PERTH – Wednesday 22nd April
Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)
The 20th Perth Festival starting in bright sunshine, on a surface described as perfect by those involved, and attended by a healthy first day crowd in excess of 3,000. The excellent parkland turf and the ability to water using water direct from the Tay enable Perth to provide regular decent ground ensuring competitive racing.
2.10 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle
The programme commenced with a decent maiden hurdle, though a few of the principals had question marks against them.
Gordon Elliott will be a familiar name to Northern Racegoers and the Irish-raider produced CHICAGO GREY to do the business here. Taking closer order four from home he took over two out and forged clear. This was Chicago Grey’s debut for the yard and there was enough here to suggest he might progress on decent ground.
BALTHAZAR KING is another to have had a few chances and ran respectably in second place. He has looked stronger as the going has dried out, and is worth keeping on the go now.
ON SPEC was comfortably held from two out and, as with PRINCE DU BEURY who finished just behind, lacks pace in the closing stages.
MAOLISA showed as much as on any outing to date.
WHISPERING DEATH disappointed back in sixth.
STORMIN EXIT set the pace as usual but weakened from two out. He’s struggling to see off the opposition in no-handicaps and a move to handicapping may be worth a try.
2.45 3m ½ f 0-115 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
MR WOODS impressed me couple of times in the past. He had stiff tasks on his previous two outings but seemed to have a sound chance off top weight here. He set the pace and was 15 lengths clear by the fifth. He basically kept up the gallop and was never seriously threatened. He will have tougher tasks in future but could well move on to chasing soon.
PRESENTING FOREVER jumped big and gives the impression of a chaser in the making. He couldn’t get to the leader but plugged on to hold second.
ROBBIE DYE kept on from a long way having never been seriously in contention. The break may have helped and this was a better effort than his previous two runs. SOLWAY BAY did creditably to secure fourth from out of the handicap and it should be possible to find easier opportunities. She saw out the trip well enough and would be interesting in 0-110 contests on this evidence.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE, very highly tried on the Flat and over hurdles, has found his level in this class. His stable’s muddling method of placement surely can’t help their charges.
STRONG REBEL won a bumper here but hasn’t got close in hurdles.
PROSECCO is well exposed now and could only make moderate late progress.
3.20 3m Class 2 Novices’ Chase
JAUNTY FLIGHT had impressed with her jumping previously and it made a difference here. She jumped well all round until having a difference of opinion with her jockey at the last when well clear of her two remaining opponents. Her trainer is considering aiming at the Hennessy in the autumn and I’ve seen enough to suggest that’s a realistic target.
SILVER BY NATURE was in the process of running a personal best when unseating three out. He jumped well enough in front until then, though does have a tendency to sling in a sloppy leap. He will pick up a handicap or two, and will progress provided his jumping is sharpened.
LODGE LANE raced wide and jumped left. He was well held from three out.
THE MARKET MAN pulled up at Cheltenham and was below par here, losing touch from four out.
POP may have been feeling the strains of the season, and was struggling from the eleventh, pulling up before four out.
MARLEYBOW wasn’t good enough here and his jockey called it a day four out.
3.55 2m ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle
A competitive contest in which few could be counted out before the start.
TOP MARK recorded Gordon Elliott’s second win of the meeting. He has made steady progress throughout the season in Ireland and saw off a progressive second here. It can be difficult to follow the progress of handicappers from Ireland since the two sets of handicap marks don’t tally, and it really is about time the UK and Irish handicappers sang from the same hymn sheet.
TOSHI made a winning return to hurdling at Musselburgh and, given another rest for this one, gave his best if just held close home. He gives the impression there’s a bit more to come and should find opportunities around here in the coming months.
SOLIS seemed to me pre-race to have a better chance than the odds of 25/1 suggested since the conditions suited. I got a good deal better at exchange prices and my hopes rose as he was in contention to two out. Unfortunately that was as good as it got and he couldn’t offer any more. However, Peter Monteith must be heartened by this effort and there must surely be a lowly contest for him this summer.
MARCEL isn’t quite the performer he was but performed reasonably well in fourth.
WEATHER FRONT, having led three out, was headed two out and quickly dropped away. He looks a bit of a softie who needs things to fall for him.
BENETWOOD, McCoy’s only ride at the Festival, jumped poorly early on and was pulled up, while Southwell winner FUJIN DANCER found things much tougher shifted up 10lbs and lost touch from three out.
4.30 2m 4 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Chase
NATIVE CORAL missed the Scottish National, and at a mile and a half shorter this might have been considered an odd alternative. However he took the opportunity well staying on from two out. The Perth Gold Cup might be a possible target since he has a good record around here.
JACK THE BLASTER made progress from the rear to four out and had every chance up the straight only to be held on the flat. He has a history of not finding a lot in the closing stages.
STAGECOACH AMBER set a decent pace and was one paced once headed two out. A good run in a competitive race though life may now be tougher off 120.
MANHATTAN BOY stayed on for fourth. He’s been eased a bit in the handicap might get seriously involved in a slightly less competitive race.
KING OF THE ARCTIC was going well to three out but couldn’t raise his game any further. This wasn’t too bad an effort on his annual comeback and I would expect to see better during the summer campaign.
RIMSKY raced prominently but was well held from four out. He frequently involves himself in the serious action, but has a poor wins to runs ratio in recent times.
OR DE GRUGY was aimed at this meeting but faded disappointingly in the straight.
ABRAGANTE never got involved seriously. His recent form is poor and he’s still 5lbs higher than his last winning mark.
LE ROI ROUGE has proved better at the top of the weights against lesser opponents. He made a couple of mistakes early and didn’t get involved in the contest.
CATEGORICAL was behind from the tenth. This was an uncharacteristic effort and the first time he’s been out of the first six over jumps.
WEE FORBEES pulled hard early and was struggling when hitting four out. He was pulled up in the straight.
SCOTS DRAGOON lost his action approaching the water and was quickly pulled up.
ITS CRUCIAL, normally consistent without winning, was struggling with a mile left and was pulled up three out.
5.05 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle
QUINCY DES PICTONS stayed on to win in a tight finish. This was hardly full of contenders and it would be difficult to imagine a win under a penalty, so it could well be a case of taking a chance against the handicapper.
OCONNELLS PIKE looked the likely winner two out, but he hung left going to the last and seemed to stick his head in the air a bit on the run to the line. On the face of it this was a decent hurdling debut, but I’d be tempted to oppose him at a short price.
CASUAL AFFAIR had a sound opportunity to break his hurdling duck here and disappointed.
SAM PATCH kept on for fourth, with the rest well held.
5.35 3m ½ f 0-100 Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle
There was a strong pace on early here and with the first two coming clear their form should prove sound.
AND WHATEVER ELSE led at the eighth until headed after the last. She battled back on the flat and showed plenty of the right qualities and there’s every chance she will go on from here.
SOLWAY SUNSET was eased forward to join issue three out. She appeared to be ridden to conserve stamina up the straight, but was just held close home. This trip probably stretches her to the limit, but dropped back in trip she will have every chance of adding to her victory tally.
WISE CHOICE was left behind from three out but kept on for third. He looks on his mark off a rating of 95.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST plugged on from two out and ran creditably without looking like winning.
The remainder were strung out like washing on a line.