Going – Good To Soft
Decent weather and decent ground for Kelso’s most valuable meeting of the season. However, the spectre of the ‘low sun’ spoiled the Grade 2 novices hurdle, with both flights in the straight omitted.
2.00 2m 6.5f 0-135 Handicap Chase
CRACKADEE had to be worked on from a way out, but he does stay well and stuck on to take this at the death. He’s lightly raced and progressing, so there may be a similar contest in him.
I noted SCARVAGH DIAMOND last season from a decent bumper from which all the first four have won since, including multiple-winners Middleton Dene and Programme Girl. This mare has proved to be pretty useful stepped up in distance and has recorded three wins herself. On her first outing in handicap company she jumped very well, led on the flat but was just outbattled close home. She did nothing wrong and will be a force in similar races.
STANDIN OBLIGATION was held up and never got to the front line, though plugging on for third, and JIMMY BOND was one paced in fourth having been prominent most of the way.
NIRVANA SWING was still in contention when misjudging two out and falling, bringing down BRAVE REBELLION who had moved smoothly up to the leaders. This looks a decent event and on that basis these two are well worthy of consideration next time.
SNOWY was always out the back.
SILVER JACK couldn’t go the pace from a mile out, SILVER KNIGHT put in a second consecutive poor effort, and POSH STICK had no hope in this class.
2.30 2m 0.5f 4yo Novice Hurdle
LOS NADIS’s untidy jumping cost him the race at Musselburgh last time. He was a little better here, but there’s still something to work on. He jumped right over the last two flights and QUICK WILL was able to take charge on the flat. The latter has had a bits and pieces start to his hurdling career, but this form suggests he’s going the right way.
DANISH REBEL ran prominently as usual, and plugged on for third. In the lnog run I suspect handicaps will be best for him since he seems destined to find one or two too good in novices’.
GALANT NUIT stayed on from the back, and his form so far suggests a longer trip is required.
3.10 2m 1f Novices’ Chase
This looked likely to fall to BYWELL BEAU but he jumped violently right at the second last and his jockey had no chance of keeping him on the chase course. He raced in front as ever, but jumped right all the way. That being said he probably would have won the race, but jumping needs to be sorted out. He was hurdling in his previous race, being a successful front-runner in that sphere, so it may be interesting to see where his trainer takes him next.
CIRCASSIAN was moving up when falling at the seventh, not getting high enough and ‘burying’ Denis O’Regan.
The race was presented to OPEN DE L’ISLE, but it maybe slightly unfair to suggest he was a lucky winner, since he jumped well all the way round and was still in contention when Bywell Beau, and was not stopping at the end.
KEMPSKI couldn’t get to the front as he prefers and was never in contention and called ‘enough’ in front of the seventh.
ASTYANAX and CEBONNE completed the course in their own time.
3.40 2m 1f 0-144 Handicap Chase
A close fought contest.
MARCEL returned to chasing and held up early, made progress to get in contention 3 out. He then battled really well on the flat to hold on. His problem is that this is his mark, and if he goes up a few pounds it will make things tough.
ROMAN ARK and MAGIC SKY both had every chance and did nothing wrong.
KILMACKILLOGE led early, but couldn’t go with the front three in the final half mile. He was a pound out of the handicap here, and there’s plenty of scope for a drop in class which would make things easier.
POLAR GUNNER was outclassed and pulled up at the last, interfering with FIRST LOOK who unseated, Timmy Murphy jumping the fence without his partner. FIRST LOOK ran no sort of race here.
4.15 2m 2f Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle
The class of runner here suggests this wasn’t the best Grade 2 event, though two left the rest behind. It was rather devalued as a jumps contest since the two hurdles in the straight were omitted due to the low sun, only 6 flights being jumped. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to move one of the flights in the straight back to the side of the course, meaning only one would be missed out.
IGNOTUS was disqualified at Catterick since he was entered a day before the end of a 40 day ban. Dare one ask why the Catterick entry was accepted? He made up for that disqualification with a sound performance here, staying on gamely to hold PAGAN STARPRINCESS. The two came clear of their field. I suspect IGNOTUS may go to Aintree, though he'd have to step his form up another notch to have a chance there.
SCRIPTWRITER ran well enough to take third place and would be expected to land an ordinary novice event. LA VECCHIA SCUOLA ran up to her previous form in fourth place, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she picks up another novice event in the coming weeks.
OSAKO D’AIRY led early and QUICUYO took over 3 out, but neither were good enough when push came to shove.
4.50 2m 6.5f Hunters’ Chase
Consistent performer NATIAIN put up a decent performance on his seasonal debut. Challenged on the run-in, he held off Robbers Glen in determined fashion. He’s been a prolific winner in points and hunter events, and now goes to the Foxhunters’ at Cheltenham. It’s a step up, but he won’t go down for lack of determination. Credit to rider Mark Ellwood who was having his return ride after breaking his back at Hexham last year.
ROBBERS GLEN got a bit unbalanced on the run-in, and possibly the winner benefited form a slightly tidier ride close home, but the runner-up certainly put it all in and won’t find many as tough as the winner on the Northern hunter circuit.
ANSHAN SPIRIT had decent form round here last season, and ran an honest enough race if left behind by the first two.
JUST IN DEBT couldn’t go the pace from two out and needs a stiffer test.
The rest weren’t good enough in this company.
5.25 2m 6.5f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle
Back to a full compliment of hurdles, with the sun having disappeared.
ETCHED IN STONE raced prominently all the way, but just found QUALITY CONTROL too strong after the last. This looked a competitive event for the level and I’d expect both these two to go close next time.
HEEZ A STEEL stayed on for third without threatening the first two.
WISE CHOICE ran a decent race in fourth. He’s a fast ground specialist and I’d expect his trainer to line up a race at Perth in the spring or summer.
BEAU SADDLER found things tough from 4 out. NICOZETTO ran prominently to three out then cried enough. SNAKE CHARMER lasted a little bit longer but weakened in the straight.
A note from Doncaster where DOESLESSTHANME, a winner at Musselburgh in February, won the bumper by 4 lengths with a long gap back to the third. It boosts the form of that race at Musselburgh, and this one is apparently aimed at the Aintree bumper.