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.

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