Wednesday, 30 September 2009

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday 29th September

Going – Good To Firm

4.00 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

A contest one by the competitor whose jumping was the only one that held up over the course of the race.

BEAUTIFUL VISION was sticky at a couple of fences early on. However, he jumped nicely after that tucked away towards the rear off a strong pace. He had Spellchecker well held when the latter came down at the last. The tongue-tie was re-applied to apparent good effect here after being left off on his first run for the stable at Newton Abbot. He has plenty of decent form behind fair performers in Ireland though it’s taken 23 runs to get off the mark and his victory owed much to the failings of others. That being said, don’t underestimate Evan Williams’s ability to move his new charges forward.
YOUNG ALBERT hit one or two fences and jumped big at others. He took over the lead at the ninth but was coming to the end of his tether approaching two out and inherited second at the last. He needs to improve his fencing technique.
SPELLCHECKER was held up at the back and came there going well to two out. However, the tank emptied fairly quickly and he was tired when taking a nasty looking fall at the last. He may not forget that in a hurry.
NIPPER JOHN is rated 118, 3lbd higher than the winner, but he didn’t run up to that form here. His jumping wasn’t good enough on this occasion.
TAKE YOUR MARK never got involved and trundled round for a remote fourth. An 11-year-old, he seems to have come to chasing almost as an after thought and prospects don’t look good on this evidence.
EASBY PARK was held up but his jumping got increasingly erratic. He was detached by the ninth and completed tailed off. A return to school looks required.
COLONEL ARTHUR stormed off in front jumping exuberantly, but once headed at the ninth his jumping quickly fell to pieces and he didn’t last far before being pulled up.

4.30 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Chase

PERPETUUM had shown very little in chases to date, but sometimes this quirky track can draw out some ability from the dark recesses. He was ridden just off the pace and picked off opponents from the thirteenth, staying on well from two out for victory. I would expect his trainer to bring him back to Sedgefield.
FRED BOJANGALS is not the easiest to win with, but he saves his best for Sedgefield. He stayed on from three out but though he was beaten no more than a length he never quite looked like getting up. One to list in similar events, but possibly not the one to back unless offered at decent odds.
TIGER O’TOOLE looked to be going well four out, but his rider didn’t find as much as he might have expected from that point and he trailed in a one paced third. That being said, this was a reasonable chasing debut against some more battle hardened opponents.
MORE LIKE IT didn’t get in a blow form the top of the hill. He needed a couple of runs to reach his beast last year, and this will have removed a few cobwebs.
CATEGORICAL, a newcomer to Lucinda Russell, is a fair performer at this level on his day, but he doesn’t win very often and can be frustrating to his followers. He never got close enough to get in a blow here. However his best runs in the last couple of years have been at Musselburgh, and his handler will no doubt be mindful of this.
PILCA isn’t always inclined to exert himself and this wasn’t a going day.
ORPHELIN COLLONGES settled mid to rear division and stayed there.
SUPPLY AND FIX occasionally shows glimpses of enthusiasm, and led to three out. Once he was headed the towel entered the ring swiftly. First time blinkers produced some speed but no extra resolution.
IT’S A ROOFER raced up with the pace until an argument with the eleventh saw him drop back quickly. He’s capable of a good deal better, though only twice a winner in 25 attempts and yet to score over fences.

Keith Donoghue showed his talents once again in scoring on Genari in the selling hurdle, and he has caught the eye of a few judges.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Musselburgh - Royal Scots Day

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday September 27th

Going – Good To Firm (Firm in places)

I took my wife and two friends to a hospitality event hosted by the Racegoers’ Club. Credit to Musselburgh for looking after us so well, and our friends who were attending racing for the first time are keen to come along again. Aside from the hospitality they were impressed by the surroundings and the whole event of the afternoon. They considered it much better value than paying a similar amount or more to watch Scottish football.

The course was watered toward the end of the previous week but there’s been little rain in the east of Scotland for a while. The result was ground as quick as it’s been all season.

1.55 5f 46-65 3yo Handicap

In a race light on in-form horses two came clear.
HAWKEYETHENOO has proved a versatile sort and, having won over a mile previously, he dropped to six furlongs last time then to a sharp five here. He showed plenty of pace in the final furlong to see off Lost In Paris with the rest well beaten. He swapped stable after a third over six furlongs at Hamilton and Jim Goldie has been quick to place him to advantage. Running off a mark of only 54 here, the suggestion is that there is a bit still to come at sprint distances.
LOST IN PARIS showed good speed but was run out of it in the final furlong. He’s not won a race yet, but this was a first attempt at the minimum trip and will have been informative to his trainer. He must surely pick up a minor contest.
ZELOS GIRL was well held, six lengths back in third, while CLANACHY showed a first glimmer of ability in fourth.
FASLIYANNE was one of the fancied three in the market but was under pressure and going nowhere two out. Amy Ryan got a bit disorganised at that point but it made little difference. Conditions were right here so there didn’t seem to be much of an excuse.

2.30 7f 30yds 0-80 Handicap

MALCHEEK, back to his previous winning mark, cruised clear from two out here but won’t be forgiven by the handicapper and is likely to go up to around the 80 level which he has struggled off earlier in the year. All his wins have come on fast ground.
SEA SALT wears an eye cover over his right eye and has no vision on that side. The impression is that this would make things tough around a right hand track. His wins have come on straight tracks or going left-handed. He stormed up the centre in the latter stages but was never near the winner. However, he remains in good form and is worth considering in the near future.
JOHN KEATS often gives his running but it’s a good while since he last won. He kept on from the rear for third place. It’s some time since he was tried at seven furlongs, but he saw the trip out well enough.
STELLITE never got in a blow but kept on for fourth. His recent wins have been off lower marks, though he has won in 0-85 class this year.
MANDARIN SPIRIT was upped in distance and didn’t get the comfortable front run he was allowed at Hamilton.

3.05 1m 4f 100yds Class 6 Selling Stakes

Only three got competitive in the closing stages in this race and ANDORN proved more determined than his two rivals. Four times a winner in Germany this was his first victory in the UK. He’s nothing special on the flat but connections went to £8,500 to retain him in the auction. It might be worth noting that the form of the maiden hurdle at Sedgefield was enhanced twice at Perth, so he could be of interest in that sphere in the coming weeks.
GRACEFUL DESCENT led briefly approaching the final furlong but was comfortably held once headed. This one struggled to see off a very moderate opponent at Hamilton last time and though she has ability I get the impression she saves a bit.
BIRKSIDE never quite got near enough to challenge the leader. He’s generally not far away in these events.
TESSARAE built on a second at Chepstow to run a creditably fourth at the weights here. She has run to a similar level twice and wouldn’t be a lost cause in a minor handicap.

3.40 1m 71-90 Fillies’ Handicap

The highlight of the card was a competitive fillies’ handicap and it gave us a thrilling finish with any one of five looking capable of winning a furlong out.

FEELING FAB has run some fair races this season without getting here head in front. Take a keen pull she led until a furlong out, looked held in the final furlong only to poke her head through a gap near to the line. She seemed to carry head at an angle in the final furlong, but it could have been a reaction to the gap she was asked to go through. She showed the typical determination of a Johnston inmate, and with the ratings not likely to change hugely after this race she may score again before long. She has performed creditably at Kempton and Lingfield, so might find herself plying her trade on the Polytrack in the coming weeks.
SHE’S IN THE MONEY is on a decent run of form and lost little credit in being pipped on the line in a finish of four bobbing heads. In fact she looked to have done enough before the winner came back at her near the finish. While the going remains decent Richard Fahey will presumably keep her on the go.
BURGUNDY ICE looked briefly as if she might take the lead inside the final furlong but was just held. She won her maiden on soft ground last autumn but hasn’t encountered any cut this season.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE mixed it with the leaders all the way and lacked nothing in determination in the final furlong. Off a mark of 74 there’s scope for a drop in class.
POPPET’S LOVEIN, a good winner at Newcastle last time over seven furlongs, had every chance at the furlong pole but gave way when crowded in the final furlong. The trip didn’t seem to be the problem, but the competitive nature of the final battle did seem to faze her.
JULY DAYS weakened from the furlong pole having been in contention. She probably needs to drop a few pounds in the ratings.
FLAPPER found these too sharp for her and is paying the penalty for a comfortable win off a soft lead at Newmarket earlier in the season.
LOCK ‘N LOAD, making a belated seasonal debut, found the quality here too much to deal with and was beaten with two furlongs left.

4.15 1m 1f Class 4 Claiming Stakes

In terms of ratings this was the best race of the day, but as with many such events questions could be asked about a few. My normal method for working through claimers is to start at the top as the best overall form normally lies there. That method wasn’t blown out of the water here but the winner did make a dent in the hull. The win may have owed something to the winning trainer’s assessment of claiming price.

KING OF THE MOORS can be a frustrating soul at times, but he does put a few decent runs together. Coming off the back of two decent performances and perhaps entered for a more realistic price than some others in the list, he led for most of the way to break the course record. Admittedly the conditions suited, but this was still a damned good effort. When he’s on a going day he can be tough to pass.
SUNNYSIDE TOM has been running consistently this season. He has won on heavy ground but that was a four runner race and he’s much better off on fast ground. He’s probably a little high in handicaps but remains competitive in claimers.
ROYAL POWER has only won a couple of races and, though leading briefly two out, was found wanting approaching the furlong pole. He won a Group 2 in 2006 but his only win since was at currently closed Great Leighs.
COURT MASTERPIECE would have carried these at his best. However he clearly isn’t the horse he once was and was left behind from two out.
WOVOKA found this much tougher than when winning off top weight in a lesser claimer at Newcastle.
Calling a horse FLAWED GENIUS is surely tempting fate, and sadly this one is starting to live up to the ‘flawed’ bit as he refused to race for the second consecutive time.

4.50 1m 6f 0-77 Handicap

This became a battle between progressive performers from handicap specialist stables.

Sir Mark Prescott’s ASCENDANT made the running and battled on under pressure though the lighter raced SPIRIT IS NEEDED from Mark Johnston’s yard was hauling him back at the finish. Both are moving forward and worth keeping tabs on.
The two were clear of IFATFIRST who ran a fair race in third but is vulnerable to improvers off his current mark. His best chance remains against exposed performers.
WEE CHARLIE CASTLE has been kept on the go and might need a break now. He made no impact from being held up in the rear.

5.20 5f 51-65 Handicap

This event consisted of a field full of well exposed and moderate sprinters.
This was the first time DISTANT SUN had been able to run in this class for a couple of years. The advantage could be seen as he came clear from 300 yards out to win a little bit cosily. He will be back up in the ratings now and hauling him out under penalty ridden by an apprentice looks the best course of action.
WICKED WILMA was hindered by a poor draw at Ayr having won on her previous outing. She was well there from two out though couldn’t match the winner. She showed sufficient determination to hold on for second place and is in pretty decent nick at present.
On paddock inspection the filly KILLER CLASS looked to have bloomed a fair bit since I saw her earlier in the season. She struggled on earlier outings but looking fit and well ran a creditable race in third place, joining issue two out and keeping on. Jim Goldie may be able to place her to advantage before the end of the season particularly if encountering some cut in the ground.
ROCKETBALL was not particularly favoured by the outside draw, though he did manage to work his way across to the stands’ rail. In the final reckoning he couldn’t offer enough but kept on for fourth. Given a good draw and the chance to dominate he can pick up a sprint handicap.
WINDJAMMER and MOLLY TWO showed pace to inside the final two furlongs but then faded.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Perth September Meeting - The Finale

PERTH – Thursday 24th September

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

Perth closed their season on a bright afternoon, though a stiff breeze let us know that autumn is setting in.

There were reportedly some problems with the watering system so I suspect that the groundsman wasn’t able to put as much water on the course as he would have liked. Certainly a test of the ground on the stands’ bend found it as firm as it has been all season. A combination of the ground and a number of runners having been out the previous day resulted in 17 non-runners on the day. The chases suffered significantly, though the hurdles remained mainly well populated.

The hurdle down the far side remained stowed away.

2.20 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle.

MESBAAH was well held by McMurdo Sound on his hurdling debut. The form received two major boosts on this card with the latter taking a handicap and former landing this novice event in pleasing style. Always handy he took over two out and stayed on well for victory. He will need to be kept to fast ground, so will either be seen out before it rains too much or perhaps appear at well draining Musselburgh later in the season.
Hurdles debutant RELAND didn’t jump particularly well but remained in contention until awkward jumps in the straight saw him held. He should move on from this performance.
JEWELLED DAGGER never threatened the leaders, but he stayed on nicely in the latter stages. He should pick up a little novice event in the North and it may be worth bearing in mind that his flat record at Musselburgh is 11122. Another to keep a note of for Musselburgh’s November jumps kick-off.
WHASTON showed a scratchy stride and didn’t jump well enough to get involved, dropping away from two out.
MIDDLEMARCH ran passably well on his belated hurdles debut, but the jury remain out deciding how much he can achieve.
PARSON’S PUNCH looks to be to have a bit of developing to do. On that basis a sixth here is a respectable effort.

2.50 2m 4½f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

MHILU is no stranger to Scone Palace Park having been a winner over hurdles. He jumped acceptably well though with a slight tendency to lug right. He pulled clear with Diablo from five out and saw off that rival in the straight. Mhilu sports the familiar red Elliott-stable blinkers and has been at his best when equipped with both that aid and a tongue-tie. Gordon Elliott has proved pretty shrewd at placing his charges in recent times and I’d happily be guided by his choice.
DIABLO had struggled when given some tough tasks in the novice hurdles last season. However, he performed well on his introduction to chasing, a discipline which I presume he has been aimed towards. He jumped well but found the winner just too strong up the straight. Nigel Twiston-Davies will have no trouble placing this one to win.
WATERSKI has often been thrown in against vastly superior opposition with a view to collecting his pocket money. On this occasion he saw off two better rated opponents to earn a respectable £955. Assuming the handicapper doesn’t decide to punish him then the best bet looks to me to be novice handicaps around this distance.
I wouldn’t rate CORKAGE as consistent but he has plenty of ability on his day. His jumping wasn’t good enough here, but the course vet subsequently reported that he was ‘lame left fore’. I notice the BHA reports seem to have settled on ‘right’ and ‘left’ in their reports these days which saves us peasants trying to work out which are ‘off’ and ‘near’!
REGENT’S SECRET was never better than fourth or fifth and found this race a different kettle of fish from the virtual two-runner affair the day before.
STAINLEY isn’t remotely good enough in this company and was detached by halfway. He’s much happier out in front and he wasn’t fast enough to get there.

3.20 3m ½ f Class $ Novices’ Hurdle

This was a contest light on runners but with three closely matched competitors.
Robert Thornton took TALKIN’ TOUGH to the front and set a searching pace. Having throttled back approaching three out he kicked on again once turned for home. However, he was starting to feel the effort by the last and a scrappy jump probably decided matters. This was a good effort though and he must any race where his raking stride can be used to best effect. Ultimately he looks a chasing prospect.
BILLEI MAGERN twice had to be encouraged round the stands’ bend as he eyed the course exit. Apart from that he seemed to run a mainly honest race, though having pegged back the winner and led on the run-in his ears were twitching and the impression was there was something left in the tank. It may need coaxing out of him, but he looks likely to follow brother Ollie and sister Petite Margot into the chasing ranks.
THE SHEPHERD weakened two out and may not have seen out the trip, although a move to less exacting company would be helpful.
ASHTONMORE has silver grey flecks on his skin as if some Jackson Pollock student has used him for practice. He was struggling by halfway and looks slow, though it took sister More Equity a while to make a mark.

3.50 2m 0-120 Handicap Chase

Four withdrawals made this a three runner affair though there were plenty of developments to keep spectators interested.

SAFARI ADVENTURES set a strong pace. Those of us stood down by the last fence got a thrill on the first circuit as Campbell Gillies spotted a stride some way and his mount absolutely pinged the fence, his rider letting out an exultant “Yes!” in the process. Unfortunately, though still in contention, Safari Adventures was tired next time and hit the fence halfway, throwing Gillies up his neck. Even then he looked set to win as Bermuda Pointe downed tools, but The Duke’s Speech mugged him on the run-in. On sharp tracks and with decent ground he will stretch this class of field.
We were treated to a masterful judgement of pace by Graham Lee on THE DUKE’S SPEECH. He let the first two go then gradually brought his mount near enough come the last. His willing opponent paid back the confidence and passed a still battling Safari Adventures in the last 100 yards. He has performed best when ridden patiently.
BERMUDA POINTE made a couple of mistakes, including one two out, but coming there cruising four out he looked the likely winner. He still looked to have the race in his grasp after the last but he went out like a light. The fact that he did so with ears pricked suggested that Bermuda Pointe’s hoof worked the switch.

After race news from winning trainer Ferdy Murphy is that KALAHARI KING is likely to appear at Kelso on November 7th. There is a limited handicap on the card, and the inference was that this has been arranged to accommodate Murphy’s stable star.

4.20 2m ½ f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

MCMURDO SOUND conqueror of opener winner Mesbaah proved that the Sedgefield race win was no fluke as he took this race quite comfortably. While the ground stays on the good or fast side he’s a step or two ahead of the handicapper.
Take note of the name of the winning rider here, 16-year-old Keith Donoghue, scoring his second win under Rules have piloted his first at Listowel the previous week. He rode around 150 wins pony racing in Ireland and, on the evidence of a well paced ride here, looks to have a jump on most 7lb claimers.
CIVIL SERVANT a big strong gelding looks to have the scope to make a chaser. He put up a sound performance in second and should pick up a similar event. He currently runs in the colours of Nigel Twiston-Davies, his trainer was making a big play of the fact that he was for sale.
HE’S COOL threatened two out but couldn’t muster extra pace from that point. He proved competitive moved up a grade here and looks best on good or fast ground.
SENDALI was noted picked up ground nicely in the closing stages. He may just need to be eased in class to pick up a handicap hurdle.
Raised in class ANNIBALE CARO put in a satisfactory effort, briefly threatening before two out and then unable to raise his game any further. Off 103 currently there’s plenty of scope for a drop to class where he can gain the upper hand.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN has been kept on the go on the flat, if short of decisive pace at the business end, but didn’t go remotely close here. His most recent wins have been in claiming and selling hurdles and he could be one who is best bullying inferiors.
STROBE looked well enough but was cast aside from two out. His runs following a break have generally been below par, but all his wins have come within 15 days of his last run.

4.50 2m 4 ½ f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

This race was not badly loaded numbers wise but distinctly short of quality.

Another young Irish raider came to the fore here with Conor O’Farrell piloting home A LITTLE DIFFERENT for Seamus O’Farrell. O’Farrell set off in front and nothing seriously threatened him. The closest anything got was when he gave his mount a breather going to three out. He was incorrectly marked as ‘blinkered first time’ in the day’s programme but he has worn them twice unsuccessfully before this.
Another black mark here was that the winner didn’t appear in the paddock until after the bell to mount had gone. This treats the racing public as if they don’t matter and the fact that there was no recorded stewards’ enquiry suggests the authorities present care little about such indiscretions.
SOME MAGIC held off the remainder but never threatened the winner. This is as close as he has been to the winner in 15 attempts.
NO MORE PRISONERS chased his stablemate most of the way before just being pipped for second. He’s a nine-year-old with no wins from 16 goes. He did go close a couple of times in the spring but a steady rise in the weights won’t have helped him any.
BENMADIGAN was held up out the back and stayed on in the last mile. He got caught out in a messy start at Market Rasen last time, and in retrospect his jockey might consider he gave the leaders too much rope on this occasion.
QUINDER SPRING, a winner of a 1m 4f ‘bumper’ in France, has more time on his side than a few of these and is worth keeping tabs on though not yet betting material. Arguably his best effort was in heavy ground at Newcastle in January.
CASUAL AFFAIR threatened to be a winning novice last winter but has not gone forward.
A few judges tried to read something into Gordon Elliott’s placement of CROCK CRILDROM, but on the evidence of two runs here he’s very slow.

5.20 2m ½ f NH Flat

FLAYGRAY had run two fair to middling races in similar company last season. Now lodging with Chris Grant he showed plenty of zip in the last two furlongs and would appear to have benefitted for being given time to develop.
DE BANSHA MAN is a big, deep-chested gelding who has the look of a chaser. He’s likely to go hurdling soon and I’ll think we’ll see the best once he encounters big fences. He led here and kept on, if tapped for acceleration in the final reckoning, but the evidence is that his frame contains a decent sized engine.
THE GRASSY looks another sort who will go on for encountering obstacles. He kept on well enough for third, just ahead of Lucinda Russell’s BATTLE GROUP, a winner here previously who sets the standard.
GLACED OVER stayed on from the rear from fifth and might be a long term prospect.
HOLD FAST ranks as one of Graham Wylie’s less pricy purchases at 22,000gns. A half brother to a hurdles winner he may still need a bit of time.
Donald Whillans’s HAWAII KLASS looks a nice enough sort. He’s a brother of Harry Flashman, a winner at all National Hunt disciplines. Hawaii Klass was tapped for speed when the pace increased coming out of the back straight and not pressed from that point. He doesn’t look an immediate winner but it may be worth eyeing his progress.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Perth September Meeting - Day 1

PERTH – Wednesday 23rd September

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

The ground soon dried out after a dry sunny spell in the East of Scotland. The ground was just on the fast side for the first day of Perth’s two day final meeting of 2009.

Due to problems with the ground the hurdle down the back straight was omitted .In addition it’s worth noting that both hurdles in the home straight were moved nearer the finish. I paced out the distance from the last hurdle and at approximately 180 yards it was some 40-50 yards shorter than the normal run-in. Precious little time therefore for a horse making a last flight mistake to recover lost ground.

2.25 2m 4½f Class 5 Novices’ Hurdle

This was an ordinary novice hurdle won in convincing style by dual Perth bumper winner NOW THIS IS IT. He cruised away from two out to win very easily and if the second’s mark of 110 is used as a measure then this appears a decent early season novice performance. Now This Is It has only put in one poor performance and that was on good to soft ground, so it seems safe to assume that a fast surface is best for him.
BALTHAZAR KING ran creditably in second but has a frustrating habit of finding one or two too good for him.
VIEL GLUCK had a tough task and wasn’t disgraced in third, losing touch from three out. He has his work cut out in anything but the weakest non-handicap company so might be best kept to novice handicaps.
Up with the pace for a way RHUM struggled from three out. He did at least show a little promise for the future but his jumping needs to improve.
RUSSIAN WAR, a bumper winner who ran out when in contention at Downpatrick last time, went out like a light after the fifth which suggests some physical problem.

3.00 2m ½f Class 4 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

I marked down TILLIETUDLEM as having some potential for hurdling and he’s proved that forecast to be correct, recording a second hurdling win. It seems clear his experience counted here. Having had to be straightened as he veered toward the course exit on the stands’ bend he was pressed two out but stayed on very well from that point. A double penalty may make placement a little more difficult now though he’s getting the job done well.
ALAZAN challenged two out but was then held, keeping on well enough for pressure. He was a lightly raced placed maiden on the flat and the experience here will have done him good. Philip Hobbs isn’t frightened to put miles on the travel clock and should find an opportunity.
MONSIEUR JOURDAIN was tapped for pace from three out but then stayed on again in the closing stages. He may benefit from a try over a stiffer track.
ADDISON DE WITT won a soft event here last time but was soundly put in his place on this occasion. BEIDH TINE ANSEO showed some decent handicap form on the flat Ireland but was held from two out here.

3.35 2m 0-115 Novices’ Handicap Chase

PROSPECTOROUS was shunted up 14lbs for a second behind progressive Sarah’s Gift at Sedgefield. He proved the form was no fluke in seeing off three opponents here, staying on under pressure on the flat. His best hurdles form was on decent ground around the minimum trip, though his Sedgefield effort suggests he sees out an extra half mile.
RIDDLEOFTHESANDS made a fair chase debut, jumping competently despite taking a keen hold and keeping on once headed two out. He will have to settle if he is to see out more than two miles.
TRANOS was outpaced from two out. He has seemed to be struggling off a mark of around 110 in handicap hurdles and would have to improve on this to make a mark in handicap chases.
YAWL SPRINGS made a fair UK debut at Stratford but he was beaten a long way out on this occasion and this was a step backwards.

4.10 2m ½f Class 5 Claiming Hurdle

This was a moderate race full of disappointing types struggling in handicaps or lightly-raced performers who have presumably not shown connections a huge amount at home.

DARK ENERGY has been struggling in handicaps despite being dropped from 115 to 100. He was held up and made progress from the rear, taking the lead on the flat and running on. His profile suggest flat track and fast ground is required although his overall profile looks regressive.
DAYTIME DREAMER, a flat winner on Polytrack at Dundalk, led from two out until headed after the last and could offer no extra. He has been well held in two handicap hurdle efforts.
GENARI is another well exposed type held in recent handicaps and was one paced from two out. DARFOUR showed a modicum of promise on hurdling debut, staying on from the rear for fourth place.
Highest rated on the official figures, GRAND DIAMOND ran no sort of race and the cussed SOLIS was prominently before predictably giving way every easily from two out.
SAMIZDAT led to two out before folding.

4.45 3m 0-125 Handicap Chase

A competitive contest for the feature race on the card.

KELLS CASTLE got the message once he won a race and has run a succession of decent races. He was always prominent and wasn’t to be denied once in a winning position two out. He would need the ground to stay good or faster to be kept on the go. He did nothing in the soft over last winter and I would presume once the rains come he will be put away until the spring.
THE WICKETKEEPER was on the premises from the fourteenth but just held from two out. He thrives on fast ground and is now back down to a manageable mark. This run suggests he can see out three miles under the conditions, though his best form has been around two miles.
CATCH THE PERK arrived too late to trouble the leaders, as seems his way these days, but a third here not beaten far suggests there’s plenty of life left in this old campaigner. I’m sure followers of Scottish racing would hope he can add to his tally of wins before the years finally catch up.
FLEMISH INVADER made progress from the rear and threatened three out, but he was probably getting the worst of the argument when thumping the last. This was his chasing debut and, given that he was up against a few who have been around the block a few times, this showed great promise. It shouldn’t be beyond Nigel Twiston-Davies to find an opening over fences.
The trip on this going would not have played to LUCKY NELLERIE’s strengths. On that basis his fifth place, up there to two out, represents a decent effort and is something to take forward once the rains arrive.
Sue Smith’s runners are generally well set up after a break, but NIRVANA SWING made no impact. He won off this mark in April ’08 but has generally struggled since.
REEL CHARMER was feeling the pinch by the eleventh and made no impact. He’s 8lbs higher than when winning a moderate event in tough conditions at Cartmel and that’s his only chase win to date.
SILVER SEDGE needs at least a couple of runs after a break and made no show following 214 days off. Once he hits form he can put together a run of decent form so should be watched carefully.
I haven’t fathomed fellow Fife resident OR DE GRUGY despite his appearing on my radar regularly. This was his trip and going and he has won off a mark only 1lb lower. The run may sharpen him up but I’d keep a watching brief for now. He seldom runs outside my patch so the next instalment will follow soon.
TOP DRESSING appeared to find this too competitive dropping away from three out. He hasn’t won for a couple of seasons and his wins have been in softer contests.
COLDWELLS seems to need a race to warm up and this class was a tough ask anyway. She ran well around Catterick and Kelso last season and doesn’t object to some give in the ground, though possibly struggles when the ground is really deep.
SEIZE jumped moderately and lost touch not far into the final circuit. I expect he would be better off giving weight to inferiors, though has something to prove after a poor effort.
ALL RISE weakened from halfway and was pulled up. Life was made tough for him when he ran a couple of stone out of the handicap in the Perth Gold Cup.

5.20 2m Class 5 Novices’ Chase

Effectively a two-horse contest yet fascinating nevertheless.

Under ideal circumstances Pigeon Island would not be sent into the lead. However, there seemed no way that habitual hold up performers Regent’s Secret was going to be sent on, and tortoise class Sawyer’s Gold wasn’t likely to be fast enough to keep up once they went from canter to gallop. A presumably reluctant P J Brennan elected to set the pace on PIGEON ISLAND who jumped quite well on debut though hitting a couple, a mistake at the second last coming at just the wrong time. He was worried out of it near the line. He has now failed to record a win in four attempts at Perth and perhaps it doesn’t play to his strengths. He may be a better price next time and I’d be happier if there were a few more runners.
REGENT’S SECRET has a habit of arriving too late on the scene on the Flat and over hurdles. As things worked out being held up following Pigeon Island suited him and once it came to flat pace he had a little more than the runner-up. He jumped very well.
SAWYER’S GOLD finished 158 lengths distant, thus keeping up a record of either finishing last or pulling up in seven attempts. It appears that Turbulent Flight has a rival in the worst rated chaser stakes, the pair are currently neck-and-neck on 49. I presume third place money paid his travelling expenses from Garth near Wrexham.

5.55 3m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

OSCAR GLORY slotted home the winner for the Irish as they beat the UK representatives 4-3 on the day. He beat Kells Castle in a chase at Bangor on his previous outing so his credentials were there to see, backed up by a Kilbeggan hurdles win. He was reminded of his job approaching three out, but then cruised into contention two out and went comfortably clear. He clearly needs good ground and I wonder if his trainer might eye an opportunity or two at Musselburgh in the autumn if the rains don’t come in torrents.
THE GREAT ALFIE cast aside an 18 month absence, running a fine race in second. HE didn’t jump as well as he might but stayed in contention enough to secure second close home. He’s lightly raced and has probably moved forward since last being seen.
Veteran SOLWAY MINSTREL ran an honest race to finish third, but a rating 6lbs ahead of his best winning one isn’t a help at the age of 12.
KYBER weakened from two out and I believe he is better at shorter trips.
I saw nothing of immediate encouragement from the remainder.

Hamilton Park - Final Meeting of 2009

Sunday 20th September

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places in the straight and Good To Soft in places on the loop)

Richard Fahey’s stable in on fire at the moment and his EMERALD GIRL took the opening six furlong nursery. This one appears to relish a stiff finish as her other win was at Beverley and she ran too good races at Carlisle.

BECKERMET provides a bit of a link to my home area since I saw win the Hackwood Stakes at my previous ‘local’ Newbury back in 2005. He runs often and quite consistently, but he isn’t a prolific winner and was beaten in the Conditions Stakes here by the Howard Johnson trained ETON RIFLES. The latter was very well backed and justified the confidence. I’m not sure the form is worth a huge amount since the third MAJOR CADEAUX is rated 114, while the fourth SEA SALT is rated 70. MAJOR CADEAUX is presumably still capable of much better but has had a disjointed season.

ADMIRAL DUNDAS has been held off marks from 85 to 76 in handicaps, having won off 75 last season. He found the less competitive nature of the claimer much more to his liking despite having a few slightly higher rated opponents. Presuming he stays on a mark of 75 he would have a decent shout off top-weight in a 0-75.
FIRST BAY notched up a third consecutive third place and may have prospects now he’s qualified for handicaps.

The next two handicaps were won by Sir Mark Prescott improvers. BRAVEHEART MOVE has won three handicaps this season, but none by very far and I get the impression he is still on a decent mark. He saw off some proven opposition here. Meanwhile VALID POINT doddled to a fourth win in four runs, having first won off a mark of 46 in August. He really didn’t spark in six attempts last autumn and winter, but he thrived for a break until August and has improved ever since. He was well placed here since he was an improver against a bunch going nowhere fast.

The admirably consistent CHEYENNE RED notched a second course and distance win in the closing three-year-old handicap. He will remain in this class after re-assessment and may well pick up another race before the campaign is done. FUTURE GEM is another showing consistency of late and ran a decent race to take second. He’s another who will remain competitive at this level.

Monday September 21st

Going – Good, Good to Firm in places

Rain was forecast but it turned out very little fell and the ground was a little faster than the previous day. There was a disappointing crowd for Hamilton seasonal finale, but the scheduling wouldn’t have helped, since I’m sure the course would have preferred to have raced on the 28th which is part of the Glasgow Holiday Weekend. It appears the BHA either cannot or will not appreciate the nuances of the local holidays in Scotland when allocating fixtures.

SAND SKIER was an easy winner of the opening maiden and I would expect Mark Johnston to try to land a nursery with this one before the close of the season.

The lack of rain may well have contributed to the fillies’ handicap cutting up. However VITORIA saw off five opponents in impressive style. She had performed creditably in a better event at Doncaster and I would imagine Bryan Smart would wish to exploit this filly’s run of form. She has improved for a drop back to 6 and 7 furlongs recently and the stiff 6 seemed to suit nicely.

ARTY CRAFTY took the 1m 3f apprentices’ handicap for Sir Mark Prescott. A typical Prescott improver, the race really looked to have fallen into this one’s lap since it was difficult to make out a strong case for any of the others. Rosie Jessop had to be very persistent with this one but she stayed on well and should get further.
ULYSEES ran a creditable race to keep the winner honest from three out. He’s running quite well right now but doesn’t win often.
ODDSMAKER’s style isn’t as well suited to this track as it is by Musselburgh. He needs to dictate and then kick on, but it’s a long haul up the hill and he couldn’t hold the first two from three out. In 0-70 company on a sharper track he can dictate the race and Andrew Heffernan knows how to get the best from him.

SHY GLANCE was suited by a drop back to 0-70 after three disappointing runs, wearing down two others in the final furlong. He’s best held up, one of his defeats came here on a front-runners day why they tried pace making.
NISAAL has yet to win but didn’t do too much wrong and John Quinn might squeeze a small race out of him.
A drop in the weights allowed SOCIETY VENUE back into this class and he only gave way inside the final furlong. All his best form is on tracks with uphill finishes.

ONEOFAPEAR won a soft maiden form Mark Prescott’s PASSKEY who seemed to suffer a problem in the closing stages. PASSKEY may have knocked himself though he seemed healthy on pulling up. ONEOFAPEAR is rated 78 and life may be tough in handicaps. Those behind look moderate to poor.

If you wished to show someone the advantage of a soft lead then MANDARIN SPIRIT’s win in the five furlong sprint would be an excellent example. Popped out of the stalls in front, he settled two lengths clear and was never challenged. It’s not often that a five furlong race falls like this and he may be underpriced next time out. There is just a hint that Linda Perratt is starting to get things together after a generally miserable campaign.

The Hamilton year closed with two divisions of a 0-65 five furlong handicap. The first was won by MILTON OF CAMPSIE who is currently in very good heart. He hinted at a return to form when I saw him at Newcastle and he added to his recent Ffos Las success.
He has not been over-raced for a four-year-old and there may be a little more in the tank.
CAPTAIN ROYALE closed the Hamilton season by making it ‘his turn’ in the closer.

I now wait for Keith, our Raceday Organiser, to collar me for first payment on our day out at Hamilton next spring! The course may go into hibernation but we are already preparing for the new campaign.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ayr Western Meeting 2009

With time at a premium my report on Ayr’s big meeting of the season is a little more brief than I would prefer. However I’ll try to indicate a few pointers for the future.

Thursday 17th September

Going – Good

The going was reported a good to soft for the early part of the day, but I suspect the description of ‘good’ was more accurate.

JEANNIE GALLOWAY’s experience probably helped in the maiden that opened the card. She had put in a couple of decent performances previously which set the standard from her mark of 73. HORSERADISH made a decent debut, staying on to take second place. This one should benefit from a step up to seven furlongs. ANTIONOLA ran a sound race in a close third and should pick up a run-of-the-mill maiden.

MEDICI TIME took the five furlong sprint in a race where the low draws seemed to have a marginal advantage. CHOSEN ONE took the ‘nearside race’ and would be worth noting for a handicap in the near future particularly with a little cut in the ground.

The selling race on this card is probably one of the more competitive such events of the season. However, it has often been won at fancy odds and APPLAUDE threaded his way through the field to win at 22/1. He veered right in the closing stages but conjured a fair turn of foot and won with a little in hand. Sellers and claimers look his level as he has struggled in handicaps.
BOUNDLESS PROSPECT has been consistent in claiming company in the last couple of years and went close here in a competitive contest. He’s got plenty of miles on the clock but is one to mark down on the short-list even in handicaps. He’s been particularly sharp on the All-Weather in recent times. KING OF THE MOORS almost pinched the race when going clear from two out but was caught in the closing stages, though he remains in decent form.

The 1m 2f Handicap is normally a tough contest to win and DEMOLITION held on well after asserting two out. He’s had a fine season and continues to perform creditably. PLAISTERER flashed her tail when the whip was brandished by Jack Mitchell. However, she seemed to still be putting it in and a move up to a mark of 90 hasn’t stopped her chances of winning. There’s a possibility she hasn’t finished improving.
HILLVIEW BOY has graduated successfully from bumpers to flat handicaps over the year. He ran a creditable third here, probably having reached his mark at 87, and goes on my list of potential novice hurdlers for the coming months.

SHE’S IN THE MONEY made up for the traffic trouble she ran into at Newcastle to hold the consistent LEONID GLOW over seven furlongs. The former I entered over a mile at Musselburgh on Sunday 27th and the way she stayed on here suggests the easy mile there will be no problem. LEONID GLOW is consistent but just failing to get her head in front.

I pointed out COLLATERAL DAMAGE as an interesting performer for the autumn after his win here recently though the soft ground qualification proved unnecessary. This was a third win in a row and he showed plenty of determination to hold on close home. There may still be a bit more to come, particularly if he encounters soft ground.

Friday 18th September

Going – Good

Kevin Ryan’s HANSON’D doddled up in the opening seven furlong from an exposed 68 rated performer. I wonder if Ryan might aim much higher next time as he’s entered in the Dewhurst and the Racing Post Trophy. GREEN LIGHTNING looked too green to do himself justice and was outpaced but, from a decent stable, I’d expect better.

UNSHAKABLE WILL continued the progress noted at Newcastle in the second division of the maiden. He was sharp away and made all on this occasion, showing plenty of resolution at the sharp end. He shouldn’t be too harshly treated in nurseries and might pick up such an event over seven furlongs or a mile.
Michael Dods’ HUNTINGFORTREASURE made an encouraging debut in second, doing enough to keep the winner up to his game in the closing stages. This distance has been the limit for his family even though there have been 7 furlong two-year-old winners amongst his siblings. I’d not be put off if he dropped back to six furlongs.
THISTLESTAR pulled hard and this probably cost him as he faded in the final furlong to finish third. Hopefully he will learn, but he needs to settle.

The Rosebery Stakes was won in nice style by MISTER MANANNAN. The impression from connections’ comments is that he will now be kept for a go at Listed and better sprints next year. He’s only been raced on good or fast ground to date.
PUFF was aimed at Group 2 company on his previous outing, but this looks more his level and he seemed to run pretty much to his 93 rating.

It really was inevitable that a Bronze Cup would appear to accommodate the refugees for the Silver Cup, given the near 200 entry mark for the Ayr Gold Cup. One wonders how long it will be before we have an Egg Cup to be contested by those rated 0-50?
Low numbers completely dominated this event with very little to choose between BALDEMAR, INGLEBY LADY and BURNWYND BOY at the finish. It probably makes sense to take some note of the result on the near side with FELDAY heading the group but only ninth overall. He’s a winner over seven furlongs and I’d be interested if he stepped back up in distance. His Newbury win came with cut in the ground. BOND CITY and RASAMAN followed on the stands’ side but are well exposed.

GUTO won the five furlong 0-85 contest, once again the low draws having the call, but GRISSOM did well to get close racing stands’ side. Some drawn higher than him went left, but Billy Cray routed toward the stands’ side. On that basis the form may be even better than the result suggests. ROTHESAY DANCER finished second on the near side and this run suggests she is not finished for the season.

James Lambe’s ECOLE D’ART was desperately disappointing over hurdles at Bangor but came back to form in the Eglinton Cup staying event. He’s difficult to pin down to a pattern though he has ability and might make his mark in handicap hurdle if brought back to Scotland.
DANZATRICE ran a respectable second. She put in three fair hurdling performances and would not be without a chance in a novice handicap hurdle.
PAGAN STARPRINCESS ran a fair race, beaten just over 7 lengths, in a race which might be considered a pipe-opener for a hurdles campaign. She’s a fair performer over hurdles and a mark of 126 gives a bit of scope for placement.

Saturday 19th September

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

The expected rain didn’t materialise in any great amounts, hence there were a significant number of non-runners.

The progressive looking CENTIGRADE picked up the mile nursery. The second AQUARIAN SPIRIT, third to a decent performer at Newcastle, is a fair measure so I would expect CENTIGRADE to pick up another nursery while on a roll.

The Silver Cup continued the trend of low numbers dominating the sprints. The winner KALDOUN KINGDOM has performed creditably in the autumn in 2007 and 2008 but won’t be especially well handicapped after this, and the fact that the draw did him favours here might mean he’s under-priced subsequently.
LOWTHER was equipped with combined eye-shield and blinkers, which seemed to do no harm. He was dropped in distance here and there might be a bit more to come kept to six furlongs.
The first to finish on the near side was PROTECTOR who finished eleventh overall. He’s only had three runs this season of which this would be the most encouraging. He’s below his 2007 winning mark and looks progressive within his own limits.

Well drawn DISTINCTIVE won the Firth of Clyde Stakes for two year old filles with a bit to spare from a good draw. BEYOND DESIRE and CONNIPTION kept tabs with most of the low drawn horses and are probably better than the bare result suggests.

The pattern for sprints was well established by this time and the first five raced up the far rail. JIMMY STYLES just headed BARNEY McGREW and the two have been thereabouts regularly in similar events. Their presence in the final argument told us nothing we don’t know already. KNOT IN WOOD is a straightforward sort running as well as ever and ran his usual admirable race in third.
Dandy Nicholls pair of EVENS AND ODDS and SONNY RED finished best of his runners in fourth and fifth. EVENS AND ODDS seems sharpest when given a month or so rest before his races. SONNY RED is arguably a shade better at five furlongs than six.
TOMBI won the ‘high race’. He is favoured by fast ground and opportunities might be limited if the rains come, though he must have some chance of a race if the dry spell continues. REDFORD was third on the same side and ran in the style of one who needs a stiff six as a minimum, but probably a return to seven would be better. He handles fast and soft and there should still be chances this season.

HARRISON GEORGE raced prominently and lifted his game to see off OSTEOPATHIC REMEDY in the seven furlong 0-95 handicap. Lightly raced PRIME EXHIBIT was third and may just have a little more to give than the more exposed leading pair. He handles cut in the ground and may pick up a race before the end of term.

PRINCE SIEGFRIED won the Listed Doonside Cup and may be capable of picking up a Group 3 race. He should stay an extra two furlongs on evidence of last two runs. Autumn ground suits him since his legs are a little delicate and he might be a contender for the St Simon Stakes at Newbury in late October. He’s worth noting wherever he appears though as he’s in good heart.
NANTON ran creditably in fourth, limbering up for a possible Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch double attempt. A win in either would be a tremendous boost to Scottish racing.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL held off BILLY DANE in the mile handicap. Both are well exposed and the latter needs fast ground. TIGER REIGNS run of wins was halted, but he was blocked in his run and would probably have gone close. I don’t think he’s stopped winning and a bit of rain would play to his strengths.

I’m not sure what to make of the result in the closing 1m 5f handicap as AMANDA CARTER, struggling to get near the front in recent months, sluiced up under Freddy Tylicki. Good or fast ground certain helps her.
DEMOLITION followed up his win earlier in the meeting with a decent under a penalty. DAZZLING LIGHT put up a creditable effort but does have a habit of either being caught close home or arriving too late.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Musselburgh - September 14

MUSSELBURGH – Monday September 14th

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

Musselburgh kicked off a busy spell for the Scottish racing circuit in the second half of September. Ayr's Western Meeting ends the week, Hamilton finish their season with a two day meeting straight after, and then Perth say goodbye for the year with a two day meeting on the 23rd and 24th. We then return to Musselburgh for Royal Scots Day the following Sunday.

2.20 7f 0-65 Handicap

CLUMBER PLACE won a maiden at Pontefract in April of last year but was not sighted again until March 2009. Her form has been dire since that point and she has dropped from 83 to 53. Perhaps proving the old adage that fillies hit form in the autumn she revealed that her ability has not deserted her. She raced prominently and a sustained challenge was enough to pick off the leader close home. Clumber Place won’t go up too far for this win and there must be hope of a follow up win.
With the three that followed home the winner it’s a case of what you see is what you get. NUFOUDH looked as if he had done enough only to be pipped close home. He has only won twice in 38 efforts, but both wins were this season and he has a respectable record at Musselburgh.
GRAND DIAMOND looked to have every chance at the furlong pole and didn’t seem over keen to go through what seemed a big enough gap on the inside.
OPTICAL ILLUSION two wins have been over 6 furlongs at Hamilton though he has run a few good races over this course and distance. He kept on but was held from the furlong pole.

2.50 7f 2yo 6 Seller

A lousy looking seller won comfortably by the well exposed DURHAM RELECTION. He’s run respectably in maiden company so might reasonably have been expected to take this contest, leading and pulling clear in the final two furlongs.
ORPEN ARMS and YA BOY SIR ran more or less to their respective ratings of 62 and 54 whilst GENTLE BEAT was well held in fourth and is not progressing.

3.20 1m 6f 0-71 Handicap

ITATFIRST was in good from early in the season, but had run below par of late. Returning to form here, he pushed after leading two out and kept up the gallop. It might be worth noting that he recorded two wins on Polytrack last winter and is slightly lower in the All-Weather ratings.
GRAND ART rattled home in second, too late to mount a serious challenge. He was well clear of the remainder and that may cost him a few pounds on the official scale. If still in this class he’s capable of picking up a race over a stiffer track.
DRAMATIC SOLO and BIRKSIDE were well held from two furlongs out. DRAMATIC SOLO did lead to that point but couldn’t respond from there. While this wasn’t her best, she has a record of 1313 around here.

3.50 1m 1f 5 Claimer

KING OF THE MOORS can be quite useful at this level when given his own way. He does win occasionally but is difficult to pin down to a particular race though his previous run here had been respectable. If he’s in the mood next time his handicap mark of 56 does seem lenient. The problem is that he had horses rated 82 and 83 behind him on this occasion so much depends on how the official rater sees things.
BED FELLOW chased from three out but is essentially one paced and a rating of 41 says much.
FREMEN and KINGS POINT ran well below form. The latter was particularly disappointing since he’s not been totally disgraced in Class 2 and 3 handicaps. However he doesn’t win all that often and it could be that he couldn’t be bothered.

4.20 5f 0-88 2yo Handicap

This was run at a fearsome pace from the start and it favoured those coming from off the pace.
MICKY’S KNOCK OFF came through from 300 yards out and won with a bit to spare. He worked his way two lengths clear and it seemed a decent effort though the race was probably run to suit. This was a third win on the card for Franny Norton and Richard Guest but their other recent runners have been well off the mark.
MISTER HUGHIE kept on for second passing tiring leaders in the closing stages.
The most significant performance may well have come from the top weight HERE NOW AND WHY who went with the strong pace and stuck at it for third place. He has been aimed high, having contested the Weatherby’s Sales race at Newbury and then the Molecomb at Goodwood. Kept to this class he should have it in him to win a nursery.

4.50 5f 0-70 Handicap

This was not as strong as the ratings band suggests with only two rated above 70 and it was very much a win in turn bunch.

WICKED WILMA provided a fourth winner of the afternoon for Franny Norton. She’s quite consistent around marks in the mid to high 50s, recording 14 places in 32 attempts, but only wins occasionally.
DALAROSSIE ran on well in the latter stages for second but he’s only got 1 win in 25 runs.
Top weight STEELCUT put in a good effort from a wide draw if held in the final furlong. He confirmed the promise of this run by picking up a claimer at Kempton two days later. If he doesn’t rise in the handicap for that he might have a chance of another win in 0-70 company.

5.20 1m 4f 100yds 0-59 Handicap

ODDSMAKER has plenty of miles on the clock, but isn’t bad at this level when putting his best hoof forward. His record at Musselburgh now reads 31011 so he’s always one to put on the shortlist when visiting East Lothian. He was enterprisingly ridden by young Andrew Heffernan and the ‘kick clear early in the straight’ tactics have worked on each of his wins here.
Oddsmaker made it 2-1 in recent clashes with GRANDAD BILL who chased from two out but couldn’t get to the winner and the race was probably lost entering the straight. He’s been admirably consistent this season and might not be done for just yet. He’s been there or thereabouts on all runs at Musselburgh.
The remainder were held from a fair way out.

5.50 7f 0-65 Handicap

Another very ordinary contest contested by a bunch of well exposed performers. ANCIENT CROSS has been running consistently and got off the mark at the twenty-first attempt. He was chased home by two win in turn performers in NO GROUSE (8 from 85) and SHUNKAWAKHAN (4 from 50).

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sedgefield Steeplechases - Early September

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday 8th September

Going – Good To Firm

The going remained fast though there was heavy rain in the half an hour preceding the second chase on the card.

Racing was delayed following a nasty incident at the first flight of the juvenile hurdle which saw five horses come down. Lucy Horner needed the services of the air ambulance to be taken to hospital after suffering a dislocated shoulder and facial injuries. Much fuss was made on the Betfair Forum about the quality of jumping in these events, but given that one came down at the first and the rest came down in a concertina effect it's difficult to draw too many conclusions. That particular Forum is a haven for those who talk through their pockets or express their immediate jumbled thoughts without engaging brain.

In the chases the open ditch in the straight was omitted once again. I’ve noticed an increasing tendency for fences and hurdles to be missed out over the last couple of seasons. I’ve asked a question of a BHA representative about this matter and hope to have an answer soon.

3.00 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

This was a fair novice event for this stage of the season with a number of the principals rated in the 120s.

The Irish challenger KALELLSHAN took up the running at the third fence. He put in a couple of awkward jumps but had plenty left in the closing stages and held on well. A double penalty may now make a life a little tougher. All best from has been on good or faster so I would imagine he will be put away once the rains arrive in serious amounts, the serious amounts which have given us a soaking in Scotland but don’t seemed to have reached the North East of England!
NOTICEABLE made the trip from the Bath area to finish second. He’s another who wouldn’t want too much cut in the ground and has been consistent this summer. Racing prominently, he kept on if never quite getting to grips with the winner. He won a novice chase at Huntingdon in May and should be capable of winning an event similar to this.
SCHELM is suited by the conditions but though he tried he couldn’t muster enough under pressure in the straight. As with the first two he pretty much ran to the official figures. He goes well on fast ground while still keeping his form with a little cut and his record around Sedgefield now reads 113.
FOLK TUNE made a decent chase debut against opponents with previous experience. He jumped neatly all the way but could never quite get to the leader in the closing stages but will be one to keep an eye on in the coming months around the minimum trip as long as the ground doesn’t get too soft.
SCHINDLER’S GOLD was comfortably held once the race warmed up and looks a bit below the level of the first four.
TRANOS ran a bit better than odds of 100/1 suggested he might but was held from the top of the hill. This was a bit more promising than recent efforts over hurdles and on the flat and he did win twice over hurdles in the summer of 2008. He needs good or fast ground.
THE PANAMA KID rated 122 over hurdles was well held from three out and may need to gain some experience over fences. He was a fair enough novice hurdler and not one to cast aside just yet.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE isn’t good enough in this company and was showing distress signals from four out.
MAHRAJAAN had bits and pieces of decent form, including a third on chasing debut in Ireland, but was never going on this occasion and doesn’t look like one to rely on.
RECOIL has been a poor flat and hurdles performer and there was no evidence he’s any better over fences. He was at the back from the start.
CAN’T REMEMBER was bought following her win in a selling hurdle here in April but in retrospect that was a poor event and she looked out of her depth here.

4.45 2m 4f 0-105 Handicap Chase

SARAHS GIFT, trained near my old ‘patch’ in Oxfordshire, had rattled up a couple of wins previous to this including over the course and distance. He won this with a bit in hand suggesting that he hasn’t finished winning yet. Settled nicely he came to challenge down the hill and went away on the run-in. H has had jumping problems in the past, but evidence suggests that he has got his act together.
IT’S A ROOFER is often there or thereabouts but is yet to record a chase win. He led from the start and was going well three out but outpointed once headed. I can’t see that he did much wrong and it should be possible to find at least a novice handicap.
FRED BOJANGALS goes well here but needs things to fall his way and punters need to allow for that when backing him. He chased the leader from two out but didn’t get close enough to challenge for the lead, plugging on for third.
PANTHERS RUN kept on for fourth. He didn’t threaten the leaders but this was as well as he has run for a long time. Not betting material though.
KEENE SPIRIT was in the rear for much of the trip but picked up a little late on. He hasn’t jumped fluently enough in his chases to get seriously involved.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS raced well enough to three out before giving way. He is still not showing the zest he did when at the top of his form last season.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR moved up to the heels of the leaders going to two out but that was as close as he got. The 23 lengths beaten here was as close as he has got to the winner so far but there are still no signs of serious competitiveness.
TREEKO made progress from the eighth but was held when stumbling on the home bend. He has a little ability but may need more time.
I’M YOUR MAN looked held when hampered four from home. He isn’t the most predictable performer and has been below his best recently.
PEAK SEASONS runs often but seldom wins and having raced prominently he subsided from three out. He’s only 6 but has managed 83 runs to date though amassing only 4 victories. He presumably has an iron constitution but is one to oppose at single figure odds.
YOUNG HENNO has shown only glimmers of ability in Ireland but wasn’t out of the argument when falling at the eleventh.
Four times course winner DEAD MAN’S DANTE jumped stickily in the rear and was never going, eventually pulling up after two out. He had a spell of 11 runs in point-to-points without success and has looked off his game since returning to Rules.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Ganning down the Great North Road... see the Blaydon Races.

NEWCASTLE – Monday August 31st

Going – Good To Firm

While Cartmel had to protect against the rain Newcastle were watering the day before racing to ensure good to firm ground for this fixture. The weather was generally overcast, but there was only a brief light sprinkling of rain in mid-afternoon as 5.600 attended the course’s Family Day, billed aslo as the 'Blaydon Races' in memory of the meeting of yore. I understand the latter came to an end following persistent crowd misbehaviour, but thankfully tthis day's attendees were generally orderly!

All races were run on the straight course due to planned drainage work on the round course. As far as I can understand the latter was either finished or didn’t take palce, but since the races were set in the Racing Calendar the programme was run as originally set. As far as watching the racing is concerned the only view to be had of the length of the straight course is from the stand farthest down the track, and even then the silver birches by the football centre are starting to block a little of the view. However, mixing viewing with the big screen provides a decent enough view of races. Essentially I had half of the stand to myself, so if you spotted a lonely chap with binoculars and an otebook then it was probably me.

2.15 7f Class 4 2yo Maiden

Mark Johnston has a sound record in this event and produced newcomer CONO ZUR to take this year’s renewal. He looked straight enough for this first outing but it’s worth noting that Johnston two-year-olds generally gain some benefit from a run. Half-brother to a NH Flat and hurdles winner, with a dam half-sister to Arcangues, it’s likely that this one will benefit from a longer distance in time. There was plenty to like about the way he ran on to see off his two chief rivals.
UNSHAKABLE WILL caught my eye at Hamilton in June if only for the fact that he proved very green in the preliminaries. He ran passably well that day and would appear to have benefitted from the experience. He’s strengthened a bit over the intervening two and a half months and put up a decent performance on this occasion. Up with the pace early he was briefly outpaced three out but was staying on after the winner in the final furlong. He should win a race and will stay further.
MR CORBY was the most exposed of this field with two decent runs in the bag. Having been up with the pace all the way he was held in the final furlongs. The chances are others might improve past him in these events so it is likely that Mick Channon will aim at nurseries.
STARRY MOUNT ran passably well in fourth, pulling clear of the remainder and stepping up on his Chepstow debut form.
Of the rest only CALDERCRUIX caught the eye though only for showing how green he was. Skittish in the paddock and taken to start early he started slowly, was then rushed up into contention but fell away in the final three furlongs. He’s half brother to a couple of multiple winners but seems to need a bit of time.

2.50 1m Class 6 Claimer

As is often the case with such events the action involved those at the top of the weights with the more lowly valued competitors making up the numbers.
FORTUNATE BID took them along at a decent clip but paid the penalty for his exertions, fading from a furlong and a half out. He is more than capable of winning a similar event but just needs to restrained slightly.
Battle hardened WOVOKA, with eight wins behind him, looked well favoured as the top rated animal in this event. He was taken down early and tucked away for the first half of the race. Making progress three out he took it up before the furlong pole and ran on to win with a little in hand if perhaps drifting to hinder the second a little close home. He has been struggling off marks in the 80s in handicaps but is now down to 77, 3lbs below his most recent winning mark.
TOP TRIBUTE has placed twice in seven runs previous to this and showed much promise in second. He looked well in the paddock and confirmed his well being with an excellent second place. He kept on though slightly squeezed for room near the finish. If remaining on or near a mark of 61 he should win a handicap.
ROWAN LODGE ran a creditable race in third given that he is rated 13lbs worse than the winner. He had every chance and wasn’t quite good enough.
IGNEOUS appeared to run well above previous form in fifth if lacking the pace to stick with four better horses in the final two furlongs. The big question is whether this was just a flash in the pan.

3.25 7f 56-75 Fillies’ Handicap
Not a bad little contest with a few in-form fillies in the field.
POPPET’S LOVEIN looks a progressive performer. Although misbehaving at the start, she followed up her Chepstow maiden win with a convincing performance, showing a decent turn of foot in the final furlong. I’d be surprised if she didn’t win again soon at 7 furlongs or a mile.
LEONID GLOW is probably as high in the handicap as she would want to be. She kept on after the winner but never threatened to get her head in front.
SANVEAN picked up in the final two furlongs but arrived too late to trouble the first two. She has won over a mile on the all-weather and either a step up to that trip or a return to Polytrack might help.
DANCE CLUB was always prominent but held from the furlong pole. A slight ease in class, maybe a 0-70 might give her the chance to get her head in front again.
Tony Hamilton will probably admit that his ride on SHE’S IN THE MONEY was not his finest hour. In a small field he managed to find trouble more than once and the filly finished with a rattle from the rear but way too late. She won in a slightly higher grade than this at Catterick and has enough ability to win off her new mark of 74.

It’s a bit of a hobby horse of mine, but TINA’S BEST and HANSOMIS both entered the paddock just before the signal to mount was given and only did a circuit of the paddock. This isn’t good enough and the authorities should be looking to clamp down on those trainers who are not properly prepared for the preliminaries. Trainers do get fined on occasion, but since the BHA has been tardy with recording their Stewards’ Enquiry notices I don’t know whether action has been taken on this occasion. Before somebody tells me that my report isn’t up very fast, I can say that they get paid for the service and I’m doing this as a hobby.

4.00 1m Class 2 2yo Handicap 'Blaydon Race'

Mark Johnston must have blinked a few times when he saw that his convincing Doncaster winner LAYALI AL ANDALUS had got in on a mark of 88. That looked promising, a view backed up by a paddock view of this big strong colt who looked in fine fettle. There are occasions when just looking at a Johnston competitor against the remainder makes them a bet. Your correspondent seldom bets at short odds, least of all in handicaps, but I couldn’t resist having a go here.
LAYALI AL ANDALUS didn’t disappoint in the race. Clearly well drilled from the stalls, a positive normally associated with Johnston youngsters, he raced up with the pace and was pushed out from the two furlong pole to win with a fair bit in hand. The time was 1.2 seconds quicker than 77 rated Wovoka in the claimer, and allowing for weight-for-age makes this a significant performance possibly near 110. Sights are justifiably raised with the Royal Lodge Stakes as the provisional target.
BONFIRE KNIGHT could almost be treated as a winner since he saw off the remainder comfortably. He should be worth an interest in coming races.
AQUARIAN SPIRIT ran to previous form in third. He has form with cut in the ground and might just be favoured by the rain that is about at the moment.
TRES CORONAS put a moderate Goodwood effort behind him by finishing fourth, seeing out the trip nicely.
JEHU stayed on from the rear but doesn’t seem especially well treated at the moment.
LETHAL COMBINATION was less than perfectly behaved in the preliminaries and went too quick for his own good early on, weakening from two out.

Paddock Gripe Number Two – Bonfire Knight’s lad had no number card on his sleeve. Just to make things even more difficult the number cloth had flipped back and when I asked the lad what number he was I got no reply.

4.35 6f 0-80 Handicap

A well exposed bunch of four-year-olds and upwards.

AVONTUUR hit the boxes, led until the furlong pole and then fought back determinedly after being headed. He could pick up another race now he has hit form and his All-weather record of 4 from 19 might make him an interesting prospect at Wolverhampton.
INCOMPARABLE looked likely to take the race when leading one out but gave way from there. He regularly performs decently without winning all that often and pays the penalty as he seems a little high in the ratings.
JOHN KEATS is another exposed performer who wins in his turn. He was stretched for pace three out but stayed on again in the closing stages.
BRAVELY is a keen type who probably doesn’t help himself. He finished a fair fourth, but his UK win was over 5 furlongs and the impression is that he’s better off at that trip.

5.10 5f 56-75 3yo Handicap

This race was marred by an early race fall for All Spin and jockey Paul Mulrennan. Mazzola’s rider Tony Culhane got a 14-day ban which saw him veer across Dispol Grand and thus squeeze up All Spin who took a fearful tumble against the rails. Mulrennan was lucky to get away with only a broken collarbone but All Spin sadly broke a leg and was put down. It was a crass piece of riding by Culhane who in my opinion was darned lucky to get only 14 days. His excuse that he thought there was only one horse inside him doesn’t wash. When you make a manoeuvre to rail you have to ‘know’ what is inside you, otherwise you should stay straight.
NOODLES BLUE BOY made progress two out, took over at the furlong pole and kept on well when pressed in the final furlong. He’s been consistent in the summer, and won’t go up a huge amount so there may still be scope for another first prize.
FASLIYANNE led until the furlong pole and then battled back once her blinkers allowed sight of his opponent. She’s another who has been consistent but may have to produce a personal best to win a race.
MAZZOLA finished third but was disqualified for the previously mentioned incident. He didn’t seem over keen to go through a gap approaching the final furlong. He’s now 21 runs since his last win.
PISTE stayed on having failed to go the early pace. Her win at Windsor came off a similar mark but in a slightly lower class.
IGOYOUGO, on a hat-trick, was held in the final furlong and the mark of 71 might just be above his limit.
DISPOL GRAND was effectively taken out of the contest after a furlong and not pressed afterwards. This run can be set aside.

5.45 5f 64-60 Handicap

A ‘whose turn is today’ sprint handicap run at a furious pace.

NOMOREBLONDES won on this card two years ago and a decent run in a seller signalled a return to form. This was nominally a step down up in class, but the seller winner was rated 72 so it could be argued Nomoreblondes was well placed here. She stormed clear in the final furlong to win by 2 ¼ lengths which won’t be easily forgiven. Her paddocks value might have gained a few bob.
KING OF SWORDS, twice a winner recently, kept on well enough to suggest his chance of winning in the near future hasn’t gone out of the window.
MILTON OF CAMPSIE, wearing light front leg bandages, appears rejuvenated by a change of stable and he kept on for third.
JOYEAUX kept on to be thereabouts as is often the case.
CAYMAN FOX showed zip down the centre but paid the price in the final furlong.
TOY TOP raced on apparently slower ground on the stands’ rail and may be forgiven this effort.
GARSTANG, generally a consistent performer, missed the break allowing the principals to get away. He had no chance after but picked up ground nicely late on and is normally in the mix in similar contests.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Jumping Returns at Sedgefield and Cartmel

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday August 25th

Going – Good To Firm

After a mid-summer pause jumping returned to Sedgefield. The North East has been spared the rain that has hit other Northern regions and the going came up on the fast side.

The open ditch in the straight was reported as ‘under repair’ and was out of action.

3.15 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

MY CONDOR looked likely to succeed here, leading all the way and still going well enough entering the straight. However he has had a tendency to ‘fall in a hole’ in the latter stages recently, and on this occasion he could offer nothing on the run-in, fading to fourth. He won a couple of races back in 2007 but has been frustrating since.
In a race containing five ‘Timeform squiggles’ the stage was left open for FRED BOJANGALS to swoop late and capture the spoils. He seems much better at Sedgefield than anywhere else and his record now reads 13521 with his best shows on fast ground.
STORM PROSPECT wouldn’t top a list of consistent performers but isn’t bad at this level on his day. He did win in heavy at Ayr once, but essentially he’s a top of the ground horse. He was in the rear early and needing cajoling by the sixth, but stayed on in the closing stages.
IT’S A ROOFER is another suited by fast ground. He raced prominently and kept on in the straight to finish third not beaten far.
I’M YOUR MAN was with the leading group down the straight but never quite threatened a win. He runs often, wins occasionally, and is a good bit higher than either of his winning chase marks.
NEW WISH back pedalled from two out. He has plenty of mileage on the clock at various disciplines and his jumps successes have been limited to two selling hurdles.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS couldn’t get anywhere near the front and appears out of sorts at the moment after thriving earlier in the year.
BARNEY has put in a succession of dismal runs, was struggling by the seventh and finished tailed off.

4.15 2m 4f 0-95 Novices’ Handicap Chase

SARAHS GIFT led at the ninth and kept up the gallop from that point. For one on a lowly mark when getting round he’s got a fair place record in chases. (He’s since won again at Newton Abbot and seems in very good heart.)
PROSPECTOROUS, trained by County Kildare based J P Dempsey who I can’t claim to be madly familiar with, was well backed and showed a good deal more than on recent Irish runs. He’s won on good ground over hurdles and the signs are the fast ground here helped, a series of dismal winter runs suggesting chilly weather and mud are not his cup of tea. He let himself down by jumping untidily all the way round, yet was still had a chance coming to the last. If he got his jumping together he would doddle a similar event.
PIPERS LEGEND raced prominently from before halfway. He was found wanting after the turn for home though did finish third. He has bits and pieces of fair form but as a 10-year-old 1 win from 32 runs does not make for stand out betting material.
PUGNACITY, a selling class hurdler, got to the tails of the leaders at the top of the hill two out but then faded on chasing debut.
PAPERCHASER made some progress to three out but was never in contention.
UPTOWN LAD, held right out the back as per normal, made a little late progress but never got near the leaders. He needs the race to fall into is lap, his best chance being if a number of front runners burst each other.
TA AN ATHAS ORM is exposed as moderate and not getting close over hurdles or fences currently. He never got in a blow on this occasion.
RED DAWN led to the ninth and weakened three out, taking his blank record to 32 in chases.
PERLY SPENCER runs as if he has a physical problem and pulled up here.
DORIS’S GIFT didn’t look particularly interested and jumped moderately. He was pulled up before two out.

CARTMEL – Saturday August 29th

Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places, Heavy by the woodside)

Cartmel close their season with a two day fixture over the Bank Holiday. An extra day will be added in 2010 with a day’s racing on the Thursday preceding the holiday weekend. The accepted wisdom is that seven days in the year is as many as the small but thriving Cumbrian course can cope with. The place was heaving for this meeting and people seem more than satisfied with an occasional glimpse of the horses.
The groundstaff worked hard to protect the ground as the area had a fair bit of rain. Despite covers to protect the ground the woodside section is not the best draining turf and was reported as ‘heavy’. The last fence on that section of the course was omitted adding another 150 yards to the long run-in.
Iain Mackenzie normally gets the gig at Cartmel, his ‘keep track of all runners’ style carried forward from point-to-points suiting the place. On this occasion the nasal tones of the Scot Dougie Fraser were heard on the PA.

2.40 2m 5 ½ f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

This might turn out to be a decent event of its type with a number of fair hurdlers seeming to adapt quite well to chasing.
Three times a hurdles winner in Ireland, SHANBALLA has now moved to Tim Vaughan who is not frightened to rack up the miles from his Vale Of Glamorgan base. The gelding has won on both soft and firm ground so surfaces seem to come alike. He was impressive on chasing debut, coming clear from a 120 rated performer and has been awarded a rating of 134. This suggests a fairly lofty campaign might be in order.
INVISIBLE MAN was the marker for this form with two promising chase efforts to date. He didn’t do much wrong in second and his winning turn looks merely delayed.
ANY CURRENCY, an Irish point winner and rated 121 over hurdles, showed promise on his chasing debut. He couldn’t go with the first two race in the straight but he jumped well enough and should go forward from here.
EASTERN SURPRISE is a three times Irish pointing winner and was placed over hurdles. He was held by better opponents after the last but would be interesting if tried in a novice handicap.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR is rated 94 so was up against it here and could only plug on from the rear. His handicap mark doesn’t look generous on what he has shown.
LIZ’S DREAM was hopelessly outclassed in this company. His best chance of making a mark would be in the lowest level of handicaps over hurdles or fences.
ONCE BEFORE had shown some promise over hurdles and in points but found it all too much from the seventh fence. He has ability so I wouldn’t write this one off just yet.
SAWYER’S GOLD performed woefully in 5 hurdle races and added a poor chase run to his record, pulling up at the seventh.

3.15 2m 1½f 0-105 Handicap Chase

TURBO SHANDY has had a varied career with the odd morsel of decent form. He’s run three races this year on the flat at distances ranging from 5 furlongs to a mile. That’s not a standard preparation for a chase at Cartmel, but it seems to have worked and maybe the five furlong race was good practice for the extended run-in! He was in the rear early on, progressed to join issue along the woodside for the final time and asserted in the straight. He broke his career duck here and this was in advance of his recent chasing form though he has rated a fair bit higher in the past.
SILVER STEEL has been consistent at this level of late and, though outpointed by the winner once turned for home, kept on honestly.
PINEWOOD LEGEND didn’t jump well but McCoy’s persistence kept him on the fringe for a long way. The long run from the last finally did for him. He needs to sharpen his jumping.
RIO LAINE was struggling before the last and faded from that point. His previous form suggests a preference for better ground.
Versatile JORDAN’S LIGHT had been running creditably on the flat but was struggling from three out here. I get the impression that in a true run race on soft ground he struggles to see out the trip. He did win a selling hurdle on soft but that was an ‘egg and spoon’ race at Kelso last season.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE won a hurdle here in a bog earlier in the year but hasn’t got near to winning otherwise. She raced prominently early but the towel came in before three out. DIVVY’S DREAM was another racing prominently early but paid the penalty and faded to be pulled up before the last.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS put in a second lack lustre performance of the week, losing touch from halfway and trailing in last.

CARTMEL – Monday August 31st

Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

I was at Newcastle for the afternoon and not able to concentrate on Cartmel. Regrettably Racing UK haven’t put any replays for the meeting so I’m commenting blind on this one. Race analysis is based on race comments form the Racing Post and AtTheRaces.

The weather was horrible in the North West but that didn’t stop a decent crowd of around 9,000 attending a soggy Cartmel. The measures taken to protect the woodside ground saved the meeting as it would certainly have been abandoned without the covers. The last two fences on the woodside were omitted which meant a run-in of somewhere just shy of six furlongs. The hurdle run-in wasn’t far short of that either since the hurdle near the Sticky Toffee Pudding Shop was removed.

In the selling hurdle the mega-enigmatic AMJAD managed to get clear of his field to win by 13 lengths to end a run of 56 without a win. This must give hope to many regular losers!

3.30 2m 5 ½ f 0-120 Handicap Chase

There were only eight fences to be jumped in this contest and a three long stretches with nothing in the way. REEL CHARMER took up the running after the sixth (about a mile left) and steadily forged clear on the slog from the last. He’s rated 130 over hurdles so there may be a little more to come over fences. Last season was a quiet campaign, but a decent run over hurdles at Ayr in April suggested a revival was imminent. It would do no harm to keep a note of Reel Charmer for the coming campaign.
MARREL made progress form the rear to take second place entering the straight. Despite his years Marrel has been progressive in this class over the summer, although this placing may mean he’s on a career high chase mark next time. He’s now appeared 85 times in all disciplines with 11 wins and 21 places.
LIVINGONAKNIFEDGE ran his best race since his effort in the same contest last year. He weakened on the final bend and was passed by Marrel. It remains to be seen if he can produce the form elsewhere.
MIDNIGHT GOLD felt the pinch going down the woodside, not helped by a stumble two out, but picked up again late on. Normally runs passably well but is another on a career high mark.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE didn’t confirm the promise of his July effort here. He won in soft in France, but I can’t believe that slogging round Cartmel in ‘sticky toffee going’ would be likely to bring out the best in him.
Some of these probably couldn’t cope with the ground, TOP DRESSING going well enough to the last but then weakened and was tailed off by the straight.
NILE MOON has run well with cut but is probably better on good ground, and he seems a bit high in the handicap anyway.
FIRST BAY and PEAK SEASONS were both completely knackered in the latter stages and walked over the line. Both need their sights set at a lower class.
COPPER BAY was struggling before halfway and Lucy Horner called it a day with a mile to run. He has some decent runs dotted in amongst some dross, including a spring point win, but better ground seems essential and the tongue-tie indicates breathing difficulties.

4.05 3m 2f 0-100 Handicap Chase

For all that there were 10 runners in this contest very few could be given a genuine chance. GETINBYBUTONLYJUST has carefully avoided sticking his head in front for sometime whilst running passably well on many occasions. This time he couldn’t really help but see off opponents either bogged down in the mud or simply lacking the stamina to stick with him. He predictably felt the pinch as those left in contention approached the final bend, but then found reserves to see off the arguably less proven stamina of Stoneriggs Merc. Sometimes statistics can say anything, but in chases in heavy ground his record is now 11725231. Mixing that with a fair record on stiff tracks suggests that he is favoured when the conditions slow the others down to his pace.
STONERIGGS MERC has placed over the distance before, but I suspect three miles two in mud found the bottom of him and the needle read empty in the straight after he gone clear after the last. He’s now moved to Tim Vaughan’s stable, but given the propensity for Vaughan to send his horsebox to all points of the compass we shall no doubt see ‘The Merc’ in northern parts before long. I have often put him on tentative shortlists, but lost patience a while back.
SILVER DAGGER is a proven sluggard but kept going at his own pace for third, a creditable effort from 10lbs ‘wrong’. He had a purple patch in spring 2007 but has kept his talents well camouflaged since.
JBALLINGALL has struggled since a two year plus break until March this year. He likes to lead and kept going for much further than of late, only giving way on the long run from the last. A fair effort from 7lbs out of the handicap, in terms of merit probably third best on the day, and it would appear his cause is not quite lost yet.
RIVER RIPPLES, made a short priced favourite on the back of a win at Stratford on good ground, hadn’t previously encountered going like this over fences and was never competitve.
DASHER REILLY was attempting to repeat the Sadik family’s success in this race named after Cengis ‘Gus’ Sadik. A very moderate performer he had a tough task and though going well enough in the early part of the race was very tired in the last mile and walked in.
MERRY PATH, now 15 and absent for two years, led to the fourth and then rapidly weakened. Assuming there is a problem it must be extremely doubtful that the Mrs Williamson trained gelding will be sighted under Rules again. Should this be the case he should be remembered not for this effort but for a chasing/pointing record that includes 9 wins and 13 places from 35 runs.
FEELING PECKISH was ‘feeling the pinch’ by when unseating at the ninth.
ILOVETURTLE, 9lbs ‘wrong’, was tailed off by the ninth and pulled up before the last enabling a short cut to the unsaddling area. The Sadik second string and 20lbs out of the handicap, GOOD MAN AGAIN took a similar shotcut when calling it a day shortly before that . Neither have got remotely near the winner for ages.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ayr - Late August Meeting

AYR – Wednesday August 26th + Thursday August 27th

Going – Soft (Wednesday), Soft, Good To Soft in places (Thursday)

Time constraints meant that I’ve struggled to do a full review of this meeting, but I hope to have captured a few key performances over the two days.

The round course was back in action following July’s problems and things went smoothly.

Goldolphin’s GOLDEN SHAHEEN lost out to the once raced Tut in the opening maiden but there was plenty of promise in the performance. He looked very green early on and took an age to get the hang of the job. However he picked up nicely towards the finish and will benefit from the outing.

As is his day Sir Mark Prescott has VALID POINT on a nice low mark and this one should be capable of running up a sequence after winning the 2.40, a 46-65 Handicap over 1m 2f. HE needed a bit of urging after being headed three out, but responded well and comfortably held the upper hand in the final furlong.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE was an impressive winner of the 61-80 mile handicap. On the face of it his record of 4 from 47 is nothing to shout about, but he hasn’t encountered soft ground much in recent times and his four wins have come with cut. If he’s kept on the go now the ground is soft there’s every chance he’ll win again. His career record on ground listed as ‘Soft’ or ‘Heavy’ is 21513231 and even the 5th was in a field of 21. That tells a story. He’ll be bumped up plenty for a 6 length win but that might not stop him.
TOM TOWER set a decent pace but had no response to Collateral Damage. However, he kept on determinedly enough to battle for second if just losing out and looks placed to pick up a lower class event in these conditions, maybe 0-70 or 0-75.

HOLLOW GREEN has been in rattling good form all season and picked up a sixth win when holding off a competitive 66-85 field over 1m 2f. She’s often just done enough to win and there may still be a little more in the tank. She has run mainly on fast ground but her record on Soft/Heavy is 121 and she’s worth keeping in mind in the coming weeks.
SHALOO DIAMOND ran to form in second though is probably as high as he would want to be now.
RED JADE has been lightly raced and his second here may presage a winning performance in the autumn since he’s now 8lbs lower than early in the season. He is a winner in soft ground.

AGENT BOO put up a decent performance to win the six furlong nursery which opened the Thursday card. Going with a strong pace from the start he had enough in hand to run on for victory. This was his first time in soft ground.
CHARITY FAIR was slow away and feeling the pinch after two furlongs. She stayed on well in the latter stages and probably has enough about her to pick up a race at the lowest level.
COOLELLA struggled with the pace and looks to need farther than six furlongs.

JOHN FORBES galloped on well to land the 1m 5f 46-65 handicap from BAAHER, the pair clear of the remainder. JOHN FORBES doesn’t do things in hurry but gallops on determinedly, generally giving his running, and this may tune him up for a hurdling campaign. BAAHER is lightly raced on the flat and might be placed to pick up a similar event in the coming weeks. He has some fair maiden hurdling form and Jim Goldie might place him to pick up a handicap in that sphere.

HOLD ON TIGER won the two-year-old maiden auction on the nod from much improved LILYANNABANANA, the latter not sighted in two previous efforts.
The one that may be of interest in time is SUMAY BUOY from the Milnathort yard of Jean McGregor. He was green and struggled early on, but picked up a bit for encouragement in the latter stages. This one may be worth keeping tabs on.

The remainder of the card was contested by mainly exposed handicappers and I can’t be confident of picking out anything which could get a jump on the official ratings.