AYR - Sunday 25th January
Going – Heavy
Hexham was reduced to an all-hurdle card, but that succumbed to two inches of snow. Meanwhile an extra was added at Ayr, where the conditions were very testing. The weather in this part of Scotland can be warmer than many parts of northern Britain at this time, but on the flip side there does tend to be quite a bit of the wet stuff.
The second last fence down the back remained out of use, and needs to be properly railed off since there is too much scrimmaging as the runners take a sharp turn round the outside of it.
1.35 2m 4f 0-115 Handicap Chase
I’d put a question mark against SAMMY SPIDERMAN since he threw a wobbly at Carlisle a couple of runs back, veering violently across four out and unseating. However, his other form this season can’t be faulted and he won this event with a bit in hand. His current mark of 90 gives plenty of room for manoeuvre in this class and the way he’s going at the moment suggests another win is likely, particularly while the testing conditions which he relishes remain.
JULIUS CAESAR’s recent chasing form had been blighted by some poor jumping. However, he put in a clear round here and at least bustled up the winner in the closing stages, finishing well clear of the remainder. He really lost his way after a good spell over hurdles and fences in 2004/2005. On this evidence he should pick up a handicap.
SOMETHING SILVER bowled along jumping well in front but ran out of fuel two out. He paid for some good from early last year and is 13lbs higher than his last winning mark. The conditions and distance suited here, so the evidence is that he is currently held by the handicapper.
GUNADOIR made a decent chasing debut at Carlisle, but in two runs since then here jumping has not been good enough. The Carlisle run was in a 0-90 and a drop back to that sort of class would put less pressure on her.
KORELO has been in woeful form since early 2006, with absences suggesting physical problems. At his best he would leave this company well behind but he seems totally out of sorts now and retirement beckons.
RECKLESS VENTURE went out like a light from four out. One look at his stats suggests he’s better off at Hexham.
LAGO won with a lot in hand at Carlisle, but was hammered to the tune of 18lbs for that. Given that the rest of his recent form ahs been moderate or poor it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him struggle here, and he seems likely to struggle unless dropped significantly.
2.05 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
KILLYGLEN put up a decent performance to win this. He jumped rather big early, but he was pushed on going on to the final circuit. He was always in control in the straight, and as he felt the strain of his exertions was allowed to fiddle the last two fences. He’s entered for the RSA Chase but needs to be tested a bit more stiffly to prove his credentials in that company.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE was pushed up to the leader on the home bend, but was left behind after that and came home very tired. He’s a multiple heavy ground winner over hurdles but I wonder if a better ground might help him over fences.
BOLD RANSOM was struggling a mile out and is better than this run suggests.
NINE DE SIVOLA, placed in the Irish and Scottish Nationals in 2007, was very disappointing against opponents he should have kept up with, losing touch from a mile out. He’s entered in the National Hunt Chase, in which an in form Nine De Sivola would have a shout, but would have to show more than this.
2.35 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
Three competitive in this event and the rest showing varying glimmers of ability or rank inability.
COMHLA RI COIG stepped down in distance having previously won over 2m 4f in a brush hurdle race at Haydock. The change in distance made no apparent difference as he moved through nicely three out and finished strongly to see off his only serious opponent. He goes very well in the testing conditions.
TEENAGE IDOL chased the leader from two out but though staying on couldn’t get to him. He shouldn’t have nay trouble picking up a similar race, particularly steeping up in trip once again.
BRACKENMOSS led at the sixth but was left behind from three out. She had won a moderate mares race here previously and her best chance of another win must lie in that company.
Presumably on the basis he was going to struggle with the first three, FISHING INSTRUCTOR wasn’t hurried along early. He stayed on late without being put under serious pressure until his jockey saw a chance of catching Brackenmoss late on. He was doing sound enough work late on to suggest a small handicap might be a target, maybe with an increase in trip.
3.05 2m Class 3 Novices’ Chase
The McCain stable know how to place their chasers and found a good opportunity for CROMWELL COURT here. Having joined the leader three out he ran on well and saw off the opposition comfortably, winning with ears pricked. His stamina came into play and he won’t object to a step back up in trip. He may pick up another novice event and his prospects in handicaps depend on how the handicapper views this performance.
DANCER’S SERENADE performed a bit better than on chasing debut. He jumped slowly early, but settled down nicely, passing a tired rival to clinch second on the flat. He may need a race or two more over fences before we can see if he is winner material.
QUICUYO led, jumping boldly, but had little in the tank from three out. He may be difficult to place since he seems likely to struggle with a penalty in these events, and seems a little high on a handicap rating of 120.
ROLE ON made a few mistakes and was pulled up after fluffing three out. His fall last time may not have helped and I’d need convincing of his jumping before assessing chances of a win.
PISTOL BASC fell at the third, and would probably have struggled here anyway.
3.35 3m 1f 0-130 Handicap Chase
This looked quite a competitive heat on paper, even with a small field, but in the end the testing conditions took their toll and only three got round.
MORGAN BE had now had five wins at Ayr but is yet to win elsewhere, but his overall record in a relative light career is a creditable 9 places from 19 runs. He made progress down the back for the last time and was challenging when the long time leader came down at the last. The performance confirmed that the gelding is right back to his best after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a fractured pelvis. Kate Walton’s plan is to aim Morgan Be at the long distance chases in the north. The Eider is seen as a possible target, though the suggestion is that the Scottish National might be on the agenda presuming the ground comes up soft in April.
ROYAL MACKINTOSH continues in decent form. He’s run very few poor races in his chasing career and on this occasion was in contention until the last but out speeded by a decent opponent. His new rating has forced him into this company. He has top weight in 0-115 handicaps, so most of his targets will have to be 0-120 upwards. His best form is at Carlisle, but of course he has to rely on the race planner framing the right race there to benefit. Given the right race I reckon he can win again soon.
MASTER BUILDER was left behind from four out on his handicap debut. This was a tough ask given the exacting conditions here.
SILVER BY NATURE has made the move down the M90 from Lucy Normile’s stable at Glenfarg to Lucinda Russell’s yard at Milnathort. He jumped really well in the main and still held the lead when falling at the last. He was one who impressed me when he first came out in bumpers and, though I’ve found it difficult to tie him down, I’ve always got the impression he’s a potentially decent jumper. This was a very encouraging performance in this company and he looks a ready made winner of a similar contest. One note of caution was that he took sometime to get up after his fall, and I would hope that the mishap hasn’t shaken his confidence.
MINSTER SHADOW was coming back after a year long lay-off and probably felt the effects of the testing conditions, dropping away from the thirteenth before being pulled up. He jumped well enough, goes well round here and has a sound record overall, so I’d expect this relatively lightly raced gelding to be challenging before long.
SILLY WUPPLE won twice in the autumn against lesser opposition but struggled in this company. He’s gone up 20lbs since winning at Hexham in October, 6lbs for that run then 14lbs for winning a 6-runner novice at Wetherby, and that looks enough to stop him in the foreseeable future.
FIRST LOOK was upped in distance from 2m 4f, but was in trouble before that distance had been covered. A combination of distance and testing conditions would seem to have been too much anyway.
4.05 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle
Rayson Nixon is having a decent season from a stable of mainly moderate animals. A winner in this event meant his record is now 5 wins from 38 runs, and those wins come from 8 horses which have been sent forth from Ettrickbridge.
KEMPSKI led at a decent pace, as is his preference, but lasted out much better than he has done recently. Those who competed with him for the pace were seen off with half a mile to go and the placed horses didn’t get to him. His wins tend to be mixed up with a few below par runs, but it’s significant that his Ayr record is now 4 wins and 4 places from 14 attempts. This run was off a career high winning mark which means his tasks will be tough now, and he needs a race round here in which he can dictate. He was tried in chases last spring but seemed to hate it.
CASSIUS stayed on out of the pack without getting to the winner. His Hawick based trainer has gone a long while since a winner, but might be on the point of breaking the run with Cassius. The gelding clearly benefited from a stiffer test than of late.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE was another never seriously threatening the winner, but he plugged on through tired rivals in the straight. He’s showing better form than in the spring and might be able to pick up a handicap over a longer trip, though his strike rate is such that I’d want something approaching a double figure price.
OLEOLAT moved into contention three out but couldn’t find any more from two out. He appears better at shorter trips.
Everything else was well beaten off. FLAMING HECK and KID’Z’PLAY were longshots and paid for taking on the leader, fading to finish in the rear.
SEEKING STRAIGHT was much better dictating here last time, but is yet to win and looks unpredictable. He was crying enough five flights from home.
PAKINEO DES PICTONS was well backed but doesn’t seem to have a distance over hurdles. I presume he will be tried over fences eventually but, for one reason or another, the towel seems to be thrown in very quickly.