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.