Going – Soft(Heavy in places)
A hard slog once again in the west of Scotland as the ground bordered on heavy for the start of the early March meeting.
2.20 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle
The majority of the field missed a marker when the seventh flight was omitted, so only two of the finishers were given places and fines and bans were dished out to errant jockeys.
SERAPHIN was one of only two to take the correct course. Graham Lee realised that most of the remainder had dropped a clanger and didn’t over push his mount for the rest of the race.
GRAND OPERA was the other horse to take the correct course but was miles behind.
EXTALAR was getting the better of Stormin Exit when the latter departed at the last. He at least retains his maiden tag and should win a similar event.
STORMIN EXIT is gradually progressing. He set the pace as ever, battled back well once challenged but seemed likely to be held when coming down at the last. He’s got a good attitude and a race should be found.
EASTER VIC stayed on for a well held ‘second’, but has something to find to threaten a win in any but very moderate company.
SIRKEEL, who seemed to have a golden opportunity here, came down at the first.
2.55 3m 1f Class 5 Beginners’ Chase
This was a poor event.
SADDLERS WAY ran a respectable fourth in what looked a fair novice hunter event at Perth last May. He didn’t need to perform any better to win this. He stayed on well enough but will struggle to make a mark under a penalty.
MAT HILL was found wanting from two out, inheriting second at the last.
BEAU SADDLER looked on much better terms with himself than when last seen at Ayr. He challenged up the straight but hit the last halfway up and tumbled. His jumping seems destined to be a weakness when pressure is applied.
NOBLE HILL showed nothing on his debut under rules. Having jumped the tenth and eleventh slowly he looked on the point of refusing when his jockey pulled him up at the twelfth.
3.30 2m 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
AGGLESTONE ROCK is progressing nicely off what looks a generous handicap mark. He won this a bit cosily and more value than the 2 ½ lengths margin. He is being kept on the go over hurdles and on the all-weather and it seems likely he’ll pick up another handicap hurdle.
QUATRO PIERJI has yet to win over hurdles but didn’t do much wrong against a well handicapped opponent. He only has to repeat this form to win a handicap or a minor maiden/novice hurdle.
CHIEF SCOUT stayed on in third having been tapped for pace three out. He may win a race over hurdles eventually but he’s not progressive.
It was difficult to draw much encouragement from the remainder since the well held fourth LUGANO has not won in sixteen goes over hurdles.
4.05 3m 1f 0-125 Handicap Chase
SILVER BY NATURE bowled along in front before departing at the fifth. He then continued and almost took out the remaining runners on the bend after the stands.
PANAMA AT ONCE had a patchy start to his career, but has really come on in leaps and bounds recently. He suffered as much as any at the hands of Silver By Nature, neatly sidestepping as the latter fell and then getting a bash as the grey tried to find the exit later on. He stayed on well and his progression continues, now boasting a record of 3 wins and 2 seconds from 9 chases.
SAMMY SPIDERMAN was upped in trip, having been successful at 2m 4f/2m 5f previously. He challenged after two out but was outstayed.
COMMERCIAL FLYER, a useful hurdler, had never seemed happy over fences and departed this world after a fall four out. Admittedly it’s with a hindsight, but it does seem a pity that a horse who seemed to have fallen out of love with the game was unable to enjoy a retirement.
4.40 2m 5½ f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle
FRANCESCO had a little more potential improvement than most here. He beat one 9lbs out of the handicap and another who had won since 2005. His mark of 90 looks about right and he doesn’t strike me as future betting material.
FALSE TRAIL ran well on unfavourable terms, but it wasn’t much of a race and presumably he will be punished for finishing so close.
I wondered a while back if KID’Z’PLAY might be ready for retirement but he showed some zest here. He goes well on right handed tracks and it might be nice if he could be prepared for a ‘last hurrah’ at Perth in April.
BALAKAR was off his game and produces the goods only occasionally these days.
5.15 2m 4f 0-95 C.J. (Hands and Heels) Handicap Chase
RED SCALLY had dropped down to a more manageable mark and was able to exploit it in a poor event. He’ll probably struggle to find such a poor bunch of opponents in future.
QUINNTOWN stayed on for second, but he’s an 11 year old maiden running off 66 …
NEIDPATH CASTLE won a bumper many moons ago and missed a good opportunity here. He’s deteriorating.
STAR OF RAVEN has shown nothing in three runs since returning from a 19-month break.
BALLYNURE led to four out but looked held when crashing three out. He did at least show a little more zest than of late.
STORMONT DAWN had conditions to suit, but ran no sort of race and pulled up after the seventh.
5.50 3m ½f 0-95 Handicap Hurdle
VICARIO stayed on to win this. On the face of it he has been regressive, but has dropped a long way in the weights. Unfortunately the rise for this will take him out of 0-95 company.
SEEKING STRAIGHT led at the ninth but as ever could only muster one pace when headed two out. He goes well enough here and in the conditions, but has nothing to offer at the business end.YOULUCKYMAN was left behind from three out and led a bunch of beaten horses with little immediate prospect of winning.