KELSO – Sunday Octobr 4th
Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)
The ground was just on the fast side and this was a chance for quick ground specialists to pick up something before the autumn rains arrive. There is a chance though that one or two of those who need good ground could be aimed at Musselburgh over the winter.
2.20 2m 2f 0-95 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
SEA COVE has put in some decent performances at this level of late. He raced prominently and then determinedly held all comers from two out. It’s taken some time for him to click, but he has been steadily progressive at this level, has a good attitude and is not likely to be punished excessively for this victory.
ERGO, whose hurdles runs have been few and far between but has been kept on the go on the flat, stayed on well to take second without getting to the winner. This was well in advance of his previous hurdles form, but he was lame after running passably well at Haydock last November and has run some decent flat races in the meantime. On this evidence a similar race should be within his compass.
PRIORYJO got into the argument from two out. She challenged after the last but was held. She has come down a long way in the handicap of late which must have been a help.
TANTOBIE was always thereabouts but found wanting from the last. He got much closer than he has done in non-handicaps.
2.55 2m 6 ½ f 0-110 Handicap Chase
SNOWY looked to be struggling when tapped for pace on the final bend. However, he does stay on well up the hill here and I wasn’t surprised as he started to pick up again approaching the last. He stayed on determinedly through the group of horses and poked his head in front near the line. He was in excellent form round here and Musselburgh last season and remains in good heart for the new campaign. He did win once on heavy but he really needs good or fast ground to be seen at his best.
DAWN RIDE was held up at the rear and looked the winner when forging ahead on the flat only to be caught in the shadow of the post. He’s more than capable on his day, but not particularly predictable.
WOODY VALENTINE was revitalised following a move to Evelyn Slack’s stable, ran another decent race here and showed the handicapper has him more or less right on 115. This trip would be as far as he would want. He’s versatile, is swapped between chasing and hurdling and holds his form well.
ANDY ANSHAN looked to be going as well as any on the run to the last. However he couldn’t find an awful lot on the run-in and was held in fourth.
NILE MOON set the pace or disputed until the last after which he could not raise his game. This was a fair enough effort and he is dropping back near the mark he won off twice around here earlier in the year.
SIERRA PEAK hit the eighth and wasn’t going after that, being pulled up before three out. He led in his two previous chases and being taken on by Nile Moon may not have helped.
MANADAM hit the second, jumped slowly thereafter and his confidence seemed to have gone.
3.30 2m 6 ½ f Class 3 Intermediate Hurdle
An interesting contest in which novices met second-seasoners, and the form worked out according to the figures.
Two pulled clear in the closing stages with HEEZ A STEEL staying on under severe pressure from the last to capture first prize. I wasn’t impressed with the ride he was given from the last, Mr Findlay bumped a bit and there was some serious whip wielding. However Heez A Steel did respond and beat a promising sort into second place.
NOW THIS IS IT has had a decent summer in which he has graduated from bumpers to hurdles. He lost nothing in defeat against a more experienced opponent, looking the likely winner two out but held in the final furlong. He should pick up another novice event but is likely to need good ground.
SAM LORD is rated a few pounds below the winner and probably paid the price for being a bit keen early on. He had nothing left to fend off the first two from two out. His run well off near his current mark in handicaps and that’s where his future lies.
NIGHT FORCE was struggling in the last half mile. He hasn’t progressed following a firm ground hurdles win last autumn.
4.05 2m ½ f 3yo Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
I doubt that this will prove to have been a particularly strong contest. The winner KNOCK THREE TIMES was very ordinary on flat (rated mid-40s) though did hurdle sufficiently well to step up on that level. She will find it tough once the better youngsters appear.
MONSIEUR JOURDAIN was one of the more exposed entrants and ran a sound race without pulling up any trees. He’s been awarded a rating of 109 off the back of his third to Tillietudlem and that seems harsh. I don’t think he will win handicaps off that mark.
SYDNEY COVE looks a bit of a plodder but kept on into third place, turning round flat form with a few behind him.
AVITUS went well to two out but could offer no more, and NEW TRICKS, a flat winner in front of Sydney Cove at Hamilton, went well in front to two out before giving way. Both at least showed a little on hurdling debuts.
Back in the field there were some abysmal jumps from a few, and I do wonder how much schooling has gone on. HUNTING MAGIC, who must have given away 20 lengths plus with poor leaps, stayed on quite well through tiring opponents and might be worth monitoring for signs of more accomplished hurdling technique.
Ann Duffield’s pair STREVELYN and BERRIEDALE looked to have schooled better than many when filling the first two places at Sedgefield, but there was early carnage in that event and they were put in their place by opposition that stood up here.
4.35 2m 1f 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Chase
There was a decent pace on from the start and I suspect the form will stand scrutiny.
SILVER STEEL was never far away taking a keen hold. He took a dive at two out, but that didn’t stop him and he went clear on the run-in, only to idle and let the others close toward the line. For all his foibles the second is a sound measure when on his game and Silver Steel has proved steadily progressive with perhaps a bit more to come.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS is a veteran of these events and having only recorded a first win in March he has until October 31st as a novice. He’s as safe a conveyance as you will get in these events having never come to grief in 38 chases. He was very frustrating for a while last autumn, then things clicked over the winter and spring to the point where he recorded three wins. He does need the race to fall right but is starting to come back to form, producing a promising effort at Market Rasen last time and closing in on the leader from two out on this occasion.
MORE SHENNANIGANS has done his darnedest to let his level fall down amongst the worst in the North. However it appears all is not completely lost as he showed hither to hidden talents to close on the front two after the last. He was 22lbs out of the handicap so can expect to be shunted up to around the mark he ran off here, but at his level ratings can be incidental. The recent showing of Waterski suggested that the stable might at least be in reasonable fettle. I await the re-appearance of More Shennanigans and Waterski with interest if not necessarily with stake money poised!
CARRIETAU raced prominently as usual but was held on the flat though finishing quite close. He was a whisker away at Bangor three runs back, but has been a weak finisher over fences.
WHAT HAPPENED had every chance at the last but hit the obstacle and gave way, but still finished as close as he has over fences.
BALLABROOK led briefly four out, but then hit three out after which the writing was on the wall. While he hasn’t achieved a huge amount he does at least seem to be improving.
FARNE ISLAND, a maiden over hurdles, jumped round but made no impact on chasing debut.
DARAYBAD was ridden from three out to get closer but couldn’t offer much. His jumping hasn’t been sharp enough in three chases contested.
TROODOS JET, who has shown the odd glimmer in similar class, gave the fourth fence a rap and never showed.
NEW WISH races often but has only managed 3 wins from 76 efforts at all disciplines. The promise of his Uttoxeter effort was undone by a lack lustre effort here.
COPPER’S GOLD, making a chasing debut, thumped a couple early on and was never competitive. As a five-year-old he does at least have a bit more time than some.
PALOS CONTI jumped abysmally, so it was a bit of a surprise that he wasn’t completely out of it with three fences to go. One bad jump too many saw him fall back swiftly to finish last. He undoubtedly has the pace to win one of these events but a return to the schooling ground is on the cards.
5.10 2m ½ f 0-130 Handicap Hurdle
I would expect to see a number of this field appearing in decent ground handicap hurdles over the winter. The better end handicap hurdles at Musselburgh will be an obvious target for a few given the better chance of good ground.
HELLO NOD didn’t cope with chasing in three attempts earlier in the year. He then reverted to hurdling, going close on a few occasions without winning. He is decent enough in this grade and having joined issue early in the straight he stayed on well to take the main prize. It wouldn’t surprise me if he picks up another similar race this autumn.
CARAVEL proved a decent quick ground novice for Howard Johnson last season. He found the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock a bit beyond his capabilities in May, but showed he is plenty capable in this grade on his first run since then. He led briefly on the flat but was held in the final furlong.
DANNY ZUKO has struggled to make a mark over fences in recent months. However he proved that his basic speed remains in running a sound race on this occasion. He had every chance at the last but couldn’t raise his game any further. However, off a mark of 110 there is scope for taking on lesser opposition and he finished close enough here to suggest a win in possible soon.
ELITE LAND, in decent form on the flat of late, was backed in to a very short 7/4 favourite in this company. He was going well enough two out but a mistake there didn’t help his cause and he was just held from that point although beaten less than five lengths.
I couldn’t understand what merited him being made 7/4 in a handicap, but he’s another who could certainly see off lesser opposition if dropped in class.
STELLINO ran a fair race on his return to hurdling and is falling down the handicap. He kept on into fifth place. His form figures don’t look impressive but keep this one in mind.
5.40 2m ½ f NH Flat
If you wanted to keep a list of inexperienced horses to follow then making note of placed horses in Kelso bumpers would provide as good a list as any. The bumpers here often see some decent performers making their early appearances and they produce plenty of subsequent winners.
This looked stronger of the two heats with NODFORMS VIOLET bringing forward form from a couple of promising runs last season. He couldn’t get clear in the final two furlongs and finished just held in second. However, the first two came clear from a third hailing from a clued up stable, so I reckon the form will turn out to be sound.
MONOGRAM showed plenty of determination to see off the more experienced second. I would imagine he will contest another bumper under a penalty before going over obstacles and I’m sure he will win again.
FREDDIE BROWN, the biggest horse in the field, was held from the two furlong mark, but he did enough to suggest he has a future. He might have learnt enough to pick up a minor bumper, but his best is probably to come over jumps.
WESTERN SAHARA took an age to get ‘the message’, although being hampered on the stands’ bend certainly wasn’t a help, but he stayed on in the latter stages and gave encouragement.
Peter Monteith’s BEAUCHAMP showed up well to two out but then gave way.
The favourite JURISDICTION, from the fledgling stable of Rose Dobbin, hampered a few when seemingly aiming for the exit gate on the stands’ bend. Down the back straight he lost touch, with a hint that Wilson Renwick felt something might be amiss. However he plugged on late and does at least have a win in the bank from his previous stable. One concern is that Mrs Dobbin’s stable hasn’t fired yet and I’d be happier once she manages to get a few runners into challenging positions.
6.10 2m 1/2f NH Flat
A late finish as the bumper was divided.
CORKY DANCER was in the rear and not picking up four out. However, he got the message once turned for home and ran on to lead in the final 100 yards. He was pulling clear by the finish and the impression is that there is more in the locker. His dam won 5 from 19 over hurdles and rated 125, so there is encouragement in his breeding.
MANITOBA challenged in the final two furlongs but couldn’t hold the winner once passed. This was his fourth run, three of them second places, so it’s now a question of whether he can learn hurdling well enough to give him a few extra lengths advantage.
FINELLAS FIORTUNE disputed for much of the way but was one paced in the final two furlongs. This one is first foal of a sprinter but does at least seem to have enough stamina to see out two miles.
CHICAGO OUTFIT took a keen hold in the early stages and weakened late on. This one cost £95,000 in the sales last season and it would presumably be hoped he will make up into a hurdler, but he may need a little time.