MUSSELBURGH – Monday 7th December
Going –Good to Soft
The peculiar micro-climate of East Lothian once again meant that we missed the rain that hit Central and South Scotland and Musselburgh produced ground just on the soft side. Essentially a run-of the-mill meeting with the crowd around the 600 mark, but there were one or two pointers which might be taken forward for the future and there was some decent racing.
An area from the ½ furlong pole is currently railed off to save the ground for the two-legged racers in the New Year Sprint. There have been one or two instances where runners have been tightened up approaching this section of the track.
12.50 3m 0-105 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase
NELLIEDONETHAT has been carefully placed by Lucinda Russell to the extent that he recorded three chase wins last season but only advanced 11lbs in the weights. Down a pound from his highest on 93, he confirmed recent suspicions that he was ready to strike again. He has won on heavy, but I get the impression he’s a better performer on better ground, but course seem to come alike since he’s won going left and right, as well as at stiff Carlisle whilst able to win round this comparatively sharp circuit. On this occasion he kicked on round the bottom bend and forged clear up the straight. An eleven length win here might not necessarily help, but there is a hope that the handicapper might ‘split the difference’ when reassessing.
SEIZE chased the winner but never got close enough to threaten. His one chase win came here and he ran well enough to be considered in similar contests.
YANKEE HOLIDAY has been well documented in these notes. The cross noseband seems to have been permanently jettisoned, but two handlers in the paddock remain the norm and he’s always simmering if not boiling. He has placed over three miles but has never got close enough to prove he stays. While left behind from the home bend he had enough in hand to keep going for third, but the losing run now stands at 30, a fact which those who backed him at 7/1 might care to take a good look at. That being said he has accumulated place money on 25 occasions so does at least make regular contributions to his keep.
SIERRA PEAK led to the twelfth and was then left behind. He has yet to prove he sees out this trip, but he has shown ability at shorter distances.
WIZARDS DUST came into this race with solid at a similar level. Both his wins came when able to get to the front early. He was hampered at the sixth here and a mistake at the twelfth saw him struggling.
TIME BANDIT, with tie-tongue removed on this occasion, was held up in the rear then made progress around the home bend but the run short-lived. He’s way out of form and has suffered a documented physical problem this season.
Irish challenger PIPERS BLAZE appeared to be going within himself when falling at the thirteenth, an open ditch.
SNOWY fell for the first time in his 46 race career when coming down at the sixth. It looked a heavy fall but he was quickly up. The aging grey showed his knowledge of the track as he made a bee-line for the course exit past the stands.
1.20 2m 5 Maiden Hurdle
As so often in these events, there was a huge range of ability evident and the finish was fought out by two with the rest easily seen off.
AMANDA CARTER ran a decent race when second here in November, and produced the better turn of foot on this occasion after taking the lead at the last. All her flat form was on decent ground and it wouldn’t surprise me if further opportunities are sought at Musselburgh.
ROSE STREET jumped neatly in front but was held from the last. She was squeezed up as Amanda Carter drifted under a right-hand drive but it made little difference to the result. It wouldn’t surprise me if Rose Street turned out to be slightly the better of the first two in the long run.
PICCOLO PRIDE appeared to run to form in third, holding on from the pack. He’s by a sprint sire out of a sprint mare, so is hardly likely to have much in the tank at the end of two miles.
MISTER WALL STREET, an expensive purchase in April and more stoutly bred than the third, finished a one paced fourth.
DUMITAS, a double bumper winner in Ireland and McCoy’s only ride on the day, raced prominently until weakening quickly after three out.
1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
The talking point of this race was the wayward behaviour of the favourite MERIDIAN CITY. He disputed early then took over at the third, but was lugging left and consistently out-jumped by the slower but more precise Art Bank. Approaching the stands’ bend he cocked his jaw and made it quite clear he was aiming for the course exit. He’s won round here twice before and his behaviour suggested there may have been a physical problem which hindered him going right handed.
Three times pointing winner KELLYSTOWN LAD looks more of a long term project but he showed a good burst of speed from the last to win this easily. It’s debatable how much he achieved here, since the second looks quirky, but his pointing wins suggest he will jump a fence. His hurdle form was improved by this better ground.
The betting, and previous form, suggested that SUNARRI should have taken this one once the favourite left the stage. However, he was uncooperative after the last, hanging left, resenting being asked to challenge and not looking an easy ride.
QOLLIOURE challenged going to the last but was one paced from that point. He is already a pointing winner, and his dam was a cross-country chaser, so that suggests where his future lies.
ART BANK jumped precisely before being found out for pace. He may do better over fences but he’s only rated 72 and quick he ain’t.
JACK APPLE took over when Meridian City quit the scene but was found out when the pace increased three out.
2.20 2m 4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle
FIRST STREAM fell here first time out before picking up a maiden hurdle at Kelso in March. He was brought back looking fit and well, and proved tenacious at the sharp end. Brought steadily into the race from three out, he challenged at the last and caught Portavadie right on the line. I suspect he’s a little bit better than the bare form here and it wouldn’t surprise me if he can follow up.
PORTAVADIE hasn’t won since 2005 and looked the likely winner approaching the last. Unfortunately he got the flight all wrong, but still looked to have chances of holding on only to be ‘done’ in the shadow of the post. His attitude couldn’t be criticised and he’s weighted to win if this form can be repeated.
NATURAL ACTION led two out but was headed approaching the last and despite determined efforts couldn’t get back to the first two. This was a decent effort under a penalty in what appeared a competitive contest.
ALMAYNAN kept on to fill a creditable fourth place and best of the Irish contingent. The handicapper appears to have him about right.
SIMPLE JIM has been kept busy but paddock evidence, looking very well and on his toes, suggests the regular outings do him no harm. He stayed on from three out but was held going to the last and is about as high in the weights as he would want to be.
LOCKED INTHEPOCKET set the pace until two out and couldn’t raise his game from that point. Dropped in class he’ll win a hurdle but he looks a potential chaser in stature and I’ll keep an eye out for an entry over fences.
REGENT’S SECRET returned to hurdling and ran a typical race, passing a few late on.
MESBAAH was in with a chance three out but faded quickly. The obvious conclusion is that he didn’t see out the trip.
Update to story mentioned in my last Musselburgh report. Winning part-owner Andrea Wylie gave birth to twins recently, mother and girls Zara and Kia reported as doing well.
2.50 2m 4f 0-100 Novices’ Handicap Chase
A race lacking strength in depth and not a contest from which I would be carrying too many positive pointers forward.
SEA VENTURE failed to score over hurdles, though he scraped the post then hit the crossbar on his latest two outings, but he had too much for this field on his chasing debut. He raced prominent and stayed on past the runner-up two out to win with a little to spare.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE has managed a couple of moderate hurdle wins but this was the closest he has come over fences. I noticed he had heavily greased legs, perhaps instead of brushing boots. He led and had most of the field beaten by two out, but a mistake there handed the initiative to the winner. Lindseyfield Lodge couldn’t summon up any further reserves.
STROBE chased the leader until weakening three out and finished a tired third.
INSTANT SHOT made a little progress before the home turn, but never got near the leaders and could only plug on for fourth.
PADDYS UNYOKE hit a couple of fences and was struggling by the home turn. He is finding the move from hunter company to handicaps beyond him at the moment.
VIEL GLUCK was chasing the leaders when coming down heavily four out though he did get up OK. Alan Howes’s pronunciation of the name left a bit to be desired a German dictionary might come in handy!
DARAYBAD was struggling down the back straight for the last time and was pulled up before four out.
3.20 2m Open NH Flat Race
The field for this were a right bunch of ‘liquorice allsorts’ in the paddock.
FINAL DAY was a convincing winner at Perth back in May. He had to work hard to hold on in a bobbing finish here against a potentially decent opponent but I suspect the form will turn out to be strong. Final Day confirmed my expectation of a follow up win….. just, and should be capable of picking up a hurdle race.
Of the first two I suspect the runner-up CHESTER LAD has more scope for jumping. He impressed me in the paddock and looks a jumper in the making. He was briefly tapped for pace two out but battled back with a vengeance and showed a very good attitude to make the winner pull out all the stops. He will go on from here and will probably pick up a bumper, but he’s one I’d be eager to see going hurdling as soon as possible.
FIVE JEMBS went well before being tapped for speed from two out by the first two. He looks one who will need a bit of time, but I think he will make up into a jumper.
HOOKED ON LINE probably stepped up on his debut form, making the pace to two out before giving way.
GLACED OVER ran pretty much to previous bumper form.
RUBIPRESENT raced keenly up with the pace until lack of condition told two out. His previous Irish bumper form looks sound enough and he should progress for moving to hurdling.
Karen McLintock’s BURAIMI OASIS doesn’t look a bad type but didn’t look particularly forward and may need a little time.
BACKTOBACKJACK is a tall gelding who needs to fill out a bit and never got into the race here. He comes from a staying jumping family and will need time and distance.