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.