KELSO – Friday March 20th
Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)
The going dried out for this meeting following a spell of sunny weather in Scotland. Some of the form might be a pointer to spring and summer meetings.
2.20 2m 6 ½ f Maiden Hurdle
BIG BURROWS clearly benefitted from the step up in trip, staying on too well for his rivals. Three mile plus races look likely to be his forte, and he has the makings of a chaser.
SIRKEEL again found one too good, and the step up in trip brought about no improvement in form though he did see out the extra distance.
GILSLAND was left behind after two out, but this was a fair performance stepped up from the minimum trip. He’s a half-brother to an Irish National winner and will no doubt be seen to greater effect over fences in time.
PRIORYJO had no answer from two out though ran to her best form and was not hindered by the step up in distance.
STORMIN EXIT set the pace until before the last, but was left behind from that point. I reckon he’s better using his front running pace at a shorter trip. He may be one to look for in handicaps now, but could be seen to better effect in short or middle distance chases.
2.50 2m 6 ½ f Class 2 Novices’ Chase
This was probably as good a novice event as we have seen run in Scotland this season and the form looks solid.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE has been brought along steadily by James Moffatt, but looked to run near to his 145 hurdles mark in winning this. He jumped well and ran away from his field from the last. Word is that he will go for the Scottish National. Whether he’s good enough in that company at this point is debatable, but I would imagine he should acquit himself well enough in handicaps.
SA SUFFIT lost little in defeat and I would judge he performed to what I considered his potential level in the mid-130s. He jumped as well as ever but was held on the flat by a better opponent. The trip didn’t appear to inconvenience him,
RAZOR ROYALE had every chance before the last but was well held from that point. He was highly tried as a hurdler and hasn’t quite achieved the same level over fences to date. His trainer always sets up a tilt at the Perth Festival, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him travel north once again.
ROLE ON seemed to set the standard here, running a decent race until left from before the last.
MILL SIDE retreated before the straight. He was a three mile winner over hurdles but has struggled to see out the distance over fences so far.
CAMDEN GEORGE was stepped up in trip, leading or disputing to the twelfth fence before giving way. It’s possible he found this event a little too competitive.
REEL CHARMER has yet to show enough to make a mark at this level over fences.
DOC ROW wasn’t good enough and needs a stiffer test of stamina.
WATERSKI was presumably entered in the hope the field might cut up, and was outclassed.
3.25 3m 3f 0-90 Handicap Hurdle
A lowly bunch who just gallop on at the one pace at best and the only previous winner notched his victory in a maiden point-to-point.
BARTON GREY broke her jaw in falling at Catterick late last year. Understandably it has taken her time to recover her from since but she stayed on to win comfortably here. The form has to be taken in context, she beat some moderate performers, but she clearly has more ability than this level and is going the right way.
HOOKY’S HOPE isn’t particularly quick but does run an honest enough race at her own pace. She’s been unlucky to run against two progressive performers in Little Shilling and Barton Grey, but probably has enough ability to pick up a minor staying handicap.
BEAU PEAK stayed on for third without getting seriously involved. Unfortunately for her they don’t run four mile hurdles.
Very little to encourage from the remainder, SEEKING STRAIGHT presumably finding the fast ground against him. There’s a possibility a couple of races in heavy on consecutive days at Ayr might have left a short term mark.
4.00 2m 1f 0-135 Handicap Chase
TOM’S TOYBOX picked up from where he left off on quick ground last summer. He stayed on to get up on the line and is one to keep in mind for the coming months.
NIKOLA led from the start and battled determinedly on the flat only to be pipped close home. He now has nine seconds over fences, but there was little to fault in his attitude. He’s another Twiston-Davies animal that may be aimed at Perth in April and should give his running.
SHARP REPLY challenged from three out but couldn’t offer any extra in the final furlong. He’s another one with a Perth target lined up.
CAST IRON CASEY acquitted himself well enough on a first try in a handicap chase and a step back up to 2m 4f would do no harm.
SEEYAAJ performed respectably after a five month break, running well until hitting two out and still not beaten far.
BILL’S ECHO kept on from the rear but never figured seriously. He needs a longer distance.
MARCEL looks handicapped to the hilt at present.
LE ROI ROUGE was beaten from four out. His UK wins have been in a lower class.
MANHATTAN BOY was feeling the pinch when falling three out.
NATIAIN was in a sour mood. He delayed the start once and then dug his heels in when the rest departed. He’s eligible for the hunter chase here on March 29th so it will be interesting to see if he’s more amenable.
4.35 3m 4f 0-130 Handicap Chase
The top two in the weights came out reducing the quality of the event.
MISTER APPLE’S been going very well approaching the last and ran on well on the flat. His 108 mark gives a little scope for choosing future events.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND set the pace and responded admirably once headed. He runs an honest enough race but finds one or two having too much pace at the sharp end.
KING BARRY is probably handicapped to the hilt on 130 and performed as well as could be expected in third.
RIMSKY got into the issue down the back straight last time, he looked held but stuck to his guns and wasn’t beaten far.
HAS SCORED hadn’t an earthly from miles out of the handicap. A typical entry from a stable that specialises in running horses in way too high a class.
PANAMA AT ONCE has improved all winter and hadn’t been asked too many questions when unseating three out. Off his current mark of 108, and bearing in mind he seems to be holding his form and is versatile ground-wise, a tilt at the Highland National would seem a reasonable plan.
HIDDEN BOUNTY was struggling with a circuit left and was soon pulled up.
5.10 2m 2f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle
The low sun came into play for this event and we lost the two hurdles in the straight, meaning that only six were jumped and the race turned into a four furlong sprint for a leading group of seven.
I wonder if the course might have given a thought to moving one of the last two hurdles to the side of the track. With a little thought in positioning I reckon it would be workable, and would at least mean the exclusion of only one hurdle because of the sun.
FIRST STREAM finished fast to get up close home. Given that he has Group race flat form in Germany and he fell first time over hurdles, the removable of a few obstacles wouldn’t have harmed his chances.
BEST LOVER is running consistently but can’t quite raise his game sufficiently close home. It’s likely he’ll benefit from going chasing but will surely pick up a minor novice hurdle before long.
CASUAL AFFAIR battled to the end but was just held by the first two. His winning chance over hurdles seems only delayed.
LEGION D’HONNEUR couldn’t hold the leaders in the final two furlongs.
ARCH ran passably well in fifth and is slowly improving. He may be worth aiming at a novice handicap now he’s qualified.
5.40 2m ½ f NH Flat
This was basically a sprint in the straight, but STORM BRIG came clear with some authority. He’s a half-brother to winning jumpers and is a decent prospect.
LILLA SOPHIA ran on late for second. It would appear a longer trip would help, so a step up to hurdling looks essential.
BARRON WATLASS ran a fair race in third, being done for pace from a furlong and a half out.
BOGSIDE, a half-bother to two chase winners, shaped well enough in fourth.
CHICAGO OUTFIT, an expensive Wylie-Johnson runner, and NORTHERN DUSK both showed enough to offer optimism for the future.
KINHARVIE, Rose Dobbin’s first runner as a trainer, ran very green once turned for home. She may need time but there could be better to come.