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).