Thursday, 31 January 2008

Kelso - Sunday January 27

Going – Heavy

Scotland soaked up a fair amount of rain in the previous few days, the ground coming up as very testing. The first fence down the far side was omitted in all chases.

I was laid up with a heavy cold, so notes made from At The Races coverage.

1.05 3m 3f 0-90 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

There aren’t that many hurdles of this length in the season, and this was a pretty poor affair, with many of the competitors out of form, that is if they were ever in form.

DICKIE LEWIS was at or near the head of affairs all the way and, although tired, stayed on dourly for victory. He’s not a prolific winner, but all his three victories have come in heavy ground so one to consider when it comes up very testing.
ABERDARE has had a stop start career, and his wins have both been in the soft. Never far away and staying on but couldn’t maintain a sustained challenge.
ZAFFIE PARSON has won over a similar trip before and, having been at the rear at halfway, plodded through field for third. CONTENDO was fourth, moving up on the home bend but having no more to give in the straight. DALAWAN matched strides with the winner to a mile out but then faded.
TOPAZ LADY had moved up nicely to challenge Dickie Lewis three out but blundered and lost her rider. She seemed to have every chance, acts well in the conditions and is worth noting for a similar event at 3 miles or more.

1.35 2m 6½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

Quite a competitive staying hurdle.

As is his way KEMPSKI set the pace, but weakened after 4 out as the challengers came at him.
BEAU SADDLER raced prominently and looked to have every chance when falling 3 out. I’m sure there’s a similar event within Beau Saddler’s compass though he is a bit frustrating.
TARTAN SNOW was prominent all the way, led on the run-in and had too much for REEL CHARMER and MIRAGE D’OR in the last furlong. REEL CHARMER had led 2 out and MIRAGE D’OR was in the mix without ever getting in front. Decent form from the first three.
POSH STICK had been well out of form and she was held up out the back, but stayed on from the home bend to finish fourth. She won over fenecs at Carlisle last year, and this run may signal a return to that sort of form.
MORE LIKELY was impressive in the winning the novices’ chase at this meeting last year, but has been out of sorts this season. She was prominent early but dropped away and was not in contention.

2.05 2m 6½ f Novices’ Chase

A decent early pace set by Shrewd Investor and Double Default.

The winner, BRAVE REBELLION came from off the pace, moving up smoothly from 3 out, leading on the flat and staying on. Stays further and should find another race.
TRUCKERS LADY confirmed the form of her previous race here, having every chance at the last but not quite good enough to get past the winner. She can probably win an open novice event, but a mares only chase must be at her mercy.
DOUBLE DEFAULT had a good go from the front and was still leading over the last. Faded close home, but in tough conditions this was a decent effort. A very promising first completion over fences and should win a similar event.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE never quite got to the leaders and was one paced in fourth. WITCH WIND went well enough until running out of puff three out. A better effort than previous two chase runs, so worth keeping an eye on.

2.40 2m 2f Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

A very steady pace here, not a strong event either and only a few got into the race. There seemed to be a lot of deadwood out the back.

ROSIE ALL OVER led all the way and kept on well. She will now have a double penalty in novice evetns which could make things tough. I presume connections may go for handicaps, though she may be capable of defying the extra weight in another mares’ novice.
IT’S TEESCOMPONENTS was prominent, but feeling the pinch when falling 3 out. May just pick up a weak novice, but I reckon a seller is likely to be her level.
CUTE N YOU KNOW IT came from well back, staying on for third. CAMELIA WALK was always prominent but couldn’t get to the winner in the last half mile. TARABALOO plugged on for fourth, and her pedigree suggests longer trip wouldn’t do any harm. CALOW GLEN raced prominently but faded in the straight.
BABY SISTER has some places in her form, but they don’t look much to shout about and she didn’t get a blow at the leading group.
The likes of MONEYLAWS, DOUBLE RUNNER and ONE BLACK CAT weren’t put into the race and look slow.

3.15 3m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase

My favourite event on the card as the fine old ‘staying gladiators’ came out for this battle of attrition! I tend to note more on these events since I’ve got more ‘quiet moments’ to scribble down ontes.

SKENFRITH has been way out of form recently, an injury not helping, but his connections have been patient and were rewarded with an excellent gutsy performance here. He took the lead early on, disputed or led till the run-in when headed by Ryminster, but had too much stamina for that opponent in the last furlong. Skenfrith has dropped in the weights during his poor spell, so is well weighted for similar events. The mud suits him well as he clearly has deep reserves of stamina.
RYMINSTER looked the winner approaching the elbow, but then the tank registered empty and he struggled home in second. His commitment can’t be faulted, but he just looks held off a mark of 97, 16lbs higher than his last winning mark.
NEVADA RED stayed on up the run-in for third, having never been any closer. He’s only 7 so has a bit of time and I suspect will proof a force in these lower class staying events.
NO PICNIC ran a fair race in fourth, possibly finding the heavy going sapping his strength. On the face of it this was a fair run, and a slight drop in class and easier conditions may see him get his head in front.
HIGH FIVE wasn’t able to dominate this event as he had a lower class event last time. I suspect he needs to be in 0-95 company to win again.
MISS MATTIE ROSS was midfield most of the way, and currently seems unable to race her game to a winning level.
CASH BONANZA raced up with the pace until 3 out, but then faded badly. I think he struggles for stamina in these conditions, and I wonder if 3 miles on better ground might help?
LE ROYAL was never in contention, despite the fact that distance and going apparently suited.
GLEN TULLOCH seemed to going comfortably when unseating at the ditch past the stands on the final circuit. If she’s got a race in her Tony Martin can probably find it, but is a 9yo currently 0 from 13.
CARNDALE fell back from halfway.
SCRAPPIE was never going, didn’t jump well and was pulled up. A combination of the conditions and step up from novice company probably didn’t help.
DO L’ENFANT D’EAU was another pulled up, never really in the argument. Has run some decent races in long distance events, but never won beyond 2m 4f.
FLEETFOOT MAC is well out of sorts, never in touch and pulled up at the fifteenth.

3.45 2m ½f 4yo Novices’ Hurdle

This didn’t look a great contest to me.

SMUGGLERS’ BAY led pulling hard, tried to stop on the stands’ bend, but still stayed in front until the last. I suspect he will win again on better ground, but he clearly has quirks.
FLORENTINO got into contention going well 3 out, and went clear quite nicely on the flat. I have a bit of a soft spot for Guy Reed’s horses since I made a few bob when Chris Thornton first started training them way back. This filly should win another minor event on this evidence.
Apart from these two, RIGUEZ DANCER raced up with the pace, but couldn’t raise his game at the business end. ZOREN ran well for a way but was a psent force by the sixth flight. Nothing else got in a blow.

4.15 2m ½f NH Flat Race

There are normally one or two capable performers in these events at Kelso.

The Swinbank trained SCALE BANK set a steady pace, but faded over the last half mile.
KNOCKARA BEAU seemed to relish the tough conditions, led entering the straight and ran on well.
JIMMY THE SAINT stayed on for second. The McCain stable should be able to place this one to win.
If there’s one doubt about the form, it’s the presence of BAILEYS SURPRISE in third. He couldn’t match the first two in the final couple of furlongs but apparently stepped up on previous form. The fourth FISHING INSTRUCTOR is at least worth keep an eye on.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

January Notes

Catching up with a couple of meetings from January.

CATTERICK – Friday January 18th – Heavy

Just one race of interest here for me and that was the grandly titled North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase, a title which takes the ‘National craze’ to absurdity. I hadn’t realised North Yorkshire was a nation, but there you go!

The weather was absolutely foul, pouring rain, a strong wind and bottomless going, so it was survival of the strongest.

2.10 3m 6f Handicap Chase

1st – LUCKY NELLERIE ran some decent races last season but he hadn’t clicked in two runs this term. This race played to his strengths as he stays all day and can keep up a good gallop and the light weight here must have helped, Michael O’Connell proving a very capable partner and the 5lbs claim reducing the weight to 9-12. Taking the lead at the second fence he was always in command, jumping well and although pushed along by 4 out he stayed on too well for the others up the straight.
2nd – BANNISTER LANE raced prominently, was ridden along down the back straight for the final time and, though staying on, could never quite get to the winner. He’s handicapped to the hilt and runs so honestly that there’s unlikely to be a respite, but he should be thereabouts in similar races.
3rd – SHARP JACK another who ran a very decent race, making progress through the field to move 2nd at the 17th, he threatened 3 out but then ran out of puff. A decent effort nevertheless and worth considering in Northern staying events.
4th – MOUSTIQUE DE L’ISLE ran n honest enough race from bottom weight, but wasn’t good enough to get into contention having just one pace at the business end. Performance here suggests that a drop to 0-110 or 0-115 class staying events would put him among the contenders.
5th – KING KILLONE was on the fringe for much of the race, but the weight told and he couldn’t get seriously into the scrap for the places. In less testing conditions, or perhaps with less weight on his back he would have more chance.
6th – CANADA STREET, in touch for a long way, couldn’t summon up reserves when they were needed. Under the conditions he was not disgraced.
7th – BELLANEY JEWEL moved up going on to the final circuit, couldn’t get to the front group and weakened in the final half mile.
8th – YOUNG SMOKEY was prominent early but fell out of contention at the 8th and plodded round to finish a couple of fences behind.
BANG AND BLAME and CLASSIC CAPERS were prominent early but weakened going on to the final circuit and pulled up 3 out. LAERTES was given reminders early, lost touch and was pulled up.
MATAMATA DE TENDRON was midfield when unseating at the 9th.
HIGH COTTON has never won, but has managed to earn just over £60,000 in 40 races for some placed efforts in decent company. He clearly hated the conditions, was soon remote, and eventually pulled up after trailing round tailed off. JUNGLE JINKS similarly was quickly well behind and though keeping going for quite a way was never ‘racing’.
CLEMAX whacked the second and was pulled up after the fourth fence.

KELSO – Friday January 11th
Going – Heavy

12.40 2m ½f Novices’ Hurdle

STARTING POINT put in a very game performance here. Leading from the start he was clear 3 out, but was then under pressure, reeled back in by the last but stayed on determinedly to hold on.
BEST PROSPECT was outbattled by the winner on the flat. He had some decent flat form, handles this going very well and should win a similar event soon.
RICH LORD didn’t have enough to go with the first two on the flat but performed creditably. CHARLIE TOKYO made a satisfactory hurdling debut, although he did have conditions in his favour. SILVER STEEL lacked pace in the final half mile, and I suspect chasing will be his game in time.

1.10 2m 6½f Mares’ Novices Chase

A cracking battle between two game mares in SCARVAGH DIAMOND and TRUCKERS LADY. SCARVAGH DIAMOND was scrubbed along from 4 out, but one thing she does is stay and just held on in a ding-dong finish. TRUCKERS LADY had only run twice under rules and the toughness she showed here augurs well for a similar contest.

1.40 2m ½f Morebattle Handicap Hurdle

A competitive event which used to be a conditions event at one time.

BYWELL BEAU is as game as they come and loves it round Kelso. He led as usual, was headed on the flat but battled back. He really seems to relish a set too once the others come at him.
FIRST LOOK led on the flat but was headed close home and won’t always find one as tough in opposition.
MOHAYER moved up nicely along the back straight, challenged three out but didn’t have enough left in the latter stages. He was not disgraced.

2.10 2m 1f Handicap Chase

CORLANDE and SOMETHING SILVER had this race between them from the start. CORLANDE went clear on the flat but seemed tired at the end, so I suspect he’s one for a two-miler whereas SOMETHING SILVER was still staying on and may be suited by farther.
OLIVERJOHN ran an honest enough race if never getting to the leaders, and MISS PROSS stayed on late.
Sad to see PILLAGING PICT pulling up and being reported lame. He’s been a grand campaigner, won gamely at Newcastle previously, and I hope the injury isn’t too serious.

2.40 2m 6 ½ f Novices’ Hurdle

On an afternoon of tight finishes there was another cracking duel in this race. MASTER BUILDER just held HARRY WOOD after a prolonged battle. Both come out of this with credit, though may need a little rest before appearing again.
TINTO VERANO ran respectably and is likely to have more chance in a handicap. PIMBO LANE was in the firing line until left after the last, but promises to be competitive in staying novice races.

3.10 3m 1f Handicap Chase

Many of the same old suspects out in this low grade staying chase, though I’ve got a fascination for these events going back countless years.

HIGH FIVE enjoyed himself in front and was no doubt suited by being able to dominate this field. He jumped well until a mistake three out meant he was joined for the lead, but then he stayed on again.
LE ROYAL was thereabouts most of the way, plugged on from 3 out to finish 2nd, and a furlong or two more presumably won’t do his chances any harm.
GENERAL HARDI challenged from 3 out but tired on the flat. Less taxing conditions might give him a chance.
WILLIE JOHN DALY is a long-standing rogue, his last win was that ‘waiting for company’ finish at Sandown, though he has ability when consenting to put his best hoof forward. He was ‘encouraged’ along early on, joined the fray by the eleventh and moved into 3rd after that but only plugged on for fourth. He may just have another race in him, but where and when is anyone’s guess.
LETHEM PRESENT was prominent early but fell away and is right out of form.
MARINGO was given reminders early and never going, BLACK SMOKE was struggling by the seventh and pulled up and FLEETFOOT MAC had a non-going day being out of it by the ninth. OSCAR TRAIL (fell 2nd) and MISS MATTIE ROSS (u.r. 4th) were early departures.

3.40 NH Flat Race

Like a few Kelso bumpers this looked competitive.
LET’S GO GIRLS won nicely and looks a likely one for a repeat win.
LIE FORRIT confirmed his debut promise and did nothing wrong in second place.
TEENAGE IDOL was a debut winner at Ayr, was well backed here and given that the conditions were similar to his debut this may be as good as he is on heavy ground.
EXCITING CAR raced prominently, had every chance and ran out of puff close home. A promising debut, from a stable which should bring him on nicely, and there would seem to be more to come.
JENNY POTTS and ETHEL BRIGGS came from behind to occupy 5th and 6th spots showing enough promise of better to come. Certainly both would be worthy of consideration in lesser events.