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.