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.