AYR = Friday April 17th
Going – Good
Scotland’s top meeting of the year began on a sour note, with two fatalities in the first contest. The runners were racing on watered ground followed a lengthy dry spell which has completely changed the soft and heavy ground that has been prevalent throughout the winter. Following the mishaps on the final bend in the first race there was a lengthy delay as the track was investigated, but it was found that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the state of the turf.
2.20 3m ½ f 0-135 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Two horses slipped up on the home bend in this event with FRESCHEZZA sadly suffering a fatal injury. DANCING DIK was the other to come down.
PERCUTANT was a swiftly progressing hurdler having won nicely on two occasions at Musselburgh. He was in contention when suffering an injury to his near hind on landing at two out and was swiftly taken out of the race. Sadly the injury resulting in the gelding having to be put down.
GRAND THEATRE was left clear following Percutant’s mishap and won very easily. His profile to date has been one good run then one bad run and it doesn’t seem possible to tie down any clear reason for his flops.
EASBY PARK led until the eighth but was well held from that point though he did enough to hold on to the second place that he inherited two out.
Irish challenger CURRAGOWER stayed on up the straight for third without ever threatening the leaders.
The remainder were well held, DESCRIPTION, seemingly caught by the handicapper after a run of wins, fading to finish fifth.
2.50 2m 5f 0-125 Novices’ Handicap Chase
After a lengthy delay whilst the track was inspected, this race commenced 35 minutes late and minus two intended runners.
FESTIVAL KING bowled along nicely in front, jumping well, but paid for misjudging the thirteenth and dislodged his rider.
As only two finished it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from the form, EVEN FLO ridden out to hold BOUGOURE after the last.
3.25 3m ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle
Another smallish field and DISTILLER was able to dominate in the straight. Despite an awkward jump three out he stayed on nicely to lead on the run-in and needed no more than nudging to see him home. There is a suspicion that he is rather quirky, but there may be more to come. The Twiston-Davies stable is running into form in time for an assault on the Perth Festival next week.
MIGHTY MASSINI led from halfway until overtaken on the run-in. He failed to finish in his first nine efforts in Irish points, but has been better since going hurdling and, though he has yet to win, it should be possible to find a race in the coming months.
LEAC AN SCAIL ran soundly in third place and is basically handicapped to his level.
CLASSIC ACT was outpaced approaching the final bend and plugged on up the straight. The extreme distance (3m 3f) at Sedgefield last time probably suited a bit better and the idiosyncrasies of that track may well bring out the best in him.
4.00 2m 4f 0-145 Handicap Chase
TELL HENRY was tapped for toe five out, but found his stride in the straight to take this event with a great deal in hand. He hasn’t been over-raced this winter, was in fine fettle following a break and is progressing nicely.
CALATAGAN hit a couple as the race was warming up but kept on for second. He’s possibly a little better at shorter distances since his only win over this trip has come at the sharp Stratford circuit.
MISTER McGOLDRICK has struggled a little following last year’s Cheltenham win and a subsequent hike in the ratings, but ran a decent race back on his previous winning mark. He would still be worth a glance if an opportunity could be found off this mark at his favourite Wetherby.
CAST IRON CASEY acquitted himself well enough taking on the toughest chasing company he has faced. A mistake three out cost him his chance but dropped in class he would have every chance of picking up a handicap.
MEDICINAL struggled from four out and looks on a stiff mark at 144.
DALDINI has been kept on the go all winter and this lack lustre effort suggests that a rest may now beckon.
SILVER ADONIS had a stiff task and was always out the back.
WATCH MY BACK jumped poorly and was never competitive. This was a stiffer task than he had faced before, but he’s better than this run suggests.
PATMAN DU CHARMIL’s jockey lost an iron early on and he was pulled up after the fourth.
4.35 3m ½ f 0-130 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Carrying a penalty for a recent win at Hexham, ELZAHANN sat handy and led at the last, going away on the flat. The race was run at a decent pace so the form looks solid enough and Elzahaan is progressing nicely.
REEL CHARMER ran to her form in second on a return to hurdling after a less than successful spell chasing.
PURE GENIUS wasn’t far off her mark in this race, keeping on after being headed two out. This is as high as she would want to be in the ratings at the moment, though off 100 there is scope for a drop in class.
SOLWAY BEE had a tough task here and performed very well to post a fourth place from four pounds out of the handicap. Prevailing conditions suit, so her trainer may be able to find a small race in the coming weeks.
MORE LIKELY stayed on late but found everything happening a bit too quick for her here. It may still be possible to exploit her lower hurdle mark in a slightly lower class, perhaps at Kelso.
5.10 3m 1f Class 3 Claiming Chase
This is one of a handful of claiming chases held in the north throughout the season, and from memory the best quality of them, although everything is relative.
This seemed to be an excellent opportunity for UNGARO to get in a clear round and have his confidence restored after a disappointing spell. However, having been hampered when Cardington unseated at the second he crashed out at the fifth fence.
The race was left as a contest between the 123 rated ANDREW NICK and BAGAN. ANDREW NICK was the one to take advantage, leading five out and keeping on with BAGAN chasing resolutely if vainly from four out. Given the distance in front of the third, it is reasonable to assume that the first two ran near to their best.
EASBY MANDARIN had a struggle on at the weights and was outpaced in the straight.
RATHOWEN was returning after a lay-off since last May. He led until five out but quickly weakened and was tailed off.
CARDINGTON was untidy at the first and jettisoned his pilot at the second.
THEBOYFROMBULAWAYO was struggling soon after halfway and pulled up before five from home.
5.45 2m 4f 0-125 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
SOLWAY SUNSET’s career has been characterised by wins interspersed with moderate runs. Coming off a moderate performance at Haydock six days previously, she recorded a career high performance off to win this event. She made progress in the straight, then hit the second last but recovered to lead at the last and win with a little in hand. Sometimes difficult to pin down for a particular run, she does however have an impressive career record of 6 wins from 21 runs.
CORKAGE ran a sound race, battling hard to dead-heat for second. He’s higher in the handicap than he needs to be to have winning chances.
SHERIFF HUTTON is another that ran a sound race but is handicapped to his mark.
ANNNIBALE CARO made headway three out but was soon on the retreat. This could be this came a little soon after his Kelso victory, and a drop back in trip wouldn’t do any harm.
Meanwhile at Sedgefield (Going – Good To Firm), where the fence at the top of the hill was omitted, there were three chases on the card:
5.55 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Chase
STRIKING ARTICLE impressed when left to do his own thing at Hexham first time out, but his fencing has not looked good when he has been put under pressure. Bowling along in front he got low at a few fences and paid the penalty at the eleventh.
ROLE ON took advantage of Striking Article’s misfortune to take the race comfortably. He’s consistent, jumps tidily and goes well on fast ground.
NATURALLY INSPIRED stayed on from two out to take second. He was well held here but is learning over fences and should make his mark at a lowly level.
MOYNE PLEASURE kept on for third apparently performing better than his rating of 62, though I would be tempted to take the form with a pinch of salt.
OVERLAW is slow but kept going well enough for fourth.
DESERT MAZE looks too headstrong at present and was a spent force from three out.
FORTUNE’S FOOL looks a poor performer over fences and completed in a remote sixth.
Neither REGAL CONFUSION nor EBAC jumped well and both were pulled up.
6.25 3m 3f 0-110 Handicap Chase
POLAR GALE continued the good form of his previous effort over course and distance, staying on to win this with something in hand. A wind operation has paid dividends. He is suited by good or fast ground and now has four Sedgefield wins to his credit.
BLEU POIS stayed on for second if unable to hold Polar Gale. This was a creditable effort behind a more experienced opponent.
BIG BONE produced his best run since returning from a season off. He had every chance going to two out but could only manage the one pace from there.
LUCKY NELLERIE raced prominently, leading from the seventh to two out, but weakened once headed He has been off his game this season, but this effort was at least a little better than any since October.
PADDYMcGINTYSGOAT was left behind from three out and offers nothing at the business end.
TULLY HILL was well out of the handicap and did as well as could be expected to be up with the leaders to the fourteenth.
ESQUILLON jumped stickily in the rear and doesn’t look comfortable with chasing.
BOBBY ICATA had run eight awful races in bumpers and hurdles (pulled up six times) and was back peddling when coming down heavily at the eleventh.
7.00 2m 4f Novices’ Hunters’ Chase
CRAIGLANDS, a steady improver in points and winner of a maiden at Tranwell, challenged three out and was in control when veering towards the course exit on the run-in. He then appeared to idle a bit but found enough to hold on. He’s still a bit raw but has time on his side.
PARADISE BAY is exposed as an essentially moderate performer. He made progress to two out but couldn’t get to the leader.
OH SO PERKY, making her seasonal debut, ran a creditable race in third but was well held from four out.
LITTLE ROCKER kept on from a long way back for fourth.
SILVER PALOMINO and FIFTH COLUMN both got round but were well beaten and are slow.
LEADING PEARL had been in good form in points, running up a hat-trick, but failed to cope over regulation fences, pulling up before two out.
WILLYWONT HE went well to three out but was dropping back when hitting two out hard and unseating.
BARRY THE CRACKER set off in front but had run out of puff by three out. He’s only six and if he can be restrained a little more and his jumping sharpened he isn’t a lost cause in these events.
TEMPLE GLEN is a point winner but has found things too tough on two hunter chase outings, and BILLSLEGACY is proven slowcoach who bumbled round until pulled up approaching the eighth fence.