Going – Good to Soft
A meeting which often turns one or two useful novice performers for later in the season, and I’m quite sure this will prove to the case once again.
2.10 2m 6 ½ f 0-100 C.J. Handicap Hurdle
A moderate event to start the card. Most of these were exposed, but there might be some interest amongst the more lightly races horses, and it was one of these that was victorious.
BOX WALLAH was eased into contention before three out, led at the last and produced enough on the run-in. Sadly he finished lame having severed a tendon and had to be put down.
HUMOUROUS is not a prolific winner, but does have a respectable record at Kelso. Having been passed two out he responded well and kept on close home.
JANE DOE raced prominently early, and then found herself tapped for toe a mile out, but stayed on again late. This was a vast improvement on her recent form.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE kept on from two out to finish fourth and was another performing much better than in recent runs.
MERIGO ran a promising race on comeback. This was presumably a warm up before a return to chasing. He’s likely to be competitive in chases where the accent is on stamina.
ADMIRAL SAVANNAH, handicap debuting on his fourth outing over hurdles, was in the rear early, moved up to be in contention 2 out but could then offer no more and finished ninth. The longer trip suited and he’s gradually getting the hang of hurdling.
2.40 2m ½ f Maiden Hurdle
Those that had previously run over hurdles had mostly looked moderate and the race seemed at the mercy of those progressing from bumpers.
DOESLESSTHANME had won nicely at Musselburgh and Doncaster last season, the latter form being franked by the second in a decent bumper at Aintree. There was plenty to like about the performance here, the horse settling nicely just off the lead, going on three out and asserting on the flat. He should pick up a novice event under a penalty.
SON OF FLICKA, twice runner-up in bumpers this season, raced in the leading group of five which was clear of the remainder. Pushed to go with the winner before the last, he stayed on but couldn’t muster Doeslessthanme’s pace. However, this was a satisfactory debut and he should lose his maiden tag soon.
TIRAAZ TO CARBURY represented the previous hurdles form with credit. He was well held once passed but ran up to his form.
PAKINEO DES PICTONS possibly needed the race and was found wanting after the turn for home. He’d gone well enough to that point and shows promise.
BORDER REIVER stayed on late into fifth having raced off the pace. He’ll benefit from a step up in trip.
The remainder were 50/1 plus in the betting and their performances reflected this.
3.15 2m 1f Beginners’ Chase
A big spread of ability here.
KALAHARI KING was progressive over hurdles last season, and had always been thought of as a potential chaser. He was confidently ridden to take command on the flat. He will presumably be aimed at must better contests.
CAST IRON CASEY ran a cracker in second, staying on well up the run-in to snatch second. This was a step up on his hurdles form, but the problem now could be placement, since the rating he receives from this will presumably force him into the better class novice chases.
BYWELL BEAU set the pace, but as before over fences here jumped right, diving at a couple, and that certainly didn’t help since he often had to be corrected after the fence. He was held after being overtaken on the flat, though kept on with plenty of determination. He’s not one that gives up a lead easily. It seems that he may need a right-handed track, and the problem is that of the Northern tracks that gives him only Carlisle, Musselburgh (only 8 meetings) and Perth (not racing again until April). Even then it’s a question of finding a suitable event.
LORD SAMPOSIN raced near the front but was struggling when departing two out. He needs to find an easier race, but has shown enough in the past to suggest a minor chase is within his compass.
FRITH plodded into fourth. His performances over jumps have not suggested a win is imminent.
SPIVITUS was in fifth and his recent outings have not been encouraging.
ATHOLLBROSE raced prominently early, but soon found the pace too much to cope with.
ISLAND KEY fell at the second. He had shown a glimmer of hurdling form and if he can get round is not a total lost cause.
HURRICANE BASIL, INDUSTRIAL STAR and WITCH POWER bumbled round at the back.
SUMMER SOUL did himself no favours by almost coming down at the first, and he was never in the race. He may show a bit more in time over fences.
3.45 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle
A generally exposed bunch, though it could be that the more lightly-raced winner is progressive.
NODFORM WILLIAM raced prominently, took over three out and saw off the opposition nicely in the straight. He’s capable of winning again.
MANEKI NEKO, a winner at Cartmel in August, ran up to his new mark in second. He made good progress from three out and chased the leader on the flat.
CALCULAITE never showed with a chance of winning but picked off a few in the straight.
FLORENTINO was settled in second, and then left in front at the third. He couldn’t offer enough once headed four out but kept on well enough to bag minor prize money. He has some flat outings in the summer and this was an improvement on his last two hurdle races.
KING IN WAITING tried to get into the race between the last two, but his effort petered out. Given that he was coming off a lay-off, and has been dropped 6lbs in the meantime, he may be worth a glance in his next couple of runs.
SEEYAAJ, returning to hurdling, was disappointing. He went prominent at the fourth, but was soon niggled along and fell away quickly, pulling up before two out.
MONSIEUR was made favourite, but he has too many quirks for my money. He led racing keenly, but dived at the third and unseated. Despite his placed form I’ll continue to oppose him.
4.15 2m 6 ½ f Novices’ Hurdle
The dreaded ‘Kelso low sun’ struck here and the two flights in the straight were omitted. This meant that only 6 flights were jumped.
As with the earlier maiden hurdle, the race was dominated by those progressing from bumpers. DOOR BOY was going very well before the last, and asserted no the half-mile run-in. He’s another horse bought by Graham Wylie for a fancy price, in this case 185,000gns, and will presumably be aimed at much tougher events.
MERRYDOWN chased the leader in the straight. He didn’t do too much wrong and should win a staying novice hurdle.
BANOGE has not been worse than fourth in 9 efforts in NH races. However he lacks pace at the business end, although probably found two quite decent opponents here. I reckon his best chance is in handicap hurdles under stamina testing conditions.
KEENE SPIRIT faded in the straight and ran to about the same form as his hurdling debut over 2m 1f at Sedgefield.
WATERSKI normally sets the pace and did so here before being swamped on the long run-in. He had no chance in this company. On evidence to date a selling hurdle is probably the best chance of victory.
4.50 3m 1f 0-105 Handicap Chase
The last fence was missed out due to the low sun, and the omission of the open ditch away from the stand second time following Graham Lee’s ejection by Greenock, meant that only 15 fences were jumped.
RYMINSTER’s recent record after a break of 6 weeks or more now reads 211211, and his record otherwise is U422UP329, figures which tell their own story. I really couldn’t see why he should be allowed to start at 14/1, but it’s such circumstances that can give us an edge at times. He was given a peach of a ride by Brian Hughes. Ryminster is not one who any more than he absolutely has too and he was nursed by Hughes, picking up gradually on the leaders from 5 out and taking over on the run-in, only being urged along close home. He’s on a career high mark now but, given the right circumstances, I still think he may have enough in hand to win even if raised a few pounds.
FESTIVAL KING was last seen running disappointingly at Cartmel, and has yet to record a win over fences. However, he didn’t do too much wrong here and having settled chasing the leaders he kicked on after the last and battled back once headed. He’s getting the right idea now and should pick up a staying chase before long.
I thought LOST IN NORMANDY might struggle here, but he ran a creditable race in third. He was headed after the last but plugged on. Getting on in years now, but maybe not a lost cause in lowly company.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT, a winner over the minimum trip at Carlisle, fell away after 3 out, and may have been appearing a bit soon after his last run. He was shunted up 9lbs for the Carlisle win which seemed harsh for winning a so-so race.
BEAU SADDLER fell away after the tenth. He has now swapped stables, but this doesn’t seem to have brought about a revival.
HUCKLEBERRY was taken on for the lead here, having beaten lesser animals at Hexham before, and was starting to feel the pinch when falling at the last. A 10lb rise for that Hexham success seems rather harsh since there were some mediocre performers behind.
GREENOCK stood off too far at the third, the open ditch going away from the stands, and as he almost came to a halt Graham Lee was jettisoned out the front. This fence seems to find out a few horses. The general level of his form is moderate and the jury remains out.
CASH ON FRIDAY was struggling with a mile to go and pulled up before 2 out. His last three runs have been poor.
5.25 1m 5f 3yo NH Flat Race
There aren’t that many juvenile NH Flat races this early so it’s difficult to know the plan of campaign with these. Bumpers are normally quite decent events here, so I’d certainly keep an eye on the first three in future.
Alan Swinbank’s apparent second string CHICKINI took this, going past her stable mate and holding off Coeur De Feu in the final furlong. She looked a bit green in mid race when asked to up her pace. Once she got into her stride though she showed a good turn of pace. One event that might be a target is the juvenile bumper at Cheltenham’s New Year meeting.
COUER DE FEU stayed on well in second and didn’t do much wrong.
IF YOU KNEW SUZY, stable companion of the winner, set sail for home two out but could summon no extra once headed.
Ironically, given that he was beaten by two from the Swinbank stable, BISHOPS HEIR is a half brother to Turbo Linn. He stayed on for fourth and will benefit from an increase in distance.