Friday, 26 June 2009

Hamilton Park - 25th June

Going – Good To Firm

With the rail moved in, the round course distances were 30 yards shorter than advertised.

7.00 1m 4f 200yds 0-65 Lady Amateur Riders’ Handicap

A run-of-the-mill event of its type won in decent fashion by HI DANCER. A versatile sort who ran with credit over fences in the spring, Hi Dancer took up the running three out and kept up the gallop from that point. It may be that this is one performer suited by the weights in this type of event. A lifetime record in all racing of 9 out of 39 is quite impressive and under the right circumstances another flat win might be possible even with a rise in the ratings. That being said, with fair hurdle and chase form, and decent performances in soft and on fast ground there should be a few directions to go in.
BORDER TALE stuck on for second without getting to the winner. He’s well exposed now, this being his 90th race, but in moderate staying handicaps he should often make it on to the short list. Chances are he might do duty over hurdles at the likes of Perth and Cartmel.
EDAS chased from three out but the weight told close home. Another that has been hurdling, he sticks on well and normally sees his races out.
JANE OF ARC plugged on for fifth and I reckon Jim Goldie might be looking for a 0-60 or 0-55 staying event if possible.

7.30 6f Class 2yo Maiden Auction Stakes

COLONEL MAK has progressed nicely this month and quickened well to take this event. I’m not sure the opposition will prove to be up a huge amount in the long run, but it was difficult to fault the way the Makbul did his job. The future depends on how the handicapper sees this effort for nurseries, though a run under a penalty in a novice event would catch the eye.
LIVING IT LARGE kept on well for second on his debut and gave encouragement for the future.
SWEET MIRASOL briefly threatened to take the race one out only to be swamped by the winner’s speed. The fast ground here suited much better than the heavy encountered at Haydock on debut.
Mark Johnston has been dominating the Scottish maiden races but was foiled on this occasion; though it seems likely his FANTASTIC STRIKE will need farther to be seen to best advantage. He lost some ground at the start, but then picked up to be in touch before being held up the hill.

8.00 1m 35yds Class fillies’ Stakes

A small field but three very closely matched fillies plus one turning out for pocket money.
JUST LILLE put up a decent looking performance to win here. She forged clear from two out and is clearly in good heart. The second is a good measure and this looks decent form.
SILVER GAMES has been running well recently but found one too good here, though she stuck on well enough for second.
FEELING FAB was held from two out. The small field probably didn’t play to her strengths and more pace on would be better.
CASINO NIGHT, rated 21/22lbs behind the others performed creditably to at least challenge two out before being well held.

8.30 1m 1f 6yds Maiden

Normal service resumed in this event as Mark Johnston’s odds-on chance HAJAR took the event with a bit to spare. Those he beat aspire to being no more than moderate handicappers though, and Johnston’s future placement of this will reflect in what regard he is held.
RED DESIRE started slowly and was tapped for pace coming down the hill to three out. He stuck on really well from that point, passing two close home for second, and will benefit from now being eligible for handicaps. He may need further, but I’d trust his able trainer’s placement as regards distance.
KING’S COUNSEL’s handicap mark of 55 is probably a fair guide to the quality and he could only keep on at one pace alongside BLACK RIVER FALLS who now qualifies for handicaps, presumably off about the same 55 mark.
Bumper winner BORN TOPERFORM doesn’t seem to possess the speed for this sort of distance on the flat, and PICCOLO PRIDE just looks very slow.

9.00 5f 0-80 Handicap

There was a small field for this event, but it looked a decent contest with all runners showing decent form of late.
ROTHESAY DANCER recorded a lifetime best at Ayr last Saturday and, back in handicap, produced the goods once again. Kelly Harrison knows this one inside out and once again came up with the goods, settling the mare at the rear, pulling her out before the furlong marker and setting her alight. Rothesay Dancer produced a turn of foot that suggests there is still more in the locker and she seems to be getting better with age. She goes up only five pounds for her Ayr performance and I don’t think that will stop her winning, though she does need to come from the rear off a decent pace.
SPEEDY SENORITA lived up to her name and looked likely to hold on before been collared in the last 50 yards. She didn’t do much wrong and may well gain consolation off her current mark.
ARGENTINE battled hard but just couldn’t muster the extra needed here. He lost nothing in defeat here and is still one for the short list in these events.
SILVANUS pulled hard early on and this probably cost him in closely matched company. A sharper five furlongs would play to his strengths as the uphill finish here just sapped his reserves.
BO McGINTY had every chance a furlong and a half out and was held. He runs honest races but gets passed by improvers.

9.30 6f 0-65 Handicap

TANGERINE TREES repeated his previous course and distance win, forging ahead in the final furlong. He doesn’t do anything in a hurry so needs to be kept up with the pace, but seems at his best conceding weight against inferiors. He is suited by a stiff finish and fast ground.
MAGICAL SONG led until headed inside the final furlong. This looked a sound effort and he may win a race, but his strike rate is not great.
INGLEBY PRINCESS picked up well toward the finish, but was held close home. This was her best effort for a while and she may take an opportunity in a similar event.
ROYAL ACCLAMATION was held from over a furlong out and is now 1 from 24 which doesn’t make him sound betting material. HOWARD’S TIPPLE is another who is a bit frustrating, and on this occasion he flattered to deceive to a furlong out.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Hexham bows out for the summer

HEXHAM – Sunday June 21st

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

Hexham closed the shutters for the summer with a couple of fair looking chases. There might be a few pointers for the summer campaign out of these and at least one ‘hidden one’ worth a glance for the future.

3.20 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

FLEMROSS once again proved that a stiff track and fast ground is a combination that suits best. He led at a decent pace and, having been challenged at the last, kept up the gallop too well for the runner-up. His options might be a bit limited now, though if there’s not too much rain in Ireland then he could be campaigned on his home patch until the autumn meetings here.
The favourite ARMENIAN BOY ran well enough in second place as he came up against an in-form second favourite. He rallied up the hill but there wasn’t enough left after the last. He has a good record on fast ground and should pick up a race or two over the summer.
EBAC proved that his previous form here was no fluke and ran another decent race in third. He chased the leaders from two out but couldn’t get close enough to trouble them. If the handicapper doesn’t take too harsh a view of this performance Ebac would seem to have a good chance of picking up a novice handicap chase.
KEENE SPIRIT plugged on from the rear for fourth, more or less repeating previous form behind Flemross.
STORYMAKER got to a challenging position two out but the hill took its toll and he weakened in the straight. He can handle quick ground, but all his best from is on soft or heavy.
STORMFIELD, a point winner in Ireland, lost touch from halfway.
IT’S A ROOFER, making his chasing bow, belted the second fence and was struggling for most of the way.
SHORE THING was well placed when unseating at the eighth, whereas HAPTHOR was struggling when shedding his load at the same point.
HARTBURN disappointed on his move from hunter company. He never seemed happy after a mistake at the fifth and his rider called it a day at the ninth.
KIRCASSOCK VIC raced prominently early but weakened from four out and pulled up before the last. There’s a hint of ability with this one, but he’s subsided very quickly in the second half of the race in two chasing appearances.
DODGEY DREAM, ELLANDSHE trundled around in the rear before pulling up.
COUNTRY SERVANT looked totally clueless at his fences in the rear and Ryan Mania called it a day after the ninth, for his own safety as much as anything.

4.20 3m 1f 0-110 Handicap Chase

A good effort from ESME RIDES A GAINE to win this from 14lbs out of the handicap. She had hinted at ability on the odd occasion but stepped up on previous efforts, leading or disputing all the way. She went on from three out and stayed on just well enough to hold the fast finishing second. She is bound to be bumped up a stone for this and life will be more difficult.
CATCH THE PERK raced out the back until brought steadily into the race from three out. As with his previous effort he came rattling up the run-in just too late to get in front at the post. He seems a bit quirky in his old age but does retain his ability and it would be no surprise if he adds to a pretty decent win tally this summer.
Tim Vaughan must welcome the introduction of his local at Ffos Las, but it won’t stop him racking up the miles and he made the trip with CHANGING LANES here. He had every chance from three out but hadn’t got enough in reserve. He is suited by fast ground and in good heart so it shouldn’t be beyond his handler to find an opportunity.
HASPER didn’t disgrace himself moving from hunter chases to handicapping. He was found wanting from two out though and probably needs a drop in the ratings.
BENNY THE PILER wouldn’t be rated as the most consistent and he was left behind from four out. He has yet to win over fences and, for one with some ability, is more than a tad frustrating.
CARDINGTON raced prominently to three out but had been on and off the bridle before then. A less exacting track would be more helpful.
TORA BORA raced prominently early but was struggling by the twelfth and didn’t figure from a mile out. He has some fair form on his CV and reached a mark of 140 at one point, but seems on the downgrade now.
BALAKAR has been on the go for a while and found things too tough from the fence at the top of the hill on the final circuit.
THUNDER HAWK lost touch from the twelfth.
SNOWY was struggling before four out and his trainer’s comments inferred that this was one race too many for now. Hopefully this regular on the northern circuit can be freshened up for an autumn return.
HILLTOP CHARMER was another to race prominently early but he weakened quickly from four out and was pulled up two fences later. Since his Rules record is much better at distances around two miles, his Irish pointing record suggesting he struggled with the trip, I would keep a close eye on his entries as Gordon Elliot is a canny spotter of an opening.
WAYNESWORLD, pulled up before three out, looks too slow for this job now and never showed seriously.
HOWS TRIX seemed in a foul mood, jumped poorly and was tailed off when pulling up at the thirteenth.
DAD’S ARMY ran more like Private Godfrey than Private Pike, pulling up before the thirteenth.

Land Of Burns Day at Ayr

AYR – Saturday June 20th

Going – Good To Firm

Race distances on the round course were increased by 10 yards due to rail movement.

There was a very decent card for Land Of Burns Stakes Day. The type of race for the Land Of Burns Stakes has changed over the years, the most recent renewal a five furlong race for fillies.

2.25 1m 81-100 3yo Handicap

A very competitive contest to open the card where none of the nine runners could be counted out on initial analysis. In the event the race was won very cosily but a very interesting prospect in FIREBET. Ridden to join issue at the two furlong pole, FIREBET only needed to be nudged out once he led before the furlong marker and won readily. He looks plenty good enough to make an impact at Listed level or higher, and will not be inconvenienced by a step up in distance.
TIGER REIGNS kept on after the winner to take second and is another progressive sort. There was a suggestion he didn’t see out the extra quarter mile at Redcar last time, but he must surely pick up a handicap at a mile on this evidence.
PEKING PRINCE was held up and didn’t figure significantly until picking up late on for third. He was moving up from 0-75 which is a big ask and just found it beyond him. However, there’s plenty of scope for a drop back to a lower level off a current mark of 78, and the way he finished suggests a longer trip would prove no problem.
BIG APPLE BOY set a decent pace but couldn’t offer any more once passed two out. Form so far suggests he is held on a mark of 84.

2.55 5f 'Land Of Burns' Listed Fillies’ Stakes

This race was one by Tommy Stack’s SUGAR FREE who looks a really nice filly and is capable of mixing it at Group 3 level. She led a furlong out and ran on for victory.
Stack’s options at home in five furlong contests are rather limited since there are only two five furlong Pattern races run in Ireland, and neither are fillies’ only. Her target may be a 6f Group 3 event at York, though my impression is that Stack may be better seeking opportunities at the minimum trip.
CITY DANCER ran a creditable race in second, keeping on but not getting to the winner. She should find handicap opportunities at the minimum trip off 95, and can cut it at Listed level.
ROTHESAY DANCER isn’t good enough to win an event like this, but a canny ride by Kelly Harrison ensured a third place finish. She couldn’t go the early pace but Harrison was patient and allowed the filly to pick her way through late on. Harrison gets on really well with Rothesay Dancer and she’s one to look out for back in handicaps provided the handicapper doesn’t take this form literally.
JARGELLE couldn’t dominate like she had done when second at Sandown. She was a spent force a furlong from home.

3.25 1m 4f 76-95 Handicap

I’ve praised the tactical nous of Danny Tudhope before and he once again showed his ability to create opportunities ‘on the hoof’ by quick thinking. He settled GORDONSVILLE at the rear, but with no great pace on Tudhope encouraged his mount forward to lead after five furlongs. He didn’t relinquish the lead after that and battled determinedly to see off a persistent runner-up.
GORDONSVILLE has not been a prolific winner despite consistency over his career, but he’s decent when things fall for him. I reckon these days this trip is about his minimum.
DOLLY PENROSE didn’t do much wrong in second. She has only won one race to date but her trainer sends horses north on a regular basis and should find an opportunity.
MASTER AT ARMS looks handicapped to his level. His best opportunities will come when conditions suit and MASTER AT ARMS seems best recently over longer trips on Polytrack.
ALEATRICIS has been a steady improver but may have found this class off 83 a little tough being held from two out.

4.00 6f Class 5 2yo Maiden

Not a great maiden but GHOSTWING could do no more than win with a great deal to spare. Richard Fahey knows the time of day with his youngsters and this one should be placed to advantage in stronger company.
BENRISH looked very green and was flat-footed from the gate. He picked up late on as he got the hang of things and should learn from the experience. A step up in trip would do no harm.

4.35 6f 51-70 Handicap

These sorts are regularly seen racing against each other in Scotland and the North of England.
MAISON DIEU is a frustrating soul and needs things to fall right. The impression I get is that he is suited by challenging late between horses. His run was blocked recently at Hamilton, but on this occasion things opened up a he led half a furlong out. He’s ‘Placepot material’ but one I’d tend to oppose in the win market.
HANSOMIS continued in good form being run out of it inside the final furlong. She remains in good form and doesn’t look weighted out of contention yet.
GLASSHOUGHTON picked up late to finish third. He’s not a prolific winner, but has won off much higher than his current mark and he goes better on easier ground.
JUST FOR MARY put up his best performance for a while, running on in fourth place and running to his level.

5.10 5f 66-85 Handicap

The tongue-tie was reapplied on LE TOREADOR, perhaps indicating a breathing problem when down the field at York. He led or disputed all the way and held on close home. He won’t go up much for this and may be capable of scoring again, particularly while the ground remains fast.
ARTSU was held up in the rear and picked up late, though not quick enough to get up. He’s best when held up, but by the nature of these races needs things to fall for him and backers need to ensure the price gives enough leeway.
NICKEL SILVER was up with the pace from the start but just run out of it late on. This is probably about as good as he is on turf, and he may be worth a go back on the Polytrack if a suitable 0-90 could be found.
STEELCUT looks held off a mark of 79.
STOLT ducked down as the stalls opened and was left seven or eight lengths. In the event he did very well to come through the field to take fifth. He’s capable of taking a race in this class if behaving himself.

5.45 1m 2f 56-75 Handicap

SHY GLANCE was settled following a decent pace. He led two out and held on, but wouldn’t want to be too much higher in the handicap.
RED SKIPPER has dropped back to his winning mark after a number of below-par runs. His strike rate is 1 from 20, his win being over 7 furlongs, though he saw out this trip well and might just be suited by this distance.
WEE CHARLIE CASTLE went close first time and picked up late form the rear here, getting there just too late. A trip to the winner’s spot seems only delayed.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Quick Mid-June 'Flat Circuit' of Scotland!

HAMILTON – Wednesday 17th June 2009

The opening two-year-old maiden was won in quite decent style by Mark Johnston’s AWZAAN. Johnston’s charges have a reputation for being tenacious in the latter stages and this one seems out of the usual mould. Of those behind, the fourth LAYLA’S BOY looks to need further and might offer the best value over seven furlongs or more.

I’ve had an eye on JENNY POTTS since she showed a modicum of promise in bumpers. She won a hurdle at Wetherby, and was recording a first flat win at the fourth attempt here. A clear winner here, the evidence is that she is likely to be best at distances a bit shorter than the 12 furlongs she tried previously. Len Lungo has stated that he will be giving up his license. However, while he continues to train it’s likely he will get another win or two out of this progressive mare.

BID FOR GOLD was a clear winner of the 0-75 handicap at 4.45. However, he rather had the run of the race, getting clear early, and will likely prove one to oppose with a double figure rating rise on the cards. The opposition was moderate.

WHISPERING GALLERY doddled up in the 3-5yo maiden and I would trust Mark Johnston’s placement next time as he doesn’t seem short of ability. The first foal of a multiple winner up to 15f he could well go on to much better events than a lowly contest at Hamilton.

MUSSELBURGH – Thursday 18th June 2009

Small fields for this meeting and it’s not one I could take many pointers from for the future.

BOULD MOVER took the opening two-year-old maiden nicely and is one who should be competitive in nursery company off a mark in the low 70s. PATCH PATCH will appreciate more of a test than the sharp five here, and ran well enough after a slow start to bag second.

AMAZING TIGER provided another maiden winner for Mark Johnston. Much depends on how he’s handicapped, but given a mark of no worse than 80 he may be able to pick up a handicap if continuing progression.

MUSSELBURGH – Friday 19th June 2009

It’s a nonsense of the racing programme that sees Musselburgh operating on the same day as one of Ayr’s most popular meeting. However, such are the ‘benefits’ of the free market. There’s strong support for racing in Scotland, but diluting the fare by having two meetings on the same day does no good, and it’s not the first time in recent weeks.

The first seven furlong two-year-old contest in the area saw PALLANTES CROSS victorious for Mark Johnston who pretty well has the maiden division in his keeping at the moment. Making all in typically tenacious style for a Johnston entry, he should stay one mile and clearly found the fast ground much better than the heavy he was disappointing on previously. Nurseries will presumably be the target now and he seems to have scope for development. MISTER ANGRY accompanied him well clear of the rest to make a stable one-two. He should pick up a maiden, and a stiff seven or a mile would do no harm.

FORREST FLYER turned round previous form with BAIZICALLY on better terms. There were only four runners here which should be borne in mind, but he’s honest enough and should continue to be competitive in 0-70 contests. BAIZICALLY is as high as he would want to be on 70, and was slightly wayward on this occasion, pulling hard and apparently aiming for the course exit at the first bend.

Keep an eye out for JANE OF ARC who was lat of four in Forrest Flyer’s race. She has shown a bit over hurdles and is a course and distance winner here. On this occasion she was out of the handicap but might be more at home in a 0-60 handicap or a lowly selling race.

NORTHERN FLYER has taken time to get going but showed a turn of foot to win the 3yos only 0-65 handicap over seven furlongs. He seems to be improving and could be interesting when next appearing.

MOUNTAIN CAT continued his good run for Alan Swinbank and there may still be a little more to come though he was made to work by course specialist GRAND DIAMOND.

ROCKETBALL took advantage of a 17lb pull for two lengths on Hamilton form with ARGENTINE. ROCKETBALL is what the Americans describe as a ‘one dimensional speedball’ in that he goes from the start and is spent once passed. He grabbed the rail here and kept the run going to hold on. My gut instinct would be to favour him if he is drawn well enough to grab the rail position, but oppose on other occasions.

ARGENTINE continues in good form, and this was another good effort under a double penalty. He came up against a winner suited by the way the race panned out and I wouldn’t be put off backing him next time to pick up the winning thread once again.

AYR – Friday June 19th

This was the ‘Saints And Sinners Meeting’ acquired by Ayr as a Hamilton ‘payment’ to hold on the ‘Glasgow Fair Friday Meeting’. Would that somebody down south would take time out to understand the Scottish Holidays and Festival meetings. Considering I only moved north myself in 2006, I’ve soon become rather protective of ‘our’ local racing! It must be said that this part of the world easily gets into the psyche.

For all that this is a popular meeting the standard of racing is very moderate, with a couple of Class 4 events the best quality on offer.

The meeting opened with a poor mile apprentice handicap full of non-achievers. Following that, Mark Johnston continued his domination of the Scottish maiden scene, with CRIME WRITER landing the odds in comfortable fashion. A handicap mark of around low to mid 80s would seem likely given the runner-ups 72 rating. Anything around the 80 mark would make him distinctly interesting, particularly if moved up in trip.

Alistair Whillans wouldn’t readily strike me as a Flat trainer. However his Borders yard has scored a few winners on the level in recent seasons and a rejuvenated TOM TOWER won here at 20/1. He came back after a break and won this very easily. The stable will presumably be tempted to run under a penalty. It is worth noting that the stable have a decent record from a few runners when venturing south.

In Racing Forum chat recently I lamented the fact that Scottish racing was short of a trainer or two. However, it should be noted that Tom Tower’s event consisted of five Scottish based trainers taking on an Irish raider. Proven dual purpose trainer Jim Goldie provided two runners, Whillans’ Borders stable the winner, Jean McGregor sent a runner from Milnathort(just across the motorway from Lucinda Russell’s yard) and Linda Perratt, a welcome returner to the training ranks, made up the quintet of runners.

Five Scottish runners out of six in the next event with Ian Semple providing the winner in CHOOKIE HAMILTON. Lucinda Russell and Len Lungo provided two of the ‘local squad’ on this occasion. The winner was clear with COTE D’ARGENT and bear in mind that the third SUMMER SOUL is probably a fair marker. Take a note of the fourth IFATFIRST who pulled too hard early on and would be better suited by a decent gallop.

GRISSOM and DAMETIME were clear of the remainder in the six furlong 0-80 contest. Their amended ratings should allow them to remain in the 0-80 class and this may prove crucial in the short term. It’s worth bearing in mind too that GRISSOM is possibly more effective at five furlongs.

IBROX won the last which will have pleased some and annoyed other patrons in equal measures. It would be rather ‘interesting’ if ever Ibrox came up against a horse called Parkhead…… From a form point of view, what you see is what you get, a group of tightly handicapped horses finishing a slowly run race in a bunch.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Mid-June jumping at Hexham and Sedgefield

HEXHAM – Saturday 13th June

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

Hexham racecourse gradually wends its way toward the end of the spring campaign and a number of the usual suspects contested the two chases on offer.

3.35 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Chase

TRAFALGAR MAN continued in good from disputing for most of the way, taking over two out and staying on after the last. He is in very good heart and it would be no surprise to see him record another win as he remains a bit below the best mark he reached over hurdles.
EBORARRY tried hard enough in second but wasn’t good enough to hold the winner. As mentioned before though, he does need the race to fall for him if he is to win a race. That being said, he’s not often outside the first four and does regularly give a decent account.
CITY AFFAIR had every chance two out but was one paced from that point. This was a creditable enough effort dropped back in trip, and back around 2m 4f I would expect Tim Vaughan to find a race that he can win. He’s entered up for the first meeting at Ffos Las.
HOLLOWS MILL came into this in excellent form but he hit one or two early on and that set him back. He did get into the argument up the hill but needed more at that point and there wasn’t enough left.
NORTHERN QUEST had every chance going to three out but hit it hard and that finished his chance. He was injured in a fall here last year and might just need a run or two more to recover his jumping confidence.
CROFTON ARCH had no chance from 19lbs out of the handicap and his recent efforts in lower class have been poor.
CADOULATIQUE couldn’t cope with the move form hunter chases to handicap company and was struggling by halfway.

4.45 2m 4 ½ f 0-100 Handicap Chase

The race was contested by a group that wouldn’t be considered amongst the most reliable of characters. The first four finishers were all out of the handicap, which doesn’t say an awful for those above them.

UPTOWN LAD’s recent jumps form has been abysmal. However there was just a hint on a recent flat run that there was still life in ‘the old dog’, and so it proved on this occasion as the race was run to suit him. Sat right out the back off a decent pace, he latched on to the tails of the leading group going up the hill and then went away comfortably on the run-in. The pattern was similar to his previous wins back in the ‘dim and distant’. Could he repeat the form? We had only a couple of days to wait…
PAPERCHASER jumped better than at Cartmel, and ran a decent race in second. He’s still a maiden, but does at least seem to be putting it all in, and a win is not out of the question in the next month or two.
BALLYNURE had run a succession of lifeless races, but showed clear signs of a revival on this occasion. He raced up with the pace and led before the last only to be picked off at that point. He may pick up a weak race, but his profile in recent times is not one to encourage monetary involvement.
CELTIC FLOW needs to be dropped to the minimum class if he is to win, but showed enough here to suggest that’s not out of the question. Allowing for the fact that another mile would do no harm he did well to secure fourth place, basically being tapped for pace in the latter stages. If connections could find a low grade staying chase he wouldn’t be a forlorn prospect. However, finding that race may not be easy at this time of year.
LONGDALE, a hurdle winner here on a week previously, was still in the hunt two out but held from there. His jumping isn’t quite sharp enough over fences.
DEUTERONOMY raced prominently to two out and then gave way. He was backed into 5/2 favourite here, not good value for one who has won one race and that off a 12lbs lower mark.
STORMY BAY has a profile littered with letters and didn’t get into the race here.
FREEDOM FLYING is a one paced hurdler who showed up no better on chasing debut.
BUCKSTRUTHER has often struck me as having latent talent, but it’s struggling to come to the surface and he was never going here.
KINFAYRE BOY needs further, but never got into the race here anyway.
DIVEX has produced his best form in mid-winter over the last couple of seasons and ran a poor race here, being beaten from a long way out.
ROOKERY LAD has been running as if there’s a problem and was reported as having broken a blood vessel on this occasion when pulled up.
RATHOWEN showed briefly early on but capitulated past halfway and seems on the downhill slide.
COUNTRY SERVANT came a cropper at the first to keep up a dreadful record to date.

SEDGEFIELD – Monday June 15th

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places), changed to Good To Soft before the second chase.

I’ve made a number of uncomplimentary comments about Bob Johnson and his ‘inmates’ over the winter. However, the Tyne and Wear trainer has hit form big time in the last few days and a chase double on this card made it 6 winners from 30 runners in the new jumps campaign, with a couple of flat winners thrown in for good measure.

3.30 2m 4f 0-115 Handicap Chase

ONIZ TIPTOES unseated at the fourth, knocking Harry Haynes out as he was ejected sideways. Haynes recovered, but the fourth last was missed as he was attended.
I’ve said some uncomplimentary things about TOULOUSE EXPRESS’s commitment to putting his head in front. For the third time in six runs he proved me off the mark, leading or disputing all the way and asserting down the hill to the last. Whether he can keep producing this form is a moot point, but his attitude couldn’t be faulted here.
The winner was ridden by 7lbs claimer James Halliday, and I have a lot of time for this young rider. He has a neat style and seems to get horses running for him. Without wishing to cast aspersions on the stable’s regular rider Kenny Johnson, I’d be more inclined to back their horses with Halliday aboard.
Sedgefield specialist POLAR GALE stayed on well to take second, a creditable effort over a trip short of his best.
PAMAK D’AIRY ran a decent race to finish a close third. He is his own worst enemy though, since he pulls hard and has a tendency to fluff a fence or two, a mistake at the last maybe costing him second here.
PILCA had a chance two out but weakened. He couldn’t repeat his Perth effort and is frustrating.
I’M YOUR MAN was outpaced form the top of the hill. He’s another frustrating performer, mixing the good with the bad.
NILE MOON dropped back in trip, couldn’t repeat his Perth effort in this lower class event. He’s a bit high in the ratings now, but really should have held on a little better here.

5.00 2m 4f 0-85 Handicap Chase

So, with the rain pouring down and the ground significantly softened, we saw the return of Hexham winner UPTOWN LAD. Could he reproduce the form shown in Northumberland just to days earlier? Turned out he could and he produced it in spades, though his backers must have been wondering about it with a circuit to go.
Held up off the back of the field, UPTOWN LAD was detached after a circuit, though it must be said that Paul Callaghan didn’t seem over-concerned. His confidence was well placed since Uptown Lad steadily picked off the stragglers to lie fifth before two out. He then conjured a fair rattle down the hill, leading at the last and sprinting away like a sprint bred two year old to the finish. Will he win again next time? To be honest, I haven’t a clue, but if he produces anything like this form again then he will.
The form is perhaps put in context somewhat by the presence of BIG BONE, somewhat maligned previously by your scribe but running an honest race here in lowly company. In retrospect he was probably slightly to catch Bob Johnson’s ‘flyer’ on a serious going day since opportunities won’t appear for him every day.
LADY ROANIA performed a good deal better than of late, but looking to be going best two out she found little when the chips were down. This possibly sums her up and it’s two years since she poked her head in front where it counts.
PERSIAN PRINCE disputed for much of the way and led four out. He was held when unseating at the last.
DIX HUIT CYBORG plugged on for a distant fourth and is moderate even in hunter class.
NOW THEN SID struggled from five out but did at least complete for the first time since his extended lay-off. However, beaten 51 lengths doesn’t inspire.
The fact that MIGHTY FELLA, NOBEL and RED DAWN finished behind Now Then Sid pretty well sums up their efforts.
PERLY SPENCER raced well up there to the twelfth, but once headed he dropped back very quickly and the suggestion might be that he has some sort of breathing problem once the pressure is applied.
MYSTIC GLEN has been mainly well beaten in recent times, and on this occasion took very little interest in proceedings.
SILVO raced prominently early but was struggling going on to the final circuit. His best form in recent times has been at Fakenham.

That's 'cheerio' to Sedgefield until late August. Hexham has a Saturday finale to come before putting up the shutters for the summer, leaving Perth and a single Cartmel meeting to keep the northern jumping show on the road for a couple of months.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Lanark Silver Bell Meeting at Hamilton

HAMILTON – Wednesday June 10th

Going – Good To Firm (Firm in places)

Race distances in the longer races have been adjusted for ‘dolling out’.

Continued dry weather saw the ground a little firmer than for the previous week’s meeting. ‘Cash For Kids Day’ saw the running of the Lanark Silver Bell, resurrected in recent years at Hamilton after years in ‘cold store’ after the demise of Lanark racecourse.

6.40 6f 0-60 Handicap

The fine start to John McShane’s training career continued as ARGENTINE completed a double within a week at Hamilton, recording his first win at 6 furlongs lugging 11-8 up the slope. (Since this meeting he has appeared again at Carlisle, back at 5 furlongs, making it three out of three.) He’s in fine heart with this win coming off an effect mark of 61, some 19lbs short of the 80 he ran off earlier in his career. While the going remains fast there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be competitive in slightly better company.
BOTHAM was not disgraced in second place and his record in amateur events is now 112, so one could possibly conclude that he carries weight better than many others.
FINSBURY put up a second consecutive creditable performance and seems to have reached a level at which he can make a mark.

7.10 6f Class 4 2yo Maiden

There was a small field, but possibly not a bad contest with the entries of the second suggesting high regard.
LEVIATHAN made all and battled well to hold on over the final two furlongs. He’s a half-brother to a couple of multiple winners which augurs well.
LOVEINTHESAND was distinctly green in the paddock and on the track. He battled well in the closing stages and there must surely be a fair bit to come.
IRISH JUGGER was an expensive purchase. He didn’t have the pace to handle the first two over the last furlong but will improve for a step up in distance.
YA BOY SIR and DAHES were up against it and well held from two out, but they will both learn from the experience and are worth bearing in mind against less exacting opposition.

7.40 6f 0-90 Handicap

Clearly the race planner was feeling considerate to the stalls’ team since this was the third consecutive six furlong contest on the card.
FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS was rated 105 early in his two year old career and hinted at a return to near that level with a convincing three length victory. The chances are he’d be pulled out with a penalty if a race can be found since he will be bumped up significantly now. He has shown his absolute best form on this fast ground, but a close second at Doncaster last time proved soft is no outright hindrance.
VHUJON didn’t get a clear run, and by the time he got going the winner had flown. He’s in good form and won’t always catch a flying opponent such as the winner.
DAZZLING BAY was well held in third but sets a level for the form as he seems in reasonable nick at present.
BLUE TOMATO was not unfancied dropped a bit in class but broke a blood vessel and finished last.

8.10 1m 4f 42yds 0-90 Lanark Silver Bell Handicap

This race was given Class 2 status, but the rating level suggests Class 3.
In not untypical Mark Johnston style RECORD BREAKER was raced closed to the pace and forged clear from three furlongs out. Given that this was a competitive event for the level the form should prove strong.
JUST LILLE had been placed in Listed company over a mile at Pontefract on Monday, so proved versatile with a decent effort stepped back up in trip. She is basically quite well exposed and isn’t going to get any immediate favours from the handicapper.
LOCHIEL didn’t really get going until her early four-year-old days, breaking his maiden here in May of last year. Since then she has progressed steadily and stayed on from the back here for third. The race wasn’t run to suit here and it’s worth working on the basis that this was better than the bare form reading.
The Johnston second string SOLAS ALAINN ran a decent race considering the rise in class. He’s best on this ground and would be a live contender back in easier company. He ran well enough over two miles at Beverley and something between the two trips might be best.

8.40 1m 90yds Class 6 Seller

To drag everyone back down to earth after the headline event a naff seller was chucked in straight after!
FREMEN has run mainly in sellers and claimers recently and copes well enough to be regularly competitive. An odds-on chance, he saw off his one major opponent here. It might be worth bearing in mind that he doesn’t seem over harshly treated in handicaps off 83, and his record on good ground or faster is 7 from 23.
MOODY TUNES didn’t do anything wrong in second on unfavourable terms. He seems much better off in claimers and sellers than in handicaps.
HEUREUX ran a fair race in third given that he’s rated 22lbs worse than the winner but he has only 1 win in 23 efforts.

9.10 1m 3f 41yds 0-70 Handicap

A battle royal between IFATFIRST and WEE CHARLIE CASTLE.
IFATFIRST is a lightly raced six-year-old who may just be moving in the right direction. He did well off a break here and won’t go up far so he should be capable of a follow up in similar company.
WEE CHARLIE CASTLE made a satisfactory debut for his new yard and is one to consider in similar events. On the face of it he’s well exposed, but his fast ground record is very solid.
APPLAUDE couldn’t hold the first two in the final two furlongs and seems to lack a bit of pace at the business end. He may win in his turn but may be consistently underpriced.
PATAVIUM is out of sorts and TOMMY TOBOUGG, who has ability but doesn’t always demonstrate that, pulled too hard for his won good.

On the subject of Lanark and The Silver Bell:
For anyone who maybe interested it's still possible to see signs of Lanark Racecourse. Travelling out of town on Hyndford Road, the area of the racecourse can clearly be identified on the left with the big old Tote Building dominating. I presume this building is a listed structure, since many of the old buildings have disappeared. The course area itself is now used as sports pitches, and I believe the old stable lads' accomodation is now used for bed and breakfast. If you look hard enough there are still signs of perimeter walls and the line of the track can be traced fairly easily.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A 'Derby Distraction' at Hexham

HEXHAM – Saturday June 6th

Going – Good (changed from Good to firm after second race)

2.40 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

FLEMROSS disputed or led all the way and held off the challenge of the runner-up in the straight. The suggestion at Sedgefield was that a stiffer track would help and the evidence here suggests that was true. Two further meetings here in June would be the immediate options, past which the UK options dry up for the summer.
EVELITH ECHO put down a challenge going to the last but was held. It’s possible that a less stiff track might suit better.
EBAC put aside a dire collection of form figures to run a respectable race in third, keeping on up the hill if held for pace on the flat. On previous evidence I wouldn’t risk the mortgage money on a repeat.
STORYMAKER threatened briefly to two out but was found out for pace from there. His wins have come on soft or heavy and the stiffness of this finish wasn’t enough to compensate for lack of cut.
KEENE SPIRIT made progress from the rear to three out, having gone well enough on chasing debut, but retreated from that point.
DOUBLE GEM was found out by the move up from hunter company and got outpaced down the hill away from four out.
DORIS’S GIFT, returning for another go at chasing, was once again found wanting. Chasing record now reads 4PUFP7.
WILLIE PEP was prominent past halfway but dropped away to finish last. He had a couple of long breaks and has not reproduced his earlier form which saw a Grade 2 hurdle second at Ascot.

3.10 3m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase

ALL RISE was dropped in on his Perth effort and led all the way here, just holding a late burst from another veteran in Catch The Perk. His new rating in 88 which seems to signify that the handicapper has all but ignored his Perth effort. That could be no bad thing for the future and there may be another race in him in present good heart.
CATCH THE PERK had not shown up well in two runs after a break. He was labouring four out and a place seemed unlikely. He then stayed on up the hill and came steaming up the run-in on the near side, failing by a few inches. This proves he retains his form, he shouldn’t go up much for this and his stable must surely be looking for a suitable opportunity up the M90 at Perth.
RECKLESS VENTURE has got himself into a challenging position in his last two races but just lacks that extra push to get his head in front. He needs a bit of work to keep interested during his races.
BALAKAR stayed on for fourth, not beaten too far, but it added to a losing run stretching back to the flat at Ayr in September ’07.
OSO MAGIC had every chance but didn’t appear to see out the trip with this stiff finish.
CARIBBEAN COVE raced close up to three out and the hill finally did for him. He hadn’t run for nearly three years, so had an excuse, but his win over three miles was in a slowly run four runner race. Dropped back in trip he would certainly be interesting based on this effort.
BENNY THE PILER briefly threatened three out but then back-pedalled. He needs a significant drop in the handicap and doesn’t seem totally enamoured with chasing.
KALMO BAY is right out of sorts just now and took no significant part in proceedings.
GARDEN FEATURE raced prominently early but dropped away with a circuit to go. She has had a sparkling pointing career, but this company seems too tough.

4.15 2m 4 ½ f Hunters’ Chase

The last hunter chase of the season, so the form will only remain immediately relevant should any continue in ‘senior class’.

This trip is a bit sharp for TAKE THE STAND, but his class won the day here. He was outpaced a bit going to the last, but his old ears were still pricked and impression was he had a bit left to give. He gave it the works on the flat and ended up winning a trifle cosily. Handicapping might prove a little tough if he’s kept going this summer and it would be nice if this win was left as a fitting tribute to a fine career.
CHARMING KNIGHT didn’t do too much wrong being run out of it after the last.
NOCATEE did his regular ‘staying on from the rear’ act, just in time to avoid any danger of winning!
ARCHIE BABE took a keen hold early on and, given that fact, wasn’t disgraced in fourth running in his 99th contest. He struggles to see out any sort of trip in these events.
LOWLANDER lost touch from three out and appears to be on the downgrade.
FIFTH COLUMN struggled from the tenth and hasn’t shown form of any real note for a couple of years.
WAS I RIGHT briefly threatened to get involved down the far side but was retreating by three out. He probably retains a little ability, but his rider’s style doesn’t help too much. It would be interesting to see how he went in the hands of a professional jockey.
DEL TROTTER was always struggling and will presumably be in the queue for his pension on Thursday.
DIX HUIT CYBORG was held in fifth when unseating three out.
CADOULITIQUE parted company with his partner at the second.
LEADING PEARL was prominent early but well behind when pulled up before four out and hasn’t shown a glimmer of pointing form in two efforts under Rules.
OVER TO YOU JOE ran well at Sedgefield last time, but struggled from a way out here and pulled up.
ELLANDSHE and JUPITER JOE pootled round in the rear before being pulled up with one left.

Around about 3.45 all eyes were on one race, which was of course the Handicap Hurdle won by LONGDALE!

Ladies' Day at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH – Saturday June 6th

Going – Good to Firm

Ladies’ Day at Musselburgh, a meeting which sold out months in advance, and 9,000 packed into the links venue for one of the better quality Scottish flat cards outside Ayr.

2.20 5f Class 2 2yo Stakes

A decent two-year-old event with over £15,000 win prize money up for grabs.

CAPERCAILLIE made it two out of two and I would expect her to go on to Royal Ascot now, though the Johnston stable had yet to make a firm decision. Racing prominently, she was pushed clear in the final furlong and gives the impression there is more in the tank. I would have thought she would handle a sixth furlong.
REIGNIER, a winner here last time, is progressing nicely and there should be another race in him shortly.
DANCING FREDDY found things happening a bit quickly early on but picked up nicely toward the finish. He had made the pace in his previous races, but it’s a good sign that being out speeded didn’t faze him.
DISPOL KEASHA is an early speed merchant who has found the company a bit too strong in the latter stages of her last two races. She looks material for five furlong nurseries.
ARCHERS ROAD, the most raced two-year-old on the circuit, couldn’t make an impact in the closing stages and 9-9 is a big burden at this stage of his career. His trainer may have to trawl the conditions of races to find easier opportunities.

2.50 1m 4 ½ f 0-90 3yo Handicap

The form of this race proved strong last year and there is no reason to suggest it won’t work out well this time.

Mark Johnston is not frightened to teach his horses to settle in front and on that subject he may have something to teach a Mr O’Brien whose own tactics seemed a bit astray in the Derby. Often Johnston front-runners will find something more when challenged and this was the case with QUAI D’ORSAY.
The secret with a good front-runner is to set the pace well enough to leave something for the final two furlongs. Joe Fanning did this to perfection here and nothing was getting to QUAI D’ORSAY in the final furlong. His previous effort on heavy can be ignores and his Chester run looks strong. He will have to be placed above this class next time but is progressing.
KINGS DESTINY suffered interference when the winner crossed him around the furlong pole, but it made not a jot of difference to the result. He was clear of the remainder and looks steadily progressive.
NON DOM stayed on from the back and, off a mark of 75, will find easier opportunities.
CITIZENSHIP was given every chance and seemed to run to his mark and his level is probably run-of-the-mill 0-80 or 0-85s.

3.20 5f 0-105 Handicap

As usual this event provided a competitive field, but it was won by an outsider trying the trip for the first time.
Although PAVERSHOOZ had never raced over the minimum before, he went the pace comfortably and then picked up from 300 yards out. There didn’t seem too much of a fluke about it and his trainer now has further options.
RIVER FALCON finished fast to head the pack. He runs honest races regularly but only has one win in his last 43 races.
There was very little to choose between MASTA PLASTA, HAMISH MACGONAGALL, CITY DANCER and ISHETOO behind the front two and all can be taken as ‘in form’.

3.50 5f 0-82 Handicap

This was a consolation race for the previous event. Normally such events might be expected to fill, but this one didn’t and ended up a run-of-the-mill contest.
BLUE TOMATO quickened nicely to take this and is on a roll at the moment. He has a good record of 3 out of 9 at Musselburgh, but is strongest at Wolverhampton where he has only been out of the first three once from 8 attempts. Keep an eye out in the better sprint handicaps at the Midlands Polytrack venue.
TITUS ANDRONICUS led and looked the winner a furlong out only to be collared close home. He is a three-year-old going forward and shouldn’t be unduly punished for this close up run.
SILVANUS stayed on for third. He’s dropped to a mark of 67, which is as low as he has ever been, so would be very interesting dropped down to a 0-70 or 0-75 where he may have the ‘class edge’. His form pattern tends to be in waves and I reckon a crest might be imminent.
RESTLESS GENIUS was dropped back to five furlongs and ran as if the six would be more helpful.

4.40 1m 1f Class 5 Selling Stakes

Not a race to get too excited about. FLORES SEA looked best at the weights but was just held in second.
SAN SILVESTRO won this and theoretically might be capable of winning a low grade handicap off a mark around 55. However, he has been well beaten in handicaps before so is not one to get carried away about.

5.15 7f 30yds 0-70 3yo Handicap

LEGAL LEGACY and NORTHERN FLYER came clear of their field here.

LEGAL LEGACY didn’t really get warmed up until late on and looks one to improve again with a step up in trip.
NORTHERN FLYER set the pace and almost pinched this race dropped back in trip. He is going the right way off a fairly lowly mark.

5.45 1m 6f 0-85 Apprentice Handicap

Appearing quickly after his Hamilton win, and stepped up in trip a furlong, BAIZICALLY was once again allowed to dictate the race. It was tougher here as he just held on and the impression is that the trip when he was pressed stretched his stamina to its limit. My impression is that a drop back to a mile and a half wouldn’t do any harm and I don’t think Baizically has stopped winning yet.

The impression is that DOLLY PENROSE finds this trip a minimum to be effective. She tried hard but just failed and I’d be interested if she were moved up to two miles. It’s significant that the first two were well clear of their two opponents.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Office Day Out at Hamilton Park

HAMILTON – Thursday June 4th

Going – Good to Firm

Dolling out on the loop added 25 yards to the longer races. Distances have been adjusted in this report.

The racing was delayed by an hour following a serious accident which closed the M74 to the south of Hamilton.

Nothing of any great standard appeared on the day’s card, but a group of 16 of us from work had booked a box for the day and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. Sadly the office ‘racing expert’ could only manage one winner in Tangerine Trees, and before you ask I passed on short-priced Legal Eagle, but as I said to my colleagues I’d feel more at home if they put up a few hurdles or fences! My thanks to Keith the 'upstairs racing expert' who did the organising for the event, and is much too good at it to lose the job. Here's to next year, Keith!

2.10 (3.10) 6f Class 6 2yo Maiden Auction

WHISPERING TIMES is a ‘short walker’ and gives the impression of one who would favour fast ground. The conditions duly suited as the colt les two furlongs out and forged clear in the final furlong. Nurseries will prove his level.
MAGIC FOOTSTEPS made a significant improvement on his Haydock debut, staying on to pick up second in the final 100 yards. He’s related to sprint and two-year-old winners and should pick up a race along the line.
ROCK OF LOVE was the most exposed of these. He’s a small, strong colt who understandably looked as forward as anything in the race. He was tapped for speed in the final furlong, but might be worth keeping an eye on since the progeny of Rock Of Gibraltar progress with time.
SANDS OF DEE, a slow starter on debut, got away with them this time, but was outpaced on the downhill section. He picked up again late on and this was an improvement on Ripon form.
UNSHAKABLE WILL was very green in the preliminaries, rearing in the paddock and generally uncooperative. The impression was that there is still a bit to work on. Taking everything into account he did quite well to go the pace for four furlongs before giving way. He will need time and probably a longer distance, but is worth keeping in mind for later in the season.

2.40 (3.40) 6f Claimer

This was an uncompetitive race and a sound opportunity for LEGAL EAGLE, rated well in advance of the remainder and showing it. He led and forged clear from two furlongs out. Paul Green claimed him for £12,000 and this confidence booster might help him to go on to better things.
AAHAYGIRL was held by the winner, but pleased with her attitude in the closing stages, chasing the winner determinedly. She might find one or two too good in claimers but should manage a handicap win.
DIGIT improved a bit on seasonal debut form, but was well held.
SECRET DUBAI wore padded sticking plaster on the inside of his hocks, possibly because one of his hock joints seems enlarged and may rub. He doesn’t walk well which is a bit off-putting and has been below his best form in recent times.

3.10 (4.10) 5f 46-65 Handicap

There were plenty of possible winners going into this event, and it’s often the case of ‘whose turn is it?’
John McShane taken up a license from his stables near Dalkeith and recorded a second stable winner with ARGENTINE. This one is consistent at this level and was recording a 3rd win in 27 attempts. He was calm in the paddock, but proved very fizzy when mounted to be taken down early. He picked his way through in the last two furlongs and ran on well for victory. He seems honest enough and is suited by five furlongs on quick ground. He won’t go up far and will remain in a class he can handle.
HOWARDS TIPPLE is often thereabouts but not the easiest to win with. He led briefly inside the final furlong but was collared close home. He is on a good mark and will be competitive in these events but often gets worried out of it near the line.
THE HISTORY MAN stayed on but didn’t get to the leaders. He sees out six furlongs, but a fast run stiff five is probably his best and he’s on a reasonable mark and in form.
ROCKETBALL led until inside the final furlong and offered no extra after that. It was fair enough effort but with a few in form he couldn’t hold them.
HANDSINTHEMIST had every chance one out but couldn’t find the necessary to challenge close home.
COMPTONSPIRIT raced wide and never got to the leaders.

3.40 (4.40) 1m 90yds 51-70 Handicap

MOUNTAIN CAT was out of sorts in a truncated campaign last season. He has progressed nicely this season and beat these with a bit to spare, galloping clear with enthusiasm. He will go up in the handicap but, having won off 73 on the Polytrack (59 here), might have enough in hand to win off an adjusted mark.
THIS ONES FOR EDDY runs well often enough that he doesn’t get respite from the handicapper. He’s a sound measure of the form.
SINGORA LADY stayed on from the rear without ever threatening. A slight drop in class would help.
FORZARZI was late into the paddock and the preliminaries all seemed a bit rushed. He stayed on late and showed better than he has recently. A slightly less rushed pre-race would probably have helped.
BOLD INDIAN often impresses in the paddock, but has yet to win a handicap and is frustrating.

4.10 (5.10) 1m 3f 41yds 46-65 Handicap

This was a very ordinary contest with many having spent their qualifying time running down the field. As it was, what little established form that had been shown turned out to be the key.
NEW TRICKS cast aside a disappointment over 14 furlongs last time and was blinkered for the first time. Dropped back to a more suitable trip he set a steady pace, kicked on five out and was clear and away by three out, galloping on to the line. The problem is that he may not have achieved a huge amount in beating these and much depends on what the handicapper makes of it.
BLACKSTONE VEGAS kept on for a clear second having raced keenly. On available evidence he ran to his previous level.
SYDNEY COVE stayed on for third but the leader was well gone by the time he started to pick up. I noted he had a bit about him and might be competitive at a lowly level.
TILLIETUDLEM got going late on and finished fifth having been outpaced entering the straight. He is quite a nice sort who may improve with age as the family generally do, and this trip would be a minimum.

4.40 (5.40) 6f Class 5 Handicap

Not the most difficult contest to analyse pre-race, and it could be knocked down to no more than three with a real chance. Those three filled the frame.

There was no pace early on, and things only picked up hitting the up slope. TANGERINE TREES was prominent at that point and kept on well enough, though the margin was decreasing close home. He carried his head rather awkwardly under pressure and is not one I’d be madly keen on in a more competitive race.
ATLANTIC BEACH wasn’t helped by the slow early pace but stayed on late and was just held. His turn is only delayed in a handicap, though it will help if the handicapper keeps him to 69 or 70 for now since he should win at this level.
MAISON DIEU made progress to go through a gap between the first two half a furlong out, but the gap closed and his jockey had to stop riding. He might have been closer but I’m not convinced he would have got in front. For all that this was a good effort, he’s basically frustrating.
MR LU stepped up on recent form in fourth. He had gone out early, then dumped his rider and returned to the paddock entrance and he did seem to shirk the issue in the latter stages of the race. Not one I would trust with my money.
The other four were largely ignored in the betting and well held on the course.

5.10 (6.15) 1m 5f 34yds 51-70 Handicap

Seven pound claimer Paul Pickard showed up his more experienced rivals here on BAIZICALLY, setting a steady pace on his keen mount and then kicking clear four furlongs out. Nothing got near him after that. It’s difficult to judge the value of this form in a small field, but he didn’t look like stopping and appeared to see out this trip.
FENNERS stayed on for second without getting anywhere near the winner.
FORREST FLYER couldn’t go with the winner when he kicked on, and was outstayed for second.
SHEKAN STAR improved to win first time out but now looks held.
HILL BILLY ROCK comes from the Bradburne stable more associated with jump racing. His chances would look better in a maiden hurdle at Perth.
DIMASHQ was well held from 3lbs wrong in the handicap.

Sedgefield - June 2nd

Going – Good to Firm

6.35 2m ½ f Class 4 Novice Chase

This contest was marred by an accident involving the hard pulling JALAMID. He took hold from Michael McAllister from the start and hit the fourth hard, sustaining a broken leg in the process which necessitated him being put down. Sadly the poor gelding attempted to gallop after the field on three legs for a way, a disturbing sight. Not a great comment on the staffing level that the jockey had to hold up the screens as the vet carried out the sad deed.

The second last was omitted due to the aforementioned incident, and that was the point at which Irish-trained chasing debutant SCHELM took control. He went away to win quite comfortably. He has won on yielding, but it would seem the faster ground suits and he’s one to note on a similar surface.
WOODY VALENTINE has been in very good form recently and ran another excellent race on distinctly unfavourable terms. Rated 24lbs worse than the winner, he couldn’t match that one’s pace from two out, but held the rest of the field and continues in good heart. He may be moved up a few pounds in the handicap for this run, but he’s in such rattling good form at the moment that this may not stop him winning again.
BUCHAILL ON EIRNE was another Irish–trained chasing debutant. He performed reasonably well in third bearing in mind the trip would be on the short side for him. His jumping wasn’t bad but can be sharpened and he will learn from this.
LITTLE LU stayed on late without getting in a blow suggesting a longer trip would be better.
HELLO NOD was left behind from three out. He had a stiff task with the first two, but got round for the first time in three chasing attempts which at least suggests a move in the right direction.
WHAT HAPPENED had no chance on hurdles form and dropped away from three out.
KARMADICE pulled hard early on and took over following Jalamid’s accident. He had blown himself out by four form home and needs to settle to have any chance over fences.
MADGE and UPTOWN LAD, serial non-achievers, bumbled around in the rear.

8.5 3m 3f 0-105 Handicap Chase

Back in October I said of SAM CRUISE that ‘there is a suggestion of a hope if he could get his act together’. I then rather undid that work by suggesting he didn’t get the trip when running here. However, he’s one performer who I thought might produce some worthwhile form with a little patience, and it came to fruition in decent style on this occasion.
Keen to post as is his way, SAM CRUISE led at a decent pace and kept up the gallop to the finish. He was still on the bridle two out and gives the impression that if he jumps accurately he can rate a great deal higher than his current 79. Tim Walford commented that the fast ground was essential so it could be a case of ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Will he repeat the form? If only I could tell you the answer! Is he capable of repeating the form? I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘yes’.
FINBIN is one I taken a liking to at this level. He has shown enough in two chases now to suggest he’s capable of regularly contributing to his keep. He never got in touch with the leader but stayed on for second and there should be opportunities to break his chasing duck. Two hurdling wins prove he has what it takes to win races.
POLAR GALE had course and conditions to suit but didn’t get close enough to challenge on this occasion. The rest of the field was strung out and this effort was sound enough.
KELLS CASTLE stays well but just doesn’t see out his finishes and seems destined to collect a lot more place money than win money.
ESME RIDES A GAINE performed creditably from 6lbs out of the handicap, staying on past a few late on having been under the shove with a circuit to go. She needs aiming at the lowest class handicaps where the sliver of ability she possesses might be enough to make a mark.
CELTIC FLOW was 10lbs out of the handicap. He ran prominently in the main group until four out, which was a fair effort.
The handicapper saw fit to move TURBULENT FLIGHT up from 43 to the lofty heights of 49 following her last effort. It makes little difference though and she was 33lbs wrong here. She probably ran pretty much to that level beaten about 40 lengths, plugging on in her own time.
BIG BONE once again looked very slow. Tried over fences and hurdles over a variety of trips he isn’t making an impact.
HOWS TRIX won at Tramore last year but has disappointed twice since moving to Ferdy Murphy.
TULLY HILL showed up to halfway but quickly back-pedaled. He runs with some zest early on but has precious little to offer in the latter stages of his races.
PADDYMcGINTYSGOAT desperately needs to fins a contest against ‘Delaney’s Donkey’ as he has generally struggled and didn’t build on the slight glimmer shown here last time. Those of a certain age will understand the reference.
The race wasn’t run to suit NICOZETTO and he’s not predictable anyway. He overtook a few but was well back when falling at the last.
PALMERS PEAK is happiest when able to get to the front and dictate. He couldn’t do that here and dropped away from a mile out before pulling up.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Perth Gold Cup Day 2009

PERTH – Sunday May 31st

Good To Firm (Good in places)

The weather was glorious for Perth’s big day of the year, and a crowd in excess of 13,000 crammed into Scone Palace Park for Perth Gold Cup. The drying weather meant there were a few non-runners, notably five absentees in the main event.

2.20 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

CARSONSTOWN BOY created a good impression on his hurdling and unsurprisingly stepped up to win on a return to Perth. He was always going well, took charge before the last and ran on for victory. Colm McBratney’s charge should pick up another novice hurdle, but he looks a chasing type and his future would seem likely to be over the larger obstacles.
MINI BECK, front running as previously, was held from after the second last but kept on to produce his best form yet. He hit the last but was well clear of the third by that time. As a 10-year-old he won’t have much improvement so a handicap would seem his best chance of success.
GUIGNY ran a satisfactory race on hurdling debut but was outpaced in the straight. He might need a little more time to produce his best over hurdles.
The rest were well seen off, including Gordon Elliot’s DIRAR who was well backed but dropped back from the sixth hurdle.

2.50 2m 4 ½ f 0-120 Novices’ Handicap Chase

PILCA has put up a few fair performances over fences, but was recording a first win here with four Irish challengers following him in. He took over after three out and stayed on from there though idling in the closing stages. He is probably capable of further wins over fences but his career record shows he is one who does no more than win in his turn.
HE’S A HOTSHOT raced prominently and keenly, leading four out but not having enough to hold the winner. He has yet to win in fourteen attempts under rules and in the short term is likely to be underpriced.
TUBBER GAEL HOLLY was caught flatfooted three out but stayed on again. This gave the impression that a longer trip might suit, but she won hurdles over 2m 4f. She likes fast ground so given decent weather the odds re that she will be seen in the UK again soon.
DREAM CHAMPION was held from three out. A mark of 111 seems plenty on recent evidence.
ESSIFER, a regular traveller over the Irish Sea, led to four out from which point he was found wanting. He’s now had 21 goes without a win under Rules and lacks pace in the closing stages.
SOUBRIQUET was held from four out and could be a little high in the handicap.
COUNTRY SERVANT, whose previous form had been dire, couldn’t be expected to produce much from 21lbs out of the handicap and was beaten a long way.
KNOCKLAYDE ROSE made no more impact over fences than she has over hurdles.
WITNESS RUN pulled hard early and was struggling when hitting the eleventh after which his jockey called it a day. He runs some fair races, but is unpredictable and has plenty of Ps and ‘well beaten’s in his record.

3.20 2m ½ f 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

MIDNITE BLEWS’ previous win had come over five furlongs at Bath but, given that he set a decent pace and stayed on well, he looked to see out the two miles well enough here. He may be one who needs things his own way and not necessarily betting material next time.
PETE, in pretty much customary style, was eased into the race going to the last but didn’t get to the winner. It could be said that this was an opportunity missed, but he remains on a decent mark and given that he never wins by far I wouldn’t dismiss him for this run.
MUNNINGS challenged two out but then gave way. Tony Martin regularly picked up races at Perth in previous years but I get the impression his runners here are distinctly second-string these days. A lifetime record in all disciplines of 1 from 19 questions whether Munnings should have been 11/8 favourite on this occasion.
HOWARD’S DREAM comes from a stable unable to muster a winner in 380+ attempts on the flat and over jumps in the last 5 years. Predictably he had nowhere near enough to go with the principals from three out.
SPEED UP stayed on past a couple late on but was well beaten and on this evidence is regressive.
MISS BALLYGALLEY dropped away from two out and looks very ordinary even at this level, while MONTCHARA had no hope from 18lbs shy of bottom weight.
Miss Ballygalley’s stable-mate INSTANT CHERRY proved even slower and was pulled up two out.

3.50 3m 0-140 Handicap Chase

The showpiece of the afternoon, though five non-runners reduced the strength and I’m not sure the competition was quite as strong as in previous. Nevertheless, all credit to the Perth executive for putting up decent prize money and for their efforts to attract decent horses to this part of the world.

BACKSTAGE was a fair performer for Evan Williams, having reached a mark of 135 at one point, and then doddled up in four points in Ireland. He ran fair races in the Aintree Foxhunters’ and at Punchestown. Very well backed on this occasion, he justified support in decent style, brought steadily through to lead before the last and go away on the run-in. Given that he has rated a good deal higher, and is only a seven-year-old, the impression is that there is more to come. Going doesn’t seem a problem given that he has won on heavy as well as recording this win on fast ground. Gordon Elliot will no doubt have a decent chase or two within his sights in the coming weeks.
SOME CRAIC stayed on for second without threatening the winner. This was a decent effort coming off a long break, and given that he was in good form on this type of ground last year Michael Hourigan should place this one to advantage soon.
From 30lbs out of the handicap ALL RISE produced a very creditable performance to finish third. Having looked beaten three out the twelve-year-old kept on again to the finish. His best chance would appear to be in a lesser event under a penalty, since the handicapper is not likely to forgive him this run.
NILE MOON, tongue-tied for the first time, set the pace until three out. He seems in decent heart at the moment and wouldn’t be a forlorn hope in easier company.
BALLYHOLLAND was in with a chance three out, but held when hitting the last. His best form under rules has been over shorter distances but he seems rather high in the weights.
MEGATON raced prominently for much of the way but was feeling the pinch from three out. This was a decent effort from a couple of pounds out of the handicap and he was third in the same event last year. He is favoured by a sharp track and top-of-the-ground and there will be easier races.
MINOUCHKA made the graduation from hunter to novice last time, but this was too big an ask and it was a struggle in the final mile.
WATER TAXI hasn’t been forgiven a good sequence last summer and is too high in the handicap. He’s more a 120 horse than a 130.
LOVE THAT BENNY is another struggling to justify a 130 mark and getting precious little respite from the handicapper.
CAIPIROSKA was still in with every chance two out but was feeling the pinch when clouting the last, being pulled up and dismounted on the run-in. He’s a consistent performer and it’s hoped he did not lasting damage.
BROOKLYN BROWNIE, the winner last year, raced at the rear but was feeling the pinch a mile out and pulled up after the fourteenth.
SCOTS DRAGOON is suited by these conditions but was struggling by the twelfth, weakening and being pulled up.
SHARP REPLY ran no sort of race.

4.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

LOS NADIS was not helped by iffy jumping in his early hurdling career. However, he is much more precise these days and proved he sees this trip out well enough. He boasts a record of 4 wins and 4 seconds from 14 runs over hurdles, and even with a forced rise in class he might be capable of adding to the win tally again this summer.
SOLWAY SUNSET challenged before the last but was held. She’s probably handicapped to her mark, but can’t be counted out particularly in slighter lower class than this.
ENGLISH CITY is a summer type and one to place in the notebook. A rare case of an entire running over jumps, he is steadily coming to the boil and I reckon he has the ability to win of his current mark off 117.
SUMMER SOUL led early and remained prominent three out. He was held from that point.
BAGUENAUD is better at two miles and couldn’t produce anything from two out.
PLAYER and SAM PATCH were left behind from three out.

4.50 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

This race cut up from six declared to three runners.

HOOLOWS MILL proved himself in good heart and his trainer must have been chuffed that the small field gave another opportunity. Barry Murtagh has considered retirement but kept him on the go following his Kelso success and he just held on after possibly idling a little in front. He surely can’t go up much for this ninth career win, and there is a chance that he may hit double figures if remaining in this form.
THE ROCKING DOCK seemed held up the straight but rallied on the run-in and nearly got up. He looks capable of winning a minor handicap chase.
SAFARI ADVENTURES led jumping extravagantly, but his jumping faltered in the latter stages and he dropped back. He has run three fair to decent races in succession but just struggles to hold it together in the latter stages.

5.20 2m ½ f Conditional and Amateur Riders’ NH Flat

The field dawdled the first mile and I can’t see it teaches them much going at such a slow pace. If you want to teach horses to amble a mile then sprint you could just as well do it at home.

NOW THIS IS IT showed fair form on his Musselburgh debut in November then finished down the field in a better event there in January. The fast ground clearly suits him and he showed good speed once the pace picked up, leading two out and running on. This didn’t look a strong event. I wouldn’t fall over myself to back him under a penalty.
BALLYWOODEN KING led to two out and then couldn’t respond once passed. His Irish bumper form was moderate.
If there’s one to take out of this event it would have to be the third GAYBRIC. He was held up in the rear pulling hard and made late progress without troubling the leaders. He certainly wasn’t suited by the slow pace and can produce a fair bit better than the bare form shown on this occasion.
KING’S WARNING and JIM TANGO, both having run in Irish points, wouldn’t have been suited by the slow pace and will probably be capable of better presented with obstacles and a distance of ground.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Late May tour of Scottish Flat venues

AYR – Thursday May 28th

Going – Good

2.20 6f 2yo Maiden

The first few were nicely stretched out which often indicates a decent line of form rather than when ‘the herd’ all stick together.
MAISON BRILLET built on a promising Musselburgh debut to take this contest. He ran on well and this forward type looks one to keep in mind for early nursery handicaps.
BAILEYS VISION is another who looks nursery material given another run. She bustled up the winner and should find a small maiden event before going handicapping.
Back in third BELOW ZERO acquitted himself well, given that it was his debut and he would be suited by farther. He couldn’t hold the front two in the final furlong but comes out of the race with credit and will be one to mark down for 7 furlong contests when they start. I’d be surprised if he didn’t pick up a maiden.
BRADFORD showed his inexperience in fourth and took some time to warm to his task. He picked up late on and will progress from this.
One back in the pack that may need a run or two more but hints at ability was SASSANIAN, who looked very green but put in some decent work in the final two furlongs. Not necessarily betting material next time but one to keep in the notebook.

2.50 6f Class 5 Claimer

This looked a bit of a ‘penalty kick’ for GIFT HORSE at this level and he did the business. He was claimed by David Evans for £8,000. This was Gift Horse’s first win for four years, and if it gives him some confidence it might not be his last.
SOTO and SWINBROOK ran creditably to fight out second with the rest well beaten.

3.20 1m 1f 20yds 0-60 Handicap

STATESIDE has been blighted by injuries. She broke her pelvis in 2007 and 2008, so it’s quite remarkable that she is still on the racecourse. Her current rating of 46, understandable given her previous health report, looks potentially very generous. She will go up a bit for this but may have something in hand for a while.
RAIN STOPS PLAY rates as a measure and ran to his form in second place. His form really fell off in the last two years, and his rating reflects this, but he seems to be at a level he can cope with here.
WILLYN ran a fair race in third but hasn’t won a handicap from numerous attempts.

3.50 1m 0-75 Handicap

A very ordinary looking field for the class. The winner ESOTERICA had conditions to suit and it helped getting into a 0-75. The win will take her back out of the class unless she comes out under a penalty.
SIR ROYAL was clear of the remainder in second and on that basis would be a contender for a similar event. The evidence suggests that this trip is better fro him than the 1m 4f he had been tried over. He’s lightly raced and interesting in similar company.
The remainder look handicapped to their ability and there was no evidence of any ‘going forward’.

4.20 1m 2f 0-80 Handicap

We saw a progressive winner here and one or two in behind will be looking to push on from their runs here.
SIRVINO is progressing fast. He won this comfortably off a penalty and will be aimed at top class handicaps from here on in. That’s four wins now and his move from 65 to 84, and then some presumably, marks him down as one of the most progressive performers in the North.
HILLVIEW BOY, a winner on his flat debut and also of a bumper in the winter, was unlucky to catch such a talented opponent. He almost lost second having tried to stick with the winner but on balance that’s not a problem since his mark should remain near 79. He has more improvement in him and won’t always meet such a progressive type.
SHY GLANCE is well exposed but sets the standard and is capable of winning a minor race in current form.
SUMMER GOLD is back around her winning mark and will come on for the race. This is probably here best distance, and if a fillies’ handicap could be found for her at this level she would be a sound bet.

4.50 6f 0-85 3yo Handicap

This is the sort of event that can throw up one moving forward at this time of the year, but I’m not sure that any of the six runners have a jump on the handicapper.
COLEORTON CHOICE won well enough but he wouldn’t want to be much higher in the handicap than the 83 mark here. A rise of 3lbs would put him up a class and I’d be more likely to oppose him at a higher level.
LENNY BEE made a satisfactory turf debut in second, but my instinct is to search for one to put in the notebook and his record like those of the rest in open to see.

5.20 5f 0-70 3yo Handicap

There seems to be a pattern in Scottish racing moment which goes maiden, claimer, and then a group of handicaps. We finished the card here with another sprint handicap with horses that seem to have found their level.
DISPOL GRAND and FASLIYANNE were clear of the remainder, but the handicapper will presumably take note.
BALLARINA shows plenty of early speed but doesn’t see out the five furlongs. Her chance may come well drawn on firm ground in the lowest class of handicap (0-55 or 0-60) where she may get in front and hang on. It’s clutching at straws a bit I know, but she won’t be short odds and in the right circumstances if you bet two or three against the field she’s worth thinking about.
A quirk of the bidding process saw Musselburgh race on Friday afternoon, followed by Hamilton on the Friday evening.

Friday May 29th


Going – Good To Firm

Last season Hamilton produced a Royal Ascot contender in Spin Cycle. This time the course can boast ROSE BLOSSOM as an Ascot prospect following a record breaking performance. Not only did she break the two-year-old course record in the opening maiden, but she also took the all-age course record. Nothing got near her in the latter stages and she now progresses to the Queen Mary stakes. Richard Fahey rates her the best filly he has trained.
DAZEEN stepped up significantly on his debut performance to take clear second place and FLANEUR put up a fair performance in third given that six furlongs will likely suit better.

Those worth noting from the rest of the card:

ALL THE NINES won well in the 6 furlong handicap and is progressing fast enough to suggest she may bag another win before the handicapper catches up.
In the following maiden REJECT’s time was a shade faster and will probably go on to better things, particularly as he had a fair amount in hand here. CRIME WRITER was third here, putting up a decent performance for one who is bred to be suited by further.
SARWIN won with a bit to spare in the nine-furlong handicap, but this was a weak race and he will be under priced next time.


Going – Good To Firm

A quirk of the race bidding process found Musselburgh racing in the evening following Hamilton. I can’t see that this serves Scottish racing particularly well but such are the ‘benefits’ of the free market.

CAPERCAILLIE made a winning debut for Mark Johnston in the two year old maiden. She’s well regarded and drew clear with the second to make a decent impression. She’s got Listed entries and should be worth a try at that level given a little more experience.
EXGRAY was second here, but more significantly took a while to get the hang of things, and might conceivably have a little more in the locker than the winner in the long term. An extra furlong would do her no harm.

The rest of the card consisted of smallish moderate fields and there was nothing I would get excited about.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Reviews to come

Weight of work has meant I've not kept up to date as would wish.

To follow:
Summary reviews of Ayr(May 28), Hamilton and Musselburgh(May 29) and a full review of the Perth Gold Cup meeting from May 31.

As I'm not covering the Scottish flat racing in as much depth as jumping this blog is in danger of becoming 'A View On North English Racing plus Perth' but hopefully I can keep in touch with any siginificant developments on the level. The recent meetings have been noticeably low key, but I'll be at Hamilton on Thursday so should provide a more detailed review.

As the year goes on my intention is to get to a few more meetings, particular once we hit the autumn with a regular flow of meetings at weekends from September to Christmas. Visits coming up will be Hamilton (June 4), Ayr(June 20) and Perth at the start of July. My wife and I are taking a break in the Lake Disrict in mid-July, staying in Cartmel, so that will mean a short trip to the Cartmel July meeting.


Cartmel - Third Day of the Spring Meeting

CARTMEL – Wednesday 27th May

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

A heavy downpour from early morning onwards turned the going from good to testing on the final day of Cartmel’s Spring Meeting. This meant there were a significant number of non-runners and a few that did appear struggled with the conditions.

I’ve not covering hurdles at the course, but the run-in for the hurdle course was even longer than that on the chase course since the ‘removable hurdle’ near the Sticky Toffee Pudding shop was not used due to a patch of heavy ground.

It’s worth a note of appreciation to Iain Mackenzie for his commentaries over the three days at Cartmel. With viewing comparatively difficult an accurate commentary is essential and Mackenzie has developed a style to suit Cartmel’s audience.

3.25 2m 1 ½ f 0-95 Handicap Chase

IT’S BERTIE has often gone close in recent months, and was disqualified when finishing in front on one occasion. Nevertheless he is distinctly difficult to win with as he doesn’t seem inclined to push himself anywhere near the limit toward the finish. Quirky Cartmel, and in particular this moderate company, seemed to be his best chance to deliver and he did, but it was hard work for his rider. He raced prominently all the way, challenged on the bend and took over entering the straight. In typical cussed fashion he then didn’t do a tap in front, but held on nevertheless.
FLAMING HECK has been running consistently recently and put in a sound performance. He led or disputed before being headed three out, fighting back on the run-in but the winner ultimately had more in hand. He is running well, but is at his best when able to dominate the opposition.
PAPERCHASER jumped abysmally in the early stages, so it was to his credit that he led three out and was not far away at the finish. This was only his third race over fences so there is hope, but he does need to improve his jumping.
None of the remainder was seriously competitive much after halfway. ROWDY EXIT, suited by the ground, whacked the seventh and was beaten from that point.
BOG OAK never got into the race after hitting the first. On what he has done previously it’s a mystery that he was joint-favourite here.
SILVO was soon in the rear.
AMOUR DARIA was struggling by halfway.
KING AMONG QUEENS took a very heavy fall at the first, but got up OK if charging around the course in the wrong direction whilst loose.
COMMANCHE TOPGUN, reappearing a day after a poor run at Hexham, led from the second to the seventh before going out like a light. He subsided so quickly that I conclude he either downed tools or had a problem.

4.00 3m 6f Class 3 Grand Veterans’ Handicap Chase

A third consecutive victory in this race for Richard Ford’s CHABRIMAL MINSTER who has earned an honourable retirement. Moving prominent at halfway he kept up the gallop after the last to win with something in hand. He has had his problems in recent times, his joints have been giving him gip, but it should be noted that he retires with a chase record of 8 wins from 26 runs, a record which stands well against any staying chaser.
IL EN REVE hasn’t won for a long time, and he basically just plugs on these days, being only one to seriously chase the winner after the last. The testing conditions suited as they slowed the others down.
CAPYBARA will never fail for lack of stamina and plugged on for third.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST got tired in the latter stages and the last ended any remote chance he had. He plugged on from there for fourth. His avoidance of getting his head in front these days is well documented.
BALAKAR weakened after taking the water for the final time and probably didn’t see out the trip in the conditions.
HUKA LODGE weakened from four out.
KORELO briefly got into the picture approaching the water last time, but weakened from that point.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND finished a remote last but seemed to hate the conditions.
CHOPNEYEV dropped back form halfway and was pulled up with a lap to go.
DARINA’S BOY found conditions too testing. He raced prominently to halfway but was another to call it a day before the last circuit.
TONI ALCALA is not suited by testing conditions. Unlike his cycling namesake, a noted mountain climber in the recent past, this Toni Alcala seems better on flat tracks but he needs top of the ground.
CONTACT DANCER weakened going out on to the final circuit and his jockey called it a day.

4.35 3m 2f Hunters’ Chase

A race name in honour of Johnnie Fenwicke-Clennell former ‘clerk’ at Cartmel amongst other courses in the North.

HASPER followed up his Hexham win, challenging on the final bend and staying on up the straight. He stays well so the conditions played to his strength.
ZABENZ is officially rated 139, but that’s higher than he’s capable of these days. He came with every chance after last but couldn’t muster the pace to challenge the winner. He’s seldom been raced on soft and it doesn’t suit him.
SHRADEN EDITION raced prominently but gave way after jumping the last. He’s placed 17 times in five years without winning and is one paced.
DR HELLIER rallied going to the water for the last time but lost touch after that. This was well below his good ground efforts.
MY WEE WOMAN, a pointing winner at Aspatria, was always in the rear.
THUNDER HAWK led or disputed to the thirteenth, but he was harried by Shraden Edition and gave way from that point. He’s happier on better ground.
THE SNEAKSTER won this race a year ago, her only win in 44 goes, but she was on the retreat two out this time round.

Monday, 1 June 2009

From Cumbria to Northumbria

HEXHAM – Tuesday May 26th

Going – Good to Firm

Taking a break from proceedings at Cartmel, the Northern circuit moved from Cumberland to Northumberland for a fairly low key card with a couple of steeplechases.

7.35 3m 1f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

Favourite HARRY FLASHMAN was out of the race at the second, hampered as he took it and falling heavily. He seemed to get up OK, so hopefully he’s none the worse.
The race was left to the Michael Hourigan trained TOBY JUG to take the spoils. He was involved in the scrimmaging at the second, but recovered quickly. He was brought through smoothly down the far side for the final time, took over at the last and stayed on for victory. This was only his third race on good ground or better and he’s now 131, so there’s a fair chance we will see Toby Jug crossing the Irish Sea again this summer.
BENNY THE PILER showed much promise as a novice hurdler. He had a year off the track to October and hasn’t been in form since, bur clearly favoured by the conditions he showed up well on this occasion. He led before the last but was just outstayed on the run-in. It’s worth noting that he performed poorly last time in a visor and looked much better with the ‘aid’ removed. Keep him in mind because in this form he can win a chase.
The win penalty probably made the difference for CHERNIK. Having set the pace for much of the way he couldn’t respond to the first two in the straight but this was a sound effort and he ran to his form.
WHATDOIDOWITHAT weakened from three out having made a few minor mistakes. He had it to do here judged on hurdles ratings and should learn from the experience.
TURBULENT FLIGHT, not one who appeals to the eye, is the worst rated steeplechaser in Britain on 43, so to be beaten only 26 lengths by a 116 rated runner doesn’t look bad. However, the time was very slow and she just plodded on so I wouldn’t read much into it.
KIRCASSOCK VIC, an Irish maiden point winner last time, made a few errors but was still there three out before stopping very quickly and being pulled up.

8.35 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

TRAFALGAR MAN has gradually slipped down the handicap, but showed a little promise here last time and had enough to hold off a not completely committed runner-up here. He is a top of the ground horse who missed the 2008 summer campaign. He’ll go up a few pounds for this win, but given that the sun continues to shine regularly he should notch another win in the summer.
FRED BOJANGALS is another top of the ground performer. I’m not convinced that he’s inclined to put himself out to the full at the death, and he was worried out of here. He’ll presumably be a short price next time and may be one to oppose.
LONGDALE made some mistakes and jumped slowly at times. He stayed on to take third. He’ll presumably be kept on the go through the summer and swaps backwards and forwards between hurdles and fences but he needs to be on his game with his jumping to win a chase.
NORTHERN QUEST, a ‘fizzy’ sort, was taken to post early and predictably took a keen hold in the race taking a clear lead early on. He was headed before the last and weakened. This was better than recent runs and if he hits the consistent form of last year he’ll pick up a race, but he needs to be kept below boiling point.
FALCON’S TRIBUTE was outpaced form two out. Class 5 very weak Class 4 chases (cutting up to 0-95) are his level. He might be interesting at the lower level back at Hexham, though that does depend on the race programme.
CHIGORIN never got involved and is not a prolific winner.
I’M YOUR MAN beat Trafalgar Man last time, but he has two ways of running and this was not a going day. He was reported as ‘not suited by the good to firm ground’ which is surprising for one who has run on the surface a few times before and was kept on the go last summer.
I assumed COMMANCHE TOPGUN had pulled up since he was miles behind but the results show he finished 101 lengths behind I’m Your Man. He has the odd bit of fair form, but he doesn’t look win material on current evidence.
BLAST THE PAST was settled in last and stayed in the same zone until pulling up three out, being reported as ‘finished distressed’. To be pedantic she didn’t actually ‘finish’ but I’m sure we get the drift.