Other commitments have meant I have been struggling to keep up with local racing in recent weeks, but here are a few notes from recent meetings.
HAMILTON June 5
All the excitement here concentrated on the opening two-year-old maiden contest. Leader VERINCO jinked right close home and bashed into LUCKY DAN, with both jockeys ending up on the floor. The theory seems to be that somebody near the winning post was waving and the horse shied. That being said, the finish at Hamilton is a bit of a funnel, with the trees on one side and the stands on the other, so it doesn’t surprise me if some nervous horses do shy a bit.
CALLEY HO was presented with the race, but was in the process of putting in a decent performance, staying on in third place. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one improves if upped in trip.
MINERAL RIGHTS has run well over seven furlongs this year but showed his versatility, going close over 5 furlongs. He should win soon.
OUEF A LA NEIGE went sprinting for a while last year but looks better over further. Staying on in the 1m 65yds 52-69 Handicap he suggested a move up in trip will do no harm and I’d expect a win before long.
THE BEAR ran a decent race in second in the 6f handicap. The winner OPAL NOIR is steadily progressing, confirming previous promise over the course and distance. YORKSHIRE BLUE can be frustrating, but gave a hint of a return to form when running into third. He does win in his turn, but is often well backed so it’s questionable whether he is value to back.
MANDURAH, RAINBOW FOX and COLEORTON DANCER were close enough to suggest they have a shout in upcoming events.
The versatile LA VECCHIA SCUOLA sluiced up in the last, a handicap over 1m 5f. It probably wasn’t the toughest race, but if her hurdles form is anything to go by she could be a good deal better than this level on the flat.
MUSSELBURGH June 7
SPIN CYCLE won what looked a competitive novice 2yo event and now goes for the Norfolk Stakes. The ones I would take out of this race are third placed KERRYS REQUIEM, still a maiden though surely not for long, and fourth placed newcomer ELEGANT CAD who mixed it well with some promising juveniles. The latter’s trainer has a reasonable record with two-year-olds and should place Elegant Cad to advantage.
RECORD BREAKER found more once headed in the 1m 6f Handicap. This looked competitive despite only 6 runners, he won’t go up far for a narrow win, and I suspect there is more to come. SIR DUKE came to win but was just outbattled close home.
On the face of it, ROYAL AMNESTY’s performance was disappointing, but given that this was a step up in trip and class I’m prepared to forgive this ‘miss’. He will find easier opportunities in 0-80 or 0-85 company.
The ‘Tradesman’s Derby’, a 0-80 3yo handicap included a few progressive sorts and was a close contest, RESPLEDENT LIGHT responding well close home to hold on in a tight finish. SUNDOWNER came from the back and just failed. I suspect this form is good enough that both can step up in class.
YES MR PRESIDENT veered toward the crowd in the closing stages and finished a close third. BETCHWORTH KID was another arriving from the rear, finishing not far away in fourth, just failing to summon an extra surge.
STEP THIS WAY led but gave way in the final furlong. He’ll find easier races.
In a race full of exposed sprinters, PRINCESS ELLIS made her record three out of three at the course in the sprint handicap, leading all the way from the no. 9 stall. Given that she would presumably have been even better suited by a rail draw, this performance might be better than bare value.
HEXHAM June 7
LETHEM PRESENT had a miserable winter, but has proved to be a completely different performer with faster ground and the sun on her back. She made most to win comfortably from a big field in the 3m 1f handicap chase. It’s notable that there were 17 finishers out of the 20 runners, which I would consider unusual for Hexham.
GET THE GIFT ran a very good race in second, given that this came after a five month lay-off. Should win a fast ground staying handicap chase soon.
Juvenile hurdles seem to start earlier every year, and SIMARIAN was clearly well ahead of the game for Evan Williams. Time will tell if he beat much, but given this start he should pick up another race or two before the others catch up.