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.
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.