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.