Thursday, 27 November 2008

Meanwhile, in the West Of Scotland ......

I'm steadily catching up with the backlog of notes. As well as doing this blog and posting on The Racing Forum, I append each horse's comments to the Racing Post database and it all takes a bit of time, so dependent on commitments some reports may be delayed a little.

If there are any out there reading this blog, I hope you may have picked up on previous notes. Reading back I notice I gave the Ayr 25/1 winner Mr Woods as a possible novice winner, but that was on his last run in October 2007! I'd like to say I picked up on that one, but that run was before I started marking up the Racing Post database and I missed it.

As my familiarity with the Scottish and Northern runners increases, particularly the steeplechasers which I have focussed on, I'm finding a few useful patterns that show themselves. Keep an eye on these, because it can be that 'off pattern' runs hide the ability of the horse for when things fall right. This can help get a decent price and gain a significant edge.

AYR – Monday 24th November

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

Ayr’s flat course suffered from a wet autumn, with meetings either abandoned or run in testing conditions. The jumps circuit has the two fold advantage of the recent drier weather and lack of summer watering; hence the ground was reported just on the soft side of good for this meeting.

The second last fence in the back straight was omitted.

1.10 2m 5 ½ f 0-95 Condition Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

A very moderate contest to start the afternoon, with many professional losers putting in an appearance.

SOLWAY SUNSET’s wins to runs ratio is a darned sight better than would normally be seen at this level. She’s now 4 from 15 and this isn’t the first time she’s come up trumps after a lay-off. She ran on nicely to win cosily, but I wouldn’t hurry to back her without a break.
COUNTRYWIDE SUN ran up to his form in second. He’s sunk like a stone in the ratings over the past 18 months and may now be in a position to pick up a similar event. However with one win from 27 goes over jumps he doesn’t make sparkling betting material.
UNCOMMITTED who dots back and forth between the UK and Ireland, was left behind over the last two. She’s not all that quick at the business end.
DESTINY HILL stayed on and is getting closer with each rise in distance.
HICKORY LANE went clear after the third. He capitulated once headed two out. He was beaten a long way in a seller previously which sums this event up.
NIFTY ROY was well beaten but is a spring horse on previous evidence, though he didn’t show much at that time this year.
NAMED AT DINNER bags the occasional place, but 1 win from 43 over jumps sums him up.
PRINCE AMONG MEN wins occasionally, but psychic powers are needed to predict it these days.

1.40 3m 1f Beginners’ Chase

QUWS LAW has suffered breathing problems in the past, so his from has an up and down look to it. The tongue tie has been applied for his last three outings and seems to have done the trick. A bowled along in front here, with enough left in the tank to keep going to the end. His jumping was sound and his hurdle form suggests he should be capable of more wins, so defiance of a penalty is likely at some point. He’s won in heavy and on fast ground so it seems most going comes alike to him and he’s seen out every inch of this trip twice.
GREAT APPROACH possibly lost his chance when giving the fourteenth a belt as he made a forward move. That being said he did get close enough to bustle up the winner though was held close home. There was enough evidence to suggest he can progress from here and pick up a chase.
TREASURED MEMORIES came a pearler at Kelso and probably needed this to give her some confidence. She never got the leaders but stayed on for third.
SILVER BREESE jumped round in the rear for fourth. This was a shade better than some feeble hurdles efforts.
THE REDE MOUSE went well to 5 out but weakened quickly and pulled up. I suspect he made have had a problem but nothing was reported.
ATHOLLBROSE had no chance here and lost touch with a mile to go, eventually pulling up. The very lowest class is his only hope.

2.10 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

I noted MR WOODS as a possible winner of a minor novice event, but that was back in October 2007. I’d like to say I landed myself a 25/1 winner here, but sadly my previous note escaped me before this race. The 401-day lay-off was no hindrance here as Mrs Graham’s charge saw off a dual bumper winner and a bumper/novice hurdle winner. On that basis the form stacks up well and this one might be worth keeping an eye on. On previous evidence he stays further.
LIE FORRIT tried hard enough in second and was just held in the run to the line. This was a nice start over hurdles, he wasn’t stopping at the end of this trip and a trip to the winners’ area looks only delayed.
MERRYDOWN was put in his place here and may need a greater test of stamina to return to his best.
CHIEF SCOUT struggled once turned for home and was a well beaten fourth.
LUGATO threatened three out but then folded. He’s had plenty of goes over hurdles.
TOO COOL TO FOOL was in the rear for much of the way and made a little progress through the field late on to hope a glimmer of hope of better.

2.45 2m 4f 0-130 Handicap Chase

FIRST LOOK has been thereabouts a few times recently. He has a sound record at Ayr, never having been out of the first four in 11 attempts on the flat and over jumps. He moved up steadily in the last mile to collar an in-form opponent from two out, running on well on the flat. If a rise in the weights takes him out of the 0-130 bracket it may make placement a bit tough.
TELL HENRY has progressed nicely over fences, and this was a good effort taking on more experienced opponents. He was well clear of the remainder and still looks competitive off a raised mark.
ROBIN DE SHERWOOD had a chance from 4 out but was one paced in the straight. He was lacking the tongue-tie that his previous trainer had applied with success. On what he’s done so far his handicap mark seems very stiff.
EVER PRESENT weakened from 4 out. He won off his current mark over 3m 1f at Kelso in December ’06, may then have had a problem on his next outing that season, and hasn’t made an impact over fences since. Looking back through his record, most of his best form has come in soft or heavy ground.
EURO AMERICAN’s trainer is struggling at the moment with only 2 winners this season to date. He had begun a challenge 4 out but stuttered at that fence and fell away after that. He may have been in need of the race, but his current profile is not encouraging.
KING MAK made a bad mistake at the ninth and wasn’t dangerous after that, eventually pulling up.
It’s sad to report that HUSH TIGER has breathed his last. Rayson Nixon’s gelding broke down either just before or on landing at the seventh and was put down.

3.10 2m 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

This seemed quite a competitive little event for the level and it wouldn’t surprise if one or two went on from here.

PROSECCO had put up a couple of fair performances in maiden company and stepped up on that here. He led two out and stayed on. He seems to be learning now and might shrug off a ratings rise.
RANDOM NATIVE has had a stop-start career, having only mustered 14 runs from 6 years on the track. He has had a couple of wins when fresh and ran well on his return here being held on the run-in. He may be interesting if given a little break after this, but he’s never managed more than three runs in a season, so Nicky Richards is treading on egg shells with this one.
SOUL ANGEL led 3 out but couldn’t muster any extra when headed after the next. He might be capable of picking up a minor handicap off his current mark.
The record of CASSIUS didn’t look too impressive but his fourth place finish suggests the Handicapper was pretty well on the mark. He was always thereabouts but lacked the pace to make an impact in the latter stages.
SPIRIT OF THE MIST was poised to challenge before 3 out but weakened in the latter stages. He’s weakened late on in his hurdle races and may need a fast surface to see out the distance over hurdles, his pedigree has miler and sprinter blood. He may just benefit from a trip to Musselburgh which generally has faster ground than the other tracks at this time of year, or alternatively a wait until the spring and drier ground.
PAY ON kept on at the finish and is better in a lower class.

3.45 2m N.H. Flat

There was a very slow early pace here with many of the runners pulling hard.

SOLWAY SAM ran a single race last season when third and stepped up on that, leading 3 furlongs out and keeping on determinedly. The family generally stays further and I’d expect progress when he steps up in trip over hurdles. The stable are generally quite shrewd in their placement.
PRINCE OF GDANSK made an improvement on his previous run and kept the winner working.
PREMIER SAGAS was going very 4 furlongs out but ran a bit green in the latter stages. He was picking up again close home and should be more clued up next time. I’d be surprised if Nicky Richards doesn’t find a race for him to win.
HIGH GALES was held in the rush to the line, but the way the race was run may not have suited and I get the impression a greater test of stamina would be helpful.
HILLVIEW BOY stayed on for fifth and while I wouldn’t necessarily be backing him next time out, I’d certainly keep an eye on his progress.
MICK FLAVIN moved up 6 furlongs out and came with a chance 3 out but couldn’t raise his game any further. This could be as good as he is in these events.
The remainder will need to show a bit more to make a mark on the racecourse.

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