Monday, 30 November 2009

Bright and breezy on Musselburgh Links

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 27th

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

A sunny day, but the edge was taken off the temperature by a stiff breeze and at this time of year it ain’t warm on Musselburgh Links. It took me a couple of seconds on exiting the car to work out it was a pullover and thick coat day.

The ground was presented in excellent condition. Soft entered the going description for a brief time two days in advance of the meeting, but the track dries out quite swiftly and it was as near good as makes any difference at this time of year. I stress that much form from soft and heavy going at other courses can be set aside when analysing Musselburgh contests. Interviewed after the first race, Jason Maguire commented that the UK going descriptions are normally a degree softer than Irish description, hence there was a decent entry from Ireland looking for good ground.

12.10 3m ½ f 74-100 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

A very weak contest to start the afternoon with only two winners in the field, one of a point and the other of a bumper.

Charlie Swan’s point winner STRONGPOINT carried forward form from a decent run off 105 (5lbs out of the handicap) at Ffos Las recently, and that gave him an edge against poor opposition. He was up with the pace all the way, and had his race won from a long way out though he seemed tired after the last. He’ll go up for this effort, presumably to around the 105 from Ffos Las, and needs to find a fair bit more to score again. All his best form has been on decent ground and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he shows up at Musselburgh again this season.
AUBERGE picked up in the straight to chase the winner home, but did no more than plug on a little better than the rest. Nevertheless he is at least going in the right direction.
BAYFIRTH repeated his place in this race from last year. He plugged on and his two runs here are well in advance of other efforts.
GLEN ROUGE looked a distinctly stiff walker in the paddock. He was never far away but could muster only the one pace from three out.
Willie Amos seems to have conjured a little more than Swanee Haldane did from BILLSGREY who was nibbled at in the market. He never got near the leaders though, and was left behind from two out.
CRYSTAL RUNNER was the only one to take on the leader but was a spent force two out. She took a tired fall at the last and her rider Garry Whillans missed his other ride on the card.

12.40 2m Class 4 3yo Novices’ Hurdle

This was a moderate looking event with the early season winners vulnerable to those without a penalty. The Irish made it 2-0 on the afternoon.

CARLITO BRIGANTE, a flat winner on similar ground to this at Leopardstown in the Spring, toiled in the mud at Navan a few days previously. On a surface much more to his liking he raced prominently and found more from the last. These conditions are clearly required.
ORSIPPUS has had a few goes over hurdles and having led two out of it couldn’t hold the winner from the last. His proximity at the finish doesn’t do much to lend weight to the form.
HELIEORBEA got into the argument three out and kept on from the last. His rating of 107 sets the level, though bear in mind he had a 7lb penalty. This would put the first two in at just tipping the 100 mark, and Orsippus’s previous effort behind Monsieur Jourdain suggests that would be about right.
MELANGE won a seller at Wetherby last time and appeared to run below that form here.
BEITH TINE ANSEO raced too freely and didn’t get home.
NEW TRICKS appeared to find this track too sharp. He’s one that doesn’t do anything too quickly and would be favoured by a stiffer circuit, his best flat efforts having come at Hamilton.

1.10 2m 4f 0-101 Novices’ Handicap Chase

An incident packed event which witnessed the sad demise of CLARICCIEN who suffered a serious injury and came down the flat after the fourth. He was put down. DARAYBAD was brought down and Michael O’Connell has been sidelined with a broken collar bone. The twelfth fence was omitted as stricken horse and jockey were attended.

Chasing debutant DAR ES SALAAM popped away nicely in behind the leaders. He led after the last and ran on for victory with a fair bit to spare at the line. This was a decent start from a lightly-raced gelding, and he looks one who could make some progress.
PERSIAN PRINCE raced prominently and took over at the tenth, but he was tiring coming to the last and couldn’t respond when passed and remains a maiden.
JANAL kept on for third. He’s nothing special, but his record on decent ground is much better than when encountered significant cut.
BLACKS BRIDGE got into the race turning for home but offered no extra from that point. This was the closest he has finished under Rules, and was a passable chasing debut.
STORM PROSPECT didn’t look keen in the rear for much of the way. He consented to make some progress from four out but never got near enough to threaten.
The favourite VIEL GLUCK made no impact. His best efforts have been at Carlisle and Hexham, and it could be a stiffer track is in order.
RAKAMASI briefly threatened to get involved on the home turn but was soon toiling.
SKIPPING CHAPEL was toiling when hampered at the tenth and came home in his own time.
BRADDOCK ISLAND led but hit a couple of fences and came a cropper at the tenth. LAHIB THE FIFTH, more than capable of winning a similar event, was moving into contention when hampered by Braddock Island an unseating.
MORE SHENNANIGANS isn’t especially talented, he was under the shove at the eleventh, but kept putting in the effort and despite some buffeting from opponents was not out of the race for third when falling at the last. He attempted to rise but couldn’t, and there was a few minutes pause before he rose and poked his head out from the side of the canvas screens. There was applause from the crowd led, it must be said, by a significant number of bookmakers who for all their hard-bitten image clearly appreciate the ‘equine warriors’ who provide their living. I caught a quick word with More Shennanigans’ stable girl on the way back and she reported that apart from having been winded he was fine. Not the fastest horse we will see this season but a big heart nevertheless. Fingers crossed that the MacGregor stable can coax a lowly contest out of him.

1.45 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

This contest was light on competitive talent, though two stood out and should go on to better things.

HOLD FAST hinted at ability in a bumper at Perth in September. He jumped neatly in front here, quickening from the last to land the contest in the style of one who can move a few steps up the ladder.
MEATH ALL STAR was considered good enough to contest the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March. He was buried away in midfield at Punchestown on his first hurdles effort, but clearly has ability and chased the winner home clear of moderate opposition. There are plenty of winning jumpers in the family and he should make his mark given time.
VALLANI is exposed as ordinary but battled hard to see off DOONEY ROCK for third. The latter may be seen to better effect over fences in time.
ROSSINI’S DANCER ran well enough to three out on hurdling debut but was held in third when coming at the last. There is some reason for optimism given that he is a four times Flat winner and he does have a £20,000 price tag to live up to.

Meanwhile at NEWBURY in the 2.05……

LIE FORRIT has gone from strength to strength for Willie Amos and the stable’s star, now presumably top rated hurdler in Scotland after this, upped his game yet again to land the Pertemps Qualifier at the Berkshire track. He held Mith Hill from approaching the last and, although he wasn’t foot perfect, Campbell Gillies was able to ease the winner close home. Amos is now eyeing the World Hurdle as a long term target.

2.20 2m 0-100 Handicap Hurdle

HAKA DANCER was well fancied here following a decent second to Mesbaah here the previous Sunday. However, he got a kick from Bocciani at the start for this contest. There seemed to be no ill effects, but he faded quickly from three out and I suspect the form can be set aside.
HIGH STAND LAD was reported as unsuited by the fast ground on his last appearance at Newcastle in March. With a slightly softer surface he was more in his element here, leading all the way and staying on well down the straight. His three previous places had come in soft ground at Newcastle so there’s a suggestion that a little rain would do no harm.
GRAND DIAMOND came through the pack from three out to chase the winner home. He ran a lousy race in a seller at Kelso in October, but this was more like his form.
BOCCIANI raced prominently all the way but was held from two out. This was as close as he has got over hurdles, though that probably says a good deal about the lack of quality on show in this event.
HERNANDO CORTES kept on for fourth without ever threatening.
SEA COVE disappointed, but this track was probably a little on the sharp side for him, while MR MIDAZ passed a few late on and needs further.

2.55 2m 0-120 Handicap Chase

FRED BOJANGALS has a few places to show in his form, but can be difficult to catch right. On his toes in the paddock, he consented to put his best foot forward up the straight on this occasion and despite encountering ground just on the soft side for him he won with a bit to spare. His winter chances are likely to be around here as soft going would be against.
Liam McAteer’s MILL HOUSE GIRL, a five time winner at various NH disciplines, led until passed at the last. She was held on the flat and is another who wouldn’t want too much rain as she hasn’t won on softer than good.
CALCULAITE kept on from three out without threatening to win in his first handicap chase.
BRIGHT SPARKY held every chance three out but was one paced from that point. He wasn’t interested last time and needs things his own way.
CYBORA made moderate progress to three out but never threatened the leaders. His wins have been over 2m 4f to 2m 6f on good or faster ground.
ADARE PRINCE made no impression at all and needs a stiffer test of stamina.
LITTLE BOB made no show on his chasing debut and has shown over hurdles that he has two ways of running. (BHA website - 'James Bethell reported that LITTLE BOB finished lame')
MOTIVE ran in snatches and seemed a forlorn hope at the eighth. He then rallied a bit to three out only to give way once again and trail in last.
The ‘oh so tough to win with’ HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY was made 9/4 favourite here, but he skewed in the air at the first and his jockey came out the side door. He’s not one for a win bet at a short price.

3.25 2m Maiden NH Flat

This contest was run at a very steady pace and the proximity of the exposed IF EVER to the winner may cast some doubt on the form. That being said the first two would be well enough regarded, and If Ever did stick to her guns determinedly after setting a steady pace to three out.
DEFINITE ALL STAR, who is likely to need a much stiffer test in time, wore down the opposition from the furlong pole. He’s a half-brother to pointing winners out of a half-sister to staying chaser Scotton Banks which gives a strong clue as to where his future lies.
ALLOW ME has a decent flat pedigree but took an age to get going once the pace increased. He picked up nicely to chase the winner in the final furlong.
WRECKITMAN had every chance but couldn’t raise his game under pressure in the final furlong. There are staying jump winners in his family.
Modestly bred STEEL EDGE was one paced in the last three hundred yards and finished just ahead of WORLD OF EVENTS, unraced from Saeed bin Suroor’s yard, one that looks to need a little time.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Chasing, rather slowly, around Sedgefield!

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 24th

Going – Soft

A very ordinary midweek card at Sedgefield.

1.20 2m 4f Class 5 Beginners’ Chase

APRIL SAN didn’t get into the race in heavy ground at Market Rasen. The conditions wouldn’t necessarily have helped one coming back form a layoff on that occasion, and the run clearly proved of benefit as he produced something like his consistent hurdling form here. Settled off the pace, he came under pressure to make progress after the thirteenth. April San then picked up nicely down the hill to the last and overtook the one paced Knockavilla up the final climb. He was lucky to find an uncompetitive event here and his future lies in novice handicaps in the foreseeable future.
KNOCKAVILLA didn’t particularly progress from a promising run at Hexham over a shorter distance. He was done for pace in the closing stages and the impression is that a stiffer track suits better.
KARMADICE briefly threatened the leader going to two out but his run petered out. Winner of a bumper and a hurdle, this was an improvement on his first chasing effort and his is going the right way.
THE GREEN HAT, who is blind in his right eye, showed a little more ability than on his previous two outings. He chased the leader until giving way from three out.
THE THIRSTY BRICKY never got into the race and was well held from four out.
RIGUEZ DANCER fell at the third.
BEAR WITNESS won an Irish point but was receiving reminders by the eighth, lost touch and was pulled up before the second last.
CHIEF LADY OLWYN jumped poorly in the rear, soon lost touch and was pulled up before two out.

2.50 2m ½f 0-106 Handicap Chase

I’m not a great fan of putting blinkers on horses. Oft times it’s a desperate measure with animals that haven’t been producing anything. However, the aids have certainly galvanised CARRIETAU into action. He has looked a soft touch in the past, but is a completely different animal equipped with blinkers. He ran a decent second to the progressive Garleton at Hexham and stepped up on that form here, leading all the way and finding enough on the run-in to see off the only opponent he hadn’t burnt off before two out.
CORDIER closed on the leader going to the tenth fence. He chased form three out and threatened going to the last but couldn’t respond when Carrietau found more. He’s yet to win over jumps, but it should be possible to find a small handicap if he can repeat this effort.
FARNE ISLAND picked up from three out and kept on for third without threatening the front two. He often flatters for a while in his races, but one win from 42 races sums up his career.
BARTON SUN made progress from three out but his effort had come to an end approaching the last. He does show a little but would need to be in the lowest class.
WATCH THE WIND has placed in weak races but lacks pace or jumping accuracy to get seriously involved at the finish.
NORMINSTER showed up until three out before fading. He has just hinted at a return to form, and is much better at Carlisle or Hexham.
NEW WISH made no impact, has won only a couple of selling hurdles over jumps, and probably needs better ground anyway.
WHATCANYOUSAY has ability at this level on his day, but has been way off the mark of late. He showed up for a while early in the race but had dropped out of contention.
ORMUS was well behind from the eighth on chasing debut.
STORM SURGE won at Ayr in February but fell early on here. Quite lightly raced, he’s capable of a win off his current mark and should be kept in mind

3.20 3m 3f 0-99 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

Here we had a bunch of plodders ridden by inexperienced jockeys, and it wasn’t difficult to put a question mark or worse against the chances of most.

There has been common myth perpetrated over many years about lemmings jumping over cliffs. However it appears a human-linked racing version is alive and well, and we saw a good example in this race. That’s the only way I can describe the actions that sent LIZ’S DREAM to 5/2 favourite. The Harrison gelding is a big old boat who is never going to do anything in a hurry. It was possible that the change to fences and move up to this trip might do the trick, but in my opinion it was not a 2 in 7 chance. In the event Liz’s Dream travelled in midfield and was weakening when falling two out.
In a field such as this the chances were that one might emerge from left field to take the contest. In the event it was OPUS CAFÉ who was returning after the best part of two years’ absence. Looking at this one’s record it wasn’t a total surprise since he had shown ability in staying hurdles. He stayed on nicely to lead at the line, past and present evidence suggesting he has enough about him to repeat a win in similar company if remaining fit and healthy.
EL TUCO, a point winner in Ireland, had been buried away in midfield in a selection of hurdles. He jumped well enough, pressed from four out and took over two out only to be caught close home. The run must be taken in context, but chasing seems more this one’s game.
PATCHOULIE CONTI raced in touch with the pace and was going well three out having kicked on into the lead. He didn’t have enough over the final two fences and dropped away. I wouldn’t imagine the trip would trouble him, so maybe the ground was a little too soft.
YA I KNOW faded from four out having chased the leaders to that point. The slog in the mud he won at Market Rasen was worse than this event.
LUSENTO made a bit of headway to three out but never got into contention.
LETHEM PRESENT set the pace to four out and then dropped away. Three miles on better good looks more suitable.
BAFANA BOY hinted at some form back in July at Cartmel but has been woeful since and was always in the rear on this occasion.
SHULMIN had the right course and ground but is totally off her game at this time.
MATMATA DE TENDRON should have been suited by course, distance and going, but is unpredictable. He raced with the pace until four out and then weakened.
FINBIN was pulled up having never got into the race and may just be a spring horse.
ELLANDSHE looked after himself at his own slow pace and was pulled up before two out.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Musselburgh - Jumps 'Kick Off'

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday November 22nd

Going – Good to Soft

Despite some horrendous weather conditions in recent days the going was reported as just on the soft side for the opener to Musselburgh’s jumps campaign. Musselburgh is in one of the driest areas of the country and the links turf is free-draining, hence the going seldom gets very soft. As a result there are consistently decent fields and competitive racing, which is why I take in as many Musselburgh jumps meetings as time allows.

12.15 2m Class 5 Mares’ Only Maiden Hurdle

This probably wasn’t a particularly strong event, but three broke clear down the straight here and came home with a fair rattle.
ANNIE MAY brought forward arguably the best established form in the field. She led two out and ran on well from that point to hold a fair flat performer. She will have less scope for improvement over hurdles than the second, and her trainer may be best employed sorting out mares’ novice events or handicaps.
AMANDA CARTER had sound flat form in handicaps and showed her pace in the latter stages if just held by the winner. She should learn from her hurdling debut and it would be a surprise if she didn’t pick up a maiden or novice event, even in open company. I suspect we will see her at Musselburgh again soon.
JUST MADDIE stepped up markedly on her previous form. It seems the Nixon string are now starting to hit form, but there seems no doubt that the sharp track and decent ground were in Just Maddie’s. An apparently forlorn hope at 150/1, she was up with the pace all the way and when it seemed likely she would give way the game mare kept finding more. This half-sister to Norminster, an improver with age, probably needs to stick to a minor mares event or a seller, but she is no forlorn hope for a win.
ITSTOOEARLY had shown some form on her previous run at Kelso but was held from two out here, as was Donald McCain’s JUST FOR JEAN on her hurdling debut.

12.50 2m 4f 0-117 Handicap Hurdle

STILL AT LUNCH is in rattling good form at the moment and led all the way here despite a 10lb hike in the handicap. Richie McGrath stretched his field off the home turn and really wasn’t in danger from that point. This course plays to Still At Lunch’s strengths and the ground should remain decent enough to have a shot at a prize or two in the coming weeks.
PRINCE PICASSO never got to the winner but stayed on best of the remainder. He progressed on his second run for Richard Fahey who should be able to place him to advantage off his current mark. He did win at Fairyhouse in heavy but the rest of his wins, flat and jumps, have been on good or faster and that may be the key.
TARKANI stayed on too late to threaten the winner, which is pretty typical, and he’s worth opposing in the win market.
CURRAHEE was never far away and plugged on down the straight. His highest winning mark is 104 and, though he gave his best here, life looks tough off a current level of 114.
IRISH POLI had conditions in his favour but was held from two out.
BORDER TALE stayed on past a few late. Hold up tactics seem to be favoured these days, but his last two wins were making the pace and I wonder if a reversion to that running style might be better.
QUICK WILL folded from two out and a watching brief is advised.

1.25 3m Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

Keith Reveley introduced 158 rated hurdler TAZBAR here. He settled jumping well and he came clear from four out with the minimum of fuss. I would expect to see him taking on the top grade staying novices before long.
LOGAN’S RUN is rated 118 over fences and lost nothing in defeat. He jumps well enough and will surely pick up a race as he isn’t going to run into one as talented as this winner every time.
DOODLEBOP had shown nothing previously but got round and was staying on at the finish a respectable distance behind the winner. He’s related to staying chase winners and might emulate them given time.
STROBE set the pace to the home turn before retreating. He jumped well enough in the most part but needs his sights set a little lower.
BENBRADAGH had lost touch by five out and came home in his own time.

2.00 2m 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

This was the first of a succession of decent contests at this level through the winter campaign at Musselburgh.
Those who read these notes on a regular basis will have tucked MESBAAH away for future use after his Perth win. I suspected that he would be aimed toward Musselburgh and it seems Richard Fahey was tuned into my thoughts, as if the talented trainer needed assistance! He once again showed a decent turn of foot and given ground no softer than this I imagine there is more in the locker. Certainly a bet running in this class.
HAKA DANCER showed ability in his early career, but recent form had been well below that. Phil Kirby may well have found the key now since this was his best effort for sometime. He looked held three out but rallied well and deserved the second place. His record suggests there may be better to come if the rain stays away.
LOS NADIS took some time to get his hurdling technique sorted out. He can get from one side of a hurdle to the other more efficiently these days and ran a sound race here, giving best after two out. The track suits him, but he wouldn’t want the ground any softer.
ALONG THE NILE was held up out the back and finished with a rattle having been given too much to do. This was a sound enough return to hurdling, the tactics are pretty much set with this one, and he has a solid record at Musselburgh.
HOUSTON DYNIMO ran some fair races in novice events last season. He plugged on but may need an ease in class.
POSEIDON raced prominently for a long way but was held once turned for home. He’s another for whom a drop in class would do no harm.
TILLIETUDLEM had a very tough task for a three-year-old and never got into the race.
2.35 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This was not a strong novice contest and only the first five ever got into the race seriously and field were strung out like washing on a line in the final straight.

In his regular style DESERT SOUL set a merry gallop until fading turned for home to finish a well held fourth. He was accompanied over the first six flights by Greek import FRANKLEE but, given that the latter’s one win was over five furlongs on the all-weather, one would suspect a horse box might be required for him to see out this trip. He was pulled up before the seventh.
Carrying a double penalty, ALWAYS BOLD came clear from two out to win with plenty in hand. A third novice win probably takes him out of the reckoning in any company remotely competitive, so a handicap route seems likely.
ONE BACK FOR LUCK hadn’t shown much previously, but kept on from three out to finish a clear second.
SAVEIRO appeared to regress from his Aintree hurdling debut, and ERGO is well exposed and struggled from two out.

3.10 2m 4f 0-125 Handicap Chase

A fair contest with a few familiar faces, but it was a newcomer to chasing that made onlookers take notice.

MY ARCH showed decent hurdling form in spring 2008. He limbered up with a fair flat performance at York in October and showed himself to be potentially better over fences than over hurdles. He dropped one jumping clanger, but jumped well in the main and held his field from two out. This was a good effort against opponents with plenty of chasing experience and he should be capable of stepping up against better company.
HEAVENLY CHORUS stayed on from well back for second. Her fifth to Sheriff Hutton in May doesn’t read badly and this run suggests she is on a workable mark, particularly given a chance against lesser opposition. Her four wins have come on good or fast ground and this trip is about right.
SUPER BABY raced in the lead or disputing to the twelfth fence. He then got a little outpaced but kept plugging away though never quite getting back to the leader. He lacks nothing for attitude and jumps very well for this level, but is vulnerable to an improver.
OR DE GRUGY raced prominently but was one paced from the third last and has been frustrating of late.
CATEGORICAL raced up with the pace until four out and gradually faded from that point. He often runs passably well, but seldom wins.
NILE MOON needs things his own way and was never able to poke his head in front. He struggled from three out.
CASH MAN briefly threatened four out but his effort was short-lived. His best form has been on tracks with a stiff finish.
REGENT’S SECRET was flattered when beating Pigeon Island in a virtual match on his chasing debut and has made no impact in more competitive races since.
NATIVE CORAL was never better than rear division. Presumably the run was needed as he’s infinitely better than this.
RIVER SHANAKILL was backed into 4/1, but he struggled from halfway and pulled up. This company seemed too tough at this stage of his career. He would be better off in lower class novice company.

3.40 2m NH Flat

Karen McLintock knows how to find a bumper animal. Bygones Of Brid made an impact in these events last season, and the similarly monikered BRIDLINGTONBYGONES produced a decent performance to take this event. The gelding knows his way around a sales ring since he’s been entered for the sales five times and actually reached the ring four times, latterly unsold for 18,500 Euros. Ms McLintock’s bumper runners have a 19% strike rate over the last 5 seasons.
Related to a couple of winning hurdlers, ROBBIE showed he has plenty of what it takes as his determined effort brought him closer to the winner as they approached the line. He looks a ready made winner, and I’d expect progress over hurdles from this one, perhaps more so than his conqueror.
EASTERN SUPREME, a winner at Market Rasen at September, was one paced in the final two furlongs but clear of the rest for third. He goes down as a marker for the form.
WILDE PASTURES, outpaced four furlongs out, plugged on for fourth. There’s probably better to come in time from the James Ewart gelding.
KILBRANNISH HILL, an Irish point winner, was left behind in the straight but will be better served with a distance of ground and obstacles in the way.
The remainder were spread around East Lothian.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Sa Suffit's return to the track

Saturday November 21st


SA SUFFIT justified some confident remarks in the past as he came clear to win with a little to spare in the two mile handicap chase. I've gone on record as expecting him to rate as top Scottish based chaser this season and this performance didn't nothing to dispell the theory. James Ewart's after arce comments suggested that the horse is now stronger than last season and the progressino clearly hasn't come as a surprise. Two miles with cut in the ground will probably suit best.

We witnessed a cracking contest between Kauto Star and Imperial Commander in the Betfair Chase. Like many I thought that Imperial Commander had got back up on the line, but a rather fuzzy photo apparently tells us that 'Kauto' held on. I'd expect the Cheltenham Gold Cup to be more up Kauto Star's street, but if the two turn out at Kempton on Boxing Day we could be in for another treat.

For anyone who may have been concerned about Shining Gale who pulled up lame at the finish of the staying handicap chase I have an update. I'm indebted to Racing Forum correspondent Gaz's Way De Solzen who informed Forumites that, "The horse has fractured his pedal bone, he is expected to make a full recovery although he will be out for some time." It appeared to me that the injury happened on landing or shortly after the last fence and guts got the horse home. Here's to a successful recovery.


LEINSTER HOUSE, who showed up well in Carlisle bumper in October, was plunged into a decent looking staying novice hurdle at the Berkshire track. He came a fair dead-heat third to decent chaser Possol and looks sure to notch up a hurdles win in easier company.

Kelso - Late November Meeting

KELSO – Friday November 20th

Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

Given the horrendous weather that struck Cumbria and Southern Scotland in the preceding 24 hours it was a bit of a surprise that this meeting took place. The River Tweed had flood warnings and I’d pretty well expected this meeting would get called off. It’s testament to the drainage at the course that the meeting went ahead, and that ‘soft’ figured in the going description.

This was quite a decent little card, and there should be a few pointers for the future.

12.15 2m 6½f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle

WYMOTT built on the promise of his Carlisle run and took this easier contest with the minimum of fuss. He eased clear from the last and should acquit himself well enough in much better company. The stamina test clearly suits.
MINI BECK is a fair measure as he has now run consecutive three decent races over hurdles. A 10-year-old who was very much hit or miss in points, although he did win when standing up, he should have prospects in handicap hurdle company. He raced prominently here and pulled well clear of the field if held by a more talented winner.
On the face of it HUMBIE didn’t build on his decent effort here last time. However, it looked to me as if he just struggled with his jumping out of this testing ground and I’d be happy to support him in similar company on a better surface.
The rest were well seen off and there was precious little encouragement for the future.

12.45 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

James Ewart’s stable has taken some time to find their form this season. However BISHOP’S HEIR did a tidy job on his hurdling debut and looks likely to move forward from this. He was there or thereabouts for most of the way and stayed on to see off a persistent runner-up after leading at the last. He should win under a penalty.
CARTERS REST was winner of a bumper at Ayr on his first try with a tongue-tie. He was well held in a tougher bumper at Aintree in October, but probably did himself no good by playing up in the preliminaries. He showed here that he has plenty of ability when his energies are pointed in the right direction, keeping the winner honest from the last. Assuming this form can be repeated then it must only be a matter of time before he scores over hurdles.
MIDNITE BLEWS is more exposed than the first two and it was no surprise that he was held given his handicap mark of 97. Nevertheless, he ran creditably in third and will be better off back in handicap company.
TOP IT ALL stayed on and provided one of the more promising efforts for the Dobbin stable who are just seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
SUNARRI showed promise on his hurdling debut at Aintree but blew out here, having every chance three out but giving way once turned for home. There’s a chance that the testing going was against him.
1.15 2m 6 ½ f 0-124 Novices’ Handicap Chase

A winner at Sedgefield on chasing debut, the favourite CHARINGWORTH got the first all wrong and unseated Graham Lee.
BAY CHERRY stayed on from the last to take the contest having been at or near the front from the start. He was entered in the Hexham four-miler which was lost to the weather, so the suggestion would be that a stiffer test is reckoned to be in his favour. He’s lightly raced and going the right way.
WATERSKI has been running well recently but is vulnerable to anything progressive and was held from the last.
PROSECCO got into contention three out but lost ground with a skewed jump two out. He made up some ground going to the last but was then left behind. He has yet to prove he sees out further than two and a half miles.
FABALU was set his hurdling mark of 124 on chasing debut and was found wanting from two out. He jumped well enough and the experience won’t have done him any harm.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE appeared to be feeling the pinch when coming down at the thirteenth.
WITNESS RUN may be difficult to keep fit and soon lost touch after being hampered by the falling Maidstone Mixture.

1.50 2m 1f Beginners’ Chase

There were four starters in this event, and only three finishers, but there’s some optimism that the trio of finishers are going the right way.

LITTLE JOSH fell when going well at Cheltenham. He made up for that here with a fine round of jumping, cruising home well clear. He had the well regarded Cappa Bleu behind him on his chasing debut and should mix it in decent novice company.
DREVER ROUTE isn’t likely to reach Little Josh’s level but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t pick up races over fences. He chased the winner honestly without threatening.
OCKEY DE NEUILLAC stayed with two better opponents until the straight but couldn’t hold on to them approaching the last. He won a hurdle 2m 6½f here a year ago in heavy and a greater test of stamina should see him more to the fore.
FETTLER did nothing over hurdles and was in the rear here when falling at the eighth.

2.25 2m 2f 0-118 Handicap Hurdle

This was a Class 3 event but wouldn’t be as strong as many at this level. In the event the strongest recent form showed up best, the first four all showing a win in their last two outings.
PERCUSSIONIST has had a varied career. He won the Lingfield Derby Trial and was a 7/1 chance when fourth in North Light’s Derby in 2004. Having got to the fringe of the top group in staying flat races he eventually went chasing, but after a decent start was zoomed up to 135 in the ratings which seemed rather harsh. Since then he has settled down as a moderately successful handicap hurdler, a fair performer on his day but not always predictable. He couldn’t be faulted here, leading three out and showing resolution enough to hold on from the last.
CASSIUS is a consistent performer who just seems to lack the finishing pace to get his head in front. He had every chance from two out but was held on the flat.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN is better suited by hurdles than the flat as his lack of finishing pace isn’t such a disadvantage. He performed creditably off 117 here, if held from the last.
WELL DISGUISED will probably benefit from the run and was held from two out. He moved up from a rating of 83 to 110 last season, but two efforts off his current mark suggests he’s not been handicapped out of contests and his next run will tell us a lot.
SOUBRIQUET raced prominently much of the way but can’t make an impact in the latter stages either over hurdles or fences.
PLANETARIUM, a winner of a seller last time, was beginning to feel the pinch when steeping at two out and falling heavily. A slight ease in class would be helpful.

3.00 3m 1f 0-114 Handicap Chase

The ‘curse of the low sun’ struck and the two fences in front of the stands were omitted.

GARLETON continued his progression upped to a trip which previous form suggested was more suitable than on his seasonal debut win. He has shown form in a range of conditions and he stayed on well enough here to suggest that he may not have stopped improving.
COLDWELLS benefitted from the stamina test here compared to her September run at Perth. She was near the head of affairs most of the way, but was just held at the last.
FLASH CUMMINS has failed to get in a full campaign for a few years. That being said, he clearly maintains the ability which saw him win twice in autumn 2006 off similar to his current mark. He ran a fine close third here in conditions which may have been on the soft side for him. I’d certainly be interested if he took in a three mile chase at free draining Musselburgh.
POWER PACK JACK made a respectable over fences by finishing fourth. He was held from two out but there are signs that he may find his forte over fences in time.
POLOBURY is unreliable and plodded through beaten rivals for fifth place.
BORIS THE BLADE was detached with a circuit to go but continued to finish a remote last. FIFTYFIVEDEGREES, second to Boris The Blade at Newcastle last season, was another to lose touch after a circuit to go and was soon pulled up.
SKENFRITH needs a longer distance and conditions as testing as they get. He went well enough to two out but then gave way, though he did at least signal his well being.
SIERRA VICTOR went close in a much less competitive contest last time, but he was never going here and was reported as ‘unsuited by the heavy, soft in places going’.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE is a maiden over fences, as here often jumps poorly, and had no chance in this class.
PANAMA AT ONCE took a horrible fall when leading at the eleventh. As yet I’ve no idea of the outcome but it didn’t look good. (December 9 - Good news! Joss Saville's website reported that, although battered and bruised, Panama At Once was still in one piece after his fall. After a period of recovery 'Reece', as he is known in the stable, is now back in light work and expected to be fit by the end of December.)

3.35 2m 6 ½ f 0-112 Handicap Hurdle

Low sun reduced this to a six hurdle contest.

KING OF CONFUSION dipped out through at the last here on his previous outing. I suppose the loss of five flights might conceivably have been welcomed on that basis! He was never in any trouble once he hit the front three furlongs out and came clear with ease, thus adding to a brace of C/D wins recorded in 2005. Presumably not easy to keep fit, I suspect connections will want to strike again while the iron is hot. The ease of this win suggests that King Of Confusion could stand a move up in grade, particularly as he looked a likely winner of a 0-125 last time.
LOCKED INTHEPOCKET put up a solid first run in a handicap if well held by a much superior winner. He couldn’t go with King Of Confusion from two furlongs out but won’t always run into one so well handicapped. Conditions and distance here suited him well.
POLITICAL PENDANT signalled that Rayson Nixon’s stable is starting to fire. Never one to rush his horses early on, it’s hoped that the Nixon string might now settle into the solid form of last season. Political Pendant was out for well in excess of two years, but there was every sign that she retains her ability, particularly since she was 4lbs wrong at the weights here. He stayed on for third having never quite got to the leaders. She has a sound record here and is a winner at Sedgefield.
DOC WELLS and SIRKEEL were both making their handicap debuts and on this evidence are well held off a shared mark 110. Neither has shown a turn of speed at the business end to date.
TIME BANDIT was returning after a long break. He’s lightly raced, suggesting fitness issues and he was given ‘kid glove treatment’ here, apparently only a token effort being made to put him into the race on the home bend.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Newcastle - mid-November meeting

NEWCASTLE – Friday November 13th

Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places)

12.55 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

Sadly this race saw the demise of a promising performer in Nicky Richards’s GRAND THEATRE. He fell at the fourth and suffered fatal injuries.

A traveller from Peter Bowen’s yard in South Wales, MUMBLES HEAD won this in decent style. Having shown much promise as a hurdler his recent career has been stop-start with curtailed campaigns. He was always prominently and came clear from three out. It would be a surprise if he didn’t make an impact off a penalty in novice company.
DIAMOND FRONTIER couldn’t match the winner from the omitted third last, but made a sound enough chasing debut.
Irish pointing winner SCHINDLER’S MAZE held a chance entering the straight but faded from that point.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND, who generally runs prominently, led to the tenth but was struggling before the home turn. He’s better off in handicaps, and probably capable of winning such a contest, but has proved very frustrating over fences.
LORD LARSSON was going well enough on the tails of the leaders when coming down five out. ELLANDSHE was brought down at this point, but the fact that he was so close suggested the pace can have been nothing special.
THE BRIG OF AYR is bred to need time and a distance of ground. He had lost touch by the ninth and was pulled up before three out.

2.00 3m 0-110 Handicap Chase

After three and a half years off the track DARK BEN might have been excused a little ring-rustiness. However, ne was produced spot on by his new stable to win this contest with ease. He jumped very well all the way, if just drifting right a tad, and had his race won from four out. His overall record is sound, showing 4 wins and 8 places from 18 runs and there might just be a little more in the locker.
SILENT BAY kept on for second, seeing off the remainder well enough. This was a sound enough effort after a year off.
LETHEM PRESENT’s recent runs have been poor and she looked to be struggling five out. She did rally a bit in the straight and managed to secure third place which gives some hope for the campaign.
SADDLER’S WAY got round this time after two unseats. He was held from four out but the clear round is a better sign.
WINDY HILLS didn’t make an impact.
STAR BEAT was outpaced from four out and has made little impact in four efforts over fences.
TEENANDO was in good form last season, but his jumping has totally gone to pot in recent times and a watching brief is advised until there are signs of a revival.
CHERNIK is on a 15lbs higher mark than that he won off at Carlisle in April. A number of that field were below form and I suspect the level has been over-rated. He was never going here and pulled up before the eighth. It might be worth noting that his best form has been in the spring.
DAY DU ROY had little hope from 20lbs wrong in the handicap. He was pulled up before two out having trundled around in the rear.

3.10 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Chase

An uncompetitive race which was a bit of a gift for LEASE LEND whose previous efforts had suggested he was more than capable of victory at this level. His Carlisle form had been franked by the third Gansey who had since won at Haydock. Lease Lend came clear from two out, was driven out in the closing stages, the impression being that he felt he had done enough. He will probably find subsequent races a good deal tougher.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU, having been outpaced in the straight, picked up again on the flat to close to the line. This was a sound effort and there should be a small handicap for him somewhere.
ARUMUN raced prominently but couldn’t offer enough from three out. For pattern watchers, his three chases wins have all been off top weight in 0-110 company, winning marks being 107 and 108(twice).
QUITO DE TRESOR was staying on four out but he thumped two out and couldn’t get back into the race after that. A winner over fences in France, this run was better than his hurdles efforts in the UK.
TRANOS often races prominently but tends to be a soft touch at the business end. He was ridden and held from four out.
Irish challenger HOT COMMODITY was struggling by the ninth and pulled up before two out.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Carlisle November 9 and Sedgefield November 10

CARLISLE – Monday November 9th

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

The first hurdle down the far side was omitted due to the ground.

12.50 3m 1f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

ROYAL MACKINTOSH limbered up nicely for a chasing campaign by breaking his hurdling duck in quite decent style. He led three out and stayed on up the hill to hold the challenge of Johnson/Wylie newcomer WHATS UP WOODY, an Irish point winner who looks a promising addition to the stayers’ novice hurdle ranks.

1.20 2m Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

I was looking forward to the chasing debut of REINDEER DIPPIN who progressed over hurdles last season. Sadly the debut didn’t last long as he overjumped at the first and came down. I believe that this mishap will be left behind. McCain’s other runner IT’S A DISCOVERY didn’t get an awful lot further, hitting the fourth and unseating.

BEDLAM BOY had jumped poorly in three chases late in 2008. It would appear his jumping has been sorted out on the schooling ground, since he jumped very well here and was in little danger from three out. He should score again under a penalty.
PRIMROSE TIME stayed on up the hill without threatening the winner, displaying better form than anything since her 2008 bumper win.
MORE EQUITY plugged on up the hill and needs a longer distance.
MAGELLAN STRAITS lost touch from three out.
BATTYLE OF SONG jumped slowly in the rear and was soon tailed off.

1.55 3m ½ f Class 2 Graduation Chase

There was prize money of over £18,000 to the winner for this event and five were rated 132+, top rated being on 160.

I was very encouraged by the lightly raced MONEY TRIX when he won at Kelso in February. He looked one who could go on to win decent races if staying fit. He confirmed the impression in emphatic style, leading two out under gentle encouragement and going clear from that point. He must surely be a contender in decent staying handicap chases this season. He has only been out of the first two once in ten career runs, and that was a fall when going well. Put him on the list to follow.
COMPANERO, 6lbs badly in at the weights with winner, ran creditably enough in second. He kept on after the winner from two out but wasn’t quite good enough. His record is as impressive as that of Money Trix, 5 wins and 3 places from 8 runs under Rules, and he was 3 from 3 in Irish points before that. He was unlucky to meet one so sharp and is another who should make a mark in decent company.
LODGE LANE is on the same rating as the winner but is more exposed. He was well there two out, possibly just in front, but one paced from that point. He’s yet to try handicaps but might need to be eased in the ratings to make an impact.
BOLD RANSOM latched on to the tails of the leaders four out, but that was as close as he got. He was lowest rated of the first five and put up a sound performance. He will have easier tasks.
ROLL ALONG has moved up to a mark of 160 following a sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was detached by four out and may be a twilight horse that proves difficult to place
MINSTER SHADOW had little hope at the weights and was beaten three quarters of a mile from home.
In typical Paul Murphy style, MAIDSTONE MIXTURE was dropped in over his head. He has the ability to win a 0-120 staying chase, but clueless or ego driven placing continue to hinder him.

2.55 2m 4f 0-124 Handicap Chase

A competitive handicap which ended with five horses separated by a couple of lengths.

The ‘stayers on’ picked off the trialblazers in the closing strides. NEWMAN DES PLAGES stayed on best to get his nose in front for the first time in the UK having been off the pace four out. He was hammered by the handicapper when coming from France but has been given some respite. Given a similar chance to show his stamina I reckon he can pick up another race.
MISTER POTTER looked the winner after the last but he did nothing in front and the winner sneaked up on him. He’s capable of winning a race, and suited by a stiff track, but has plenty of quirks and probably isn’t one to get involved with at a short price.
LIVINGONAKNIFEDGE looked to be going nowhere until two out. He chased the winner home down the middle to finish a close third. All his wins have been with cut in the ground, three of them being on stiff tracks and the other two in heavy ground.
OR D’OUDARIES had a sustained battle with the second and fifth from three out but lost a couple of places close home. This was a decent effort in this class.
GO SILVER BULLET had a bit to prove here. Having raced prominently he was headed two out but kept battling if just held on the flat. He sees out the distance and proved that he acts on the going, and also showed battling qualities when challenged.
SPARKLING TAFF led from five out until two out but then gave way. He would be better off dropped in class.
STORYMAKER was never going comfortably and had no chance from five out.
SAMMY SPIDERMAN may have needed the race and was beaten a mile out.
OPEN DE L’ISLE made no impact and had lost all chance by four out. The evidence is that James Ewart’s runners need the outing at this stage.
MONGORNO made some progress to four out but was quickly on the retreat. He was reported as having a breathing problem.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT has yet to recapture last season’s form and was a well beaten last here.

3.30 3m 2f 0-102 Handicap Chase

A sad note here was the loss of regular campaigner GETINBYBUTONLYJUST. Often a frustrating character, but nevertheless often in the prize money for Dianne Sayer, he broke a leg approaching the sixth fence and was put down.

Regular readers will know only too well my opinion of TREEHOUSE and his abilities. Equipped with first time blinkers he consented to give it the works on this occasion, staying on well up the hill after leading four out. He clearly needs an uphill finish when he gets into contention, but it’s anybody’s guess whether he will produce similar next time and I’d oppose if he is short priced though he was 6/1 here, which suggests someone gave him a chance.
MATAMATA DE TENDRON is suited by a slog in the mud, though probably best at Sedgefield. He chased the leader from four out and would be on the shortlist in similar conditions at the County Durham venue.
INDY MOOD managed to put in one or two naff jumps but stayed on his feet and plugged on into third. He has a fair record at Carlisle but hasn’t won since 2005.
NELLIEDONETHAT challenged two out but couldn’t raise his game any further. He is getting closer and is the type who has enough ‘get up and go’ to take a race once in form.
TOY GUN who is suited by the conditions, got in touch four out but had nothing to take him up to the leaders. It may need a leap of faith, but this was a shade better than his previous run and I’d stick with him for a while.
JOE’S A BOY raced up with the pace for a short while but then dropped to the back by the seventh. He put in a short lived effort on the final circuit but had lost touch with five to go.
STORMONT DAWN led from the seventh until four out at which point she weakened quickly. While the bare form looks poor, it’s worth noting that both here wins have come in the mud here in Class 5 events. She has never been close in this Class.
SADDLER’S WAY was in the rear when unseating at the twelfth.
AND WHATEVER ELSE was last when falling at the eleventh.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday 10th November

Good (Good To Soft in places)

1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Maiden Chase

CHARINGWORTH’s jumping was tidy and he saw off the second between the last two, being eased well before the line. This appeared a significant improvement on his hurdling exploits.
KILKENNY ALL STAR put up some fair performances in assorted chasing company last season without breaking his duck. He didn’t seem to do too much wrong here, just finding one too good for him from two out. He appears better at this trip than two miles.
GRASSCUTTER lost touch with the first two from the home turn. He has been placed plenty of times but seems to lack the commitment to add wins to his record.
MAJOR CARD was held from before three out and PATCHOULIE CONTI had sent out distress signals two fences earlier. PLAYING THE FIELD had lost touch by the eleventh, whilst OUR COMMANDO having raced prominently for a circuit quickly folded and was pulled up.

2.50 2m ½ f 0-94 Handicap Chase

The second last was missed out having been damaged on the first circuit.

BRADDOCK ISLAND raced prominently, led before three out and was all out to hold a group of challengers from the last. This was a good deal better than his two previous chase efforts.
MISCHIEF MAN got into second three out but was held by the winner on the flat. He is a double hurdle winner, and this does give some encouragement for chasing prospects.
BARTON SUN made progress from the rear to be in contention bypassing two out but he was one paced from before the last. He is on the decline but at least put up his best effort for a while. It does say a bit about the ability of the contestants though.
TROODOS JET plugged on into fourth without threatening the winner. He hardly has stacks of ability but has run a few fair races of late.
FENCOTE MYSTERY had a chance bypassing two out, but weakened approaching the last. This was the closest he has been in 8 chases.
Chasing debutant CORDIER made headway three out but was one paced once turned for home.
WHATCANYASAY raced close up and was still in the argument going to the last, but he folded to such an extent that he ended up in seventh.
PERSIAN PRINCE looked to have a good opportunity here but, having led to the eighth, he weakened from three out. It’s worth noting that he’s been best from late-November onward in previous campaigns.
CLARRICIEN weakened from four out and doesn’t suggest any inherent advantage for Irish raiders at this level.
FRITH practically hurdled the fallen Hair Of The Dog at the fourth. On the face of it he recovered well enough, but he was in trouble by the eighth and I suspect an apparently poor effort can be set aside.
HAIR OF THE DOG put in poor jumps at the first three fences then hardly rose at the fourth. In falling he damaged the fence which had to be missed on the last circuit.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Kelso - early November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 7th

Going – Good to Soft

This was a decent card despite the absence of Kalahari King who had originally been aimed at the Limited Handicap Chase. There was a pretty decent field for that event nevertheless, and generally competitive fields throughout the afternoon.

12.15 2m 6½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

McMURROUGH came into this event with a bit to prove after a couple of seconds in recent weeks. He had to battle hard but, as had proved likely, stamina proved to be his strong suit and he was able to produce enough to see off a determined runner-up. He should move on from this over a similar distance of ground.
CANADIAN BLAZE improved on his previous run here, though I suspect that form could be decent anyway. Having been brought through to challenge two out, he led on the flat but just lost out in a sustained battle to the line. He’s a winner on heavy and probably wouldn’t object to softer ground.
DOC WELLS was left flat-footed going to two out, only to stay on again for third. A stamina test suits and he put a poor Carlisle run behind him.
HEEZ A STEEL led or disputed until a bad mistake two out put him at a disadvantage and he couldn’t recover. He might pick up a similar event under the double penalty, but he’s got tough tasks all round since his handicap mark is 130.
SIRKEEL hasn’t been able to get his head in front over hurdles. He might be better off in handicaps, or be seen to better light in chases.
MILANS MAN showed promise on debut, finishing sixth after being tapped for pace from two out. He’ll improve with time, as should ARRAN LAW who seems to be getting the hang of things gradually, briefly joined the leading group two out before fading to seventh.

12.50 2m ½ f Class 5 Novices’ Selling Hurdle

It’s a case of ‘what it says on the tin’ in this contest which was not high on quality.

BIVOUAC was competent at a lowly level on the flat, and didn’t need to anything more than that to win this contest with a bit to spare. He’ll face tougher tasks in future. He was bought in for £9,000 which suggests the stable consider him capable of better.
TREEKO hasn’t taken to fences but showed a bit more on return to hurdling. He was still in with a shout at the last but could only plod on once passed.
TIPSY INDIAN was flattered at Carlisle in October but a third here sums up his ability.
The remainder were well seen off including JOSEPHINE MALINES who was able to dictate at Cartmel in July and then came second in a mares’ novice at Hexham. She’s possibly best off in mares’ events now.

1.25 2m 6 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Chase

A competitive event pitting a number of regulars on the local scene against each other.

JUSTWHATEVERULIKE has made a deal of improvement over the past eighteen months, progressing from a mark of 72 to the 105 he was rated here. He’s proved versatile trip wise as well, with wins around the minimum trip yet proving able to score over three miles and a furlong here in April. Ridden patiently, he made progress from the thirteenth fence and was going best approaching the last. He hit the fence, but recovered and led on the flat to hold off a group of pursuers. His record is now 6 wins and 5 places from 18 goes over fences.
NIRVANA SWING hasn’t won for a while, but is back on his previous winning mark. He chipped away at the winner on the flat but couldn’t quite get close enough.
SHERIFF HUTTON raced prominently and stretched on going to the last. He was held once headed but didn’t throw in the towel and comes out of only his second chase with a deal of credit. He’s only a six-year-old and it seems likely there is better to come over fences. He handles this ground but possibly wouldn’t want it too soft.
CANADA STREET put in a fine effort considering he probably needs a bit further and more cut in the ground. He was tapped for foot four out but stayed on again on the flat. He looks in good heart for a tilt at winter staying chases in the north.
HARMONY BRIG hasn’t been given much respite by the handicap since winning the Rehearsal Chase in 2007. He did win a hurdle off a lower mark last January and might just be getting to the level where he can be competitive, keeping on here after being caught out for pace to two out. There have been questions about his commitment, but he has had some tough tasks over fences.
MORE LIKELY is better off being able to dominate less competitive races and she gave way from two out.
LE ROI ROUGE didn’t get close enough to make a mark. Running here off a mark of 118, it’s significant that his two handicap wins have been in 0-115 company. Make a note if the handicapper relents a sufficiently for him to drop to the lower class.
SOUBRIQUET put up another below par performance.
NILE MOON can’t dictate in a race as competitive as this, having run his race by three out and SNOWY was struggling very early on, finishing tailed off.
ET MAINTENANT seems better at shorter distances and was beaten before the turn out of the back.
OR DE GRUGY hadn’t been asked a question when falling at the ninth.
FIFTYFIVE DEGREES hit the first, came down on his haunches and dislodged Richard McGrath.
Irish trained TORY HILL LAD was soon struggling and pulled up before the eleventh. Even his best form, well hidden in amongst the poor form, is below this level.

1.55 2m 6 ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

I marked down GLINGERBANK when he was entered at Carlisle last month since he’s excellent off a break, but he was taken out because of the fast ground. He clearly needs a long break after races and the minimum break before a win has been a month and a half. Sadly common sense let me down on this occasion as I ignored him running over hurdles. He stayed on well to see off Dancing Dik. Given his ability he’s on a decent mark at both disciplines, but apparently stands very few races, his busiest campaign being four runs.
DANCING DIK did precious little wrong against a well rested opponent. Held on the run-in, he saw off the remainder with a bit to spare and looks likely to pick up a handicap.
POLITICAL PADDY comes from a stable whose inmates normally need a run or two to get fit. On that basis he deserves credit for a third place here, held from the last flight.
HI DANCER stayed on late for fourth and will benefit form an ease in class.
FLAKE led early and remained prominent until giving way approaching the last.
TELEGONUS ran creditably stepping up from selling class, particularly given that he rose 20lbs in the handicap, but he gave way at the last.
DUNDOCK has needed a run or two to get him straight before and ran well enough for a long way to give hope for the winter. He’s twice a winner at Musselburgh and may visit the East Lothian venue before long.
KING OF CONFUSION had every chance when ducking out through the wing at the last. He didn’t really take to chases and it appears he has a quirk or two.
ENGLISH CITY went well enough until falling two out. QUICK WILL was given as ‘unseated rider’ but tripped over English City and was to all intents and purposes ‘brought down’.

2.25 2m 1f 0-149 Handicap Chase

Although Kalahari King was a ‘no show’, though originally aimed at the contest, it’s a credit to Kelso’s pulling power that they had a 10-runner field rated 129 to 149.

ALBANOV was well prepared after the best part of two years’ absence due to leg problems. He disputed the lead for most of the way, took over from the last, but was then headed before battling back bravely to hold a determined runner-up. He has only been out of the first three once over fences and if staying fit must surely progress from here.
CALATAGAN is well exposed, and his last win was in late 2007, but he ran an admirable race in second.
MISTER McGOLDRICK remains competitive at this level despite advancing years. He looked to be feeling the pinch after the second last, but stuck to his guns no the run-in to secure third place. There’s still hope of a last hurrah for this fine campaigner.
SANTA’S SON was always up with the pace and took the lead approaching the last. He was comfortably held on the flat. He is paying the penalty for a 19 length win at Wetherby last winter and is currently 12lbs higher than that winning mark.
OUMEYADE cashed the leaders over the last mile but was never close enough to get into the final argument. After a meteoric rise through the ratings in 2008 he has found things a bit tough.
Tony Martin’s KEELAGHAN made no impression from two out and the 131 mark he was on here seems rather harsh.
PALOMAR didn’t jump well and never got into the race. His two chase successes were well below this level.
TOM’S TOYBOX has run well off his mark of 130 but that was giving weight to inferiors. He never got in a blow and was struggling by four out.
MARCEL has been off his game over hurdles and showed no spark on return to chasing.

3.00 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase

I cast some doubt over the value of the form from BOB’S DREAM’s Carlisle run. He stepped up a fair way here, seeing off I’m Delilah in a sprint set to on the flat. It’s likely he will be forced up to the next grade now, but there’s enough evidence to suggest he might still pick up a race.
I’M DELILAH had a sound record in her hurdles career and made a excellent start as a chaser. Always going well, she challenged on the flat as the leading pair pulled clear, but was just held by an opponent with fitness on his side. She looks a nailed on winner even if taking on tougher opposition.
RUN TO SPACE plugged on for third though left behind on the flat. He was badly hampered at the sixth and the bare form may be better than the distances suggest.
PADDY’S UNYOKE, lightly raced under rules with a hunter chase second as his best, raced along in front. He was hampered by the loose running Fred Bojangals two out and got the worst of the argument from that point. This wasn’t a bad effort and Stuart Coltherd should find an easier event for him.
STORM PROSPECT is a moody sort and never got involved.
REGENT’S SECRET won a virtual match on his chasing debut at Perth, but has been nowhere near that on three subsequent efforts.
SMART CAVALIER raced prominently early, but he struggled to keep it going in hunter chases last year and was dropping away from four out here.
NORMINSTER was going well enough in second when unseating at the eighth.
FRED BOJANGALS blundered and unseated at the sixth. He then caused a pest of himself two out when running loose.

3.35 3m 1f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Chase

The first fence in the straight was omitted due to the low sun, making a run-in of around four furlongs.

Milnathort based Jean MacGregor has had WATERSKI in decent form in recent weeks, and he rewarded her with a determined effort to win here. Admittedly he was aided by the second’s argument with a loose horse, but he stuck on gamely to record a first win in 18 attempts. Mrs Macgregor’s post race comment suggested that the family improve with age, so hopefully there might be more to come.
SIERRA VICTOR took up the running at the fourteenth and contested the lead from the last. He was banged sideways by a loose horse but battled back determinedly if just too late to get in front.
LAHIB THE FIFTH had every chance approaching the last but weakened on the flat. He may struggle as the ground turns softer.
LE VERT GALANT made an effort two out but was held on the long run from the last. This was a sound enough chasing debut.
SIMPLY SMASHING was outpaced from two out and probably needs a stiff test.
GERSHWINNER was rather disappointing after two decent chase performances. He was bothered by the attentions of a loose horse at the thirteenth but he gave way tamely from two out.
CLASSY CHAV has shown very little ability in ten runs and plodded around in the rear.
SOTOVIK unseated at the first.
INDY MOOD fell at the eleventh and the caused interference at the thirteenth and on the flat when loose. BREAKWATER HOUSE was brought down at the eleventh.

4.05 2m 2f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

STILL AT LUNCH stayed on nicely to record a second course and distance win. He’s a little frustrating in that he has never strung together two places runs in a row over obstacles.
CASSIUS plugged on for second place and needs a little further to show his best.
ANAY CAR has gradually improved on what were some ordinary efforts early in his hurdling career. He attempted to challenge the winner from two out but was held for pace from the last.
TARKANI has a few quirks and after exerting himself to win at Worcester never got into the race seriously here, plugging on past tired rivals.
SCALE BANK was outpaced two out and after a run of fair form disappointed here.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Low key November Friday at Hexham

HEXHAM – Friday November 6th

Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places, Good in places final 3f)

This was a low key card, though still producing the odd performance worthy of note for the future. A wordy going report showed the going on the soft side of good with the slight variations course wide that might be expected at an ‘uppy-downy’ venue.

12.50 2m 4 ½ f 0-88 Selling Handicap Hurdle

I wouldn’t normally have taken too much notice of this event as it’s ‘south of the border’, but there were a couple of familiar chasers on the roster.

The race was won by well exposed selling hurdler FREEDOM FLYING, who has been running respectably in similar company. She’s a fair performer at the level but not one you would wish to risk the mortgage money on.
She was followed home by REXMEHEAD, back to hurdles after two fair runs in moderate chasing company.
Back in third was well documented performer STONERIGGS MERC who couldn’t raise his game from two out. Tim Vaughan managed to coax a very moderate event out of him at Ludlow and is canny enough to keep placing him for prize money. He’s a soft touch over the latter stages in anything competitive over fences.

1.20 2m 4 ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

GARLETON was progressive at this level last season. He kept on well enough to see off this bunch over a trip arguably short of his best. Stepped up in trip he may be capable of advancing successfully to the next level.
CARRIETAU acquired blinkers on here which seemed to produce a little more effort in the latter stages. Mainly weak in the closing stages he rallied but was held on the flat. Take out a winner going forward and this was a respectable effort. His next race in blinkers will tell us whether their effect was temporary.
IT’S TEESCOMPONENTS looked to be struggled as she dropped back after the ninth fence. On that basis it was a surprise to see her fighting back for third close home. Her rider got ’10 days’ as the stewards’ considered ‘he had asked for an effort too late as a result of a serious misjudgment.’ It looked to me as if she couldn’t keep up as the pace quickened. If this previously troubled campaigner can be kept fit, she should pick up a race over a longer distance.
MANOUBI, as so many times in the past, made late progress but was pipped for third close home. He is capable but normally arrives too late to trouble the leaders.
DOLAN’S BAY, returning after 964 days’ absence, performed respectably by plugging on to secure fifth from 7lbs wrong in the handicap. There was enough to suggest he retains some of the ability that produced a 2006 hurdles win at Carlisle.
I’M YOUR MAN, a course and distance winner here last time but unpredictable, raced prominently until giving way from two out. The rain would not have done him any favours.
KIRKSIDE PLEASURE ran prominently until the tenth and was feeling the strain when hitting two out. He’s yet to win a chase, and his jumping howlers don’t help.
NEIDPATH CASTLE was probably in need of the run after a break. He was behind from the eleventh fence and he needs more cut than he got here.
SHULMIN started at the back and stayed there. A run at Sedgefield may be needed to see if her ability is retained.
MAGE D’ESTRUVAL has struggled despite a steadily decreasing handicap mark. He was in the rear when hitting the seventh and was well behind from that point.
NAVAL ATTACHE was getting outpaced when clouting four out and losing his rider.
DAY OF CLAIES showed up well in 06/07, but he’s been dire since and having lost his place after halfway was pulled up before the last.

1.50 2m ½f 0-95 Handicap Hurdle

Two came clear in this event. All the way leader, the very well backed ETOILE D’OR, held no under a vigorous ride by Richard Johnson which suggested a better than average percentage might have been on offer!
Miss R. Jefferson on the runner-up brought CUMBRIAN KNIGHT through smoothly but was comfortably outridden by Johnson form the last. However, that’s no disgrace against a jockey of the quality of Richard Johnson. Miss Jefferson’s mount needs a bit of coaxing and is desperately hard to win with these days.
The third AMJAD has more ‘previous’ than Norman Stanley Fletcher so third was about the best that could be expected.

2.20 3m 1f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

THE HOLLINWELL raced up with the pace, challenging in the straight and staying on to gain the upper hand. He was by no means straightforward over hurdles, but he’s always been a chaser in the making and this was a sound start.
LEAC AN SCAIL is consistent without having got his head in front in recent times. He stayed on from the last.
RIVER SHANAKILL, a winner of two Irish points and a novice hurdle, led three out but was stretched when tackled on the home bend and came home at one pace. He’s lightly raced and will improve for this sound chasing debut.
HARRY FLASHMAN tracked the leaders but was feeling the pinch when pecking four out after which he quickly folded and was pulled up before the last. He needs good or faster ground these days.
DOUBLE DEFAULT showed some promise, leading to three out before weakening. He had been off for 649 days and it’s likely the race will do him good. I’d expect better next time particularly if the going softens even more.
MR BARNACLE didn’t jump well enough here. He was outpaced four out and weakening when pulled up before the last.
THE GREEN HAT is slow, pulled up here and has only completed once in five goes this side of the Irish Sea.

3.50 2m ½ f 0-95 Handicap Chase

A veritable rouges gallery on display in this event.

DUKE OF MALFI won this event last year but then his form went totally to pot. He returned to form with ‘sideburns’ re-applied, racing prominently and keeping on in front of a second who didn’t look keen to pass.
YANKEE HOLIDAY looked less fizzy than usual and settled very well. He had every chance at the last, and momentarily hit the front, but he soon settled into a nice steady pace a length behind the winner. He hasn’t won for ages and here he blew as good a chance as he will get.
DEUTERONOMY is lightly raced, but consistent when appearing if rather frustrating. He was tapped for pace from three out but stayed on to pick up third place. He ideally needs at least two and a half miles.
TROODOS JET challenged up the hill but could offer only the one pace in the straight.
BRIERY STAR ran a fair race on her chasing debut. Having been tapped for pace four out she made a mistake two out, but stayed on again and was gaining at the finish. There isn’t much of her but her trainer may squeeze a soft contest out of her.
LERIDA popped up over fences at Carlisle last year but is generally easily beaten and though plodding on, never got near enough to challenge.
FLAMING HECK, in good form before a break, was going well enough when thumping three out and that was enough to finish his chances.
FENCOTE MYSTERY has shown little over jumps and had no chance from four out.
JANAL was always in the rear.
BRIGHT SPARKY won a 0-115 chase from out of the weights at Bangor, but everything else underperformed badly that day. He hit the seventh and was struggling from that point. His rider reported that ‘he sulked due to the fast pace of the race’.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS couldn’t get near the front and seemed totally disinterested from early in the race.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cumberland Chase Day at Carlisle

CARLISLE – Sunday November 1st

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

November arrived with a dousing as Scotland and Northern England were hit by heavy rain on Friday then again on Sunday. The net result was the type of winter jumping ground that stayed with us for most of last season at Carlisle.

The first hurdle down the back was omitted and replaced in the early races by a water splash! The first two fences down the back were omitted as was the fourth last. The weather was thoroughly miserable for the early contests with heavy rain and a howling gale blowing smack into the runners’ faces over the last two fences. The conditions were such that they favoured the dour stayers, but decent sized fields stood their ground throughout the afternoon and we have some evidence to take forward through the winter.

1.0 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This contest was run 30 seconds over the standard and the runners certainly didn’t push the pace early on.

Having shown promise on better ground previously, GOING WRONG stayed on determinedly to hold his main challenger with a bit to spare. He should be capable of defying a penalty.
WYMOTT pushed the winner until the final burst to the line. He was hindered on the flat by a brushing boot flapping loose, though I doubt that affected the result. This was a very promising hurdling debut and he should win a hurdle.
FRANKIE ANSON ran promisingly at Kelso in March and his presence in third adds weight to the form. He found the final slog beyond him but he there is likely better to come, particularly in slightly better conditions.
TURTLE SPIRIT comes form a family favoured by these conditions. He was not disgraced in fourth and is now qualified for handicaps.
James Ewart is not one to hurry his stable until the ‘jumping season proper’ which I’d estimate he sees as November to April. His TURBO ISLAND was made favourite on the basis of two testing ground bumpers wins at Ayr, the last run in a swamp. He jumped a trifle deliberately and weakened from three out. Not every horse will be suited by an introduction in such testing conditions and I expect him to leave this form way behind. Staying will be his game.
JURIDICTION was threatening to run a decent race when unseating three out, perhaps indicating just a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for Mrs Dobbin’s stable.

1.30 3m 1f 0-92 Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle

A poor event with the starter open to question, and not for the first time on this course.

CINAMAN disgraced himself last time by charging the tapes, unseating his rider and doing 2/3rds of a lap. His behaviour was a pain at the start once again. He once again charged the tape, but for reason known only to himself the starter chose to let the field go thus giving Cinaman a 10 to 15 length advantage. Having been given a start, CINAMAN was able to dictate and had enough in hand to hold off ROSENEATH and RIFLEMAN on the run-in. RIFLEMAN hasn’t looked keen in the past, but ROSENEATH comes from a jumping family and is capable of going on from here. He should pick up a minor hurdle before going chasing.

The report of the Stewards’ Enquiry regarding start came up with the following judgement:

'.....Having heard their evidence and viewed a video recording of the start, the Stewards noted their explanations that Mr.H. Challoner was taking all reasonable measures to control his mount and that the remaining riders were happy to take a lead from him. They therefore took no further action.'


2.05 2m 4f Class 2 Intermediate Chase

A very good event with one or two runners who will be seen at the better jump meetings over the season.

KNOCKARA BEAU was given an easy introduction at Cartmel back in May and took time to warm to his task on that occasion. Sharpened by the experience he was right on his game here, and the way he pulled clear of the proven Killyglen suggests he can mix it with the best novices over fences this season.
KILLYGLEN, a proven novice last season, was up with the pace all the way but couldn’t hold his opponent from two out. He will be better for the run and I would presume he will go to the Open Meeting at Cheltenham as his next call. This pipe opener may have been just what was required.
CHIEF DAN GEORGE needs further than this to be seen at his best. He plugged on to take third.
CROCODILES ROCK won here last season but struggled under a penalty on two subsequent runs and was struggling from four out here. It might be worth dropping him back to two miles.
CAMDEN GEORGE had a stiff task here. His jumping can be a bit iffy but wasn’t bad after a couple of reminders put him straight. He will win a handicap or two when his jumping holds.
AURORAS ENCORE probably found the conditions too tough around here. He probably should have been pulled up, but made up his own mind by refusing at the last.
THE GREEN HAT was hopelessly outclassed here, soon tailed off and was pulled up before the eighth fence.

2.40 2m 1f 0-113 Handicap Hurdle

The weather was a little better for this race and by now a bit of the standing water had started to soak away.

DINARIUS was going well two out, led after the last and forged clear. This was the first time he had encountered testing ground over hurdles and it did him no harm. He can record another win in similar conditions.
QUATRO PIERJI took it up three out but was run out of it from the last. He may go up for this as he was a long way clear of the third. He handles testing ground and the uphill slog well enough.
SUPER BABY jumped big like the decent chasing jumper that he proved himself last time. Proving his well being he was one paced from three out but did enough for third, and will be well tuned for a return to the larger obstacles.
CASH MAN and EDMO YEWKAY, fourth and sixth respectively, are others who will be seen more to advantage when returned to fences.

3.15 3m 2f 0-135 Handicap Chase

There was heavy showery rain during this contest.

SILVER BY NATURE landed one of Carlisle’s top jumping events, pulling away from his field from two out. He struck me as a potentially decent performer early in his career, but his form has been up and down and his jumping sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. However on this occasion he got things together and maybe now can move no to bigger and better things. He has shown his best form on soft or heavy ground so the testing conditions were right up his street, and he proved that he sees out this trip very well.
BACK TO BID has been in the wilderness for a couple of years, his career having stalled after a promising hurdling career. He stayed on from the rear over the last four fences and picked up second place on the run-in. This run does at least suggest he is capable of winning his first chase since early 2007.
MR STRACHAN was up with leaders all the way if found out for pace from two out. He got the ground he needs here though may just need to be eased a little more in the weights.
JASS showed enough here to suggest that he is capable of pitching at the better Northern staying chases even allowing for a mark of 135. He has run well on heavy but my impression is that he’s more suited by a bit better ground than this.
RATE OF KNOTS was in the mix four out but struggled from the bottom of the hill. The race will bring him on and I’d expect him to produce better than the fifth place here.
REEL CHARMER finished sixth but was a long way detached from the first five. He found this class tough and may need a drop in grade.
MERIGO was never going on his seasonal debut. The conditions here suited and it’s probably safe to assume that this race was needed from a fitness point of view. He has taken benefit from a run or two in previous seasons.
TOT O’WHISKEY was struggling at halfway, being pulled up before two out. His form tailed off last season and a sign of a recovery would be needed before he can be considered.
ANTONIUS CAESAR was always behind and was pulled up at the bottom of the hill. He has taken a couple of runs to warm up in previous campaigns.
ZITENKA was in midfield until feeling the pinch around the ninth. She needed a couple of runs last season to come right, and her wins have come when reappearing within 15 days of her last run.
TEEMING RAIN doddled up in appropriately awful conditions at Exeter last season. He’d shown nothing for a while before that and reverted to type here despite conditions which were theoretically in his favour. I suspect he needs to have had a recent run, though he has produced some dire performances in between his last two chase wins.
SHERWOODS FOLLY raced up with the pace until four out (last one on the far side), but gave way quickly from that point and was pulled up. Another likely to benefit from the run but six runs from March 2008 show him FP5P0P.
WILD CANE RIDGE paid the penalty in the ratings for some good form in his early chase career. Despite dropping in the weights he is still trying catch up with the handicapper. He has benefitted form a first run of the season in the past.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT, an improver last season and one who shouldn’t be inconvenienced by testing conditions, ran no sort of race and connections were unable to offer an explanation. His form pattern suggests his rating of 124 has taken him out of his winning range. His last win was a by a battling two lengths off 116.

3.50 2m 0-102 Novices’ Handicap Chase

There wasn’t a huge amount of decent form brought to this race. However, BOB’S DREAM could at least boast a few places and has won over hurdles. This was the most stamina sapping test eh had faced over fences and he came out on top, forging clear from the last fence. This was a weak event though and it’s questionable whether there would be an awful lot of improvement to come.
FARNE ISLAND is inconsistent and has only one flat win to his name in 41 efforts. He led two out but gave way at the last. There’s no guarantee he’ll repeat the form next time.
MORE SHENNANIGANS took an age to find any sort of measurable form, but to his credit he has now run three respectable races this autumn. He stayed on late past tiring rivals. He’s hardly betting material but does at least appear to be racing honestly.
BULLIES ACRE is another who wouldn’t top of a ‘must back’ list, but a fourth here has merit from 12lbs wrong in the weights. He raced near the pace for most of the way but had nothing extra to offer from two out. His closest finishes have been here or at Hexham where the hill, on this occasion aided by the going, slows the others down.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE raced prominently to three out from whence further reserves were not forthcoming.
HURRICANE JACK took no significant part in the proceedings until passing a few late on. This was a first chase effort and there was enough to suggest he may offer better in time.
BRADDOCK ISLAND disputed or led until making a mess of three out after which he weakened. He showed more here than on his chasing debut.
SEVEN IS LUCKY didn’t jump well on his chasing bow and was always in the rear division.
LUSENTO is yet to get close over fences and had cried “enough” before the final climb.
HEAVENLY CHORUS mad progress and seemed to be going well three out. His effort petered out and he finished in the rear. He was much better over hurdles.
WELL OILED was outpaced four out and pulled up before two out, showing no more than on his previous run at Hexham.

4.20 1m 6f 3yo NH Flat

Alan Swinbank’s ROYAL SWAIN looked ready to do himself justice on debut. He took up the running two out, showed a lot of greenness once in front, but showed enough resolution. He should progress for this experience.
Stable mates VANNIN and EAGLE OWL showed plenty of promise in chasing home the winner.
BOW BADGER led to two out and then gave way. He pulled hard early when setting a very steady pace and will improve if he settles better.
James Ewart’s SWALLOW, whose dam won over hurdles and fences and is a half-sister to Azertyuiop, raced up with pace until giving way from two out. He at least put in enough to pull away from the remainder and will produce better with time.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Late October at Newcastle, while Perky perks up at Haydock!

HAYDOCK – Wednesday 28th October

After a being winless since July 2007 CATCH THE PERK recorded a tenth chase win, and a thirteenth career win, as Lucinda Russell found a nice opportunity at Haydock. With the familiar sheepskin cheek pieces removed, he was held up and then came clear over the last three to beat Thai Vango by 14 lengths. He went close twice at Hexham in the summer and still retains his ability on going days. The key to future chances rests with the handicapper’s view of his comfortable win.

NEWCASTLE – Thursday 29th October

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

1.30 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

PAMAK D’AIRY ran a number of decent races over fences last season, mainly in handicaps, but never got his head in front. His was well tuned up for his comeback and jumped soundly to win with plenty in hand. Assuming the handicap says “as you were”, then he will continue to be competitive in handicaps.
BORDER REIVER is a chasing type but was well held by one with more chasing experience. He jumped well enough though and will no doubt come on for this outing.
ELLANDSHE is a safe but very slow conveyance, though connections found a soft maiden point for him in the spring. He plodded round for £611 in third.
DESERT MAZE jumped a bit to the right but seemed safe enough in front until falling six out.

3.00 3m 0-87 Handicap Chase

It wasn’t difficult to blow a hole through the credentials of this group of six chasers. However, SEEK THE TRUTH has more than enough ability at this level if inclined to show it. He went comfortably all the way and forged clear from two out. A repeat is by no means guaranteed, though similar lousy opposition would help!
HEVER ROAD goes OK when in front but generally jacks it in once challenged. He led to three out but plugged on once headed and was well clear of the third. The re-application of blinkers on his last couple of runs does seem to have sparked a little more enthusiasm. His days of a win off 113 in 2006 are a distant memory.
CELTIC FLOW plodded fractionally quicker to the line than OSCAR TRIAL but both were seen off before the straight.
JBALLINGALL had shown recent signs of a revival. However it was back to square one here as he gave way quickly from a mile out and was pulled up.
RECKLESS VENTURE lives up his name in being less than foot perfect at times. He came a cropper at the seventh.

4.00 2m 4f 0-94 Handicap Chase

Tim Vaughan isn’t frightened to travel in search of opportunities. His Fakenham winner CHAPEL FLOWERS followed up with the minimum of fuss here, seeing off a motlety crew with ease under a 7lb penalty. It appears that the key has been found, and there may be a bit more in the locker.
PERSIAN PRINCE chased gallantly up the straight though well held. He has won three points and has shown enough to two recent handicaps to suggest he can remain in the mix in ordinary events in the north.
PANTHERS RUN plugged on for third but is normally haled in the latter stages.
COPPER’S GOLD jumped a little better than his previous run, but a mistake at the eighth set him back and he struggled once turned for home.
CHIGORIN never got near the leaders and a brief effort five out came to nought. He ran a couple of decent races this time last year but has been well held since.
MASTER PAPA was off the track from February ’07 to December ’08 and has gone rapidly downhill since then. He dropped away before four out.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS went well in front but was feeling the pinch when hitting the eleventh and quickly subsided and was pulled up.
Although showing a little in Irish points, MONTY’S BOY was moderate over hurdles and looks no better over fences. He was tailed off when pulling up before four out.