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.