Friday, 29 May 2009

Cartmel Spring Bank Holiday Monday

CARTMEL – Monday May 25th

Going – Good (Good To Soft on the woodside)

Drying meant the Bank Holiday Monday card was run on pretty decent ground, with the customary moisture lingering under the trees.

3.25 2m 5½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

The chases at this meeting would normally but run-of-the-mill, but on this occasion we saw the debut of an interesting chasing prospect in Knockara Beau.

The old adage that ‘class will out’ survives after this event, but only just since KNOCKARA BEAU made a determined attempt at demolishing the Cartmel fence-builder’s handiwork. He jumped some fences proficiently but made a pig’s ear of just as many. The fences took their toll as it took George Charlton’s gelding time to see off his closest rivals once turned for home. Knockara Beau was a decent novice hurdler but he needs to get his jumping act together to reach the same level over fences. He is an interesting prospect for the autumn campaign nevertheless.
SOTOVIK has a poor completion record over fences, but he’s clearly possessed of ability and performed creditably here. He took the lead round the final bend, but hadn’t enough in reserve to hold the winner. It would be hard to crib too much at this effort and he will be interesting back in handicap company, though there might be a minor novice event for the taking.
STOP THE SHOW ran to his best measured against Sotovik. He didn’t have the pace of the first two from the start of the straight. His previous form suggests a longer trip and stiffer track are what will suit him best.
TULLY HILL led for a while before giving way against vastly superior opposition.
FEELING PECKISH, rated 4lbs worse than Tully Hill at 64, was a long way behind.
NO PANIC ran out at the water first time round, perhaps distracted by the layout that passes the ‘wrong’ end of the straight.

4.10 2m 5 ½ f Maiden Hunters’ Chase

Three pulled clear of the remainder in this event.

ACCORDION ROILELET, a winner of an Open Maiden and an Intermediate in points from four efforts, was held up early and brought to challenge two out. He stayed on under pressure to win nicely. He failed in a Restricted which shows that although he has ability there is a relatively low ceiling to it Rules wise. He now goes up for sale and may be of interest to some stables off a handicap mark of 86.
DOUBLE GEM has run two decent races in maiden company. He led going well four out, but was one paced once headed two out. His career to date suggests one unable to raise his game at the business end.
DIX HUIT CYBORG didn’t settle particularly well early on probably paid for that in the latter stages, though he had every chance two out. He won a point-to-point at Fakenham and may be happiest on a sharp track.
KNOCKABOUL KING plugged on from the rear for fourth but that’s basically as good as he is at this level.
BENNY BOY led from the third to three out but gave the latter a thump and quickly went backwards. He’s probably best a two miles, though there aren’t many such events in the hunters’ calendar these days.
FATHER OWEN, a dual pointing win, jumped poorly and was held from a mile out as was BROWN’S BECK who is a consistent but exposed pointer.
LOLIPOP won his Members’ at Aspatria but found this way beyond her. His general pointing form suggests a venture into National Hunt racing was optimistic.
OVERJOYED won on the same card as Lolipop at Aspatria, though the former won with more in hand on occasion. It showed.
BROXPARISBOULEVARD raced prominently but was tiring when hitting the last and almost coming to a standstill. He came home in his own time after that.
HEATHFIELD FLYER, off the track since May ‘08, nearly dislodged Josh Guerriero at the second but made enough progress to be prominent by the tenth at which fence he took a heavy fall. He has ability but also has jumping issues.
WAS I RIGHT jumped poorly and his rider gave up the struggle before the tenth obstacle.

Cartmel Spring Meeting 2009 - Day One

CARTMEL – Saturday May 23rd

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places, Soft by the woodside)

The usual large crowd attended for the first day of Cartmel’s Bank holiday racing festival.

6.20 2m 5 ½ f 0-100 Handicap Chase

The start was a shambles with a handful left flat-footed and having to make up 10 lengths plus. On balance it probably didn’t make a huge amount of difference up front, but in my opinion the runners should have been recalled.

BABE HEFFRON is suited by the opportunity to dominate the opposition was never seriously challenged here on a track that suits his tactics to a tee. Taking a strong hold early on he was soon in a clear lead and kept up the gallop all the way to win with a bit in hand. He needs a course to suit his front-running tactics so isn’t one to back blindly and he’ll be bumped up a fair bit for this win.
PEAK SEASONS performed creditably in second. He went after the leader from the ninth, but it was clear soon after the last that it was beyond him to catch Babe Heffron. He probably doesn’t see out this trip and a drop back in distance will help. Peak Seasons is a tough performer who was appearing on a racecourse for the 79th time, an impressive tally for a six-year-old.
SOUTH BRONX has ability and has won in a better class than this, but he doesn’t always show it. He was outpaced from the twelfth, but plugged on late for third. He won off 8lbs more than this at Perth last summer and, if he could be persuaded to give of his best, would stroll a race at this level.
SYCHO FRED jumped poorly in the latter stages which ended any glimmer of hope he may have had. He failed to finish on his two previous outings and doesn’t look a safe conveyance at this time.
ILOVETURTLE was out the back most of the way, plodding past a few for fifth. There probably isn’t a lowly enough race for him in present form.
NOBLE BILY never looked happy and didn’t show. His rider reported that he hung right throughout the race.
CLASSIC HARRY was outpaced as was UPTOWN LAD, and CROFTON ARCH joined them at halfway after some sticky jumps.
STORMONT DAWN unseated at the sixth when in midfield.
JBALLINGALL raced prominently early, as is his way, but a mistake at the ninth saw him weaken swiftly and he was pulled up, as was LAGO who had lost touch by halfway. The latter’s very heavy fall at Carlisle doesn’t seem to have done him much good.

6.50 3m 2f 0-95 Handicap Chase

This may prove to be a significant contest at its level since the second carried forth a decent Perth run and thee winner has been showing up well in points. There were many proven slowcoaches in the field toiling from a long way out.

Once again the start was a shambles, though on this occasion the runners were recalled. The second attempt wasn’t an awful lot better but the runners were allowed to go on their way.

ITS TEESCOMPONENTS, 2122 in points recently but going over regulation fences for the first time, went prominent at halfway, led at the fifteenth and kept up the gallop from there to see off a determined second. This was a step up on her hurdling form, and she should be capable of another win.
GERSHWINNER impressed me at Perth and ran well enough here to suggest that he is progressing. He was lugging 12-2 in this race, which is a heavy weight by current standards but was still able to chase the winner at close quarters in the straight. I’m impressed with Donald McCain’s charge and there must surely be another race for him.
ORCHARD HOUSE plugged on for third, but never got to the leaders.
ADAMS WINE, carrying forward fair pointing form, wasn’t totally disgraced but was feeling the pinch approaching the water for the last time.
TULLY HILL ran prominently and is certainly showing more zest than on his early outings after crossing the Irish Sea, though weakening in the last mile. However,
as soon as anything like a racehorse appears against him he is pretty well stuffed.
ARC OF STONE was awkward for the false start, and didn’t look much keener the second time round. He basically trundled around in the rear and didn’t seem over-keen.
LADY ROANIA made a little progress after halfway, but was soon back pedalling and completed the course the length of the straight and more behind the first two.
THE ARTFUL FOX fell early on.
MITCHEL HENRY presumably came out of his previous race with no lasting effects, but he was once again well off his game and pulled up. It could be that his trainer knows better than I do, but I reckon he needs a nice rest now as it would be a shame to see an honest enough performer soured.
BIG BONE is proving ‘big slow’ and pulled up before the twelfth.
MURPHYS BEAU went off in front, but felt the effect of his exertions past halfway and pulled up before the last lap.
BACK TO BILLS, racing tubed, was another to race prominently before weakening after halfway. He probably should have been pulled up and communicated this by refusing three out.
NELLIEDONETHAT has had a decent run of results over the winter and spring but was never going here. This may have been one race too many for now and a rest is possible.
NEIDPATH CASTLE won a dire race at Hexham, a fact clearly acknowledged by the handicapper who only moved him up 6lbs for 18 lengths. Coming up against a few with more will and more ability was more than enough to see him off here. He made mistakes in the rear early and was pulled up after two circuits. He has yet to prove he stays extended trips.
OFF THE SHELF ran midfield until hitting the tenth which did for him as he was pulled up before the last lap.

7.25 2m 1½ f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

The third last fence was omitted here as the vet dealt with a stricken horse.

SILMI is rated 124 over hurdles and, on the evidence of this chasing debut, looks capable of matching that mark over fences. He jumped like natural, led at the ninth, had gone clear at the last and went away after being shaken up. He was chucked into some very tough contests over hurdles and it is his trainer might plot a less tough campaign over fences.
HONOUR’S DREAM didn’t jump particularly well but kept going in the latter stages to bag second. He probably found this a bit on the sharp side, and the rattling pace that often sustains around Cartmel didn’t really help him.
DANNY ZUKO raced in the rear for much of the way, picking off tiring rivals from four out. He may well progress for this first experience over fences, and is with the right handler to do so.
JORDAN’S LIGHT went with the pace from halfway but paid for that from two out and finished very tired. He won a lousy selling hurdle at Kelso, but basically struggles to see out even the sharpest two miles at a decent pace.
HISTOIRE DE MOUERS jumped slowly early on and never got competitive. He’s better than this and I wouldn’t have thought the track was to blame.
MUJAMEAD led until the eighth and then weakened quickly.
FINNEGANS RAINBOW was struggling and detached by halfway and it’s a long time since he got within hailing distance of the winner.
WRITERS BLOCK went with the leaders early on, but was feeling the pinch when making a ‘horlicks’ of the water (9th) and unseating.
PARADI became another sad entry on the memorial role, perishing when taking a very heavy fall at the fourth.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Kelso Spring Finale, with bonus chases from Sedgefield!

KELSO – Wednesday May 20th

Going – Good

The last meeting of the spring campaign at Kelso. There was a time when that would have been ‘last meeting of the season’, but times change. They shared the day with a Sedgefield card and the three ‘Sedgy’ chases are covered below.

2.25 2m 2f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

A distinctly moderate contest to start the card, though won nicely by ANY GIVEN DAY who took over after the last. He wandered about on the flat; seeming happier once he had the rail to run against. This one isn’t in the normal McCain mould, having been a fair handicapper on the flat, but he showed enough to suggest he can progress from here.
MINI BECK made the pace as is his way and kept on well enough once headed. He clearly has ability and may find a small race but he’s a 10 year old and time is not on his side. A novices’ handicap would probably look to be his best chance.
BALLYMACDUFF weakened from the last but may a respectable hurdling debut.
SEVEN IS LUCKY has settled at his level in handicaps, currently rated 100, and was held here. He doesn’t strike me as a sort to take a novice event as less experienced horses improve past him.
CATCH BOB was the previous winner here but was crying ‘enough’ going to the last. This was below previous form for no obvious reason.

3.00 3m 1f Class Novices’ Chase

This was basically a two-horse race with the favourite COQ HARDI looking to be going well enough when falling at the fifteenth. This left THE SHY MAN to come home well clear of two vastly inferior opponents and taught us little, though he is more suited by this sort of trip.
COQ HARDI has plenty of ability though seems plenty high enough in handicaps off 128.
STAINLEY out-plodded GLACIAL RAMBLER for second, but both have been way off the mark this season and achieved little other than the chance to pick up some housekeeping money.

3.35 2m 2f 0-100 C.J. Handicap Hurdle

Rather a rogues’ gallery event, with a number trying hard to shirk the issue in the latter stages.

As she has proved in the past, NEVSKY BRIDGE is notoriously difficult in a finish, but credit to James Halliday for getting her head in front right on the line so that she won without knowing it. She once again held her head left up the run-in and had to be kidded to the line. On balance it’s been a good effort to a couple of wins, plus a disqualified and placed second, plus another couple of seconds out of her over the winter and spring. She presumably has a tough constitution s she runs regularly and is likely to be kept on the go now.
ETHAN’S STAR probably has a little more ability than he cares to show. He looked the winner fifty yards out only to be ‘mugged’ on the line. He has improved for professional riders in his last three races.
EMOTIVE had every chance from the last but couldn’t, or wouldn’t, raise his game enough to get in front.
JANAL disputed or led most of the way but couldn’t offer any extra from the last. He won a poor event at Catterick, but in truth is very moderate.
SOLIS was once again let down by his hurdling in the closing stages. He’s another who has ability if he cares to show it but is desperately frustrating.

4.10 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase (third last fence omitted)

This event was marred by the death of MOOR SPIRIT. He appeared to clear the first fence, but landed in a way that suggested to me he may have had a seizure after taking off and died before landing. This was a sad way for a good stable servant to take his leave.
I doubt this race will help us much in the future since it was won by the 13-year-old HOLLOWS MILL. He had shown glimmers of form during the winter campaign and went close a couple of times at Carlisle. He does seem helped by an uphill finish.
EBORARRY wins occasionally, normally if the race falls for him, but could only offer one pace after the last.
MISS PROSS seemed to have an opportunity here but weakened from the last.
SMART CAVALIER picked up ground late in the contest but never threatened. This was a slightly better effort and he would be interesting if he can be settled in front under a professional pilot, since he showed a bit running from the front for Jamie Alexander previously.
STAR SHOT raced prominently until whacking three out which did for him. His jumping is doing him no favours currently.
MY CONDOR, placed in a selling hurdle last time, was well below par here, fading from three out. His jockey was cautioned for overuse of the whip.

4.45 2m 6 ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

A competitive staying hurdle won in decent style by CORKAGE. Definitely best on top of the ground, Lucinda Russell’s gelding was caught flat-footed down the back but picked up again turning for home and won with a little more in hand than the ¾ length margin suggests. With conditions likely to favour him he will presumably be kept on the go in the coming months and this run suggests there is more to come.
MARKINGTON stayed on for a close second. This was a fair effort against an improving winner, but he’s up to 118 after a clear win at Newton Abbot and will have something to prove off that mark.
IT’S A ROOFER is handicapped pretty much to his mark now, keeping on for third. Another summer sort with top of the ground form.
RUN FOREST RUN led four out and had every chance at the last, but ran out of steam and a drop back in trip seems advisable.
This seemed one race too many for POLITICAL PADDY and a summer break beckons. INDUSTRIAL STAR was prominent until going lame after the seventh.

5.20 3m 1f Hunters’ Chase

This was an open event won in pleasing style by the novice ALMOST BLUE. Held up early he was brought steadily into the contest by Jamie Alexander, disputing from two out and then asserting on the flat. The rider got a bit unbalanced on the flat but his mount had enough in hand. This run boosts the form of the novice event at Perth and confirms the winner there COASTLEY as something for the future.
FLOREANA stayed on under pressure from two out, and a last rating of 100 sets the standard. Her rider collected a 6-day ban for her flailing.
SENORA MOSS set the pace, surviving a bad blunder at the fifteenth, before giving way three out. She stayed on again, but her rider’s flapping style did her no favours on the run-in. She would be suited by a step up in distance, having won a four-miler point, though she’s only ever run at Kelso and opportunities would be limited.
DR HELLIER had every chance but was one paced from the last. He’s consistent if just lacking a last ‘oomph’ at this level.
RATHOWEN led three out but weakened from the last. This was a shade disappointing and he doesn’t seem to be capable of running to the 115 mark he held before this contest.
BELEM RANGER raced prominently to two out. He looks to need tucking away until the latter stages and maybe raced a little too prominently on this occasion.
LORD WHO was never in the hunt and doesn’t seem as good as he once was.
MISTER MGANUM was outpaced from a mile out.
TEERIE EXPRESS never got into the race and found the opposition too sharp.
TIME TO REFLECT gave way after racing prominently to four out. He’s finding nothing once push comes to shove.
BEN NELLY was behind when falling two out. He has a little ability, but his jumping lets him down too often.
BRIGHT AND BUBBLY was totally outclassed and pulled up.

Meanwhile at


Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

6.30 2m 4f Hunters’ Chase

VAN NESS has been consistent in points and hunter chases. After his main rival departed, he went clear four out here, but gave the impression he wasn’t doing an awful lot from three out. Tim Edwards got agitated on the run-in and his flapping style was not necessarily helping, but Van Ness still had plenty in hand.
The winner’s main rival ELIA DOALOTT went well enough before hitting the ninth and depositing her pilot.
OVER TO JOE progressed from three out and closed on the idling winner after the last. A fair effort, but no more than that.
BRISCOE PLACE led early and kept on in the closing stages. He improved on his Perth effort and might be worth a try at a longer trip.
ELUSIVE WARRIOR, consistent in points and a maiden winner, stayed on from the rear for fourth but then she weakened over a longer trip last time. It could be that this is the limit of her ability.
CARAMAN was outpaced from three out.
PARADISE BAY, FIFTH COLUMN and GOOD INVESTMENT lost touch in the last mile, while PRIMUS INTER PARES was detached from early on.
BENWELL was close up to the eleventh and then weakened.
CRASHTOWN LEADER, ridden in hunting style by Simon Robinson, was soon detached following a bad first fence mistake, and pulled up four out alongside ALPINE WARRIOR who lost touch from halfway.

7.30 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

SHERIFF HUTTON showed a good deal of promise on his hunting debut, leading two out and staying on for victory. He should win a novice event under a penalty, but is reported as being given a rest until the autumn.
LITTLE LU, also making a chasing debut, was outpaced at the top of the hill but stayed on for second. She rated 130 over hurdles and was 6 from 13 in that sphere. A chase win seems a formality.
FLEMROSS had a Down Royal fourth to his name over fences. He led from the fourth to two out and was then one paced. A stiffer track would help.
SNAKE CHARMER, a hurdles winner in the winter, was held from two out and to date doesn’t look as good over the larger obstacles.
HEAVENLY CHORUS advanced a shade on her previous course effort.
BEWERY MAN looks a chasing type. He never really got grips here but will improve with time.
CARAMIA showed some promise in early chasing efforts, but this was a step backward.
MADGE was hopelessly outclassed, with only the pulled up FORTUNE’S FOOL showing up as slower.

8.00 2m 4f 0-100 Handicap Chase

WOODY VALENTINE’s rejuvenation continued and whatever the key is his new stable have found it in three runs. He went clear from two out and once again had plenty in hand. This win will take him out of this class, but given that he’s rated higher over hurdles he may be capable of steeping up yet again.
DEUTERONOMY was held after being overtaken three out but stayed on well enough. He should be placed to advantage soon, possibly over a longer trip.
EASBY MANDARIN stayed on ‘under encouragement’ from three out. He was wearing blinkers for the first time but they didn’t make an obvious difference. He’s a maiden after 23 goes.
SILVER STEEL, awarded a race at Fontwell in March when last seen, never got to grip with the principals and finished a one paced fourth.
LAWAAHEB won here after a break in April but couldn’t repeat the form. The general pattern of his form suggests he needs regular breaks.
MASTER PAPA was not dangerous in sixth.
FLYING FORME, pointing in Ireland since leaving Philip Hobbs, lost his prominent pitch around the twelfth and weakened.
DIVEX dropped back swiftly after a mistake at the eleventh. This was not his form.
SCHINKEN OTTO was never going in the rear and pulled up. He hasn’t won over fences since late 2007.
SANDS RISING seems to have lost interest again after a brief promising spell.
NOBEL raced prominently early but couldn’t keep up once the race began in earnest. He was off the track for a year and a half to last December, and has been well below previous form since then.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Braveheart Day at Hamilton

HAMILTON – Friday May 15th

Going – Good To Firm (turning Good with rain falling)

The rail was moved out on the loop and I’ve allowed for the extra distance in the longer races.

I can’t ever recall Aidan O’Brien having a runner at Hamilton but he made the trip for ‘Braveheart Day’ at the Lanarkshire track. Two Listed races for decent prize money featured on the card.

6.20 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

An ordinary maiden won comfortably by CORPORAL MADDOX who will be given another outing in a conditions race before a decision is made on participation at Royal Ascot.
TRINDER, who is blind in one eye, made a satisfactory debut in second. He is bred to go a bit so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take a race soon.

6.55 6f 0-80 3yo Handicap

Not a particularly strong event, though the winner ALL THE NINES put up a decent handicap debut, following up a Southwell maiden win. She showed plenty of determination up the hill to hold on.
AL MUGTAREB performed moderately on his handicap debut but bounced back to some sort of form here. He probably sets the standard off a mark which looks to reflect his Catterick maiden win reasonably accurately.
RED KYTE stayed on up the hill for third and may benefit from a move up in trip.

7.30 1m 3f 41yds Glasgow Stakes (Listed) 3yo only

The Hamilton Executive must have been very pleased with the quality of this field, with Aidan O’Brien and Saeed bin Suroor both putting forward runners. In the event though it was Mark Johnston, often a visitor to Hamilton Park, who took this race with the promising PARTHENON. He set the pace and gradually wound things up once turned for home. He simply galloped the remainder into submission, staying on relentlessly up the hill. His attitude looks very good and he should be capable of making the move up to Group level. I would imagine the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot might be a target.
Aidan O’Brien’s STATELY HOME was the only one to challenge Parthenon, but his head carriage didn’t impress once the pressure was applied. He has a load of decent entries, including a Derby place, but he has a bit to prove after this performance.
HOLBERG kept on for third without threatening the winner. He looks pretty decent and should rate higher than his current level of 90.
POPMURPHY was outpaced up the straight. He is one who may improve for a bit more experience.
EMIRATES CHAMPION was well held from the junction of the loop. This was only his second run after a maiden win first time out and he’s another who should improve with racing.
BOTHY was left behind in the straight, but not punished once his chance had gone. He was aimed high here after a win last time and will benefit from a drop back in class.

8.05 1m 1f 61yds Class 5 Maiden

Last seen out running in bumpers, and a winner at Musselburgh in December, HILLVIEW BOY made a pleasing Flat debut here. He finished with a fair rattle and won the race with a bit to spare. He’s shown enough ability to suggest he can make a mark at handicap level and his bumper experience may give help.
MATRAASH looked to have the race won two out but was caught close home. Bearing in mind this was a maiden, he was unlucky to come up against a previous winner and saw off the remainder well enough to suggest his place in the winner’s slot is only delayed.
HIGH SEVERA stayed on for third and may benefit from a step back up in trip.
DUBAI ECHO ran well below the level of his Windsor form here. That was on good to firm ground and it could be that the rain here didn’t help.

8.35 1m 4f 42yds Listed Handicap

My impression was that this was a decent field, but ALLIED POWERS put them to the sword comfortably. He challenged two furlongs out and then went clear. The problem for his trainer is that he is now going to be right at the top of the weights in handicaps and will have to tackle non-handicap Listed or Group company. He has to continue improving to make a mark at a higher level.
LADY JANE DIGBY was the only one to chase the winner seriously in the final two furlongs. She saw out the trip well enough and shouldn’t be hampered by a weight rise given the distance beaten by the winner.
DRILL SERGEANT was comfortably held in third and may be a little high in the weights currently.
The remainder were strung out, but it may be worth noting AMANDA CARTER, running from 4lbs out of the handicap, who got to a challenging position three out before giving way. The task was well beyond her in this company, but she would be worth a glance at a lower level.

9.05 5f 0-75 Handicap

The card finished with a ‘whose turn is it tonight?’ sprint handicap, and the form book went out of the window as the Alan Berry trained 50/1 chance ANDRASTA won from 5lbs out of the handicap. The drop back to 5 furlongs may well have helped since her recent record at the minimum trip seems a bit better than at 6 furlongs. Not one I would trust to repeat the win in the near future.
Those following finished in a heap and it’s difficult to pick up any particular pointers for future winners. They are exposed and the handicapper has a pretty good handle on them.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

PERTH - May Meeting

PERTH – Wednesday May 13th

Going – Good

The weather was sunny but with quite a cutting easterly wind for the first evening meeting of the year at Perth. The crowd was a bit of a disappointment. I doubt there were much more than 2,000 on course and that would the smallest crowd I’ve been in at Perth.

The Irish came in their numbers for the two day meetings. The ferries must have been full of horse boxes over the preceding couple of days.

6.30 2m ½f Class 4 Mares’ Intermediate Hurdle

Not a strong event in terms of numbers or ability.

This looked a good opportunity for OPATJA to add to her Newton Abbot win. I n the event she was held by the all the way leader though giving of her best to the line.
CROW SPINNEY set a decent pace and continued the gallop once turned for home. She showed plenty of determination when challenged. She’s rated a few pounds worse than the runner-up so will go up in the weights.
BE SMART and JANE OF ARC were held from three out but had something to find with the front two anyway.
SHIPBOARD ROMANCE had a decent performance at Kempton on her record, but she pulled too hard early on and her run herself out by two from home.

7.00 2m 4 ½f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

A phrase oft used for this sort of race applied once again, ‘high on numbers, low on quality’.

The race was won by a well exposed sort in THE GINGER MAN. He did impress me in the paddock and did the business well on the course, making progress from the final bend, leading at the last and running on.
The one to take out of the race should be CARSONSTOWN BOY. He still looks to have a bit of strengthening to do and the impression was that he can still be sharpened on the fitness side. Making his hurdling debut, he stayed on for second and looks the type to win a similar race.
WIKAALA didn’t seem to see out the trip here. There was some doubt that he had seen out the distance here last time and so it proved here as he had nothing extra to give after two out. A drop back in trip looks essential if he is to get his head in front.
CASUAL AFFAIR should be making more impact in these events and faded after having every chance two out. He was once again well backed but is getting increasingly frustrating.
Nothing else in the field made a mark or showed anything promising for the future.

7.30 3m 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase

This was a competitive little event for its level and there may be future winners to emerge in time.

Donald McCain is as good a trainer of a steeplechaser as there is in the Northern part of the country, and he produced GERSHWINNER for victory on his chasing debut here. Only a moderate hurdler, he jumped these into oblivion and had the race won from two out. For a first timer his jumping was spot on and will stand him in good stead to move up a class.
HE’S A HOTSHOT left previous chasing form behind to take second place. He was held from three out.
THE CORBY GLENN was ridden patiently, held up in the rear for much of the way. He made progress from four out but never quite got to the winner and any lingering hopes were dashed when he ploughed through the last. This was a fair effort, but it’s possible he struggles to see out this trip.
NICKY TAM was well out the back for much of the way but plugged on through beaten rivals for fourth.
INDY MOOD was brought down last time and on this occasion didn’t get in a serious blow having been given reminders with a circuit left. He hasn’t won for four years and it’s questionable whether or not he is putting it all in these days.
ARC OF STONE raced prominently to five out but was readily put in his place after that.
FANE OSCAR was always in the rear on chasing debut.
TOP CLOUD was never going and was pulled up. He has disappointed over fences and has suffered breathing problems.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE was soon in the rear and pulled up as was THE MAYSTONE whose Carlisle run is beginning to look like a flash in the pan.
SIERRA VICTOR belted a couple and was never going.
STAINLEY has been seriously below par recently and after a brief show at the front he was struggling with a circuit to go.
KING OF THE OPERA, fitted with first time blinkers and tongue-strap, led from the sixth to three out then quickly folded and pulled up. He’s probably better over a shorter distance though he did weaken very quickly.

8.00 3m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

Sadly SINGING WIZARD broke a leg on the flat when leading after the fourth and was put down. The third last flight was omitted as the stricken gelding was treated.
PRINCE BALTHASAR hadn’t appeared over jumps since a chasing win at Musselburgh in December 2007. However, he did run in a charity flat race at Punchestown recently and that seemed to have tuned him up nicely as he stayed on to win cosily. He’s lightly raced and at the right end of the handicap, so there is scope for further victories.
SO BILLIANT, looking spot on in the parade ring, didn’t do much wrong in second, leading before two out then being overhauled at the last. He kept on to finish well clear of the remainder.
CURRAHEE is in fair form currently and kept on for third if well held. He saw out the trip well enough.
SOLWAY BEE isn’t possessed of any particular turn of pace and just plugs on, being outpaced from three out here.
MIGHTY MASSINI looks over-weighted on 114. His second at Ayr was in a four runner event and doesn’t look any great shakes. He needs to drop a few pounds and was beaten from three out here.

8.30 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

GO SILVER BULLET won at Musselburgh in December but suffered a nasty cut which required some recuperation. He was sent away to his owner’s place for a while but returned here looking trained to the minute. He led at the third and then kept up the gallop which added to some precise jumping, saw him win with a significant amount in hand. The grey gelding was still buzzing after the race and seemed to enjoy his jaunt. He seems in his element on this sort of track on good ground so I’d be very surprised if Lucinda Russell doesn’t find another race for him soon.
THE ROCKING DOCK hadn’t shown much on recent form in Ireland, having fallen on his previous chasing effort last year. He was staying on when hitting the last hard but recovered to hold second. A longer trip would do no harm.
FLAMING HECK was always up against it when unable to dominate, but didn’t roll over easily, keeping on well enough to bustle up the second on the run-in. He’s probably handicapped to his best now and needs to be able to dictate a race to record another win.
ARRESTING is not one to trust. Though slightly more amenable than he has been on occasions in the past, he was well held from four out.
SMART CAVALIER tended to go off too fast in hunter chases. In handicaps, though held up, he hasn’t got the speed to keep up in the latter stages.
RAYSROCK was driven to go after the winner when unseating five out. I got the impression he would have struggled to match the winner.
SILVO had little hope from out of the handicap and was always behind until pulling up after three out.

9.00 2m ½ f C.J. Handicap Hurdle

This was a fascinating contest with the jockeys on the first two trying to ‘out-wait’ each other in the straight.
Ewan Whillans nursed PETE home as he finds precious little off the bridle. Brought to challenge at the last he was nudged out to hold the second on the run-in. He will still be well weighted, even with a rise from this, since he didn’t do any more than was needed. Backers will need nerves of steel though since previous evidence suggest he will fold under pressure.
I’d noted NEVSKY BRIDGE as a weak finisher previously. Brought quietly into the contest to challenge at the last by the promising James Halliday, she hung left up the run-in and clearly didn’t relish the struggle though did get close. She’s one to note for in-running backers since she’s likely to go a short price in the latter stages.
ALAGON made pleasing return after a two year lay-off. He was one of four in line at the last, but fluffed it and couldn’t recover quickly enough, though gives some hope for the summer campaign.
BALE O’SHEA ran to his mark, having a chance at the last but one paced on the flat.
MILLAGROS and FOODBROKER FOUNDER do not look the performers they were over hurdles and were held from two out.

PERTH – Thursday 14th May

Going - Good

The Irish raiding party dominated the second day of the meeting, scoring in five out of the seven races. It’s worth noting a few of these since they will be back over the summer.

The ground dried out in the sun and wind and there were a significant number of absentees later in the afternoon.

2.00 3m ½ f Intermediate Hurdle

Ian Ferguson had won this race twice from two attempts previously and WINNING COUNSEL made it three. A maiden hunter chase winner on her previous outing, Winning Counsel made all on this occasion and won with a fair bit in hand. She clearly stays very well.
DIVERS was stretched for pace three out but stayed on in the straight to take second.
PRESENT GESTURE was highest rated of these but was held after challenging two out.
SO BILLIANT made no show and was presumably feeling the effects of a second place finish the previous night.

2.30 2m 4½f Novices’ Hunter Chase

COASTLEY, on chasing debut under Rules, had a decent pointing second to Anshan Spirit on his record and justified favouritism here. He led or disputed most of the way and having been headed at the last battled back determinedly. He’s lightly raced and looks the type to progress from here, and his attitude looks sound.
ATHOSS was third in this race and has been placed in Restricted points this year. Having led two out he was headed by the rallying winner close home.
ALMOST BLUE, consistent between the flags but making a Rules debut here, couldn’t get to the leaders down the straight. His rider was untidy on the run-in tough he looked held anyway.
SILK PARASOL, a winner of an open Maiden point last season, raced prominently before finding matters too tough from the home bend.
KALATIME was always in the rear and had lost touch by four out.

3.00 2m Class 5 Maiden Chase

A moderate looking race.

LORD LANSDOWN had this at his mercy if reproducing his best form and, having led three out, ran on for victory. He won’t find easier opportunities than this, but he is a pointing winner so any step up in trip should help.
ESSIFER stayed on for second but needs a longer trip. His only win came in an Irish point in 2006.
ARTURO UNO didn’t get to the leaders. His bumper win was at Towcester so it’s very possible that more of a slog will suit.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR lost touch from four out on his chasing debut.
MR MCGONAGLE led to three out but quickly dropped back. His form over his last few runs has been poor.
ATHOLLBROSE trundled round in his own time as usual.
OSCAR’S EMERALD didn’t look happy on chasing debut and after receiving reminders early he became detached and was pulled up four out.
THEATRE RIGHTS pulled up to continue the stable tradition of non-achievement. Quite why he has a rating 5lb in advance of Athollbrose is a mystery.

3.35 2m ½f Class 4 Claiming Hurdle

EDDIE DOWLING won what looked a moderate event and was claimed for £8,000 afterwards. Best in on the official figures he did nothing wrong, leading two out and running on well, but whether this race told us anything for the future is debatable.
CHERRI FOSFATE, a multiple winner on the flat, stepped up on previous hurdling efforts. He stayed on from two out but didn’t threaten the winner. He was claimed for £5,000 and at least demonstrated some hurdling ability here.
The remainder were well held, KNOCKLAYDE ROSE being outpaced in the straight and fourth-placed PRINCESS OF AENEAS running about as well as expected for one rated 74.

4.10 2m 4½f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

Number four on the afternoon for the Irish as KALELLSHAN did the business off top weight. He made steady progress to challenge from two out, took the lad at the last and stayed on to win cosily. His previous three runs were with cut in the ground and this form harked back to his runs on a better surface, his record on good or faster being 4762211. It would be no surprise to see him travel over the Irish Sea again soon and he looks capable of stepping up in class given the right conditions.
PRINCE BALTHASAR came out quickly after his win the previous evening. He lost nothing in defeat here being held by the winner but clear of the rest. The step down in trip may not have helped.
RATHROCKSCOURT made it a full house for Ireland, leading from the sixth to two out but held once headed. Evidence to date is that he lacks a little pace at the business end of the race though he may well find a minor maiden or novice event if carefully placed.
HAWKWELL stayed on in fourth suggesting that a longer trip may help.
GUERILLA showed up a little better than of late considering he was 8lbs out of the handicap.
THE SALTIRE TIGER led early and was still prominent when losing his action approaching the third last and being pulled up.

4.45 3m 0-115 Handicap Chase

Despite losing six of the prospective contestants pre-race this still wasn’t a bad event. The Irish seem to find it just a little bit harder to make an impact in the chases than the hurdle races, though Gordon Elliott managed a second here.

NGONG HILLS had good autumn and winter kept to good or fast ground. He disappointed at Carlisle but that’s his only try at a stiff track and probably forgivable. He made progress from four out and stayed on to lead after the last. He continues in good form and will be one to keep in mind while conditions continue to be in his favour.
KELLS CASTLE put up an excellent effort in the Highland National and ran creditably dropped back in trip. He belted three out and took time to recover which may have lost him the race. He is another whose best form has been on good or fast ground, and I assume his trainer will continue to target races in the UK.
SEEK THE TRUTH ran a cracker from 6lbs out of the handicap, leading from the twelfth to the last then being outpaced on the flat. He would be interesting if Sue Bradburne can find a lower class race, but looking at his form it’s difficult to draw any hard and fast conclusions, and he is a bit up and down.
ALL RISE led mid-race and was still on the premises approaching the last but was held from there. A fair effort but the youngsters seem to have the legs of him.
GIULIANI made no impression from four out and is basically a lowly rated plodder.
NILE MOON wasn’t able to dominate as he had done on his previous two outings. He challenged briefly three out but went backwards from there. He went up significantly in the weights for the two wins and that mitigates against him now.
KALMO BAY is usually held up, but apparently found the pace too strong and was detached by four out.
CATCH THE PERK is a multiple winner here but hasn’t hit form in two runs his season, so it remains to be seen if he retains his ability at twelve. Don’t count him out yet!
THE OUTLIER was struggling when hitting four out and pulled up before two out.
SAPIENT unseated early.
OH JACKIE was never going and pulled up with a mile left.
MITCHEL HENRY didn’t show his form making mistakes and never going, being pulled up after nearly falling at the thirteenth. He was reported as having ‘attrial fibrillation’ which I believe in layman’s terms is an irregular heartbeat. It is to be hoped there are no lasting effects since he seems an honest sort who had a decent campaign over the winter.

5.15 2m ½ f NH Flat

As with many bumpers they dawdled the first circuit and it only livened up once turned for home. This sorts out those who have a turn of pace but is no use to any who are favoured by stamina tests.

Gordon Elliott recorded his hat-trick on the day as FINAL DAY took over near the last set of wings and ran on for victory. He is well-related and did the business well here, so it seems likely he’ll win another bumper before making some sort of mark over hurdles. Certainly one to keep on the right side.
KEOGHS BAR won a point-to-point in Ireland so wouldn’t have been favoured by a three furlong sprint. He led briefly two furlongs out but couldn’t hold the winner once headed. He can win a minor bumper but ultimately will be suited by a stiffer test over jumps.
CIANNTE had every chance two out but was one paced from that point, but this was a fair effort for a filly.
CUIGNY, a winner at Sedgefield in April 2008, ran respectably on return. He was tapped for speed from three out, though not helped by some bumping two out and the form of this event probably isn’t bad so this one has prospects for the future.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Early May in the Borders and just over the border

KELSO – Wednesday May 6th

Going – Good (turning Good To Soft)

2.25 2m 6 ½ f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

The pace was a decent one set by ALL OUT FOR SEVEN who lived up to his name when headed and quickly fading to be pulled up after the seventh.
BREAKWATER HOUSE disputed once All Out For Seven gave way. He led from three out and showed more determination than the second after the last.
HEEZ A STEEL remains a maiden. He had every chance here but was held on the run to the line. He may well pick up a race eventually but finds it hard work getting his head in front in the closing stages.
SOLWAY BAY kept on for a fairly adjacent third and ran to his mark. He might find a little event this summer, and it could be at his local at Cartmel.
DAUNTSEY BAY ran a decent race in fourth from 5lbs out of the handicap if held from two out, while BENMADIGAN was found wanting at the same stage.

2.55 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

MINOUCHKA made a successful move up from hunter chasing to take this event. She has a creditable record of 13 fist three places from 17 efforts under Rules and is a multiple point-to-point winner. Prominent all the way she was going well to the last and took over on the flat, staying on strongly. She is apparently aimed at a Stratford hunter chase, but she could mix it in handicap company if the stable wished to try that avenue.
REEL CHARMER was left in the lead two out but had no answer to the winner. This was a best cashing effort to date and he looks potentially tasty off a mark of 113 in handicaps.
SNAKE CHARMER has been on the go for a while and put up a fair performance in third, never quite getting to the leaders. This was a fifteenth race since last November, so a summer rest beckons and he’d be one to keep in mind for a similar event in the autumn.
CARAMIA was top rated of those with a handicap mark, but faded from two out.
OUR JIM went well in front to two out, but got very low and lost his jockey. He was in the process of running his best race over fences. He may struggle to win these events but a novices’ handicap would be a possibility.
UPTOWN LAD had no chance here, losing touch by the fifteenth and being pulled up.

3.30 2m ½ f 0-100 C.J. Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

The ground had eased due to the rain.

The recent form of the first two was nothing to shout about so the value of the form is questionable. PETE disputed the lead from three out and asserted on the flat. He found this an easy opportunity but as a note of caution he was going well at Sedgefield last time but gave way fairly easily.
TOMMY TOBOUGG stepped up on previous hurdling form, having been beaten a long way in three runs. He was comfortably held on the run to the line.
SOLIS moved into contention two out and looked to have every chance at the last. He fluffed the flight completely and as stopped in his tracks, chasing the front two vainly to the line. He has ability may prove frustrating.
KINGSHOLM went with a steady to two out then weakened, form which doesn’t offer immediate encouragement.

4.10 2m 6 ½ f 0-95 Selling Handicap Chase

A bit of a plodders’ convention, though the race was at least run at a decent pace.

KINFAYRE BOY made progress to join issue three out, led on the flat and stayed on. He did this nicely enough on his second chasing venture, has a fair record hurdling and may have prospects of a follow up over fences.
ANOTHER CLUB ROYAL showed a good deal more zip than his has over the winter. He seemed happy disputing the pace and didn’t give in easily.
STARK RAVEN repeated last year’s placing and as on previous occasions was run out of it in the latter stages.
PENDLE FOREST was held up and stayed on well up the run-in, passing a few to finish fourth. Though not getting near winning she is showing a little more than she did for much of the winter.
OFF THE SHELF came with every chance to the last but gave it a serious belt and didn’t recover.
BIG BONE came with a chance to three out but could offer no more from there. He had some fair hurdling form in 2004/05 but has plummeted in the handicap since.
STONERIGGS MERC has ability if he cares to show it, but it was not a going day. He gave way tamely from the turn out of the back straight.
SUPREME’S LEGACY never got competitive. He had every chance on his best form but looks to be on the downgrade.
ESQUILLON unseated four out when feeling the pinch four out.
MOYNE PLEASURE was well beaten when falling four out.
CASHARI never showed and his jockey called it a day at the twelfth.
I reckoned JBALLINGALL had shown enough to get involved here but he was never going. He was off the track for over two years before this season and hasn’t recaptured previous form.
AMOUR DARIA has a very poor record and added a P here, racing prominently before dropping back from a mile out.

4.45 3m 4f 0-110 Handicap Chase

Not a brilliant event for the level, and a big hole was knocked in the field when three came down four out.
NICOZETTO won well at Sedgefield but then ran no sort of race at Hexham. He was back to form on this occasion, being held in the rear, avoiding the carnage four out and staying on well for victory. He has won over two and a half miles which gives his trainer a few options.
ASTYANAX continued in good form. He is hard work and had to be shoved along for a fair part of the race, but stayed on for second.
SEIZE, a Musselburgh winner over three miles in the winter, was one paced from the last. The jury is out on whether he truly sees out the trip.
WINDY HILLS weakened from the last and may just be better dropped back in trip.
CUTE N YOU KNOW IT was in the process of running her best race over fences, leading when falling four out. Challengers were queuing up though, so her credentials have to be tested.
INDY MOOD was going well enough when brought down four out.
EIGHT FIFTY SIX is hard work and Alex Merriam had been shoving for a way, but his mount as not out of it when brought down four out. He did jump to the right much of the way and this didn’t help.
COLDWELLS was hampered four out and was pulled up. She had gone well to that point.

5.15 3m 1f Hunters’ Chase

The field sizes have been rather disappointing in Scottish Hunter Chases this year and only six showed up for this event.

SENORA MOSS is a four mile winner in points so stays all day and put that staying power to good use here, as she was galloping on when others had run out of reserves.
HASPER was driven to keep up the gallop from three out but didn’t have enough to hold the winner.
FATHER MURTAGH plugged on for third but never seriously threatened the winner. This was a bit below the form of his Bangor effort.
ELUSIVE SWALLOW was beaten from three out. She gives the impression of being a weak finisher in points and wasn’t good enough here.
GARDEN FEATURE performed well at Carlisle previously, but dropped away tamely on this occasion.
ELLANDSHE jumped poorly and finished well beaten in last place.

5.45 2m 2f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

STILL AT LUNCH was one that caught my eye in bumpers a couple of seasons back. She made all to win this comfortably. Much depends on whether the handicapper sees the second or the third as the ‘measure’. A 5lb or so rise probably wouldn’t hinder future chances too much, but a double figure rise would not be at all helpful.
STORM PROSPECT is probably handicapped to his form. He chased the winner from two out and this was a sound enough effort.
WITNESS RUN was well held from two out. This was not a bad effort on return to hurdling.
MOTIVE threatened briefly two out but faded from that point.
PONTOP was prominent early but another held from two out. His best form has been on fast ground, so he’s one for the summer.

HEXHAM – Saturday May 9th

Going – Good

This meeting had a couple of handicap chases which were heavy on numbers but lighter on solid, reliable form.

3.35 3m 1f 0-95 Handicap Chase

Having fluffed his lines off top-weight at Carlisle, SEA CADET found this similarly rated event an easier challenge. Making progress up the hill he stayed on to hold Reckless Venture on the flat. A rise in the handicap will take him out of this class…, not helpful!
RECKLESS VENTURE looked to be going best of anything climbing the hill but couldn’t muster enough to pass the winner. Past evidence suggests that if he is going to win a race in the near future it will be at Hexham.
I said a few less than complimentary things about TULLY HILL over the winter, but he has a least shown there is a little life in him. That said it will have to be a seriously poor race if he is to win, and he was held from the start of the climb. He is at least completing regularly now.
BALLYNURE had looked totally disinterested of late, but did show a little more here, though his brief effort from three out came to nothing.
MURPHYS BEAU tracked the leaders then felt the pinch three out. He’s fair to middling in this company.
STAR OF RAVEN, who is old and slowing down, was beaten by two out and finished 55 lengths adrift.
SCUZME was quite well backed but had had enough by three out. He has not gone close over fences to date.
FINBIN had shown a bit of form over hurdles and was a mildly interesting newcomer to chasing. He went well enough until being hampered and unseating four out. He should be able to pick up a chase at this level.
BEN TIRRAN led at the sixth and was still going well in front when falling four out. This was a good deal more promising than previous efforts.
SILVER DAGGER was always well behind, and kept company by GLACIAL RAMBLER until the latter called it a day at the twelfth. Both are out of the handicap and seem to be forlorn hopes.
SANDS RISING and HOLLOWS MIST, both capable of a good deal better, and IRISH POWER who probably isn’t, all bumbled round in the rear before being pulled up.

4.40 2m ½ f 0-95 Handicap Chase

In terms of recent form this 0-95 was a bit better than the first event. A few of these were dropped back in trip, notably NELLIEDONETHAT who would surely have been good enough to win the staying event but was predictably outpaced at this trip.
I’M YOUR MAN found his form again following a hurdles outing last time. He led early but then dropped back as the pace picked up on the downhill section. Once hitting the climb the others came back to him and he stayed on strongly from there. The clear win may take him out of this class which won’t help his short term prospects.
TRAFALGAR MAN raced prominently and stayed on late having been tapped for pace from two out. This course doesn’t play to his strengths which are more suited to a sharper track.
FALCON’S TRIBUTE went on three out and pinched a decent lead, but the effort told approaching the last. This was a best effort for sometime and it’s worth noting that he has won on fast ground around here.
BUCKSTRUTHER kept on from two out and needs further.
FRED BOJANGALS made an effort up the hill but that used up his reserves. This was a fair effort off a break and he’s basically a summer horse so one to keep an eye on.
IT’S BERTIE is frustrating and having received reminders three out made no impact from two out.
RED JESTER raced prominently early but was one paced from two out.
WHAT HAPPENED raced prominently until thumping three out which stopped him in his tracks.
BILLSGREY showed a bit more than he had on previous runs and eventually finished quite close up jumping competently. Sadly he had jettisoned his rider at the fifth so his efforts were to no avail.
CROFTON ARCH ran a poor race on his first race since October.
The Johnson stable had done well to coax a couple of races out of TOULOUSE EXPRESS who has ability when he cares to show it. However, he seems a cussed soul and showed little interest past halfway here, being pulled up four out.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Back on the 'Merry-Go-Round' for a new jumping season

Thanks to those who have been reading the blog over the past months. Jumping now runs continuously and the Northern circuit picked up quickly after Perth. I intend to keep my jumping notes going in much the same fashion as last season, with a horse-by-horse review of all the steeplechases backed up by notes on significant hurdling performances. I hope to get to more meetings over the next year than previously, work and home commitments permitting. The jump notes will be backed up by weekly or fortnightly summaries of Flat racing as time allows. Your comments on the usefulness, or otherwise(!), of the blog would be welcomed.

Sedgefield – Tuesday 28th April

Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places) – steady rain throughout the meeting.

We departed the previous season just four days earlier with a National, the Highland National, and it was the Durham National that ushered in the new season. It would be nice to have a little break between the seasons to take breath, but the apparent necessity of paying homage to the Great God of Money means it’s not going to happen.

6.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

OSOLOMIO produced an impressive front running performance. Going comfortably in front and jumping well he held his two main rivals down the straight. His first three chase efforts had shown much promise and he had been unfortunate to come up against three decent winners. He handles better ground than the softening surface here and should move on to further success.
MIZEN RAVEN challenged from two out but was held before the last. He has run some decent races in handicap company and is a good guide to the value of the form.
LEAC AN SCAIL ran a creditable race on his previous chase outing and, returned from hurdling, ran to his previous form here. He should be able to find opportunities over fences. His jumping in the latter stages wasn’t quite as sharp as the first two which may have made the difference.
SCUZME had no chance in this company.
HEAVENLY CHORUS didn’t get in a blow and ran to about the same level as last time.
MOYNE PLEASURE was flattered by his proximity last time and reverted to trundling round in the rear.
GENERAL STONE HILL won an ill-starred two-finisher event at Ayr last time. A remote last here summed up that form to a tee.

7.20 3m 4f 0-110 Durham National Handicap Chase

This was officially a 0-130, but was reduced to a 0-110

After his mishap in the soaking conditions at Ayr, LUCKY NELLERIE hinted at a return to form here last time and moved up on that run. Settled in front jumping well, nothing got to him in the latter stages and he stayed on to win with a little to spare. He looks at home when able to bowl along in front, and the dismal conditions that this race was held in didn’t seem to faze him.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND raced prominently and plugged on front two out but didn’t threaten to pass the winner. He’s still a maiden over fences though there doesn’t seem any problem with his attitude.
CANADA STREET just stays and stays and was plugging on down the straight though, as is his way, one or two of his jumps were less than perfect. He will presumably be put away until the autumn now.
GIULIANI ran well for a long way but weakened from three out. This was a fair effort from five pounds out of the handicap, but he hasn’t won since 2004.
KORELO has flattered recently but was woeful here and never going. He hasn’t won for three years and is not sound betting material.
DUNBRODY MILLAR raced prominently early, but faded on the last circuit and is deteriorating.
POLAR GALE hated the soggy conditions and can be forgiven this run.
PASAGAI made no show.
DON’T BE BLEU had a chance to four out, but was feeling the pinch when belting three out and was soon pulled up. She has ability and might be worth keeping tabs on in lowly staying chases.

KELSO – Wednesday 29th April

Going - Good

A rather brief summary of the first Scottish meeting of the new season.

6.00 2m ½ f Maiden Hurdle

A weak maiden won comfortably by Ferdy Murphy’s CATCH BOB. I’m sure he achieved an awful lot here, but his second to Reindeer Dippin at Hexham is probably sound enough and he looks a type who might go on to handicapping now since he would probably find one or two too good under a novice penalty.
Irish challenger BALE O’SHEA ran respectably in second and his best chance of finding a minor race may be this side of the Irish Sea.
The rest were well beaten and offer little encouragement.

6.30 2m 6 ½ f 0-120 Novices’ Handicap Chase

NILE MOON settled a good deal better here than on his previous win at the course. He made all and came clear from the last, being eased to a walk at the line. He will go up a fair amount but his attitude and jumping seem spot on and I’d be surprised if he didn’t win again.
CADOUDALAS, third in dire conditions at Ayr before being given a break, plugged on for second. He jumped right and hit a couple of fences, so did quite well to get close to the winner at the last but his quirks are not helping.
GENERAL HARDI tried vainly to go with the winner but probably needs more of a stamina test.
HUMOUROUS was never going and unseated after jumping two out very slowly.
BILLSGREY, from way out of the handicap, kept up the stable record of non-achievement, pulling up at the start of the final circuit.

7.00 2m 6 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

The Borders yard of Rayson Nixon had a fine 2008/09 season and wasted no time getting off the mark for the new term with the stable’s top rated performer POLITICAL PADDY. The gelding has run some fair races around here and led under encouragement at the last, being driven out to win. He won’t go up too much for this and will remain competitive.
SCALE BANK performed well enough in second to suggest a handicap in within his compass.
CURRAHEE won at Sedgefield the previous evening, so showed his toughness to finish a close third here off a penalty.
YOUNG ALBERT and GLINGERBANK both kept on in the latter stages without getting to the winner. GLIGERBANK hasn’t got an awful lot of miles on the clock for a nine-year-old and could be interesting back over fences.
MR WOODS couldn’t dominate here as he did at Perth, and will find life much tougher off his new mark.

7.30 3m 1f 0-120 Handicap Chase

JUSTWHATEVERULIKE ran up a hat-trick last spring and could be one for this time of year. He has won on soft but the impression is that he is a little better on a good or fast surface. He was ridden to lead at the elbow here, and probably wasn’t doing a lot in front. He is as high as he has been in the handicap but the impression is that there may be a little more in the tank. It was significant that he had no trouble with this trip.
SNOWY had looked a little out of sorts in the winter, but he has had a new lease of life as the weather has warmed up. He performed creditably here at a venue where he has recorded three wins, jumping well up front and battling back once headed. He may be kept on the go while in such good heart.
CORNERBACK ran well to two out but there felt the pinch. A drop back in distance would probably help.
BOUGOURE plugged on at the end but was never competitive.
MEGATON led or disputed early but cried enough from four out.
MANADAM was desperately disappointing here. He raced prominently early but dropped back quickly after hitting the thirteenth.
TEENANDO fell at the seventh.

8.00 2m 2f Class 3 Novices’ Hurdle

A poor race for a Class 3 event and PRESQUE PERDRE took advantage of the lack of serious opposition. A double penalty may now hinder him in novice events, but a mark of 113 seems reasonable for handicapping.
CRACKERJACK LAD seemed happier on this decent ground. He broke blood vessel racing in heavy earlier in the season and it could be worth sticking to this sort of ground.
TURTLE SPIRIT, having shown a degree of promise in bumpers, made a satisfactory hurdling debut. He should find a minor maiden hurdle within his compass.

8.30 2m ½ f NH Flat

Kelso bumpers are normally fairly decent and regularly provide a subsequent winner or two.

QUITE A MAN is an interesting prospect, particularly as he seems to having a bit of scope, and did well to hold his main challenger. He should pick up another bumper and, given a little time to strengthen should make into a decent hurdler.
REAPING THE REWARD’s stable haven’t produced a bumper winner in five seasons, but came close here. He kept on well and is one to keep on the right side when going over jumps.
George Charlton generally knows the time of day in these races and looks to have one with some ability in BOGSIDE. He pulled hard early which probably cost his chance and needs to learn to settle.
ARCTIC COURT steeped up on his debut and showed enough in the latter stages to give hope for the future.

HEXHAM – Saturday May 2nd

Going – Good

6.25 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

FLAMING HECK’s form had seemed to be tailing off with age, his last win having been in a soft renewal of this race last year. However the Hexham spring air clearly appeals and he was spot on here despite getting loose before the race. He was always prominent, led two out and was going well up the hill, staying on well in the straight. A sound performance but his profile suggests relying on the form would be a mistake.
IT’S BERTIE runs many honest races but seems difficult to win with. Having been held up here he stayed on for second.
OSO MAGIC has probably had his short term winning prospects severely reduced by a 9lb rise for his Carlisle win. He was held from two out.
HOLLOWS MILL went close at Carlisle in the winter but, though he runs an honest race in the main, he looks held these days.
MASTER PAPA threatened briefly two out but made no impact from there.
EBORARRY was another held from two out.
THEATRE RIGHTS was miles out of the handicap and carrying 15lbs overweight, so under the circumstances did as well as he could have done to finish seventh.
WATCH THE WIND never got into the fray and was very tired when just clambered over the last.
SCHINKEN OTTO is falling down the handicap but performing disappointingly.
YANKEE HOLIDAY showed up briefly early but faded in the last mile. He added to a long losing run and those people who made him 11/4 favourite clearly have money to burn.
PEN GWEN was toiling by the eighth and his form since moving to his current stable has been poor.

7.30 3m 1f Maiden Hunters’ Chase

British racing has many quirks, one of which is that one of Hexham’s principal races in a maiden hunter chase. The field was carved up a bit by five absentees.

There’s ‘notalott’ of ELIZA DOALOTT but on this evidence she ‘candoafairbit’. Irresistible puns aside, the pint-sized mare came into this race off the back of three pointing successes and continued her run with a dominant performance in this event. She progressed from halfway and pulled clear in the latter stages with spring-heeled leaps. A decent effort though she would have it to do against better opposition, though she’s only seven and going in the right direction.
TEERIE EXPRESS stayed on for second without threatening the winner, but has been well held in previous hunter chase efforts.
DR HELLIER, a fair third at Kelso previously, plugged on into third.
DOUBLE GEM, beaten a couple of furlongs at Kelso previously, led until two out before quickly dropping back.
GUNNER ROYAL didn’t jump well and plodded round for fifth, followed closely by PADDYS UNYOKE whose brief effort down the far side petered out.
NETWORK OSCAR won what was acknowledged to be a moderate renewal of the Grimthorpe Cup and was well held from four out here.
CHERRYLAND disputed early but was beaten a very long way.
BEN NELLY might have been expected to contest the places, but he’s never been the safest conveyance and dislodged his rider at the fifteenth, while SILK PARASOL said cheerio to Miss C Metcalfe at the eighth.

8.00 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

HARRY FLASHMAN looks more of a chaser than the short-priced favourite here. He held the runner-up comfortably from three out. His future depends on how the handicapper views this performance. His trainer would hope the official might take a look at the fact that very slow Overlaw was third.
NAIAD DU MISSELOT had a fair amount in hand on official ratings, but he’s not looking comfortable over fences and despite determined efforts was well held by an apparently inferior opponent.
OVERLAW is very slow and inherited third by virtue of the others’ failings.
STAINLEY has been below form over hurdles and had no chance of troubling the first two on chasing debut. She led early but was well beaten.
SIERRA VICTOR, never better than midfield and PAPERCHASER, who raced keenly early in the race, were both beaten from three out.
In a Nixon stable who have been buzzing in recent times SPIVITUS is an under-achiever and was struggling by the sixth, eventually pulling up before the eleventh.