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.