Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Last of 2008 at Catterick

CATTERICK – Sunday December 28th

Going – Good to Soft

Catterick races are generally well patronised and we were treated to three decent sized fields for the chases.

1.25 3m 1 ½ f 0-110 Handicap Chase

COLDWELLS continued here progression and led this field all the way. She was challenged three out but ultimately showed a little more resolution than the second. She’s moderate but should continue to show up well at this level.
STONERIGGS MERC has been kept on the go, and his form cycle seems to be on the rise once again, though perhaps lacking the resolve of the winner. He is a safe enough jumper and will likely pick up a race before long, possibly here or at Musselburgh.
SEA CADET never got to the leaders but picked his way through late on for third. He’s not much higher than his previous wining mark and may be coming to hand. Previous evidence suggests he wouldn’t want it any softer than this yielding ground.
ORANG OUTAN was stepping up significantly on previous trips. He got in with a chance two out but then couldn’t summon up a further effort. This was an improvement on previous efforts this season, and a step back to three miles or just below may help.
CARRYDUFF made progress on the home bend to have a chance 3 out, but that was as close as he got. He has good form at Towcester and it could be the uphill finish helps, although I note his other places have been at Sedgefield which is rather a contrast.
WIZARDS DUST, conqueror of Coldwells last time, dropped back into the pack here. He had every chance three out but faded. It could be that a shade faster ground will help him.
SHARP BELLINE was comfortably held and hasn’t shown her best yet this season.
PRINCE MOUSE raced too freely early on and paid the penalty in the later stages. He’s very lightly raced for an 11 year old, didn’t shine in points or hunter chases in the past and looks likely to struggle in these events. He was tongue-tied here but that made no apparent difference.
PRINCE OF SLANE was struggling fully a mile out. I would have expected slightly better after a glimmer of promise on his previous outing.
POLAR GALE was not significantly enlivened by the application of blinkers. The best course of action might be to wait for firmer ground in late spring.
LOCH VIC was flattered by a second of three finishers at Southwell and struggled in a more demanding contest here before pulling up.
STORMY BEECH couldn’t get near the front and didn’t look interested.

2.25 2m Class 3 Novices’ Chase

A wide range of abilities on show here, with a winner who will surely go on to much greater things.

PALOMAR progressed swiftly over hurdles and looks to be going much the same way over fences. Have been settled in the rear he was brought through steadily to challenge 2 out. He eased away from this point to win with any amount in hand. He jumped well enough given that the pace wasn’t as quick as he would like and looks one to make a mark amongst the top grade.
DOUBLE VODKA saw off the rest of the field comfortably. He’s shown enough in two chase outings to suggest a run of the mill novice chase should be a formality.
HERNANDO’S BOY was left behind from three out by superior opponents. However he jumps well and should win again in easier company.
BEDLAM BOY was still in contention when coming to grief two out. This was his best effort over fences, but he gets too low at times and needs to jump better.
FALCON’S TRIBUTE performed as well as could be expected against opposition that was too good for him. Handicaps will suit better.
ARCALIS would have beaten most of these a mile over hurdles, but was never going well enough on his chase debut.
ISLAND KEY was outclassed and made no show.
KING’S QUAY found this much tougher than the moderate 5-runner event he won at Fakenham.
PENDLE FOREST was once again totally outclassed. I really can’t see what the Johnson stable get from running the likes of this mare and Moyne Pleasure in events where they have not an earthly of getting competitive. A return to lowly handicap hurdles would be a bit of a help.
MARSAM led early but was passed at the fifth and quickly folded. He capitulated so quickly that I wonder if he may have a problem.

2.55 2m 3f 0-100 Handicap Chase

Very few got seriously competitive in this event.

PLAYER clearly benefitted from his seasonal debut at Carlisle and, after being shaken up a mile out, came through smoothly to pick off the leaders in the straight. He gives the impression of one who has a few pounds improvement in him.
IT’S BERTIE has looked happy blazing the trail recently and saw off all bar the winner quite comfortably. He’s unlikely to go up much if at all in the ratings, so looks to have every chance of recording a victory in current form.
CLOUDLESS DAWN picked his way through the field from 4 out, but never got to the leaders. She won a novice handicap off 110 in November 2006, so off a mark of 98 she may be well placed to pick up a handicap before long.
ITALIANO stayed on for fourth without getting seriously competitive.
I’M YOUR MAN came from the rear to briefly threaten three out but then faded. He seems held on his current mark.
CAILIN GO MAITH was prominent for a way, was struggling at the ninth, but did keep going to hold on to sixth. She’s had 28 attempts and only a second and two thirds to show for it.
FARNE ISLE made no show and chasing form continues to be uninspiring.
PHYSICAL FORCE cried enough five out. This was a seasonal debut, and he presumably needed the race, and all his best chasing from has been on good or faster ground.
SOUND OF CHEERS dropped away from 5 out and is better than this performance suggests.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS showed no interest. He occasionally runs a decent race, but isn’t betting material.
ZA BEAU has some ability but is a dodgy jumper and dislodged his rider at the first.
EBORARRY couldn’t get to the front and sulked before pulling up.
MAKE A MARK showed nothing here and has failed to make a mark on the track for sometime.
OCEAN DANCER has been pathetic on the track since returning from a four year lay-off in April 2008 and it’s questionable why connections are bothering with him.
The problem with MORE SHENNANIGANS is finding a race where he runs off his 57 rating. 20/1 on racing debut was the lowest price he’s ever been and with hindsight that was pretty poor value.

Hurdles Notes

SURPRISE PENSION made a promising debut in Division One of the Maiden Hurdle. He was only rated 59 on the flat, but could be a bit better over hurdles and should improve since he looked distinctly green here.
Bumper winner STAGECOACH PEARL ran a respectable hurdling debut, and MOONWALKING picked off the latter for second late on.
CALCUTTA CUP, away from the jumping scene since a couple of decent efforts and picked up Division Two of the Maiden. He looked likely to win comfortably, but walked through the last and just held on. He should come on for the race, both experience and fitness wise.
BURNSWOOD ran a good race in second, battling back determinedly when held. He seems to have the required attitude.
WOODY VALENTINE showed a lot more enthusiasm when able to dominate in the Selling Handicap Hurdle. He has been transferred from Dianne Sayer to her daughter Evelyn Slack and was recording a first win in four years here. He may have been beating ‘trees’ in this event, but the way he won must surely have boosted his self esteem, if there is an equine equivalent!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

SEDGEFIELD - Boxing Day

Going – Soft

Fine weather for this popular Christmas meeting in County Durham.

The fence at top of the hill was omitted in all chases.

1.15 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase

AURORAS ENCORE was much more suited to gentler test at Sedgefield than a slog in the mud at Carlisle. He raced prominently, joined the leader two out and kept on well. This is much more like it and, as long as he avoids another ‘mud fest’ at the likes of Carlisle, he should show chasing form more reflecting his ability.
OSOLOMIO had a very promising introduction to chasing. He was held up in touch with the leaders, led three out but then passed by a better opponent before the last. He lost nothing in defeat here and looks likely to take a similar event.
LEAC AN SCAIL stayed on but never quite got to the leaders at the business end. He was rated 123 over hurdles so performed up to his form on chasing debut, and is another who should pick up a chase soon.
I thought that this may be a good opportunity for JASS, but looking at the hurdle ratings of the first three against his own chase rating of 112 then he probably had a stiff task on his hands. He struggled from the seventh but plugged on for fourth. Handicaps seem his best chance since he runs into one or two too good for him in these events.
OUR JIM was never dangerous and well held, but that’s no surprise given a hurdles rating below those in front of him.
MASTER BUILDER went well until left behind from 3 out. He jumped well enough and may be suited by a longer trip.
ASTON LAD trundled round in the rear.
PASS THE CLASS went well up with the pace early, but gave way from the ninth. His jumping had gone to pot in most recent chasing efforts, and this may prove to be a confidence booster. He has ability and may pick up a novice handicap chase.
STORYMAKER was going well enough but thumped the ninth which stopped him in his tracks and he was pulled up.
GLENCAP, an Irish pointing winner, was receiving reminders by the eighth and quickly faded, pulling up by the eleventh. He has yet to show much under Rules.
SACRED MOUNTAIN was once again found wanting out of hunter company. He hit the tenth when feeling the pinch and was quickly pulled up. He is qualified for handicaps which would give him a little more hope.

2.20 3m 3f 0-95 Handicap Chase

Only an ordinary event, but the winner looks progressive and those immediately behind will have chances.

SMART THINKER ran with promise at Uttoxeter and built on that over a longer trip here. He was sitting just off the lead 4 out and was sent on before the last. He was made to work by a tenacious runner-up, but held on well. He raced here off a mark of 69 which surely gives room for manoeuvre regarding future placement and I’d be very surprised if he didn’t follow up.
JETHRO TULL was eased back to the game early this season, but is now getting involved regularly. He was just pipped again, but lost nothing in defeat and deserves to pick up a minor handicap chase.
SCOTT’S MILL progressed from the rear, threatened for a while but never got to the front two. Whether he will come on for the run is debatable since the smith runners have generally been ready first time, but he at least showed some ability is there. He has time on his side.
SHULMIN has a very good record round here but on this occasion never got to the leaders. She plugged on for fourth but she’s now off a mark of 90, 7lbs higher than here previous winning mark.
TOMILLIELOU set a good pace to three out, but gave way once turned for home. He is gradually returning to form.
FLEMEN LOON flattered for a while three out but then faded. He’s not been over-raced for a 9 year old and may show a little more.
GARLETON was never in contention. Evidence suggests he needs a stiffer track to slow the others down to his pace.
HAS SCORED raced prominently for the first three-quarters of the race, but faded and pulled up. Coming off a break the race may bring him on and he is better than this form.
LUCIUS RUFO pulled up here and has struggled in three chase outings to date.
PANAMA AT ONCE provided some entertainment for the crowd if not making a mark in the race. He hit the fence in front of the stands and his saddle slipped, putting Oliver Williams around the horse’s neck. Williams clung on as the horse continued but gradually slowed. Panama At Once had slowed to a walk by the time Williams lost his battle against gravity by the winning post. The gelding is still 9lbs higher than when winning a moderate handicap at Hexham in April 2007 and needs a significant drop in the weights to be competitive.

2.55 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

JUSTWHATEVERULIKE is consistent if handicapped to his mark, and took advantage of a good opportunity here against some out of form opponents. Having looked one paced three out he stayed on in the straight. He’ll go up a few pounds and that won’t help him in future.
STAGECOACH AMBER set a good pace and still looked the winner two out, but was headed before the last and couldn’t summon an extra effort. This was a sound run and he may pick up a small handicap.
BOB’S DREAM raced prominently but couldn’t muster the effort needed from two out. He put up in decent effort in stiff company at Kelso on his chasing debut. This effort suggests he’s going the right way and a handicap chase should fall his way before long.
RED DAWN has now had 32 goes without a win, and ran to par here, leading for a way but offering nothing in the latter stages.
DE BOITRON showed a little more than on his previous two starts for the stable. He chased the leaders from 4 out but weakened from 2 out. He’s gradually getting the hang of the British jumping circuit and may well offer better in time.
GRAND MANNER was always behind here. His two wins have been on fast ground. A trip to Musselburgh may help as it’s the one place he might get his ground at this time of year.
BRIGHT SPARKY never showed and hasn’t demonstrated any great form in his last few outings.
ANDY ANSHAN was in the rear and getting reminders early. He had previously only run on good ground and is another who may not have been favoured by the surface here.
MALT DE VERGY made no show on his debut for his new stable.
Maybe it was the effect of the Yuletide festivities but the most surprising event here was the fact that the unreliable MISTER JUNGLE was made 3/1 favourite. He has ability on his day, but spends many runs moping around at the back. He never got competitive here and pulled up. He was galvanised by a visor at Musselburgh last December, but a move to a new stable doesn’t seem to put any life into him. He may summon up some decent form, but I’d not want to back him at single figure odds.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Carlisle - December 21st

Going – Heavy

The last Northern jump meeting before the pause for Christmas saw another all chase meeting. The original plan, as detailed on the course website, was that hurdle races should be suspended during November due to on-going drainage work, but this has continued into December. No update on the website regarding the future position, though I assume we won’t see much hurdling this jump season. In truth saving the turf on the hurdles/flat course will probably do the turf a power of good anyway since it must take a hammering.

With plenty of rain hitting the North West the ground was once again very testing.

12.50 2m 4f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

This was a decent little novice event to begin the afternoon’s entertainment.

SKIPPERS BRIG progressed steadily to join issue 3 out. He took over 2 out, then walked through the last but stayed on to win well. He should play a part in decent novice chases where the accent is on stamina.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE progressed from his Sedgefield chasing debut. He found one too good here, but he’ll progress and will be suited by a step up in trip. His trainers plan was not to rush him and I believe this will pay dividends in time.
BOLD RANSOM made an excellent chasing debut. A hurdle winner at Newcastle over three miles in soft, a stamina test was likely to suit. He couldn’t raise his game enough on the flat but he jumped very well here looks a ready made chase winner.
COE raced prominently but found things a bit too tough from 3 out. He has been given a chase handicap mark of 128 and it remains to see if he can live up to that.
NETHERLEY showed much promise, returning off a near two year break. He led early, was still there 4 out but tired up the hill. Donald McCain’s charges have benefited from a run this season and Netherley should show up at the business end next time out.
RAGADOR was never dangerous and needs an easier task.
SIERRA VICTOR was in the rear early and stayed there, jumping untidily. He’s been remote on three NH outings to date.
Previous winner ROLE ON landed steeply and fell at the second.
STAND ON ME made some progress after the eleventh, but the effort was short-lived and he was pulled up. He was only winner of a moderate handicap at Cartmel and nay chance he has is likely to be in that company.
AURORAS ENCORE, rated 139 over hurdles, dropped away quickly after the eleventh. He didn’t seem to relish the slog round here on chasing debut.
CADEAUX SINGER was a poor hurdler, and the meagre evidence up to his second fence departure suggests that he’ll be no better over fences.

1.25 3m ½f 0-90 Handicap Chase

TOY GUN has now got his act together over fences and recorded a second successive win. He closed on the clear leader approaching 4 out, took it up before the last and stayed on. He will likely be bumped up 10lbs or more for this which will make the task tougher in future.
NELLIEDONETHAT led and was allowed to stride on for the first two miles. The field closed at the bottom of the hill, but to his credit he stuck to his task before running out of puff at the last. He has done enough to suggest a minor handicap chase will fall his way.
MAN OF THE MOMENT, a traveller from Jim Best’s stables in Lewes, ran in snatches. At times he didn’t seem over keen, but seemed happier going uphill than down. He stayed on in the later stages, and may be worth a try Towcester which has a similar slogging finish.
BLUE RISING has got into a pattern of threatening to get into his races then faltering. He’s still a maiden and at present is one I’d oppose.
HOLLOWS MIST was second in a dire contest here last time but was comfortably put in his place here. Nothing in his profile suggests he is betting material.
ESQUILLON had been running in selling hurdles previously and showed no promise on his chasing debut.
BEAU PEAK has looked slow to date and jumped abysmally in the rear before being pulled up after the tenth.

1.55 3m 2f 0-135 Handicap Chase

ROYAL MACKINTOSH, who had run two sound races this season, picked this up with a degree of comfort. Presented with a collection of mainly out of form or slow opponents, he was much too sharp up the hill. That’s three wins at Carlisle and Alan Mactaggart will be on the look out for more opportunities here.
BALLYVOGE was put in his place from 2 out having been up with the pace all the way. He has a good record in 11 jumping efforts, goes well in the mud and is 2132 round Carlisle.
MATMATA DE TENDRON is gradually working his way into a bit of form. His Wetherby run had offered some encouragement, and he led or disputed for much of the way here, eventually giving way from four out. He plugged on to hold third. He needs a slog in the mud and his record around Sedgefield is particularly strong.
MANOUBI had every chance 4 out but couldn’t match the leaders up the hill.
SUPER ROAD TRAIN raced prominently but weakened from 3 out. He’s 10lbs higher than his best winning mark and it shows.
LAERTES never looked happy and pulled up. That’s four poor runs this season. It’s possible he may be better on a flatter track, since he galloped his rivals silly on yielding ground at Perth in April, but that may be clutching at straws on my part. He’s entered in the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day.
DELRAY BEACH, blinkered in the presumed hope of better, took a little more interest than at Ayr. However, she still needed regular encouragement and lost touch down the far side for the last time before pulling up.

2.25 2m 5f 0-125 Mares’ Handicap Chase

MORE LIKELY really seems to be on good terms with the world at the moment and, even away from her favourite Kelso, put up a good performance to win this contest. She led or disputed from the start and stayed on well up the hill.
CHICKAPEAKRAY generally runs a decent race, although she would appear to be handicapped to the hilt at them moment. She never got a blow in at the leader, but picked off here stable mate for second.
ROSIE ALL OVER tracked More Likely for much of the way, but a couple of mistakes down the far side set her back and ultimately cost her chance of winning. She tired on the run-in though tried hard enough for second. She’s probably capable of a bit better and should not be written off. A step up in trip would help her.
MINSTER ABBI was prominent at the eighth, but under pressure soon after and struggled home a distant fourth. She seems to be handicapped on here hurdle form at the moment and needs her mark eased over fences.
SCARVAGH DIAMOND is right out of sorts so far this season. She should be competitive in this sort of event, but was never travelling.
STAR OF RAVEN was out of the handicap and struggled from the start, pulling up before the ninth. She would be better off in 0-100 events.

3.00 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase

LAGO has been moved back and forth between hurdling and chasing. He won this with any amount in hand, being eased considerably in the latter stages. He seems to have dropped to a manageable mark now and it would make sense if he appeared under a penalty.
HERBIE got his jumping act together and a sound completion here will have done him no harm. He stayed on from the rear fro second and is now going the right way.
TEENANDO had every chance approaching four out, but then pecked at that fence before blundering three out. That probably cost him his chance since the winner was going so well. He went up 19lbs for his two wins and might just have reached a plateau on 94.
DAWN RIDE plugged on into fourth without getting competitive.
DEUTERONOMY led until two out and then weakened. His record before this over fences was pretty good (F2152) and it might be that the uphill finish found him out. I wouldn’t dismiss him back on a less testing track.
ROOBIHOO was never going, pulled up and hasn’t threatened this season. He’s yet to win over fences and last won a race in 2005. Roobihoo was reported as being distressed on pulling up.
RECKLESS VENTURE showed up early but was a spent force by the ninth and pulled up. Peter Buchanan reported that reckless Venture hung left and had a breathing problem.
BALLYNURE raced close up until blundering at the ninth. That seemed to knock the stuffing out of him and he pulled up not long after.
MR FLOPPY struggled in the rear on his chasing debut following a year lay-off. He did show a glimmer of ability on his last hurdles outing so may need a bit of time.

3.30 2m 0-90 Handicap Chase

NORMINSTER really seems to have clicked at this lowly level this season. His form tailed off over hurdles in the summer, but a couple of months rest seems to have done the trick. He followed up two decent Hexham performances with a willing effort here, taking over two out and staying on. His trainer will be hoping he doesn’t go more than 5lbs up since that would keep him for another go at this level, but he’s going well enough to suggest he might make a mark in a slightly higher class.
Rayson Nixon’s Ettrickbridge stable is hardly full of world-beaters, but what he has shown that what he can do is to get a decent tune out of a moderate performer.
GUNADOIR looked to me as one with a chance if she jumped round OK. She did that nicely but couldn’t get to the more experienced winner over the last two. These events often don’t take much winning and she certainly showed enough so suggest a minor contest is within her capabilities.
BULLIES ACRE profile isn’t the most inspiring, and off 62 chances are limited, but he did seem happy near the pace here, giving way between the last two. He might squeak a chase at the lowest level.
MISTRAL DE LA COUR had every chance three out but couldn’t race his game. He’s capable of challenging on his day, possibly in less testing conditions.
STORM SURGE showed a hint of ability on chasing debut, being prominent until falling away steadily from three out.
Tony McCoy’s persistence worked the oracle with COOLDINE LAD last time, but he reverted to type under Denis O’Regan here. That’s no insult to O’Regan, more a comment on McCoy’s ability to tune into a signal others can’t find. Cooldine Lad was putting out distress signals four out and was left behind up the hill.
NICOZETTO was never seriously in the race and needs to step up in trip again.
FARNE ISLE was never in with a chance and has struggled over the past two years or so. Farne Isle was reported as having a breathing problem.
MOYNE PLEASURE has shown ability in the past, but I get the impression he’s a bit cheesed off with the whole business right now. He was never really going and pulled up late on.
SILVERDALES kept Moyne Pleasure company racing wide, but never made an impact and joined that one in pulling up. He has been well behind on all outings to date.



A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL READERS!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Catterick and Newcastle pre-Christmas ... with diversions!

CATTERICK – Wednesday 16th December

Going- Good To Soft

One circumstance that was always going to give me a problem with this ‘project’ was lack of replays for a meeting I didn’t attend. Sadly this came to pass with the pre-Christmas Catterick meeting. For this reason the three races at the meeting are solely covered by an interpretation of the race result and comments. While this seems straightforward, I have noticed that my interpretation of races doesn’t always match up with the form book comment writer. However...

1:00 2m 3f Class 5 Maiden Chase

A maiden chase big on numbers but distinctly lacking in quality, and the feeling is that with many of these desperation has begun to set in.

NORTH ISLAND had better credentials than most coming into this race have won a number of points earlier in the year. He stepped up on a promising effort at Leicester to win this. He should progress from this and a step up in trip again should prove no problem.
PROFESSOR HIGGINS gave the winner something to think about, and was well clear of the remainder. A sound start to his chasing career, but being from the Johnson stable his price is likely to be on the tight side.
FINE PARCHMENT ran pretty much to his Musselburgh form, being left behind from 3 out. At the weights he was likely to find one or two too good here and has more chance in handicaps.
SOMETHING GOLD plugged on for fourth, and will be helped by a step up in trip. Another best aimed at novice handicaps.
NAVAL ATTACHE rated 64 looked a forlorn hope here, but this was the closest he has been at the finish over jumps, for what that’s worth.
On official ratings NILE MOON should have got closer here than 55 lengths behind. He was placed in a novice hunter here over 3m 1.5f last season. That distance is probably more suitable but there was precious little promise to take from this race.
FENCOTE MYSTERY looks no more promising over fences than he did hurdling.
APSARA has been beaten a long way in recent jumping efforts.
THE GINGER MAN has shown only a glimmer of ability over fences since moving from Ireland, but tailed off here was a pathetic effort. If there was an excuse it would have to be a major one.
SPEED UP was getting into the race when falling at the twelfth. Assuming he’s one the worse he has shown promise. He was apparently handling the good to soft going here, but wouldn’t want it any softer.
DOUBLE PAST is rated only 57 and performed like it. He made mistakes in behind and pulled up 3 out.
LA PANTERA ROSA has shown a glimmer in bumpers and hurdles but was struggling when hampered and unseating at the twelfth.

2.00 3m 1.5f 0-120 Handicap Chase

GIDAM GIDAM has slipped steadily down the handicap since being hammered for his novice form. He saw off a bunch of mainly out of form opponents here. He did the job well enough now and the step up in trip at Market Rasen on Boxing Day will be a help to him.
STONERIGGS MERC is being raced regularly and maybe starting to find his form again. He was going well enough three out but seen off by a better handicapped opponent. It would be no surprise to see him out again at Musselburgh for the New Year Sprint meeting. He was just pipped in the three-miler there last year.
TOP CLOUD was left behind between the last two. He might be worth a go at Sedgefield since he’s 112 in three runs around there.
TRISON’S STAR performed a little better here blinkered for the first time. He was held up the straight, but s maybe running into form. He might be worth an interest if taken to Newcastle where he has recorded his last three wins.
CRACKADEE never got competitive and has been disappointing in two efforts this year. He got loaded with weight for a couple of wins at Newcastle and Kelso last season and is paying for those successes. Note that he seems happier on those two courses.
LAERTES has been well off his game this season and was well behind.
PAMS OAK has two ways of running and it wasn’t a going day.
BASODA was going well when falling at the fourteenth. He clearly has ability but the fences have proved his downfall in three chasing efforts.
NEVADA RED showed up early but dropped away after a tenth fence blunder. He generally needs a couple of races before hitting form so may do better next time.
BENNY THE PILER was struggling early and pulled up.
PRINCE OF SLANE was unlucky as he was well involved when badly hampered by Basoda at the fourteenth and his rider unseated. His current form figures look nothing to shout about, but he goes well at Catterick and has dropped to an attractive mark.

3.00 2m 0-105 Handicap Chase

MORE LIKE IT stayed on well to win this and the penny seems to be dropping over fences. He can progress.
FRITH ran another decent race over fences and will continue to challenge in this company.
I’M YOUR MAN might just have benefited from a 6-week break. He had been on the go over the summer and the pause since early November probably freshened him. He’s slipped down to a feasible mark and might pick up another minor event given decent ground.
SOUND OF CHEERS stayed on late. He won a seller at Kelso in May and the lowest level is where he needs to be, and a longer trip would help.
RED DAWN ran a respectable race but is a serial loser.
OSO MAGIC showed up for a way but isn’t threatening despite a significant drop in the ratings.
ITALIANO had a chance to two out but fell away and a win does not look imminent.
PAUNTLEY GOFA tends to be sent out often and covers some road mileage. He didn’t show here, but all his placed form has been on right-handed tracks, bar one third at figure 8 Fontwell. Given the right track there’s just a chance he might pop up at a fancy price.
TRAFALGAR MAN ejected his pilot at the second.

BANGOR-ON-DEE – Wednesday December 17th

1.10 3m 6f 0-120 Handicap Chase

Off the patch I’m covering, but a few familiar faces from the staying circuit appeared here and are liable to show up in the North.

BANNISTER LANE stays all day and the next, and led from start to finish here. He was suited by the front running tactics and nothing got to him. An extended trip is a must, and soft or heavy ground slows the rest down for him.
HIDDEN BOUNTY ran another decent race in third staying on from the rear. He proved there is still plenty of life left as he approaches 13 years old and it would be no surprise if Keith Reveley finds a minor staying event for him this season. He handles soft ground though has been placed in heavy.
MOUSTIQUE DE L’ISLE was made 6/1 on the basis of his victory in a virtual three-horse race at Carlisle (three competitive + four passengers). It was unlikely he was going to make an impact in a more competitive race. The fact that he’s moved above 100 in the ratings doesn’t help, so his trainer would have to look for a 0-110 or 0-105.
WAKING NED finds this company much tougher than the hunter company he was in last year. He may be worth a try back in long distance staying hurdles, particularly over the maximum trip at Sedgefield.
HEROS COLLONGES pulled up, but has at least shown a little more zest recently. He had no chance in this class and needs a much easier race.

NEWCASTLE – Saturday 20th December

12.40 2m 110yds 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase

MORE LIKE IT carried a 7lb penalty from his Catterick win here. He was left in the lead when Carrietau all but came down at the last and just held two challengers. It may be the race came a bit soon, but it’s that the 7lbs anchored him a little. He may go up two or three pounds on top of that which will make things tough.
SHELOMOH is progressing at a lowly level and this was the closest he had got. Probably third best on merit, but he rallied well on the flat and this was a sound effort.
FOLIE A DEUX seemingly a shade under-priced at 5/4 despite two decent runs, kept on from the last. The close finish suggests he’s pretty much on his mark right now.
CARRIETAU may well have snatched this, but he all but came down at the last and was allowed to coast home for fourth. This was his best effort over fences and he should find a handicap.
WATCH THE WIND jumped poorly but did plug on having been detached at halfway. There’s probably a small race in him, but he needs to sharpen his act up.
LUSENTO found it tough in the last six furlongs.
WHISPERING MOOR jumped abysmally at the back. Even his place over fences was last of 3 so there is precious little encouragement.

2.20 3m Class 3 Novices’ Chase

This was a nice opportunity for ACCORDING TO PETE who made all jumping well and beat the only other finisher with plenty in hand. He will presumably be moved up to a tougher assignment next time.
MILL SIDE matched the winner to 4 out but couldn’t go with him in the straight. He won’t always catch one as tough as this and should pick up a second novice event.
MAT HILL was staying on and threatening to challenge Mill Side when coming down three out. He wouldn’t be without a hope in a maiden chase.
BARNEYS LYRIC tried to go with the leaders early but was soon toiling and pulled up at the tenth.
HERALDRY was never in touch and pulled up 4 out.
TREEHOUSE was settled in the rear, and when only just clambering over five out his jockey wisely called it a day.


3.25 2m 4f 0-135 Northumberland Handicap Chase

Theoretically a 0-150, but the top rated was on 135.

AKILAK was brought through with immaculate timing by Denis O’Regan to get his head in front at the last. Since he needs holding up, a decent pace suits him.
KILCREA ASLA has plenty of seconds in his form, but couldn’t be used of any wrong-doing here, staying on for second and not quite good enough against the winner. This was a sound performance in a competitive event and his winning turn seems only delayed.
NIRVANA SWING came back to form here, running a fine race from the front. His chance only went when he hit the last. He hit form from this point onward last term.
MONTGERMONT put in a good effort off top-weight over a trip which seems a little on the sharp side for him now. His two runs to date this season suggests he retains his ability after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
EDMO YEWKAY ran a sound race, but may just need to be eased in the weights.
FIRST LOOK had every chance until two out when it got a little too tough. He shows his best from at Ayr and his 129 mark just gives enough leeway for his placing there.
LE ROI ROUGE didn’t get seriously competitive. He seems better carrying top weight round minor tracks and, as with a few, Sedgefield figures prominently in his best form record.
OPEN DE L’ISLE seems a little bit higher in the handicap than ideal right now. This was too competitive for him.
MONTEVIDEO and TOUS CHEZ struggled most of the way.
JUST FOR MEN did nothing to justify favouritism. Conditions suited so maybe it came a little soon after his Wetherby race two weeks ago.
OSCAR HONEY was struggling very early on and hasn’t sparkled in two chases since moving from Ireland.

HAYDOCK – Saturday December 20th

Going – Soft

KALAHARI KING was comfortably held by DOCTOR DAVID in the novices’ chase and it would be reasonable to assume he needs better ground. It would seem likely that Caroline Bailey has a decent young chase prospect on her hands in DOCTOR DAVID who was a 130 rated hurdler.

MALKO DE BEAUMONT has proved himself a determined character in staying chases this season and saw off ATOUCHBETWEENCARA and CAN’T BUY TIME in a battle royal. This was 0-140 and he should pick up another chase in current form.
Of the Scottish runners, WILD CANE RIDGE looks a few pounds too high and TWELVE PACES, who can be in-and-out, found the competition too tough.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Ayr on a quiet Monday

Ayr - Monday 15th December

Going – Heavy

Although the going was heavy the impression was that the runners were getting through the ground. There weren’t quite the number of exhausted finishers as at Doncaster last Saturday.

The second last down the far side was omitted in all chases. This resulted in a fairly sharp turn to avoid the obstacle and there was a little scrimmaging at this point in the chases.

12.25 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

SOUL ANGEL stayed on in the latter stages to record a first win, just heading Polobury in the shadow of the post. All his placed form ahs been with cut in the ground, he clearly stays this trip and goes well round here.
POLOBURY stayed on determinedly from the rear, looked to have won it 50 yards out but was then ‘done’ close home. Another who is suited by cut in the ground, 4 out of 5 places having been achieved in heavy, she has a tendency to get behind in her races and stay on at the end. If she’s kept to staying events she will probably pick up a race somewhere along the line.
SEEKING STRAIGHT has shown some up and down hurdling form over the past couple of seasons. He came close here in similar conditions last season, and on this occasion seemed to have cracked it as he led nearly all the way, conditional Campbell Gillies judging the pace well, only to be swamped on the run-in as he ran out of puff. The tactics worked well, he handled the ground and is probably best around this distance. He should manage to win a small race.
SOLWAY SUNSET raced prominently for a long way, but was left behind from the last. She was the one of the first four who would be suited by better ground than this, and on that basis this was a sound effort.
FLYING DOCTOR couldn’t get to the leaders in fifth and is another who would probably appreciate slightly less testing ground.
Nothing else in the field got seriously competitive at the business end.

12.55 2m Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

QUICUYO set off jumping very well in front. He was tiring at the last but his challenger fell and left him clear. He trainer suggested he’ll be moved up to 2m 4f before long. Useful conditional jockey Ryan Mania lost his seven pound claim with this win.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU never got to the leader at any stage and was gifted second at the last. He was tired and beaten from 2 out.
STORM PROSPECT showed no more aptitude for chasing here than he had at Carlisle. He was soon behind and came home a distant third.
MOHAYER closed to challenge at the last, having chased the leader throughout. He got too close and fell, eventually being remounted to take fourth prize money. He didn’t get very far before falling last time, but assuming this fall hasn’t affected him too much he should pick up a similar event.
PISTOL BASC was left a bit at the start, and never got in touch, falling at the last when well behind.

1.25 3m 1f 0-125 Handicap Chase

KING BARRY kept up his admirable record in Scotland and the North. He jumped really well and crucially out-jumped his rivals in the latter stage, staying on determinedly once the winning post was in sight. He should continue to be effective in Northern staying company, and he will remain below the 130 bracket after this which should prove crucial in the short term. If he gets above 130 then life may start to get tough.
JASS ran an admirable race in second. He goes well in testing ground and his first chase win is surely only delayed a little. It was no disgrace being beaten by this winner and he saw off the rest comfortably.
RYMINSTER ran a fair race, and he hasn’t run many poor races in recent times. I’ve documented before that he is best after a break since regular races just seem to take a little edge from his game. He does however pay his way with place money. If he does have a rest of 6 weeks or more then look out for his return since he can win off his current mark.
SKENFRITH is a bit of an enigma, but does possess ability when it can be coaxed out of him. He got outpaced from the eleventh but plugged on again for fourth. I wouldn’t make him my sole selection in any race, but he can go well in testing conditions and might just pop in at a fancy price somewhere along the line.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST continues to disappoint. He’s steadily coming down the handicap but isn’t threatening a win at the moment. I’ve tried hard to find a pattern in his placed form, but I can’t find any significant trends.
MR PREACHER MAN was taken wide and was not out of it when falling 5 fences from home.
SOMETHING SILVER had made no significant show and pulled up two out. I’m at a loss to know why he was 9/2 in this field, since his placed form is at shorter distances.
ALMIRE DU LIA raced prominently for a while but lost touch a mile out and pulled up in the straight. The conditions shouldn’t have been a problem and he doesn’t seem on his game. I suspect he’s one who needs a few races under his belt each season.
DELRAY BEACH either had a problem or wasn’t interested as she swiftly became detached and was pulled up after the runners had gone not much more than a mile. She hasn’t run a decent race since November 2007.

1.55 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The race was run at a steady early pace.

MOSCOW CATCH, a really nice sort who progressed in bumpers, was at or near the head of affairs for most of the trip. His jumping was impressive for a newcomer and he looks a natural. He was distinctly green once pressed over the last two flights, but picked up well on the flat. He should progress from here, had no trouble with the testing ground and will stay further.
CALIN ROYAL, a winner at Hexham last time, was driven along 3 out but had rallied into contention approaching the last. He looked on the stretch, didn’t get high enough and crashed out. He got up quickly and assuming he’s none the worse looks one to pick up another novice event.
SIGNALMAN was held by the winner but lost nothing in defeat. He may be worth a try in a handicap off his current mark of 111. He moved from Italy earlier this year since when he’s been in the first 3 in 8 out of 9 flat and hurdles contests. It might be worth noting his only failure over that period was on fast ground.
WOODHILL a winner of a point-to-point from 9 efforts, performed admirably on his second effort over hurdles. On this evidence he should win a run-of-the-mill event.
GRAND THEATRE found this tougher than his Kelso race, coming off the bridle before 3 out and not having the pace of the leaders. It could be that a step back up in trip is required.

2.25 2m 5f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Chase

SAMMY SPIDERMAN threw a bit of a wobbly four out at Carlisle and I can only assume something distracted him on that occasion. He did nothing wrong here, challenging from three out and leading close home. Assuming he keeps on the straight and narrow he looks the type to pick up another race.
DOC ROW is suited by testing conditions all his placed form having come on soft or heavy. He went well enough here and jumped well in the main, but a mistake at the last may just have cost him.
MITCHEL HENRY ran a cracking race from well out of the handicap, though this close up finish might find him moved from 71 into the 80s. That being said, he’s learning fast under rules and with a drop in class he should pick up a race. He couldn’t go with the first two from the last but performed with credit.
MESSAGER, stepping up from pointing wins and a maiden hunter chase win found this all a bit too tough. He may need some time to get used to the competition at this level. He was basically outpaced from 4 out.
SEEK THE TRUTH was under driving by the twelfth and fell away after that.
TREASURED MEMORIES was soon in rear and her early seen falls seemed to have affected her confidence.
DUKE OF MALFI led early but weakened a mile out and pulled up. This wasn’t his form but he was shunted up 9lbs for beating Norminster at Hexham, which seems harsh.
WATERFORD made a couple of mistakes before unseating at the eighth. He’s achieved little to date over fences.
LORD SAMPOSIN showed a glimmer of promise in his early chasing efforts, but he has lost the plot now. His jumping was poor; he soon got well behind and finally managed to jettison his rider 5 out. He seems to need a long spell on the schooling ground and a confidence boosting clear round on the racecourse.

3.00 2m Class 4 Mares Only Novices’ Hurdle

A very moderate event which BRACKENMOSS looked to have it at her mercy. She took a good deal of time to get going. Settled 5 lengths adrift early, she picked up through the stragglers from 4 out, picked off the leaders in the straight and won comfortably in the end.
PRIMROSE TIME’s previous form over hurdles showed only a glimmer of competitiveness. However, she did well enough here if held by the winner. She seemed to enjoy herself blazing a trail and may score if her trainer can find another poorly contested mares' event.
SISTERHOOD lost ground in mid race but picked up again in the latter stages. She would presumably be suited by a longer trip.
LADY CHATELAINE was 14¾ lengths in fourth and her mark of 80 would seem to set the level for the race. She isn’t very good but seemed to do her best. Her chance will come in lowly handicaps.
No chance of positives for LA DONNA DEL LAGO, FREE SATNAV DOTCOM and BUMBLE ROSE who were all seen off very easily.

3.30 2m NH Flat

I was really impressed with BYGONES OF BRID at Hexham and the impression was further enhanced by this performance. He pulled early, but cruised into the lead 5 furlongs out and won with his head in his chest. I understand he may be aimed at the Grade 2 bumper at Ascot on Saturday. After that there are possibilities that he might be sold on, or maybe kept for the Championship bumpers, and the third option would be to go straight to hurdling.
TWENTYNINEBLACK, whose dam was a winner in France up to 2m 5f, was well held by the winner but clear of the remainder. A promising start and he’d be unlucky to run into one as sharp as this winner next time.
MAXWELLTON BRAES, who is a non-thoroughbred, stayed on for third and will presumably be suited by a longer trip over hurdles.
AGAINST THE WIND was another who picked up places late on.
NORTHERN CROSS, a £40,000 Wylie purchase, was left behind from 3 out. He’s probably capable of better in time, but I do think the owner splashes some silly money around for some distinctly average performers.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

'Santa Sunday' at Musselburgh!

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday 14th December

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

Musselburgh avoided the bulk of the rain but what there was enough to ease the going a shade from good to firm. The ground certainly appeared to a bit loose on top. As documented here Musselburgh’s sandy soil allows the course to drain very well, so it seldom gets testing. Perhaps somebody might like to communicate this fact to Tom Segal of the Racing Post, who dismissed the meeting on the basis he thought the going would change significantly. Now this is only my hobby, but I’m pretty well versed on how different courses will take their rainfall and, if I hadn’t been living up here, I’d have checked the rainfall patterns. However it seems that such research and knowledge is beyond Mr Segal, which I consider a sad comment on someone who writes a tipping column in the sport’s only daily paper.

Back to the Sunday fare at Musselburgh. Not an outstanding days racing, but enough future pointers to make the notes worthwhile.

12.25 2m 4f 0-100 Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

DIVEX ran a sound race here earlier in the week and, presented with a golden opportunity against some out of form opponents, obliged with victory, though he had to work for it. He’s probably better suited by this trip than Monday’s three miles and, with his jumping holding up again, held his challengers on the run-in.
With BALAKAR what you see is what you get, as he’s often there or thereabouts but doesn’t win all that much. He was placed in this race three years ago but in the main has been campaigned on the flat and over hurdles since. Having led three out he was headed after getting a bit too close to the last and couldn’t summon up enough to haul back the winner.
SNOWY offered encouragement on his return. He stayed on in the latter stages and there may be better to come, but he does have a tendency to throw in some sulky efforts and needs to be caught right on the day.
YANKEE HOLIDAY performed better than recently being at or near the front most of the way. He kept on having been driven before four out. I do think his ideal trip is two miles, although it needs to be round here for the better ground and in this class, and it depends on race planning.
HAPTHOR never got in a serious blow. He is a winning hurdler but has some work to do if he is to win over fences.
MR TWINS shows up occasionally but today wasn’t a going day.
KING’S ENVOY was 17lbs out of the handicap and wasn’t good enough. It’s not easy to get enthusiastic about one rated 57.
OCEAN DANCER managed his first completion for a while, leading for a way, but he’s getting on in years and looks a back number.
STORMY BEECH was soon out the back and showed no inclination to exert himself. He needs professional handling and a trip back to Sedgefield.

12.55 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

Some no-hopers in amongst this lot.

DIVERS stepped up on Monday’s creditable second. He probably caught a fair performer in Caravel on that occasion, and this time was more than good enough to see off this bunch. He stayed on well and a step up in trip would not be an inconvenience.
STARBOUGG stayed on late for second having been stretched 4 out. He picked up a fair bit of ground in the straight and is another likely to be suited by further.
PERCUTANT belied his 100/1 odds and kept on for third. His previous poor run may have reflected being brought down on his second last run, so he may go on from here.
SPELLCHECKER charged off in front pulling too hard for his own good. Passed before two out he dropped away. Unless he learns to settle he’ll need to be dropped back to two miles.
The favourite CHORD, who was best of the official ratings, could find nothing once turned for home. He seems to be regressing.
KING OF THE TITANS and ROMANCE DANCE both performed well in bumpers but are finding hurdling a different matter altogether and struggled in the last half-mile.

1.25 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

There was a big spread of ability here but a few interesting pointers for the future amongst the leading group.

HERNANDO’S BOY picked up significantly on his first effort at Sedgefield. Disputing or leading all the way he jumped confidently and saw off the opposition up the straight. He should progress to win in novice company.
LABOREC was flat to the boards four out, but still challenged three out. He lost any chance he had with a less than fluent jump at the last, but comes out of the race with credit and looks a future winner particularly if upped in trip.
PAMAK D’AIRY as held up early but brought into the picture from four out. He couldn’t match the first two close home but this was a decent and assuming he remains on a mark of 112 he would be interesting in a novices’ handicap.
GUNS AND BUTTER showed much promise on his chasing debut. He going well enough at the twelfth but made a bad mistake which saw Rose Dobbin pitched up round his neck. Not rushed back to the pace after the error, he was briefly left flat footed around four out, but picked up nicely in the closing stages to finish fourth. He should have no trouble picking up a similar event.
HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY set the standard here but is becoming a little frustrating. The problem is that he’s running into one or two better animal in non-handicaps and has been close enough to acquire a rather harsh mark for handicaps.
MAT HILL Went well enough to four out but found the leaders too strong from there. He’s got plenty of placed form in Irish points, including a win on heavy ground so it’s safe to assume that he will be helped when stamina is at a premium.
ASTON LAD was always in the rear, and he struggled to get over the last three fences when his rider should probably have called it a day.
ANDIJAN was always out with the washing and hasn’t inspired over fences to date.
PENDLE FOREST was once again outclassed, but did at least manage a first completion over fences. She has no chance in this company and the only hope seems in the very lowest handicap company or back over hurdles.
SADLER’S COVE, a 10 year old on chasing debut, offered no encouragement and pulled up.
BEN TIRRAN was prominent early but found it two tough from a mile out and pulled up. Other than a glimmer on bumper debut he has shown very little evidence of being competitive.

1.55 2m 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

This looked a competitive event, but in the end JOE JO STAR comfortably ditched his maiden tag and seems to have thrived for a move to Richard Fahey’s stable, particularly given that he was held in a Ludlow seller last time out. His manner of victory suggests another win is not far away.
SUN KING is an exposed 11 year old who hasn’t run a poor race for a while and is a sound marker.
DOUBLE VODKA, back over hurdles after a lay-off, generally goes well round here but just felt the pinch from the second last. He’ll come on for this race and will find opportunities. All his wins have come after a race within the previous six weeks.
REGENT’S SECRET plugged on from the back late on as is his way. I presume his trainer will try over another half mile again sometime should a suitable race come along.
ECOLE D’ART led until 2 out and was then left behind.
PROGRAMME GIRL was reported as having a breathing problem last time. She never got into the race here.
SOUBRIQUET didn’t get into the race. He’s off his game at the moment, but it’s noticeable that most of his placed form has occurred after the turn of the year and perhaps February to April might his time.
VALAMAREHA made a brief effort three out but never troubled the leaders. He might be worth a go in a maiden hurdle this side of the Irish Seas since such events are less competitive than those in Ireland.

2.25 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This race was run at no sort of pace early and turned into a sprint from the last bend.

DOESLESSTHANME looked to have a bit in hand on previous form and proved it, coming clear with very little fuss in the closing stages. He’s now on a double penalty at this level and might be aimed at better novice events such as the Listed hurdle he contested at Haydock last time.
MORNING SUNSHINE lost very little in defeat. He briefly threatened to bustle up the winner, but wasn’t good enough. He should find a minor novice or maiden event.
ELLA WOODCOCK chased vainly from two out. This was a slight improvement on his debut but a bit away from promising a win.
BRADDOCK ISLAND plugged on past beaten rivals for fourth, but that was probably more testament to the lack of quality in this race than any ability on his part.
BALYAN might have been expected to do better than a remote sixth. He could have needed the race, but this performance was not encouraging.
ART BANK was prominent to the sixth, but then eased considerably afterwards.

2.55 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

Very little in the way of progression in the profiles of these, but one who had hinted at better was GO SILVER BULLET. The right-hand track suited much better, and his jumping held together nicely as his leap at the last was enough to see off his only serious challenger. I presume Lucinda Russell will be looking out for suitable races here in the near future. The only other close at hand right-handed option at this time of year is Carlisle, which is a totally different challenge to scooting around Musselburgh Links.
MAJORCA signalled a return to form, and looks an interesting prospect for the near future provided the handicapper doesn’t up him for this prominent run.
OR DE GRUGY showed a good deal more zest than on recent runs. His trainer’s opinion is that he’s best around 2m 4f and likes this track, but she has struggled to find opportunities for him so had to have a go over a shorter trip.
NOBEL was returning after a long lay-off following a tendon injury back in summer 2007. The impression was that his trainer would be glad to see him come through a race, and I can appreciate it can be a question of treading on egg-shells in the situation. He jumped big and left early on but got round in his own time and, though he’ll probably need another run or two, gives some hope for the future.
SMART STREET was prominent when departing at the sixth. I was taken with him as a trail-blazer over hurdles, but he seems to be going nowhere over fences.
KING’S JESTER, making a chasing debut, didn’t help himself when lunging at the seventh and hitting it. The writing was on the wall soon after and he fell 2 out when tired.
MYSTIC GLEN was held when tripping over King’s Jester two out. He didn’t help himself by taking a keen hold early on.

3.25 2m NH Flat

MERIDIAN CITY raced prominently and got the better of his nearest challenger one furlong out. His stable will presumably look for an easy introduction to hurdling.
STORMIN EXIT once again set the pace and though held didn’t throw in the towel once passed. He kept on well enough to regain second close home. He should be interesting once he goes over hurdles or fences. He found the three mile trip stretching his stamina in Irish point-to-points.
PRINCE OF GDANSK took on the winner from two out but faded in the final furlong. This was a fair enough effort to back up his second at Ayr.
ROSCO was held from three furlongs out.
WEST DANCE was tailed off on his only appearance in Ireland. Tongue-tied here, he didn’t sow an awful lot more despite being well supported in the market.
ROWDY RAMPAGE won a maiden point at Sligo in May. The likelihood is things happened too quickly at this level and he will probably need fences and a distance of ground to be seen to best effect.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Sedgefield December Meeting

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday 9th December

Going – Soft

The meeting survived the frost and we were presented with two chases, one a maiden with two serious protagonists and 5 makeweights, and the second a competitive mid-distance handicap. The fence coming out of the back straight was omitted due to the low sun.

1.20 3m 3f Maiden Chase

The early departure of one of the two competitors with any reasonable chance of winning rendered this a schooling exercise for those who could stand up, four completing at their own vastly different paces.

The shade odds-on favourite TANK TOP led until clipping the top of the sixth and knuckling over on landing. He was up and galloping round loose, so seems none the worse for his mishap.
Once Tank Top departed it was left to BELON GALE to jump round for victory. He got a bit close to a couple but generally jumped competently. Difficult to take much more out of it other than he stayed the distance at a steady pace. I presume that he will now be aimed at long distance novice events and possibly staying handicaps.
AJAY, blinkered for the first time, needed a confidence booster and got it here, jumping round in a clear second place without remotely troubling the winner. We will learn more once he returns to handicap company.
THE ARTFUL FOX was schooled round for a remote third. He is a dual point winner so has a little ability and now needs to be aimed at low grade handicaps.
TURBULENT FLIGHT bumbled round a fence or more behind the leader for most of the way and was beaten something like a quarter of a mile. His profile to date is not inspiring.
PRE TOKEN settled behind the leader but fell at the fourth.
TREEHOUSE was already some way back in fourth when his rider was dislodged as he was hampered by a loose horse at the sixth.

2.50 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase

WHATCANYASAY was held by course specialist Stormy Beech here last time, but stepped up to hold on for victory here. All four wins have come in chases here and, given that he didn’t win by far so won’t be over-penalised, there should be further opportunities.
EASBY MANDARIN worked his way through to lay it down to the leader approaching the last. Hard as he battled he couldn’t get his head in front, and should lose his maiden tag in a similar contest.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE performed better than on recent efforts. He looks handicapped to his mark and couldn’t offer any extra after two out.
DAWN RIDE progressed from the rear to bag fourth place and this trip looks better for him than three miles on recent evidence.
WATCH MY BACK went well to two out and his record suggests a try on better ground might help.
ROOBIHOO raced prominently or led for a good way, but his rider was stoking the coal three out and he fell away. I tried hard to find a useful pattern but, all things considered, this was the right sort of race and he was found wanting. He probably needs a weak contest where he can dominate.
SHULMIN has won over this trip round here, but generally finds things happening a bit fast and needs stepping back to 3m 3f (record is 155121). She made a little progress before two out but didn’t threaten. Understandably the stable will probably have a go at this distance if there’s nothing else suitable, given that she enjoys this course so much.
RING OF BEARA raced prominently to three out. Best effort since moving over the Irish Sea, but we need to see a lot more if he is to become a betting proposition.
SYCHO FRED made some progress to three out but fell away swiftly after that. His record suggests he’s much happier in the summer sunshine.
FLAMING HECK led or disputed until giving way from three out and ended up well beaten. His last win was in a soft contest over the minimum trip at Hexham, beating a three-miler by 29 lengths, and he might be best served in races around two miles.
PANAMA AT ONCE stumbled on landing and fell at the first.
HERBIE unseated at the fourth, having ditched his rider at the first on his previous chasing effort.
SKIPPING CHAPEL was never in the race on his chasing debut and pulled up two out.

Hurdles

NEVSKY BRIDGE, damned as a weak finisher here more than once, got the better of a barging match with BLAST THE PAST in the last race at Sedgefield. Credit where credit’s due and she deserved the win on the day. The second goes well at Sedgefield and may secure consolation there soon.

As I write Hexham has failed an inspection, although it was reduced to a hurdle card due to continuing ground problems on the chase course.

The timetable up to Christmas sees the following meetings:

Sun 14th – MUSSELBURGH
Mon 15th – AYR
Tues 16th – Catterick
Sat 20th – Newcastle
Sun 21st – Carlisle

Not sure I can make it to Musselburgh this Sunday, but I’ll do full coverage of the Scottish meetings and chases from the North of England meetings. We are in the lap of the weather gods at the moment. Forecast for Musselburgh is reasonably optimistic and we have not had hard frosts in the East of Scotland in recent nights.

.

Musselburgh - First December Meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Monday 8th December

Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)

Kelso didn’t survive the frost on Sunday, but Musselburgh’s position on the coast and in the driest part of the UK means it is more likely to survive harsh weather than most. Racegoers were met by a chill day with some watery sunshine. Unless we hit a sudden severe wet spell it would surprise me if there isn’t a mention of Good in the going description here for the rest of the season. As previous though, the stands’ bend did seem to cut up a bit more than the rest of the course. The rail here is being moved from meeting to meeting to save the ground.

Horses were funnelled on to the steeplechase side of the course at the finish, the part nearest the stands being saved for the humans in the New Year Sprint.

A moderate card, with even the apparently competitive handicap hurdle becoming a procession. However, there are normally some future pointers here, particularly with seven further meetings to come at the track this season.

12.20 2m Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

The maiden hurdle divided, giving racegoers one more race for their money. Heat one was run at a steady pace until the straight when the less able were left behind and the runners ended up strung out.

CARAVEL disappointed in more testing conditions at Aintree. However he had plenty ability demonstrated by a succession of Flat wins for Sir Mark Prescott, and found the better going to his liking here. He jumped fluently and saw off a more experienced hurdler in the latter stages. He did the job well and should turn into a decent handicap hurdler in time. Chances are he will pick up a novice event in the meantime, and given that he needs the better ground a return to Musselburgh is likely.
DIVERS represented the established hurdles form with honour. He wasn’t quite as quick as the winner at the death, but his winning turn seems merely delayed. He was another who seemed to benefit from the better ground.
ALBERTS STORY was out-pointed by the first two from before the last, but is moving in the right direction as a hurdler. He steered clear of soft ground in the main on the flat, so it seems likely he will be kept to this sort of ground over hurdles.
GRAND DIAMOND had every chance 3 out before giving way. Not a bad debut and seemed to last the two miles.
MARCH MATE was held up early and made late progress through the field though was reported as hanging left up the straight. Not disgraced in three attempts over hurdles which qualifies him for handicaps which will give him more chance than level weights contests.
SHOPFRONTSPECIALST looked to need the race and made a little progress late on. He showed a glimmer of ability in Ireland, and is another who might benefit from being handicapped.
OZONE TRUSTEE is a strong sort who won an uncompetitive maiden at Hamilton for Alan Swinbank. Looked well enough here and got into contention three out before fading. May need time over hurdles and I wouldn’t give up hope yet.
ELLA WOODCOCK had every chance and was a little disappointing on hurdle debut.
Irish raider HI BIG SPEC looked fit and ready but his first hurdle in public proved his downfall.

12.50 3m 0-105 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

KALMO BAY had not shown much this season, but he returned to the scene of his February triumph. As on that run he was held up and brought smoothly through to challenge at the last. He went away with a minimum of fuss and does seem nicely suited by a quiet ride round here, and proved that three miles holds no terrors under the right conditions.
DIVEX has blotted his copybook more than once with dodgy jumping. However, he got his act together here, leading 2 out before being headed at the last. He kept on and has chances at this level given a clear round.
STRAVAIGIN looks on her mark now. She settled and jumped well, but found the leaders going away from her from 3 out, though stayed on again to grab third. It’s a pity there aren’t longer races round here since a longer trip might suit her. The only other option for a longer trip on a similar course might be the Highland National but that would be a big step up.
LEOPOLD never got much closer than his finishing fourth. His recent form has been at Fakenham which is a specialists’ track.
GENRAL LEDGER made a creditable fencing debut. Up with the pace all the way he started to feel the pinch in the straight. He thumped the last, probably doing well to stay upright, and faded on the run-in.
STONERIGGS MERC had conditions in his favour and ran well to four out, but he weakened from there. He’s not near his best, and has been busy recently, so I wonder if a rest might be of benefit.
ANOTHER CLUB ROYAL looked well enough after a lay-off but couldn’t respond to pressure down the back straight for the last time.
INNISFREE has shown ability in the past, particularly during a purple patch in 2007, but is a moody character and seems completely off his game at the moment. He never looked happy in the rear and pulled up before 4 out.
JUPSALA is a proven sluggard and has no chance in this company.
BEAU SADDLER has some ability, but was on bad terms with everything in the paddock. Perhaps he was objecting to a tongue-tie, bit with side-bars (full cheek snaffle?), visor and cross-noseband? He jettisoned his rider at the third and, unless Lucinda Russell can work the oracle, he’s one to steer clear of.

1.20 2m Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

Possibly the weaker of the two heats, though it’s likely the winner is the best performer to emerge from either.

RED MOLONEY looked to have this race at his mercy if reproducing anything near Listed race flat form. He travelled well, was matched for a while by Skylancer, but after two accidental bashes with that rival went away approaching the last to win comfortably. I’d expect him to step up a good deal on this form, but from a betting perspective he’s never likely to be particularly attractive as the stable’s runners are invariably under-priced.
KING IN WAITING never got to the winner but stayed on determinedly to take second on the run-in. On the face of it his jumping profile isn’t brilliant to date, but this run suggests he’s improving and should win a hurdle.
I must admit I didn’t expect to see flat sprinter GEOJIMALI staying on at the end of this event. However, he did all his best work from 2 out to take third. The ground here probably helped him see out the trip.
SKYLANCER probably paid the penalty for taking on the useful winner from two out and lost a couple of places on the run-in. It wouldn’t surprise me if he turns out a little better over hurdles than the two directly in front of him. Two clashes with the winner, firstly on landing over two out and then on the run to the last won’t have helped him. Given that he acted well on this surface it wouldn’t be a surprise if James Lambe brings him back to Musselburgh before long.
SIMONSIDE ran prominently for a long way but was gradually left behind in the straight. He’ll struggle in conditions races, but should have a chance in handicap company. He did pull and may need to learn to settle.
The remainder were seen off in the straight, including the not un-fancied ROOM AT THE TOP who was reported as unsuited by the fast going.

1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This looked a competitive event with some fair jumping and bumper form on offer.

LUNA LANDING ran into a few decent types last season, having contested the maiden here on debut last season. The step up in trip here did no harm whatsoever as he galloped away from the field over the last three flights. He looks the type to go on from here, but a note of caution is that he returned with an over-reach on his near fore so may need a little recovery time
It was a close scrap for the minor placings with the Wylie/Johnson contender NIGHT FORCE staying on for second if not threatening the winner. He looks destined for handicaps.
INNER VOICE forced his way between third and fourth on the run-in. This was a sound effort under a double penalty and I reckon he’ll improve for a step up in trip.
JANE OF ARC ran a good race to back up her promising effort at the last meeting. She was right up there from the start, not finding enough in the run for the line but not giving in easily. She would be a nice prospect if aimed at a mares’ only event.
PAKINEO DES PICTONS was put in the race from 4 out, but once again didn’t find a lot in the latter stages.
I noted SCALE BANK has large hooves that might be better for ploughing through the mud. He did run well in soft at Southwell in a bumper, and this run was a little better than his hurdling debut.
CASTLETOWN BOY seems better off in handicaps but was still a little disappointing, and HUMOUROUS found this a lot tougher than the soft staying event he won at Perth in July.
NUMERO DUE pulled up with a broken leg and was put down.

2.20 2m 4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

What seemed a competitive handicap hurdle was turned into a one horse race by VIPER who set off in front and nothing ever got near him. He looked to be going a bit quick over the first three, bur David Dennis steadied him on the bend and got him into a rhythm. He was 30 lengths clear with 3 to go and wasn’t stopping down the straight, being eased to a walk yet still winning by 10 lengths. He will go up a large amount for this, assuming the handicapper takes into account his ease of victory and mid-130s is the minimum he might be expected to be on once re-assessed. What his trainer does with him now is anyone’s guess, but given the right circumstances he is clearly very useful over hurdles.
David Dennis completed the set of jump courses in Britain and now has only three tracks left to ride a winner at each. He commented that Viper is a relentless galloper who was suited by the course and going here.
KYBER ran a creditable race in second. He effectively won his own race, seeing off the rest with a fair bit to spare. He was always near the head of the chasers, but presumably his rider expected the winner to come back to him as did most onlookers. He got busy over the last three and Kyber pulled well clear of the remainder. He will presumably go up a few pounds but seems in good nick and should make a mark in similar events.
DORIS’S GIFT ran a fair race in third but couldn’t go with Kyber in the straight. This was a sound effort after a break.
TEXAS HOLDEM was never closer than his finishing fourth place. This was a great improvement on his Kelso effort, proves his ability hasn’t deserted him and offers some hope for the future.
SPEED UP weakened in the straight having been up with the chasers.
MOTIVE raced at the head of the chasing group to the eighth but folded quickly and ended up remote. The effort suggests a drop back to two miles might help, though he was struggling before that point here.
TIGER KING had bandages all round and was never competitive. He’s struggling at the moment.
REGENT’S SECRET, normally foot sure, unseated at the second.
BACKBEAT sadly broke a leg on the bend after the third and was put down. As he fell he hampered TENSION POINT who unseated.

2.50 2m 4f 0-100 Handicap Chase

Some moderate jumping from this bunch.

FESTIVAL KING was raced prominently and it seems to suit him more than the hold up tactics sometimes adopted. It’s notable that he was raced up with the pace when second at Kelso two runs ago. This is probably a minimum trip for him and he stayed on from the last after his main rival hit the fence hard. It has taken time for the penny to drop, but he’s getting competitive now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scores again.
CYBORA challenged in the straight and had every chance approaching the last. He gave the fence a right clout, took a few strides to recover and his chance had gone. A sound effort under his penalty.
ZA BEAU ran well to a point but found it too much to go with the leaders over the last three. He seems to have reached the limit of his ability. His best chance may be to wait for a soft event next spring or summer.
BENMADIGAN lost touch with the leaders after the twelfth, but plugged on again in the straight. This wasn’t a bad chasing introduction and the chances are he’ll learn from it.
SILVER STEEL led for a way but struggled once turned for home. He hit a couple of fences and has a bit to learn.
SMART MAN, who was bandaged in front here, won a Newcastle event big on numbers but low on quality and was found out in this better event. He lost touch after the twelfth.
LERIDA was another who recorded a win in a pretty naff event. He was found out for the second time since that run here.
SHAVHALE wore blinkers for the first time but still performed dismally and has shown evidence of any serious ability so far.
AMOUR DARIA, a winning pointer, was much too low at the fourth and shot Gary Berridge out the front door.
GIANT STAR fell at the ninth before the race had begun in earnest.

3.20 2m NH Flat

This didn’t look a strong contest and most will fail to make a mark under Rules.

HILLVIEW BOY built on a promising debut at Ayr, overcoming the second in a duel from the two furlong pole.
SAVEIRO unloaded his rider quickly on debut but, maintaining the partnership here had every chance 2 out and kept on once held.
VINCENT PIPE stayed on in the latter stages. This run seemed a little better than his previous effort here and he is clearly learning. The chances are he’ll improve for being upped in trip once he goes jumping.
LUNAR STORM is bred to be a decent flat middle-distance performer, but his presence here suggests either problems or that breeding doesn’t always work out that way. He couldn’t go the pace in the latter stages and the jury is still out.
NEW SHUIL is a nice sort and showed a little on his NH debut having been well held in Irish points. He was a bit spooky in the paddock, and might learn from this experience.
I was very taken by BROMLEY BAY in the paddock and he looks a strong jumping sort. Having made the pace to three out he then faded but I wouldn’t give up on him just yet. His trainer doesn’t have many runners under Rules and I wonder if he might be one who will go pointing eventually.
RUSHWEE was made favourite but ran a poor race and no explanation could be offered.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Midweek in early December at Catterick Bridge!

CATTERICK – Wednesday December 3rd

Going – Good

Ayr‘s meeting suffered from the frost, but Catterick survived and there were two moderate chases on the card.

1.15 3m 1½f 0-110 Handicap Chase

This race only ever concerned the front four and it was the trailer of those four for most of the race that got up. I rather suspect WIZARDS DUST needs things to go his way since the others came back to him. Chasing would seem to be his game and I would think this trip would be a minimum for him on a going day, since he wasn’t stopping. He picked off the front three on the run-in.
COLDWELLS ran a decent race in second. Her overall profile before this, a handful of places from 19 starts, sums up the lack of quality on offer. She would appear competitive in lowly company on this evidence.
NGONG HILLS led or disputing, jumping well in the main, but got run out off it close home. It could be that this is just stretching his stamina to the limit, he was all out over a similar trip at Wetherby in a moderate race. A drop back to 2m 6f may help if he is to win again.
BUSHIDO disputed with Ngong Hills for much of the way. He was run out of it late on. His last two performances have shown a little more zest than previous efforts. He is 3 times a winner, so I wouldn’t count him out in similar company.
ALTO STRATUS was never in touch with the leaders. I suspect a stiffer track may help but her general level of form suggests she struggles at this level, and a drop back to the 0-95/0-100 area is needed. Her current mark of 91 counts out the 0-90 contests, which is not helpful.
PRINCE OF SLANE jumped poorly and was struggling from a long way out. He hasn’t won for a couple of years.
TOP CLOUD was never competitive on his return after a break since March. I would presume the outing will bring him on.
POLAR GALE ran and jumped poorly and is well out of form this season.
DIVEX was going well enough just behind the leaders when departing at the twelfth. He has ability but his jumping does give cause for concern.
COOL COSSACK had made his effort but looked held when falling three out. That being said had he stood up the form would have suggested improvement on his seasonal debut. He isvery lightly raced for an 11 year old, having only visited the track 12 times, and may be worth keeping in the notebook around this trip on decent ground.

2.50 2m 0-105 Handicap Chase

The pace set by Cedar Rapids was a furious one.

I always felt that there was some potential for a win from FRITH. His fourth at Kelso behind Kalahari King at least hinted at ability, he built on that in easier company at Hexham then came good here. He picked off weakening rivals on the run-in and has certainly shown enough to suggest he can win again somewhere along the line.
MYSTIC GLEN was run out of it close him. She has been campaigned over longer distances recently and the drop back in trip seemed to suit. The decent going helped as she struggles with cut in the ground.
CEDAR RAPIDS hared off in front and though going close probably pulls too hard for his own good. He may hold on one day on a sharp track but he is not a reliable betting medium.
OSO MAGIC never figured but stayed on for fourth. He hasn’t won for three years and form over varied distances isn’t threatening to change that.
STORMY BEECH couldn’t get to the front here and is better at Sedgefield.
BRONZE DANCER didn’t look interested and his stable have their work cut out to produce anything worthwhile over fences.
PAUNTLEY GOFA would have welcomed the easier opposition than on some of his runs, but he departed at the first.
FALCON’S TRIBUTE was always in the rear and fell at the last on chasing debut.
OCEAN DANCER bumbled round in the rear before pulling up.
GLIMMER OF LIGHT lost his rider at the sixth and his runs are invariably error strewn.
RED DAWN fell at the third.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Musselburgh - First Jump Meeting 08/09

MUSSELBURGH – Friday 28th November

Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)

Musselburgh began its jump racing for 2008/09 on a bright but chilly late November afternoon. This is the driest area of the UK, Dunbar just down the coast is apparently the direst town in the country, and the going here is often a few degrees faster than for other courses. I’m quite happy to put a line through the soft and heavy ground form recorded elsewhere. Being next to the Firth of Forth the course escapes the ravages of all but the hardest frosts. It was pretty chilly towards the end though, presaging an overnight frost, the effects of which have claimed Newcastle’s meeting as I type this.

The stands’ bend chopped up last season and, despite the ground description, was cutting up again. The management will have to move the rails about to keep the bend in racing nick.

I’ll take this chance to blow the trumpet for Musselburgh. It cost me £13 to get in, saving two pounds booking in advance and the race programme is free with admission. The refreshments here are very reasonably priced, £5.50 for a main course in Pinkies Servery, and none of the snack meal constituents are more than £2. The scotch pie is a delicious example of the local delicacy and costs only £1. There’s the Rosebery Hall CafĂ© in the Links pavilion where I purchased a delicious blueberry muffin and a cup of filter coffee for £1 each. Good news for local jumps fans is that the 2009 Fixture List boasts 10 meetings, an increase on the 8 in 2008.

A pretty average days racing but there might be one or two pointers that are useful for the coming meetings at the course.

12. 10 3m ½ f 0-90 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

A very moderate event to commence the Musselburgh jumping season with only two previous winners in the field. I was rather amused at the paddock when the man next to me suggested, “They don’t look very fired up do they?”

Tim Vaughan spotted a real opportunity here for LITTLE SHILLING, even under 14lbs of penalties. The trip from South Wales was rewarded very comfortably, Little Shilling cruising through the field in the latter stages and coming clear with the minimum of effort and being eased considerably close home. He’ll presumably get a rating of 100 or more now, so a rise in class will be forced. However, he’s in such good heart that another win would not be a surprise.
I felt HOOKY’S HOPE showed some signs of ability last year, and while she isn’t very quick, she does appear to be going the right way. Popping out of the pack two out she stayed on for second. She may have to be aimed very low, but does at least show enough ability and willing to suggest a small event might fall her way.
BAYFIRTH has put in some moderate efforts before this and his presence in third tells us a lot about the lack of quality here. He can presumably be a handful since he had two handlers in the paddock, but he stayed on late which does at least demonstrate he’s going the right way.
MONTCHARA raced up with pace but faded in the straight. It’s questionable if he achieved much in finishing 20 lengths fourth,
GLEN ROUGH followed the pace, but couldn’t respond in the straight.
CINAMAN was cussed at the start, but went to the front once they set off. He was headed when he hit the eighth flight and then plugged on gradually losing touch with the leaders.
ROCKNEST ISLAND was in the rear form most of the way and picked her way through the field late on for seventh. She was a two-miler on the flat, and just stays.

The trainer of the second reported on the phone that “it was a very rough race”.

The commentator clearly has trouble counting since he kept informing us there were 14 flights to be jumped instead of 13, and throughout the afternoon he called the last in the back straight “the middle one down the back”.

12.40 2m Class 4 Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

No strength in depth here, though the winner did the job nicely.

DON’T STOP ME NOW, wearing a cross noseband, sent to the front and had her field on the stretch by the fifth. The others came back to her on the last bend, but forged away once the runner-up laid down a challenge. The fact that she was aimed at a decent event at Wetherby first time suggests the stable rate her and another win is on the cards. She won over 1m 6f on the flat, so a step up in distance wouldn’t be an inconvenience.
Under favourable terms HOUSTON DYNIMO turned round the form with La Fortalesa and then some. He progressed to challenge before three but couldn’t wear down the winner. He’s progressing and won’t always find such a tough opponent.
The remainder were well seen off. Irish challenger CALL ME AL couldn’t respond from three out.
The Foster clan took a chance to make the short trip from Dalkeith for a day at the seaside. MERRION TIGER, who looked a decent sort to me, was the best performer keeping on into fourth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he steps up on this. Of his stable companions, KARGAN and BOURSE were always behind, and BRIGHT BOYS BRIDE is small and slow.
LA FORTALESA won at Newcastle and looked a good deal more mature than the others, but might find others improving past him. Having chased the leader he weakened in the straight.

1.10 2m 4f 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase

Many here were on their chasing debut, and there was a lot of iffy jumping on display. It turned out to be a battle of attrition, even on fast ground.

BOW SCHOOL, who came to racing from the pointing field, hit one early on but raced prominently. Taking the lead at the tenth of 16 fences he led down the straight then gave the last a fearful thump, being knocked sideways, but recovered to keep going on the run-in. His previous third to Tell Henry reads well so there may well be a bit more to come.
FINE PARCHMENT made a very satisfactory chasing debut, particularly given that he was coming off a lay-off of 182 days. He chased the leader from four out and couldn’t raise his game enough when the leader bungled the last. However, he was well clear of a previous winner and should pick up a similar event.
RUN TO SPACE probably found the quicker ground against him here and didn’t get to the leaders.
THE GINGER MAN completed at his own pace, inheriting fourth as opponents departed in the straight.
The non-finishers in race card order:
INDUSTRIAL STAR looked very fit, was in the rear and disposed of his rider at the fifth.
AJAY was never going and pulled up.
MICK FINAN looked held in fourth when falling 4 out.
SNOW’S RIDE had conditions right but didn’t enjoy this, was soon adrift and pulled up after the eighth. He’s shown plenty of ability over hurdles in the past but looks out of sorts at the moment.
HARCAS hit a few and the tenth finally knocked the stuffing out of him, he went little further before pulling up.
TEVIOT LASS was making a little progress when falling three out. She was in the process of running a respectable chase debut and is work keeping an eye on.
HO PANG YAU led for the first circuit, but folded quickly once headed at the tenth. He was adrift when falling three out.
BRONZE DANCER showed no more here than he did in three hurdles efforts, pulling up at the tenth having made mistakes.
JUPSALA is getting no nearer to winning at the age of 11 and pulled up.

1.45 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

An ordinary maiden with many who will struggle to make an impact over hurdles, and they looked a right bunch of ‘liquorice allsorts’ in the paddock.

James Reveley on Jane Of Arc seemed to mistake where the start was, heading off to the two mile start, only realising where the others were when he turned round to inspect what he perceived to be the ‘first hurdle’. That being said the filly was only gently cantering so wouldn’t have wasted much energy.

One who did stand out in the paddock here was DEE CEE BOLTER. He’s a nice strong jumping sort, and being a brother to Waking Ned I wouldn’t expect him to make an impact at this stage of his career. He ended in midfield, keeping on in the latter stages under gentle encouragement.
GLENCREE made in three on the day for Howard Johnson. He made a slightly disappointing debut at Wetherby, but saw off his only serious challenger on the flat here. A step up in trip beckons.
BROADWAY STAR didn’t do much wrong in second; he just didn’t have the speed of the winner after the last. The stable had a similar performer in Guns And Butter last season and found a race for that one.
LE VERT GALANT stepped up on hurdling debut form and the penny is beginning to drop. His bumper form suggests some basic speed, so there’s every chance he’ll pick up a hurdle in future. He stayed on, so this trip and more is in his favour.
JANE OF ARC wasn’t inconvenienced by here round about route to the start. She raced prominently and kept on well enough to finish fourth. There’s hope given time and experience.
DANZATRICE plugged on from the back to offer a little hope on hurdling debut. Her flat from was over extended distances on good or fast ground.
POSEIDON set the pace for a long way before being left behind from 3 out.
HURRICANE JACK made a little progress past tiring opponents late on.
OVERTHROW made little impact and can’t have been helped by a pair of boots that didn’t seem to fit properly.

2.20 2m 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

A decent field for the feature race of the afternoon.

It’s sad to report that MR JACK DANIELLS broke down badly on the flat first flight and had to be put down. The flight was missed out down the finishing straight as the vet attended the stricken gelding.

I rattle on about patterns of course winners, but totally missed AMAZING KING in a race with a few showing decent form. I saw him win here in February off 8lbs less, and he scooted clear after taking it up before the last. He will be penalised but might just be low enough to get into the handicap on the New Year sprint card here. His other target here might be the County Hurdle trial in February.
REGENT’S SECRET, as is his way, stayed on from the rear for second.
ECOLE D’ART made a satisfactory stable debut returning from a season away from hurdling. He led and was still 3 lengths to the good three out, but the effort told in the latter stages. Jimmy Lambe should be able to place him to advantage.
MANEKI NEKO was shunted up 4lbs for his second at Cheltenham and that may be enough to hold him at the moment.
CASTLETOWN BOY ran respectably after a lay-off, having been reported with a vertebra out of line after his Perth run in July. I suspect he will progress from this.
LOS NADIS may have reached an end stop as his jumping isn’t sharp enough for him to make further progress now he’s rated 128.
FARNE ISLAND was dropped right in at the deep end on handicap debut, being 9lbs out of the weights. He looked very well, but a drop in class is essential.

2.55 2m 0-120 Handicap Chase

BEGGARS CAP, a keen walker in the paddock, would appear to have appreciated the move to faster ground here. He was produced between the two leaders at the last, and saw them off with minimum fuss.
MOOR SPIRIT put up a creditable performance in second, staying on once headed. He’s versatile in distance which gives his trainer a few options.
DECEMBER SUN, rather fidgety in the paddock, set the pace until the last and found no more. He is suited by quicker ground and he’s more likely to get that this side of the Irish seas, particularly at Musselburgh.
ALL FOR THE CAUSE had every chance three out but was unable to raise his game.
ORANG OUTAN struggled in the straight. His winning from is on softer ground.
YANKEE HOLIDAY, though attended by two in the paddock, didn’t seem to have his usual fizz. He raced up with the pace, but jumped big and left and faded from the eighth fence. He probably needs a drop in class, but looks out of sorts at the moment.
NOTRE CYBORG, suited by the trip and conditions, was coming there with every when capsizing three out.

3.25 2m NH Flat

I take a close look at these bumper fields in the paddock but nothing really stood out. Southerness was probably best but his form tells us about him anyway.

MERIDIAN CITY built on a promising debut, leading 2 furlongs out and asserting in the final furlong. He won’t be a leading light in the stable, but has ability to take to a hurdling career.
NOW THIS IS IT had every chance from 3 furlongs out but was held in the run to the line. A good debut, and his Irish trainer took advantage of the fast ground and less competitive field than in his homeland.
SOUTHERNESS ran to the level of his previous efforts. He’s got the build of a jumper.
STORMIN EXIT had run a number of times in points before debuting in a bumper at Fairyhouse in March. He was last there but showed more here, setting a good pace to two out and not being left too far behind. He will improve with jumps in the way.
VINCENT PIPE has a decent looking pedigree but lost touch with the leaders in the straight. He may need a little time.
SHAMBOYANT looked very green in the paddock, taking in the surroundings. She didn’t show in the race, but was encouraged past one or two late on and does not look a total lost cause.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sedgefield - November Course Specialists Day!

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday 25th November

Going - Soft

A bright day in County Durham, but overnight rain softened the going a shade.

12.50 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase

An event in which very few were genuinely competitive in the latter stages.

CAST IRON CASEY confirmed the Kelso of his Kelso second, staying on down the straight to win with a little in hand. He jumps well and stayed this distance. He seemed suited to Kelso more than the up and downs of Kelso so there may be more to come.
TORKINKING led until the run to the last. He kept on for second and looks good enough to pick up a novices’ chase.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE kept on for third having been tapped for pace after the third last. His trainer suggested that he was sent to Sedgefield as a confidence booster, and it would seem a case of ‘job done’. The stable rate him over fences, and I understand he now heads for a staying novice event at Hexham in December.
LEASE LEND couldn’t raise his game in the straight. He’s finding one or two too good in these events and may have better chances in novice handicaps. Overall his record is sound having been out of the first 4 only twice in 15 races.
HERNANDO’S BOY was left behind after 3 out. He’s rated 128 over hurdles, and this first chase effort was inconclusive.
BEDLAM BOY was comfortably held and has a way to go to match his hurdles form. He had a couple of hurdles wins over stiff tracks and they might suit better than Sedgefield.
TREEHOUSE didn’t figure on his racecourse debut but got round in his own time. He’s related to winning pointers so given time may turn into a chaser.
LOGANS RUN has not sparkled on two chase efforts to date.
BILLY MURPHY and ISLAND KEY were prominent early but struggling with a mile to go.
PRE-TOKEN showed a glimmer on chase debut, but was dismal on this occasion, his jumping letting him down.

2.20 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

The winner of this is well exposed, albeit a course specialist.

STORMY BEECH was revived by blinkers at Newcastle and his trainer worked the remainder of the trick by bringing him to his favourite track. He’s now 5 wins and 7 places from 12 attempts at Sedgefield. He led all the way and pulled out the stops down the straight. It was heartening to see an old campaigner still giving it the works and being rewarded.
WHATCANYASAY plugged on to challenge at the last, but hit it which effectively ended his chance. Although not the most consistent, he does have the tendency to throw in the odd lousy performance, he does have 3 wins to his credit at Sedgefield.
EBORARRY didn’t get his head in front this time. He never really got to the leader and was one paced from 2 out. He has won over fences in the past but, while he’s on a consistent(-ish) run it’s a long time since he got his head in front. He runs often which suggests an iron constitution.
CARRIETAU chased the leaders but made no impression from 3 out. He’s improving as a chaser, and has time on his side. He won three times over hurdles, so has winning credentials, and will probably pick up a chase somewhere along the line.
CEDAR RAPIDS regressed from his second here last time, the leaders having more left in the straight.
DIGITAL MEDIA was second in a selling hurdle at Hexham on previous run. After initial promise he seems to have lost his way over fences.
FIRST FOUGHT made no show and hasn’t got very close in recent chasing runs.
BRIGHT SPARKY made a succession of mistakes early on. His chasing debut was no more inspiring than recent hurdles runs.
FLAMING HECK won an uncompetitive event at Hexham in May where the second was way below ideal trip, and he struggled on first run since then.

3.20 3m 3f Conditional Jockeys’ 0-95 Handicap Chase

The low sun meant the third last fence was omitted on all circuits.

It really is worth looking out for course specialists at Sedgefield and this race was taken by another of them.

After her Carlisle third I hinted that SHULMIN would be interesting back here, and this time I’ll acknowledge that she is ‘she’ rather than ‘he’. (Concentrate that man!) She made it 4 out of 8 over fences here moving smoothly through the field on the final circuit, challenging in the straight and holding on despite wandering about on the run-in.
NELLIEDONETHAT improved on Newcastle form. He kept on but caught the wrong opponent here and should win a similar event soon.
MITCHEL HENRY was in a much more appropriate class than for his novice outings. He’ll make his mark at this level, particularly off a generous looking rating of 70.
BLUE RISING showed signs of a return to form. He was in contention from 4 out but couldn’t raise his game enough. He’s a maiden who seems to lack the pace or inclination to get into a scrap, but there’s still time to change things around.
HEROS COLLONGES went well to 4 out but was then couldn’t match the leaders. He was beaten about 8 lengths and this was by far his best effort of the last two years. He was off 92 here and unseated at the Chair off 137 in April 2006.
RIVAL BIDDER struggled from the thirteenth and would prefer better ground.
SAM CRUISE jumped better here, leading to 4 out. He weakened before 2 out and it maybe the extended trip got to the bottom of him.
NORTHERN VIC jumped stickily in the rear and lost touch from 3 out. He took a few runs to get warmed up last season.
PRESENTING ALF put up another lack lustre performance.
COUNT THE COST was struggling a mile out and pulled up. He acquired blinkers here in place of cheek pieces without serious revival.
MAE MOSS running from 17lbs above her official rating of 51, was struggling very early. Her jockey shoved along for a way before giving up the ghost at the fifteenth. She did win a poor novices’ handicap hurdle in May ‘07, but her chances of winning a race over fences are negligible.