the leaders and faded in the final furlong.
PEINTRE'S WONDER looked sure to be suited by this longer trip, but didn't threaten to get involved at any point.
RIGHTFUL RULER led till the intersection of the loop then folded.

5.10 1m 3f Maiden

LOULWA was expeccted to win this with a lot in hand, but in the event had to be kept up to her work to hold off the determined LOCHIEL. The winner's connection be chuffed to have got a win into here, and will presumably line up a sterner test. LOCHIEL is now qualified for handicaps and certainly seems to have the right attitude.
STAR OF ANGELS led until 2 out and plugged on to finish well clear of the remainder who quite frankly look slow. Newcomer BEAUTY SHINE ran green up the straight and did at least pass a couple close home, but needs to show more to be competitive.

5.10 1m 3f Aparentice Handicap

RARE COINCIDENCE made the running and showed excellent determination to hold off RELOCATION. Unfortunately ENGLISH ARCHER picked up well from fourth and overtook both in the shadow of the post, much to the delight of a couple of our party who each won a decent sum. Mark Brisbourne normally knows what to do with this sort of horse, and ENGLISH ARCHER clearly has ability so might be worth watching out for in low class staying handicaps.
THE PEN wasn't far back in fourth and will probably be capable of picking up another race.
KID'Z'PLAY was presumably just a 'schoolmaster' here and is basically a jumper these days.
TWILIGHT AVENGER was very slow.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

July 15 Perth (Good)

The going was good, with good to soft patches on the chase course. The two days of last meeting were abandoned and I suspect there were a few false patches of gorund, as the flight on the far side was omitted in the hurdles.

A crowd in the region of 10,000 witnessed a competitive card on that rarity this summer, a warm and sunny day!

2.10 16.5f Maiden Hurdle

Irish import HARCAS raced prominently, led 3 out and stayed on up the straight. He held off FIT TO FLY , the latter just pipping JIM THE GENT for second. All three look reasonable prospects. JORDANS ELECT was close up in fourth looks a big strong type and I'm sure will learn from the experience here. The one fly in the ointment could be the proximity of the exposed GAPPERSONNELDOTCOM in fifth.

JIM THE GENT was in my list of horses to follow. He's coming along nicely and the way he stayed suggests a longer distance will do him no harm. He won a couple of bumpers on good to firm last year, so slightly faster ground wouldn't be a hindrance.

Graham Lee , rider of Jordan's Elect, reported the ground as "very patchy".

2.40 2m 4.5f Novices' Chase

CAIPIROSKA led at a decent pace, but ran of puff when headed 4 out and was last of the four to finish. He's likely to have better opportunities agianst lesser opposition in handicaps.
COMMERCIAL EXPRESS is in a decent vein of form. He looked very fit in the parade ring. looked destined to take the race comfortably unitl making a hash of two out. Timmy Murphy pulled him back together to overtake CONTACT DANCER on the run-in.

TICKATEAL took over 4 out, but didn't find a lot between the last two. He could be one who needs the race to fall his way, and quicker ground may be a help.

The remainder struggled to get into the race and all pulled up.

3.10 2m 4.5f Novices' Hurdle

MIDDLETON DENE caught my eye back in October at Kelso and hasn't disappointed. Moved up a mile out, took over at the last and stayed on.

PIGEON ISLAND in blinkers and a tongue strap, led 3 out, but was held when eased and losing third on the line. David England received '21 days' for his misdemeanour. That aside I'm not sure Pigeon Island is particularly straightforward and I'd rather oppose than support him.

PANTHERS RUN had some bits and pieces of decent form to show, but has been a bit in and out. He finished fast to benefit from England's error and would be interesting in a minor staying maiden event.

Irish trained DABLUFFER set a strong pace but fell away in the straight. BEAU SADDLER stepped up on previous form to finish fourth. BEGGAR'S CAP, stepped up in trip, ran out of petrol in the last half mile.

3.40 3m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle

CATCH THE PERK made it 1n impressive 12 wins from 50 attempts with a win for local trainer Lucinda Russell. His last run was pulled up in the Veteran's Chase at Cartmel. If he can stick to this sort of form, then he's worth considering over hurdles or fences in the future. He showed admirable determination to hold off HARRY FLASHMAN, who's running well at present. HE'S A HOTSHOT now seems to have found some form and couldn't hold the first two but finished quite close, with the remainder 24 lengths and more adrift. I believe KID'Z'PLAY, the fourth placed horse, now goes to Hamilton on the flat on Thursday.

4.10 2m Handicap Chase

LUTEA is coming on in leaps and boundas, making it 4 in a row. He led jumping well and kept on in the straight.
SEEYAAJ hasn't been seen out often recently, but may be on the way back as he stayed on determinedly in second.
YANKEE HOLIDAY had two handlers in the paddock, pulled hard going down and tried to go with the leader but weakened in the straight. He won't always come up against an opponent like Lutea and I wouldn't write him off yet.
LOFTY LEADER often stays on late, but just didn't get a blow in here.
SOUTH BRONX looked a picture in the paddock, jumped very well, but could only find one pace from 4 out.
ARRESTING was most uncooperative and was pulled up after just 6 obstacles.

4.40 2m 0.5f Ladies' Handicap Hurdle

A very poor event fought out by the two competitors possessing from bordering on respectable. COMPTON EAGLE and TARKESAR went clear up the straight, the latter keeping on the stronger to get up close home. They were clear of the rest who really aren't performing well at the moment.

GUERILLA, as I had noted previously, is led around on the grass in the parade ring. I wonder if he has bad feet?

5.10 2m 0.5f NH Flat

An 18-strong field turned out for the closing bumper. The event was won with consummate ease by POUILLY, his jockey taking a good look round in the final furlong. He's run creditably in Irish points and is half-brother to winning stayers Jurancon III and Red Echo. The obvious conclusion is that given time he'll been a good deal better when faced with obstacles and a distance of ground. Certainly one to watch out for over obstacles in Ireland.

SIMONSIDER loked very well and put up a creditable debut performance, staying on for second. STILL AT LUNCH held up the form from the last meeting here and will probably find a race.

FUNNY THING didn't threaten the leaders, but kept on well for fourth. Half-sister to am iddle distance hurdle/chase winner Hailstorm, so presumably is one for the future over obstacles.

THAT'LL DO NICELY looked very fit, and was well backed, but was found out when push came to shove. BAGUENAUD was another well backed, moved up promisingly 4 furlongs out, but went out like a light in the last two furlongs. COCKATHEWALK came from well back to threaten on the home turn, but faded in the straight. MACROGER looked a decent jumping type to me, but never got any farther forward than mid division.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

July 14 Hamilton (Soft, Heavy in places)

The rain that swept in on Friday evening made the going soft, heavy in places, but the times suggest that perhaps it wasn't as testing as that.

Having spent time arriving at two selections for the meeting both were non-runners. The going change caused 18 horses to be pulled out.

6.50 6f Apprentice Handicap

Ironically this sprint event is named after Lord Advocate who was a stayer! Lord Advocate appeared in the paddock and looked full of beans, bucking and kicking. His owner said that he still thinks he's a racehorse and is still house in the racing yard. He looked in superb condition, as did the Nolan runners. The stable might have some slowcoaches amongst their inmates, but these horses are lovingly cared for, and no doubt have a better life than some of their more illustrious opponents.

RONDO went down early and came back a bit earlier than the others. He burst clear 1f out and won wuith a bit to spare. He looks one to watch our for when there's cut in the ground. His rider was suspended for 3 days as he cut across the second.

FISTRAL was well held despite the interference. Kirsty Milczarek was hard at work 2 out, but her mount responded well and kept on up the hill. Probably selling class but I would think this one can find a race. Third TURKISH SULTAN and 4th OUEF A LA NEIGE both had every chance and simply weren't good enough.

7.20 5f Handicap

There was some decent recent form from some of these and it turned out to be a competitive contest.

MELALCHRIST made all and stuck on to win by a couple of lengths. The rest were close together in the race for second. ROTHESAY DANCER(2nd), KATIE BOO(3rd) and PTARMIGAN RIDGE(4th) won't be penalised much if at all for being close up, and all three will continue to be competitive at this level.

11yo LEGAL SET went a decent pace for 4f and he would still be interesting dropped to selling company.

7.50 5f 3yo Median Auction

This looked a pretty poor event, but in the end it was closely fought with RUE SOLEIL just heading HOWARD'S TIPPLE close home. The latter had two handlers in the paddock, and has had plenty of chances, but did try hard and went close. LEMPICKA stayed on for third and can now be handicapped. Since this race was only 0.3 seconds slower than the handicap, allowing weight for age, I would imagine that the first three would be competitive at handicap level.

8.20 1m 3f 3-5yo Claimer

A dire looking event and not surprisingly no claims were received.

SIMPLY ST LUCIA has run respectably over hurdles and showed willingness to hold on having led at halfway, but won't find many poorer claimers. FRITH, looking fit after a break, stayed on for second. Favourite PATAVIAN had every chance, but didn't look all that keen to me.

RAGUANY found the front three too quick in the final 2 furlongs, and the rest just look slow.

8.50 1m 65y Handicap

STOLEN GLANCE won this with plenty in hand, scooting clear from over a furlong out.

NEIL'S LEGACY is in decent form and held off HOWARD'S ROCKET for second. The latter was stepping up on some poor previous form so I do wonder if the form is worth as much as it might seem. GREYFRIARS ABBEY started slowly, was rousted along coming into the straight and could never muster a challenge. I would imagine he will be capable of better given time.

1m 65yds 3yo Handicap

A moderate handicap won in convincing style by ICE BOX, leading 2 out and staying on for a comfortable 7 length win from MILSON'S POINT. I suspect the latter might just have found the distance stretching his stamina in the ground. FLAMESTONE, a fussy sort in the paddock, is only selling class and was a further 3 lengths back though keeping on willingly.

HEAVEN'S GATES was prominent to 2 out but then faded. He looked fit enough after a lay-off so the ground could have been against him.

CAPE DANCER weakened quickly 4 out, and was pulled up before the furlong pole. He looked sound afterwards, so perhaps it was a breathing problem.

July 14 - Hamilton this evening

I spent a couple of hours working through the card for this evening's meeting at Hamilton. The first four races were a struggle, with two particularly dire events in the middle of the card, a claimer and a sprint maiden, where strong form was not to the fore.

The last two races show a little more promise. REGENT'S SECRET(8.50) was favourite for the Carlisle Bell last time, but found that a little tough. Back over a course and distance where's he's proven this looks a bit easier, a decent 7lb claimer reduces the weight, he's a previous winner off his current mark and looks a sound bet. I'd be looking for 3-1 though.

BIVOUAC(9.20) is steadily improving and returns to the scene of a decent performance in slightly higher class last time. Dangers here would be Milson's Point, stepping up in trip off a decent second at Ayr, Heaven's Gates, who showed fair form on the all-weather, and Ice Box who has some fair handicap form. Against those I'm looking for 4-1 minimum about Bivouac.

Busy weekend as I'm off to Perth tomorrow afternoon. I'll post a meeting report ASAP with Perth to follow, and lookout for Hamilton and Perth course focuses on in the next few days. Another slightly different angle next Thursday as I am joining the corporate hospitality set at Hamilton entertaining my company's customers.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Monday July 9 2007

Musselburgh (Good)

The ground had dried out a bit with slightly kinder weather in the east of Scotland.

2.30 5f 2yo Auction Maiden

One or two here who should be contesting 5/6f nurseries shortly. GRUDGE and ROCHEPORT showed decent early pace and should show up well when handicapped.
FOL HOLLOW burst clear 2 out and won comfortably. He's previously done well enough over 6f which gives his trainer a few alternatives, and has now run well both in heavy and on good ground.
RIEVAULX VALENTINO struggled with the pace early, but came through nicely in the final furlong.

3.00 1m 6f Handicap

SCAVONIC and RED SUN went off a good clip. RED SUN increased the pace into the straight but had come to the end of his tether 2 out. He stays 2m, is on a mark round about his winning mark, so a win is possible in the near future.
ARTLESS was always handy, moved up nicely 2 out and stayed on well enough. Lightly raced and in the right hands to expect some improvement. Sir Mark will no doubt have something in mind for this one.
NIMRA kept on well in second, though disappointed when favourite previously and it's possible this one might just be difficult to win with.
COTTON EYED JOE had every chance but wasn't good enough when push came to shove.

3.30 7f Auction Maiden

Exposed types here. They set off a rattling pace and I suspect TOMMY TOBOUGG, who's been dotted around in trip, probably just had the race fall right for him.

4.00 7f 2yo Handicap

Disappointing 5 runner turn out for the nursery.

APOLLO SHARK stayed on really well confirming Thirsk promise. SUITE FRANCHISE helped set a decent pace, kept on well, and is bred to suited be by further.

4.30 5f Handicap

All bar the Nolan contestants looked competitive in this. In the event Kelly Harrison, who looks a pretty decent apprentice to me, brought ROTHESAY DANCER through smoothly in the final furlong.

5.00 7f Handicap

As so often Musselburgh 7f events, they hared off toward the first bend here, and those prominent on the turn were best placed at the end.

SANDS OF BARRA was caught flat footed, never got into in from the outside box and is capable of better. Ignore this run.

The main contenders were in a heap 2 out, ATTACCA coming out of the pack to record a third C/D win. Other than the course record he tends only to win in his turn.

5.30 1m 3yo Handicap

A moderate bunch who only win in their turn, and many with a lot of mileage on the clock.

DRINK TO ME ONLY's form tends to mix big numbers with 1's which does help the price when he sticks his head in front. He just held on from the consistent EMPEROR'S WELL. KIRKBY'S TREASURE started slowly, but they don't go quite as quickly early over the mile as the seven furlong trip, so he steadily got back into it, just lacking a further burst close home and just held in third.

I hope to get to Hamilton and Perth over the weekend. Lookout for a couple of course focuses on The Racing Forum.