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.