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.