Thursday, 27 August 2009

An increasingingly muddy August circuit....

HAMILTON – Wednesday August 19th

Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places) (rain from 11 a.m.)

1.55 6f 5 2yo Maiden
Mark Johnston introduced an interesting prospect in COLEPEPER. Johnston’s youngsters have generally improved for the run, and on this occasion was found wanting in the final half furlong. He’s a likeable colt who seems to have a decent attitude and appears a winner in the making.
GILLBURG was the one to catch the Johnston colt. He’s well exposed and doesn’t look 100 per cent straightforward but did enough here.

2.30 6 0-65 3yo Handicap
The improving DARK MOMENT saw off moderate opposition under a double penalty in the second race. He’s only just nosed home in three consecutive races, and will have much tougher tasks on a revised mark. TWOTURTLEDOVES had a decent go, leading two out, but wandering around in the final furlong probably didn’t help and he was caught in the closing stages. H’s also run well at Beverley, so a stiff finish seems helpful.

3.05 5f Seller
The seller run at 3.05 was arguably the worst race of the season at Hamilton with a top rating of 55. The race was notable for victory on his hundredth appearance for STEEL BLUE who has won in his turn throughout his career. RIGHTCAR LEWIS ran a fair race in third but must find a poor race to have a chance off 45.

3.40 1m 1f 36yds Class 3 (0-77) Handicap
The Scottish Trophy Final was a closed matched event won by MARVO who had conditions just right for him. He ran on well in the final furlong and is worth keeping in the notebook for autumn races with give in the ground. MOUNTAIN CAT probably wasn’t as well suited by the conditions, so the fact that he stayed on for second augurs well.
STATESIDE performed well in this company and would be interesting back in 0-60 or 0-65 events as he only gave best in the final furlong.
CASINO NIGHT may have found a rise in the weights just holding him.
TANFORAN has a moderate record on tracks with an uphill finish, so his fifth seems creditable and I’d keep an eye on him back on a level track.

4.15 1m 3f Class 6 Claimer
GRACEFUL DESCENT saw off three inferiors in the 11 furlong claimer. This one was claimed for £12,000 and will lodge with Jim Goldie. CECINA MARINA tried hard enough but is only rated 34 and Alan Berry’s dismal training record of 4% winners over five seasons would be enough to put me off TERMINATE who was found wanting from two out.

4.50 1m 4f 0-70 Handicap
HERRERA stayed on well to lead close home from an exposed bunch. He has been found wanting a couple of times in better events and this is his level.
SHIFTING GOLD tried hard to repeat his front-running win here at the start of the month but was foiled close home. He’s performing well and prevailing conditions suit.
JORDAN’S LIGHT kept on from the rear as did REGENT’S SECRET performing to type.

5.25 6f Class 5 Maiden
Evens favourite HELIORBEA looked in trouble two out but picked up well up the slope to win tidily. This stiff six looks a minimum test on evidence to date.
SILK GALLERY ran well in second at a 20lb disadvantage and YES PLEASE though a one paced third, showed a little more than he had previously.

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday August 23rd

Going – Good To Soft (changed to Soft after Race 3)

It takes lot of rain to get Musselburgh reporting soft ground and we have had a very wet August in Scotland.

2.20 1m 46-60 Apprentice Handicap
MOROCCHIUS came clear comfortably to win this event and looks progressive at the moment. He has been rated quite a bit higher so there might still be something in the tank.
ZAPLAMATION stayed on from the rear for second. He won easily in a soft event at Newcastle, but today’s run seems typical of his profile.
KING OF THE MOORS had conditions to suit and led as he normally does, but he pulled too hard early and the effort told from two out. He’s capable of winning a similar contest, but is difficult to catch right and much has to taken on trust.

2.50 7f Class 6 2yo Maiden
RALEIGH QUAY just saw off Jozafeen after a battle from three out. This wasn’t the strongest contest even at its level, but he showed a good attitude is going the right way and cut in the ground appears to suit.
JOZAFEEN has now gone close twice, didn’t lose anything in defeat and a win in a lowly contest seems only delayed.
The remainder were well seen off but GOLDEN EMPEROR improved for a step up to seven furlongs, staying on late, and should benefit from a move up to a mile.

3.20 1m 6f 56-75 Handicap
PUY D’ARNAC doddled up here, cruising into the lead after two out and easing clear. He has been rated in the mid-70s (off 60 here) so assuming Alan Swinbank keeps him sweet then he really ought to follow up. His wins have been on good or softer, so continuing damp weather won’t harm his prospects.
INTERDIAMONDS led until two out and kept on once headed if well held. He’s finished first two in six out of seven races, stays well and gives his running.
SUMMER SOUL has been moved back and forth between flat and hurdling, with a sound win and place record on the level. He could never quite get to grips with the leaders but stayed on well.
CLASSIC CONTOURS plugged on in fourth and it’s worth noting that his record on courses with a stiff finish is 75112, which might suggest there’s some value to be had at the likes of Beverley, Hamilton or Pontefract.

3.50 5f Class 6 2yo Seller
MELODY IN THE MIST only just scraped home here from a long-shot, but she didn’t seem at ease on the ground and deserves some credit for winning on the surface. The likelihood is that she would see these off comfortably on a fast surface.
MICKY’S KNOCK OFF improved greatly on his two July runs, leading one out and just held. It’s difficult to downgrade the form too much though since the third and fourth have both established their level.
MASKED DANCE is consistent enough if apparently lacking anything extra close home, and FINAL OVATION was below form in fourth though the going would seem a reasonable excuse.

4.20 5f 76-95 Handicap
Three non-runners reduced the competitiveness a little but this still wasn’t a bad event.
THE NIFTY FOX led one out and produced a burst of speed to go clear. It’s quite impressive to get away like that over this sharp five furlongs having gone with the pace, and this augurs well for an autumn campaign.
TORNADODANCER and LA ZAMORA both picked up in the later stages to reach places. Of the two the three-year-old LA ZAMORA seems to have a little more scope going forward.
RACCOON found a combination of the ground and higher class against him and recorded a rare blob.
ROTHESAY DANCER has never recorded two wins in a row and was always in the rear. She ran off a mark 6lbs higher than her best winning mark here and currently has a tough job.

4.50 1m 4f 100yds 46-65 Handicap
ODDSMAKER pinched this when pushed on from four out. The field never got to him after that. Whether he can reproduce this form is a moot point, but it’s worth noting his pilot Andrew Heffernan who seems to have a sharp riding brain for a 7lb claimer.
GRANDAD BILL stayed on but the winner had flown and he never got in touch. He’s consistent and on a workable mark but he frequently gets chopped for pace at crucial times.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN stayed on to place, but in his standard style didn’t ever look like winning. As previously stated I fancy hurdling offers his best chance of victory.
WHIPMA WHOPMA GATE plugged on for fourth and nothing seems to happen too fast for him. He might be worth a try steeped up in trip again.
BED FELLOW pulled hard and paid the penalty late on, losing two places close home. He’s a plodder.

5.20 1m 51-70 3yo Handicap

LAKEMAN, clearly relishing the conditions, stayed on from two out. His wins have come on soft and heavy and he looks at his best with significant cut. He will go up in the handicap but has been much higher before without encountering the right conditions.
NORTHERN FLYER stayed on for second, by no means the only horse on the afternoon picking up too late. He’s consistent and may be slightly better on a faster surface.
CAPTAIN FLASHEART had every chance approaching the furlong pole but then gave way and POKFULHAM was much the same, both being handicapped to their level.

HAMILTON – Monday August 24th

Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

The rain continued to fall in large amounts. There was a time when this meeting would have been away ‘down the Swanee’ by Sunday, but recent drainage work at Hamilton has ensured a much better draining track. The runners came near side in the races run on the loop, suggesting better ground against the stands’ rail.

2.20 6f 2yo Class 6 Claimer

MASKED DANCE represented the seller form from Musselburgh the previous day, and the second place here indicated precious little difference between sellers and claimers at this level. He led but hung right in the final furlong and was caught close home. His current Official Rating of 63 looks accurate and he has been reasonably consistent if lacking the extra to finish in front.
SANDS OF DEE was second to Melody In The Mist at Ayr, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see this one just ahead of Masked Dance. It seems that heavy or fast ground come more or less alike to this one and he is progressing at a lowly level.
SAINT SEBASTIAN was evenly matched on the figures with the first two but held in the final furlong. PURE NOSTALGIA dead-heated at Ripon last time and stayed on here but never threatened and looks best on a flat track.

2.50 6f 3-4yo Class 6 Maiden

You start to wonder about sprinters who haven’t made a mark by this time, though some do improve with age. LIBERTY TRAIL has been a moderate handicapper without getting his head in front. He saw off three others here. It was hard work and he didn’t seem to handle the ground all that well.
CARNIVAL DREAM notched up a 23rd run without success, not matching the winner, while CATCHPENNY showed a little speed on debut though must progress to win a race.
OUR GIRL ALLY was struggling early and looks slow and clueless.

3.20 1m 1f 36yds Class 4 Claimer

Please forgive me cynicism, but a race named the ‘National Hunt Prospects’ Claimer could be code for ‘not very fast on the flat so maybe we can try hurdles’!
SUNNYSIDE TOM has shown enough to win 6 from 28 on the level, four of them handicaps and his rating is now a bit high at 84. He idled once in front and gave the impression of having a bit more in hand than the margin suggested over his higher-rated stable mate FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS. The latter has shown more form on soft than the former, so FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS may be on the downgrade.
FIRST BAY took time to get himself organised and couldn’t get to the the first two. This run at least hinted at ability and he might conceivably be added to the Johnson/Wylie jumping band.
JIM MARTIN won in these conditions last year but had a tough task with the first two at the weights and was beaten from two out.

3.50 1m 65yds 0-60 3yo Handicap

When you get to this level a minimum requirement is three moderate runs, so it’s pretty slow stuff.
ASK DAN was rushed up to lead as suits him. He was headed two out and one paced from there.
MOHAWK RIDGE took over from Ask Dan and forged clear up the hill, though this will take him out of this class and my gut instinct would be to oppose next time.
HETTIE HUBBLE kept on for second and is running honestly enough at six furlongs and a mile if lacking finishing pace.
LADY NORLELA stayed on for third past beaten rivals, many of whom were off the bridle from the bottom of the hill. She hasn’t set the world alight, but her best form to date has been with cut and the uphill finish probably helped a little.

4.20 1m 5f 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

From 4lbs out of the handicap TERENZIUM stayed on under Simon Walker to take an event full of exposed performers. JOHN FORBES and FRONT RANK showed their form to place, but given their ‘win occasionally’ records there’s nothing to get excited about.

4.50 1m 3f 0-75 Handicap

BAJAN PARKES’ rider was hard at work from a long way out, but his mount kept responding even though he hung across to the far rail. Being able to drop to a 0-75 must have helped but this win will take him back to a level he has been struggling in.
MASLAK stayed on for second, a good effort since he’s not won on anything softer than good. SHADY GLOOM was one paced in third and looks to be regressing.

5.20 5f 0-60 Handicap

Linda Perratt’s stable has emerged from the gloom that engulfed them in the first half of the season. THE BEAR goes well here and having gone clear a furlong out stayed on for victory. He once one off 93 and though that level is a distant memory his rejuvenation suggests there may be some more to come in the near future.
SUNLEY SOVEREIGN stayed on and continues to run passably well in this class.
LAKE CHINI was slowly away and picked up late on. This one might be worth another chance as the prevailing going suits, though he needs to ‘hit the boxes’.
HOWARDS TIPPLE was a never dangerous fourth and is not a prolific winner.
ANDRASTA has reverted to mediocrity after getting lucky at Ayr.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Early August Scottish Flat Round-up

Regular readers will know I'm not quite so inclined to keep up with the flat as the jumps. However, just to show I don't tkae my off the ball completely, here's round up of the early August action in Scotland.

MUSSELBURGH – Friday August 7th
Going – Good To Firm

FREMEN won the opening 7 furlong seller as easily as odds of 1/12 would suggest he should have. JAMIESON GOLD wasn’t totally disgraced bearing in mind he’s rated 22lbs worse and was staying on in second. The remainder looked about as good as you would expect for runners rated 47, 43 and 39.

ROOKWITH mugged GRAND DIAMOND on the line in the mile handicap. The best I can say about the winner is that he wins occasionally (6 from 96) and he’s one to oppose if at short odds. GRAND DIAMOND almost pinched the race under a front-running ride by Danny Tudhope. He battled back well when headed but was just behind at the line. However, he’s only 2 from 34.

SINGEUR won what looked a decent two-year-old novice stakes over the sprint course and continues to progress, though may now be pushed into the upper reaches of the nursery sphere. RADDY ‘ELL PAULINE ran respectably in Group 2 company at Newmarket and this is more her level. She lost nothing in defeat to a slightly better performer. MONALINI was taken off his feet early on and may benefit from a step up in trip or a stiffer five.

The admirable performer RACCOON held off allcomers in the 0-85 handicap sprint and is reliable enough to set your clock by. He is gradually easing up the ratings but continues to give it the works. The rest finished in a heap. ROTHESAY DANCER didn’t have the pace to get to the leaders but I’d not discount her in similar company at Hamilton or Ayr on decent ground.

There was just a thought that PRINCESS CHARLMANE’s selling victory here was a bit of a fluke. She has proved on more than one occasion that was not the case, and she takes some catching once she gets in front here. She only beat five exposed opponents rated 57 downwards, but she does give her running over five at Musselburgh.

MISTER FIZZBOMB led racing keenly in the 1m 4f handicap that closed the meeting. Graham Gibbons wound up the pace in the straight and nothing got to him. AMAZING KING chased in second and is fair form. BED FELLOW has been proven moderate on the flat and over hurdles and was well held in third, while the remainder never threatened.

AYR – Saturday August 8th
Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

This was an all sprint card following the ‘incident on the bend’ in July. The course authorities tried their best to convince everyone that the falls occurred in the straight, but that wasn’t true. That being said in a dry spell the course gets caught between ‘a rock and hard place’ regarding watering. If they water to ease the ground they risk a loose surface if there’s rain, whereas not watering risks firm ground and small fields.

A few years ago my cricket club were advised on watering our square and told that to promote grass growth we need to soak to at least 6 inches depth. Any less wouldn’t help and could be detrimental. Grass on racecourses will have longer roots so I presume even deeper soaking is required. Regular sprinkling of a little on top can’t help.

I must confess a card full of sprints is not my cup of tea. The card opened with a moderate six furlong apprentice handicap won by IMPERIAL SWORD whose victory owed as much to a tidy ride by Jan Wilson as anything. LIBERTY TRAIL was a close second is running well enough to suggest he should pick up a handicap and FEELING FRESH finished with a rattle in third and seems in good heart.

MELODY IN THE MIST justified favouritism in a five runner two-year-old claimer. SANDS OF DEE was second and did enough to suggest he may be capable of picking up a nursery off a mark in the mid-60s.

SUNNANDAEG stretched away from his field in the two-year-old maiden to win nicely. I would imagine Ian Semple would aim at a nursery first and then assess his options.
HAPPY DUBAI kept on once passed and made an acceptable debut with the rest well beaten off. KAI BROON, a rare two-year-old runner for Lucinda Russell, stayed on late to take third and looks to seven furlongs or a mile.

TURNKEY won a six furlong claimer fro the master of the sprint division David Nicholls. He has now dropped to a mark of 80 in handicaps which would put him in with chances in that sphere. MUTAMARED was a close second, but all his recent wins have come on Polytrack. This run does at least signal his well being.

BLOWN IT recorded a second winner on the day for Ian Semple. He was aimed high as a youngster but has dropped in the handicap and found his level. He won’t go up much for this.
LUCKY NUMBERS put up a decent performance and if the rains come it is worth bearing in mind that his record on soft or heavy is 1132. Put this one in the autumn section of the notebook.
MISTER TINKTASTIC was held in the final furlong after setting the pace. He may pay the penalty for a six length Pontefract win, though it’s worth noting his wins have been at courses featuring uphill finishes.

IGOYOUGO kept on well and won with a bit to spare in the 5 furlong 0-65, the penultimate race on the card. He has been progressive on fast ground recently.
ARRIVA LA DIVA is another clearly suited by fast ground if held on this occasion. She would have every chance in the bottom grade.
CHEYENNE RED ran passably well on returning to handicapping and would be better suited by six furlongs and/or a stiff finish.

The closing 0-65 five furlong handicap was a messy event won by the competitor with the clearest run. ANDRASTA got the run of the race and ran on for victory. The remainder spent much of the previous two furlongs bumping into each other. You could run this race ten times and get ten completely different results.

MUSSELBURGH – Tuesday August 11th
Going – Good (Good To Soft)

DRAMATIC SOLO was given an excellent ride by Martin Lane in the staying apprentices’ handicap (1m 6f 0-65) and pretty much stole the race. That being said Dramatic Solo is an honest front runner who can keep up the gallop at this level. This ground was arguably a little bit softer than he would like so giving a little more merit to the win. ZEFOOHA kept up the gallop in second and is still competitive off his current mark, possibly more so on fast ground. A rare flat runner for Lucy Normile, ENGLISH CITY ran creditably in third and signalling his well being is one to watch out for back over hurdles.

BIRKSIDE was well favoured at the weights and duly delivered in the claimer to end a desperate run for Linda Perratt since she moved to her parents’ place at East Kilbride. Whether there’s been a problem in her string or Perratt is just not getting the best out of them previous results had been dire. She managed a couple of other close up finishes on this card which may be significant.
REGENT’S SECRET stayed on late for second as is his way and RUN FREE was held once headed two out stepped back up in trip. The latter won twice over seven furlongs at Southwell and it could be that his one pace is sufficient and more appropriate at the Nottinghamshire ‘sandpit’.

IGNATIEFF was always prominent and kept up the gallop in the nursery over five furlongs. He’s in good heart and looks tough given that he has been out nine times.
STAR PROMISE and MERCER’S ROW both kept on without getting to the winner.

On his seasonal debut Alistair Whillans’ SOCIAL RHYTHM led one out and stayed on to win an ordinary mile handicap. With horses of average ability Whillans has a decent record and is adept at getting his charges fit after a break. The downside is that Social Rhythm may not have the improvement in him for this run that others might.
JAMIESON GOLD stayed on for second. His first three runs showed common form to that of the Perratt stable early in the season when their runners performed like carthorses. A few are now getting competitive, though some of the stable’s supposedly more talented individuals have suffered some thumpings.
GRAND DIAMOND had every chance two out but along with the fourth SAN SILVESTRO was found wanting in the final furlong. Both seem handicapped to their mark.

The five furlong seller, though only having four runners, was a competitive affair that would not have been out of place as a 0-75 handicap. Alright, I know one was rated 76 but give me a bit of latitude! The admirably consistent RACCOON got his head in front for the thirteenth time in a 71 race career, looking in trouble two out but digging deep when asked. FIVEFOOTNUMBERONE was out battled close home but is better than selling class. On the face of it 55-rated BLAZING HEIGHTS drags the form down in third, but he has been competitive off much higher marks not too far back and the small field might have offered him some encouragement. INGLEBY STAR was found out in the final furlong but I don’t think he was far below form.

The next event was a seven furlong 0-75 handicap won in decent style by top-weight SUMMER DANCER, bursting through in the final furlong to win cosily. He will be forced back up in class now though. STELLITE stayed on for second gives his running more often than not and is a good measure in second. OPTICAL ILLUSION finished well for third, but his two wins have been over six furlongs at Hamilton. SHUNKAWAKHAN was a third Linda Perratt runner to finish close up, fading in the final furlong to fourth. ZABEEL TOWER had every chance at the furlong pole but was then held and that’s as much as he’s producing off his current mark of 68.

The meeting finished with a Class 6 three-year-old handicap over seven furlongs. The form of the first three here looks progressive. DARK MOMENT saw off two maiden winners to follow up his own handicap win. He has now won three races by a total of less than ¾ of a length, and that’s a real 'skill' to perfect if you want to keep right in the weights.
MS SOPHIE ELEANOR set the pace and didn’t give way easily on her handicap debut. Even rising a pound or two she should be capable of picking up a handicap and the same goes for the third CILS BLANC who couldn’t match the pace of the first two but can be considered unlucky to run into two progressive sorts at 0-65 level.

HAMILTON – Wednesday August 12th
Going – Good To Soft

BOTHAM’s Hamilton tally now reads 4 from 8 after winning the opening six furlong handicap. Even money chance in a handicap, now there’s something! The problem might be that this was his highest winning mark (60) and any rise will make things difficult. He may just get away with it yet as 5lbs or less would keep him in 0-65s.
HETTIE HUBBLE is steadily getting closer. She wouldn’t be the most talented performer ever but she has run three honest races in succession, and was only headed close home here. She looks good enough to win something similar.
QUICK GOURMET proved her run behind Cheyenne Red was no fluke, and is at least competitive off 59, keeping on in the final furlong. STRATHMORE runs some fair races but at 2 from 41 is not one you would want to back at 7/2.

BLUIE hosed up in the six furlong nursery and looks to have a jump on the handicapper for now having won just as nicely in a better event at Goodwood. DIAMOND LAURA performed admirably in second under a penalty, given that she followed a progressive winner. Her stable is steaming along at the moment. The third CHERRY BEE may be a case of ‘what you see is what you get’ since many Johnston two-year-olds have been quite well forward and a few lack the scope of their opponents.

The 1m 65yds 0-95 handicap looked a competitive affair and the ultra-game JUST LILLE did her level best to hold off allcomers. She succumbed near the line, but you do know that this mare will give it ‘the works’ when asked.
MEDICI PEARL finished with a rattle and might now be set up for a campaign on favoured soft ground in the next couple of months. 6 out of her 7 wins have been on ground with cut and she is still on a workable mark.
TALK OF SAAFEND kept on for third, a creditable effort from a mark 7lbs ‘wrong’. She clicked last autumn and is lower in the weights now. HONIMIERE’s run suggested cut in the ground wasn’t ideal.

FREMEN followed up his Musselburgh seller victory with a comfortable win against more able opposition. He seems up against it in handicaps at the moment so David Nicholls may seek another claimer.
BOLD INDIAN flatters often and wins seldom. He stayed on for second here, but may be handy to oppose when short priced. I can’t imagine the handicapper will take kindly to a 52 performer splitting an 81 and a 70… TIGER DREAM was held from two out and ran more or less to his level in third.

JORDAN’S LIGHT has been campaigned over hurdles, fences and on the flat in recent times. He only had an ‘egg and spoon’ class selling hurdle at Kelso to show in the way of wins, but on this occasion snuck up the rail late to pinch this race. He has given me the impression that the minimum trip over jumps stretches his stamina, so I wouldn’t imagine he would want to go further than the mile and a half contested here.
CALL OF DUTY looked likely to win before being headed in the last 100 yards. His best form was on Polytrack as a two-year-old.
HAWKIT is well exposed and runs often, mainly at Ayr and Hamilton, but hasn’t won for two years.
SHIFTING GOLD had the run of the race at the previous meeting but couldn’t hold on to the lead on this occasion though plugging on once headed two out. He’s now on a mark of 62, and though you wouldn’t think a few pounds would make that much difference his winning marks have been 57, 58 and 57

THE BEAR continued the revival in the Linda Perratt camp, just holding SUNLEY SOVEREIGN in the closing five furlong handicap. Both are capable on their day but it’s not always easy to predict when that day has come. The two headed a bunch of ‘win in their turn’ sprinters.

I'll keep in touch with Scottish flat racing in the coming days and will take in the Newcastle meeting on Bank Holiday Monday. In the meantime Sedgefield restart the jumping circuit followed by two days at Cartmel over the holiday. Chasing notes to follow from both, and any significant hurdling performances.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Hamilton Park - Ladies' Night

HAMILTON PARK – Saturday August 1st

Going – Good To Soft (Soft after Race 3)

Ladies’ Night at Hamilton saw a very healthy attendance despite some indifferent weather. Despite the ‘distractions’ of the non-racing events going on there’s always a decent interest in the racing at Hamilton, and the atmosphere was good during the racing with a crescendo for each finish.

I’d driven across form watching a non-league football game at Troon in the afternoon. I hit rain soon after leaving the west coast and it stayed with me all the way to the course. It was clear to me that the ground was likely to be well on the soft side. However, the going wasn’t changed until after the third race, although given that most of the rain fell before the meeting I’m sure it was soft from the start.

A pattern was soon set that front-runners were favoured. The first five races were won by those that disputed or led all the way. In the last the jockeys seemed keener to get to the front, but maybe predictably they went too fast allowing those from behind to get involved.

6.40 1m 65yds Class 4 2yo Novice Stakes

This was non-event for the first two-year-old mile race of the season. Two turned up, and Mark Johnston’s MISTER ANGRY strolled to victory from the vastly inferior KEROLAD. No conclusions can be drawn from this race though the connections of the second must have been grateful that their distinctly slow colt could pick up over £1000.

7.10 1m 65yds Class 6 Selling Stakes

Little to choose between four of these on adjusted official ratings. In such cases the tendency is to favour those with the placed or winning form in handicaps, so ASK DAN was perhaps a longer price in comparison to the others than he should have been. He strikes me as rather sparely-made, but he impressed going down and led all the way coming back.
Ask Dan’s jockey Phillip Makin and trainer Michael Dods had flown up from Southampton to Carlisle, thence travelled by car to Hamilton after they were involved in the Stewards’ Cup. The trip was well worthwhile since this was the first of two winners on the card. Word from Dods is that ASK DAN needs to dominate and doesn’t put it in if he gets in behind. Clearly favoured by the small field he was jumped off in front and held off Hettie Hubble in the final two furlongs. The shape of the race is key to this one’s chances. There was no bid.
SAN SILVESTRO didn’t strike me as favoured by the course here. He was behind early and got going late but was never going to catch Ask Dan. He’s better on easier tracks and his wins have been at Musselburgh (2) and Catterick.
HETTIE HUBBLE was worst off at the weights as she is only rated 46, but she performed creditably enough here though one paced from the two furlong pole after having every chance.
Evens favourite CASTLEBURY never got in a blow and looked to be struggling in the ground.
DARK VELVET was outpaced three out. She had every chance on official ratings but she has made little mark to date.

7.40 1m 3f 46-60 Handicap

SHIFTING GOLD led from the start and held off challenges in the final furlong. The cut in the ground was no problem since he was winner on heavy going previously, and he showed plenty of determination.
I thought it unlikely that AMAZING KING would be particularly suited by the stiff track, so the fact that he pushed the winner to the line means he comes out with great credit. Given that the going wouldn’t have been ideal and he was burdened with just shy of 10 stone this was a fine effort. He’s worth looking out for back on an easier track on faster ground.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN kept up his record of places without mustering the pace to trouble the leader in the latter stages. This is a theme of his flat form and his successes over hurdles perhaps indicate that his hurdling makes up for his lack of finishing pace.
Nothing else got in a blow to the leader. HAWKIT briefly flattered two out but couldn’t raise his game. TILLIETUDLEM is established as one who picks up late and having been outpaced four out, as seems his way, couldn’t muster an effort.

8.10 5f 66-85 Fillies’ Handicap

Not a bad little fillies’ event won in convincing style by IMPRESSIBLE. Eric Alston charge has been in excellent form this year and is making strides forward. She led and then accelerated off the front to quickly put daylight between herself and her rivals. The handicapper won’t forgive her this one in a hurry, and her mark of 80 will disappear into the distance, but it would seem likely Alston will move her up to Listed company where her turn of pace will set her in good stead.
REQUISITE ran well in a similar standard event at Musselburgh a couple of days earlier. She matched the winner until the furlong pole and kept on for second.
EVNA ran creditably on her handicap debut. She picked up late to take third and this should have taught her plenty. Her trainer will have a few options off a mark of 67 and I’d put her in the notebook for a sprint handicap.
RED KYTE was under the drive after two furlongs. She picked up on the climb to finish fourth.
JOYEAUX started slowly and with hindsight that finished any chance. She stayed on late but this was a tough ask and there will be easier opportunities in lower class.
ROTHESAY DANCER needs holding up and given conditions that favoured front runners the odds were against her here and she was reported as unsuited by the going. It might work in her favour since three unplaced runs might encourage a drop in the ratings.

8.40 6f Class 5 Maiden

Three came clear of the remainder here and these would be the ones to concentrate on.
Michael Dods talked up the chances of CHEYENNE RED in an interview following Ask Dan’s success in the seller. He felt the Jeremy Noseda trained favourite was not as good as her rating. Given that a 51 performer he was probably right and Dods’ gelding made it five ‘lead all the ways’ though the second was gaining at the line. He seems a pretty straightforward type and has already run creditably in handicaps.
HIGHTIME HEROINE was gaining on the winner close home but struggled to justify the official view which sees her at 75. I couldn’t see her winning a handicap off that mark and a fillies’ maiden is probably the best bet if Jeremy Noseda can find one.
QUICK GOURMET rating of 51 drags the form down a bit as she wasn’t far away and another gaining close home. However this was a drop in distance which seemed to suit and she was not disgraced over a mile on soft last year. It’s reasonable to assume a combination of going and distance brought about a little improvement. (She has been moved up to a mark of 59 since this run, which seems fair enough.)
THERE WE GO was outpaced before staying on late. This would suggest a longer trip would be better, but two races over further hadn’t been encouraging.

9.10 1m 1f 56-75 Handicap

Having seen front-runners winning all evening there was an eagerness to pick up the pace here. They seemed to go too fast so the run of leader SHY GLANCE, who weakened two out, can probably be set aside.
CASINO NIGHT was slowly away but ridden patiently came through to lead in the final furlong holding off his challenger. He’ll go up for this and it’s worth bearing in mind that the race was run to suit him.
HIPPOLYTUS pushed the winner all the way to the line. He was another to come from off the pace and may pay the penalty for a race run to suit.
PRIMO WAY threatened briefly to end Donal Nolan’s 480+ runner winless spell when leading at the two furlong pole. However, he gave way one out and was firmly put in his place. If dropped to a lower level he would have a chance of a win and I hope that Nolan uses his noddle as Primo Way looks good enough to pick up that elusive victory.
DOON HAYMER kept on at one pace having raced prominently. This probably wasn’t a bad effort given the way the race panned out and I might favour him if the race were run again on good ground particularly on revised terms with the first two.
GOODBYE MR BOND had a chance two out but couldn’t raise his game and is plummeting down the ratings without immediate sign of a winning chance.
RESOUNDING GLORY as well backed despite the best part of a year off. He looked straight enough after his break but his best form is on a faster surface.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

An evening at Musselburgh in late July

MUSSELBURGH – Thursday July 30th

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

Despite some rain in Scotland in the preceding days, the ground remained just on the firm side at the free draining Lothians track.

6.10 1m 5f 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

This was probably not a great event and the standard of jockeyship varied enormously.

HURRICANE THOMAS was settled prominently, led at the two furlong marker and kept on for victory beating two higher weighted opponents. He’s generally proved one paced in his races and the likelihood is that the higher weights slowed the opposition sufficiently. I’d take him on outside this company.
MYSTIFIED has been in solid form recently and I’d seen him run a decent second in a handicap hurdle at Cartmel. He’s now managed five consecutive seconds but it’s hard to carp at his attitude which is better than many at this level. However, his overall record shows he only wins in his turn.
TOSHI has been shrewdly campaigned by Jim Goldie over hurdles and on the flat. He was held up here and his run was too late to trouble the first two. He’s more of a winner than the first two and I’d be more likely to take this one from the race than anything else.
CALL OF DUTY had every chance two out but his rider was comprehensively out ridden in the final two furlongs. There is some evidence than he can see out the extended trip and with more experienced handling would be interesting around the 1m 4f-1m 6f distances.

6.45 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

The second and third here are exposed as moderate. IVING IT LARGE was able to hold on off a prominent position and will presumably go on to nurseries where he shouldn’t be over-burdened.
PINK LEMONADE has been exposed as moderate in Ireland, so his proximity doesn’t help the form. Similarly DOWER GLEN is well exposed in moderate Northern maiden company.
Mark Johnston’s BAHRAJ proved nothing special and couldn’t hold the principals from two out. A stiffer test might not go amiss.

7.15 5f 0-80 Handicap

There wasn’t a huge amount to choose between these a furlong out and the impression is that they are pretty accurately handicapped. It was probably the extra class of top-weight EFISTORM that told close home. Dropped back to 80 he was able to get a run in this class but a rise will make things a little tougher. He may cope with a 0-85, but generally top-weight in this class is his level.
MISS DAAWE put up a season’s best to push the winner and is a bit lower than her winning mark of last year. She might be worth noting in the near future.
REQUISITE kept on for third and ran to his level.
BLUE TOMATO has run solidly all season but just found they went a little quick. He picked his way through late on for fourth.

7.45 1m 1f Class 6 Selling Stakes

MASTEROFCEREMONIES was slowly away and still adrift of the field four furlongs out. However, P J Macdonald clearly knew what he had underneath him and his patience was rewarded as the gelding picked up nicely in the straight and won a little cosily under driving. He was bought by Paul Murphy for £11,000, so how he will be campaigned is anyone’s guess. He is two from two at Musselburgh.
RED SKIPPER kept on for second if held in the final furlong and PAPA’S PRINCESS raced prominently but was held from two out. Both are 1 from 22 which sums up their credentials.
KEISHA KAYLEIGH had an advantage on the official ratings, but at this level life isn’t always that simple. Her better performances recently have come over a longer trip or with a stiff finish and I’d bear that in mind in future.

8.20 7f 0-70 Handicap

MORROCHIUS has a little more ability than a mark of 51 might suggest. The problem has been prising it out, and he’s fallen from a mark of 70 early last year. He ran on well enough and might be capable of progressing from here now he has got his head in front.
ZABEEL TOWER is now back around the mark from which he won last year and he didn’t do much wrong on this occasion. He was in a rich vein of form last summer and it’s worth bearing in mind that his Course and Distance record is 11132.
KARGAN closed in the latter stages without threatening a win. It’s not untypical of how he has performed in the past. He’s consistent, but that generally leads to him being underpriced.
An 11lb rise for NUFOUDH has probably done for his chances in the near future. He won a poor event last time out, and this tougher class proved a little beyond him.
SANDS OF BARRA is a shadow of the performer he was in 2007. He ran passably well here but didn’t threaten the leaders.
LIBERTY TRAIL was too keen in first time blinkers and though battling hard had given his all by the final furlong. I wouldn’t write him off as he has enough ability if he settles.

8.50 5f 0-65 Handicap

This was a lowly event in terms of ratings, but one or two have been in decent form.
INGLEBY STAR in particular has been running admirably through the summer and he led one out and ran on for victory. With a penalty he ran off 71 here, so it’s likely he’ll be shifted up to 73-74. Sprinters can often continue to improve though, and I wouldn’t count out another win, though he will be taking on stiffer company.
ANGELOFTHENORTH did nothing wrong and pushed the winner all the way. At the lowest handicap level, say 0-55 or 0-60 it might be possible to find a race for her.
PRINCESS CHARLMANE has proved that her pillar to post win in a seller here was no fluke as she has run creditably twice since. She couldn’t hold the front two from one out, but given a free lead has chances in lowly company.
ROCKETBALL needs to be out at the front and couldn’t quite get to Princess Charlmane. His current mark is probably stretching his ability to its limit.
BARLEY BREE hinted at a little ability of her first attempt at handicapping. She wasn’t given a hard time once held and isn’t a total lost cause yet.