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.