KELSO – Saturday February 28th 2009
Going – Soft (Good to Soft in places)
Kelso’s most prestigious meeting of the year with £12000+ to the winner for three of the races on the card. Fields for the main contests were small, perhaps a reflection of the proximity to Cheltenham. However, I rather get the feeling that one of two of the competitors here might be aimed at Aintree.
2.00 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase
CANTGETON stole this race by getting clear from the home turn. There was precious little left on the flat but he just kept going long enough. Having been rated 120 at one point he slipped to a rating of 107 here, and stepped up on a promising fifth at Carlisle. His form on soft ground this winter has been nothing to shout about, but basically he needs better ground and the Kelso turf had just dried sufficiently. He shouldn’t be raised too much for this and is one to consider as the conditions dry out.
FRITH had been unlucky twice in a row before this. Having been caught a bit flat footed from three out he stayed on again on the run-in and would have won in a few more strides. He has moved up through the ratings over the winter, and he wouldn’t want to be a huge amount higher than this 93, but he can still produce decent efforts.
OPEN DE L’ISLE looked in trouble three out, but picked up again on the run-in. He runs as if a longer distance is required, but I’m not totally convinced by that and his efforts over 2m 4f have been disappointing. I suspect he might just be suited by round about the minimum trip and an uphill finish where the leaders come back to him.
CASH MAN had a chance approaching the last but weakened on the flat.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE might be better at the top of the weights in a lower class. He gave his best but was held on the run-in.
BOB’S DREAM was tried in a tongue-tie here, but it didn’t result in a significant improvement. He made mistakes mid-race and was a spent force by three out.
2.30 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
LIVVY INN was slightly unusual in that Lucinda Russell acquired him as a two-year-old. Though not recording a win on the flat, he did show a glimmer of ability. He sprinted clear of a previous winner from the last here. Fortysecond Street looks no better than ordinary and rest look distinctly moderate, so what Livvy Inn achieved here is debatable though he could do no more than he did.
FORTYSECOND STREET looked the likely winner from two out, but couldn’t cope once the winner went past. A longer trip will suit him better as he won over 2m 4f at Musselburgh, and he would seem likely to end up contesting middling handicaps.
ALDERLEY ROVER stayed on for third. A longer trip should suit, though his current handicap rating of 120 looks a bit high if he moves to that sphere.
FISHING INSTRUCTOR once again showed a glimmer of promise and may make the grade in time.
BALLINDERRY PARK was made favourite, but fell away very quickly from before the last.
3.05 2m 1f Class 2 Novices’ Chase
CAMDEN GEORGE made the pace in this one and stretched his field from the home turn, holding enough in hand to get away on the run-in. On the ratings he was entitled to have every chance here. He had previously run consistently without getting his head in front. He’s probably better over a longer distance so there may be a bit more to come.
CROMWELL COURT pretty much ran to his form returning after breaking a blood vessel at Ayr on his previous outing. He was tapped for speed from the last.
SOUBRIQUET was just hanging on from about four out and predictably couldn’t stick with the first two from the home turn. Judged on his hurdling mark he probably performed as well as could be expected here and should find easier races.
WILLIAM BONNEY never looked that happy to me and was left behind in the straight. He was second of four at Towcester, but to my mind has still to prove himself over fences.
DEGAS ART hit the seventh and decanted his pilot. His fencing form is unimpressive.
3.35 2m 6 ½ f Class 2 Chase
One of the better class chases that Kelso stages, but the disappointing turn out of 4 surely has much to do with its proximity to Cheltenham.
CLOUDY LANE was apparently using this as a Grand National prep, though I can’t see that this race and its likely small field were going to be a real help. In the event the horse totally misjudged the first and fell. There’s always the chance that such a horse might ‘take his eye off the ball’ in such a small field. I wouldn’t take a huge amount of notice of this effort.
MORE LIKELY must surely have had a problem. She wasn’t able to get in front and doesn’t particularly like sitting in behind, but even allowing for that she gave in tamely and was pulled up after a circuit. She’s better than that.
MONEY TRIX showed much promise on his seasonal debut, and showed a clean pair of heels to the pacemaker Natiain after the last. He was awkward at a few fences and needs to sharpen up, but he’s a class act who should progress again.
NATIAIN is being forced into these events by the restrictions of many hunter chases. He did at least pick up decent prize money here, though was left for dead once headed. I understand he is eligible for the hunter chase here in late March and that would surely be his target.
4.10 2m 2f Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle
Kelso’s highest grade race of the season.
KNOCKARA BEAU took advantage of a scrap between Wendel and Alfie Flits. Those two burnt each other out and the George Charlton trained gelding zoomed away on the flat. He’s coming on in leaps and bounds and, though entered at Cheltenham, his trainer seems to think Aintree is his best option. Evidence to date suggests that’s the right choice.
WENDEL was left in the lead three but then hit two out. The winner took over at the last and Wendel had no answer. He had the strongest form on offer, and on balance this was slightly disappointing.
ALFIE FLIT, winner of a decent novice event at Haydock but below form at Kempton, had every chance and seemed to be going well rounding the final bend, but struggled from the last. It could be that around about the minimum trip is best for him and a fifth race in Class 1 company may just have been one too many for now.
MR WOODS led early but was put in his place from three out and isn’t as good as the first three here.
TEENAGE IDOL was another who was held in this class, though it was disappointing that he was struggling a long way out. He couldn’t handle the step up from run of the mill novice races.
DOSLESSTHANME appeared to be going well enough to stay involved when hitting the third last and coming down.
4.45 2m 6 ½ f Hunters’ Chase
As is often the case in these events there was a range of ability and jumping amongst the contestants.
THE REVEREND was ridden patiently behind the long time leader. He took over approaching the last at which point the result wasn’t in doubt. This was his second chase win, so he’ll be eligible for these events for a while and looks capable of winning another similar event.
SMART CAVALIER was given a gem of a ride in front by Jamie Alexander. He was given a breather with 6 fences to go and it wasn’t until approaching the last that his stamina gave out. Even if the ground were better this trip stretches his stamina. He goes well on faster ground than this and if a two and a half mile event can be found it would be ideal.
NOCATEE plugged round for third, but was never anywhere near the leaders.
DOUBLE GEM plodded round to finish a very remote fourth and last.
MISTER MAGNUM won off a mark of 78 here in November ’07, but this was a tough ask and he pulled up.
REFLECTED GLORY was going well enough in third, and certainly not out of it, when unseating at the thirteenth. He had some fair form in similar company last season.
BEN NELLY unseated and his record is poor.
BILINGUAL showed promise first time out, leading Holy Joe when unseating at Friars Haugh, but he ran a lack lustre race here and was sadly killed when falling four out.
THEATRE RIGHTS is a dreadful performer and closest he has ever got under rules was beaten 65 lengths in a bumper.
HARTBURN was progressing when falling at the fourteenth. She has an impressive pointing record but has coped with fences under rules to date.
5.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle
This was a race heavy on numbers, but not one where many got into the argument. After his horror fall at Carlisle it was heartening to see LAGO appear here and though he struggled in the race it’s good to know that he is healthy.
Description’s form had tailed off after early promise over hurdles. However he had swapped to Sue Smith’s stable, a trainer who has done a great job rejuvenating horses and getting them ready after a break. Recapturing his form Description was dropped in off 85 and left the remainder behind on the run-in.
LILY TARA performed well on her first run since May, chasing the leader from two out but having no answer on the flat. She should come on for this and is one to put in the notebook. It would be no surprise to see her aimed at the Perth Festival.
KENTUCKY BOY was one paced from two out. He might be worth a glance if aimed at Wetherby, a track where he has been close up a couple of times over hurdles. Extended trips should suit since he’s won over two miles on the flat.
CASSIUS stayed on into fourth, but stay on is all he does. A real slog in the mud or an uphill finish suit best.