A few showers before racing, but nothing other than ‘wetting the turf’ so the ground remained the same. The course was well presented, ready for the upcoming ‘Fair Friday’ Meeting.
A low standard card, and it’s difficult to imagination there are many emerging from this card to give the backer an advantage.
2.20 5f 2yo Maiden Auction
The Johnston newcomer was a non-runner, so some of the interest disappeared.
SUSIE QUW, noted as being ‘keen’ going down, broke smartly and went clear in the closing stages. She did the job well enough and will presumably move on to nurseries before long.
PADDY BEAR drifted in the betting from 11/10 to 7/4, though he seemed in good enough nick. He started tardily but stayed on well up the hill for second. Whilst this probably wasn’t a brilliant race, he seems to have progressed. An extra furlong shouldn’t be a problem.
ROYAL MUWASIM showed speed for 4 furlongs.
WHAT A FELLA seems a slightly ungainly galloper. To my eye he struggled with the slopes at Hamilton and may be better on a flat track.
WEE BIZZOM was well beaten and doesn’t look quick enough at the moment.
2.50 5f Claimer
The disparity between the top claiming price of £15000, and an owner’s prize value of £1772 says much about the organisation of British racing. Here we have horses potentially considered to be worth £15000 which, in theory, would have to win at least 8 such events to return it’s value. That makes the game ’expensive fun’.
On the face of it a competitive little heat with the six having shown decent form recently. In the event, the race only really involved two.
HARRY UP blazed a trail, only to be cut down in the last 50 yards. He was well clear of the rest and this was a sound performance.
GUEST CONNECTIONS is really a six furlong horse, and the finishing slope helped his final charge. He was outpaced downhill but picked up three lengths in the final furlong to win with a bit in hand. He won three of his first 16 race, but then had a 22 race barren spell. Now he’s picked up the winning thread again it could be there are more wins to come.
FIRE UP THE BAND was third best on the day, KINGS COLLEGE BOY couldn’t get to the leader, but has been running consistently in handicaps and is always worth consideration in his grade. HOWARDS TIPPLE, a bit worse off than in handicaps, didn’t threaten the leader. LULOAH needed to be on top of her game here, but ambled out of the stalls and had no chance from then on.
3.25 1m 65yds 46-65 Handicap 3yo (Due to rail movements actual distance approx. 1m 40yds)
This was a fairly lowly event and the runners finished in a heap, which uggests the handicapper has them where he wants them.
FLASHY MAX challenged 2 out, led inside the final furlong and stayed on well enough. He had no penalty for this race, since his win came in an apprentice race, so the rise in weights following two wins is likely to be bad news.
HASTY LADY, MGANGA and CASTLEBURY finished in a heap behind and look handicapped to their level. The very moderate MISS UNDERSTANDING was a couple of lengths back.
JOHNNY FRIENDLY raced freely in front and had nothing left in the final two furlongs. He raced like a seven furlong horse.
4.00 1m 3f 16y(1m 2f 211yds) Maiden
The first three were well clear in this event.
BUDDHIST MONK led, pulling hard early but settled after half a mile. He looked the likely winner 2 furlongs on, but then veered across the track. Seb Sanders dropped his whip so couldn’t correct his course. Whether the bit slipped or there was some other problem was not clear. Perhaps a quirky performer, though not without ability.
WELLS LYRICAL is possessed of great finishing pace, but stuck on well to pip the wayward runner-up and won’t be troubled by further.
DEER DAYLAMI ran possibly his best race to date, close up in third.
GARRA MOLLY fell away in the last three furlongs, CIRCUS CLOWN was never in the argument. The others were remote, RONNIES GIRL was cussed at the start and ROBIN DE LA FOLIE is a slowcoach over jumps and on the flat.
4.35 6f 56-75 Handicap
The best event on the card, which doesn’t necessarily say a lot.
The winner GRAZEON GOLD BLEND boasts a reasonable 4 from 23 strike rate and this performance suggests he’s going the right way. He’d been a promising thid to Dickie Le Davoir at Pontefract, and built on that here, despite pulling hard early he had enough left running on well to take it cosily.
STEEL CITY BOY led until close home. He didn’t really do too much wrong, and continues in good form.
KATIE BOO is handicapped right to her mark and ran an honest race in third.
HEUREAUX ran respectably in fourth without threatening to win. OPAL NOIR stayed on in fifth, if perhaps suffering from lack of a clear run through.
Word was that OPTICAL ILLUSION was fancied by connections here. He got left a bit flat-footed up the hill, and when he did pick up, he had knowhere to go. His rating does give some scope for a drop in class and he’s running well enough to pick up another race.
WESTPORT headed the race 2 out, but caved in once headed
5.10 6f 46-60 Handicap
A ‘whose turn is it today?’ sprint ended in a comfortable first victory for SPLASH THE CASH. He’d been somewhere near in recent races, but this was better as he led from the start and went clear in the final two furlongs. He’ll go up a fair chunk in the weights, so his trainer should be looking for a race before that rise takes effect.
OUEF A LA NEIGE worked his way through from the back in the final furlong to finish second. He does win in his turn, but isn’t a prolific winner.. If he’s to win at six furlongs he needs a race to fall into his lap, but I think he’s better around one mile.
FERN HOUSE is a good sort whose looks belie his lowly handicap mark. He had every chance and stayed on behing thirs place dead-heaters WOQOODD, who ran better than recently, and HIGH REACH who stayed on late.
RIDE A WHITE SWAN had every chance on the outside, and wasn’t good enough in the final reckoning.
PADDY JACK, previously in decent form, looked really well but ended up in last place.
I took a glance at Cartmel’s races.
CLEMAX ran a gutsy race to win the staying chase. He finished with a ligament injury, and I get the impression that the injury happened some way out, so his determination was admirable though he may not be back on the tack for a while.
LYDON HOUSE stayed on for second in the Highland National previously, so it was no surprise to see him head down and staying on here. One to note for staying chase in Scotland and the North next season, assuming his trainer ships him over again.
ROSS COMM ran a better race than recently, but at 12 years old time is running out.
ZA BEAU probably didn’t beat much in the shorter staying chase, the top-weight was only on 87, but did it with no hassle and he may well pick up another chase or two at this level.
GOOD LINE strolled up at 33-1 in the closing novices’ hurdle. While he didn’t beat a huge amount he ran away from the others. He’s now being aimed at the Newmarket Town Plate.
I'll catch up with a few Jumps Notes when I can, and i'll also have an account of a trip, brief though it was, to Taby Racecoures in Sweden.