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.