Thursday, 30 July 2009

Perth - Final July Meeting

PERTH – Tuesday July 28th

Going – Good To Soft (raining latter part of the evening)

6.05 2m 110yds Class 4 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

A weak looking juvenile hurdle and I’m not sure there’s a need for three-year-old contests from June and July as now seems to be the pattern. That being said, I suppose in the ‘old days’ there would have been a handful running round Newton Abbot on firm ground.

ADDISON DE WITT was good enough to see of a couple with hurdling experience. A maiden on the flat but with steadily improving form at a mile and a half he looked fair material for jumping if taking to hurdles. He did that well enough in this limited company, taking over from the leader at the last and staying on well. T remains to be seen what the form’s worth but he did beat a previous second and they were miles clear of the the others.
ROYAL MAX is about the same level on the flat as the winner, pretty moderate in the low fifties rating-wise. He jumped economically for most of the way but dived at two out then clipped the last and couldn’t keep it together when pressed. He may pick up a moderate race but there’s a chance others will improve past him.
ORSIPPUS was the best part of a furlong back in third. He’s rated higher than the first two on the flat but hasn’t cut it yet over hurdles.
AGRICULTURAL and CAPTAIN CAVENDISH has done nothing on the flat this year, and their long-odds were accurate.

6.40 2m 4½f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

SCREENSCRAPER struck me here last time as needing more time. Gordon Elliott clearly feels differently and pulled him out for the third time in a month to win what looked a moderate contest. He has clearly benefitted from a distance of ground making up for lack of acceleration, and I reckon a further step up will do no harm. I still think he’ll get better with a bit of time, but I’ll bow to Elliott’s greater knowledge if he keeps this one on the go.
BAAHER was always there or thereabouts but was held by the winner on the flat. If we take his 102 mark as a measure then he sets the standard.
ANNIE GO looked dangerous three out but weakened from two out and the possibility is that this form wasn’t much better than her well beaten hurdling debut at Bellewstown.
SOLWAY STAR, rated 96, should have got closer here but was struggling with four to go. It’s possible the rain didn’t help.

7.10 2mc 4 ½ f 0-90 Selling Handicap Hurdle

This was a dire contest won by a 66-rated maiden.

KALATIME was patiently ridden by the talented claimer James Halliday and produced to take charge from two out. Her two previous best efforts were in similar company and it’s difficult to see her making much progress out of selling handicaps. There was no interest at the auction.
CATCH TWENTY TWO, blinkered for the first time, had every chance two out but couldn’t match the winner from that point.
NEEDLE PRICK raced prominently until calling enough in the straight and given that this was his second run after a year and a half off there is a least a little encouragement for similar events, which is more than can be said for the remainder of the field.

7.40 2m 4 ½ f 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Chase

Tim Vaughan generally makes decent use of his ammunition on long trips and BURGESS HILL did the job nicely here on chasing debut. He jumped well all the way challenged three out, led two out and stayed on well from that point. Given that the second and third had shown promise over fences previously, and the three were well clear, I’d attach some weight to this form.
SIERRA PEAK showed promise behind a couple of decent opponents first time over fences. He confirmed that promise here, jumping well in front but held from two out though keeping on determinedly enough for second. He should win a chase.
SHANAHAN, a stable mate of the winner, raced keenly early on and possibly just paid for that as he couldn’t raise his game enough on the flat. He’s arguably more exposed than the first two, but has shown enough in three chases to suggest a similar event is within his compass.
WRITER’S BLOCK was well held in fourth and needs to be in the lowest grade.
BILLYANDI was well backed, as has been before at this course, but never got into the race. His chasing record suggests he’s one to oppose.
ARCTIC COVE made it 44 runs sine a win, struggling from the tenth fence.
PAPERCHASER probably had the trip as an excuse at Cartmel, but he made too many poor jumps here and was struggling after four out. The rain probably didn’t help.
ELLANDSHE managed a second consecutive remote completion.

8.15 3m ½ f 0-100 Handicap Hurdle

The field was stretched on the final circuit and not many seriously got into the race in the last six furlongs.

WOTCHALIKE was kept in touch and brought into the fray in the straight. Leading two out he was driven clear on the flat. He’s had a couple of unsuccessful outings on the flat this year and has been generally below par, but the mark of 80 was very generous if he was anything like back to form since he was a handicap winner off 97 in March 2008. He hit a good run of form at that time Jim Best, and may be capable of a follow up now he’s hit form in his current yard.
NIGWELL FORBEES was on the premises for much of the way and produced his best run to date. He kept on but couldn’t muster enough speed to challenge the winner. He spent three years off the track before June this year, and there is a hint that the patience may pay off in a lowly staying handicap.
DORIS’S GIFT set the pace as his preferred way, giving way from two out but at least showing he is in reasonable heart.
Everything else was well beaten off with BALLYNURE, returning from chasing, unable to get his own way and back-pedalling from three out.

8.45 3m 0-135 Handicap Chase

HE’S A HOTSHOT once again proved better receiving weight than he has done giving weight in a lower class. He tracked the leaders and came to lead two out, keeping on under encouragement as he idled on the run-in. As he does no more than he can get away with it’s a little difficult to judge how much there is left in the tank, but the impression I got was that there was still a little more to come. It could be said he has a good record here, but since he currently does all his racing at Perth that possibly doesn’t tell us much.
CRAIGLANDS was held up at the rear and looked a serious challenger when brought through from three out only to be held on the run-in. This was a very promising move up from hunter chase company and Jim Goldie has an interesting prospect on his hands for staying chases.
Paul Murphy looked to have every chance of taking a staying chase with MAIDSTONE MIXTURE if dropped to a lower class than the 0-120 he ran in last time. In classic Murphy style he duly ran the gelding in a higher class from 11lbs out of the handicap and will now presumably pay the price for his charge running so close. He led or disputed until just running out of puff at the last and does seem better at staying chasing than his previous disciplines. Oh that he were with a trainer who could campaign him more realistically.
NGONG HILLS wouldn’t have been suited by the softening of the ground so ran a very creditable race to finish around 10 lengths fourth. He had every chance in the straight but was held before the last. It’s worth keeping an eye out for him back on fast ground.
SOME CRAIC has done all his winning on good or faster ground and was held from four out.
CORKAGE was in the process of making a decent handicap chasing debut when decanting Campbell Gillies three out. He made a blunder at the eighth, so perhaps needs to sharpen his jumping in this company but looks competitive.
NUDGE AND NURDLE was still on the bridle when slipping in front of the thirteenth and unseating his rider.

5.15 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

ANNIBALE CARO was enterprisingly ridden by James Reveley and it paid dividends. On the face of it the two front runners appeared to be going an above average clip, but the time suggested otherwise so it could be a case of a number of riders misjudging the gallop. He’s a headstrong type but was kept in check by Reveley and had enough in hand to hold off his one serious challenger Farne Island up the run-in.
FARNE ISLAND is running well enough at the moment but has only ever one once from 36 races and is basically very good at chasing others home.
GUERILLA was held up at the head of the main group which I felt was the right way to ride him and probably achieved as good a result as possible in this company. He ran on and was closing at the line.
DON’T THINK TWICE never got to the leaders. DESERT SOUL probably isn’t good enough in this class and my impression is that BED FELLOW needs both a lower class and longer distance.
STYLISH SHOT pulled very hard and was restrained. He had used up his energy by three out and never got competitive. He’s now 0 from 17 taking into account flat and hurdles form and just seems a difficult ride.

The rain toward the end of the evening presaged and overnight downpour which resulted in Wednesday’s meeting being abandoned. The Northern jumping circuit now takes a break until the return of Sedgefield on August 25th followed by the two day Cartmel August Bank Holiday meeting. Perth have two days remaining this year, the 23rd and 24th of September, Sedgefield serving up the other two meetings in September.

Due to other commitments I've rather neglected the flat recently, though readers will understand that my preference is for the jumps. There's a lull in jump action during August so hopefully I should catch up with some Flat notes and I hope to take in a meeting or two in the coming month.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Cartmel July Meeting

CARTMEL – Thursday July 16th

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places, Soft on the wood side)

After giving reports on Cartmel racing over the last year I thought it about time I paid a visit to the place. This meeting is the only meeting that avoids Bank Holiday weeks so is less crowded than others though it’s still plenty busy enough. It’s worth noting that the course add a meeting next year, the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday weekend, though the consensus is that seven days racing is as high as it needs to go.

Cartmel is just that bit different from others courses and it takes some time to fathom the place. We had a week in self-catering accommodation backing on to a big house just outside the village. This meant we were fairly handy for the course, though with the narrow village streets closed a detour around the country lanes was required. Ironically we were well positioned to miss all the signs, so an abortive trip towards the village was made before we looped back to follow the ‘Paddock Enclosure’ signs.

They charge £5 extra for Paddock parking for this meeting, with entrance to any part of the course being £15. In this instance it would probably have been better if we had parked in the Course enclosure since it gives access to better viewing positions and the paddock can be accessed by crossing the course. For other meetings you need to be in the Paddock enclosure to access the paddock, so you pays your money and you takes your choice.

The stand faces the straight and the four fences down the wood side of the course. Two fences and two hurdles are out of sight, although Owners and Trainers get a slightly better view. In my opinion the best viewing spot is from the hill in the Course enclosure.
With a small amount of movement during the race this gives a reasonable view of all six steeplechase fences, including an excellent view down the wood side, and three of the four hurdles. The last hurdle can’t be seen, but slightly more judicious arrangements of coach might change this though I’m sure that won’t happen. The drawback is that the view of the finishing straight is interrupted by marquees, back of the big screen and fairground rides. If you want to get to the paddock for every race prepare to spend much time walking the 3 or 4 furlongs backwards and forwards. Crossing the straight can be a pain as the runners get led from and back to the stables along here.

Cartmel do themselves a great favour by having Iain Mackenzie as race caller. His precise delivery and careful detailing of each horse’s position and progress is well suited to a course with restricted viewing.

There was some competitive if moderate quality racing with a full contingent of runners bar a few absentees.

2.00 2m 6f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The last hurdle was missed out as it was damaged.

CRAZY EYES didn’t look the winner at what should have been two out. He had been tapped for pace down the woodside and looked held. However, it’s clear that the one thing he does is stay and he kept on past three others in the straight to land the spoils. The overriding impression is that Crazy Eyes will be suited even more by a stiffer test.
CORPORATION, apparently the stable’s second string here, ran a decent race in second. He raced prominently and contested the lead from what turned out to be the flight. HE led in the straight and looked the winner only to be caught close home. He won a point in Ireland and looks to have enough ability to pick up a minor staying event.
QUEDILLAC looks one to make a chaser in time. He hurdled well but wasn’t done any favours when the loose Elusive Swallow crossed him when crashing through the rail after the fifth. He could only muster one pace in the last half mile but this was a decent hurdling debut.
The previous winner in the field, LAKE WAKATIPU, took a keen hold early and hit a couple of flights mid-race which was no help. He didn’t get to the leaders in the latter stages though kept on.
BANNVILLE, second in an Irish point, needs time to grow into his frame. He jumped poorly in the rear but stayed on late. I wouldn’t write him off but time is required.

2.30 2m 1½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

An improving hurdler in the winter, and a runner on the flat in recent weeks, AGGLESTONE ROCK made an impressive chasing debut. He has the look of a chaser about him and proved it in action. Tracking the leaders he moved up four out, took over at the last and eased clear on the run-in. There’s more to come and I’d be surprised if he didn’t pick up a novice chase under a penalty.
CORTINAS made progress over the last four fences and went second on the run-in but was never likely to catch the leader. He needs to be ridden patiently but just found one too good for him.
JORDAN’S LIGHT is suited by a sharp track such as this since he struggles at all but the shortest trips. He kept on for third and I suspect that’s how good he is over fences.
DANNY ZUKO was making some progress when clouting the last and he couldn’t fully recover. He doesn’t strike me as having the usual stamp of a McCain chaser though may have prospects a lowly level.
At nine years old TA AN ATHAS ORM isn’t one that attracts as a chasing prospect. He faded from the eighth.
MUSICAL WELD went along nicely in front, but was headed at the last and went out like a light. He’s run two fair races at Towcester and it could be that the stiffer track is more help.
ELLANDSHE with plenty of ‘non-achieving previous’ was beaten going to four out.
FINNEGANS RAINBOW jumped slowly early on and trundled around in the rear.
CAPO DI CAPI race prominently to four out then quickly faded.
MADGE jumped indifferently and was beaten by the eighth.

3.05 2m 1½f 0-95 Handicap Chase

TROTSKY has spent the last couple of seasons on the Irish point-to-point scene. He hasn’t been seeing out the three miles, so a return to near the minimum was a help here, as was the presence of the maestro McCoy on board. He led halfway through the race and kept on well under driving from the last to hold on.
SILVER STEEL was equipped with tongue-tie, breast girth, cross noseband and full-cheek snaffle which perhaps suggest waywardness both physically and mentally. However he performed soundly enough challenging form two out and keeping on in the straight. He’s in decent form currently and a step back up in trip would do no harm.
On his chasing debut PINEWOOD LEGEND jumped competently and had every chance from two out without quite threatening the winner.
RUSSIAN INVADER jumped slowly in the rear early on. He gradually warmed to his task to the point where he had a chance on the flat but he couldn’t get to the front two.
PAPERCHASER needs further than this. He made progress to hang on to the tails of the leaders round the final bend but couldn’t muster enough to challenge. He’s running well currently and would be worth an interest bumped up in distance again.
PEAK SEASONS race prominently early but was struggling from before four out. He’s appeared on the racecourse 81 times in his five seasons’ racing so clearly takes his racing well, but a win tally of 4 sums up his ability.
FRED BOJANGALS was prominent from the seventh to three out but then faded. He’s not one I put too much trust in, and he seems best at Sedgefield anyway.
MASTER PAPA went well enough to halfway, but he was under the shove by the eighth and faded.
SYBELLIUS D’ARTAIX demonstrated ability in Spring of 2007, but he’s gone backwards since then. He was never dangerous and beaten a long way out.
SADLER’S COVE was always at the back.
INMATE led or disputed to past halfway, but he thumped a couple of fences and his argument with the eighth did for him.

3.40 3m 2f 0-120 Handicap Chase

The in-form Winchester Red was pulled form this race after a run the previous day and the race had a lop-sided look to it with only four carrying more than the minimum. Such races can often provide easy pickings to the top weights that are able to outclass their moderate opposition.
SAND HURST ran creditably behind No Panic at Hereford. Given a forceful McCoy ride here he jumped really well and had most of his field on the stretch from four out. This was Edgar Byrne’s first winner for a couple of years and both trainer and his charge must take confidence from a comfortable win. Sandhurst’s form line with NO PANIC was franked when the latter ran a cracking race to finish a close third in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen. This gives cause for optimism should AGGIE’S LAD, second in front of No Panic at Perth, take up his engagement in the Galway Plate. VALERIUS beat both comfortably and his return to the racecourse is equally eagerly anticipated.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE has been tried at various disciplines by his notoriously over ambitious stable in an attempt to find his forte. A staying chase is a tough ask for a four-year-old, particularly with the unusual preparation of outings in the Derby and the Triumph Hurdle. However, Paul Murphy might just have one on a decent mark if campaigned sensibly, though from past experience I wouldn’t guarantee that will happen. He chased the leader from a mile out and stayed on admirably from the last. If he reproduces this effort a lower class staying handicap chase would be a formality.
GETINBYBUTONLYJUST ran passably well without threatening to win as is so often his way.
BAFANA BOY made the trek up from Mrs Leech’s base near Didcot. Having lived in Didcot for a few years up to 2006 I always get the picture of horses galloping up ‘The Broadway’ when Didcot is mentioned as a training base! Bafana Boy demonstrated plenty of energy, trying hard to boot out the rear of his saddling box. He never got to grips with the leaders in the race but stayed on late in fourth place, but he has a decent win record, and this fair return after a break offers some encouragement for the immediate future. Writing this sometime after the meeting I note he’s been dropped to 109 and that will put him in win territory as far as weight is concerned. (Images of The Broadway disappear as it turns out Mrs Leech trains in slightly more rural surroundings at Blewbury, two or three miles out of Didcot.)
ESME RIDES A GAINE was up against it following a rise in the handicap and with a rise in class here. As it was she ran prominently to four out before the effort told. She only went up 5lbs for a win from well out of the weights at Hexham so she is still weighted to have every chance in a more appropriate class.
SHREWD INVESTOR, running in snatches, got himself into the race by the fourteenth but then back-pedalled. He’s a distinctly all or nothing character, decent runs being split by plenty of naff ones, but this pattern can be helpful for those with patience and willing to cover a few in a race.
FEELING PECKISH was 29lbs out of the handicap so it was no surprise that he struggled from the twelfth. Even off his regular mark he struggles to get into the handicap and doesn’t look a winner in the making.
SANDY’S LEGEND jumped poorly in the rear and his rider called it a day before the last.
LEOPOLD has been running passably well but threw in a poor effort here. He was feeling the pinch when hitting the fourteenth and that finished him off as he was pulled up two fences later.

4.15 2m 1½f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle

JOSEPHINE MALINES is the size of tuppence ha’penny, but a fair percentage that is heart judged on this performance. This turning track clearly suits her and she set out at a decent pace with a clear lead on the first circuit. A couple got to her two out, but she saw off her main challenger determinedly up the straight. Kept to turning tracks she may well add to her score.
COME BACK TO ME, bringing forth a glimmer of ability from Irish races, put it to the winner from two out but was held on the flat though not for want of effort particularly on the part of Mr McCoy. He was well clear of the remainder and a win is probably only delayed.
Still an entire, and a solidly built one at that, CABBYL DOO was outpaced from two out and basically needs a stiffer test. I suppose the race was an obvious choice given that he’s trained on the edge of Cartmel village by Jimmy Moffatt, but the turns don’t bring out the best in him. Providing he’s not over-protective of his ‘tackle’ he should be the type for chasing.
PAR AVION was well backed but ran in snatches and didn’t seem particularly co-operative. The remainder were well held and their immediate prospects are limited.

4.50 2m 6f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

MORE EQUITY went up 8lbs for a win at Hexham but it made no difference here as he came late to pick off Mystified giving the impression there was more in the tank. A stiffer track would do even better and given that he’s not likely to go up too far for victory in a close finish he may not have finished winning.
MYSTIFIED, a course winner and also a recent flat winner, looked the likely victor at the last, but was ‘done’ close home. He seemed to see out this trip well enough which gives his trainer an extra option or two.
RARE COINCIDENCE led for much of the way only to be held from the last. This was a fair enough return to hurdling though he’s probably as high as he would want to be in the weights.
POLLY WHITEFOOT was one paced from two out and held. LILY TARA was pretty much the same and mistakes early on set her back, but this would be a minimum test for her and a less sharp track would be no harm.

5.20 2m 1 ½ f 0-90 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

When the main reason for qualification is having run at least three moderate races it’s sometimes difficult to take too much encouragement from these contests. PEACEFUL MEANS challenged on the flat and got up close home and the stable having done well to get something out of him first time; it will be interesting to see if remains competitive. He shouldn’t go up too much.
WENSLEYDALE WEB goes well round here and will presumably be aimed at the August meeting after a close second. She battled hard in the closing stages but couldn’t quite hold the winner. Mark her down for the shortlist when returning to Cartmel in this sort of class.
MYSTERIOUS WORLD is short of pace at the business end. Phil Kinsella set the pace but his mount couldn’t raise his game from the last. A lowly event at a stiff track could be an answer.
DESERT STAG went well enough to two out but couldn’t lift his effort any further, which is pretty much as it’s been in his jumps career to date.
STOIC LEADER ran second in a weak race here in May but was comfortably held on this occasion.
BEDFELLOW went well to two out but was then outpaced. He’ll need a stiffer test to show his best.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Perth - July 12

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

I missed this meeting as I was away on holiday, but now a chance to catch up if a little belatedly.

2.10 2m ½f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

Jim Goldie clearly took my hint following SPIRIT OF THE MIST’s last outing here! A drop in class did the trick and the gelding won this easing down. The one drawback might be that he had similarly rated runners in second and third and could suffer in handicaps. The upside is that he ought to take a novice event with a penalty. This one is fast turning into a decent hurdling prospect with a not dissimilar profile to the same trainer’s Toshi who beat him here last time.
WORDS OR WARNING couldn’t hold the winner, but probably ran to form. Martin Todhunter should be able to find a race for him.
DESERT STORM was comfortably held once passed two out. This was disappointing compared to previous jumping efforts.
PARSON’S PUNCH showed a modicum of promise on jumping debut.

2.40 2m 4 ½ f Class Novices’ Chase

CORKAGE’s form has a tendency to be a little up and down, but his basic profile over hurdles was progressive. He made an excellent chasing debut here, leading three out and staying on for victory. A mark of 130 already puts him amongst the best chasers in Scotland and there should be more to come.
BUCHAILL ON EIRNE is more exposed than the winner and would appear vulnerable to those improving past him. In the short term concentrating on similar events is more likely to pay dividends since a mark of 133 seems rather harsh.
SIERRA PEAK had a very tough task on chasing debut but acquitted himself very creditably. He led or disputed to three out jumping well, but was held from that point. Definitely one for the notebook and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go on to win chases.
RED DAWN had no chance and was left behind from the tenth.
ELLANDSHE raced prominently but was feeling the pinch by the ninth and was tired when pulled up before the last. He frequently runs in comp any he can’t cope with and needs a try in lowly handicaps.
MORE SHENNANIGANS is rated 52 and was already behind and struggling to keep up when unloading his rider at the sixth. He got as close a 15 lengths behind the winner in a dire handicap at Carlisle in the winter but otherwise has shown nothing.

3.10 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

A progressive novice hurdler took on a Galway Plate bound opponent seeking easy pocket money on the way. CARSONSTOWN BOY has progressed over the course of three runs here, with a beating in a tougher Irish assignment last time. He stepped back up in trip and that would have helped. I suspect he will get three miles and his future will eventually lie over fences.
BACKSTAGE ran creditably enough in defeat against a younger improver. He seems in good heart ready for the Galway Plate.
SOFTLY SPOKEN GUY was well held from three out and POSH LADY weakened from three out, being reported lame.

3.45 2m ½ f 0-100 C.J. Handicap Hurdle

Those that had previously won were no better than ‘win occasionally’ so I’m not sure the form of this race is much to take forward.

GUERILLA’s previous form consisted of many moderate runs interspersed with the odd glimmer of talent. On a going day he was able to take advantage of a mark of 80 which is probably a bit below what he capable of. I’ve always had the impression that he’s not 100 per cent physically and it would be a leap of faith expecting a repeat.
GOLDAN JESS had been out of form over hurdles but a run on the flat seemed to have helped. He probably sets the standard here beaten six lengths off 94.
GRAND OPERA was one paced in the straight, pretty much reflecting earlier hurdling efforts.
HARCAS led three out but couldn’t offer any more once passed after two out.
FREEDOM FLYING had every chance two out but ran out of puff.

4.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Chase

I managed to find reasons to oppose all of these in a lop-sided event where the top weight was rated 129 and the spread of the rest was 107 down to 103, or 99 allowing for out of the handicap. In the event HE’S A HOTSHOT took a good opportunity to break his duck following a number of decent runs around here. He has shown up well when carrying light weights and seems a better proposition in 0-130s than the likes of 0-110 handicaps. He raced prominently and had enough in hand once challenging at the last.
FLEMROSS ran well enough given that this course doesn’t play to his strengths as much as the stiff finish at Hexham. He led until the last and couldn’t respond once the winner went past.
BENNY THE PILER is consistently held in this company and was struggling in the straight.
HOLLOWS MILL’s little run seems to have come to an end and he couldn’t cope here.
HUNCHEON PADDY probably needed the race after a long break and was well beaten from four out. It’s not encouraging that his last two races have been preceded by a break of around a year.
THUNDER HAWK went well enough until hitting the tenth. That took the stuffing out of him and he quickly retreated before being pulled up.

4.50 3m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

MITH HILL has been in the wilderness over jumps in recent times but recovered form on this occasion. He ran off 127 in April 2008, so anything near that was good enough here. He ran in a visor for the first time and it apparently helped, though he would need more to follow up.
TARKANI was held up in the rear for much of the way. He came to challenge between the last two and kept on to the line. He mixes dire runs with the odd reasonable effort.
NEWMAN DES PLAGES was finishing fastest but arrived on the scene too late to catch the winner. This was his best effort since moving form France and he would appear to be on a ‘workable’ mark currently. The step back up in trip did no harm.
SOLWAY MINSTREL is consistent and ran another creditable race off a career high mark.
HOWS TRIX was not far away three out but couldn’t get close enough to challenge. This was a better effort than his recent runs.

5.20 2m ½ f NH Flat

BATTLE GROUP would appear to have learnt from a promising start at Uttoxeter. He won this with any amount in hand, though possibly not beating an awful lot. He’s going the right way and can probably defy a penalty.
FINELLAS FORTUNE stayed on up the straight under pressure. Breeding on the dam’s side is basically speed based but she didn’t seem to be stopping.
BACHELOR LAD made all in what looked a better event at down Royal. However, it’s possibly significant that the ground was fast that day, whereas a bit of rain meant there was just a touch of ease here.
The remainder were well seen off and offered little encouragement.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ayr and Musselburgh - July 5 and 6

AYR – Sunday July 5th

I struggled to take much from what was a low quality card choc full of Class 5 and Class 6 ‘whose turn is it today?’ handicaps.

The delightfully named TUKITINYASOK won the two-year-old maiden and is clearly one who has benefitted from the start of the juvenile seven furlong races. He will be nursery material with maybe a little more to come.

FORREST FLYER scored for the third time this season in the 1m 5f handicap. He’s sneaking up the weights, but since he won by two necks he might stay low enough to take another similar event.

The best event of the day, a 0-85 mile handicap, was won by Jeremy Noseda’s ROYAL DESTINATION who may be one to take from the card. Having won a maiden on his previous outing he has a progressive profile and might be capable of stepping up a class on this effort. The second COBO BAY, blinkered for the first time here, is probably a good marker now he’s dropped to 85 and looks interesting in the near future. The remainder, headed by recent winner WHITE DEER, were well beaten off

MUSSELBURGH – Monday July 5th

Going- Good

2.15 5f Class 6 Seller

A moderate event won by a 6-year-old maiden mare. PRINCESS CHARLMANE showed good speed from the gate and ran on well enough at the business end. She at least will have a win on her record to carry to the paddocks, but I’d not want to rely on a repeat. There was no interest at the auction.
BLUE TOMATO should have been good enough to win this given that he’s rated 30lbs higher than the winner. A bigger field may have helped so that he could be covered up.
GRUDGE went the pace until the final furlong and should come on for the seasonal debut.

2.45 1m 6f 56-75 Handicap

A deserved win for WEE CHARLIE CASTLE who had done nothing wrong in his first two races of the season. The big question is which horse the handicapper uses as the ‘measure’. If he goes up 6lbs, and could since the third was 8 lengths back, then he can’t run in 0-80 class and life is much tougher in a 10lb higher grade.
PIPER’S SONG stayed on from the back for second, seeing off the rest comfortably. He hasn’t won for a while, but it may be significant that all three wins have come on courses with an uphill finish.

3.15 1m 1f 3-5yo Maiden

A very moderate contest won by turf debutant GASELEE. She came into this off the back of a fair handicapping debut on the Polytrack at Lingfield and was dropped back from a mile and a half. She made all and went clear from four furlongs out. She’s rated 55 which sums up the level here.
MOON MONEY had no chance with the winner but needs to be stepped back up in distance.
HELIORBEA didn’t seem to benefit from the move up from seven furlongs.

3.45 5f 61-80 Handicap

An interesting sprint contest with a few coming into the race in decent form, and form lines from elsewhere carried to this ‘flying five’. With showers about the ground softened a bit on the day which wouldn’t have suited all contestants.

SECRET VENUE has now won three on the trot over this Course and Distance, stretching out well to hold on close home on this occasion. The neck margin here was the farthest he’s won by and that may help since he can’t be shunted up too far, and the evidence is that he has plenty of commitment at the ‘sharp end’.
SANDWITH was always prominent and just held close home. He’s not a prolific winner, but his record at Musselburgh is reasonable, 9142272 in recent times.
HOTHAM returned to form with a sound effort in third. He has benefitted from a steady drop in the weights which saw him on 69 for this race. This should give a few interesting opportunities since he won off 81 last autumn.
RACCOON led or disputed before being run out of it in the final furlong. He continues to put it in, but is probably as high as he would want to be in the ratings.
ARGENTINE carried 10-4 here and given that, along with a softening of the ground and the fact that the five furlongs here would not be ideal, I think he can be excused his last place. I’d give him a chance in similar company back on fast ground at Hamilton or a similar course.

4.15 5f 0-74 2yo Handicap

ETERNAL INSTINCT led two out and kept on well enough to take this. The form has to be taken in context of the small field, though the second VILNIUS has shown fair form to date and ran on once headed. The latter showed decent early pace.
GOODBYE EARL hung badly right in the final three furlongs. He has ability but it seems he also has a wayward tendency and this isn’t the first time he has displayed it. Maybe there is a physical reason for the problem?
PARADISE DREAM disputed early but was well held in the final furlong. On current evidence he struggles to stay the minimum trip at this level.

4.45 7f 46-60 Handicap

The ground was taking a fair cut by this time suiting front runners.

NUFOUDH and ONLY A SPLASH were both long term maidens and ran the whole race in first and second. The race fell into the lap of a winner but it’s noticeable that NUFOUDH has gone well in three efforts for Kelly Harrison who regular readers will know is one apprentice I have a lot of time for.
ONLY A SPLASH had seldom got near the front previously and I wouldn’t expect a follow-up.
MOROCHIUS chased in vain from three furlongs out and he’s another maiden and only rated 50.
SANDS OF BARRA has been out of from recently, but did hint that he’s on the way back. He threatened to challenge on the outside in the straight and kept on for fourth. The going is no problem but he never got close enough to the pace.

5.15 1m 46-65 3yo Handicap

ISLAND CHIEF hit the front soon after the start and dictated from there. He veered violently right over a furlong out, but once Amy Ryan had him going again he ran away from his field up the stands’ side. Ryan may well have lost an iron in the incident. He won by 11 lengths and you would hope that the handicapper would bear in mind that this wasn’t a good contest. It would have been nice to analyse the ‘veer’ but the Racing UK cameraman lost the plot! Amy Ryan lost her irons on this one at Thirsk and still managed to win so she must be getting used to calamitous happenings!
HAWKEYETHENOO and AMAZING BLUE SKY chased in vain in the straight and don’t look like winners in the near future.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Perth - First July Meeting - Day 2

PERTH – Thursday July 2nd

Going – Good To Firm

The weather was sunny and very warm throughout the afternoon. After the problems at Worcester the previous day Perth had plenty of water on hand, and Sam Morshead made a big point of encouraging use of water after races to cool the horses down. A team of helpers was hand to keep the water tubs filled. Out in the centre of the course a steady northerly breeze helped to keep the real edge off the heat during the racing.

Plenty more Irish raiders, but the home team managed to hold out 4-3, making the meeting score 8-5 and suggesting that the UK entrants can hold their own against a decent raiding party.

2.20 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The card started with an uncompetitive novices hurdle, weakened by a couple of non-runners amongst those which might conceivably have bustled up the favourite.
PENGANA was a good deal better than the opposition here, and it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from the win. He did what he had to, leading or racing prominently until going clear from two out. He now has a double penalty and his trainer will presumably throw him on the mercy of the handicapper.
PAPADOPOLI was outpaced going to the sixth but stayed on again late for second. She will benefit from this experience.
ENDEAVOR never threatened the leaders but plugged on from the rear for third.
If I was taking one off ‘the rest’ out of this race it would be DESERT SOUL. I should say that he clearly isn’t very quick, but did at least show a bit of go to pick up the pace from the fourth. He was one paced when headed two out, but might make a mark in a moderate selling handicap off 76.
SIERRA PEAK might have been considered a danger to the winner on some form, but he faded from three out. He’d been off the track since December and it looked to me as if the race would bring him on.

2.50 3m Class 4 Novices’ Chase

This may just turn out to be a pretty decent novices’ chase with a promising winner chased home by two previous winners.
VALERIUS had previously won three times over hurdles but no this evidence could be quite decent over fences. He jumped nicely and took up the running four out, gradually forging clear from that point. He should pick up another novice event under a penalty and then move on. His record suggests a preference for decent ground and I'd expect to see him back at Perth since he is four wins from five attempts at ‘The Scone’.
AGGIE’S LAD was brought into the paddock as late as possible, so much so that in waiting for him I lost the chance to cross to ‘the infield’ as I normally would for chases. He was notably on his toes and looks a keen sort. He was going well enough four out but couldn’t match the winner’s pace. I suspect he ran up against a decent performer here.
NO PANIC had to work hard to win at Hereford previously and found the first two a bit tougher. Nevertheless he produced a fair performance in third and should pick up another chase given slightly less talented opposition.
DEVONS BOY has progressed to chasing under Rules rather late in his career and didn’t record a win from 17 goes in Irish points. However, he did show a bit of promise here, taking them along until four out before the effort told. He probably needs a couple of runs to get a handicap mark, but wouldn’t be a total lost cause in a maiden chase.
CARRICK DHU, a winner here over hurdles when last seen in May 2008, disputed for part of the second circuit before back-pedalling rapidly from five out. He jumped a bit deliberately which was always going to be a problem against more talented opposition here.
LEADING PEARL didn’t jump well and was pulled up lame after hitting the fourteenth.
INISHEER, who pulled up when losing a shoe here on Wednesday, was prominent early but struggling after a mile and pulled up at the fourteenth.
ELLANDSHE has been dreadful over jumps and was hopelessly out of his depth here, though he did race prominently for over a circuit before being pulled up.

3.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-90 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

A very ordinary looking event with many established as poor performers.

INTENSE SUSPENSE only just got into the race courtesy of a number of defectors at the overnight stage. He has left behind some very moderate hurdling form with three comfortable pointing wins in recent times. He had to work very hard to see off a determined runner-up, but I get the impression that there is a good deal more to come from this one. He impressed me with his long raking stride; leading until challenged approached the last. He was briefly headed but showed plenty of determination to get back up on the run-in.
The bare form of this run looks nothing special but I’d put INTENSE SUSPENSE in the notebook. He looks as if he will be well suited by a galloping track, and a move up in distance would certainly do no harm. I think he is one who will eventually be seen to advantage over fences.
ONE BLACK CAT lost nothing in defeat here. She saw off all bar the winner comfortably and, though just held, lacked nothing in the battle herself. On this form there must surely be a similar race for the taking.
SOLWAY BLUE’s record is very moderate but he stayed on well enough for third.
OBARA D’AVRIL came into this race as one of few in decent form. She briefly threatened three out, but didn’t jump that flight well and never got back to the leaders. She may be worth a try dropped back in distance.
It was difficult to take much encouragement from anything else in the race since they were all well seen off.

3.50 3m 0-90 Handicap Chase

I’m not sure that the winning form will be any use on the northern circuit in the immediate future, but KELTIC LORD put up a sound performance to win this. He’s a quirky individual who needs the race to go his way and by all accounts loves the sun on his back. He certainly rattled along on the fast ground, making all and jumping really well. Just to prove how contrary this one can be, he hadn’t gone at inch at Hereford, but he was on good terms with the world today. He made the trip from Peter Hiatt’s stable at Hook Norton near Banbury, not a million miles from my old ‘patch’, and owner Paul Porter enthused about the track here.
BALLYNURE is steadily improving and should pick up a handicap chase before long. He chased the chased leader from pillar to post but couldn’t get to him at the sharp end.
SOUTH BRONX would win this event comfortably if showing his best, but he’s not one to rely on. He disputed second with Ballynure for much of the way but was held by the first two over the final three fences.
TOWER OF LLOYD raced prominently but felt the pinch from four out. He’s an eleven-year-old who hasn’t got a huge amount of miles on the clock and if a race were run more to suit him he wouldn’t be lost cause. He certainly likes the fast ground so it’s likely he will make a return trip over the Irish Sea.
GIULIANI has been found wanting even at this lowly level and, having been stretched going to the fourteenth, he couldn’t raise his game.
WRITERS BLOCK raced prominently early but didn’t show on the final circuit and his chasing form to date is not impressive.
ARCTIC COVE has only one flat win to show for 49 races and never threatened to improve that record here.
NOW THEN SID showed a bit more zest than on recent outings. He raced up with the pace to the fourteenth after which he back-pedalled. He was beaten a long way but there is just a suggestion that he retains a little ability.
RECKLESS VENTURE was pushed along going to the fourteenth and weakened quickly from that point. He had been close up recently but this was a poor effort.
BIG BONE clattered the second fence right in front of me. He was soon struggling and I suspect he either hurt himself at that point or decided he wasn’t interested.
LORD TEE has run some fair races in Ireland but was never going here and was pulled up with a circuit left.
TIP ON never got into the race and was pulled at the thirteenth followed shortly after by SILVER DAGGER who has winning form in his record but is going downhill.
What possessed anyone to help back TURBULENT FLIGHT from 25/1 to 14/1 I haven’t a clue. A distinctly unattractive beast, she is very poor despite a couple of remote ‘staying on late’s recently. She soon became detached, her jumping was clueless and her jockey gave up the struggle before the last circuit.

4.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-135 Handicap Chase

The race was run in a record time which tells us that the ground was pretty fast, but also that it was in good enough nick for the runners to go full out.

ABRAGANTE has not been in the greatest of form recently, though his last run here did at least hint at a return to form. Looking fresh and well after a break, conditions suited him here and he was given a peach of a waiting ride by Timmy Murphy. He picked off the leader on the run-in and had too much resolution for the second. He shouldn’t go up too much for this and may find another opportunity at a similar level.
HE’S A HOTSHOT produced a better run than he had done the previous day despite a rise in class. He has plenty of ability but has yet to win and it has to be questioned as to whether he was putting it all in toward the finish. He remains one to oppose when at the sharp end of the market.
STAGECOACH AMBER took up the pace from the start and ran a cracker of a race. He was only run out of it close home and didn’t give up without a fight. He’s probably as high as he would want to be in the handicap but running creditably.
PILCA is difficult to catch right. He won here a couple of runs ago but has been well held on two occasions since including last time in a lower class. He’s another who is opposable when well backed.
ANOTHER AMBITION was well backed here but not up to the task on his first handicap chase outing, fading from four out. A drop in class looks a necessity.
SEAFIELD BOGIE ran well to four out but was found wanting from that point. Try as I might I have struggled to find much of a pattern to his form. He is capable on his day but it’s difficult to tell when that day will come. His recent form suggests a left-handed track suits, but going back a way he has form going right-handed.
ROYAL RANGER couldn’t handle the move up from Irish points and hunter company to this class and needs his sights lowered. He was pulled up before three out.
THE ROCKING DOCK’s saddle slipped after a circuit and he was pulled up out of necessity. This run can be set aside.
GO SILVER BULLET contested the lead at the start, but by the second it seemed clear that Stagecoach Amber would dictate. Jumping slowly at the next few fences, Go Silver Bullet was in the pack after a circuit and struggling soon after, pulling up before three out. This was a step up in trip, but he was struggling so far out that I would suggest he didn’t fancy being taken on for the lead. I think he is well capable of winning again, but he needs and uncontested lead so potential backers are advised to check the ‘race shape’ before putting money down.

4.50 3m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

IMTIHAN looked on his toes and readied for this one. He settled nicely in fourth place and looked the winner once he took charge from three out. In taking this race he was the second consecutive winner to record a course record time. I’d say he should be capable of defying a rise in the weights as, although he hasn’t won for while, he has followed up wins before.
ESSIFER, a tall rather sparely-made gelding, doesn’t look a particularly reliable character and though having every chance was ‘dogging it’ when asked to challenge. He’s not one to trust.
SOLWAY BAY ran a decent enough race fitted with first time blinkers, a very natty pair in the ‘stable colours’ of blue and red! He stayed on for second. I presume there’s a chance he will be aimed at a similar class race at Cartmel on July 16th over a slightly shorter trip, the latter not necessarily to his advantage.
DUKEOFCHESTERWOOD came out best of three that were placed together at Hexham with HECKLEY FOXTROT and LADY SAMBURY well seen off. He didn’t get to the leaders from three out but there’s scope for a drop in class, IF the right race shows up on the programme!
GILO looked a rather stiff walker and I wonder if he has fitness problems. He was prominent to three out but couldn’t raise his game as required.
ETHAN’S STAR probably found the company a bit tougher than the Sedgefield ‘Seller Final’, weakening from three out.

5.20 2m C.J. and Amateurs’ NH Flat

A disappointing turn out for the closing bumper. These events can be quite well contested but only seven showed up for this one, with the main action centring upon the Irish challenge.

SCREENSCRAPER was well backed to follow up a pointing win. I have to say though that his paddock appearance gave no encouragement, since he has plenty of growing to do and I’d say it will be a year or two before he approaches full strength. He doesn’t look forward enough currently to deal with better developed and slightly older opponents. He had every chance if good enough to couldn’t raise the gallop in the straight, finishing a well beaten third.
NOW THIS IS IT had winning form here in the bag and did the job soundly enough form three out. He should be capable of making his mark over hurdles.
SOLE WITNESS seemed to improve on his first effort, leading until two and a half furlongs out and keeping on well enough.
MYSTIC MINX has a bit about her to suggest there may be more to come in time, staying on for fourth well clear of the remaining three runners MANIC DREAM, ALFIE BET and THISTLEDOWN ROSE who offered no encouragement for the future.

I'll post a summary of the recent Scottish Flat action before the end of this week. After that I'm off to the Lake District, taking in the midsummer meeting at Cartmel. I'll catch up with the intervening Perth meeting when I return, along with an on the spot report from Cartmel and a summary of any worthwhile Flat runs that crop up.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Perth First July Meeting - Day 1

PERTH – Wednesday July 1st

Going – Good To Firm

The Racing Post had an article where was much bleating from a Hawick based owner about the amount of Irish horses travelling to Perth. Quite what the course is meant to do I don’t know since the excellent ground and decent prize money creates competitive racing. Should we have races for Scottish trained horses running for £900?

Over a third of the runners at this meeting were Irish but in the end the ‘home team’ won 4-2. That being said the home team’s tally included s winner for Alison Thorpe who had travelled even further from her Carmarthen base than had many of the Irish contingent. Jim Goldie kept the flag for the Scots with a winner in the last. This must be one of the rare occasions when winners on one card have come from the four home countries plus the Republic of Ireland.

2.20 2m 4½f Class 5 Mares’ Maiden Hurdle

With so much balloting out in these contests in Ireland, it was no surprise that there were 12 raiders contesting this race.

POSH LADY has had a few goes over hurdles and recorded what appeared to be a personal best to win this event. She chased the leader from two out and took over on the flat. She seems better at this distance than shorter, needs decent ground and presumably her trainer will look for opportunities at the remaining meetings here this year.
LOUGHADERRA DAME didn’t do too much wrong, leading approaching two out and being overhauled late on. She was well clear of the remainder and her visit to the winner’s spot is surely only delayed.
BORAGH PRINCESS was going well enough three out but didn’t pick up as the front two did. The impression is that the sharp track does not play to her strengths and she needs a stiffer test.
DREE HILL had every chance to two out but was well outpaced from there and pretty much repeated the form of her Cartmel debut.
RIVERSCAPE struggled from two out and is another who requires a stiffer test.

2.50 3m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This was a shoo-in for Galway Plate bound BACKSTAGE. A winner of the Perth Gold Cup he proved himself more than capable of handling some distinctly moderate novice opposition.
FLASH CUMMINS, off the track for a long while, proved he still retains his ability. He never got in with a sniff of wining, but made good progress to gain second. He should make up for lost time before long on this evidence.
SOLWAY STAR pretty much ran to form in third and would be in with a better chance in handicaps.
Peter Buchanan sent BROCKS BRAE after the fifth and he soon went clear. He had nothing left from two out though and has yet to record a win in 23 attempts in all company.
LORD SAMPOSIN weakened from three out and probably didn’t stay.

3.20 2m Class 4 Novices’ Chase

The first UK based winner travelled all the way from Carmarthen to see off another major Irish challenge. DISHDASHA was fifth in what may turn out to be quite a decent novice event on opening night at Ffos Las. He cruised away from the last here to win with plenty in hand. If the right race can be found he may just be capable of carrying the two win penalty. Otherwise it will be handicap chases and presumably 0-135 events and upwards.
TOP MARK jumped awkwardly at times and this probably cost him his chance. This still wasn’t a bad performance and with sharper fencing he will win again.
SAFARI ADVENTURES led from the sixth to 4 out and ran in snatches. Having looked well beaten he picked up again from two out. He’s not recorded a win over fences in 11 goes, and doesn’t help himself with a lack of race rhythm.
HELVIC HEAD wasn’t out of it three out, but quickly went backwards after belting the obstacle. His form has gone downhill since the turn of the year.
MORE SHENNANIGANS is outclassed in most company and had not an earthly here being tailed off by the eighth fence.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR performed marginally worse than More Shennanigans and was well detached by the sixth fence. There have been few signs of encouragement from this animal.
FLYING FORME won what must have been a truly dire Irish point in April, but has been dreadful otherwise. He went to the pace to before four out, but quickly subsided and his jockey called it a day after a tired jump three out.

3.50 2m 4 ½ f 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase

PAPERCHASER has shown steady progression in recent weeks and deserved this first win. Having been held up, he worked his work into contention up the straight, led at the last and held the closing second on the flat. He probably needs to be held up, but given the right sort of race he looks capable of recording another win, particularly while this quick ground prevails.
ACCORDION ROILELET made a fine handicapping debut. Winner of what looked a moderate hunter chase at Cartmel; he made headway down the straight before challenging on the flat. He was just held but looks to have enough about him to challenge again in similar company. He certainly seems in good heart this year.
FORTIS ET FIDELIS had hinted at finding some form when sixth at Listowel last time. He belied 28/1 odds here to give it a good go, racing prominently all the way before being run out of it on the flat. A good effort that gives some encouragement for the future. It could be that the fast ground was helpful.
TRAFALGAR MAN has been on a decent run, but the rise in weights combined with a step up in distance was against him here. He was in front going to the last so a drop back to two miles would do no harm.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS, another in a decent run of form excepting the odd typical wobbly, forced the pace until four out before paying the price. There was probably a little too much competition here and I wouldn’t write him off just yet. Haven’t I just changed my tune with this one in recent weeks?
HE’S A HOTSHOT pulled hard for much of the early running and was nudged along after the eleventh fence to keep going. He faded from that point.
ALAGON hit the tenth hard and that stopped him in his tracks.

4.20 3m 0-130 Handicap Chase

This race was run at a decent pace which had half the field yelling “enough!” with half a circuit to go. The time was 7.6 seconds under the standard so there is every reason to respect the form.
CROZAN hadn’t won since 2005 and is now 32lbs below his career high. A change of tactics seemed to do a rejuvenation job here and he galloped a competitive field into the ground. Assuming his confidence is boosted by this there should be more to come.
MARUFO jumped awkwardly in the rear early on. He moved through to have every chance from three out but couldn’t get to the winner. This looks a decent effort and there will be easier opportunities for him. It is worth noting that he is now 11612 on ground good or faster.
MILL SIDE was hampered when All Rise came down at the twelfth which left him some work to do to get back into the race. Allowing for that it was a pretty decent effort to work his way into third place and he’s another that looks best on good or faster ground.
KELLS CASTLE has run a succession of decent races and fourth here, well clear of the remainder, was a creditable effort given the company. However his losing run is now 13 and he just doesn’t quite produce the extra in the latter stages of races.
NO COMPLAINT made brief forward progress going to the fourth last but was quickly on the retreat.
WATER TAXI seems handicapped above his ability and struggles in this company. He needs some relief from the handicapper.
IRON MAN was feeling the pinch when taking what appeared a rather tired fall three out. He would have done a bit better than recent efforts though and is worth keeping an eye on.
BROOKLYN BREEZE and SHANNON SPRINGS never got into the race and pulled up before three out.
MR ED was hampered by All Rise and couldn’t recover enough. He hadn’t been pressed at the time and can be forgiven this race.
ALL RISE was up 30lbs following his Perth Gold Cup effort and subsequent Hexham win. He was still going within himself when falling at the twelfth fence.
NGONG HILLS made a couple of bad mistakes but he was feeling the pinch and struggled with the tougher opposition.
FAKIMA lost touch by halfway and persisted in a forlorn last place until three out.

4.50 2m ½ f 0-135 Handicap Hurdle

TOSHI recorded a third jumps win of the year, adding to a Chester flat win. Brought through from the rear in the straight, he stayed on well after the last. It might be worth a go at the decent handicap hurdles in the summer and it’s also worth noting that he still seems off a decent mark on the flat.
A stablemate of the winner, SPIRIT OF THE MIST had every chance two out but was outpaced going to the last before staying on again to take second. He was running from 12lbs out of the handicap which presumably won’t be forgiven, but a drop in class should be enough to gain some win prize money. He might pick up a minor novice hurdle if his trainer is so inclined, although I get the impression Mr Goldie’s preference is to go for a handicap.
SIBERIAN TIGER looked dangerous going to the last but had no extra to offer on the flat. He was quite highly tried her and there should be easier chances. He’s still a hurdling maiden so there are a few options.
BORDER TALE was stretched for pace a bit going to four out. He came back enough to lead before the last and then could only muster one pace. This has often been the problem, but his flat form is decent of late and there may be a staying event for him on the level.
BAGUENAUD was never better than fourth or fifth and found the company a little tough.
ELLERSLIE TOM set the pace until weakening under pressure after two out. He ran well off 129 in the Swinton Hurdle, but he’ll have a tough job to win off 135.
TRANOS was on his game this time last summer but is struggling this year and was well beaten.

Hamilton sees out the month of June

HAMILTON – Tuesday June 30th

Going – Good To Firm

Rail movement reduced round course distances by 30 yards and this is allowed for in quoted race distances.

I had been asked on the Racing Forum about the watering at Hamilton. Although I haven’t seen them watering the growth pattern suggests they use a boom, and coverage would seem to be quite even up the straight. However, the loop seems to have had less water and I would imagine it would be a bit firmer than the rest.

An eight race, tough quite run of the mill fare. However, there may be one or two significant pointers to carry forward.

2.15 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

EXGRAY built on a promising debut to win here. It was hard work but she did well enough to hold off her nearest challenger close home. The form is no better than average for this level but she shouldn’t be over penalised for handicaps and nurseries would seem her target.
MELODY OF THE MIST stepped on debut form to push the winner all the way. There’s nothing wrong with her attitude and she should pick up a similar event.
YESNABAY, from a stable not renowned for sharp two-year-olds, put up a creditable debut performance in third. He made some progress to the furlong pole but couldn’t raise his game from that point.
Mark Johnston has been very strong in Scottish maidens recently, but WAVEBAND might need a little time to get her act together. She was slow away and used her energy to get into contention two out before being held.

2.45 5f Claimer

This was not a particularly strong claimer and the presence of a 40-rated performer in fourth doesn’t inspire.

GAP PRINCESS is essentially a six and seven furlong performer, but the pace was strong here and the leader came back to her up the hill. She was entitled to have every chance here at the weights but it does at least confirm her well being. I’d want to see her upped in trip in more competitive company.
CAYMAN FOX blitzed out of the gate and was clear after two furlongs. She was caught in the final furlong but had seen off the remainder. She won a weaker claimer here last time, but I’d be looking for a sharper track in handicaps.
SILVANUS kept on without threatening the first two and continues in fair form.
RIGHTCAR LEWIS apparently performed well above herself in fourth. I suspect the way the race was run helped her get close and I’d take the form with a pinch of salt.

3.15 1m 35yds 51-70 3yo Handicap

ALDAADO looks progressive at this modest level and landed the odds against moderate opposition here. He picked up nicely once the runners hit the hill and it appears he relishes the stiff finish since his previous win was at Beverley. Carefully placed he should pick up another race even with a forced rise in class.
PETSAS PLEASURE picked up late and looks to need further. He did come last over ten furlongs earlier in the season, but that was on seasonal debut and another try may be worthwhile.
LIBERTY TRAIL kept on once passed having set the early pace but has to find more to win a race, and GREEN DYNASTY pulled much too hard in first time blinkers and doesn’t look encouraging.

3.45 1m 1f 35yds 56-75 Handicap

STATESIDE stayed on up the hill, just holding on from the fast finishing Talk Of Saafend. That said she wasn’t stopping a step back up in trip may eke out a little more improvement. She certainly saw of all bar the runner-up comfortably and her attitude looks sound.
TALK OF SAAFEND blitzed up the hill and would have won in another ten yards. His overall win/place record is very good, and now he’s hit form he’s worth putting in the notebook as he has plummeted in the ratings and is probably a good deal better than his current 60.
DOON HAYMER was always thereabouts on seasonal debut and kept on to take third. It would be hoped that this pipe-opener would do some good.
REGENT’S SECRET stayed on from well back, but ‘what you see is what you get’ with this one and he needs a fast pace and the rest to come back to him. His best chance would be if there were a number of keen types to take each other on, and race shape analysis seems a key

4.15 1m 3f 197yds 46-65 3yo Handicap

This was a poor looking event won by a sprint bred performer in SUITABLY ACCOUTRED who had not shown much previously. He did at least show plenty of commitment at this lowly level, seeing off a previous winner. My tendency would be to oppose next time.
OUTLAND kept on for second. His win came off 46 at 50/1 which I suspect tells us all we need to know about this contest.
TILLIETUDLEM built on the spark of promise shown here previously. He stayed on from the back. He definitely needs further as he does nothing in a hurry.

4.45 5f 56-75 Handicap

ARGENTINE has done Dalkeith based ‘fresher’ John McShane proud in the first half of the season and produced another determined performance here to catch the front-running Raccoon. He picked up from two furlongs out and stayed on up the hill. He will eventually be forced to take on stiffer company, but should get a chance to pick up another race in 0-80 company. Given his attitude I wouldn’t be frightened in higher class than that. He’ll be kept on the go as his trainer reports that he would be knocking the box door down if he had a break.
The veteran RACCOON has produced a succession of honest performance this season. He just fails to see out the race up the hill here and I’d be watching for opportunities at sharper tracks, Musselburgh in particular.
JOYEAUX stayed on well for third, a season’s best, and is probably somewhere near a winning mark again.
SIR NOD was denied a run and would have been in the mix with a clear passage.
MANDALAY KING was taken off his feet early on and his late effort only caught up the backmarkers.

5.15 6f 46-65 Handicap

OPTICAL ILLUSION won this event last year off a rating a pound higher and had to work hard for this one. I wouldn’t want to see him go up too much for this win.
HANSOMIS continues in good form for Bruce MacTaggart and was unlucky not to win as this as she was blocked in her run two out, then got to the front only to be ‘done’ in the shadow of the post. She has a more progressive profile than the winner and would be the one I’d take as more likely to win up in the weights.
The rest are pretty much a ‘win occasionally’ bunch and much of a muchness, headed on this occasion by ELKHORN and SUNLEY SOVEREIGN. The latter finished well but it’s not an unusual occurrence.

5.45 1m 35yds Class 5 Maiden

DRUM DRAGON is rated 73 which sets the level for this contest. He worked hard from two out to take this event and is well exposed now.
JEUNOPSE kept on although held by the winner. She would be an interesting prospect in a low class fillies’ maiden or handicap.
ACQUAVELLA kept on from the rear for third on debut and showed there is a bit to work with.
If you are going to name horses after international sports stars it does help if they have a fair bit of ability. FERNANDO TORRES definitely doesn’t look as talented as his Liverpool FC namesake and will now settle into handicaps, probably off a mark in the low sixties. He led until one out but could not offer any more once headed.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

An Evening on Musselburgh Links

MUSSELBURGH - Monday June 29th

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

With most of the country bathed in sunshine in recent days the east coast of Scotland has struggled a bit to shift the mist and low cloud. There was a hint of mist on Musselburgh Links for this evening meeting, but with very little serious rain about the ground remained on the fast side.

6.55 2m 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

A race run at a decent pace and, though the winner dictated, the form looks quite solid.

MONTE PATTINO made most of the running. His rider kicked him on entering the straight and that probably made the difference. Coming up the centre of the track he did hang a bit, but kept on gamely and deserved the win. He’ll go up a pound or two for this, but it won’t take him out of this class so another win is possible.
MYSTIFIED plugged on after the winner without quite getting to him up the straight. He’s another in good form and should continue to run well in this class off his lowly mark.
SIR SANDICLIFFE stayed on late under top weight. However, he has done that before and isn’t a prolific winner.
KYBER was given too much to do but he gives the impression of being a bit of a moody character, plenty capable of winning a similar event on his day but needs to be caught right.

7.25 5f 0-65 Handicap

An event where the serious contenders were in the top half of the handicap.

I thought ROCKETBALL might find it tough to dominate form an outside draw. However, he got across toward the stands’ side early on and was always up with the pace. He was under pressure a furlong out but kept on well enough and is in his element on fast ground over this quick five furlongs.
WICKED WILMA is capable on her day and ran a sound race in second. She led or disputed for much of the way but was run out of it in the final half furlong.
THUNDER BAY was denied room when trying to make a run a furlong out. The visor was used for the first time here, but I get the impression it’s the track here that does the trick rather than any headgear. Consistency isn’t this one’s strong point but he now has a win and two places from five efforts over the five furlongs here.
INGLEBY STAR kept on for fourth and is finding his form. It’s significant that he’s dropped a bit in the handicap and is worth noting in similar company.
SPIRIT OF CONISTON runs often and wins occasionally; keeping on for fifth, while TWOSHEETSTOTHE WIND must be covered up and has only one run and it petered on this occasion. Probably one to oppose when at the sharp end of the market.

7.55 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden Auction

Not a great event and the best previous form was enough here with MAL AND DAVE forging ahead close home having twice been a runner-up previously. His attitude can’t be faulted and he will presumably head for early nurseries.
MERCERS ROW looked the winner but was just pipped late on. There should be a similar event on the northern circuit s consolation.
IGNATIEFF has had a few chances but hasn’t got his head in front. He may pick up a small race but needs things to fall his way.
Mark Johnston newcomer LICENCE TO KILL lost his chance through greenness and has much to learn. He was left flat-footed early on and couldn’t get into the race, but his breeding suggests better to come over sprint distances and hopefully he will learn.

8.25 1m 4f 100yds 0-70 Handicap

MOOTED led two out and kept on well enough. This wasn’t a particularly competitive event and it will be tougher next time.
THORNY MANDATE challenged form a furlong out and showed more than in previous efforts which at least confirms well being. He’s won four times in Class 6 and now he has hit form that could be the key.
PIPER’S SONG finished fast but his overall record is not over-inspiring of late.
SOLAS ALAINN seems pretty much ‘tripless’ and having set the pace gave way two out. Hurdling might be a better option in the long term.

8.55 1m 0-65 Handicap

A run-of-the-mill mile event won by SAN SILVESTRO who seems very happy at this track. He won over nine furlongs here the time before last, but then didn’t see out the ten furlongs at Ayr. Not over-raced for a four-year-old, aimed at a mile or a mile and one around here he may well have another race in him.
Irish-trained FORBIDDEN was just held and both he and the third BOLD INDIAN are basically ‘journeymen’ in these events.

9.25 7f 0-55 3yo Handicap

At this level qualification comes by virtue of having run three moderate or poor races and there’s precious little to take forward.
DARK MOMENT was held up from his widest draw and came through to lead close home. He won’t go up much for this and does at least seem to be going the right way.
NATIVE DAME has taken a while to settle since moving from Ireland. Dire opposition and a drop to a mark of 49 helped and she looked the winner until a few yards out.
TRADE PRICE and JOIN UP both recorded personal bests, but ratings of 51 and 49 respectively sum up their respective 'talents’.