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.