Friday, 23 January 2009

The first meeting at Musselburgh in 2009

MUSSELBURGH – Wednesday 21st January

Going – Good to Soft

After losing their first January meeting to frost, Musselburgh was back on a track on a sunny afternoon. The going eased slightly with a fair bit of rain over the preceding days.

1.0 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

There were a few in contention approaching three out, but this had much to do with a steady early pace.

WOODY WALLER had put up a couple of fair performances in the autumn, and built on those places to take what appeared a moderate event. He came to challenge three out and ran on well to win with a bit in hand. He might be worth a try in handicap company.
STROBE’s future prospects depend on how the handicapper views his second here. The third is rated 102 against Strobe’s 85 so the likelihood is he’ll move up in ratings which isn’t going to help. He was headed two out having taken up the running approaching three out but was always going to find it tough from there.
SIMPLE JIM stayed on for third without getting to grips with the winner. He’ll be suited by further than this.
BEST HORSE, well held behind Red Moloney here last time, could offer no extra over the last flights. He’s now qualified for handicaps and that seems the route to go as he’s held in these events.
PONTOP, a bumper winner in May, made a fair debut over hurdles and can improve.
SEA STORM was quite well backed but never any better than mid division here. He was below previous form and previous evidence suggests good or better ground is required.

1.30 2m 4f Class 4 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

DON’T STOP ME NOW stepping into mares company from juvenile company set the pace and wasn’t in any serious danger up the straight. She likes set the pace, but is no tearaway and seems quite amenable. To me she has a similar profile to La Vecchia Scuola who improved from this sort of company last season to contest races at Cheltenham and Aintree. She is likely to go for the ‘Triumph Hurdle Trial’ at the next meeting here, and her presence would guarantee a true run race in that event.
KINGS MAIDEN kept on from three out, well held by the winner. There’s every chance she can pick up another race either in mares novice company or in a handicap.
ELZAHANN reversed previous form with Just Posh and would seem to be progressing. She had every chance two out but couldn’t get to grips with the winner.
DANZATRICE plugged on into fourth. She isn’t a star but seems honest enough and will be favoured by now qualifying for handicaps.
JUST POSH has improved recently but found the company here a bit too tough and was held from three out. She’s on a mark of 105 in handicaps which seems a bit stiff for one who was beaten in sellers in the autumn.
WHEYAYE won a Sedgefield bumper, but has struggled in two outings over hurdles.

2.00 3m 0-95 Handicap Chase

A group of the usual of old suspects appeared in this one. NELLIEDONETHAT had shown some signs of progression for Lucinda Russell and didn’t fluff his lines when presented with a good opportunity here. He was always going well, led three out and stayed on for a comfortable victory. His rating is higher over hurdles and suggests there may be a little more to come over fences.
BLUE RISING, blinkered for the first time, stepped up on his previous efforts this season. He seemed happier in these less testing conditions than slogging around Carlisle in the mud. One note of caution is that he remains a maiden.
SNOWY was there to four out but couldn’t go with the front two. He only seems to do as much as he cares to these days.
PRINCE OF SLANE plugged on into fourth but was well beaten. He needs more of a stamina test.
DESTINY HILL never got competitive in fifth, but since this was a chasing debut the completion is encouraging. She needs to show more to be considered as a contender in this company.
YANKEE HOLIDAY was up there to four out and then weakened. This is a bit further than ideal for him and he’d probably want good ground, but he’s a bit frustrating these days.
NICOZETTO never showed and was pulled up. I wonder if his fall here last time was preying on his mind?
HERBIE unseated at the twelfth and is a clumsy jumper.
SEEK THE TRUTH was staying on four out but seemed held when falling heavily two out. The ground was right here but the chances are he needs a stiffer track.
PRINCE MOUSE jumped poorly before jettisoning his rider at the fourth.
DORIS’S GIFT had some decent hurdle form last season. He didn’t seem particularly interested and tried to pull himself up going away from the stands for the second time, eventually being pulled up. That’s four consecutive non-completions in his chase efforts and on current evidence he’s one to avoid over fences.
HICKORY LANE was not put into the race and his jockey was hauled in front of the stewards. He was allowed to amble round at the back on chase debut and was pulled up before four out.

2.30 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

CALCUTTA CUP, a winner at Catterick on his last outing, went on three out, but flattened the last two hurdles and didn’t find as much as seemed likely on the flat. This was similar to his Catterick effort, so sharp tracks and decent ground would seem the best solution to his lack of stamina. He would help himself if his hurdling held up in the latter stages.
I’M DELILAH showed promise last season but remains a novice. She stayed on well and almost caught the winner close home. She should win a minor novice hurdle and would be a good bet for a mares only event.
TWILIGHT DAWN hit the third last when making a forward move, staying on again late on. This was a sound enough debut.
CASUAL AFFAIR led before three out, but soon gave way and couldn’t offer any more from two out. He had no chance behind Red Moloney last time and this is probably as good as he is.
I couldn’t find any encouragement amongst the others. SIR DOUGLAS hared off in front at a lunatic pace, but was ignored by the others and folded tamely over half a mile out.

3.00 3m ½ f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

PERCUTANT had shown promise behind Divers here in December. Fitted with earplugs on this occasion he progressed from that and saw off an in-form and experienced opponent in Singhalongtasveer. He stayed on from the last and had a little in hand. He’s going the right way and it would be no surprise to see him pick up another staying hurdle.
SINGHALONGTASVEER put up a creditable performance in second seeing off the rest of the field with a bit to spare, though the handicapper may penalise him a few pounds for that. His claiming rider was out ridden on the flat by Graham Lee, but I don’t think that affected the result. He’s better on a sound surface so given good or faster could step up on this, though may have to wait until the spring.
LOCKSTOWN was put in his place from the second last. He’s lightly raced and this was an improvement on previous hurdling efforts.
STRAVAIGIN, returning to hurdles on this occasion, needs good or better ground to show her best. That being said she did make a go of things until held from three out, and normally gives of her best.
REMAINDER was held up in the rear, then brought through to the fringe of the battle early in the straight but couldn’t offer any more. He has proven that he stays this distance and it looks as if a return to two and half miles is required.
The rest were weld hell and it would be difficult to see them threatening on the evidence available here.

3.30 2m 4f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Chase

A lot of these are well exposed over fences for novices.

ZA BEAU has been an iffy jumper at times but got it spot on here. She looked likely to have to settle for second best but showed more resolution than the second on the flat. When her jumping is right she is a contender at this level.
KILKENNY ALL STAR looked likely to prevail when jumping the last in front but was worried out of it. He may win a race, but is one to oppose against more determined opposition.
TEVIOT LASS was in contention four out but her jumping went to pot in the straight. She jumped left and nearly came down a couple of times yet, to her credit, stormed back at the principals and failed by less than 2 lengths. She lacks nothing in commitment but isn’t currently the safest conveyance. Her jumping needs sorting out, but she may be worth a try on a left-handed track.
I’M YOUR MAN plugged on into fourth but as observed before his current mark looks to have him anchored. He needs the handicapper to relent a bit.
ESSIFER raced prominently but made a couple of blunders down the far side second time and couldn’t get in a blow. He is yet to win under Rules and looks held in this company unless sharpening his fencing.
PILCA never got to the leaders. He has yet to win over fences and is a bit of his best form at present. He has won 6 hurdle races but has had a busy career.
KING IN WAITING jumped poorly on his chasing debut.
PERLY SPENCER is better on a sound surface and might benefit from an ease in class. He led to four out but it was clear it was not the day of Perly Spencer, and his race was almost run.
NORMINSTER weakened from the twelfth. His trainer thought he didn’t act on the track, and I reckon he’s much better dropped back to around the minimum trip on a stiff track.
CLASSIC HARRY, returning from a six month break, jumped moderately and lost touch from the tenth. He’s 14lbs higher than his winning mark and will struggle unless dropped in the handicap.
GUERILLA looks well out of sorts. He’s been beaten a long way in recent outings and something either physical or mental (or both?) would appear to be troubling him.

4.00 2m Intermediate NH Flat

This looked a moderate contest, but the winner’s performance suggested one who could progress.

HUNTERS BELT is bred to be a bit useful on the flat and showed a useful turn of speed to come away from his field in the last furlong. His trainer now has a choice between chasing similar events and giving this one a go on the level. He looked a bit green and there should be more to come.
ALVARADO led three out but couldn’t respond once headed. He’s a half brother to Character Building, so should turn into a jumper and the odds are he’ll improve with a distance of ground and some obstacles in his way.
DOC WELLS had every chance two out, but wasn’t good enough. Nevertheless this was a decent debut by the 6 year old and he’ll improve with time.
RED ONION led to four out and kept on for fourth. At least he kept trying once headed.
MOSCOW MISCHIEF, whose dam was a poor performer, plugged on for fifth and is not a lost cause.

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