Kelso – Sunday March 29th
Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)
A bright and breezy day greeted visitors to Kelso for Ladies’ Day. Although there was still a bit of a chill in the air, one or two of the equine population clearly benefitted from the sun on their backs and hearing their hooves rattle just a little.
2.10 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
Alan Swinbank’s hurdling newcomer TOUCH OF IRISH went well to two out at which point Lord Larsson’s fall left him with an easy task and he went clear with minimum fuss. He’s only eligible for novice events up to October 31st, and connections may take him to Aintree, but the long term plan is to go chasing and it wouldn’t surprise me if that happens in the autumn.
LORD LARSSON was the only one going with the leader and hadn’t been put under pressure when crashing out two from home. Presuming no lasting damage he may pick up another novice hurdle but he’s another likely to go chasing in the not too distant future. The form of his Newcastle win looks sound as third Steady Tiger ran creditably here next time and fourth placed Reindeer Dippin won at Catterick. It might be worth keeping an eye out for the second there, MAGELLAN STRAITS.
SEA STORM ran on into second place. He’s 11 and vulnerable to younger improvers, but he likes this ground and it will pay to keep him on the go in the coming months.
WHEATFROMTHECHAFF was well held but showed promise with a debut third. A decent effort from one who was moderate at mainly sprint distances on the flat and is worth persevering with on fast ground over hurdles.
NONOTREALLY challenged before three out but offered only one pace from that point and there was nothing immediately encouraging from those behind.
2.40 2m 1f 0-115 Novices’ Handicap Chase
In terms of pure racing speed you could make a case for saying High Bird Humphrey and First Boy have a little more to offer than SUPER BABY. However, the latter knows how to jump accurately and that made the difference. He was able to settle in front and dug deep to see off the two challengers on the run-in. This was another testament to the talents of Langholm trainer James Ewart whose schooling is second to none on the evidence of racecourse performance. This winner saw Ewart hit double figures in a season for the first time, but I’ll bet it won’t be the last. Super Baby won’t necessarily find it easy in the future with a small move up the ratings likely, but his jumping will always give him a chance.
FIRST BOY made a couple of bad mistakes which did not help his cause. He battled on doggedly on the flat but was always just being held. If he gets his jumping together there is more to come.
HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY is pretty well exposed now but performed creditably, although as with the second his jumping can be sharpened. He’ll get involved in the finish in similar events.
One I would really take for the future from this event is HUTCH who put up an excellent effort from 11lbs out of the handicap. He was held on the flat, but this was a good step up on his seasonal debut and if he repeats this form he is surely capable of winning a lower grade handicap.
LADY CHATELAINE ran respectably from either farther out of the handicap than Hutch. She clearly goes well on this ground and Sue Bradburne may run her a time or two at Perth in the coming months.
ANGLICISME was well held and hasn’t shown an awful lot sparkle over fences and I only a selling winner over hurdles.
PENDLE FOREST was left behind from three out.
3.15 2m 2f0-125 Handicap Hurdle
On paper this looked a contest between two progressive performers, and so it proved no turf as DESCRIPTION showed plenty of determined to fight off the persistent I’m Delilah. Description has really blossomed since returning from a break and on this evidence I see no reason why we shouldn’t assume there is more in the tank.
I’M DELILAH is another coming on in leaps and bounds and was unlucky to run into one going the same way. She stuck her head down and saw the race out very well. She will go up in the ratings as the two were 26 lengths clear, but she is progressive.
CURRAHEE was a remote third and left for dead from two out. This was a fair enough effort given that he is ideally suited by a bit of cut.
CASTLETOWN BOY is probably a little high in the handicap.
TOSS THE CABER set the pace to before two out but quickly weakened.
3.50 2m 6 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
James Ewart notched a double at CLASSIC CUT picked up this novices’ hurdle which was heavy on numbers but with no more than a handful of serious contenders. He kicked on going to the seventh and, though driven to two out, stayed on well. He is progressing and handles the better ground which augurs well for the spring.
FRANKIE ANSON ran creditably enough in second, but having got close to the winner after the last couldn’t sustain the effort. This was a sound enough effort on his second hurdles outing and he’s going the right way.
DARK MOON stayed on from the rear for third and will stay further.
FLACO, a brother to Character Building and an impressive winner of a point in April last year, ran a fair fourth here but will be seen to better advantage over fences.
FISHING INSTRUCTOR had stayed on into third, and looked likely to get involved in the finish, but crashed out at the second last. Assuming the fall does no lasting harm he is another going in the right direction.
KOPYLOVA showed a glimmer of improvement stepped up in trip.
4.25 3m 1f 0-125 Handicap Chase
The ground came right for OR DE GRUGY. Sue Bradburne ran this one at Musselburgh in the winter to get a run on decent ground, but a step up in trip brought about enough improvement to see him get his head in front. He might be worth looking out for here for the remaining meetings since his Kelso record is now 211.
SNOWY can be a moody soul, but he is in good heart now and followed up his Musselburgh win with an excellent effort moved up in class. He was staying on best of the first three and gaining at the line.
LE ROI ROUGE worked his way through the field to be in with a shout three out. Going well to the last he couldn’t quite keep the momentum going close home. This was a big step up in trip and he may just be a little better at slightly shorter.
SCARVAGH DIAMOND showed signs of a revival after a disappointing winter. She was well held but at least kept on for fourth place.
MR PREACHER MAN never got seriously involved.
RAINING HORSE was in the rear early and never got better than mid division. HE picked off a couple of soft looking events in March 2008 but looks held off his current mark.
MONTEVIDEO needs things his own way and was never competitive.
NATIAIN is another who needs things his own way and is struggling in handicap company. I was surprised connections didn’t take advantage of his entry in the hunters’ chase since a confidence booster seems desperately needed at the moment.
NOBEL went well until headed approaching three out, but subsided quickly after that and recent runs have not been encouraging.
SHREWD INVESTOR was in midfield when unseating at the ninth, and STAGECOACH OPAL seemed to be going well enough behind the leaders when crashing at the fifteenth.
5.00 3m 1f Class 5 Hunters’ Chase
A disappointing turn out for this event, with three serious competitors.
THE REVEREND made a good impression on hunter chasing debut last time and stepped up on that to see off Cheltenham fifth Robber’s Glen. Leading approaching the last, The Reverend battled well to hold on, with Lucy Horner giving her mount slightly more assistance than Val Jackson. The form reads well.
On balance there seems little to choose between the first two, though ROBBER’S GLEN could have been feeling the effects of a big effort at Cheltenham. Ultimately he couldn’t summon up the extra required in the final furlong.
A BOY NAMED SIOUX hit the twelfth and unseated Rose Dobbin before the pace had picked up significantly.
NOCATEE couldn’t keep up but plugged on in the later stages for third. I n past years I’d have said it might be worth taking him to Perth in April, but this year the 3m 7f event has been reduced to 2m 4 ½f.
TIME TO REFLECT raced prominently early but folded after whacking four out.
THEATRE RIGHTS was pulled up, and the highlight of his career to date was being beaten ‘only’ 65 lengths in a Perth bumper in 2005.
5.30 2m ½ f NH Flat
The bumpers here normally produce one or two with promise. This event was won in emphatic style by newcomer GILBARRY who came clear under no more than hands and heels. His trainer is plenty capable, should place this one to advantage again very soon and has a decent prospect on his hands.
CLAUDE CARTER, a promising fourth on debut, set the standard by keeping on for second. He should find a run-of-the-mill bumper before progressing to jumping.
ROLLWITHTHEPUNCHES was left flat footed turning for home but kept on for third. He showed a little more on softer ground first time out.
RED TANBER was well there turning for home but one paced from that point though made a sound start to his career.
MOSCOW MISCHIEF struck me as more of a jumping type and was left behind from two furlongs out.