Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Silver for Russell at Chepstow

December 27th - 29th

The Northern jumping scene is currently in deep freeze. Musselburgh was off today and is doubtful for New Year's Day. There's just a hope that the conditions might ease for Ayr on Saturday, but it's damned cold as I write this!

Meanwhile there's still an interest elsewhere ......

A cracking performance by SILVER BY NATURE saw him finish second to Dream Alliance in the Welsh Grand National. The slog in the mud suited Lucinda Russell's grey down to the ground and he was staying on to get close at the post. The owner would like to have a go at the Scottish Grand National, and given the right ground Silver By Nature would be very interesting in that event. We would need a wet spring to give suitable going. The Irish National has been mentioned as an alternative.
The winner apepared on my radar a couple of years ago when winning at the Perth Festival. He went on to be second in the Hennessy, but suffered a horrible tendon injury in 2008 which nearly ended his career. Nursed back to health, he ran a respectable second in a hurdle and produced a fine performance to win this ultra-competitve handicap.
COE was one I'd noted for staying races in the mud. He came sixth here, but don't forget him as he still had every chance when blundering badly three out. That knocked the stuffing out of him, and though he recovered he couldn't get a blow in.

Not remotely northern, but one which really caught the eye at Chepstow was ME VOICI winner of the Finale Juvenile Hurdle. This one looks far from the finished article, but he's a fnie big individual. He showed his greenness in the straight, his hurdling certainly needing to be polished up, but he stayed on stoutly to go away from his field. This win could be viewed as a bonus as he's not the sort who would readily be marked down for a juvenile hurdle, but Me Voici really should come into his own over fences.

My faith in the form of MONEY TRIX oh so nearly paid dividends as Nicky Richards's grey gelding was closing on What A Friend at the finish of the Lexus Chase. He needed to be bustled along form five out, and Davy Russell was piling on the coal rounding the home turn. However, Money Trix stays well and is as game as they come, eventually coming up half a length short. If he can avoid the very top class performers, to whit anything trained by Paul Nicholls(!), then Money Trix must surely win a decent staying prize.

DARK BEN and HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY both appeared at Kempton last Sunday. DARK BEN's exuberant jumping style was put under pressure here and he was 'half-lengthed' a few times by the fellow pace setter. He dropped out from four out and was puleld up before three out. He was near the bottom of the weights here and will be much better off in a lower class.
HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY ran a respectable race in the closing handicap hurdle without ever threatening seriously. Held up in rear, he briefly hinted at getting involved on the home bend but couldn't produce any more. He's another who will be closer in a lower class.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Catterick - Mid-December Meeting

CATTERICK - Tuesday December 15th

Going – Good To Soft

12.50 2m 3f Class 5 Maiden Chase

This was a seemingly weak maiden chase where the winner was allowed to dictate from the start.

JIM TANGO was fitted with blinkers for the first time, and they certainly did the trick as he bowled along in front from the tapes. He had plenty in hand to keep going up the straight and won comfortably. My concern would be that he won’t always get the chance to dictate as he did here, and my instinct would be that he is liable to be a poor value price next time out.
SPELLCHECKER chased the winner for most of the way but could make no impression from three out. He’s rated higher than the winner but my feel is that he was well below the mark of 113 on this run. He was raised three pounds despite falling when tired At Sedgefield on his chase debut.
STARBOUGG was never near the leaders but stayed on through the field for third. The problem is that he’s yet to win and this effort was typical of his best hurdling runs.
STUFF OF DREAMS made some ground to four out but got no closer from there. Her close up French form was recorded on testing ground.
THE KEALSHORE KID raced third for a long way but weakened in the straight, putting in a third moderate chasing performance.
MYSTERIOUS WORLD never got into the race. He has one or two glimmers of form on fast ground over hurdles, but basically looks very moderate.
MAJOR CARD was always behind and a remote last when falling at the final fence. Three runs in the UK have been uninspiring.
HAZY OAKS, on chasing debut, was prominent early but struggling fully a mile out.
FENCOTE MYSTERY, beaten 10 lengths in a handicap last time off 68, had no chance in this contest and, tailed off by halfway, was pulled up before three out.

1.20 2m 3f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The quirky MERIDIAN CITY, who disgraced himself at Musselburgh recently, was held from two out in this event by TILT who ran on without looking completely committed to the task. Tilt refused to race on a couple of occasions on the flat and would not be one to trust for a repeat.

1.50 3m 1 ½ f 0-117 Handicap Chase

YOUNGSTOWN took a while to get his act together over hurdles though he did win a Uttoxeter handicap in January. Like so many inmates of the McCain yard he has co me into his own once present with fences and won this event with a fair bit to spare. He looks well capable of successfully moving up in grade.
BORDER REIVER, disappointing here last time behind Double Vodka, seemed much more at home in handicap company and kept on without threatening the winner. He jumped soundly and saw off the remainder well enough, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him go one better.
COLDWELLS goes well around here, but past evidence suggests that a couple of runs put her straight and it wouldn’t be a total surprise if she goes close in similar company before long. Always prominent, on this occasion she couldn’t raise her game sufficiently once turned for home.
STAR BEAT ran well from the front last time, but he’s also been successful when held up though on this occasion his progress came far too late to impact on the leaders.
REEL CHARMER raced with the pace until giving way turning for home. This was an improvement on her two earlier efforts this season.
BENNY THE PILER gradually faded in the final mile. He has ability but it can be devilishly difficult to coax it out of him, and he would not have been favoured by the cut in the ground.
SUPER BABY seemed to find this trip a bit beyond him and, though rallying to four out, was struggling from the home turn.
SPARKLING TAFF was never going very well and tailed off from four out.
LE VERT GALANT was never going and quickly dismounted when pulled up with a circuit to go.
NILE MOON wouldn’t have been keen on racing in the rear and was pulled up before four out.

2.50 2m 0-105 Handicap Chase

BLACKS BRIDGE gave the impression when fourth on his Musselburgh chasing debut that there was a little more to come. Put into the contest from halfway, he took the lead two out and kept on under pressure on the flat though idling a little after landing over the last. Although it looked hard work I fancy he may have more in the tank if persuaded. He didn’t spend too long hurdling and the impression is he may prove progressive over fences.
MORE LIKE IT was being worked at three out back in sixth place, but he responded well and closed on the winner approaching the last, briefly threatened when the winner idled after which he kept on but was held. He won off 4lbs higher than this mark last December and seems in good heart.
I’M YOUR MAN was thereabouts all the way and placed best of the pacesetters. He needs to be caught on the right day but is capable at this level.
STORM SURGE fell on his recent seasonal return. He got to the tails of the leaders three out but couldn’t make an impression from that point. More cut in the ground would do him no harm, and this run may just set him right.
SIR IAN set the early pace and was still in contention two out but could offer only one pace from that point. Given that Sir Ian got a lot closer here than at Warwick, Charlie Longsdon might be tempted north with him again. Given a less competitive contest he should be good enough to win at this level.
BARTON SUN picked his way through the stragglers to finish sixth. He’s basically slow but makes it into a place now and again. WATCH THE WIND occupied more or less the same ground as Barton Sun through the contest and is often hindered by ponderous jumping.
ORMUS raced prominently and led three out, but once headed he went out like a light. He doesn’t seem particularly well handicapped over fences on early evidence.
FRITH made no impact in the last mile and hasn’t regained last season’s respectable form at this level.
BRADDOCK ISLAND ran a good race at Musselburgh until falling but struggled in the last mile here.
TRANOS didn’t look interested and trailed round in the rear.
BLAST THE PAST was behind by the eighth and trailed in last. His past record suggests quick ground is more helpful.
CORDIER, his jumping less than perfect, weakened on the home turn and was well beaten when falling at the last.
NEW WISH, a moderate performer, is better on quicker ground in the summer and was pulled up here.
CROFTON ARCH has a generally poor recent record and added another P to the pod here having never got involved.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Weekend Round-up - December 11 to 13

I'M DELILAH confirmed the promise of her Kelso chasing debut when seeing off Scottiah Champion Hurdle winner Noble Alan in the novice chase at Doncaster on Friday. Ferdy Murphy's mare jumped very well in front and summoned up an impressive turn of speed when challenged by the useful second. I'm Delilah has been a consistent performer over the last couple seasons adn would appear well capable of progressing. Meanwhile this should have proved a confidence booster for NOBLE ALAN who fell at Aintree on his previous run. He won very nicely at Hexham on his chasing bow and should be capable of picking up another chase.

SA SUFFIT was shade disappointing when 16 lengths eighth at cheltenham. However this was by far the most competitive race that James Ewart's charge has competed in, and it sometinmes takes a horse a race or two to become battel hardened once stepped up. I believe he will produce better off his current mark.

Lucinda Russell took ET MAINTENANT to Cheltenham to contest the 2m 5f handicap chase on Friday. He was in with a chance three out but gradually faded from the home turn. This was a good deal tougher than the Class 4 event he contested at Newcastle and it's worth noting that he was only put up 2lbs for that run. He can still get into 0-115 contests and it should be possible to find a softer contest in the north.

Jim Goldie's DHAULAR DHAR went close on his hurdling debut and is likely to pick up a novice event in the near future, though this performance in a fair looking heat probably blows any chance of a decent price.

The behaviour of some elements of the Doncaster crowd has been well documented elsewhere. Saturday's two mile handicap hurdle was halted since there was no safe route to pass the stricken Spanish Conquest. The course officials had no choice but to make the call they did, but it's a sad comment that a percentage of the crowd value the potential contents of their pocket more than the welfare of the contestants. One hopes that Doncaster might seek to discourage the rowdy element, but from past experience that is definitiely hope rather than expectation.


Group Captain John Prideaux has taken over as Chairman of Musselburgh racecourse. He replaces Councillor John Caldwell who previously held the post of racecourse chairman and chairman of the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee which runs the course on behalf of a partnership of Lothian Racing Syndicate Ltd and East Lothian Council. Councillor Caldwell continues as head of the MJRC.

Musselburgh has made excellent strides forward in recent seasons and it is hoped that progress will continue under the stewardship of Group Captain Prideaux who has a wealth of experience as a steward at Mussleburgh, Perth and Kelso. While the flat programme at Musselburgh has been well established and improved, it is the National Hunt programme which has been particularly strengthened in recent seasons. The excellent winter ground that the course can provide has attracted strong entries from the whole of the UK and from Ireland, the quality of jump racing having improved as a consequence.

Unfotunately Ayr became a victim of a cold snap and their meeting today has been called off. Assuming the forecast bad weather isn't too extreme, Musselburgh holds its last meeting before Christmas on Monday December 21st. That will be it for Scotland until the New Year Sprint Meeting on December 29th, well worth a visit if you are at a loose end between the Christmas and Hogmanay festivities. Meanwhile I'll keep readers up to date with the steeplechasing activities 'over the border', Catterick, Newcastle and Carlisle providing the pre-Christmas action. Sedgefield then open their doors for traditional Boxing Day action, though the fixture swaps to Fontwell in 2010. Yes, that's what I thought!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Midweek at Sedgefield and Hexham

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday December 8th

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

1.50 3m 3f Class 5 Maiden Chase

This was a poorly contested race turned into a virtual one horse race once the favourite tipped up at the first.

TANK TOP took the lead and fell at the first, over jumping and crumpling on landing. He did at least show some zest for jumping by completing the course without his jockey.
PRESENTING FOREVER had an easy task once Tank Top had departed, jumping round neatly to win by 52 lengths. He is a promising young staying chaser, but this tells us very little.
SMART MISTRESS was in the rear most of the way but kept going better than some to secure second place, an apparent improvement on her ‘pulled up’ in a Newcastle hurdle.
GRASSCUTTER, brought down in an incident packed race at Hereford recently, was left second at the seventeenth but was tired in the home straight and came in third.
SINGLE PAYMENT was briefly prominent at halfway but soon lost touch and ended up well tailed off. He was second on debut at Tipperary but his chasing form has been dire since then.
THE BRIG AT AYR was the only one to seriously take on the winner, but he was starting to tire when falling at the seventeenth.
DUN NA NGALL has jumped poorly in both chases contested and was pulled up with over a mile to go here.

2.50 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase

TOULOUSE EXPRESS recorded a fourth win of the year and a second course and distance win in what was a weak handicap chase. He had lost his form in the autumn campaign, but that has seen him drop down the ratings. Leading or racing prominently, he stayed on too well for the remainder from two out. He stands a lot of racing and often returns prize money, but he could be on a career chasing high rating after this.
BALTIC PATHFINDER was thereabouts most of the way, but was held from two out. This was a promising chase debut by the five-year-old and he should be capable of picking up a race of this sort.
DEUTERONOMY normally runs a decent race but has only managed a solitary win in 21 attempts. He led from the fifth to the tenth, and plugged on at one pace once headed.
DAY OF CLAIES put in his best effort for some time in fourth, though held from three out. He has plummeted down the handicap and might be worth a glance at this level if his trainer can keep him healthy.
Irish trained THE CORBY GLENN, a winner of a bumper and a hurdle, briefly threatened to get involved to three out but weakened in the straight.
CATEGORICAL formerly had quite a consistent record without winning very often, but he’s lost the thread in the last few months and was out of contention from three out. He runs well at Musselburgh and I would imagine Lucinda Russell will seek out opportunities at the East Lothian course. (Reported as having a breathing problem)
WHATCANYASAY goes well round here, but is totally out of sorts at the moment and trailed in last.
NAVAL ATTACHE was held from two out and unseated at the last. He goes well here but needs better ground.
OSCAR TRIAL was struggling by the eleventh fence and was pulled up before two out. Off a rating of 68, and 11lbs wrong here, he is struggling to make any impact in chases though he did win a minor handicap hurdle last season.

HEXHAM – Wednesday December 9th

Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

Hexham brought their 2009 programme to a close with a decent card including a handicap hurdle with a £13,000 first prize and a £25,000 to the winner handicap chase. The weather was pleasant, but the going was testing as is to be expected at this track in December.

The first two fences down the far side were omitted due to the state of the ground.

12.50 2m ½ f 0-134 Handicap Hurdle

James Ewart’s good form continued as OPEN DE L’ISLE, suited by the testing conditions, took this decent competitive hurdle with a career best performance. With exposed second and third close up he shouldn’t go up too much and may have further chances in similar company while testing conditions persist.
LEAC ON SCAIL is proving rather frustrating, this being his third second place in a row, but he didn’t seem to do too much wrong on this occasion.
CURRAHEE stayed on late and ideally needs a bit further though he has won over a similar distance.

1.50 3m 1f 0-135 Handicap Chase

The course offered an excellent prize for a midweek meeting in December with £25,000 to the winner.

MR STRACHAN hinted that he was running into form when third at Carlisle last time. This was a shade less competitive than the Cumberland Chase, and that probably made the difference. He chased the leader on the long run to the twelfth (four out) and stayed on under driving to poke his head in front just before the line. He has a decent record when the mud is flying.
With his stable in rattling good form, HUKA LODGE proved his Carlisle form no fluke as he made the running for all but the last few yards. In testing conditions that suit him down to ground he stayed on to hold his field until Mr Strachan swooped late.
SAMMY SPIDERMAN had hinted at a revival until falling at Ayr last time. He confirmed that he starting to come to himself with a sound effort in third place. He didn’t get into a challenging position late on and struggled form the bottom of the hill, but from 9lbs out of the handicap he ran a good race. The ground suits him but his wins have been at shorter trips and he goes very well at Ayr.
BORIS THE BLADE was niggled at from a long way out, but to his credit stayed in touch until finding the final hill one test too many. He goes well with a stamina test and should prove a force in lesser company.
GYPSY GEORGE weekend from three out and was beaten a long way. The run will presumably have brought him on after a long break and suited by testing conditions, he’s another who goes well at Ayr.
IDLE TALK made no impact, was tailed off and is not as good as he once was.
DESCRIPTION was in touch when falling at the seventh.
FAST FORWARD was returning from two years’ absence and pulled up before four out, along with MINOUCHKA, a prolific winner in point-to-points who looks held in this class, and NOUVEAU MAIRE, winner of a 0-110 event here in April but another apparently flying a little high here. (MINOUCHKA were subsequently reported as unsuited by the going and NOUVEAU MAIRE as having a breathing problem)

2.20 2m ½ f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

REINDEER DIPPIN was one that caught my eye in a couple of novice hurdles, and the name is one easily remembered. He fell at the first on his chasing debut, but jumped assuredly on this occasion, setting the pace, kicking on to three out and never being in any danger. He should be well capable of taking a novice event under a penalty. (A little research suggests that his named after an American riding bull of the same name.)
RIGUEZ DANCER, another who fell on his chasing debut, never got to the leader but made headway into second three out and kept on from that point. He should win a similar contest.
DREVER ROUTE tracked the leader but was outpaced form three out and couldn’t get to the first two after that. He gives me the impression that two and half miles would suit, though he made little impact in two attempts over hurdles at that distance.
POLITICAL PENDANT was never anywhere near the leaders and eventually plodded on into fourth place.
SIR BOREAS HAWK, encountering soft heavy ground for the first time and on hid chasing debut, raced with the chasing group to four out but then weakened. He has sound good ground hurdles form in the book and it may be he wasn’t suited by the testing conditions, the latter point confirmed by the jockey's report.
BARONS KNIGHT was behind when unseating at the sixth fence. He was returning after three years off and had shown nothing in six runs in 2005/2006.
SKULL INN was always behind, eventually pulled up and looks of no account.
BYRONS BAY pulled up before the seventh and hasn’t even hinted at being able to stay the trip in jumps races.
SOTOVIK chased the pace until four out but was struggling when blundering three out and his jockey pulled him up before the last. He’s better than this run suggests but seems to need good ground these days.

2.50 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

This four runner contest really consisted of two matches, one for first prize and the other for a decent third prize in excess of £1,000.

ABBEYBRANEY tracked his rival for most of the way and moved up to dispute the lead three out. Having been just tapped for speed a little bit from two out, he joined again at the top of the hill and had enough in reserve to see off his opponent in the slog to the line. He is currently rated 139 over fences, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if his trainer tries to farm a couple of these events under a penalty before going handicapping.
THE HOLLINWELL set the pace and tried his best to burn off his rival from three out. The effort told since he was tired no the run-in and unable to hold on. He won here in November and shows enough to suggest he will pick up another race before long. He may just be a little better in less testing conditions.
Meanwhile, at a safe distance the third place prize was fought out between ex-pointer SEEKING POWER and the exposed chasing maiden Indy Mood. Nick Alexander reported that it’s been hard to get the weight off Seeking Power, so it would seem likely he was glad to get a run into his charge, and even more so to pick up a respectable prize in the process. Ridden conservatively by Peter Buchanan, he began pulling away from Indy Mood down the back straight and came home steadily in his own time. He’s not very quick and his trainer will presumably be looking towards low grade handicap chases.
INDY MOOD doesn’t always seem to put it in these days and he was crying ‘enough’ with a mile left. Given the gruelling conditions his rider decided to call it a day before the last. His record at Carlisle is noticeably better than anywhere else, 43223 and he got within 5 lengths of the winner on three occasions. It may be clutching at straws, but that little nugget might come in useful!

3.20 3m 1f 0-90 Handicap Chase

This contest was big on numbers but many of these are certainly not amongst the quickest or most reliable to trek around High Yarridge during the season.

TREEHOUSE’s record suggests that a stiff finish is a must. He plugged on better than his two closest rivals here to wrest the race on the flat. His Hexham/Carlisle record now reads 418811 which is pretty decent at the low end of the class scale.
RECKLESS VENTURE added another second to his record, though connections must have thought he would win when leading after the last. Treehouse found greater reserves though, the Russell inmate now having run 15 times since his last win. He may well pick up a race eventually but he’s often near the head of the market and not betting value.
THE GREEN HAT proved much better off against inferiors. He’s been taking on more talented individuals at levels in chases and this was more his comfort zone. Racing up with the pace or in the lead, he was in front at the last but run out of it on the flat. Looking at his previous record the slog in the mud suited.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE was held up until making progress down the far side towards three out. He never got to the leaders, but kept on into fourth place. Still a maiden over fences he has a respectable record at this track.
BILLSGREY seems to have improved a bit for moving to Willie Amos. He got to the tails of the leaders up the hill but had no reserves left to produce extra. This was a career best which has taken 24 attempts.
NEIDPATH CASTLE won a soft contest over half a mile shorter here in March. He made no impression from two out on this occasion and would be better dropped back in distance.
TULLY HILL was second to Neidpatth Castle in March, but he’s basically slow and though racing prominently to three out was then left behind.
SHULMIN showed a little more zest on this occasion, joining the leaders four out, but her effort was short-lived and she struggled after the next.
POLOBURY was his usual cussed self in the rear, coming on and off the bridle. He consented to pick off a couple late on but never got seriously involved.
MANOUBI’s usual late rattle didn’t materialise on this occasion while THE FABRICATOR, with the pace to three out, weakened quickly in the latter stages.
FRENCH TIES was in midfield when unseating at the tenth.
The others were pulled up. PATCHOULI CONTI was too keen early on and a spent force by four out. STORMONT DAWN raced in touch to three out but weakened quickly and skipped the last, while THE MAYSTONE, with only one decent piece of previous form, ran no sort of race.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Musselburgh - Early December Meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Monday 7th December

Going –Good to Soft

The peculiar micro-climate of East Lothian once again meant that we missed the rain that hit Central and South Scotland and Musselburgh produced ground just on the soft side. Essentially a run-of the-mill meeting with the crowd around the 600 mark, but there were one or two pointers which might be taken forward for the future and there was some decent racing.

An area from the ½ furlong pole is currently railed off to save the ground for the two-legged racers in the New Year Sprint. There have been one or two instances where runners have been tightened up approaching this section of the track.

12.50 3m 0-105 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

NELLIEDONETHAT has been carefully placed by Lucinda Russell to the extent that he recorded three chase wins last season but only advanced 11lbs in the weights. Down a pound from his highest on 93, he confirmed recent suspicions that he was ready to strike again. He has won on heavy, but I get the impression he’s a better performer on better ground, but course seem to come alike since he’s won going left and right, as well as at stiff Carlisle whilst able to win round this comparatively sharp circuit. On this occasion he kicked on round the bottom bend and forged clear up the straight. An eleven length win here might not necessarily help, but there is a hope that the handicapper might ‘split the difference’ when reassessing.
SEIZE chased the winner but never got close enough to threaten. His one chase win came here and he ran well enough to be considered in similar contests.
YANKEE HOLIDAY has been well documented in these notes. The cross noseband seems to have been permanently jettisoned, but two handlers in the paddock remain the norm and he’s always simmering if not boiling. He has placed over three miles but has never got close enough to prove he stays. While left behind from the home bend he had enough in hand to keep going for third, but the losing run now stands at 30, a fact which those who backed him at 7/1 might care to take a good look at. That being said he has accumulated place money on 25 occasions so does at least make regular contributions to his keep.
SIERRA PEAK led to the twelfth and was then left behind. He has yet to prove he sees out this trip, but he has shown ability at shorter distances.
WIZARDS DUST came into this race with solid at a similar level. Both his wins came when able to get to the front early. He was hampered at the sixth here and a mistake at the twelfth saw him struggling.
TIME BANDIT, with tie-tongue removed on this occasion, was held up in the rear then made progress around the home bend but the run short-lived. He’s way out of form and has suffered a documented physical problem this season.
Irish challenger PIPERS BLAZE appeared to be going within himself when falling at the thirteenth, an open ditch.
SNOWY fell for the first time in his 46 race career when coming down at the sixth. It looked a heavy fall but he was quickly up. The aging grey showed his knowledge of the track as he made a bee-line for the course exit past the stands.

1.20 2m 5 Maiden Hurdle

As so often in these events, there was a huge range of ability evident and the finish was fought out by two with the rest easily seen off.

AMANDA CARTER ran a decent race when second here in November, and produced the better turn of foot on this occasion after taking the lead at the last. All her flat form was on decent ground and it wouldn’t surprise me if further opportunities are sought at Musselburgh.
ROSE STREET jumped neatly in front but was held from the last. She was squeezed up as Amanda Carter drifted under a right-hand drive but it made little difference to the result. It wouldn’t surprise me if Rose Street turned out to be slightly the better of the first two in the long run.
PICCOLO PRIDE appeared to run to form in third, holding on from the pack. He’s by a sprint sire out of a sprint mare, so is hardly likely to have much in the tank at the end of two miles.
MISTER WALL STREET, an expensive purchase in April and more stoutly bred than the third, finished a one paced fourth.
DUMITAS, a double bumper winner in Ireland and McCoy’s only ride on the day, raced prominently until weakening quickly after three out.

1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The talking point of this race was the wayward behaviour of the favourite MERIDIAN CITY. He disputed early then took over at the third, but was lugging left and consistently out-jumped by the slower but more precise Art Bank. Approaching the stands’ bend he cocked his jaw and made it quite clear he was aiming for the course exit. He’s won round here twice before and his behaviour suggested there may have been a physical problem which hindered him going right handed.
Three times pointing winner KELLYSTOWN LAD looks more of a long term project but he showed a good burst of speed from the last to win this easily. It’s debatable how much he achieved here, since the second looks quirky, but his pointing wins suggest he will jump a fence. His hurdle form was improved by this better ground.
The betting, and previous form, suggested that SUNARRI should have taken this one once the favourite left the stage. However, he was uncooperative after the last, hanging left, resenting being asked to challenge and not looking an easy ride.
QOLLIOURE challenged going to the last but was one paced from that point. He is already a pointing winner, and his dam was a cross-country chaser, so that suggests where his future lies.
ART BANK jumped precisely before being found out for pace. He may do better over fences but he’s only rated 72 and quick he ain’t.
JACK APPLE took over when Meridian City quit the scene but was found out when the pace increased three out.

2.20 2m 4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

FIRST STREAM fell here first time out before picking up a maiden hurdle at Kelso in March. He was brought back looking fit and well, and proved tenacious at the sharp end. Brought steadily into the race from three out, he challenged at the last and caught Portavadie right on the line. I suspect he’s a little bit better than the bare form here and it wouldn’t surprise me if he can follow up.
PORTAVADIE hasn’t won since 2005 and looked the likely winner approaching the last. Unfortunately he got the flight all wrong, but still looked to have chances of holding on only to be ‘done’ in the shadow of the post. His attitude couldn’t be criticised and he’s weighted to win if this form can be repeated.
NATURAL ACTION led two out but was headed approaching the last and despite determined efforts couldn’t get back to the first two. This was a decent effort under a penalty in what appeared a competitive contest.
ALMAYNAN kept on to fill a creditable fourth place and best of the Irish contingent. The handicapper appears to have him about right.
SIMPLE JIM has been kept busy but paddock evidence, looking very well and on his toes, suggests the regular outings do him no harm. He stayed on from three out but was held going to the last and is about as high in the weights as he would want to be.
LOCKED INTHEPOCKET set the pace until two out and couldn’t raise his game from that point. Dropped in class he’ll win a hurdle but he looks a potential chaser in stature and I’ll keep an eye out for an entry over fences.
REGENT’S SECRET returned to hurdling and ran a typical race, passing a few late on.
MESBAAH was in with a chance three out but faded quickly. The obvious conclusion is that he didn’t see out the trip.

Update to story mentioned in my last Musselburgh report. Winning part-owner Andrea Wylie gave birth to twins recently, mother and girls Zara and Kia reported as doing well.

2.50 2m 4f 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Chase

A race lacking strength in depth and not a contest from which I would be carrying too many positive pointers forward.

SEA VENTURE failed to score over hurdles, though he scraped the post then hit the crossbar on his latest two outings, but he had too much for this field on his chasing debut. He raced prominent and stayed on past the runner-up two out to win with a little to spare.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE has managed a couple of moderate hurdle wins but this was the closest he has come over fences. I noticed he had heavily greased legs, perhaps instead of brushing boots. He led and had most of the field beaten by two out, but a mistake there handed the initiative to the winner. Lindseyfield Lodge couldn’t summon up any further reserves.
STROBE chased the leader until weakening three out and finished a tired third.
INSTANT SHOT made a little progress before the home turn, but never got near the leaders and could only plug on for fourth.
PADDYS UNYOKE hit a couple of fences and was struggling by the home turn. He is finding the move from hunter company to handicaps beyond him at the moment.
VIEL GLUCK was chasing the leaders when coming down heavily four out though he did get up OK. Alan Howes’s pronunciation of the name left a bit to be desired a German dictionary might come in handy!
DARAYBAD was struggling down the back straight for the last time and was pulled up before four out.

3.20 2m Open NH Flat Race

The field for this were a right bunch of ‘liquorice allsorts’ in the paddock.

FINAL DAY was a convincing winner at Perth back in May. He had to work hard to hold on in a bobbing finish here against a potentially decent opponent but I suspect the form will turn out to be strong. Final Day confirmed my expectation of a follow up win….. just, and should be capable of picking up a hurdle race.
Of the first two I suspect the runner-up CHESTER LAD has more scope for jumping. He impressed me in the paddock and looks a jumper in the making. He was briefly tapped for pace two out but battled back with a vengeance and showed a very good attitude to make the winner pull out all the stops. He will go on from here and will probably pick up a bumper, but he’s one I’d be eager to see going hurdling as soon as possible.
FIVE JEMBS went well before being tapped for speed from two out by the first two. He looks one who will need a bit of time, but I think he will make up into a jumper.
HOOKED ON LINE probably stepped up on his debut form, making the pace to two out before giving way.
GLACED OVER ran pretty much to previous bumper form.
RUBIPRESENT raced keenly up with the pace until lack of condition told two out. His previous Irish bumper form looks sound enough and he should progress for moving to hurdling.
Karen McLintock’s BURAIMI OASIS doesn’t look a bad type but didn’t look particularly forward and may need a little time.
BACKTOBACKJACK is a tall gelding who needs to fill out a bit and never got into the race here. He comes from a staying jumping family and will need time and distance.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Borders National Day at Kelso

KELSO – Sunday December 6th

Going – Soft

Kelso presented a decent card for their last meeting of 2009, with a competitive looking Borders National and a decent Eric Scarth Champion Chase as the centre pieces.

12.20 2m 2f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

A generally strong card started with a largely uncompetitive mares’ novice contest. Back in the summer an owner with horses stabled in the south of Scotland complained about the amount of Irish horses farming Scottish novice and maiden contests. It took only two Irish to run away with prizes here, and with only 6 locals in opposition perhaps one or two Scottish owners and trainers need to look at themselves.

AIBREAN won nicely at Sedgefield last time and followed up with a comfortable win in a weak event here. Already a point winner in Ireland, she looks like one to progress to chasing sooner rather than later.
CHASING CLOUDS chased the leader from two out but was left behind on the long run-in. She seems to have enough about her to pick up a minor novice event.
TCHIKITA made a satisfactory debut, keeping on from two out if never quick enough to trouble the winner. She should move on from here.
WHEYAYE has been moderate over hurdles and was well held, though on handicap ratings ran more or less to form with the second.
JUST MADDIE may be flattered by her Musselburgh form, though it’s a much stiffer test around here in the soft.

12.50 2m 6 ½ f Class 2 Novices’ Chase

A disappointing turn out for over £12,000 first prize money but it allowed KNOCKARA BEAU to canter round to earn a good percentage of his annual keep. He jumped accurately and came away with the minimum of fuss.
CALIN ROYAL, appearing for the second time in 24 hours, followed the winner at a respectful distance in second; not being pressed once that place was secured. He should be able to pick up a race once sights are lowered.
ELLANDSHE looks after himself, and though not jumping particularly cleanly on this occasion, jumped round for a decent prize in third.
DOODLEBOP should have been another to pick up ‘free prize money’ but fell at the sixth.

1.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-158 Handicap Chase

A small field, but nevertheless an interesting contest.

MONEY TRIX has not stood much acing, but he clearly has plenty of ability. He was made to work hard on this occasion by an improving stayer in Belon Gale. He went well most of the way but made a total hash of the middle fence down the far side on the final circuit. He took a while to recover, but challenged in the straight and showed admirable determination to see off his main rival and pull clear of the other trio. The plan is to take him to the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and I think there is enough ability within this one to make a mark at that level.
BELON GALE has got his jumping act together now, and showed he lacks nothing in attitude as he made the talented winner battle all the way from the last. It’s worth noting too that this trip would be a bit short of the best for the Johnson/Wylie animal. The drawback is that he was 11lbs shy in the handicap which won’t be forgiven, but he hinted that he has much potential in staying tests.
CLOUDY LANE made a satisfactory comeback, challenging approaching the last but offering no more form that point. He unseated at the Chair in last year’s National and I presume the Aintree event would be his target once again.
BRAVE REBELLION came to challenge approaching the last but had used up his reserves in doing so and weakened from that point. He has won on heavy ground but I get the impression he is a better performer given good ground or perhaps even faster. He won round Musselburgh over three miles last season but I suspect on a less sharp track his trip is around 2m 4f.
NIRVANA SWING was well backed for this contest but was the first one to crack, struggling from three out. Seven pounds wrong at the weights, the class here was a bit beyond him and he would have easier tasks off his ‘real mark’ of 125.

1.50 2m ½ f 0-119 Handicap Hurdle

I’ve been a little harsh on CASSIUS in the past when suggesting that he lacks pace. He seems to need a decent stamina test and Bruce Mactaggart’s charge saw off his field with the minimum of fuss on this occasion, ridden clear on the flat to win with comfort. A rise after this might just keep him in this class, but given the right conditions he should be competitive in 0-130 races.
GLINGERBANK’s previous form pattern suggested that he needs a rest between races. However, given that he has had a stop start career it could be that he just needs to be kept sound. Returning a month after his last run he raced prominently most of the way and kept on for second against an in-form opponent suited by conditions.
FOLLOW ON never got near the leaders but kept on to take third place. He’s only won twice and the last of those came in a weakly contested event at Hexham in June.
KEMPSKI made the pace to the fourth and was driven once headed. He dropped back form that point but stayed on again late to secure fourth place. He needs to dictate his races and all his wins have come in heavy ground at Ayr.

2.20 4m 0-133 Handicap Chase (Borders National)

Although this event was down on the numbers that the course might prefer, it was nevertheless a competitive event with none that could be counted out on recent form.

L’AVENTURE has put in creditable performances in staying events over the years, but you have to look back to her Welsh National victory in 2005 for the last time she put her head in front at the post. She went close off this mark the same weekend last season, but this time won with a good deal to spare, staying on much too well for the others after the last fence. Those who have stayed faithful were thankful to her pilot Daryl Jacob who did well to stay aboard after the mare made a bad mistake at the eighteenth. It would be nice to think that L’Aventure could pick up from here and win again, but it’s not something I would rely on, though the tactics employed her racing up with the pace have been more successful than holding her up. The rise in the weights should guarantee a place in the Welsh National, which I presume would be the next target.
BOLD RANSOM made progress two out and stayed on without ever getting to the winner. He is a seven-year-old and would seem to have a bright future in similar staying events.
ROYAL MACKINTOSH is pretty much handicapped to the hilt, and was trying a new trip on this occasion, but lost nothing in defeat and only conceded second place near the finish. Alan Mactaggart should continue to get plenty of enjoyment from this one in Northern staying events.
GARLETON came into this event in excellent form and has been progressive this year. He was held from the second last and probably didn’t see out the four miles. He continues in good form and would be a different proposition dropped back in trip.
POKER DE SIVOLA remains a maiden over fences but has been asked some big questions in 10 attempts over the large obstacles. He was held from two out and seemed not to see out the trip.
MORGAN BE never got into the race and was well behind from three out. Four out of his five wins have been on heavy and on balance it seems he needs an extreme stamina test.
LUCKY NELLERIE set the pace to the nineteenth but was unable to raise his game from that point and seemingly found the opposition a tad too tough.
JAUNTY JOURNEY is a promising comparative youngster and was in there and pitching when unseating at the nineteenth. As a six-year-old he must be considering an interesting prospect for staying events. On limited evidence he is well capable of mixing it in similar contests.
ROYAL ROSA put in a decent effort at Aintree recently but made no show here, was struggling with a circuit to go and pulled up before two out.

2.50 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

HOLLINS made his debut in a bumper last season, but was then considered sharp enough to go flat racing. He rewarded his connections with a Pontefract win, and paid them back even further with victory in his second hurdle race. He was left in the lead three out and went clear on the run-in demonstrating enough speed to suggest this won’t be his only hurdles win. His dam was a stayer on the flat, so a step up in trip probably won’t inconvenience this one.
HEY CHARLIE held every chance at the last, but having come stands’ side up the run in he was held by the winner. Connections have required a little bit of patience since he had two seasons off after a promising effort in a bumper. His breeding hints that a distance of ground would be in his favour.
RED ONION was comfortably held from two out as was ST. KILLIAN’S RUN and while both would hold out hope of success in novice hurdles, they need to step up on efforts here.
NAUGHTY DIESEL, an unconsidered 200/1 chance, led from the second until pecking and unseating three out. He seemed to be going well enough, an effort well in advance of anything shown before.

3.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-102 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

BERWICK LAW was produced in fine fettle after 637 days off the track to win comfortably. His trainer Pauline Robson is adept at bringing horses back successfully after a long break. This one was let down by scratchy jumping before but, assuming the ‘bounce factor’ doesn’t enter the equation, may just be a little ahead of the handicapper now he has got his act together.
Low grade chaser OLD NODDY has hit the ground running this season after a year and a half absence. He pulled clear of the remainder and in current form might be interesting in a lowly handicap steeplechase. At his best he doesn’t look over burdened off 87 in chases.
OCARINA is another who may be capable of making a mark in handicap steeplechases in the near future. He gets caught a little flat footed in hurdles but kept on for third, and his accurate gives him an advantage in chases. He caught my eye when jumping his field into submission at Musselburgh a couple of seasons back.
SOLWAY ALLY raced prominently but gave way from two out.
Although finishing fifth here, the moderate MAOLISA was beaten a long way and there was very little of any note produced by those even further back.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ayr and Catterick - December 2

Wednesday December 2nd

Going – Soft (Good To Soft)

12.20 2m Class 3 Introductory Hurdle

These events are for horses which have taken part in no more than one hurdle race.

The distance is probably on the sharp side for TURBO ISLAND, but he got by on raw determination which is a good sign for the future. The stable weren’t firing when he appeared at Carlisle, but things have clicked at the Langholm yard since then. Leading for most of the way, at a steady pace early on, Turbo Island was headed from two out until the last but battled back on the flat. His battling qualities should set him in good stead and I would expect a good deal better once upped in distance. The way he jumps suggests he will make a chaser in time as he gives his hurdles a bit of room.
PREMIER SAGAS had sound bumper form and stepped up on a so-so hurdling debut. He was in the mix from two out and bustling up the winner close home. He has plenty enough ability to win a hurdle.
TARA ROYAL, an Irish point winner who disappointed on his debut in a bumper, led two out but was collared on the flat and couldn’t respond to his main rivals’ efforts. Nevertheless this was a sound hurdling debut.
GRANDAD BILL picked up from two out and was staying on at the finish.
BIVOUAC won a seller at Kelso but showed that he’s a bit better than selling level by finishing within hailing distance of the leaders in fifth.

12.50 2m Class 3 Novices’ Chase

BEDLAM BOY had only to repeat his Carlisle form to take this with ease. He came clear from two out.
PRIMROSE TIME, second to Bedlam Boy at Carlisle, once again filled second spot, staying on at the finish without threatening. She looks sharp enough to pick up at least a maiden chase somewhere.
TARTAN SNOW had shown promise on his chasing debut in the spring before capsizing at the last. Hopefully this will be a confidence booster and I suspect he needs further over fences.
PRINCE TAM was struggling once turned for home and made no advance on his moderate hurdling form.
TEENAGE IDOL, second best here on hurdles form, fell at the third on chase bow.

1.25 2m 4f 0-135 Handicap Chase

Two progressive performers came clear of the opposition here.

SKIPPER’S BRIG benefitted from a less than foot perfect performance by his main rival and led on the flat to win a trifle cosily. A step back up in distance would do him no harm, though he clearly has enough basic speed to mix it at this trip.
EXTALAR led jumping neatly until misjudging the twelfth fence. He went down on his nose and lost his back legs as he came back up, but found more than one leg and remained in contention. Having fought back to challenge Skipper’s Brig he then misjudged the third last, but still not done for he managed to take the lead with a good jump at the last only to be done close home by an opponent with more in the tank. There are clear indications that he can rate a good deal higher than the 123 he ran off here and, while his jumping may add a note of caution, his attitude is spot on.
QUITO DE TRESOR was held by more talented opponents from three out.
FLASH CUMMINS had every chance four out but was left behind from that point. I’m sure slightly better ground would suit and I’m still holding out for a three miler at Musselburgh!
SAMMY SPIDERMAN was held up in touch and going comfortably enough when falling at the thirteenth, seemingly over-jumping. There is a hint of a revival.

1.55 3m ½f 0-102 Handicap Hurdle

MISTER MARKER is one whose pedigree suggests he will improve with time. Raised 8lbs for a clear of the rest second place at Newcastle, he forged clear of the main pack and held off a determined rival close home. Staying is his game and he should turn into a chaser in time. Meanwhile he seems quite handily placed in the ratings and I’d be surprised if he didn’t notch another win.
I had a few rather cutting things to say about MISS TARANTELLA early last season. She still seems a little lightweight to me, but lacks nothing for heart judged on this performance. The distance was a step into new territory but the way she kept the winner honest suggested three miles in soft was no problem. Staying events at this level can be pretty dire, so there is hope that she might pick up a similar contest.
DELIGHTFULLY came to challenge four and looked well positioned approaching the last but then weakened. Conditions were right here but the contests she won last season were basement level.
POLOBURY came on and off the bridle in customary style. She threatened to get involved a mile out but never gave enough to challenge the leaders.

2.25 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

OLIFAN D’OUDARIES’s form had a fair deal more to offer than most in this field. Dictating the pace from the start, nothing got near enough to him to put him under serious pressure. He kept on well form two out but may well have benefitted from being able to dictate the race.
TIME OUT provided another indication of the well being of the Ewart yard. He seemed to be cruising two out but never got to the winner and kept on for second.
BOLLIN FIONA. making her handicap debut, came with a rush to the last and threatened to be involved with the winner, but a skewed jump put paid to her chances. The run at least indicates she in going the right way and competitive in handicap company.
GO ON BE A LADY raced prominently but weakened from two out. She has attempted this trip three times and doesn’t seem to see it out.
Lucy Alexander took a horrible fall from CONTENDO being flung to the ground head first. I can give an update from Nick Alexander’s blog http://kinneston.blogspot.com/ which tells us that Lucy was unconscious for some minutes after the fall. She was conscious when taken to Ayr Hospital but will be kept in for a few days for observation. Nick reports that the horse is fine and had a spin on the all-weather. Meanwhile Nick states, “Lucy has shown a glimmer of interest in going on a Ski Instructor's course after Christmas, right now that seems like a brilliant idea to me…”!!!

3.00 2m 0-107 Handicap Chase

This boiled down to a contest between two who have shown decent form of late.

DUKE OF MALFI spent much of last season in the wilderness, but recorded a second successive win forging clear from two out. He will have tougher tasks but did the job nicely.
CARRIETAU continued in sound form, leading until four out then basically making no impression once headed but keeping on until weakening on the run-in.
ORIGINAL FLY didn’t jump well but still had enough in reserve to deprive Carrietau of second spot after the last.
FRITH hasn’t recaptured last season’s form and was starting to feel the pinch when blundering five out.
LERIDA raced near the pace until the straight. He kept chasing but was held in fourth when unseating at the last.
WEST END WONDER jumped poorly but kept going detached until hitting two out. Regrettably he suffered injuries that required him being put down.

3.30 1m 6f 3yo NH Flat

BOLD SIR BRIAN made progress to two furlongs out, led a furlong out and ran on for victory. His dam won over two miles on the Flat and won the Galway Hurdle but this is her winner from six foals.
Willie Amos’s DARNA was in the race when the pace hotted up but was just held close home. The dam won middle distances hurdles so this one should appreciate a bit further in time.
ZARU kept on from having been up with the pace but was held in the final furlong. Out of a chase winner up to 3m 1f he is another that would be expected to progress with time and distance.
PORTWAY GIRL led and her rider kicked for home off the home bend. She wandered about once headed two furlongs out, but she did keep going for fourth. Half-sister to some decent flat performers, she progressed from her debut and holds some hope for the future.


Going - Soft

1.10 3m 1 ½ f 0-106 Handicap Chase

My theory that SYCHO FRED saves his best for Market Rasen has been blown out of the water, two prominent runs at Wetherby dispelling the myth, and then he turned up at Catterick to win this contest. He was always on the premises and got the better of a set to with Star Beat right on the line. He’s run four decent races on the trot, his fifth last time when just fading late in testing conditions.
STAR BEAT was leading or disputing most of the way. He seemed to have done enough to hold Sycho Fred only to be caught in the shadow of the post. This was his best effort over fences and his jumping sharper than in the past. In this form he should land a lowly staying handicap chase.
TREEHOUSE proved that he can handle a sharper track than Hexham or Carlisle. Staying handy most of the way he was just caught out for pace from two out.
CROSS COMPLIANCE raced midfield, chased the leaders from two out but didn’t get close enough to threaten. This was an advance on previous form and it could be that as he approaches the age of 7 he is coming to himself.
KALMO BAY normally comes from way off the pace but came to join the leaders three out. He could only offer one pace from that point but at least signaled reasonable well being. I would keep an eye on the top of the weights in a three mile contest at Musselburgh which seems to suit him, and where he has recorded a couple of wins.
POLAR GALE is better on a firmer surface, particularly at Sedgefield.
SYDNEY SLING raced in the rear until making some progress to three out. The run came to naught.
HERMANO CORDOBES raced prominently until fading steadily from the fourteenth
DARINA’S BOY barely took off at the first and jettisoned Gary Rutherford.
FAKIMA has produced odd bite of form, but he was never going on this occasion and his jockey called it a day before two out.

2.45 2m 3f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

There is plenty happening in these events when there is decent field size and analyzing the race requires eyes in many places or a few glances at race replays. As I haven’t the benefit eight eyes, I settle for the latter.

DOUBLE VODKA came into this with a little more experience than some and he had recorded two respectable placed efforts in a truncated ’08-09 season. Although there was a doubt about the trip, he seemed to see out the nineteen furlongs comfortably enough, staying on o hold the placed horses at bay with a little to spare. He might just be handily handicapped off 123 under the right circumstances, but should be capable of picking up a novice event with a penalty.
THE PANAMA KID stayed on in the closing stages to wrest second place on the run-in. He was a fair novice hurdler and looks well capable of winning a chase.
FORTYSECOND STREET led or disputed most of the way but was run out of second place on the run-in. His free-going style might prove better around two miles, but this was a sound chasing debut.
SCALE BANK raced up with the pace but made a couple of mistakes and was held from two out. On his hurdling form this was a decent effort since the first three would all be giving him the best part of a stone over the lesser obstacles, and it is hoped that he will progress with chasing experience.
GREENBELT never showed at the front end but was staying on through the field up the straight. His best jumps form has been saved for Catterick and Wetherby and he is favoured by some cut in the ground. Depending on how the handicapper looks at this effort he may be one for a novices’ handicap chase around here.
Rose Dobbin’s runners continue to struggle, only a couple of thirds from 21 runners to date, and MIRAGE DORE could only keep on at one pace in the straight. He seemed to jump quite well here but lacked any ‘oomph’ at the sharp end. If the stable start to fire he will most likely leave this form behind.
YEOMAN SPIRIT never got in a blow at the leaders.
YACHVILI is proven as moderate at both hurdling and chasing and was another who failed to land a blow.
BORDER REIVER raced prominently early but slipped back through the pack in the second half of the race. He was well beaten by Pamak D’Airy in a small field on chasing debut and has to show a lot more.
MAGELLAN STRAITS was never nay better than midfield and ran to the same level as his chasing debut run.
ANOTHER CHARMER weakened from five out, but at least completed which was more than he managed in two previous chasing attempts.
FAITH AND REASON thumped the first and was always towards the rear from that point.
THE KEALSHORE KID trundled round in the rear to the tenth but then made progress only for his run to peter out in the straight.
EASBY PARK finished a remote last having been beaten a long way on his Sedgefield chasing bow. Early evidence is that chasing is not his game.

3.20 2m NH Flat

This could turn out to be a decent contest and a number of the runners caught my eye, both with short and long term prospects in mind.

DEAR SAM, a winner for his previous trainer at Sligo, recorded a win on his second outing for Steve Gollings. Driven to lead two out, he was soon headed but kept on to regain the lead close home despite holding his head to the right.
COUNTY COLOURS has more of a proven jumping pedigree than the winner. He ran a decent third close up of 25 at Punchestown before being acquired by Graham Wylie and looked the winner of this event when taking the lead inside the final furlong. However he was just worried out of it close up. Nevertheless this looks a decent effort and I would imagine we will see the best of him once he goes hurdling.
SAMBELUCKY was held up right at the back of the field. He started to pick up five furlongs out and gained steadily on the leaders up the straight but arriving too late to trouble the first two. If put into the race properly he should pick up a run-of-the-mill bumper.
TAHITI PEARL was up with the pace for most of the way and kept on under pressure from three furlongs out. This one is likely to be better once sent jumping, being from a family that includes Truckers Tavern and Willie Wumpkins.
CHIEF BUCANEER was fourth in what looked a decent bumper at Carlisle. He raced at or near the front but was held from two out. He’s another from a jumping family who should improve given time.
BENNY BE GOOD was an easy winner of a lesser event at Sedgefield in November, the second in that event well exposed. He had a chance two out but was held from that point. MORELLO MIST showed promise, running with the pace for much of the way but showing greenness in the straight and only offering one pace. A price of 50/1 suggests nothing special was expected but she’s bred to be a mid to long distance chaser, so getting into the scrap here suggests she will be something to work with in the long term.
MANNERED, a stable-mate to Benny Be Good, was the one of the stable’s runners who caught the eye. Eased up to chase the leaders into the straight he was never over-pressed by his rider and gave the impression there’s a bit more in the locker. A half-brother to two bumper winners, and out of a dam who won a bumper and stayed 3m 3f over hurdles, the impression I would expect a good deal better.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Sunday, muddy Sunday at Carlisle!

CARLISLE – Sunday November 29th

Going- Heavy

The well publicised recent weather in Cumbria left Carlisle in a position familiar last season, fields of runners slogging through the mud.

2.00 2m 4f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

COMHLA RI COIG had some fair form over hurdles and rating at 142, but he has always been a chaser in waiting. He progressed from a moderate debut at Bangor and should go on from this. Always close up, the McCain gelding took over two out and gradually forged clear. He’s in the right stable for a steeplechaser and should be placed to advantage.
MR WOODS lost nothing in defeat chasing home Comhla Ri Coig since he’s rated a stone less than the winner over hurdles. He stays well and is arguably suited by slightly better ground than this.
CLASSIC CUT was never seriously involved in the contest, seemed to struggle with his jumping in the heavy ground and had lost touch with a mile to go. He stayed on again up the hill to pass tiring rivals. He will benefit from a step up in distance and a faster surface would do no harm.
DIAMOND FRONTIER doesn’t look as good as the first two and struggled from three out. He should find a chase but needs his sights lowered a little.
POLITICAL PENDANT is only rated 84 over hurdles and had no chance in this company, while Irish point winner NEBELTAU has shown nothing in two runs under Rules.
ALLEGEDLY RED was shooting at the moon with a catapult here and unseated at the second anyway.
FETTLER has yet to show any semblance of ability, was soon detached and pulled up before the tenth.

2.30 3m ½f 0-127 Handicap Chase

James Ewart’s string is now hitting form after a slow start to the season. Stable veteran HUKA LODGE showed that he retains his ability, staying on up the hill to hold a promising runner-up. Huka Lodge has consistently shown himself up to this class with all his recent wins coming in Class 3 events, and he revels in the mud with 6 soft/heavy wins out of 7 successes.
PRINE DE BEAUCHENE looks something to go forward with. He was just held by a seasoned campaigner suited by the conditions, but this was a very promising UK chasing debut. Another who clearly handles testing conditions, although held he was keeping the winner honest on the run-in. There must surely be better to come from this half-brother to useful staying chaser Miko De Beauchene.
HIMALAYAN TRAIL was chasing the leaders to four out but got left behind from that point. I suspect less testing ground and a flatter track would see him to better advantage, though this company is more his level after being set some tough tasks in the past year.
NEWMAN DES PLAGES found this an all round tougher assignment than his win over half a mile less here last time. He ran in snatches and just plugged on at one pace from four out.
MINSTER SHADOW never got into the race and has not got his game together after an interrupted season in ‘08-09.
REEL CHARMER was struggling by the thirteenth. The race he won at Cartmel was a much softer contest, and he is 7lbs higher than that mark.
MASTER SEBASTIAN returned after missing last season and was in trouble a mile out. I would expect the race to bring him on.
TEEMING RAIN, who has shown ability occasionally, added another letter to his ‘impressive’ collection when falling at the tenth before having been asked a question.

3.05 2m 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

A decent afternoon for James Ewart continued as OPEN DE L’ISLE took this race, staying on strongly from two out to win with a bit in hand. He swaps backwards and forwards between hurdling and chasing, and has about the same level of form in both disciplines. I haven’t fathomed a pattern with this one I’m afraid, but he is at least in good heart and an overall record of 5 from 25 is decent for a fair to middling performer.

Fighting Fifth Day at Newcastle

NEWCASTLE – Saturday November 28th

Going – Good to Soft

12.10 2m 4f Class 4 Handicap Chase

The third last fence was omitted.

PAMAK D’AIRY ran a succession of decent races last season without getting his head in front. Things seem to have clicked now as he recorded his second win of the current campaign. He jumps well and that stands him in good stead at this level. Although under pressure at the last he judged the fence right and stayed on for victory. Much depends on how the handicapper judges the first two as they were clear of the third. However, Pamak D’Airy is one to keep on your side in these events.
ET MAINTENANT was eased in class here and that seemed to be what was needed for a prominent showed. He was always up with the pace and hustled the leader from four out if just held on the final run. Unfortunately, a significant rise for having the third well beaten may force him into tougher company once again. If he remains at this level he should win a race.
SHELOMOH plugged on for third without threatening to place any better. His two victories were off lower marks in easier contests in softer conditions. A tougher test may give him an opportunity as he is 43211 in soft or heavy.
CRACKADEE raced prominently to the eighth but then lost his pitch. He plugged on again down the straight to secure fourth place. He needs further than this.
KING OF THE ARCTIC was outpaced from four out. He is gradually sliding down the ratings, but he seems to prefer the sun on his back these days and could possibly do with a rest until spring.
RUN TO SPACE weakened on the home turn. His jumping wasn’t good enough here.
SOMETHING SILVER was never going well enough to threaten and lost touch in the straight. He has coped with similar company so it seems the race might have been required to bring him on.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU fell at the fourth.

12.40 2m 6f Class 2 Novices’ Hurdle

BYGONES OF BRID put himself into the Northern staying novice picture seeing off the promising GOING WRONG by a neck. The winner ran a lack lustre race at Chepstow, getting detached early but staying on late. He raced more prominently on this occasion, getting his head in front close home.

1.15 3m Class 3 Novices’ Chase

The two fences down the side of the course were omitted due to the low sun.

WEAPON’S AMNESTY, winner of the three mile Albert Bartlett Spa Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, was made favourite to take this event. He needed to be ridden to close approaching four out, but eased clear from two out. Unsuccessful in two attempts in Ireland in large fields, there is a suspicion that the smaller field here favoured him.
MUMBLES HEAD carried forward form from a win here last time and performed creditably in second. He wasn’t as good as the winner over hurdles so to finish four lengths second was creditable enough. Peter Bowen should be able to place him to win again over this sort of trip.
ABBEYBRANEY raced prominently but was held from three out. He’s yet to win over fences, and it’s doubtful the handicapper will forgive him a second to Barber’s Shop at the end of last year.
LUCKY WISH probably performed more or less to his mark in fourth, racing up with the pace but held from three out.
MIGHTY MASSINI jumped well for most of the way but he was tiring when hitting three out after which he dropped from contention. He had a tough job based on his current handicap mark and this looked a decent effort. His trainer may well look for easier opportunities in Scotland or the North.
BLAZING DIVA jumped moderately and trundled round at her own pace to pick up pocket money for sixth.

1.50 2m Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle

This was the strongest renewal of the Fighting Fifth for sometime with at least three strong contenders for the Champion Hurdle present. However, it may be the case that horses aimed at Cheltenham are not going to be fully wound up at this time of year. That gives an advantage to a trainer of a slightly lesser contender who can get his charge at the top of his game. Such was the case with GO NATIVE, running creditably to date this season, who ultimately won this race comfortably. The ‘lower rated horse in form’ angle is worth bearing in mind for future autumn campaigns.
It is a great pity that there are no Northern hurdlers considered worth trying in this contest.

2.55 3m 0-100 Handicap Chase

As suggested in the notes after her Hexham run, ITS TEESCOMPONENTS needed to be upped in trip. Having pressed the leader she pulled away up the straight to win with a fair bit in hand and well enough to suggest that she can take on slightly tougher opposition.
SEEK THE TRUTH picked off the rump of the field from the fourteenth but never got anywhere near the winner. He has won a couple of Class 5 events and he’s running well enough that his trainer might find another moderate contest for him, but he wouldn’t want the ground too soft.
SADDLER’S WAY closed approaching the thirteenth but was well held from two out. He is lightly raced and has now completed twice and probably not the finished article yet.
INDY MOOD trundled around mid to rear division, didn’t jump well and isn’t inspiring at the moment.
DAY DU ROY was 8lbs wrong in the weights and made no impact.
COPPER’S GOLD led to the ninth and kept in touch to four out, but then weakened. It seems the stable are trying to find his distance at the moment.
TIME BANDIT was never going. He was tried in a tongue-tie, perhaps explaining his poor effort over hurdles at Kelso, and there was no improvement.

3.25 3m 0-154 Rehearsal Handicap Chase

This race used to be a conditions race held at Chepstow. Since being moved and changed to a handicap I’m not sure it has quite found its niche, and I can’t believe the clash with the Hennessy does its status an awful lot of good. That being said the contest was competitive for its level which is just off the better staying chase grade.

BEAT THE BOYS is very useful on a going day but mixes the good with the bad. That being said 6 wins in 14 chases is a very creditable record, and he did his job nicely here, taking up the running three out and forging clear from that point. Looking at his record, although he has won on soft that was when he was on the way through the grades and I suspect the ground here was as soft as is ideal for him. I’d steer clear of him in the mud, but on decent ground he’s one to put on the shortlist.
COE was going well four out, briefly got to the winner approaching two out but could only stay one for second after that. He’s probably suited by a little farther than this and definitely at his best when the going is testing, 1134122 in soft or heavy over jumps.
ACCORDING TO JOHN rattled through the novice hurdle and chase ranks with a sequence of wins in 2006. This was one of his best efforts since, keeping on from three out. He should be good enough to pick a staying contest dropped in class.
JASS will presumably be aimed at the long distance chases in the north this season and was doing his best work at the finish on this occasion.
MORE LIKELY was up against it in this company. She led from the fourth to the ninth, but dropped back once headed. However she rallied determinedly in the straight and was gaining gradually at the line. She’s at her best in small or uncompetitive fields where she can dominate, particularly at Kelso, but at least this run proves she is in good heart.
NOZIC made steady progress form a mile out and came to challenge two out. His run petered out at that point. His best form has been on soft or heavy, and even off his current mark of 154 he goes on the shortlist when the mud is flying.
This was probably a bit tough for CHIEF DAN GEORGE who couldn’t get to the leaders. The handicapper has gripped him after his novice wins last season.
TOBY JUG ran a good race to two out, but he was headed at that point and weakened. He had a good autumn but is on a high mark now and his trainer may have to seek less competitive events.
HORNER WOODS briefly threatened to get involved four out but couldn’t make an impression. His second at the Cheltenham Festival saw him pushed up the ratings and it remains to be seen if he can cope at the current level.
GOLDEN FLIGHT made mistakes and was struggling with five to jump. He has four poor runs on his record since moving from France, and blinkers applied here didn’t make any difference.
HARMONY BRIG ran close up off top weight at Kelso but was outclassed in this company.
ZITENKA fitted the two-week return pattern again and hadn’t been pressed when coming down at the eleventh. Surprisingly she only went up 5lbs for her Wetherby win, so I’d bear her in mind again if returning to the course within a couple of weeks of her last run.
THE LAST DERBY and SELECTION BOX were always towards the rear and pulled up before the thirteenth. SELECTION BOX would be better in less exalted company at a shorter distance.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Bright and breezy on Musselburgh Links

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 27th

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

A sunny day, but the edge was taken off the temperature by a stiff breeze and at this time of year it ain’t warm on Musselburgh Links. It took me a couple of seconds on exiting the car to work out it was a pullover and thick coat day.

The ground was presented in excellent condition. Soft entered the going description for a brief time two days in advance of the meeting, but the track dries out quite swiftly and it was as near good as makes any difference at this time of year. I stress that much form from soft and heavy going at other courses can be set aside when analysing Musselburgh contests. Interviewed after the first race, Jason Maguire commented that the UK going descriptions are normally a degree softer than Irish description, hence there was a decent entry from Ireland looking for good ground.

12.10 3m ½ f 74-100 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

A very weak contest to start the afternoon with only two winners in the field, one of a point and the other of a bumper.

Charlie Swan’s point winner STRONGPOINT carried forward form from a decent run off 105 (5lbs out of the handicap) at Ffos Las recently, and that gave him an edge against poor opposition. He was up with the pace all the way, and had his race won from a long way out though he seemed tired after the last. He’ll go up for this effort, presumably to around the 105 from Ffos Las, and needs to find a fair bit more to score again. All his best form has been on decent ground and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he shows up at Musselburgh again this season.
AUBERGE picked up in the straight to chase the winner home, but did no more than plug on a little better than the rest. Nevertheless he is at least going in the right direction.
BAYFIRTH repeated his place in this race from last year. He plugged on and his two runs here are well in advance of other efforts.
GLEN ROUGE looked a distinctly stiff walker in the paddock. He was never far away but could muster only the one pace from three out.
Willie Amos seems to have conjured a little more than Swanee Haldane did from BILLSGREY who was nibbled at in the market. He never got near the leaders though, and was left behind from two out.
CRYSTAL RUNNER was the only one to take on the leader but was a spent force two out. She took a tired fall at the last and her rider Garry Whillans missed his other ride on the card.

12.40 2m Class 4 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

This was a moderate looking event with the early season winners vulnerable to those without a penalty. The Irish made it 2-0 on the afternoon.

CARLITO BRIGANTE, a flat winner on similar ground to this at Leopardstown in the Spring, toiled in the mud at Navan a few days previously. On a surface much more to his liking he raced prominently and found more from the last. These conditions are clearly required.
ORSIPPUS has had a few goes over hurdles and having led two out of it couldn’t hold the winner from the last. His proximity at the finish doesn’t do much to lend weight to the form.
HELIEORBEA got into the argument three out and kept on from the last. His rating of 107 sets the level, though bear in mind he had a 7lb penalty. This would put the first two in at just tipping the 100 mark, and Orsippus’s previous effort behind Monsieur Jourdain suggests that would be about right.
MELANGE won a seller at Wetherby last time and appeared to run below that form here.
BEITH TINE ANSEO raced too freely and didn’t get home.
NEW TRICKS appeared to find this track too sharp. He’s one that doesn’t do anything too quickly and would be favoured by a stiffer circuit, his best flat efforts having come at Hamilton.

1.10 2m 4f 0-101 Novices’ Handicap Chase

An incident packed event which witnessed the sad demise of CLARICCIEN who suffered a serious injury and came down the flat after the fourth. He was put down. DARAYBAD was brought down and Michael O’Connell has been sidelined with a broken collar bone. The twelfth fence was omitted as stricken horse and jockey were attended.

Chasing debutant DAR ES SALAAM popped away nicely in behind the leaders. He led after the last and ran on for victory with a fair bit to spare at the line. This was a decent start from a lightly-raced gelding, and he looks one who could make some progress.
PERSIAN PRINCE raced prominently and took over at the tenth, but he was tiring coming to the last and couldn’t respond when passed and remains a maiden.
JANAL kept on for third. He’s nothing special, but his record on decent ground is much better than when encountered significant cut.
BLACKS BRIDGE got into the race turning for home but offered no extra from that point. This was the closest he has finished under Rules, and was a passable chasing debut.
STORM PROSPECT didn’t look keen in the rear for much of the way. He consented to make some progress from four out but never got near enough to threaten.
The favourite VIEL GLUCK made no impact. His best efforts have been at Carlisle and Hexham, and it could be a stiffer track is in order.
RAKAMASI briefly threatened to get involved on the home turn but was soon toiling.
SKIPPING CHAPEL was toiling when hampered at the tenth and came home in his own time.
BRADDOCK ISLAND led but hit a couple of fences and came a cropper at the tenth. LAHIB THE FIFTH, more than capable of winning a similar event, was moving into contention when hampered by Braddock Island an unseating.
MORE SHENNANIGANS isn’t especially talented, he was under the shove at the eleventh, but kept putting in the effort and despite some buffeting from opponents was not out of the race for third when falling at the last. He attempted to rise but couldn’t, and there was a few minutes pause before he rose and poked his head out from the side of the canvas screens. There was applause from the crowd led, it must be said, by a significant number of bookmakers who for all their hard-bitten image clearly appreciate the ‘equine warriors’ who provide their living. I caught a quick word with More Shennanigans’ stable girl on the way back and she reported that apart from having been winded he was fine. Not the fastest horse we will see this season but a big heart nevertheless. Fingers crossed that the MacGregor stable can coax a lowly contest out of him.

1.45 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

This contest was light on competitive talent, though two stood out and should go on to better things.

HOLD FAST hinted at ability in a bumper at Perth in September. He jumped neatly in front here, quickening from the last to land the contest in the style of one who can move a few steps up the ladder.
MEATH ALL STAR was considered good enough to contest the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March. He was buried away in midfield at Punchestown on his first hurdles effort, but clearly has ability and chased the winner home clear of moderate opposition. There are plenty of winning jumpers in the family and he should make his mark given time.
VALLANI is exposed as ordinary but battled hard to see off DOONEY ROCK for third. The latter may be seen to better effect over fences in time.
ROSSINI’S DANCER ran well enough to three out on hurdling debut but was held in third when coming at the last. There is some reason for optimism given that he is a four times Flat winner and he does have a £20,000 price tag to live up to.

Meanwhile at NEWBURY in the 2.05……

LIE FORRIT has gone from strength to strength for Willie Amos and the stable’s star, now presumably top rated hurdler in Scotland after this, upped his game yet again to land the Pertemps Qualifier at the Berkshire track. He held Mith Hill from approaching the last and, although he wasn’t foot perfect, Campbell Gillies was able to ease the winner close home. Amos is now eyeing the World Hurdle as a long term target.

2.20 2m 0-100 Handicap Hurdle

HAKA DANCER was well fancied here following a decent second to Mesbaah here the previous Sunday. However, he got a kick from Bocciani at the start for this contest. There seemed to be no ill effects, but he faded quickly from three out and I suspect the form can be set aside.
HIGH STAND LAD was reported as unsuited by the fast ground on his last appearance at Newcastle in March. With a slightly softer surface he was more in his element here, leading all the way and staying on well down the straight. His three previous places had come in soft ground at Newcastle so there’s a suggestion that a little rain would do no harm.
GRAND DIAMOND came through the pack from three out to chase the winner home. He ran a lousy race in a seller at Kelso in October, but this was more like his form.
BOCCIANI raced prominently all the way but was held from two out. This was as close as he has got over hurdles, though that probably says a good deal about the lack of quality on show in this event.
HERNANDO CORTES kept on for fourth without ever threatening.
SEA COVE disappointed, but this track was probably a little on the sharp side for him, while MR MIDAZ passed a few late on and needs further.

2.55 2m 0-120 Handicap Chase

FRED BOJANGALS has a few places to show in his form, but can be difficult to catch right. On his toes in the paddock, he consented to put his best foot forward up the straight on this occasion and despite encountering ground just on the soft side for him he won with a bit to spare. His winter chances are likely to be around here as soft going would be against.
Liam McAteer’s MILL HOUSE GIRL, a five time winner at various NH disciplines, led until passed at the last. She was held on the flat and is another who wouldn’t want too much rain as she hasn’t won on softer than good.
CALCULAITE kept on from three out without threatening to win in his first handicap chase.
BRIGHT SPARKY held every chance three out but was one paced from that point. He wasn’t interested last time and needs things his own way.
CYBORA made moderate progress to three out but never threatened the leaders. His wins have been over 2m 4f to 2m 6f on good or faster ground.
ADARE PRINCE made no impression at all and needs a stiffer test of stamina.
LITTLE BOB made no show on his chasing debut and has shown over hurdles that he has two ways of running. (BHA website - 'James Bethell reported that LITTLE BOB finished lame')
MOTIVE ran in snatches and seemed a forlorn hope at the eighth. He then rallied a bit to three out only to give way once again and trail in last.
The ‘oh so tough to win with’ HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY was made 9/4 favourite here, but he skewed in the air at the first and his jockey came out the side door. He’s not one for a win bet at a short price.

3.25 2m Maiden NH Flat

This contest was run at a very steady pace and the proximity of the exposed IF EVER to the winner may cast some doubt on the form. That being said the first two would be well enough regarded, and If Ever did stick to her guns determinedly after setting a steady pace to three out.
DEFINITE ALL STAR, who is likely to need a much stiffer test in time, wore down the opposition from the furlong pole. He’s a half-brother to pointing winners out of a half-sister to staying chaser Scotton Banks which gives a strong clue as to where his future lies.
ALLOW ME has a decent flat pedigree but took an age to get going once the pace increased. He picked up nicely to chase the winner in the final furlong.
WRECKITMAN had every chance but couldn’t raise his game under pressure in the final furlong. There are staying jump winners in his family.
Modestly bred STEEL EDGE was one paced in the last three hundred yards and finished just ahead of WORLD OF EVENTS, unraced from Saeed bin Suroor’s yard, one that looks to need a little time.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Chasing, rather slowly, around Sedgefield!

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 24th

Going – Soft

A very ordinary midweek card at Sedgefield.

1.20 2m 4f Class 5 Beginners’ Chase

APRIL SAN didn’t get into the race in heavy ground at Market Rasen. The conditions wouldn’t necessarily have helped one coming back form a layoff on that occasion, and the run clearly proved of benefit as he produced something like his consistent hurdling form here. Settled off the pace, he came under pressure to make progress after the thirteenth. April San then picked up nicely down the hill to the last and overtook the one paced Knockavilla up the final climb. He was lucky to find an uncompetitive event here and his future lies in novice handicaps in the foreseeable future.
KNOCKAVILLA didn’t particularly progress from a promising run at Hexham over a shorter distance. He was done for pace in the closing stages and the impression is that a stiffer track suits better.
KARMADICE briefly threatened the leader going to two out but his run petered out. Winner of a bumper and a hurdle, this was an improvement on his first chasing effort and his is going the right way.
THE GREEN HAT, who is blind in his right eye, showed a little more ability than on his previous two outings. He chased the leader until giving way from three out.
THE THIRSTY BRICKY never got into the race and was well held from four out.
RIGUEZ DANCER fell at the third.
BEAR WITNESS won an Irish point but was receiving reminders by the eighth, lost touch and was pulled up before the second last.
CHIEF LADY OLWYN jumped poorly in the rear, soon lost touch and was pulled up before two out.

2.50 2m ½f 0-106 Handicap Chase

I’m not a great fan of putting blinkers on horses. Oft times it’s a desperate measure with animals that haven’t been producing anything. However, the aids have certainly galvanised CARRIETAU into action. He has looked a soft touch in the past, but is a completely different animal equipped with blinkers. He ran a decent second to the progressive Garleton at Hexham and stepped up on that form here, leading all the way and finding enough on the run-in to see off the only opponent he hadn’t burnt off before two out.
CORDIER closed on the leader going to the tenth fence. He chased form three out and threatened going to the last but couldn’t respond when Carrietau found more. He’s yet to win over jumps, but it should be possible to find a small handicap if he can repeat this effort.
FARNE ISLAND picked up from three out and kept on for third without threatening the front two. He often flatters for a while in his races, but one win from 42 races sums up his career.
BARTON SUN made progress from three out but his effort had come to an end approaching the last. He does show a little but would need to be in the lowest class.
WATCH THE WIND has placed in weak races but lacks pace or jumping accuracy to get seriously involved at the finish.
NORMINSTER showed up until three out before fading. He has just hinted at a return to form, and is much better at Carlisle or Hexham.
NEW WISH made no impact, has won only a couple of selling hurdles over jumps, and probably needs better ground anyway.
WHATCANYOUSAY has ability at this level on his day, but has been way off the mark of late. He showed up for a while early in the race but had dropped out of contention.
ORMUS was well behind from the eighth on chasing debut.
STORM SURGE won at Ayr in February but fell early on here. Quite lightly raced, he’s capable of a win off his current mark and should be kept in mind

3.20 3m 3f 0-99 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

Here we had a bunch of plodders ridden by inexperienced jockeys, and it wasn’t difficult to put a question mark or worse against the chances of most.

There has been common myth perpetrated over many years about lemmings jumping over cliffs. However it appears a human-linked racing version is alive and well, and we saw a good example in this race. That’s the only way I can describe the actions that sent LIZ’S DREAM to 5/2 favourite. The Harrison gelding is a big old boat who is never going to do anything in a hurry. It was possible that the change to fences and move up to this trip might do the trick, but in my opinion it was not a 2 in 7 chance. In the event Liz’s Dream travelled in midfield and was weakening when falling two out.
In a field such as this the chances were that one might emerge from left field to take the contest. In the event it was OPUS CAFÉ who was returning after the best part of two years’ absence. Looking at this one’s record it wasn’t a total surprise since he had shown ability in staying hurdles. He stayed on nicely to lead at the line, past and present evidence suggesting he has enough about him to repeat a win in similar company if remaining fit and healthy.
EL TUCO, a point winner in Ireland, had been buried away in midfield in a selection of hurdles. He jumped well enough, pressed from four out and took over two out only to be caught close home. The run must be taken in context, but chasing seems more this one’s game.
PATCHOULIE CONTI raced in touch with the pace and was going well three out having kicked on into the lead. He didn’t have enough over the final two fences and dropped away. I wouldn’t imagine the trip would trouble him, so maybe the ground was a little too soft.
YA I KNOW faded from four out having chased the leaders to that point. The slog in the mud he won at Market Rasen was worse than this event.
LUSENTO made a bit of headway to three out but never got into contention.
LETHEM PRESENT set the pace to four out and then dropped away. Three miles on better good looks more suitable.
BAFANA BOY hinted at some form back in July at Cartmel but has been woeful since and was always in the rear on this occasion.
SHULMIN had the right course and ground but is totally off her game at this time.
MATMATA DE TENDRON should have been suited by course, distance and going, but is unpredictable. He raced with the pace until four out and then weakened.
FINBIN was pulled up having never got into the race and may just be a spring horse.
ELLANDSHE looked after himself at his own slow pace and was pulled up before two out.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Musselburgh - Jumps 'Kick Off'

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday November 22nd

Going – Good to Soft

Despite some horrendous weather conditions in recent days the going was reported as just on the soft side for the opener to Musselburgh’s jumps campaign. Musselburgh is in one of the driest areas of the country and the links turf is free-draining, hence the going seldom gets very soft. As a result there are consistently decent fields and competitive racing, which is why I take in as many Musselburgh jumps meetings as time allows.

12.15 2m Class 5 Mares’ Only Maiden Hurdle

This probably wasn’t a particularly strong event, but three broke clear down the straight here and came home with a fair rattle.
ANNIE MAY brought forward arguably the best established form in the field. She led two out and ran on well from that point to hold a fair flat performer. She will have less scope for improvement over hurdles than the second, and her trainer may be best employed sorting out mares’ novice events or handicaps.
AMANDA CARTER had sound flat form in handicaps and showed her pace in the latter stages if just held by the winner. She should learn from her hurdling debut and it would be a surprise if she didn’t pick up a maiden or novice event, even in open company. I suspect we will see her at Musselburgh again soon.
JUST MADDIE stepped up markedly on her previous form. It seems the Nixon string are now starting to hit form, but there seems no doubt that the sharp track and decent ground were in Just Maddie’s. An apparently forlorn hope at 150/1, she was up with the pace all the way and when it seemed likely she would give way the game mare kept finding more. This half-sister to Norminster, an improver with age, probably needs to stick to a minor mares event or a seller, but she is no forlorn hope for a win.
ITSTOOEARLY had shown some form on her previous run at Kelso but was held from two out here, as was Donald McCain’s JUST FOR JEAN on her hurdling debut.

12.50 2m 4f 0-117 Handicap Hurdle

STILL AT LUNCH is in rattling good form at the moment and led all the way here despite a 10lb hike in the handicap. Richie McGrath stretched his field off the home turn and really wasn’t in danger from that point. This course plays to Still At Lunch’s strengths and the ground should remain decent enough to have a shot at a prize or two in the coming weeks.
PRINCE PICASSO never got to the winner but stayed on best of the remainder. He progressed on his second run for Richard Fahey who should be able to place him to advantage off his current mark. He did win at Fairyhouse in heavy but the rest of his wins, flat and jumps, have been on good or faster and that may be the key.
TARKANI stayed on too late to threaten the winner, which is pretty typical, and he’s worth opposing in the win market.
CURRAHEE was never far away and plugged on down the straight. His highest winning mark is 104 and, though he gave his best here, life looks tough off a current level of 114.
IRISH POLI had conditions in his favour but was held from two out.
BORDER TALE stayed on past a few late. Hold up tactics seem to be favoured these days, but his last two wins were making the pace and I wonder if a reversion to that running style might be better.
QUICK WILL folded from two out and a watching brief is advised.

1.25 3m Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

Keith Reveley introduced 158 rated hurdler TAZBAR here. He settled jumping well and he came clear from four out with the minimum of fuss. I would expect to see him taking on the top grade staying novices before long.
LOGAN’S RUN is rated 118 over fences and lost nothing in defeat. He jumps well enough and will surely pick up a race as he isn’t going to run into one as talented as this winner every time.
DOODLEBOP had shown nothing previously but got round and was staying on at the finish a respectable distance behind the winner. He’s related to staying chase winners and might emulate them given time.
STROBE set the pace to the home turn before retreating. He jumped well enough in the most part but needs his sights set a little lower.
BENBRADAGH had lost touch by five out and came home in his own time.

2.00 2m 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

This was the first of a succession of decent contests at this level through the winter campaign at Musselburgh.
Those who read these notes on a regular basis will have tucked MESBAAH away for future use after his Perth win. I suspected that he would be aimed toward Musselburgh and it seems Richard Fahey was tuned into my thoughts, as if the talented trainer needed assistance! He once again showed a decent turn of foot and given ground no softer than this I imagine there is more in the locker. Certainly a bet running in this class.
HAKA DANCER showed ability in his early career, but recent form had been well below that. Phil Kirby may well have found the key now since this was his best effort for sometime. He looked held three out but rallied well and deserved the second place. His record suggests there may be better to come if the rain stays away.
LOS NADIS took some time to get his hurdling technique sorted out. He can get from one side of a hurdle to the other more efficiently these days and ran a sound race here, giving best after two out. The track suits him, but he wouldn’t want the ground any softer.
ALONG THE NILE was held up out the back and finished with a rattle having been given too much to do. This was a sound enough return to hurdling, the tactics are pretty much set with this one, and he has a solid record at Musselburgh.
HOUSTON DYNIMO ran some fair races in novice events last season. He plugged on but may need an ease in class.
POSEIDON raced prominently for a long way but was held once turned for home. He’s another for whom a drop in class would do no harm.
TILLIETUDLEM had a very tough task for a three-year-old and never got into the race.
2.35 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This was not a strong novice contest and only the first five ever got into the race seriously and field were strung out like washing on a line in the final straight.

In his regular style DESERT SOUL set a merry gallop until fading turned for home to finish a well held fourth. He was accompanied over the first six flights by Greek import FRANKLEE but, given that the latter’s one win was over five furlongs on the all-weather, one would suspect a horse box might be required for him to see out this trip. He was pulled up before the seventh.
Carrying a double penalty, ALWAYS BOLD came clear from two out to win with plenty in hand. A third novice win probably takes him out of the reckoning in any company remotely competitive, so a handicap route seems likely.
ONE BACK FOR LUCK hadn’t shown much previously, but kept on from three out to finish a clear second.
SAVEIRO appeared to regress from his Aintree hurdling debut, and ERGO is well exposed and struggled from two out.

3.10 2m 4f 0-125 Handicap Chase

A fair contest with a few familiar faces, but it was a newcomer to chasing that made onlookers take notice.

MY ARCH showed decent hurdling form in spring 2008. He limbered up with a fair flat performance at York in October and showed himself to be potentially better over fences than over hurdles. He dropped one jumping clanger, but jumped well in the main and held his field from two out. This was a good effort against opponents with plenty of chasing experience and he should be capable of stepping up against better company.
HEAVENLY CHORUS stayed on from well back for second. Her fifth to Sheriff Hutton in May doesn’t read badly and this run suggests she is on a workable mark, particularly given a chance against lesser opposition. Her four wins have come on good or fast ground and this trip is about right.
SUPER BABY raced in the lead or disputing to the twelfth fence. He then got a little outpaced but kept plugging away though never quite getting back to the leader. He lacks nothing for attitude and jumps very well for this level, but is vulnerable to an improver.
OR DE GRUGY raced prominently but was one paced from the third last and has been frustrating of late.
CATEGORICAL raced up with the pace until four out and gradually faded from that point. He often runs passably well, but seldom wins.
NILE MOON needs things his own way and was never able to poke his head in front. He struggled from three out.
CASH MAN briefly threatened four out but his effort was short-lived. His best form has been on tracks with a stiff finish.
REGENT’S SECRET was flattered when beating Pigeon Island in a virtual match on his chasing debut and has made no impact in more competitive races since.
NATIVE CORAL was never better than rear division. Presumably the run was needed as he’s infinitely better than this.
RIVER SHANAKILL was backed into 4/1, but he struggled from halfway and pulled up. This company seemed too tough at this stage of his career. He would be better off in lower class novice company.

3.40 2m NH Flat

Karen McLintock knows how to find a bumper animal. Bygones Of Brid made an impact in these events last season, and the similarly monikered BRIDLINGTONBYGONES produced a decent performance to take this event. The gelding knows his way around a sales ring since he’s been entered for the sales five times and actually reached the ring four times, latterly unsold for 18,500 Euros. Ms McLintock’s bumper runners have a 19% strike rate over the last 5 seasons.
Related to a couple of winning hurdlers, ROBBIE showed he has plenty of what it takes as his determined effort brought him closer to the winner as they approached the line. He looks a ready made winner, and I’d expect progress over hurdles from this one, perhaps more so than his conqueror.
EASTERN SUPREME, a winner at Market Rasen at September, was one paced in the final two furlongs but clear of the rest for third. He goes down as a marker for the form.
WILDE PASTURES, outpaced four furlongs out, plugged on for fourth. There’s probably better to come in time from the James Ewart gelding.
KILBRANNISH HILL, an Irish point winner, was left behind in the straight but will be better served with a distance of ground and obstacles in the way.
The remainder were spread around East Lothian.