Sunday, 4 January 2009

Musselburgh New Year Sprint Meeting 2008

MUSSELBURGH – Monday 29th December

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

Racegoers were met with a glorious sunny day at Musselburgh Links for the now established pre-Hogmanay mix of horse racing and human racing. A good holiday crowd was present and both sports treated them to some cracking contests.

The trend at Musselburgh this season has been for the market to accurately reflect results, and once again the bookmakers were struggling as the longest priced winner was 7/2.

12.10 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

FORTYSECOND STREET made a respectable debut in a Kelso bumper back in October, and took advantage of a fairly uncompetitive contest on hurdling debut. Leading or disputing for most of the way he asserted from two out. He’s unlikely to be one of the stable’s leading lights, but should be capable of picking up another race somewhere along the trail.
LE VERT GALANT stayed on for second having had every chance entering the straight. He would appear to be progressing, and a step up in trip will help.
DANZATRICE stayed on for third without threatening the leader. She stayed well on the flat and is another who should appreciate a longer trip.
BROADWAY STAR gave way disturbingly easily from two out. The trip can’t be blamed since he seemed to stay on his last outing over the course and distance. The suggestion is that he will need a soft event to record a win.
BISHOPS PLOY made some late progress on his hurdles debut. He looks a potential chasing sort to me.
ELLA WOODCOCK is not progressing over hurdles. His third here previously was well held, and the step up in trip didn’t bring about any improvement.

12.45 3m 0-100 Handicap Chase

On their day I gave seven of these a chance, but it can be difficult to tie a few down. However, the second is a good marker and the winner seems to be going the right way.

The previous two runs form SEIZE read respectably and he built on that form nicely here. He picked off the leader approaching two out and stayed on. He seems fairly straightforward and should continue to give his running at this level.
STRAVAIGIN had conditions in her favour here. She led until two out jumping well but was held once passed, though she kept on honestly enough. She is on a mark which reflects her ability and performing consistently.
YANKEE HOLIDAY seems less fizzy recently. He was still attended by two handlers in the paddock, but the cross noseband was dispensed with, and he pulled only moderately hard on the way down. He seemed to see out the trip reasonably well in conditions which favour him. The problem is that he has only won 2 from 39, which hardly makes him investment material. However, he might pick up a minor race dropped back in trip, probably round here, provided the ground stays good.
DIVEX is probably better suited by a shorter trip. He’s jumping well enough now, but was found wanting in the latter stages here.
SNOWY is a moody character, and not one I’d back at short prices. Made favourite here he didn’t really get seriously involved.
AJAY schooled round behind Belon Gale last time, but he’s on a high mark at the moment and struggled here.
GREENOCK, coming off a break, was always in the rear.
ASTYANAX looked well enough coming off a break, but showed nothing significant.
OH YAH DANCER won a poor hurdle contest at Perth in the summer, but finished a remote last on chasing debut.
ANOTHER CLUB ROYAL ran a little better than on his previous outing, being prominent to 4 out but weakening when unseating 3 out.
NICOZETTO fell at the fifth, taking the North money with him, to be followed quickly by Irish challenger BALAKAR who departed at the sixth.
KING’S ENVOY is a poor performer, has not threatened a win in 36 attempts and had no chance when falling 4 out.

1.15 2m Class 3 Introductory Hurdle

There was no significant pace on here until the straight.

RED MOLONEY looks capable of beating much better than he took on here. He needed only the minimum of encouragement to move clear on the run-in. He didn’t hurdle that fluently, but would be helped by a quicker tempo. He will surely be aimed higher now, and I understand he’s being entered for the Champion Hurdle.
CASUAL AFFAIR pulled his way to the front and was clumsy at a few hurdles. However he showed ample resolution once passed and fought back to regain second place on the run-in. A sound debut and he should win a novice event, possibly over a longer distance.
GRAND DIAMOND followed up a debut fourth with a fair enough third place here.
BEST HORSE performed better than on Aintree debut, the better ground may have helped, but he was left behind from 3 out.
PIPER’S SONG moved into contention three out but was then outpaced.
CATAI wasn’t remotely good enough and looked slow once the pace picked up.

1.50 2m Class 4 Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

The race basically concerned two with the remaining five left to contest third place.

WEST WITH THE WIND was settled in second place behind Don’t Stop Me Now, led four out and just got the best of a protracted battle in the latter stages. He met a decent opponent here and will be suited by a stiffer test.
DON’T STOP ME NOW led her rivals a merry dance here no debut, and once again set a searching pace. Once passed with 6 furlongs to go she dug in well and battled all the way to the line. Her determination alone should gain her another victory.
METAL MADNESS was well beaten at Fakenham previously, but that course can be against many horses, and he deserved credit here for at least bustling up the leading two until held after the second last. He may pick up a small non-handicap race, but this third run now qualifies him for handicaps where he should be capable of making a mark.
The remaining four in the field made no impact. VIVALDI contested the Chester Vase in May, but this effort was nowhere near to reflecting that and he finished well beaten.

2.20 2m 4f 0-135 Handicap Hurdle

FOLK TUNE’s effort at Sandown last time suggested he might make a mark before long. He goes well at this track, is probably best on decent ground and wasn’t inconvenienced by the step up in trip. He went about his job well to lead before the last and stayed on to win with a little in hand. On a stiffer track he’s probably be better at a shorter trip, but coped with the distance well here.
QUICK WILL made a promising return from a break. He challenged down the straight but was held from the last. He clearly stays the trip well enough and off his current mark there should be opportunities on the Northern circuit.
CHARLIE CRAB is suited by a stamina test and needs softer ground at this trip. He couldn’t raise his game sufficiently after the second last. He was aimed at chasing this season, but proved rather clumsy and unseated twice. I suspect he’ll go back to fencing eventually, but should have chances of picking up another hurdle in the meantime.
ALONG THE NILE was stepped up in trip for this seasonal debut. The race may help but he couldn’t find enough from two out and it could be he found the trip beyond him.
GRINGO had shown promise first time out but. Like many from his stable even allowing for their current form, he seemed under-priced in the market. He never threatened the leaders. He was another stepping up in trip and found wanting in the latter stages of the race. A return to two miles would seem the logical course of action.
REGENT’S SECRET couldn’t respond from four out and it seems sensible to conclude he found the trip too far.

2.55 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

WATCH MY BACK sweated up a bit before the start. That didn’t seem a problem since he performed very well in the race, picking off the leader two out and staying on. He has won over 2m 3f, but the return to 2 miles brought about an improvement on previous efforts this term.
CATEGORICAL has an admirable record of never having been out of the first six in 22 goes over jumps. There have only been two wins in that time, but he lacks nothing in commitment, leading at a decent pace and not succumbing without a scrap. He goes well here, winning a claiming chase last February, seems flexible as to distance and should pick up another chase along the line.
OR DE GRUGY ran a fair race in third place and is gradually running into form. He is steadily falling down the handicap.
PILCA plugged on for fourth but never threatened the leaders.
PARSOU has a poor completion record this side of the channel. He didn’t jump well and was beaten a long way out.
ROYAL GLEN was always behind and found this class too good for him.
MYSTIC GLEN had a real struggle on her hands from 8lbs out of the handicap and couldn’t get competitive. She is another needing a drop in class.
MOOR SPIRIT ran a poor race in complete contrast to a sound effort here last time. He was never competitive and I wonder there was as a problem?
COLLIERS COURT led but jumped markedly left. He was headed at the seventh and weakened. He was coming off a break and he form before that was nothing to write home about.
MASTER PAPA needed the race after a prolonged break and trailed the field. Assuming he comes out of this in good health there should be better to come in time.

3.30 2m 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

A goodly roar from the crowd greeted a finish fought about between the first and second favourites.

KYBER ran a very decent race when second to Viper here over half a mile further, beating off the remainder comfortably. It was noticeable here that he was one of the few not equipped with tack that suggested he was headstrong, and he seems an amenable animal. Despite the drop in trip this looked an ideal opportunity and he won this with a bit in hand. He’d seen off all bar the runner up by the last, and a quick step up in gear saw off Bolodenka. He ought to pick up another race in this sort of form.
BOLODENKA couldn’t hold the winner after the last. However, he’s progressive, was well clear of the remainder and should pick up a handicap before long.
FARNE ISLAND stayed on from the rear for third. This was an improvement on his previous form. He ran in a stiffer race than this on his handicap debut and found this class more his level. He’s gradually getting the hang of things over hurdles.
STROBE ran a sound race from 4lbs out of the handicap. He led from the fifth until two out but then found the leaders going away from him. His current mark gives a fair bit of scope for a drop in class, and with that he should go close.
KING IN WAITING ran a fair race behind Red Moloney here last time, but couldn’t repeat the effort in handicap company. He couldn’t go with the leaders from three out.
MASAFI led early but fell away once turned for home. He had conditions to suit on his return to the track but hasn’t made a mark for a few runs over hurdles.
Top weight ACT SIRIUS has struggled on both runs this season and pulled up. His current efforts bear no relation to last season’s novice form.

The New Year Sprint was won by Leigh Marshall form Hawick in a time of 11.84 seconds. The event is very well handicapped with only a matter of 3 or 4 metres separating the eight finalists at the finish.

The winner was priced up at 4/1 by the bookmakers, but prices on the front three of 1/1, 6/4 and 7/4 show that they don't exactly give away much on this event. In fact one set of prices offered before the cross-ties (semi-finals) on the 20 competitors added up to a book in the region 250%!

The British Professional 110 metres Championship was won convincingly be Aberdour-based Nick Smith, the current Scottish 100 metres champion, in a time of 12.06. There was a prize of £20,000 for anyone beating the Professional record of 11.14 seconds, but that's a forlorn hope on a grass track in December.

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