KELSO – Sunday December 6th
Going – Soft
Kelso presented a decent card for their last meeting of 2009, with a competitive looking Borders National and a decent Eric Scarth Champion Chase as the centre pieces.
12.20 2m 2f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
A generally strong card started with a largely uncompetitive mares’ novice contest. Back in the summer an owner with horses stabled in the south of Scotland complained about the amount of Irish horses farming Scottish novice and maiden contests. It took only two Irish to run away with prizes here, and with only 6 locals in opposition perhaps one or two Scottish owners and trainers need to look at themselves.
AIBREAN won nicely at Sedgefield last time and followed up with a comfortable win in a weak event here. Already a point winner in Ireland, she looks like one to progress to chasing sooner rather than later.
CHASING CLOUDS chased the leader from two out but was left behind on the long run-in. She seems to have enough about her to pick up a minor novice event.
TCHIKITA made a satisfactory debut, keeping on from two out if never quick enough to trouble the winner. She should move on from here.
WHEYAYE has been moderate over hurdles and was well held, though on handicap ratings ran more or less to form with the second.
JUST MADDIE may be flattered by her Musselburgh form, though it’s a much stiffer test around here in the soft.
12.50 2m 6 ½ f Class 2 Novices’ Chase
A disappointing turn out for over £12,000 first prize money but it allowed KNOCKARA BEAU to canter round to earn a good percentage of his annual keep. He jumped accurately and came away with the minimum of fuss.
CALIN ROYAL, appearing for the second time in 24 hours, followed the winner at a respectful distance in second; not being pressed once that place was secured. He should be able to pick up a race once sights are lowered.
ELLANDSHE looks after himself, and though not jumping particularly cleanly on this occasion, jumped round for a decent prize in third.
DOODLEBOP should have been another to pick up ‘free prize money’ but fell at the sixth.
1.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-158 Handicap Chase
A small field, but nevertheless an interesting contest.
MONEY TRIX has not stood much acing, but he clearly has plenty of ability. He was made to work hard on this occasion by an improving stayer in Belon Gale. He went well most of the way but made a total hash of the middle fence down the far side on the final circuit. He took a while to recover, but challenged in the straight and showed admirable determination to see off his main rival and pull clear of the other trio. The plan is to take him to the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and I think there is enough ability within this one to make a mark at that level.
BELON GALE has got his jumping act together now, and showed he lacks nothing in attitude as he made the talented winner battle all the way from the last. It’s worth noting too that this trip would be a bit short of the best for the Johnson/Wylie animal. The drawback is that he was 11lbs shy in the handicap which won’t be forgiven, but he hinted that he has much potential in staying tests.
CLOUDY LANE made a satisfactory comeback, challenging approaching the last but offering no more form that point. He unseated at the Chair in last year’s National and I presume the Aintree event would be his target once again.
BRAVE REBELLION came to challenge approaching the last but had used up his reserves in doing so and weakened from that point. He has won on heavy ground but I get the impression he is a better performer given good ground or perhaps even faster. He won round Musselburgh over three miles last season but I suspect on a less sharp track his trip is around 2m 4f.
NIRVANA SWING was well backed for this contest but was the first one to crack, struggling from three out. Seven pounds wrong at the weights, the class here was a bit beyond him and he would have easier tasks off his ‘real mark’ of 125.
1.50 2m ½ f 0-119 Handicap Hurdle
I’ve been a little harsh on CASSIUS in the past when suggesting that he lacks pace. He seems to need a decent stamina test and Bruce Mactaggart’s charge saw off his field with the minimum of fuss on this occasion, ridden clear on the flat to win with comfort. A rise after this might just keep him in this class, but given the right conditions he should be competitive in 0-130 races.
GLINGERBANK’s previous form pattern suggested that he needs a rest between races. However, given that he has had a stop start career it could be that he just needs to be kept sound. Returning a month after his last run he raced prominently most of the way and kept on for second against an in-form opponent suited by conditions.
FOLLOW ON never got near the leaders but kept on to take third place. He’s only won twice and the last of those came in a weakly contested event at Hexham in June.
KEMPSKI made the pace to the fourth and was driven once headed. He dropped back form that point but stayed on again late to secure fourth place. He needs to dictate his races and all his wins have come in heavy ground at Ayr.
2.20 4m 0-133 Handicap Chase (Borders National)
Although this event was down on the numbers that the course might prefer, it was nevertheless a competitive event with none that could be counted out on recent form.
L’AVENTURE has put in creditable performances in staying events over the years, but you have to look back to her Welsh National victory in 2005 for the last time she put her head in front at the post. She went close off this mark the same weekend last season, but this time won with a good deal to spare, staying on much too well for the others after the last fence. Those who have stayed faithful were thankful to her pilot Daryl Jacob who did well to stay aboard after the mare made a bad mistake at the eighteenth. It would be nice to think that L’Aventure could pick up from here and win again, but it’s not something I would rely on, though the tactics employed her racing up with the pace have been more successful than holding her up. The rise in the weights should guarantee a place in the Welsh National, which I presume would be the next target.
BOLD RANSOM made progress two out and stayed on without ever getting to the winner. He is a seven-year-old and would seem to have a bright future in similar staying events.
ROYAL MACKINTOSH is pretty much handicapped to the hilt, and was trying a new trip on this occasion, but lost nothing in defeat and only conceded second place near the finish. Alan Mactaggart should continue to get plenty of enjoyment from this one in Northern staying events.
GARLETON came into this event in excellent form and has been progressive this year. He was held from the second last and probably didn’t see out the four miles. He continues in good form and would be a different proposition dropped back in trip.
POKER DE SIVOLA remains a maiden over fences but has been asked some big questions in 10 attempts over the large obstacles. He was held from two out and seemed not to see out the trip.
MORGAN BE never got into the race and was well behind from three out. Four out of his five wins have been on heavy and on balance it seems he needs an extreme stamina test.
LUCKY NELLERIE set the pace to the nineteenth but was unable to raise his game from that point and seemingly found the opposition a tad too tough.
JAUNTY JOURNEY is a promising comparative youngster and was in there and pitching when unseating at the nineteenth. As a six-year-old he must be considering an interesting prospect for staying events. On limited evidence he is well capable of mixing it in similar contests.
ROYAL ROSA put in a decent effort at Aintree recently but made no show here, was struggling with a circuit to go and pulled up before two out.
2.50 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
HOLLINS made his debut in a bumper last season, but was then considered sharp enough to go flat racing. He rewarded his connections with a Pontefract win, and paid them back even further with victory in his second hurdle race. He was left in the lead three out and went clear on the run-in demonstrating enough speed to suggest this won’t be his only hurdles win. His dam was a stayer on the flat, so a step up in trip probably won’t inconvenience this one.
HEY CHARLIE held every chance at the last, but having come stands’ side up the run in he was held by the winner. Connections have required a little bit of patience since he had two seasons off after a promising effort in a bumper. His breeding hints that a distance of ground would be in his favour.
RED ONION was comfortably held from two out as was ST. KILLIAN’S RUN and while both would hold out hope of success in novice hurdles, they need to step up on efforts here.
NAUGHTY DIESEL, an unconsidered 200/1 chance, led from the second until pecking and unseating three out. He seemed to be going well enough, an effort well in advance of anything shown before.
3.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-102 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
BERWICK LAW was produced in fine fettle after 637 days off the track to win comfortably. His trainer Pauline Robson is adept at bringing horses back successfully after a long break. This one was let down by scratchy jumping before but, assuming the ‘bounce factor’ doesn’t enter the equation, may just be a little ahead of the handicapper now he has got his act together.
Low grade chaser OLD NODDY has hit the ground running this season after a year and a half absence. He pulled clear of the remainder and in current form might be interesting in a lowly handicap steeplechase. At his best he doesn’t look over burdened off 87 in chases.
OCARINA is another who may be capable of making a mark in handicap steeplechases in the near future. He gets caught a little flat footed in hurdles but kept on for third, and his accurate gives him an advantage in chases. He caught my eye when jumping his field into submission at Musselburgh a couple of seasons back.
SOLWAY ALLY raced prominently but gave way from two out.
Although finishing fifth here, the moderate MAOLISA was beaten a long way and there was very little of any note produced by those even further back.