Monday, 29 September 2008

Perth - 2008 Finale Day 2

PERTH – Thursday September 25
Going – Good to Soft (good in places)

Perth’s season drew to a close for 2008 and was blessed with a pleasant sunny autumn afternoon and a healthy crowd.

2.20 2m 0.5f Novices’ Hurdle

A race run at a fair pace.

NOBLE ALAN had some creditable form from bumpers and a hurdle win in the book, though on the face of it had to find some improvement to win this. That he did to win with a bit in hand with another previous winner in second. Making progress before 3 out, he led between the last two and ran on. A sound performance and there’s probably more to come.
MHILU, who won a weakly contested event here earlier in the year, made a forward move 3 out and, though held by the winner, stayed on well. His previous win was over half a mile further, and this run suggests the extra distance will help. Should win again if stepped back up in trip.
CHORD pressed the pacemaker for much of the way, and then took over at the second last. He found his efforts had taken their toll and could only offer one pace when headed. This was a decent effort and he’s another capable of a novice win.
Bumper winner FRONTIER DANCER set the race up for the first two, setting a decent pace but paying the price in the straight. There’s a bit to work on with this one, and he didn’t help himself by aiming toward the course exit on the stands’ bend. He’ll more than likely improve and find a race.
SEA STORM has solid placed novice form to his name, though a late starter in the jumping game. There’s enough ability evident that a small novice event should come his way this season, probably over a longer distance since all his best work was done up the straight.
SAFARI JOURNEY made eye-catching progress to two out, but then nearly came down and his chance was gone. This was satisfactory enough and he’s worth keeping an eye on.

2.50 2m 4.5f Novices’ Chase

Favourite and chasing debutant CRESCENT ISLAND had settled well early on, but then headed for the exit gate on the stands’ bend. There was no chance of a recovery so his jockey called it a day. He did exactly the same in an Ascot bumper some time back. It’s noticeable that he was kept to left-handed tracks after that which may be the key.
MISTER GLOSS pulled hard early, and had a tendency to jump left which became more exaggerated close home. However, he cruised away from his main rival in the straight. He seems quite versatile since he won over 3 miles at Exeter yet could still win over 4 furlongs shorter round this sharper track. Plenty of scope for placement it seems and worth noting.
FRANC VILLEZ went well enough for two miles, but paid for trying to keep tabs with Mister Gloss. He fell in a heap facing up to home and was pipped for second. He’s not always going to find one as useful as the winner. He’s a summer horse and will presumably be put away before contesting handicaps next year.
OMIX D’OR was settled off the pace in third, and kept on in the straight to snatch second. This promised enough that he’s worth considering against lesser opposition.
SEEK THE TRUTH was way out the back, but stayed on well enough over the final two and wasn’t far behind the second and third at the finish. Much better than his previous effort over fences at Sedgefield and offers some promise for the future. He’s possibly not betting material in the immediate future, but progress will be worth noting.
KING’S ENVOY is rated 65 and was remote from early on. There has been no suggestion that he’s good enough to win a race.

3.20 3m 0.5f Novices’ Hurdle

There were a few previous winners in the field, so the likelihood is that the form is worth a bit.
VALERIUS had something to find on one or two here, but won this very comfortably, going clear from 2 out.
OSHKOSH is related to decent chasers, so a move to fences might improve matters, and he lost nothing in defeat here, leading to 2 out and keeping on once headed. Looks a potential winner of a similar event and then I’d expect a move to chasing.
FAIROAK LAD weakened from 2 out and should have been closer judged by previous form, and may have needed the race after a break.
SEEKING STRAIGHT is steadily getting the hang of things over hurdles. He had no chance on the ratings so probably ran up to his form or even slightly above it. His best chance in the near future will come in staying novice handicaps.
ANDREW NICK was near the pace for a long way but dropped away from 3 out. He’s a recent chase winner and may well have more success in that sphere.
MANADAM dropped out from 3 out. He won over half a mile shorter last time so possibly didn’t stay here.

3.50 2m 0-125 Handicap Chase (water jump omitted)

ASUDO was coming off a new two year absence from the track and making his chasing debut here. He seemed well ‘set up’ for this outing, moving up steadily from the sixth, hitting the front two out and, despite giving that obstacle a clout, ran on to win with a bit in hand. Much depends on how the handicapper reacts, but he entered this on 113, so there should be another opportunity in a similar class. He’s a three mile winner over hurdles so there’s a chance he might improve if moved up in trip. The time was decent here, so the form should hold up.
KIT CARSON didn’t show until late, but stayed on nicely for second. He’s yet to win in 8 outings in the UK, but his previous run at Market Rasen hinted that he was coming to hand, and there should be a small race to be found for him.
CONNEMARA ROSE set a decent pace, was pushed on from 2 out but weakened once headed.
TOP DRESSING was taken down to start very early. Held up in the rear he made progress at halfway but didn’t get to the leaders. This was his seasonal debut so there’s a fair chance there’s better to come.
SEEYAAJ is normally a good marker but found this a bit tough, struggling from 4 out.
YANKEE HOLIDAY is a headstrong character who needs careful handling. Possibly found the class a bit tough, he was 5lbs out of the handicap, but he did put in some work to pick off a few toward the end and will be more competitive back in a lower class.
CANTGETON made some progress down the back straight, but then whacked the fourth last and his chance was gone.
POLAR GUNNER has struggled since coming back from having 2007 off and was never in with a chance.
OR DE GRUGY was disappointing out the back, but his best form recently has been with a stiffer test of stamina, either a longer distance, soft ground or both, so I’d bear that in mind this autumn.

4.20 2m 0.5f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

BAGUENAUD was well backed in a couple of bumpers here last year, but then disappeared into the pack in a few hurdle outings. However, his last run suggested a win was imminent and he won well here, leading the main pack for much of the way and going on from after the second last.
REGENT’S SECRET has mixed hurdling with flat outings this year. He won a couple of novice events over this C/D earlier, and this performance, staying on well suggests he will have decent opportunities in handicaps.
DARK ENERGY progress from the rear to two out, but couldn’t get to leader from then on. He stays well on the flat, but has been campaigned around the minimum distance over hurdles.
BORDER TALE led for a while then got outpaced but plugged on at the finish. He runs some decent races, but his wins tend to few and far between these days. I’d tend to oppose him at them moment.
SCULASTIC made progress from the rear until 2 out then couldn’t up the pace again. His previous form pattern suggests this run may have helped and the chances are he’s competitive off this mark 10lbs higher than his winning mark.
WHITE LIGHTENING set a decent pace but then weakened quickly from two out. In a lower class he might be a bit too quick for the opposition on a sharp track.
CALCULAITE made good progress to two out but then almost came down and his chance was forfeited.
HO PANG YAU runs regularly but doesn’t win very often. STORM PROSPECT seems likely to struggle off this mark, but may be seen to better effect if entered in a claiming hurdle somewhere.

4.50 2m 4.5f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

The pace set by Waterski didn’t seem that quick but many in this contest didn’t get competitive.

FLEMISH INVADER was a bumper winner, but stepped up on hurdles form to take this, battling hard to hold on close home. Connections reported that he had benefited from a summer’s growth.
LAURELDEAN MELODY challenged before two out and made the winner pull out the stops. She’s consistent sort who’s got winning form over 2m 2f, but should stay further than this trip.
SHANKLY BOND stayed on take third. He has bits and pieces of hurdles form.
MISTER IN BETWEEN was close the pace early but offered no more after 2 out. Tried in a tongue-tie here and upped in trip, there is at least some promise for the future.
ORMELLO is on a lower mark over hurdles than fences, but couldn’t muster enough pace at the business end.
The remainder didn’t figure seriously.

5.20 2m NH Flat

As with many of these events only a few were competitive.

STRONG REBEL was a point-to-point winner on his only race in Ireland. He had to work hard to hold off the runner-up’s renewed challenge close home. However, he did what he had to do and, with staying blood on the dam’s side will presumably be moved up in trip when going over hurdles.
MOSCOW CATCH looked to be finding it tough entering the straight, but responded well to his jockey’s urgings and came very close. Looks a nailed-on winner of a similar event.
TCHANG GOON, another winning pointer in Ireland, just lacked enough pace in the final furlong. This was a decent enough debut.
FLAYGRAY kept on in the final two furlongs. He couldn’t get on terms with the first three but was well clear of the remainder. This was a decent start and this one is worth noting.
SPELLCHECKER showed a degree of promise on debut in January, but has progressed from there. This one will presumably be sent over hurdles, but I’d want to see a run or two first.
TANGO SALLY was well backed but didn’t deliver, fading out of contention for 4 furlongs out.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Perth - 2008 Finale Day 1

PERTH – Wednesday September 24
Going – Good to Soft (good in places, and soft in places in the back straight)

2.25 2m 4.5f Maiden Hurdle

As is often the case in these events there were a handful competitive and the rest making up the numbers.

IT’S TOUGH was a bumper winner earlier in the year, so entered this race with some proven racing credentials. He was held up early and made smooth progress to join the leaders after 3 out. Challenging the leader before the last he asserted on the flat and gave the impression there was something left in the tank. He was a cheap buy as a foal, and the mare’s only other runner was of little account, but It’s Tough is going the right way and running from a stable that may make the best of his ability.
DIAMOND FRONTIER didn’t do too much wrong. Following the pace, he took it up 3 out but found the winner too good at the business end. I’m sure he’ll find a race over hurdles before long.
QUAIL ran a respectable race in third. Another sitting near the pace he was well clear of the remainder if one paced from between the last two. He still has some growing to do and there will more than likely be better to come in future.
SOLWAY BAY stayed on through beaten rivals for fourth, though 25 lengths down on the third.
Irish challenger PRESENT GESTURE is twice a bumper winner but didn’t really impress on hurdle debut. He had been off the course since May, but more might have been expected.
BARON BREEZE set the early pace, jumping big at a few flights. He cocked his head before some of the flights and did not look keen at times. He weakened from 3 out and finished well behind. This one has some ability but his wayward tendencies need to be corrected.
The remainder were slowcoaches making up the numbers.

3.00 2m 0-115 Novices’ Handicap Chase (water jump omitted)

BRAVE BRONCHO has been a bit up and down this year, though is useful at this level when on his game. On this occasion he led early and bowled along in front. He did hit a couple of fences, but was still leading, if looking tired, when taking a heavy fall at the last. Thankfully he got up from that mishap. Provided he didn’t scare himself too much, he’s competitive at this level.
FREDDIE THE THIRD was made favourite on his chasing debut, but having whacked a couple mid race dropped out over the last ¾ mile. He needs to get his jumping act together to make a mark.
NOTRE CYBORG was patiently ridden, moved through smoothly over the last three and probably would have won even if Brave Broncho hadn’t departed. This ground was probably about as soft as he’d want it. He may record another win before the rains return.
CARTHYS CROSS has a disturbing succession of seconds in his form figures. He ran well enough, but I do wonder if he puts it all in at the business end.
GO SILVER BULLET raced prominently but couldn’t go with the leaders in the straight. This was a debut for the Russell stable and showed some promise. It doesn’t stretch the bounds of possibility that he’ll win a similar race before long.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU plugged on into fourth but never figured seriously. However this was an acceptable jumping debut and the chances are there is better to come in the long term.
ATHOLLBROSE ran quite respectably from 19lbs out of the handicap, being near the front until 4 out. That being said his jumps form does not make promising reading, a 2nd of 3 in a novice handicap hurdle the nearest he’s come (beaten 19l+ in all other jump efforts), so he’s probably not betting material even at the lowest level.
CASTLE CRAIGS was another out of the handicap and he struggled.

3.35 2m 0.5f Claiming Hurdle

A very moderate event.

NICKI BOY made progress at halfway, challenged in the straight and proved keener than the runner-up on the flat. This is his grade.
ROMAN VILLA was making a quick return to racing after finishing second in a chase at Sedgefield on Tuesday. Having been held up, he was brought to have every chance but either couldn’t or wouldn’t muster the pace of the winner on the flat. He’s one out of 20 in jump races and looks one to oppose.
SUMMER SOUL led at a steady pace and was one paced once headed.
NEVSKY BRIDGE weakened from 2 out. His rating is 87, so the fact that he was competitive for a long way here against higher rated opponent suggests he may be of interest in the lowest handicap company.
FRITH ran well for a way, but has never got closer than 30 lengths behind the winner in hurdle races.

4.10 3m 0-120 Handicap Chase (water omitted twice)

SOUTH BRONX had put in some moderate efforts this year. However, a move up to three miles didn’t do any harm here. Having led to 2 out he came back again and plugged on sufficiently to hold sway in a desperate finish. The big question here is can he reproduce this form?
HOOPY made a fair debut for Gordon Elliott. He was waited with and didn’t get into the argument until between the last 2. He just failed in a grinding finish.
GOLDEN CHILD harried the winner for much of the way. He led two out and kept on once headed. For a debutant taking on experienced chasers this was a decent effort and it’s likely he’ll show better.
MINELLA TIPPERARY plugged on in fourth, having just been tapped for pace down the back for the last time. Three of his wins have come at tracks with stiff finishes.
JUST IN DEBT was hunter chasing last spring and a return to that company early next year may be his best chance. He wasn’t quick enough from 4 out.
SANTANDO didn’t really get competitive, fading as the race began in earnest.
Hat-trick seeking CEBONNE ran a poor race. HE was untidy at a few out the back and though making a token effort 4 out, fall away very quickly. Possibly it was a mix of a 15lb rise plus a couple of recent races did for him.
CATCH THE PERK raced prominently for a way but faded and pulled up. He seems to have settled into a pattern of one good race then one not so good recently. I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
BOBBY BULLOCK was in the rear but had made a little progress when falling at the eleventh. This was his chasing debut and jury remains in deliberation over this one. He did show a little promise as a hurdler and as a 6 year old has time on his side.

4.45 2m 0.5f 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

The newcomer proved too good for those with hurdling experience.

NINE STORIES did the job very nicely on debut. Brought to challenge two out, he eased past previous winner Rory Boy between the last two and ran on to win with plenty in hand. He’s well capable of winning against the stiffer opposition which will surface in coming months.
RORY BOY did precious little wrong in repeating the level of his previous form. He just found the winner too good in the straight.
SKI SUNDAY blew his chances of troubling the first two by pulling hard in the early stages. His early exertions meant there was nothing left in the tank when the front two upped the ante. If he settles then there is a hurdle to be won with him.
Taking a break from making the early pace in Classics, MAIDSTONE MIXTURE found the double penalty too tough a burden here. He weakened from 3 out.
ABBEY EXPRESS is a tearaway. He didn’t look keen going away from the stands, but stayed in front until the fifth after which he beat a hasty retreat, and was overtaken by Maidstone Mixture close home. Clearly quirky his trainer will struggle to get a win out of him.
JUMPIN JOHNNIE looked about as talented as his 100/1 price suggested.

5.20 3m 0.5f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

An open looking event which was probably won by the sharpest jockey on the day. The first five finished close suggesting they are all handicapped pretty much to their level.

MR PREACHER MAN set a steady pace to the 8th, at which point Peter Buchanan nudged him clear. From then on it was up to the others to chase him down. Mr Preacher Man had enough left in the tank to hold off all comers over the final two flights. He certainly didn’t lack for determination at the finish. The problem is that the race basically fell into his lap, and things won’t always go so conveniently.

BAILEYS ENCORE challenged two out and stayed on; FLYING DOCTOR was prominent all the way and kept on.
SOLWAY MINSTREL made progress from the back to challenge in the latter stages but was held on the flat. He’s been seen infrequently in recent times, and came off a lay-off here, so there may be hope of better. Getting on in years now, time is not on his side, but there’s hope of a third lifetime win.
MANOUBI probably led briefly between the last two but then gave way. This was his first hurdles outing for a while and, 3lbs out of the handicap here; it may be possible to exploit his lowly hurdles mark in a staying handicap.
BUCK THE LEGEND was made 11/8 favourite here, which may have had a bit to do with being from the Twiston-Davies stable. He very nearly came down when slipping on landing three out and must have lost 10 lengths, so to finish no more than 6 lengths adrift probably wasn’t a bad effort. Worth keeping an eye on, particular in novice handicap company.

5.50 2m 4.5f Maiden Hurdle

The 8yo mare TIME FOR PERKS hurtled off in front, but was cooked by the sixth and quickly fell away. Her form is dire.

DIABLO won an NH Flat race here in April and a similar event at Uttoxeter. Perhaps a shade disappointing on hurdle debut, he made up for it here, following the leader before taking over after the sixth and running on in the straight. He’ll encounter tougher opposition, but is going the right way.
PROSECCO showed much promise on stepping up in trip. The suggestion from previous runs had been that an increase in distance may help and so it proved. He got forced across the last hurdle as the winner ran down it, but was well held on the flat.
QUINY BOY challenged three out but couldn’t muster enough to trouble the winner. He showed promise in testing conditions in France so the chances are that a stamina test will fall his way sometime.
GRANDE MONSIEUR progressed to 4 out but was then left behind.
PAS DE BARATIN was high enough in the market to suggest a decent chance, but he disappeared quickly from 3 out and was pulled up.
The remainder are slowcoaches who were strung out like washing on a line.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The chasers at Sedgefield - Sept 23rd

After a bit of a break, the Northern jumpers are back. Sedgefield's card included two moderate chases.
2.40 2m 0.5f Novices' Chase
Plenty of action early on with three departing at the first fence. Chase debutant IS IT ME set off in front, but crumpled on landing. The following ARTLESS, last seen sending Denid O'Regan into orbit over hurdles at Perth, had nowhere to go and was brought down. Meanwhile in behind LINDSEYFIELD LODGE came to grief independently. ELLERSLIE TOM nearly joined them and struggled to get into the race afterwards. I think the latter can be given another chance.
Twice a previous chase winner, ORPEN WIDE led the field jumping well. He came under pressure on the last turn, but produced plenty in the straight. Battling well under pressure, Orpen Wide came away on the flat for a deserved win. He had a 12lb penalty here for his two wins, so this was a creditable effort.His problem now will be a combination of novice race penalties and a high looking mark of 129 hindering his opportunities.
Irish challenger ROMAN VILLA had been below form in recent efforts over hurdles, but put in a decent run here on his chase debut. He had every chance but was held form the last.
MASTER NIMBUS oved into contention two out, had every chance at the last but was one paced. A decent chasing debut and I suspect he's a chase winner in the making.
ALL FOR THE CAUSE finished 9 lengths behind Master Nimbus in fourth, but was never seriously in the contest.
FILM FESTIVAL raced prominently early but fell away and this didn't match up to his previous chase form.
4.10 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase
This race was run at a decent pace. Some didn't jump particularly well, but EBORARRY jumped boldly in fornt. He looked a sitting duck before two out but in the event battled hard and finished a creditable second. It would have been third if I'm Your Man hadn't capsized at the last, but still a decent run giving hope of a win in modest company.
I'M YOUR MAN was brought smoothly through from 4 out. He looked to have collared Eborarry at the last, though Golden Feather was hovering, but got was low at the fence and came down. He's generally a pretty decent jumper. This aberration can probably be ignored and he has every chance of winning again while in his current form. He's fairly versatile as far as ground is concerned so he should be ready for opportunities in the coming weeks.
Evan Williams has done nicely with GOLDEN FEATHER in the short period he has been in the stable. Not the first time Williams has secured significant improvement with a new inmate. He moved into contetion before four out, and once I'm Your Man departed, zoomed past Eborarry on the flat. He will presumably be shunted up a few more pounds, but there still seems every chance of another win or two.
DOWNING STREET probably found this trip on the short side. He made steady progress over the last few fences to take third. His jumping was better than previously which offers encouragement.
FIRST FOUGHT had been running in selling hurdles before this. His jumping was a little untidy at times and once the race began in earnest he couldn't go with the principals.
BLAST THE PAST's record over fences before this was U1PF2, so when he gets it together he's competitve. Looked to have a chance but then whacked two out and came home in his own time. He's got ability and is worth keeping an eye on.
And of the others...
MOOR SPIRIT is out of form right now and lost touch from 3 out.
PRINCE CAR, and expensive Wylie purchse, showed a little promise over hurdles, but showed little on his chasing debut. He was scrubbed along at the end of the first circuit and faded from there.
PRESIDENT PARK was behind all the way and pulled up.
CHIGORIN has some fair chasing form to his name but was never in this.
POLAR GALE was prominent till fading from 4 out.
CHUKCHI COUNTRY has gone well here in the past, but having chased the leader cried 'enough' from 4 out.
REASONABLY SURE ran creditably over 7 furlongs farther here last time, but couldn't go the pace set by Eborarry.
OSCAR TRIAL has never got closer than 12 lengths behind the winner to date and this run, well behind from early on, offers precious little encouragement.

The Northern circuit moves on to Perth for the two-day meeting which signals the end of the 2008 season at 'The Scone'.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Ayr Western Meeting 2008 - Day One

The Western Meeting commenced with the going reported as Heavy following the wet weather of recent weeks. Normally I’d be a little wary of the form recorded in the tough conditions, but I reckon there might be one or two interesting pointers to come out of the meeting.

2.20 6f 2yo Maiden

A run of the mill maiden, won comfortably by the most exposed of the bunch. KYLLACHY STAR was hard at work a couple of furlongs out, but picked up nicely to win with a bit to spare. There may be a novice event for this one, but it’s more likely to be handicaps.
FRONTLINE GIRL ran a decent enough race, staying on for second.
The most interesting one here was MOHAWK RIDGE, nibbled at long odds in the market, who started slowly but picked up nicely in the final couple of furlongs to finish third. I presume this one will step up in trip and there should be a race to be found.
LIBERTY TRAIL was always struggling and seemed to hate the conditions.

2.50 1m 2yo Novice Stakes

Four runners here, three with winning form and the fourth ROMANTIC INTERLUDE looking very slow.
The pace set by TALE OF SILVER was decent enough given the small field and conditions. The leader picked up nicely two out to see off the challenge of Guestofthenation. He’s progressing nicely and was given a good ride by P J McDonald.
GUESTOFTHENATION found the winner too good, but stuck on to hold the third, although his odd head carriage in the closing stages perhaps adds a cautious note. AAHAYKID in third couldn’t muster the pace to challenge and will probably benefit from longer distances in time.

3.20 5f 53-68 Handicap

A moderate level sprint, though there were enough in form to associate some merit to the form.
This was GRIMES FAITH’s first run in heavy ground and it was clearly no hindrance. Having been prominent from the start he was more able to keep up the gallop than the others. He’ll presumably get put up a few pounds for this. He may score again while the turf remains soft, but it’s significant that he’s only rated 60 on the All-Weather and may be well placed to exploit that mark.
ALMOST MARRIED never looked likely winning but progressed late for second. He’s got every chance of a win this autumn if moved up to six furlongs.
LAKE CHINI couldn’t offer enough in the final furlong under a penalty and could well be held now after two wins. WITCHRY stayed on from the rear for fourth.
WICKED WILMA hung for much of the way, and this apparently caused her saddle to slip and thus any chance she had disappeared. She’s better than this.

3.50 1m 2f (Class 4) Seller

A better than average selling contest, the front three finishing clear of the remainder.

SHE’S OUR LASS, the 1/2 favourite, seemed likely to take command two out, but couldn’t get away from her challengers. She was held close home. Retained by means of a friendly claim, she’s in foal to Guineas winner Cockney Rebel, and now retires to the paddocks.
80/1 chance JIM MARTIN gave it the works in the final quarter mile and just got his head in front close home. His trainer Linda Perratt describes him as, but on this evidence he as ability to win out of selling company if he wishes. It may be significant that this is the first time he’s run in testing conditions.
RESONATE didn’t seem to do too much wrong and was a head second. He tried hard enough and as a 10yo his best chances will continue to come in sellers and claimers.
The rest were held, although ULYSEES departed after three furlongs, unseating after colliding with the running rail.

4.20 1m 2f 78-92 Handicap

ALLIED POWERS relished the conditions, forging clear from 2 furlongs out and there’s more to come form this one, I suspect.
BLUE SPINNAKER ran a better race than of late, staying on for second without getting to the winner. WIGWAM WILLIE raced prominently but had no answer in the final furlong and a half.
BEST PROSPECT stepped up considerably on recent form, staying on from the rear and giving hope of a win in the near future.
ELLA WOODCOCK led early but went out like a light and was reported as not suited by the heavy going.

4.50 1m 3yo 54-66 Handicap

GRIT, fast away but then steadied, came to lead a furlong out and forged clear from RED SKIPPER, but may find the rise in the weights will make things tougher. RED SKIPPER ran well enough and may be favoured by a drop to seven furlongs.
The most significant run here probably came from seasonal debutant IBROX. He stayed on eye-catchingly from the rear for third and it would be no surprise if he makes up for lost time this autumn. Bear in mind from a value point of view, particularly if he runs in Scotland, that a goodly percentage of the Scottish sporting public wouldn’t back this one under any circumstances.
TAMASOU battled with Ibrox for fourth, having similarly come through from the back.
A number of those prominent early, NATURAL RHYTHM, TALON and DARING DREAM had nothing left in the last two furlongs. On that basis GRIT’s effort could be regarded of extra merit since he was prominent all the way.

5.20 7f 50yds 61-73 Handicap

KEYS OF CYPRUS has had training problems but is making up for lost time, the six-year-old taking his record to 4 from 7. Given that he entered this race on a mark of 63 plus a 6lb penalty, and that he forged clear readily, it’s not beyond the imagination that his trainer will place this one to win a couple more before year end. Evidence suggests he’ll handle a higher class than this.
NOK TWICE was slowly away, but stayed on from the rear to take second. Given that the winner is apparently better than this class, then Nok Twice might be expected to win before long.
BLINDSPIN was another putting in his best work at the end. NINEFINEIRISHMEN was up front until headed by Keys Of Cyprus and, though battling hard, couldn’t muster any extra reserves in the final furlong. He’ll find less tough assignments.

Note - If anyone tells you this meeting is called 'The Ayr Gold Cup Meeting' then please put them straight, it's the Western Meeting!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Early September - Chasing Around Sedgefield......

Sedgefield - Tuesday September 2008

Keeping an eye on the Northern chasers with the autumn approaching...... Chances are we'll see a few of these in Scotland, or just over the border, in the coming months.

The final fence was omitted in both chases, fact ignored in the Racing Post's on-line results section.

3.35 2m 4f 0-95 Novices' Handicap Chase
On the face of it a lowly event but some fair pieces of form available for the level. I'M YOUR MAN won this nicely. He travelled well all the way, moved up along the back straight and then took it up at the last. He eased clear on the extended run-in. While the performance was sound enough, I do wonder if there's much improvement left since he's a 9 year old. He'll go up a few pounds, but may win again at a similar or slightly higher level (0-105 maybe?).
PERLY SPENCER made a great improvement on his previous effort over fences. He pulled a bit early on and led or disputed for most of the way. He didn't have the pace of the winner after the last, but he has three years advantage, is a dual winner in points and has a bit of scope for improvement. Best form to date has been on good or faster.
GRANITE MAN's jumping was not good. He made mistakes early on and was scrubbed along. He stayed on from the back but looks a rather frustrating type who may not be putting it all in. NGONG HILLS was prominent early, dropped back but plugged on for fourth. While, on the face of it, this form is moderate, he does have some time on his side. Not a huge amount of promise amongst the rest.
FRED BOJANGALS was a one paced fifth and never got into contention. HUGS DESTINY was prominent for a way but weakened after making a hash of the eighth fence. WOODY VALENTINE briefly threatened around the eleventh fence but then faded. PARTICLE was scrubbed along most of the way and made no show. SYCHO FRED and SEEK THE TRUTH didn't really get into the argument, and ALTO STRATUS was always out the back. TOULOUSE EXPRESS was raced wide early, lost touch by the seventh and pulled up at the last having been well behind for half the race.
4.45 3m 3f 0-105 Handicap Chase
The twelfth fence was omitted following CLEAR THE WAY's heavy looking fall on the previous circuit. The horse seemed OK, but the jockey received assistance.
GREAT GRIMSBY make have scope to progress at this lowly level. He's only 6, young for a staying chaser, and saw off this moderate bunch fairly comfortably. He improved after the seventh, was put seriously into the race approaching the fourteenth and, having led three out, outstayed his nearest rival on the long run-in. The rating rise he'll get will allow him another go at this level and I'd expect another win in a similar event this autumn. Worth considering in lower grade Northern staying chase in the coming months.
THUNDER HAWK has progressed nicely from hunter events to handicap chases in recent months. He didn't do much wrong here. Although held by the winner, he raced nicely up with the pace and didn't go down without resistance, proving in the process that he can cope with an extended trip. He'd not been far away in pretty reasonable events at Perth, and I'd say a handicap win is around the corner. It might be interesting if he's taken to Hexham since he has a hunter win under his belt there.
REASONABLY SURE was prominent most of the way but couldn't go with the first two from 3 out. While well held here he's not a lost cause for a handicap win.
SEPTEMBER MOON raced prominently but his jockey was pushing from a long way out. Plugged on for fourth but never seriously threatened at the business end. It could be that a sharper track would be more helpful.
POLAR GALE was never farther up the field than the fifth place he finished in. He had only raced once since last December, so it's likely that the race will have helped, and he has some winning form at a lowly level.
VICENTIO, having only a second chase outing, made a brief effort 4 out but wasn't good enough, fading into sixth. MR TWINS raced prominently for a couple of circuits then called enough. his performances over the past year show precious little promise. TIN HEALY'S PASS has shown ability in the past, but this was a third consecutive effort where he's been beaten a very long way. GRECIAN GROOM jumped abysmally and despite Tony McCoy's sternest efforts just never got his act together, pulling up on the final circuit. Previous form suggests he's better than this.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

August Odds And Ends

Due to other commitments I haven't been able to do any updates for a while.

Here are a few odds and ends from recent weeks.

I missed out on Bank Holiday Monday visit to Newcastle after the downpours led to the abandonment of three consecutive meetings at the course. One of the Hamilton meetings went the same way. Most of the racing in August has been taking place on rain softened ground.

Alan Swinbank came with an interesting maiden winner at Hamilton last week in OZONE TRUSTEE. Swinbank horses which haven't seen the course by the age of 4 are often aimed at Bumpers. However, this one may have been considered better at the shorter trip, or indeed better than bumper level. He really only had the quirky Buddhist Monk to see out of the way here but did it comfortably. It wouldn't surprise me if he progresses enough to a handicap win or two. BUDDHIST MONK doesn't seem to have the right attitude and looks one to oppose.

At Hamilton on August 22nd ROTHESAY DANCER was once again teamed up with Kelly Harrison. Harrison record on this mare is 27 rides, 4 wins and 11 places. Rothesay Dancer needs bringing through late. May now need to drop a pound or two but keep this one in mind for next season.

LOS NADIS won the handicap hurdle on the Saturday at Cartmel, but still showed sketchy jumping. The phrase 'bunny-hopped' appeared in the form comment, so things aren't getting any better. This won't have been the most competitive race and I reckon this one might be under-priced in subsequent outings.

On the Monday, Jeff Sadik won the race named after his son Gus with DESERT TOMMY. Held up out the back by Richard McGrath, Desert Tommy stayed on to win this with any amount in hand. It wasn't a great race, but this one clearly stays all day and even raced 12lbs might still be worth a glance in similar races over the coming months. Only four finished, and the other three were out on their feet by the end. HIGH FIVE led early, but tired and finished a distant fourth. At the lowest level he is at least competitive and probably needed the race here. HUCKLEBERRY, on only his second chasing effort, put in by far his best performance to date. Given that he's only 6 years old then it's a fair assumption that there's more to come. As an inmate of the McCain stable he's in the right hands for a chaser and is likely to notch up a win or two.

The rest of the Cartmel, while being entertaining for jump fans, wasn't of much quality.

Meanwhile on the level at Ayr, KILLER CLASS is a sprinter who has progressed respectably. He won his Ayr race and handles soft going well. There's a possibility he might be one for a sprint at the Western meeting later this month.

Another that might be aimed at Ayr in late September is CHARLES PARNELL. This one ran a couple of respectable races over 7 furlongs. He goes just as well over 5 furlongs, so it might be worth checking where he is placed at Ayr, since he was a winner at the meeting last year. ESOTERICA was in second place, three in front of Charles Parnell, and this was a decent performance given that he is probably best on faster going (soft here). He would need some sun this month though.

At Musselburgh(August 31st) PRINCESS ELLIS ran a cracker from the worst of the draw in a Class 3 sprint. She has kept her form very well through three campaigns and looks one for another win before long. May be aimed at a sprint at Doncaster's Leger meeting. She's been placed in a Listed event, and is plenty competitive off a current mark of 85. ROTHESAY DANCER was down the field, but it was tougher than here normal level.

The Hamilton 'Series Final' Handicap on Sept 1st looked a decent event but KING OF THE MOORS came home clear and it might be worth sticking with this one in the short term. WIND SHUFFLE who was third, likes to dictate the race and will find easier races.

Other races on cards at Scottish courses have been Class 5 and 6 and I haven't found too many pointers at this level. Older horses are exposed and the younger horses are generally those less talented anyway.

I hope to take in at least one day of the Ayr meeting, and possibly one day at Perth's final meeting of the year. I've got Hexham pencilled in for October 11th and we'll have early meetings at Kelso by that time as familiar faces from the Scottish and Northern jump start to appear again.