AYR – Saturday 10th January
Going – Soft (Heavy)
A swiftly arranged extra meeting at Ayr got the jumping show back on the road. The frozen weather caused the abandonment of Northern meetings since Musselburgh before the turn of the year, but was replaced by a very strong westerly wind and driving rain. The conditions were testing but in the main finishers were getting home fairly well despite a slog into a headwind up the home straight.
The second last fence in the back straight remains omitted as ‘ground under repair’. Presumably if you land there you get a free drop........
12.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
A big gulf in class between the best and worst here.
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE had run promisingly on his British debut at Kelso in November and stepped up on that here. He led after two out and went clear. He will need these testing conditions to produce his best, and a step back up in trip would be no problem.
BRACKEN LAD is steadily improving, and the greater test of stamina here helped. Lucinda Russell should place him to advantage in a novice or maiden event before long.
CAPAL DUBH ALAINN seemed to run in snatches, but was staying on in the latter stages. He was another benefitting from a greater test of stamina.
SIGNALMAN led at a steady pace. He was headed three out and couldn’t produce enough to get back at the leaders. His jumping was a bit scratchy here and his form seemed a little below his previous run.
Nothing else in the race ga ve any encouragement from four out.
1.25 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
A similar contest to the previous heat, in that only four were seriously involved at the sharp end. I have got my eye on one of those behing though.
Bill Amos doesn’t produce many winners, but he has an improving sort in LIE FORRIT. The dual bumper winner challenged from three out, led at the last and kept on well for victory. He should stay further, has the right attitude, and should win another race.
James Ewart’s SIRKEEL made it a Scottish one-two here, battling determinedly up the straight but lacking the pace of the winner from the last. He looks the type to go chasing sooner rather than later, but may well pick up a similar event to this before then.
Irish challenger SERAPHIN ran a creditable race in third, well there until one paced after the last. Might find a win difficult until qualified for handicaps.
WATERCOLOURS made an encouraging debut for Jim Goldie. He kept on with enthusiam late on and should improve for the experience here, apparently stepping up on moderate flat form.
DEE CEE BOLTER lost touch with the leaders on the home bend, but kept on past beaten horses into fifith. He showed some promise as a pointer and as previously noted looks a type to do better over fences. We may need to show a bit of patience, but in time I think Tim Butt should be able to get a win or two out of this one.
PRIMROSE TIME was second in a moderate event here alst time and was found out on this occasion. Her best chance is likely to be in mares’ only events.
2.00 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
A couple of non-runners knocked this down to effectively a three horse contest.
COMPANERO didn’t convince with his jumping, and seemed unlikely to catch the leader three out, but got it right at the last when he needed to and superior class won the day. He apparently needs the testing conditions to show his best and the way he stays on indicates that a longer distance will help.
QUW’S LAW was ridden from the front to stretch his rivals. Halfway up the straight he seemed the likely winner, but couldn’t respond when the winner challenged. He’s had a breathing problem in the past, but the tongue tie has done the trick recently, and running into the strong wind didn’t cause any problems.
GREAT APPROACH ran pretty much to his previous form. His jumping didn’t inspire and although his best chance may come in handicap company he will need to sharpen his act.
Winning pointer MITCHEL HENRY found the other three much too good and is better off in handicaps.
2.30 2m 4f 0-140 Handicap Hurdle
Exposed sorts contested the palcings in this race and first and third were occupied by those who have spent recent times chasing.
HARMONY BRIG was returning to hurdling for the first time since April ’06. However, his hurdling record is very impressive, now U24211131, and he has plenty of zest for the game. He held the determined Theatre Belle on the run-in and shows he is good heart whether he sticks with hurdles or returns to fences. Siginificantly he still remains competitive in chases and is gradually falling down the ratings.
THEATRE BELLE is as game as they come. She put it all in to the line but was just held. She deserves to find a race, but her determination could be against her on that front since the handicapper is unlikely to relent. However this did look a competitve race and the form looks solid.
ENDLESS POWER was another returning from chasing, his last run having been an impressive performance in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree. He was close up or leading all the way, and didn’t give up without a fight once headed. The Topham Chase would be a target, but from memory that’s a 0-145 so he couldn’t afford to go up far in the chase ratings, so in the meantime it would be no surprise to see him stick to hurdling and there must be a chance of a a win in this sphere.
TARTAN SNOW a regular on the Scottish circuit, was to represent the locals with honour. He couldn’t quite get to grips with the leaders in the straight, but he should find easier opportunities off his current mark.
MONEY ORDER made a respectable return to the track after over a year off and is likely to be more competitve next time. He was held from three out though not beaten far.
MIDDLETON DENE didn’t get to the leaders though running a fair race in sixth. His winning form has been on better ground.
3.00 3m 1f 0-135 Handicap Chase
Given the lack of jump action in the previous few days the field of eight here was disappoinitng for decent prize money.
JASS seems better suited by running in handicaps rather than at level weights in novice contests. He stayed on in the straight to win this nicely. The evidence suggest that this distance suits. He hadnles the testing going, but his record suggests it’s not essential. I believe he can win another staying handicap before long.
GYPSY GEORGE was always near the front and had every chance down the straight but was held. He found the Welsh National hard going last time, but is looks useful in this sort of event and should win more handicaps.
SEE YOU THERE stayed on but couldn’t get to grips with the first two. Five wins at Carlisle and another at Hexham suggest an uphill grind to the finish would be more in his favour.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT was held up and plugged on up the straight, but never got to the leaders. He was moved up 9lbs for his slogging win at Haydock, and it could be that a win off 125 will be a big ask for him.
FRANKIE FIGG set the pace jumping nicely, but he hit the third last and couldn’t muster any more from that point. He does handle this ground, but would probably appreciate better ground.
NEWMAN DES PLAGES lost touch from five out. He is handicapped on his French form and at the moment would seem to need a significant drop in the ratings, since his Auteuil form suggests the going here is not a problem. I woudln’t write him off, but keep a watching brief for now.
SOMETHING SILVER had a stiff task in this company and looked held when unseating four out. An ease in class and drop back in distance oculd help.
CHOPNEYEV unseated early on.
3.30 2m 0-125 Handicap Hurdle
The weather was thoroughly miserable by this stage of the afternoon. The wind and rain continued and it was getting very murky.
PROSECCO is one of a number of progressive hurdlers in the Russell fold this season. Having been upped in distance in the autumn he has since produced better at the minimum trip. Showed determination to hold on close home, won’t go up too much for this and will pay to follow in this class.
NELSON DE RONCERAY, a winner twice over fences last year, gave his running here. He was held on the run-in. He’s unbeaten in two over fences, so Peter Monteith has a choice of running off his chasng mark of 125 or trying to exploit his lower hurdles mark.
BEST PROSPECT challenged two out, but his hurlding wasn’t clean enough in the straight and he gave best on the flat. He’s lightly raced over hurdles and there may be a little more to come.
YOUNG ALBERT returned to something like his best and looks fairly handicapped at the moment. Not a stand out for the future but has chances when giving his running.
OPEN DE L’ISLE was another who gave his running, though without threatening victory. He seems on his mark over hurdles and fences and runs honest enough races. He gives the feeling of one who would appreciate a step up in trip, but his efforts over longer distances have been a shade disappointing.
LOS NADIS was held here and doesn’t jump fluently enough in competive handicaps.
NEVSKY BRIDGE ran a fair race from out of the handicap. Her previous three runs, all at Sedgefield, were quite decent and though I cast doubts on her ability on the shapr end previously, she may be worth noting when returned to that track.
4.00 2m 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
The floodlights at nearby Ayr United were shining brightly by this time, and it would have helped these moderate novices if they had been equipped with headlights. Even in the West of Scotland a last race time of 4 o’clock is rather late.
A very ordinary collection of novices here and not a race I would imagine offers many winners for the next few months, though the winner may progress at a relatively lowly level.
PINEWOOD LEGEND’s connections were invited to explain their charge’s improvement, but really it was just because there was a chance in a moderate race in conditions which wouldn’t suit the faint hearted. He howed improvement on his second outing for the stable and offers hope of another victory.
GIANT STAR produced a personal best over jumps. He was held for pace from the last.
ZAFFARELLA was one paced in the latter stages. This was a slight improvement on her previous effort for the stable. A step up in trip may be helpful.
ZA BEAU put in a reasonable performance in fourth but lacks pace over hurdles and her fencing is letting her down in chases.
STEPCHANGE pulled too hard in first time blinkers and fell away once turned for home.
ACTION STRASSE, coming off a break of over a year, showed a glimmer of promise despite sweating up before hand. He hinted at ability in the past.