Monday, 19 May 2008

Hamilton - Friday May 16

Going – Good To Firm

6.20 5f 2yo Maiden

This could just be a significant two-year-old race since it was run in a faster time than the competitive closing sprint handicap.
SPIN CYCLE clearly learned from having an outing, and went clear impressively in the final furlong. PENINSULAR WAR ran creditably in second and will surely win a maiden.
METROLAND wasn’t so green as on her previous outing here. This one might be interesting when the nurseries come round.
GASSAL was outpaced down the hill, but stayed on well for third and is worth noting over six furlongs.

6.50 6f 3yo Handicap

Another race run under the standard.

LEADING EDGE led until close to the line, and is likely to gain compensation.
OPUS MAXIMUS came late and the form is probably significant given that this looked competitive. He may well stand a step up in class.
GREAT CHARM and LEGENDARY GUEST lost no credit close up behind.
These four had the race between them and it wouldn't be a surprise if they all go on to win.

7.25 1m 3f Listed 3yo Stakes

CAPTAIN WEBB led and then went clear in the final two furlongs, seeing off the challenge of LOVE GALORE.
MEERISS faded having gone well early, and didn’t look quite up to the class. Handicaps will be a better target.

8.00 1m 1f Maiden

This may not have been a great maiden, but STOCK MARKET surged clear and should go on from here around 9 to 10 furlongs. SOCIETY VENUE ran respectably and seems a good measure in second.
A significant performance on debut from HUNTING COUNTRY. Left flat-footed at the start, this one stayed on for fourth suggesting a maiden is well within his compass.

8.35 1m 4f Listed Handicap

A very close five runner event which turned into a sprint in the straight.
TURBO LINN probably wasn’t suited by how the race was run, and did well to finish a close second to ERADICATE. ACROPOLIS, NIGHT CRESCENDO and GULL WING were all close enough to suggest they will competitive in decent handicaps this season.

9.05 5f 0-75 Handicap

ROTHESAY DANCER, brought with customary late run by Kelly Harrison, just failed here. Should continue to be competitive at this level.
STEELCUT held on well from all-comers and lacks nothing in determination.
RACCOON ran a cracker on his own on the far side. He had to do it on his own from halfway, and he probably ran better than his finishing place suggests. His win record is 8/50 which is respectable for a handicapper, and I'd watch for him when more favourably drawn. It's significant that he's now well below his last winning mark, since it's clear his ability still remains.

Perth May 14/15

Following a period of decent weather in Scotland, the ground was on the fast side, so there should be pointers here for summer jumping.

Time pressures mean I’ll have summarise a little concentrating on positives and a few negatives.

ARTLESS unshipped her rider in spectacular style at the first in Wednesday’s 2 mile Mares’ Intermediate Hurdle. She led ‘enthusiastically’ to the first, then skewed violently left, jettisoning Denis O’Regan in spectacular style. Hopefully this was an aberration as I feel she has the ability to win a race or two. A poster on the Racing Forum put forward the absurd notion that O’Regan jumped!
Doubtful whether HI DENSITY achieved much in winning. BUFFY is now 1 from 24 and better off in handicaps, but doesn’t win often enough for my liking.

GRAY MOUNTAIN won the two and a half mile maiden hurdle. He came off the flat in the U.S.A., and this is a bit different, but his jumping can be improved and there may be more to come. GENERAL LEDGER lacks a bit of pace and may be seen to better effect over three miles.

STRAVAIGIN once again proved how she is suited by good or fast ground, and proved she stays three miles in winning the novice handicap chase. She jumped well here and I still fancy she has a little more improvement in her. GARLETON battled well in second having raced prominently.

CLEMAX made all in the three mile handicap hurdle. A decent performance!
GUNS AND BUTTER was stepped up in distance but faded in the final half-mile. Could be two and half at a decent pace suits best.
MY ARCH looked to be stretched for pace when falling 4 out.
COMMERCIAL EXPRESS is struggling at the moment and never showed here. PORTAVADIE is another out of form.

ORMELLO won the two mile handicap chase, but possibly the most significant performance came from TOM’S TOYBOX who had the field on the stretch 4 out having been up with the pace all the way. He was only headed on the flat and seems a winner in waiting to me. BESTOFTHEBROWNIES looks a good measure in third.
YANKEE HOLIDAY had an off-day, whacked one early on and was never going. He’ll run better races here this summer.

The closing handicap hurdle looked an ordinary event. MR JACK DANIELLS stayed on to beat STYLISH SHOT and TRANOS, but I can’t really see these winning races other than ‘in their turn’.

Thrusday’s afternoon card commenced with a moderate looking three mile Intermediate Hurdle. CARRICK DHU stayed on to win it, but I would imagine he might be difficult to place to win now.

The second race was a decent looking Novices’ Hunter Chase over two and a half miles for 5 to 7 year olds. A couple of non-runners took the edge off a little, but there were encouraging performances from the winner ALWAYS RIGHT and the second CHARMING KNIGHT. Both raced at the head of or close to the pace. Mr Dawson on Always Right looked rather untidy on the run-in, but his mount came clear in decent style.

A lot of ordinary types in the Maiden Chase. MEDIA MAN made the running and came away on the flat. You can’t fault the effort, but he’ll find things tougher in future. MILL ROW couldn’t match the winner on the flat. Past that ATHOLLBROSE ran passably in third, but no immediate promise of chasing success from the rest.

STORM PROSPECT and ROSIE’S GLORY looked most favoured in the claiming hurdle, and so it proved. Handicaps may be a different matter.

RUSSIAN SKY is in decent form at the moment and will presumably be kept on the go. Possibly better suited by the three miles than the extreme trip when fourth in the Highland National, he stayed on well to win. PADDY THE PIPER ran an encouraging race in second. CATCH THE PERK generally runs his race, raced up with the pace and is a good marker in third.
PROFESSOR HEGARTY had been out the back but was making progress when falling three out. Worth an interest in similar company.
SNOWY was favourite here, but he’s unreliable and was never going.

Most significant run in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle might be from ENGLISH CITY who ran fourth returning from a lay-off. Hopefully he may drop a pound or two for this run which would help.
The runners in the bumper finished pretty close together, and I suspect it might be heavier on numbers than on runners with ability. SCHOFIELD might progress but I’d oppose him under a penalty.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Hamilton - Friday May 9th 2008

Going – Good To Firm

It was Office Party Night at Hamilton, and your correspondent joined the party from my own office for the evening. A fine time was had by all, I noted and scribbled, the rest drank, and we had enough winners between us to keep most of the group happy. For those thinking of visiting Hamilton, the Duke's Restaurant provided a decent meal and good service, despite the hectic environment you might expect from an evening meeting at this popular course. Course and surrounds were in magnificent condition, the viewing from the stand here is better than at most courses.

The warm weather of recent days had dried the ground out to good to firm. The weather, after a sprinkling of rain during the day, was overcast and sticky.

6.05 5f 2yo Maiden (Class 5, though the conditions mention that it’s counted as a Class 4 for penalty purposes)

A small but select field of five for this event, all of them newcomers. They looked a pretty decent bunch in the paddock, and I suspect all five will win races.

Of the five runners it was the winner FATHEY who appeared the least forward in condition, so it’s likely there’s better to come. The contest was run at a steady pace down the hill and picked up hitting the incline. Fathey led a furlong out and forged ahead, hanging slightly toward the rail, blocking Snow Bay which caused a concertina effect behind. His rider got a two day suspension, but the gap which Snow Bay was trying to come through was only ‘half there’. Fathey has plenty of speed in his pedigree so should go on from here.
OFFICER MOR just held the others for second. He was pulling hard and running a bit green down the hill, had as good a chance as any and couldn’t hold the winner. He seemed well forward to me and possibly may not come on quite so much as the others, but has a sprint pedigree and should win a similar event.
BRAGGING RIGHTS looked very fit and struck me as a nice walker. He came with every chance a furlong out but couldn’t match the winner’s speed, being caught up in the jostling close home. Backed down to favourite here, he has presumably shown a bit at home. He’s bred to be suited by further, so a step up in trip would be no disadvantage.
SNOW BAY would probably have finished second but for the winner drifting across under the whip. He was on his toes in the paddock and pulling going down, possibly not suited by the steady early pace. His breeding suggests that a step up in trip wouldn’t be a hinderance.
GOING TIME was the one of the party to get left flat-footed when the pace picked up. She was picking up in the final furlong, but couldn’t find a gap and had to be snatched up close home as Snow Bay was blocked. There’s decent speed in her pedigree and there should be better to come.

6.35 6f 3yo Class 3 Conditions Stakes

An interesting contest with some decent previous form recorded. The pace was no better than average, with the field being restrained down the hill.

Two broke away in the final furlong and a half, with the filly PERFECT POLLY battling determinedly as she went clear with Burnwynd Boy. She was previously trained in Ireland and has a fourth to Natagora on here C.V. An interesting prospect.
BURNWYND BOY ran a cracker for local trainer Linda Perratt, having previously been with her current assistant Ian Semple. He gave it the works close home and, bearing in mind he was carrying 10lbs in penalties, this looks a cracking effort. He seemed to be an amenable type, so there’s plenty of optimism that he’s up to at least Listed standard this year.
VAN BOSSED, a double winner recently, found the front two a bit sharp over the last furlong and a half. Handicaps would appear his level at the moment.
EXHIBITION looked fit enough for his seasonal debut, but was slightly disappointing. He pulled hard early and couldn’t accelerate with the front three up the hill. He did stay on at the end though, and given that he won over 6 furlongs on heavy as a two-year-old it could be that seven furlongs may suit.
RIVER ARDECHE won a maiden on heavy at York last July on his only previous run. He had a tough task on here and was left behind from halfway.

7.10 1m 4f 17yds 51-70 3yo Handicap (Actual distance with rail movement was approximately 1m 4f 40yds)

An interesting heat with a few handicap debutants and one or two moving up in trip.

I understand Len Lungo has a hurdling career in mind for LEGION D’HONNEUR, but it’s possible he might pick up another handicap or two on the flat judged on this performance. He led 2 out and ran on really well. I’d say it’s likely he will handle further.
PRINCESS LOMI lost nothing in defeat here, staying on well once headed. She seems a bit nervous, being equipped with a padded rug for stalls entry and the jockey whipping off the blindfold as the stalls opened. That being said, she settled nicely and would seem a likely winner at this trip or further.
SHEER FANTASTIC, more exposed at the distance, pulled hard early and stayed on for third.
CHANTEUSE DE RUE was out the back for a long way but stayed on for fourth.
PEQUENO DINERO was apparently bumped exiting the stalls, was always in the rear and eased in the final two furlongs.
SOXY DOXY raced prominently early but simply wasn’t good enough in this company.
LIVVY INN ran promisingly in a maiden at the last Hamilton meeting, but started slowly and never got serious on his handicap debut.

7.40 6f Class 5 Maiden

This race was run at a decent pace, so the form is probably sound. A few were outspeeded and didn’t get into the contest.

TAWZEEA raced comfortably and came away in the closing stages with the feeling there was something left in the tank. It’s likely he’s better than the bare form suggests.
STRAWBERRY MOON ran creditably in second, chasing the winner determinedly and should win a maiden particularly a fillies’ event.
JOHNSTON’S GLORY has raced mainly on the all-weather, 13 attempts having yielded one place, but coped well with fast turf. He’s a solidly-built sort, and the first time blinkers apparently did no harm, racing up with the pace and keeping on if held by the first two .
I commented last September that FORREST STAR ‘may make a racehorse in time’. It seems she’s on the way there, since she showed good pace here and stuck at her job once headed. May still need a race or two more, but I think this one will win eventually.
HOWARDS WAY, off the track since a promising debut at Musselburgh in April last year, was woefully outpaced early on, but picked up really well on hitting the rising ground. He finished fast to dead-heat for fifth with EMIRATE ISLE who, returning after an extended lay-off, ran to the form of his previous outings two seasons ago and is not without hope.

8.15 6f 61-75 (Class 5) Handicap

This looked potentially competitive and it proved so as the first handful were separated by no more than a length. The race was run at a sound pace.

CHEERY CAT was disappointing over 7 furlongs at Redcar, but here he kept on well once putting his head in front in the final furlong. Not a bad win and place record to date and shouldn’t be too harshly penalised following a tight finish.
RAINBOW FOX made a return to form, finishing fast from out of the pack, and would have been in front in another 20 yards. He impressed me in similar company last season, goes well on a track with a stiff finish and on fast ground.
MINERAL RIGHTS had been running over 7 furlongs on the All-Weather, but a drop in distance and change of surface did no harm. Of those up the with the pace, he was the one who stuck to his guns. I think this was a creditable performance since he was drawn on the outside and significant action took place on the stands’ side, and I’d bear him in mind in similar company.
OPAL NOIR had every chance two out but just couldn’t match the first three close home. A good performance nevertheless.
COLEORTON DANCER was up with the early pace, and kept on, but couldn’t hold the pack. He’s apparently paying for being thereabouts fairly often despite not winning for three years. I wonder if he might be aimed at a claiming race?
GAP PRINCESS finished close up without threatening a place.
BAHAMA BAILEYS, KYLLIS and STEEL BLUE all went with the early pace but faded up the hill.
DNATA FLYER, on handicap debut, seemed to find things happening a bit too quick but put in some good work close home and might be interesting at a decent price in the near future.
YORKSHIRE BLUE wins in his turn, but throws in a few average races in between and never showed here.
ARGENTINE looked unsettled in the paddock and didn’t show.
ULYSEES isn’t good enough at this level these days.
Favourite VARADOURO, a convincing Southwell winner, found this tough and didn’t make it to the front rank. He’s a strong sort who was on his toes in the paddock, from a sprint-specialist stable, and looked ‘ready to go’, so maybe a flatter track would be better.

8.45 1m 1f 36yds (Approx 1m 1f 60yds with rail movement) 56-70 Handicap

In the main these are an exposed bunch who win in their turn, but the winner hadn’t previously won on turf, so could be on a more generous mark.

ROYAL AMNESTY had been running really well in similar events on the All-Weather and was running off a mark 13lbs less than on the artificial surface. He came from last to first in a race where the pace wasn’t great, so it was a creditable performance. Given that the first two were clear he’ll go up 6 or 7lbs, but there must be scope for a further win or two on the turf. He’s 7 from 28 on the A/W, so has plenty of proven ability, and fast turf held no terrors.
PIANOFORTE had conditions to suit here and stepped up on his Sunday fourth over a furlong shorter. Well exposed and if moving up in the handicap will be at his limit, so with a 3 from 49 record, but 13 places, he’s not one where there’s a lot of win betting value.
MOONSTREAKER was on his toes in the paddock and pulled hard in third place. He basically couldn’t go the leaders’ pace in the final two furlongs but kept on for third.
MUNCASTER CASTLE needs a drop in class, but performed creditably here. He was in the front rank two out and kept battling if lacking the pace of his higher rated opponents.
KING OF THE MOORS performed well here on Saturday, but pulling hard in front early he couldn’t respond well enough when headed two out. Conditions seemed right for him here.
REGENT’S SECRET has the ability to win this sort of event but didn’t pick up from his usual spot held up in the rear. He wins in his turn, but isn’t on his game at the moment.
ALBERT’S STORY, FARNE ISLAND and MYSTICAL AYR were all well held and may be handicapped to the hilt.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Back to The Flat.......

HAMILTON – Sunday May 4th 2008

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

Hamilton’s season commenced with a relatively low key card.

2.25 5f 2yo Median Auction Maiden

Sometimes Hamilton is talked of as a stiff track. While this is true of the finish, it is by no means true of the whole course. On the five furlong course the runners spend as much time running downhill as they do uphill. VERONICA’S BOY struggled on the downhill section and looked an unlikely winner in the dip, but picking up really well on the rising ground, he weaved his way between his three opponents to win with a little in hand. He might be capable of winning again here, but I would be more interested on a flat or stiff track, Newcastle perhaps?
WHERE’S REILEY made a satisfactory debut, being overhauled by Veronica’s boy in the final furlong but staying on for second.
METROLAND looked very green for her debut, wandering around a lot and being tapped for speed up the hill. It would be expected she would learn from this race, and I’d expect a decent run next time particularly in a fillies’ race.
RUSSET REWARD may well be better on a sharper track, as having shown good early paced he weakened up the hill.

2.55 1m 65yds Jump Jockeys’ Handicap

KING OF THE MOORS almost won this from the front. Nothing got near him until Keisha Keighley came late to pip him on the line. It’s just possible the heavier weights carried ni this contest may have favoured him, and he would be worth considering in an amateurs’ contest.
KEISHA KEIGHLEY was held up and brought with a well timed run by Graham Lee to lead close home. She will presumably go up a few pounds but should continue to be competitive in similar class.
The rest never got a blow, DECHIPER coming out of the pack to snatch third. He had some decent form last year and this may signal a return.
Well fancied BIVOUAC and PIANOFORTE were disappointing. The former is yet to win, while the latter is 3 from 47, so neither appeal as betting material.

3.30 1m 65yd 3yo Selling stakes

THOMPSONS WALLS had them all on the stretch early and held on up the hill. Might progress to a claimer, but he would not find handicaps such an easy touch.
WISEMAN’S DIAMOND kept on for second and she has been there or thereabouts a few times.
BOURBON HIGHBALL looked better than this on at least one occasion as a two-year-old, but found little up the hill.
INDECISION, MUJAHOPE and NORTHWEST look slow on this evidence.

4.05 1m 5f Class 4 Handicap

A race where those from off the pace didn’t get involved.
NERO WEST raced prominently, led 3 furlongs out and kept up the gallop. Relatively lightly raced for a seven-year-old, and has won off 3lbs higher, so there is hope for another win.
PEE JAY’S DREAM has been in good form, and was another to race prominently. He chased the leader for the final two furlongs. Another not over-raced for his age, he may have another win in him soon.
COTTON EYED JOE never got to the leaders but held off the pack for third. He’s 4lb higher than his best winning mark and may just be held by the handicapper at the moment, though performing well.
SMUGGLERS BAY was a winner but quirky over hurdles in the winter, and seemed to duck the issue a bit here. I suspect he may run into a few places, but doesn’t seem one to have the mortgage money on.
JAFARU finished quite close considering he was under pressure fully four furlongs out. His 65 rating gives scope for a drop from this 61-80 class, so there’s hope for him.

4.40 1m 3f Maiden

LOCHIEL was unfortunate to run up against some decent animals in maidens last year. He was urged along after 5 furlongs, but stayed on well up the hill.
LIVVY INN comes from a predominantly jumping stable, but showed enough promise in second to suggest a chance of a flat win before a hurdles career in the autumn.
PRINCE RAYDDARCH looked a difficult ride when a well beaten fourth on his debut, but seemed to have benefited from that run. He settled better than many, was caught flatfooted when the pace increased, but stayed on again in the final two furlongs.
EVELITH REGENT pulled hard in front early on and weakened in the final two furlongs. He needs to settle if he is going to win a race.
ARCH, who ran creditably on his bumper debut last year but was then disappointing twice subsequently, moved up two out but couldn’t go with the leaders. He may be better over a longer distance.

5.15 6f Class 5 Handicap

THE BEAR had shown very little in six outings since 2005, but led all the way and kept on up the hill to record a third career win. Since he won off 93 as a two-year-old, it’s not inconceivable that he’s hiding away on a decent mark, particularly against similar opposition.
INGLEBY PRINCESS looked another potentially well weighted. She came out of the pack to take second without getting near the winner.
CROSS OF LORRAINE had very chance and probably ran to his mark in third, and the fourth, MAISON DIEU, was near the pace all the way, having nothing left for an extra burst in the final furlong.
YORKSHIRE BLUE ran a lack lustre race and, though he does win races, is difficult to tie down to a particular race.

5.50 5f Class 6 Handicap

The field split into two groups with four on the far side initially headed by CONJECTURE and OVERSTAYED having an early advantage. In the end the best finisher on that side was DOUBLE CARPET in fifth. The far side used to be favoured, but I’m not sure the bias is there now. It may be that Double Carpet’s effort is better than it appeared.

ROTHESAY DANCER is well handled by Kelly Harrison. The apprentice brought her mount through in the final furlong to win a shade comfortably, and it’s not the first time she has secured such a win.
HIGHLAND SONG stayed on for second and last time winner BAYBSHAMBLES seemed to run to her mark in third.