Tuesday, 19 February 2008

MUSSELBURGH - Wednesday 13th February

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places, good to soft on the bends)

The last Musselburgh jumps meeting of the season, a fact the groundsman will be pleased with since the stands’ bend desperately needs some recovery time. It was chewed up after the last meeting, and once again was much softer than the rest of the track. The ground came up mainly on the firm side, so the form might be more relevant for spring racing. Once again it was worth discarded any form recorded on heavy or even soft ground.

I was on a corporate jolly but managed to break off sufficiently to make some notes. A pretty decent meeting to finish the Musselburgh season, but I suspect the form may of more relevance once Perth gets underway in April.

1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This contest lost a little of it’s gloss since Middleton Dene was a non-runner, a fact that escaped me until a fellow paddock watcher told me. However, it turned into a cracking contest between two horses, though the eventual outcome was a trifle unsatisfactory.

Bumper winner POSEIDON set a reasonable pace before being left behind by the first two in the straight, though well clear of the remainder. This didn’t look a bad run and I think there’s better to come.

LOGAN’S RUN had decent Irish bumper form and moved smoothly up to tackle RAYSROCK two out. Once on the flat the two had a battle royal and ended up in a dead-heat. Both riders were called in for interference close home, Timmy Murphy’s was deemed worse than Denis O’Regan’s, and RAYSROCK was dropped to second place. LOGAN’S RUN didn’t do much wrong and should progress.

RAYSROCK showed a real ‘thou shalt not pass’ once over the last, having being headed between the final two flights. He really stuck his neck out, and must surely be a shoo-in for a novice event soon on decent ground, particularly since he escapes the penalty.

LA PANTERA ROSA wasn’t far away entering the straight but found only one pace. SILVER DESTINY made some headway three out, but never got near the leaders, though this was an improvement on his NH Flat outing 15 months ago.

2.20 2m Class 3 Novices’ Hurdle

This looked a tight contest but an impressive front-running performance by Newmarket challenger MARSAM who led at a decent pace, ran on well in the straight and apparently had a bit to spare. He won at Plumpton in November, and has been keep going on the All-Weather since. On this evidence a step up to better novice contests won’t hold any terrors.

LUNA LANDING confirmed the promise of his second here in December, staying on but not challenging the winner.

NELSONS COLUMN put in easily his best performance over hurdles, having every chance but one paced at the business end.
COMPROMIZNOTENSION performed pretty much to the level of his previous hurdles form.
AKAREM faded in the straight and I suspect he’d prefer softer ground.
SUTHERLAND BELLE looked to have a real chance in this company but, having been prominent, she weakened in the straight. Just a possibility she might have found the ground a little quick for her liking.

2.50 2m 4f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Chase

I’d made a good investigation of the form for this one, and reckoned I’d found a decent longshot in STRAVAIGIN. She had previously run eight times, with form reading 706R39PP, seven very poor runs on soft and heavy, but a decent third over hurdles on good. Given that she had not actually fallen in her two chases, and the ground here seemed to suit, it seemed she was worth a bet at long odds. In the event after a few sticky jumps early on, she settled into a nice rhythm and led 4 out going well. Unfortunately for yours truly, KALMO BAY came from out the back under a superbly judged waiting ride from T J Dreaper, and took over on the flat. Glad to say that a couple of colleagues in the office were on Stravaigin each-way at 28/1.

Jim Goldie seems to have established STRAVAIGIN’s ideal conditions, so one would hope she can go on from here. Given that this was a 0-110 contest there is at least a bit of scope for a drop in class. The big price has possibly been missed, but the mare has proved she can be competitive.

KALMO BAY seemed a handful in the paddock, being led round by two handlers. His jockey did a superb job of getting him settled, and he was detached from the main group passing the stands. He mad progress on the bottom bend, cruised up on the outside and won a shade comfortably. His pulled up on heavy ground at Ayr can safely be ignored. Given that he can be kept happy, he’s likely to go on to further success over fences on this better ground.

PHYSICAL FORCE ran respectably in third, no chance with the first two but seeing off the remainder.
When I saw PENCIL HOUSE, my first thought was ‘typical McCain’ type, without having read who the name of the trainer. ‘Young’ Donald should make something of this one, possibly over a longer distance. He made progress to join issue on the home turn, but could offer no extra in the straight.
ROYAL GLEN was being pushed but not totally without a hope when falling 3 out. That’s two falls in a row, and though she clearly has some ability, as a 10yo time is against her.
BANCHORY TWO set the pace for a long way, but weakened once heading for home. CHARLES STREET was significantly backed for one who had shown very little previously, but fell at the sixth. BEST ACCOLADE is presumably hard to keep fit, and I’m sure connections would be pleased to see him complete the course. MISTER JUNGLE once again seemed to have the sulks and struggled once pressure was applied.

3.20 2m 0-125 Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

A competitive looking contest partly marred by the demise of HALL OF FAME, the gelding breaking a leg when falling and having to be put down. I know the owners are very upset.

AMAZING KING had previously won a claimer at Plumpton, and stepped up on that with a convincing victory. He was equipped with boots front and back. Racing in third off a sharp pace set by Danish Rebel, he led 3 out and the race was soon in the bag, racing away for a comfortable win.
STYLISH SHOT took closer order at the fourth, staying on in the straight for second.
DESERT RAT stepped up on previous form. Having been restrained early on he kept on for third. Presumably he will be kept to handicaps as he’ll have some stiff tasks in non-handicap novice hurdles.
DANISH REBEL went off at a fair pace, jumping left, and was steadied into the back straight. He came back to his field 3 out, but did keep plugging away and finished fourth.
CALZAGHE was prominent early, but as on previous outings tired in the latter stages. He seems to be struggling to see out the trip and is a little bit headstrong which doesn’t help. Might have a chance in a minor contest, seller or claimer on fast ground.

3.50 2m 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

HALLA SAN looked very well handicapped on the basis of two promising novice race performances. It proved so as he ran on well to take this event, despite blundereing 2 out. He’s entered in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdles and, while that might be ambitious, there must surely be further races to be won with this gelding.
VALAIN ran an honest race in second place, leading before three out but having no answer to the winner. He’s got some decent form in Ireland, and this performance suggests he hasn’t finished winning.
PILCA stepped up on recent form, holding every chance in the straight but being unable to summon up a challenge at the death. He is clearly better on decent ground, so is one to look out for around the minimum distance.
SOUBRIQUET never threatened the leaders but kept on for fourth. Similarly FOLK TUNE struggled to get near the front and only summoned up one pace over the last two flights. Both of these appear handicapped to their form, and would seem to need a drop in mark before winning.
CALCULAITE seemed to have a rather odd gait in the paddock. In the race he was restrained in the rear, but had made some progress when coming down two out. In doing so he brought down STAINLEY who led early but was weakening at the time. CALCULAITE’s win came on fast ground, so it would be expected that he will show up well in the spring.
MASAFI disappointed once again, running prominently for a way but fading in the straight.

4.20 2m 4f Hunters’ Chase

The presence of 4x4s towing Ifor Williams trailers tell us it’s the Hunter Chase season, and on this occasion heralded Musselburgh’s one such event of the season.

There were reasons to oppose many of these on the basis of unsuitable distance or going, or simply lack of form. The race seemed ripe for picking by one of the outsiders, but it was a real puzzle deciding which one. In the event, the grey BELEM RANGER came out best at the fancy price of 50/1. He’d shown very little in 10 starts under rules, though is a winning pointer. He stayed on well in the straight, and showed himself to plenty willing enough close home.
JUST IN DEBT looked very well and ran a cracker given that the distance will not have favoured him on this sharp track. He was found out for speed close home, having raced prominently all the way. Upped in distance he looks sure to win a hunter chase this season.
ALBATROS, bandaged in front, ran an honest race in third. He raced prominently but couldn’t step up the pace over the last two.
GANGSTERS R US seemed to run to his form in fourth place. He’s an honest enough sort but may just find one or two of the youngsters a bit quicker in these events.
ANDY ANSHAN went well for a long way. Only seven he has time on his side.
SACHSENWALZER hared off in front, but went too fast for his own good and was out on his feet by the 10th.
ALPINE WARRIOR has a mixture of wins and letters in his form. He seemed to be going well enough down the back straight for the final time, but weakened quickly on the home bend and pulled up.

4.50 2m NH Flat

The start was delayed for 15 minutes awaiting the return of the horse ambulance.

MERRYDOWN looked a decent enough sort and plenty fit enough. He led over a furlong out and ran on for victory. His trainer’s smart enough to know what he’s got and can presumably place him to win again.
EYRE SQUARE, teeth grinding in the paddock and perhaps a little nervous, raced prominently and kept on in pursuit of the winner. This was a significant step up on his previous effort.
CASTLETOWN BOY had the best piece of form of those which had run, and finished a one paced third. He must now move to hurdling and will need to be a sharp hurdler to make a major impact at that game.
JENNY POTTS had finished well from the back at Kelso. Here she was ridden nearer the front, with more or less the same result. Perhaps this fifth palce is as good as she is.
I didn’t not anything else of any great significance. SPELLCHECKER and LADY HILLINGDON might have been expected to make an impact, but were disappointing.


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