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.