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.