Friday, 25 April 2008

Perth Festival 2008 - Day 3

PERTH – Friday April 25 2008

Going – Good To Soft

2.05 2m 0.5f Novices’ Hurdle

This race was run at a decent pace, so the form is worth noting.

The winner, CLASSIC MOON could be fairly decent. He was very impressive here, building on a hurdling debut 3rd at Downpatrick. He looks a nice strong sort, and in the race was settled just off the pace. Moving up at the sixth, he led two out and went away to win with a bit in hand. Jimmy Lambe often brings horses to Perth, so we may well see Classic Moon return, but keep an eye out for a run in Ireland as well.
DANCING MIST is a nice looking sort who is going the right way, having shown a degree of promise previously. He had every chance two out but couldn’t go with the winner from there. He was just headed for second, but got the placing back in the stewards’ room. I would imagine Vic Dartnall should find a race for this one sooner rather than later.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU , a strikingly big gelding, looked very good going down to the start. He kept on for second but was then relegated. He’s been tried over 2m 4f and 3m and I get the impression the longer distances will favour him. He’s had a break and taking that into account this was a promising run.
SKIPPING CHAPEL was unsettled in the paddock. He was outpaced 2 out but plugged on for fourth.
SPARTACUS BAY was equipped with a cross noseband and tongue tie. He also had boots front and back which suggests he may cut into himself. He was prominently early but faded.
Most of the rest either couldn’t cope with the early pace or faded in the second half of the race.

The owners of the winner, Burnt Toast Ltd., are donating Classic Moon's winnings to the Marie Curie Cancer Charity. They have 15 horses in training under the Burnt Toast banner.

2.40 2m Novices’ Chase

A very impressive looking foursome in the paddock.
MARODIMA jumped and galloped his rivals into submission here. Setting off in front he was never pressed and came home well clear of the one remaining chaser. I understand the connections are looking to sell, possibly because he’s in a twilight zone lacking opportunities.
NEVERTIKA was attempting a forward move when falling at the eighth.
CEDRUS LIBANI had been chasing Marodima, but he’d slipped to third and took a tired looking fall three out. Thankfully he got up Ok and was ridden back, and Nevertika ran past me looking ofr a course exit, so he seemed none the worse!
HUSH TIGER seemed to me to be ridden sensibly without trying to sustain a pace he couldn’t keep up. He jumped well enough and should serve Rayson Nixon well over fences.

3.20 2m 4.5 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

A race that was clinched by Rose Davidson’s decision to kick on after three out. Having seen her mount GUNS AND BUTTER finish second at Musselburgh earlier in the season, I felt he would be better ‘pushing the pace’ and clearly connections made a conscious decision to do just that. The ‘Irish cavalry’ were arriving fast at the end, but Guns And Butter had enough in hand. A stiffer track or longer distance might play to the winner’s strengths.
WINTER STAR came from a way back to take second, and would have been in front in another 50 yards. He seemed to come off worse in when sandwiched between the third and fourth on the run-in, so may have been unfortunate. MHILU stayed on to take a close third and the ‘hidden form’ horse, Tony Martin’s ANOTHER AMBITION was not far away in fourth. Martin seems to have a knack of burying this type away in big Irish fields and then exploiting low marks in the UK. Interesting that there seems a 10-15lb discrepancy between Irish and UK marks, the latter being the higher.
BEAU LARGESSE followed the first four quite closely and didn’t put in a bad effort. Having ogt into contention 2 out, he couldn’t maintain the effort.
SEEKING STRAIGHT, placed in a heavy ground handicap at Ayr, led to the sixth then quickly faded and pulled up. CAST IRON CASEY was never better than fourth or fifth.
Last time winner LADY SAMBURY took over at the seventh, but gave way at the next and faded. Even allowing for her penalty she was two pounds out of the handicap, so there will be easier opportunities. This races suggests she should not be written off.
Another front out of the handicap, MISS MORELLI raced prominently to the seventh, and may find easier races.
Nothing else got competitive at the sharp end.

3.55 3m 3f Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

SO NOW was brought through smoothly from the rear by Harry Skelton, led 2 out and stayed on. The extreme distance clearly favours him since there was a decent pace from the start. He had been competing at decent tracks in the south, with form from both Newbury and Cheltenham, so this win was hardly a surprise.
GIULIANI looked very fit and ready for this race. Having raced midfield he was left flat-footed 3 out, but to his credit showed determination to battle his way back into contention. His recent form has more letters than numbers, but this was a decent effort and his trainer may try for another staying event this side of the Irish Sea. He has won on good to firm which may prove significant.
SOLWAY BEE won a novice event here on Wednesday and found the step up in trip and into handicap company no problem. She challenged on the final bend, but wasn’t quite as quick as the first two.
IN DREAM’S led to the ninth and was then one paced. His best form is at trips just short of three miles.
KING’S ROCK raced prominently to three out, but was under pressure when falling at the next. Possibly a combination of the longer trip and a 10lb rise was against him, since his wins have all been at 2m 6f.
RATHOWEN raced fourth or fifth, and didn’t help himself with poor jumps at the 8th, 9th and 10th flights. He was then found wanting for pace, before plodding past a couple in the straight.
NICOZETTO was always in the rear, and pulled up 2 out.
ASTYANAX and DALAWAN were prominent early but fell away once the race began in earnest.

4.35 3m 7f The Press And Journal Highland National Handicap Chase

I don’t normally make a song and dance about sponsors, but since the P and J have made this race such a prominent part of the Scottish racing calendar I’ll give them due acknowledgement. Anyway the Press And Journal is a decent regional newspaper!

I’ll make no bones about it, this is one of my favourite events of the year! Yes, sad isn’t it? Once again the race filled to capacity, with a decent compliment of in-form lower grade staying chasers.

As usual this was a battle of attrition with contenders falling away one by one in the latter stages. It was won by Chris Grant 7 year old LAERTES who has enough time on his side to progress as a staying chaser. He was in touch with leaders for most of the way, leading 6 fences out and stretching on from there to win with a bit to spare. Potentially an interesting campaigner in slightly higher grade events next term.
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott’s LYDON HOUSE ran creditably in second. He had every chance three out put Laertes pulled away. There aren’t a huge amount of extreme distance chases run in Ireland, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this gelding return to compete in staying chases in Scotland and the north.
THE GANGERMAN has been running in similar events in the south. He was another who found the winner staying on a bit better. I wonder if a slight drop in trip may be in his favour. He’s a slightly frustrating performer in some ways since he has only one win to his credit, but on the other hand has collected a pile of place money.
I have questioned in the past whether RUSSIAN SKY can cope with these extended trips. On the evidence of a gallant fourth, he can. He was just a bit outclassed towards the end of the race, but certainly worth persisting with in these events.
ESKIMO JACK never quite got to the leaders and was left behind over the last four fences.
I’m still convinced that this is beyond TRISON’S STAR’s best trip, and I’ve said it more than once before. He has yet to convince me he stays extreme distances and looks much better campaigned at around 3 miles. MEMO to Ferdy Murphy – keep Trison’s Star at shorter distances…… or maybe don’t, then he might be a longer price!
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST went strongly to 6 fences from the finish, but then came under pressure and lost touch, eventually coming in a tired looking seventh.
CUONTESS TRIFALDI was eighth and never threatened. AMAZING VALOUR and HIDDEN BOUNTY were never closer than their eventual ninth and tenth places, and NO PICNIC showed up briefly in the leading group but wasn’t in contention on the final circuit.
The rest were pulled up, TREASULIER cutting out the early running but weakening early on the final circuit, BRANDY WINE, ALMIRE DU LIA and FINZI racing prominently early then fading. Hat-trick scorer HELLO BUD was very disappointing, racing in midfield for a way but never near the front. ORKI DES AIGLES and DERE LYN were in the rear for a couple of circuits before the towel came in.

And that readers, was the story of the Highland National of 2008! All done from a position near the last fence without hearing the race commentary, and proving my race reading is coming along nicely!

Sad postscript to the race - It was reported that NO PICNIC collapsed and died after the race.
5.10 2m 4.5f Novices’ Handicap Chase

A right old battle between two up the run-in, with locally trained SPIRIT CALLING overhauling the Wylie/Johnson challenger TOP DRESSING close home.
SPIRIT CALLING lost a little ground 4 out, but moved up to challenge over the last three. Having just led over the last, he was headed again on the flat, but battled back determinedly. He ran poorly at Musselburgh in January and clearly appreciated the break. ~This was a first win, but I doubt it will be his only success.
TOP DRESSING didn’t do much wrong and was well clear of the rest. He had good form around two miles and clearly stays every yard of this trip.
CLASSIC HENRY was never near the front but stayed on from the back to finish third, a great improvement on his previous jumping efforts.
SOMETHING SILVER raced in touch, but couldn’t muster an effort over the last three.
BARNEY led until 2 out, but the effort burst him and he weakened quickly into fifth. Off his mark there should be scope to drop in class and he will find easier opportunities.
BILLESLEY raced prominently for a while then faded. DIVEX and LORD SAMPOSIN never got competitive, and NATIVE COLL raced with the leaders but weakened 4 out.
STAND ON ME was beginning to make significant progress when coming down 6 out and might be interesting in similar events.
BONCHESTER BRIDGE ran as poorly here as he did in a hurdle on Wednesday.
LOFTY LEADER is well out of sorts and pulled up again. LOCKSTOCKANDBARREL was prominent early but lost touch and pulled up.

5.45 2m 0.5f NH Flat Race

A few decent looking types in the paddock.

DIABLO, a winning pointer, was very impressive. He led all the way and galloped away from his rivals, three winners amongst them. He was one who least impressed me in the paddock, but ‘andsome is as ‘andsome does.
HEART O’ THE WEST came from some way back to take second place. I would guess he will come into his own at longer trips over obstacles.
CARRICKBOY raced prominently and kept on in the straight. This was a very good debut and he should build on it.
PONTOP stayed on from the back for fourth. George Charlton has the useful bumper horse Knockara Beau, and it seems this one has some ability.
DASTARDLY DICK represented the first previous winner to finish. He raced prominently but couldn’t find extra reserves once in line for home.
WEATHER FRONT had every chance turning for home but dropped away.
GAVROCHE GAUGAIN was right out the back until the straight and made moderate progress. Worth at least keeping an eye on.
The remainder were well held.

And so endeth the Perth Festival for 2008. My notebook now heads for the flat meeting at Hamilton on May 9th, though I’ll keep an eye out for the jumpers in the meantime.

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