Going – Good (Good to firm in places)
We spent a few days in London so I caught up with this meeting on the Tuesday, though I did manage to avoid the results and watch ‘as live’.
With continuing dry weather the ground remained on the fast side. This is causing quality and quantity problems in the chases at the moment, though the hurdles filled well enough. The spectre of the low sun had an impact on one hurdle race, the second division of the novice being reduced to just four flights. This is a recurring problem and I can’t see why the course doesn’t place two hurdles down the side of the track to lessen the impact.
1.45 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
SKYLANCER won a moderate event Sedgefield and probably achieved about as much here in beating an under-performing runner-up. He was brought to challenge at the last led on the bridle on the flat and stayed on under encouragement. A double penalty in novice events presumably he will be back handicapping before long.
McMURROUGH appears to have a few commitment issues. He had to be rousted going away from the stands and his hurdling left much to be desired. He really should have had plenty in hand to win this event but he was outpointed on the flat. A stiffer test of stamina seems a must, but McMurrough has much to prove.
WALDO WINCHESTER could by no stretch of the imagination be deemed reliable. He dipped out through the wing at Carlisle but behaved himself better here and stayed on late to take third. Past evidence suggests a repeat is unlikely.
DARFOUR made progress to two out but was held from that point. ERGO ran well enough at the weights, will be better off in handicaps, and it’s worth noting that the form of his last run here has worked out quite well.
JEWELLED DAGGER showed promise at Perth but apparently regressed from that form, being held from three out.
2.20 2m 6½f 0-100 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
MYSTIFIED was one of few in decent form in this contest. He’s been a bit below his best on the flat of late, but kept up a good run over hurdles, keeping on well having being brought into the contest from the eighth flight. He’s favoured by decent ground and will presumably be put away if any serious rains arrive.
ON MY TERMS seemed better suited by this track than the long haul at Carlisle. He was outpointed on the run to the line but this was a sound effort.
BALLYBANKS kept on without threatening the front two, and DAUNTSEY BAY, just held for third, was another unable to raise his game in the latter stages.
2.55 2m 6½f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle
James Lambe made it two on the day as CANADIAN BLAZE kept on well to take this event quite nicely. He’s lightly raced and has performed well on soft and heavy, so there might be more to come in future contests. The step up to this trip did no harm either.
HUMBIE is well related and on the evidence of this debut is a prospect for Raymond Anderson Green. He cost 40,000 Euros as a 3 year old but has not been hurried on to the track. Leading two out he didn’t have enough to hold the winner on the flat, but he looks a ready made winner and should go on from here.
TORTA NEL CIELO ran passably well in third, stepping up on bumper form if well held by the first two.
ECHOES OF DAWN showed a glimmer of ability in fourth but may need a bit of time to show his best.
IFBUTANDWHY showed some form in Irish points and in a novice hurdle last season but shed his jockey at the first here.
3.30 2m 1f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase
SILK DRUM is rated 140 over hurdles, so had a straightforward task if jumping competently. He jumped like a seasoned chaser and won with a fair bit in hand though needing a reminder when idling on the run-in. This race produced Feltham Chase winner Ungaro in 2006, and Silk Drum has the ability to reach a decent level.
ALL FOR THE CAUSE, frustrating last season over fences, performed adequately in second. His jumping wasn’t as sharp as it might have been.
TRANOS was outpaced from two out and took his expected third place.
MORE SHENNANIGANS had no chance at the weights, but stayed with the others to two out and did at least suggest his improved effort here last time was no fluke. Mrs MacGregor’s small jumping contingent seems in good heart.
4.05 2m ½ f 0-155 Handicap Hurdle
CAST IRON CASEY reverted to hurdles on his seasonal debut and took advantage of a lower mark. He made steady progress form the rear and got up on the line. On the face of it he had to work hard for this, but I wonder if there isn’t a bit more to come and it may be worth having another go at a handicap hurdle before returning to steeplechasing.
HAWKSBURY HEIGHTS has basically proved selling class over hurdles, but this was a significant step up on that and he was only touched off in the final strides. This appeared to be a career best.
SCALE BANK closed to the leaders three out but could offer only one pace on the flat. Given that this run brings him on, a step up in trip should give every chance of a victory in a similar event.
SOLIS wasn’t interested early on and had to be given a smack or two to get started. He got into the race going to two out but was held from the last. He is untrustworthy.
ALWAYS BEST had every chance at the last but weakened. He’s yet to seriously threaten in hurdles and needs an ease in class.
ANNIBALE CARO dropped out quickly from three out and was subsequently reported as having an irregular heartbeat.
4.40 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
This race was a glorified flat race, given that the low sun meant only four flights were negotiated. The value of this form is even more dubious given that the winner NOCTURNAL KNIGHT had been unsuccessful in 38 attempts flat and jumps. He led early in the straight and ran on to record the Lambe stable’s third victory on the day.
The second ITSTOOEARLY is only rated 70 and plugged on to inherit the runner-up spot near the line. This was a first place in 17 efforts.
GRAND DIAMOND is rated the same as the winner on 105 but was well below that and had nothing other than one pace once headed after the turn for home. He’s not going forward over hurdles on this evidence.
ARRAN LAW looks more of a long term project and kept on under pressure in the straight. More jumps in the way will help.
5.15 3m 1f 0-135 (actually 0-127) Handicap Chase
MORE LIKELY goes well around here and is suited by the chance to dictate the race. She responded well when pressed after the last. She’s 5 from 16 in chases and might just stand a rise in the weights if a similar opportunity can be found here.
POKER DE SIVOLA was about 8 lengths adrift two out and worked hard from that point, finishing well to take a close second place without threatening a win. He’s yet to win over fences but showed enough to suggest he should make a mark eventually. He has a very good record at Hexham but opportunities would be limited there off his current mark.
SILVER SEDGE normally takes a run or two to warm up after a break and this was a second run this autumn. He performed well enough here, staying on without quite getting to the winner and would have chances in similar company.
QUWS LAW had every chance at the last but then weakened. He struggled when upped in company at Cheltenham last season, but is a four time winner from 9 runs at Ayr and has done much of his racing at the west coast venue.
THE SHY MAN spent most of his time last season running at inadequate trips before comfortably seeing off moderate opposition here in May. This is his sort of trip and he went very nicely until knuckling over four out.
5.45 2m 6½f 0-100 (0-95) Handicap Chase
LAHIB THE FIFTH is lightly raced and this was only his third chase. However, this was not a good event and he came into this race with a record of 5 wins from 17 runs, a good deal better than most running in 0-100 company. This was the longest trip he has tried but he stayed on well to get up on the flat. He is best on good ground and, since he has a rare uninterrupted campaign behind him, he may score again if the ground doesn’t soften too much.
WATERSKI confirmed the promise of his last race, challenging the winner but being held in the last 100 yards. He’s yet to win but seemed to try hard enough here and may pick up a similar contest.
PERSIAN PRINCE mixes fair runs with poor runs though is yet to win. He led two out but once headed had nothing more to give. Three times a point winner he looks a softy at the business end over regulation fences.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS led to two out and weakened on the flat. He has placed at this trip but it probably stretches his stamina to the limit. That aside he seems in fair heart, though as well documented needs things to fall for him.
CARRIETAU got quite close here last time but he seldom summons a big enough effort in the latter stages and was held from two out.
Blinkers first time made no difference to STAINLEY who has been beaten a long way in recent outings. He was struggling by halfway and was soon pulled up.
FARNE ISLAND hit the first and rid himself of Peter Buchanan.