Thursday, 23 April 2009

Scottish Grand National Day

AYR – Saturday 18th April

Going – Good

Glorious weather for Ayr’s big day of the season. The ground was watered overnight, though the drying conditions meant that there were a number of absentees.

1.45 2m 3 Novices’ Hurdle

There was a surprise result in the first event of the afternoon but, to my mind, with a fast pace I would trust the form.

George Charlton’s APARTMAN was settled at the rear of the quartet coming through to challenge three out and then quickly going clear. A couple of these had solid novice form and this one looks very interesting for the future. I wonder if the stable might take a chance on a trip to Punchestown. One thought is that if Apartman had been trained by a ‘big name’ instead of G. Charlton would he have been such a long price?
GIORGIO QUERCUS, with conditions to suit, was ridden coming out of the back straight and under the shove all up the straight but kept on well enough to gain second after the last.
SATICON could offer only one pace up the straight.
MARC AURELE paid for setting a scorching pace and soon tailed off once headed.

2.20 2m 4f Grade 2 Novices’ Chase

DEEP PURPLE led, getting a bit close to some fences early but fiddling his way over, was driven to three out, responded well and stayed on for a decent win.
I’MSINGINGTHEBLUES gave his running in second place but was held by the winner from two out. This was a decent effort.
RAYSROCK was outpaced from five out but secured third.
TOT O’WHISKEY struggled from a long way out and, having been kept on the go for a long while, might be feeling the effects of the season.
TURKISH SURPRISE was held up off the pace and didn’t get in a blow, fading from four out.

2.50 2m 0-158 Grade 2 Handicap Hurdle

This was competitive renewal of the Scottish Champion Hurdle with decent form brought from various hurdling fields.
NOBLE ALAN, fresh from a break, was impressive in the latter stages. Picking up nicely from two out he ran on well after the last to win with a little in hand. His trainer has him marked down as a future chaser.
SECRET TUNE ran a cracker from 4lbs wrong in the handicap, being on the premises for most of the race and sticking to his guns once passed by Noble Alan. He’s picked up a couple of ‘middle of the road’ handicaps at Newbury in recent times, but looks set to contest the better class handicap hurdles next season.
HARPER VALLEY set a decent pace jumping well. I wondered if he might fold once headed, but to his credit really stuck to his task and hung on for third.
BLUE BAJAN is a twilight horse, not quite good enough to challenge in the top class hurdle races whilst having to carry big weights in the best handicaps. He tried his best here and his fourth place means he’ll get no respite in the immediate future.
MEDERMIT acquitted himself well on stepping up to ‘senior class’, lacking extra pace from two out.
SNAP TIE is in a similar position as Blue Bajan and ran a fair sixth here. He did manage to pick up a race in front of Katchit first time and maybe he is best fresh.
SKI SUNDAY pulled too hard and had raced himself out by the home turn.

3.25 4m ½ f Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase

The biggest race of the Scottish jumping season and I haven’t been able to see the race. No recording on Racing UK or the Racing Post sight so I’ve relying on eye witness accounts and race comments. Thanks to fellow racing fanatic workmate Keith Orr for a bit of an insight. Scottish interest disappeared when Merigo was declared a non-runner due to the ground, and one of the favoured competitors Tricky Trickster was pulled out along with two others.
HELLO BUD has progressed from a mark of 85 at the start of 2008 to race off a mark of 133 here. He shrugged that off fairly comfortably in what was probably one of the stronger Scottish National renewals of recent years. He made all the running and then galloped on to see off challenges in the closing stages. This was a cracking performance from an 11 year old who just keeps progressing and the long term target in the 2010 Grand National. Mean while his form confirmed the Twiston-Davies stable set for a strong challenge at Perth.
The sometimes apparently superhuman qualities of one A.P.McCoy cajoled GONE TO LUNCH into second place. He picked up ground in the last mile and was gaining on the winner close home. The problem is that getting him to produce his ability is such a hard job.
OUT THE BLACK was held from two out but ran another solid race. He’s not been over-raced for an 11 year old so there is still scope for a win or two next season. He would be interesting if aimed at the Veterans’ staying events next term.
The step up to extreme distances has done CHIARO no harm, since he won over 3m 7f at Hereford last time and lost nothing in defeat stepped up in class here. As a progressive seven year old not fully exposed at long distances he is one to keep in mind for staying events in 2009-10.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE didn’t disgrace himself in thrown in at the deep end in senior chasing company. I thought he was too short a price at 11/2 but he has been learning steadily and will be a challenger to be reckoned with next season.
L’AVENTURE, carrying the North money in the work sweep, performed to type, staying on when the contest was all but over.
KING BARRY has a very good record here but simply ran out of stamina.
SEA DIVA seldom wins but often runs fairly well in these events. She was never really going but picked up a place or two late on.
COE and BROOKLYN BROWNIE appeared not to stay.
WEST END ROCKER made mistakes early on was pulled up after being badly hampered at the twentieth.
THAT’S RHYTHM fell at the twentieth. Given that he had only own a beginners’ chase previously he seemed to be going well enough at the time.
NINE DE SIVOLA was never going and the accepted wisdom was that the going didn’t suit.
LE TOSCAN has been well out of form and was unable to climb the mountain presented to him.
DEAR VILLEZ had a tough task with top-weight in a race that generally favours the lower weights. He made a couple of mistakes and was well behind when pulled up in the straight.
ARTEEA ran a lifetime best in the Aintree National and it’s reasonable to assume that the effort told on him.
A couple of mistakes didn’t help SOUND ACCORD’s chances but it appeared the trip was beyond him.

4.00 2m 5 ½ f 0-150 Handicap Hurdle

THE POLOMOCHE has been out of sorts since a good effort at Ascot in December. It should be noted though that the intervening contests were at Cheltenham and Aintree and were top class handicaps. He found it easier here off top-weight, making most and battling back when headed briefly on the run-in. He’ll go up a bit for this and will find life increasingly difficult over hurdles.
HALLA SAN is an admirable dual-purpose performer, and his last run was on the all-weather at Kempton. He’s still on a mark which can be exploited in a handicap hurdle on this quick ground.
WORKING TITLE saw out this extended trip well enough in third if held by the first two.
WARSAW PACT performed soundly coming off a break.
MIDDLETON DENE was decent as a novice but has found life tough in senior handicap company this season and needs a drop in the weights.

4.35 2m 0-152 Handicap Chase

Those at the top end of this decent class handicap looked in the grip of the handicapper and those contesting the finish came from the bottom end of the weights.

PEPSYROCK has been running some decent races round the decent tracks in the south, and found the West of Scotland to his liking as he saw off Beggar’s Cap in a close finish. The two were clear and the form reads well. BEGGAR’S CAP deserves credit for being the only one to bustle up the favourite and both are the right end of the age scale and can take this form forward.
DOMINICAN MONK stayed on late for third but found the rise in class a little tough to handle.
LESLINGTAYLOR hit two out when making a little progress from the rear and his effort came to an end. He comes out of this season with a degree of credit and is not on an impossible mark.
LORD HENRY led or disputed until a mistake two out at which point he folded. He has his work cut out to win off 150.
PABLO DU CHARMIL weakened from the final turn. He is another who has had some stiff tasks of late and needs respite from the handicapper.
KILMACKILLOGE, coming off a break, raced off a career high mark and it remains to be seen if he can cope. He offered little encouragement in pulling up here.
ANDREAS was struggling when falling three out. He hasn’t recaptured his decent ground form from last spring.

5.05 3m 1f 0-130 Novices’ Handicap Chase

Another decent contest on a very fine card.

AURORAS ENCORE benefitted when his nearest challenger almost departed three out. That being said, he saw off the remainder plenty easy enough. He’s won over 2m and 3m over fences this season and performed creditably over hurdles last time, so his trainer has plenty of options.
VALLEY RIDE raced prominently but was chasing in vain from three out. He has good form round the sharp tracks at Newton Abbot and Fakenham and his current mark should still give him options at those venues.
RUSTARIX was left behind in the straight. His form going right-handed looks stronger than on left handed courses.
FRESH AIR AND FUN was still in contention when clouting three out. He then made a pig’s ear of the last and lost a couple of places. His jumping has been decent in the past so he may be forgiven this one.
SEIZE won in lesser company at Musselburgh off 12lbs lower, but this was beyond him.
SHOULDHAVEHADTHAT’s form tends to go up and down, and this was not his day.
STORYMAKER has ability on his day but doesn’t always produce evidence of it.

5.35 2m NH Flat Race

A shock result but the form looks sound enough with decent winners behind.
Bill Amos produced decent bumper performer Lie Forrit last season so it’s not a huge surprise to see him come up with another. CARTERS REST was tried in a tongue-tie which worked the oracle turning a moderate performer into a decent one. He’s related to winners and may go on from here.
Another stable that has produced a decent performer or two in the recent past is that of George Charlton, and he sent out MASTER BEAU to bustle up the winner here, well clear of the third.
Alan Swinbank’s newcomer SIR FRANK ran a fair race in third, if well held and the stable should place him to advantage.
WITHERSPOON won well here last time but was put in his place this time. The fast ground may not have helped and he will benefit from a stiffer test.

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