Going – Heavy
After heavy rain in the Borders over the past few days the meeting survived an inspection. Better than the previous week when my wife and I drove through the snow toward Hexham, only to hear at 1p.m. that the meeting was off.
One fence and hurdle down the back straight were missed out due to the bad ground.
2.20 2m 0.5f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
CASH MAN raced prominently all the way. He was headed at the last but fought back tenaciously on the long run-in and certainly doesn’t lack determination. The time was decent compared with others on the card, even allowing for racing on the freshest ground.
NAXOX moved up after 3 out, and came to win the race at the last, but couldn’t muster quite the pace of the winner. He stuck on well enough and didn’t lose much in defeat, finishing. He handles better going so is worth watching out for in the next few weeks.
SILVER BY NATURE has ability but is difficult to ‘tie down’. Having been prominent early he seemed to be going nowhere 3 out, only to stay on again to take third. I suspect he is favoured by better ground, and since Perth is his local a visit or two to that course over the coming months may confirm this.
JENTRIS GIRL stayed on for fourth just behind Silver By Nature. This was a fair debut over hurdles. PROSECCO raced prominently for a long way then faded from 2 out, but was not disgraced. The remainder were well held.
PEREZ, with no form to speak of previously, pulled to the front and led to the third before disappearing without trace. The likes of BRIARHILL LAD, JANAL and FIRST FOOTPRINT were in the rear early and never competitive.
3.00 3m 1f Novices’ Chase
Not a bad event even though only four turned out.
GYSPY GEORGE led early, jumped well, and saw off Ma Yahab and Truckers Lady in the straight. The two beaten horses are decent markers, and the winner’s form suggests he should be first on the list whenever the ground comes up testing.
MA YAHAB came off a decent performance in handicap company at Cheltenham. He tried hard enough after the last put was just held. Could be interesting back in less classy handicap company than he found at Cheltenham.
TRUCKERS LADY is still a maiden but has run some decent races. She was found out by two better horses in the straight. Her handicap mark of 109 may be helpful.
LOVE THAT BENNY was not out of it when whacking 2 out, a mistake which knocked the stuffing out of him. He was coming off a break here so performed adequately given that he’s probably better suited by good ground or faster. He will presumably be aimed at spring time Perth and Kelso contests on better ground.
3.30 2m 2f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle
Officially a 0-130 but top weight was on 120. The pace was steady until 3 out.
Tight between four two out with consistent performer JOHN FORBES gaining the upper hand from the last.
TARTAN SNOW took a heavy fall at the last when looking tired. It looked bad but he got up OK. He had gone well enough, and performed creditably to remain in contention after a bad mistake at the hurdle down the far side.
HUSH TIGER and FRONT RANK, both having every chance two out, faded out of contention. HUSH TIGER in particular can find an easier opportunity.
TRAGIC OHIO, coming from a long lay-off, had his rider stoking the coal facing two out, but stuck on well on the flat. The performance offers encouragement, and it’s worth noting that though a winner on heavy his bumper form proves he can handle better ground.
KARATHAENA stayed on for third. She may win in her turn but is well exposed.
SOUBRIQUET was left behind once the pace increased. His current mark looks a tough one.
4.00 3m 1f 0-132 Handicap Chase
Slightly less than the 0-145 billing, but nevertheless a decent handicap chase for Kelso.
A gem of a ride by Timmy Murphy. Holding up top-weight STANDIN OBLIGATION at the back, Murphy brought his mount through to lead on the flat and win with a degree of comfort. He’s been lightly raced this season, handles fast ground and could be interesting if aimed at the better handicap chases this spring.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST was prominent on the final circuit and did nothing wrong. Headed on the flat, he had seen off the remainder comfortably but was well outpointed by the winner. He’s on a low mark, and if he remains at 110 or less would squeak into the Highland National which would be a good deal easier than this race, though it may come a little too soon. If he turns out at Perth I’ll have a good look at him in the parade ring.
ANOTHER RUM was way out the back until the run-in as he arrived to snatch third. He stays 4m+, but doesn’t win very often.
CANADA STREET has run well in a number of similar events this season. He plugged on for fourth. He’s not been campaigned in the summer, so presumably will be put away until the autumn.
BANNISTER LANE and GIDAM GIDAM were prominent early at a decent pace but faded in the tough conditions. STRONG RESOLVE and THE OUTLIER were also up there early and then found things hard work on the final circuit. CHABRIMAL MINSTER made some progress on the final circuit and had a chance 4 out but then faded.
ROSS COMM never showed, JONNY’S KICK was shoved along vainly going on to the final circuit , and CRACKADEE ran no sort of race in the conditions, pulling up before the eleventh.
4.30 3m 1f Hunters’ Chase
This race was turned into a procession by the Borders area’s favourite hunter chaser NATIAIN. Blazing the trail in his familiar style, he jumped immaculately and had all his opponents bar one on the stretch for most of the way. He couldn’t cope with the better opposition at Cheltenham, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to hold him at Kelso. The Bajan Bandit was a non-runner here, but I’m not sure even that capable performer would have held him.
LORD WHO was waited with off the pace, moved up well on the final circuit but was well outpointed at the sharp end. He ran creditably in the Perth long distance hunter event last season, and would be interesting if aimed at that race again since he wasn’t pushed too much once beaten.
ANSHAN SPIRIT paid the penalty for racing up with the winner for a circuit and fell away, finishing a tired third. Probably best on decent ground, there was enough promise here to suggest a minor hunter chase should come his way soon.
The remaining five weren’t remotely good enough and were strung out around Kelso.
5.00 2m 6.5f Novices’ Hurdle
The decent gallop here saw off the slowcoaches.
SUPREME BUILDER will be presumably be aimed at a chasing career. He was all out to beat an apparent lesser performer here, but he stays well and is determined enough.
POLITICAL PADDY was only just pipped and is clearly suited by a stamina test. On this evidence should pick up a staying novice event. I would imagine a 3 miler round Hexham would be up this one’s street.
AUTOGRAPH, back to hurdles after a spell chasing, led to three out but couldn’t offer enough from the last. She gives her trainer options over hurdles and fences.
EGERMYSTER’s fourth place may be of interest since he was making a rules debut. Took over three out and then was one paced once headed at the last, but the fact that she got seriously competitive offers much encouragement.
The rest led by MONEYLAWS were beaten a long way, and OF COURSE may have had a problem since he went out like a light after 3 out.
Currently a favourite mare of mine and of my work colleagues, STRAVAIGIN did us proud again at Carlisle last week, just being pipped on the line by Wise Choice. Keep an eye out for her on good ground.
Can't make the meeting, but will post a Scottish National meeting report at the end of the week. It's then on to the Perth Festival, April 23rd to 25th, before starting my Scottish Flat season with Hamilton on May 9th.