Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Cold Friday at Musselburgh - before the snows arrived...

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 26th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

It was a very chilly afternoon at Musselburgh, bearable in the watery late autumn sunshine but foot stamping required in the shade! Bearing in mind that it had been touch and go whether the meeting would be on and that there is about a foot of snow covering Fife as I write this, then we had reason to be grateful having racing to watch.

The meeting was preceded by a minutes silence in memory of Lothians trainer Peter Montieth following his death earlier in the week.

12.10 3m ½ f Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle(0-98)

BUCKSTRUTHER made up for a duff run at Newcastle, adding to his Kelso win by beating a moderate field here. His staying power came into play over the last three hurdles and he held off a single challenger on the run to the line. He should be capable of picking up another contest at this level.
GRAND ART stayed on honestly enough from the last if just held. The run won’t have done any harm after a three month break and he saw out the three mile trip well enough.
HARPS COUNSEL led to three out but could only keep on at one pace.
AUBERGE couldn’t respond to the first two from two out. He regularly runs passably well but is not a prolific scorer.

12.40 2m Saltire 2010 Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

The event signalled the opening of East Lothian’s Saltire 2010 Festival, an event advertised in unconvincing terms by a seemingly unprepared local councillor.

THE STARBOARD BOW was produced in excellent nick by Lucinda Russell for his hurdling bow. He set the pace, kicked on to three out and held on without any alarms. If the second is taken as a measure then the winner looks a decent prospect.
MEETINGS MAN, twice a winner previously, sets the standard for this form, his sharp hurdling technique indicating his experience. He chased the leader form two out but could make no impact.
MAKBULLET, apparently ridden to conserve stamina, stayed on to take third place.
CAPRICORNUS jumped a bit better than when I last saw him, but he was comfortably outpointed from two out.

1.15 2m 4f Weatherby’s Printing Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-105)

Plenty of failings amongst this bunch of novices, and the fact that the winner is not reliable sums the contest up.

STORM PROSPECT has won three hurdles, but has been easily beatable in recent times. On a ‘going’ day this time, he led at the tenth and pulled clear from the home turn for a comfortable win. He has ability to pick up more races but is not one to rely on.
HEAVENLY CHORUS led to the tenth and kept on for second place. Her handler might be able to coax a minor chase out of this mare.
APACHE BLUE was being bustled along at halfway, briefly rallied down the far side but was left behind from three out. He looks one who will need a stiffer test than this sharp two and a half miles.
TRANOS was in touch down the far side but dropped away in the straight and, though blessed with a bit of ability, is frustrating.
PAPA DREW lost ground with slow jumps and lost touch by the tenth.
BAAHER ran a poor race and along with HARD TO NAME, a poor performer ot date, was pulled up before four out.
DEVIL WATER raced prominently but was making no impression on the leader when unseating three out.

1.50 2m 4f Edinburgh Evening News Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A weakly contested maiden hurdle.

JAGO RIVER held on under pressure having taken up the running two out. He looked pretty fit and will have to step up a bit to win against tougher opposition.
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL, regressive on the level in recent times, made the winner pull out the stops on a belated hurdling debut. He might well be under-priced next time.
RETURN PERK had shown little previously and his proximity here does little for the form.
MINI BECK looked to have a golden opportunity for an elusive hurdles win but fluffed his lines. This one’s trainer was seen pacing up and down the terrace in front of me both before and during the race. Unfortunately ‘The Little Horse’ couldn’t raise his game having been headed three out.

2.25 2m Jeden Business Flooring Handicap Hurdle (0-100)

The application of a tongue strap appeared to work the oracle with previously frustrating SHERIFF HALL. He led at the third and quickly pulled clear down the far side. Headed two after clouting two out he looked held, but rallied under Jan Faltejsek’s urgings to get up close home. His bumper effort’s suggested plenty of ability, if wayward upstairs, but he’s at the right end of the handicap if moving on from here.
SWITCHED OFF looked likely to record a double when leading two out, only to be headed near the line. He seems in good heart and is weighted to pick up another handicap.
WHASTON had every chance but couldn’t make and impression on the first two in the closing stages. This was only his third hurdles run and an encouraging handicap debut.
LONG DISTANCE stayed on up the straight but never threatened the leaders. This was on a par with recent efforts and he doesn’t look win material in the short term.
PILLAR OF HERCULES settled better here, was given every chance and looked held when hitting two out.
WATERLOO CORNER gave some encouragement in sixth place, imp[roving somewhat on his two previous efforts this term.

2.55 2m Clarkson Hill Group PLC St Andrew’s Day Handicap Chase (0-112)

There was a poor turn out for the biggest prize of the day. The race was a penalty kick for Howard Johnson’s KOSTA BRAVA. He briefly looked stretched going to four out but responded to his pilot’s urgings, took over soon after and had something to spare at the finish.
KIT CARSON, on his second run back form a two year lay-off, at least gave some reason for optimism. He would have been closer but for hitting two out and would be interesting in a lower class.
THE COCKNEY SQUIRE lost touch by four out and this provided no particular encouragement.
FOLLOW THE SUN led to four out and then weakened, offering little cause for optimism.

3.30 2m Border Safeguard Ltd Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race

FIRST ROCK, bringing forward by far the best of previous form, was a bit keen early on but took charge in the final furlong, pushed out to the line. He may have something to prove in a tougher contest.
BIG SAM, an attractive strong sort previously with Malcolm Jefferson, looks capable of a win in time and he’ll come on for this outing. Now in the charge of Bruce Hellier, he ran on well in the latter stages and looks one capable of progressing further once presented with obstacles.
THURNHAM, another big strong sort who looks made for jumping, kept on for third place.
The mare BLAZING BAY ran a fair race in fourth, but possibly has less scope that others in the field.
Beaten a long way, PLUTONIUM wouldn’t be the obvious one to carry forward form this event. However, he’s bred to need three miles plus and has fair frame to fill to full strength. Struggling from six furlongs out, he will leave this behind though readers are warned time will be needed.

Newbury’s Hennessy meeting survived the freeze courtesy of course covers. SILVER BY NATURE found things happening too fast in a very competitive feature event and will leave this form behind given a tougher test.

The Northern jump scene has gone into a snow covered hibernation period. Seven consecutive days of snow has left the East of Scotland in particular under a thick layer. Successive days racing at Kelso, Musselburgh, Sedgefield and Hexham have all bitten the dust. It’s difficult to imagine much will happen before Christmas at the earliest.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Kelso and Sedgefield - Late November

KELSO – Sunday November 21st

Going – Good To Soft changing to Soft by Race 3

The weather was miserable at Kelso and the going got progressively more testing as the afternoon went on.

12.15 2m 110yds 2011 Punchestown Festival Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

Dropped back in trip, MOSCOW MISCHIEF steeped up on largely moderate previous form. She led two out and stayed on under pressure up the run-in. Her last three races had been at Perth and it arguably that the stiffer finish was in her favour here.
SARA’S SMILE stayed on for second place. Her hurdling was better than her jumps debut but still has room for plenty of improvement.
LADY BLUESKY was made ½ favourite on her hurdling debut. She has shown winning form on the flat and will win hurdles assuming she benefits from the experience.
SCARVAGH ROSE stepped up on previous efforts, making progress to two out though unable to impress on the leaders from that point.

12.45 2m 1f Billy Erskine 80th Birthday Beginners’ Chase (Class 4)

ALFIE FLITS was the only one to put in a clear round here, the rest either departing or making errors. That being said he looks plenty capable of matching better opposition that he faced here. He went on from his only serious opposition two out and was ridden out to the line.
BLACKPOOL BILLY jumped left at most fences and this cost him a chance of matching the winner. This was an improvement on his Carlisle run but there is still plenty of work to be done.
MORE SHENNANIGANS was outclassed by the first but completed a respectable distance back in third.
ASHAMMAR jumped awkwardly and unseated at the fourth.
STEEL MAN, a poor performer, fell at the eighth.
PRIDEUS jumped poorly and his rider called it a day before the sixth.

1.20 2m 6f 110yds Clelands Jaguar Handicap Hurdle (0-125)

STOPPED OUT stayed on to win well here, despite having been hampered by a faller at the seventh flight. The first two were clear and the winner may still be capable of improvement. This was the longest trip he has tried to date and the step up did no harm.
CHARLIE BUCKET put up an excellent performance from 9lbs out of the handicap.
He’s lightly raced over jumps for a seven-year-old and looks to be coming to himself now. He made the winner pull out the stops, clear of the remainder and this must augur well for future handicap outings.
BALLYMACDUFF performed soundly in third following and 8lbs rating rise. He led two out but was held on the flat.
WATERCOLOURS kept on in the straight but looks to need a drop in class to make a real mark.
1.55 2m 6f 110yds Ashleybank Investments Reg And Betty Tweedie Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-125)

The form of this event is likely to be strong as most had shown decent form of late. TOP IT ALL looks progressive from the bottom end of the handicap and is one to place on a list to follow. He was forced to pull out all the stops, but the second looks capable of further progression. The winner appeared suited by the testing conditions.
LOCKSTOWN is a progressive sort from a small stable with a decent record in recent seasons. Mrs Hamilton boasts a 15% record with her chasers over the last five seasons. Consistent over hurdles, Lockstown doesn’t seem over burdened on a mark of 103 and should win a similar contest before long.
MORE EQUITY had every chance but couldn’t match the first two in the closing stages. She should win a chase before long, but her future may be uncertain following the tragic death of her trainer Peter Monteith shortly after this meeting.
QUINDER SPRING weakened from the last and may have found this race coming a little soon after his Market Rasen win.
CLUB CLASS was put in his place after three out and found this a good deal tougher than the Hexham novice he won last time.
These were a little too sharp for LINDSEYFIELD LODGE. . He led for much of the way but faded form the fourteenth.

2.30 2m 110yds Three Diamonds Handicap Hurdle (0-129)

DOESLESSTHANME rallied in the final furlong when challenged and held on from a fast finishing second. He was well held at Aintree in April, but does seem to have enough about him to take on better class opponents.
RAYSROCK stayed on to give Peter Monteith a second place from what turned out to be his last runner. A generally consistent sort, Raysrock should reward whoever picked up the training reins, hopefully staying at Rosewell.
Peter Monteith will be sorely missed in Scottish racing. He always struck me as a cheerful soul, never short of friends on the racecourse. As such his tragic demise, seemingly by his own hand, seems ever so much a mystery. Sympathy goes out to his family and friends.
BEST PROSPECT had every chance but couldn’t master the winner on the flat. Having been kept on the go during the summer he won’t have lacked fitness, but maybe the race will have his appetite for hurdling. He looks a likely hurdles winner in the near future.
BOGSIDE THEATRE raced prominently and kept on if held in the final furlong.
BEVERLEY HILL BILLY put in a decent effort from the bottom weight, holding every chance at the last but held though not easily cast aside.

3.05 2m 6f 110yds Louis Coppola Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

James Ewart’s stable has hit the ground running this autumn. TORTA DEL CIELO made a winning debut for the Langholm yard, staying on well to hold off three others in a tight finish. He had shown promise on his only other hurdles start and looks an interesting prospect for staying novice events.
WHAT A DREAM, having shown promise here on his last run made the winner pull out the stops. This half-brother to Lie Forrit is learning fast and his trainer should find a race for him.
IDENTITY PARADE set the standard here and put up a sound performance under a penalty. A mistake at the second last wouldn’t have helped her, but she stayed battling all the way to the line.
EMPEROR CHARLIE caught the eye staying on late to finish a close fourth. He looks a long term prospect so this run offers much encouragement.

3.40 2m 110yds Granny's Birthday Treat From E.F.C. Standard Open NH Flat Race

Regular know that I’m always keen on bumpers at Kelso. It was significant that four were in contention on the home bend and each can be taken forward at their own level.

DARK GLACIER came clear in the final two furlongs and looks potentially decent. His family contains enough ability to suggest he can win over jumps.

FOURJACKS kept on after the winner in the closing stages and finished well clear of the third. His breeding is such that he is likely to improve with distance, so a prominent showing in this company augurs well.
TRUCKING ALONG, easy winner of a Limerick point in October, was outpaced three out but kept well enough to regain third place.
FOUR FIDDLERS was in frontline swinging for home, but faded thereafter. He showed a glimmer of ability despite a last place first time out. He’s likely to progress once he goes hurdling, the stable having produced a similar promising sort in Papamoa.
SAM D’OC came for miles back to stay on for fifth and offers hope for the future.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 23rd

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

DORABELLE saw off BORAGH PRINCESS in a slog to the line to land the 2m 4f mares’ novices’ hurdle. They are competitive against their own sex but the winner may struggle under a penalty in open company. SOPHONIE had every chance when coming down heavily two out.

KELLYSTOWN LAD landed the beginners’ chase over 2m 4f, building on a promising Carlisle effort. POKANOKET looked to improve on his initial chase effort here; being held on the run-in, while CHAMIREY couldn’t raise his game once headed going to the last. The latter seems harshly handicapped on 130 over fences, a mark apparently based on his hurdles efforts.
MONSIEUR JOURDAIN plugged on for fourth but was well held. SOFT SPOKEN GUY was feeling the pinch down the far side for the final time and HEGRID unseated and the tenth.

MARSH WARBLER doddle up against moderate opposition in the juvenile hurdle. AL DAFA, currently rated a possibly harsh 114, held HADES for second.

WAR PARTY stayed on from the last to win the 2m handicap chase off top weight. NORTHERN QUEST set the pace to two out but was held once passed and MIGHTY MAGNUS gave way from two out.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS was well held from three out and is having one of his quiet spells. SCHINKEN OTTO wasn’t suited by these conditions.

BILLSGREY has looked progressive since joining Willie Amos and won the 3m 3f handicap chase with a bit to spare. His previous under-achievement could be to his advantage since he looks potentially a fair bit better than the 77 he ran off here. He stays well, handles testing conditions and jumps accurately enough.
A bunch of more exposed opponents followed the winner home. JERINGA kept on for second having been close up for much of the way. NELLIEDONETHAT was out the back for much of the way but stayed on for third and MATMATA DE TENDRON was off his game despite favourable conditions, struggling from three out.
YES MATE was well backed despite dire previous form. He pulled up when beaten four out. BENBEOCH never looked happy and was pulled up along with RARE SOCIETY.

In-form SPICE BAR beat a moderate field in the closing 2m 1f 0-95 handicap hurdle, BARBARIAN kept on well to get within a length at the line and of the two I’d be happier backing him next time. COSMETIC ran moderately well in thirds but the rest were comfortably seen off.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Musselburgh - First jumps meeting of the winter campaign

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 19th

Going – Good

Musselburgh put on their first jump meeting of the winter season, bright weather welcoming Racegoers and the usual decent ground pleasing trainers.

12.25 2m 4f Scottish Racing Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A moderate mares’ maiden featured one of the riding performances of the year by Newmarket based claimer Matt Crawley.
Crawley lost an iron on LASTROSEOFSUMMER as the saddle slipped to the side at the eighth flight. Jumping the next with only his left foot supported, Crawley landed across the horse but made a remarkable recovery to keep the partnership intact. Now riding with no irons, many would have steered a wide course and taken their mount out of the race, but Crawley opted to keep Lastroseofsummer tucked on the inside around the final bend. Making progress from three out, the Rae Guest trained filly slewed left two out, giving Crawley another scare. Clearly going well, Lastroseofsummer jumped the last well and came clear on the run-in under whip waving for encouragement. Gravity took over after the line and Crawley had to bale out.
The rider received generous applause on his return to the unsaddling area. He showed coolness under pressure and no little horsemanship in keeping his filly in the contest. LASTROSEOFSUMMER showed she has a bit of ability and eventually won with a fair amount in hand.
MADAMLILY, basically stamina bred and one who would just get going over this trip, looked the likely winner for a way but couldn’t impact from the last. This was a promising debut over hurdles and she should find a race.
SALLY’S IDEA was a fair third but held. She set the pace but couldn’t respond once headed going to the last.
MISS ABBEY made progress to three out but was held approaching the final flight. She lost a shoe during the race and can step up on this form.
Of the others with previous placed form, BEAT THE BAND suffered an overreach and was pulled up, while BEAT THE ROCK struggled from the second last.

12.55 2m 4f Doos And Donts Handicap Hurdle (0-127)

The handicap hurdles at Musselburgh are generally competitive and plenty of these brought forward decent recent efforts. The pace was steady and the contest turned into a sprint up the straight.
PYRACANTHA is consistent and in form. Off a steady pace he picked up best from two out although he was being pegged back on the flat.
CAILIN NA RI chased the winner home and was closing at the line. He was disappointing at Aintree last time but has been consistent otherwise.
COOL OPERATOR made up most ground of any in the closing stages. A greater test of stamina would have played to his strengths and he looks ready to pick up a race before long.
GRANDAD BILL had every chance but was held before the last.
COCOA KEY made ground up the straight but never got to the leaders. He won at Carlisle last time and he’s another possibly better with a stiffer test.

1.25 3m Birdcage Bar & Restaurant Eskmills Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

NEW SHUIL looks better over fences than he was over hurdles. He was turned out looking well, jumped accurately all the way and showed enough foot from the last to hold two challengers. His jumping should stand him in good stead in future.
ELZAHANN raced well, jumped soundly in front, but she pitched on landing at the last and this cost her the race.
BALLYCOLIN had every chance but was held on the run-in. His previous chasing form was nothing special, but he recently won what was rated a fair pointing contest
in Ireland.
DOUBLE EXPRESSO went well enough until unseating at the eleventh. Brian Hughes commented on his return that he had been knocked into at the fence. Looking at the replay it was clear that HEGRID had bumped him and that gives enough cause to set the mishap aside. HEGRID came down as a result of the clash.
BIG BURROWS jumped awkwardly for much of the race and lost touch from the twelfth.

2.00 2m Saltire 2010 26th-28th November Handicap Hurdle (0-112)

A race signalling the Saltire Festival in East Lothian, an event commencing with next Friday’s Musselburgh race meeting.

They went a rattling good pace in this contest and it’s significant that the first four all came from off the pace.
ALTAN KHAN raced in the rear, picked up from two out and ran on well to wrest the race on the flat. He looks progressive, is at the right end of the handicap and a stiffer test probably wouldn’t do him any harm.
PILLAR OF HERCULES settled a good deal better here. He challenged from two out but was just outpointed after the last. He appears to have calmed down a bit which should mean he will pick up a race.
GRAND DIAMOND is probably high enough in the weights but ran a sound race in third. Worth bearing in mind though that the race was run to suit him.
SIMONSIDE was out the back for most of the way but stayed on for fourth.
SPIRIT OF THE MIST made much of the running but paid the price, fading from two out. Sadly he sustained an injury on the run-in and had to be put down.
CROSBY JEMMA threatened two out but her effort petered out.

2.35 2m Scottish Racing Your Better Bet Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This didn’t look a particularly strong event with many likely to struggle to make a mark over hurdles.

The race was won in game style by 100/1 outsider DICA, giving Patrick Griffin his first winner for 800-odd days. Talented claimer Keith Donoghue set a sound pace, quickened before three out and always looked likely to hold the field from that point. Dica jumped accurately which is a real plus point in these contests.
DHAULAR DHAR could make no impression on the winner from two out. He might pick up a minor race but will probably have to stiff to the minimum trip on sharp circuits.
JAWAAB really got going in the latter stages. He finished with a rattle and just failed to get up for second. TALE OF TANGANYIKA faded from the last flight into fourth. John Wade’s gelding hasn’t progressed from his bumper win here in February.
Previous winner MICHELLE’S EXPRESS faded tamely from two out. Tony Martin had watched the race from the end of the stand in front of me, his destination being the Stewards’ Room to explain the lack lustre run.

3.10 2m 4f TurfTV Handicap Chase (0-117)

A couple races earlier I’d heard a message on the course radios telling staff that a group of South African rugby supporters had turned up and “it might be a good PR opportunity”. Peter Scudamore welcomed a party of half a dozen Springbok followers to see Ormello prepared for this race. Photos were taken and souvenirs handed out, but the gelding hadn’t read the script as he faded to last of four finishers.

CYBORA was accompanied by a two handlers, looking a bit of a ‘hairy goat’ in an unclipped coat and bandaged in front. For all the negatives she jumped well at sensible pace for Graham Lee and held plenty in hand to hold on in the straight. A fair effort from ‘7lbs wrong’ but this was a soft race.
ORMUS probably needs a stiffer track than this, staying on for second without really getting to the winner.
FOLK TUNE looked to be going well on the final bend but couldn’t find enough from two out. Another for whom a stiffer track might be best since he chasing win came at Towcester.
ORMELLO is desperately frustrating, jumped rather deliberately and struggled from four out.
BAAHER fell at the eleventh when still going within himself.

3.45 2m RacingUK Newcomers 3-5yo Standard Open NH Flat Race

There was no pace on here until the final straight in a contest for unraced horses.

BYGONES IN BRID, trained by bumper specialist Karen McLintock (8 from 39 in 5 seasons), made all at a steady pace and showed a sharp turn of foot in the final furlong, coming well clear. He’s bred to have a bit of stamina so it’s conceivable there might be a bit more in the tank.
D’GIGI is related to jumping winners, including Butler’s Cabin, and should build on a promising second here. He only cost £8,000 in May and might prove a bargain.
BLUE BLOODED raced prominently and had every chance but was outpaced from the furlong pole. This half-brother to Arcalis is a nice sort who should build on a fair debut.
KARAKOV’S GIRL was very green in the preliminaries, whinnying her way around the paddock and setting off a few of the others. She was caught for pace when they quickened three out, but picked up nicely in the final furlong and finished with a rattle. She should make an impact against fellow females.
BELLA REGALO looks a nice sort, but weakened two out. He should do better given time.
RED ROCCO will need some time but looks to have the build of a jumper. He’s only three and needs a while to strengthen but might be worth keeping an eye on.

Kelso report for Sunday will follow and I will be at Musselburgh next Friday. Providing the weather behaves itself, and the long term forecast isn’t particularly encouraging, it’s the Borders National meeting on December 5th.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Kelso - First November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 6th 2010

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

12.30 2m 6 ½ f Border Skip Hire National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This contest of a few with obvious ability, one or two with long term prospects and a few not likely to achieve much.

Graham Lee had to work hard on JURISDICTION at the last meeting and it was the same story on this occasion. Setting the pace Rose Dobbin’s gelding had to be driven out on the flat but was always just doing enough. With three wins under his belt a step up in class might be worthwhile as he does no more than he needs to.
ARCTIC COURT was well fancied to step up on previous form and ran a sound race in second, gaining to the line. He should picking up a staying novice contest.
SENOR ALCO was thereabouts the whole way and still held a chance on the run-in, finishing a close third. This was a first outing over hurdles and he should benefit from the experience. Another who should win a staying hurdle.
WHAT A DREAM proved best of the Willie Amos pair. He was held from two out but this wasn’t a bad jumping debut from a half-brother to Lie Forrit who might be capable of better given time.
BERTIE MILAN raced close up until two out and along with WILLIE HALL gave way on the run to the final flight. Both should produce better over jumps in time.

1.00 3m 1f Ship Inn Dalkeith Novices’ Handicap Chase

Most of this field could be given some sort of chance.

ISLA PEARL FISHER created a good impression when winning a moderate event. Nick Alexander’s charge doubled the stable’s autumn tally staying on determinedly to hold on from the last. He was pick of the paddock here, but is an improving sort and I’d be surprised if he can’t progress a few more pounds. Good ground and a decent stamina test appear to suit best.
Alexander suffered more than most in the dire weather last winter. The gallops at his yard near Loch Leven were under snow for a couple of months, and it was late season when his horses got into any sort of form. He has proved himself with point-to-pointers and his chasers are always worth at least a glance.
MORE EQUITY has returned to form of late and pushed the winner all the way. He was clear of the remainder and should win a similar contest.
TOP IT ALL took it up coming to the back straight for the final time, but was headed before the last and didn’t have enough in reserve. He didn’t look straightforward over hurdles, but this was a fair chase debut.
The run will likely have done LOCKSTOWN some good. He was held in the straight but can come on for this.
STORM PROSPECT got into contention three out, but he’s a soft touch in the latter stages and faded in the straight.
ROSSINI’S DANCER was closer to the winner at Carlisle last time. He was caught for pace going to two out and couldn’t get back into the race. He has ability but has proved rather frustrating over obstacles.
DUKEOFCHESTERWOOD led until four out, fading from that point.
Chasing debutant FLAMING THISTLE was in need of the race here and should produce better in time. He was in with a chance to three out but then weakened.
KYBER is capable but inconsistent. He never seemed happy here and lost ouch on the final circuit.

1.30 2m 6½f Premier Traffic Management Handicap Chase (0-129)

This was competitive event and the form should stand future tests.

This trip on decent ground suits SHERIFF HUTTON to a T. He led all the way and stayed on best from the last. The ground may go against him now.
I reported first time out that CAST IRON CASEY needed the race, but he looked pretty much the same here so it’s possible he just carries a bit of condition. He ran well enough, this time over a shorter trip, but was held from the elbow though staying on.
OR DE GRUGY ran sound race in third to keep up an excellent track record. He challenged form the last but held.
STAGECOACH AMBER weakened from two out and is probably better in a slightly lower grade.
ZITENKA weakened four out and soon lost touch. His wins have all come within of 15 days of his latest run. (Zitenka has since run at Wetherby in a race which concertinaed coming to the last. He couldn’t produce any extra on the run-in and still hasn’t quite hit form. He may be worth noting if kept on the go.)
SAFARI ADVENTURES wasn’t able to dictate and beaten from the twelfth.
MIDDLETON DENE jumped five fences poorly before Graham Lee called it a day.
JACK THE BLASTER, presumably difficult to keep fit and with lightly bandaged forelegs, hadn’t been asked any questions when thumping the ninth and unseating.

2.00 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage And Friends Handicap Hurdle (0-125)

There aren’t that many hurdles run over similar distances during the season though there this one produced at least one chasing pointer for the near future.

A Ewart recruit from Andy Turnell, CAPTAIN AMERICO was turned out looking an absolute picture. He stood out equally well on the track, leading two out and coming clear with the minimum of fuss. His new trainer seems to have found a key to this one and he could prove a fair bit better than the 120 mark he ran off here. He seemed to go off the boil after a spell fencing, but showed he retains the ability which saw him earn a hurdles mark of 132 last year.
Other than the winner, the most eye-catching performance came from veteran chaser RAMBLING MINSTER who stayed on relentlessly from three out, snatching second close home. His most obvious target would be the Borders National here in early December, an event he won in 2007. He certainly retains ability and enthusiasm.
SILENT CLICHE is less experienced than some here and probably has some scope for improvement. He went well enough for a long way, and was in contention going to the last, but couldn’t raise his game on the run-in.
REBEL SWING ran a sound race in fourth off bottom weight. There’s plenty of scope for a drop in class for this gelding who has stamina to make up for his lack of stature.
WILD CANE RIDGE set the pace to two out before weakening quickly.
Scottish National winner MERIGO had a pipe opener here. He was outpaced going to the tenth and not asked too many questions afterwards. He’s not really an early season performer and is likely to have a campaign geared toward a tilt at the Grand National.
TILIETUDLEM faded disappointingly, but it emerged that he was struck into so the form can be set aside.

2.40 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Chase ( A Limited Handicap) (0-165)

This event saw one of the top echelon of minimum distance chasers taking on some up-and-coming second season performers.

KALAHARI KING had top weight of 11-10 with the other four bracketed on 10-4. While fit enough to race competitively it did look as if there was a bit to work on, and he came up against a winner who looked primed for this contest. Graham Lee was hard at work from two out and he couldn’t match the pace of the first two, but the race will have brought him forward. I believe his next target is the Peterborough Chase, his subsequent races being dependent on how well he sees out the trip at Huntingdon.
NOBLE ALAN looked the paddock pick and Nicky Richards would appear to have targeted this race. Left in the lead at the last he ran on well to win in decent style. He’ll be at the top end of the better two mile handicaps this season and much depends on how he gets treated by the handicapper after the win.
This was a significant test for GRINGO compared to previous efforts but he came out with a few plus marks and is progressive. He chased the leaders to the last and ran on when inheriting second.
I’M DELILAH set a decent pace and though ridden was still in front when capsizing at the last. She’s a determined trail-blazing mare and will be one to consider in handicaps off her mark of 138.
CANTGETON ran creditably enough from well wrong at the weights, making Kalahari King work for third place. He’s capable but unpredictable.

3.15 2m 1f Hazelrigg Racing Handicap Chase (0-115)

A winner at Hexham in June, ORMUS proved he is still progressing, staying on better of the first two, the pair pulling clear. The second KOSTA BRAVA won what appeared a fair contest here last time but was outpointed in the final furlong.
SUPER BABY made a mark as a novice with some spectacular jumping. However, he can be a little guessy at times and that hinders him on occasions. Having been headed two out he couldn’t go with the first two.
THE COCKNEY SQUIRE was outpaced going to two out and may be a bit high in the handicap.
PRINCE TAM faded in the last half mile and doesn’t get competitive at the business end.

3.50 2m 2f Merry Farriers Stag Handicap Hurdle (0-109)

SUNARRI looked ungenuine last season, including jacking it in on the run-in at Musselburgh. A move to Mrs J Walton’s yard at Otterburn seems to have induced a change of attitude as he made all to win here. It may have helped that Sunarri was given an uncontested lead, but he stuck to his task well enough from the home turn.
TEXAS HOLDEM has had an interrupted career in recent times and retains a fair degree of ability. He was staying on at the finish and there’s enough to suggest he can pick up a minor handicap if staying sound.
ITSTOOEARLY is pretty well exposed and kept on for third.
The fourth, WINTER ALCHEMY, caught the eye in the paddock and does give a glimmer of hope for the future. He stayed on steadily from two out and Nicky Richards should be able to place him lowly company.

Time permitting I hope to do a round-up of recent North Of England action in the next few days, with emphasis on Scottish runners.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Kelso - mid-October Meeting

KELSO – Saturday October 16th

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

It would be reasonable to assume that the rains would have started seriously in the Borders by halfway through October. Not this year it would seem, a dry early autumn leading to a fast surface at Kelso. The form might be worth remembering for free draining Musselburgh, but not so much here once the inevitable precipitation makes an appearance.
An afternoon in aid of Macmillan Cancer support commenced with a Pantomime horse Race, scheduled to last a furlong but started from the half furlong pole. Some still struggled to stay the distance…

2.30 2m ½f Clifford Firth Memorial National Hunt Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A few here will turn into fair-to-middling hurdling handicappers, whilst a handful might progress to competence over fences.
MR JAY DEE, an angular gelding not immediately appealing to the eye, proves that handsome is as handsome does. This was an improvement on his Sedgefield hurdling debut and he should be capable of progressing further. Always handy he led approaching the last and stayed on well under riding.
MAGGIO, now trained in Ireland but with a trainer who often runs his charges in the UK, led until the last and kept on once headed.
FLICHITY has taken time to settle down and still doesn’t seem 100% straightforward. He kept on under pressure for third without threatening the winner.
Many of James Ewart’s runners needed an outing last season and SI BIEN’s fourth suggested the pattern might be repeated. Having raced prominently he was held from the last.
COUNTY COLOURS took a keen hold and had burst himself approaching the last. He doesn’t look a very easy ride and is one to oppose at short prices.
WICKED STREAK looked well enough after break but was put in his place from two out. He showed a hint of ability in bumpers but has a bit to do to prove himself.
SCARVAGH ROSE showed a little promise, closing to three out but then tapped for pace. She isn’t a lost cause.

3.05 2m 6½f Edinburgh City F.C. Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-115)

Given that three figure crowds are a novelty at Meadowbank Stadium, it always strikes me as a bit odd that the East Of Scotland Premier Leaguers choose a Saturday meeting for their jolly! They are however regular supporters of a race at Kelso.

The race was one by one of those ‘I’m not totally surprised he won, but I could never have backed him’ runners. LINDSEYFIELD LODGE is capable on a going day but throws in a lot of moderate efforts. He’s at his best when able to dictate, as he ahd done for a fair way here last time, so Kenny Johnson must have been quite happy to get a free run in front. Baulked by a loose horse approaching three out, Lindseyfield Lodge soon recovered and stuck on stoutly for a second course and distance win. Johnson was riding his first winner after a 16-month injury lay-off and despite riding an outsider was given a good reception.
MORE EQUITY had every chance but couldn’t wear down the winner, though this was a best effort for a while.
STORM PROSPECT could never be rated as the most co-operative animal. He often runs moderately well whilst avoiding winning, staying on for third here.
BORDER REIVER raced prominently but was held from the last. He gets round over fences but is beatable.
KYBER was in touch two out but then weakened and has two ways of running.
POSEIDON thumped the first and was never really going.
SIRKEEL has looked like one who should make a chaser, but his jumping was very novicey on debut and he struggled from halfway.
DUKE OF CHESTERWOOD should be capable of a win in this class, but your correspondent’s stake went up the Swanee when a blunder at the twelfth dislodged Fearghal Davis. He was going well within himself at the time and should not be written off.
AMALFI COAST fell at the fifth.

3.35 2m 6½f Doc Harvey Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

LADY JINKS refused to co-operate at the start and was withdrawn. ELEVENSES pulled up after the third, presumably with something amiss though irritatingly nothing was reported.

Graham Lee had to work hard most of the way on JURISDICTION, but I suspect this one has a lot more in the tank than he cares to let on. He can win again, though his jockey will once again more than earn his fee.
Irish pointing winner DOVE HILL made a very encouraging hurdles debut. Working his way into the race from three out he stayed on well and looks a likely future winner.
BOW SCHOOL ran up to form in third and this may put him right for a return to chasing.
SAM HALL needed the race and was always behind.
GLACED lost touch from three out and finished distressed. A handicap mark of 106 looks harsh and she’s likely to best suited by mares’ only races.

4.05 2m ½f Peter Doyle Handicap Hurdle (0-114)

This race was run at a furious pace with the field well spread out down the far side. Of the first five home four came from off the pace, so the second place of MIDNITE BLEWS looks particularly meritorious. He won here last time and briefly threatened a follow up, giving way in the last 200 yards. He does need good ground or faster.
GRAND DIAMOND finally got his head in front after a few near misses. Brought with a well timed run by Paul Norton, he was pulling away at the line. The large field and strong pace suited.
LONG DISTANCE stayed on for third but there are keener competitors.
BENMADIGAN stayed on in a race that was run to suit him, but he looks held off a mark of 114.
PILLAR OF HERCULES has ability and was still in with a chance when rapping the last, but he’s too keen to do himself full justice.

4.40 3m 1f Elliot Landells Roadsweeper Handicap Chase (0-129) for the Marshall Trophy

This was an open contest where many could be given a chance, though few could be absolutely relied upon.
OR DE GRUGY enjoys racing here and made it four wins from 7 races at Kelso. Leading or disputing all the way, he stayed on well in the straight.
ALWAYS RIGHT made a very encouraging handicap debut, racing up with the pace and sticking to his job on the run-in. He’s a strong type and I got the impression the race would bring him on a bit. He looks a ready made handicap winner.
CAST IRON CASEY stayed on from two out to take third, though he was held from ‘the elbow’. He appeared to see out the trip.
CASADEI had every chance two out but was held from the last. He often runs passably well but his wins are few and far between.
YOUNGSTOWN will be better for this race. He was in contention until weakening two out and possibly raced a bit too keenly early on.
ZITENKA needs a recent race to show his best. He struggled from the fourteenth, but is worth putting on the shortlist when racing within a couple of weeks of his last outing.
SOUBRIQUET dropped away quickly from two out and may be held after his latest rise in the ratings.
NATIVE CORAL and TOP DRESSING never got involved and finished well beaten. Neither seem particularly reliable.
BLAZE TRAILER was going well in the leading group when unseating two out. Twice a winner in Ireland last season, he may be worth an interest if revisiting Scotland.

5.15 2m 1f Hutchinson Sewage Treatment Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-107)

KOSTA BRAVA built on previous promise, and set aside an aberration at Perth, staying on under pressure to pick up this contest. The form looks sound and it would be a surprise if he didn’t win again soon.
MORNING SUNSHINE is in good kept after the winner determinedly under pressure, though he was held in the final furlong.
The one I am interested in form this event is the third SADDLERS DEAL. He looked a chaser when I first saw him and did nothing to dispel that notion here. A recent nice sort who should still come on for the race, he jumped superbly in front until thumping three out. He recovered well but couldn’t respond sufficiently on the run-in, his rider accepting that third place was likely and riding with that in mind. Chris Grant’s charge will repay the favour.
TRANOS ran a fair race but was held on the run-in.
BEST HORSE is lightly raced and ran a respectable close fifth.
TIGER KING was better here than on his previous chase outing but doesn’t look a natural fencer.
MORE SHENNANIGANS jettisoned his jockey at the first, whilst STEEL MAN is no racehorse and was beaten over 100 lengths.

5.50 2m 6½f Betfair Training Series Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-99)

This was a contest light on numbers but one in which none of the contestants could be ruled out.
Sadly DESERT SOUL took a crashing fall at the seventh flight. I’m not sure of his fate but he was attended by the vet and things did not look good.
I’ve liked BUCKSTRUTHER since I first saw him and always felt there was race to be won with the grey. A decent spell in points seem to have helped his confidence and he made most of the running, staying on well in the straight. It looked to me as if the race wouldn’t do any harm either.
PLANETARIUM stayed on from the last but was always held by the winner. POLITICAL PENDANT was one paced in third but is running a bit better than a few Nixon inmates.
SOLWAY BLUE lost touch in the final half mile. He was walked round on the grass in the paddock which perhaps suggests that a fast surface isn’t likely to be appreciated.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

North Of England Jumping - Early October Round Up

Time has caught up with me and I’m unable to do a full analysis of as many race as I would like. However, I will cover Scottish meetings as closely as I can and significant performances from the north of England.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday September 28th

Better known as chaser, FRED BOJANGALS had a sound re-introduction to the racecourse, following home Oxfordshire raider Ashammar in the opening novices’ hurdle. He lost nothing in defeat here, staying on though held from the last hurdle.

SHOPFRONTSPECIALST, well placed by Gordon Elliott in recent months, made a winning chasing debut in the 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase despite a few novicey leaps. He was driven out and this trip is probably as far would be ideal. After a few hard early lessons, LORD LARSSON is getting the hang of chasing and kept on well for second. HARBOUR WAY stayed on late for third, showing that he might be capable of making a mark at a lowly level.

The less exposed of the runners in the 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle, JEU DE ROSEAU and HEART OF DUBAI, filled the first two places. The former won very comfortably and has more in the tank. HEART OF DUBAI was held in the closing stages but is lightly raced and capable of making a mark off a current level of 96.

The oldest in the field held the youngest in the 2m 4f 0-108 Handicap Chase, eleven-year-old AMALFI COAST leading in the last furlong and showing he holds his form despite advancing years. REBEL HUNTER found very little in the closing stages and looks one to oppose when heading the market. Coming back from six months off, BALLABROOK ran well enough in third to promise better in the near future, but the rest were well held.

Chasing debutante PENNY QUEEN made the long trip from Cropredy worthwhile on her chasing debut. She stayed on from the rear in the minimum distance handicap chase, leading 100 yards from home and denying STOLEN LIGHT a double. The latter ran another sound race despite a 7lb rise. TRANOS stayed on for third but he’s very difficult to catch right, BUDS DILEMMA stayed on for fourth, but TROODOS JET found it a bit tough when asked to battle on the run in.
BAJAN SUNSHINE showed some enthusiasm but he’s presumably hard to keep fit and struggled in the last half-mile or so. ALFLORAMOOR was once again too keen for his own good.

DESERT SOUL found a very soft contest where his tearaway tactics were enough to stay in front. The Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle was a dire event and he would be lucky to get it this easy again.

HEXHAM – Friday October 1st

CAPE TRIBULATION ran to head MAGICAL LEGEND after the last in what might just turn out to a fair 3m 1f novices’ chase. 120 rated BALLYVESEY was held in the straight though was only beaten five lengths, while FLYING DOCTOR couldn’t match the leaders from the bottom of the hill.

Lucy Normile has had a quiet time of late but might just have a decent staying novice on her hands in the shape of SUNNYSIDE. Having show promise in bumpers without winning, he proved in his element over this trip, winning unchallenged. The opposition was the strongest, but the runner-up MOON INDIGO should win races.

Point-to-point winner OVERQUEST won the 3m 1f Handicap Chase, staying on well enough to come clear of an ordinary field. RECKLESS VENTURE ran a typical ‘almost but not quite’ second. MURPHY’S BEAU shared the pace for much of the way but couldn’t muster an extra effort from the bottom of the hill. PISTOL BASC was held here but as I write has boosted the form with a win at Wetherby.
ARCHIE’S WISH unseated at the fourteenth. He has shown ability at this level of fences, but is inclined to put in a few dicey jumps.

AL QEDDAAFF was comfortable winner of the maiden hurdle. He departs from the expected McCain type, being principally flat bred with plenty of speed amongst his relatives. He does go well on soft ground though, having recorded his flat win with cut.

A dire two mile chase, full of professional losers, was won by JANAL who showed enough determination to hold AGAINST THE WIND. Long standing maiden MORE SHENNANIGANS, probably better suited by a flatter track, stayed on for third place. Conditions were against SAM CRUISE who has a poor record with cut in the ground.

CARLISLE – Friday October 8th

The opening novices’ hurdle looked a decent contest and the first three in particular are worth noting. RECESSION PROOF, a decent handicapper on the flat, made smooth headway up the straight and ran on well. COUNTY COLOURS stepped up on previous efforts in second place and seems to have benefitted from the summer break, looking more the jumper now. FLINTY BAY was not given a hard time in third on his hurdling debut and should be capable of better next time.

BOW BADGER was an easy winner of the second heat, racing clear from the last. He could be decent.
CHAOPOLIMOSS looks more of a long term project for Martin Todhunter, but a 10 length second here might not look bad in time. Everything points to him making a chaser in time.
Another late developer filled third, YOU KNOW YOURSELF being tapped for pace from two out. A stamina test looks needed and he will likely prove a more formidable proposition over fences.

ALVARADO won on his chasing debut, progressing well up the hill and driven out to win. FLYING DOCTOR filled second place, running a bit better than at Hexham. C’MONTHEHAMMERS ran prominently, kept on for third and it might be wroth noting that his two wins have come on sharper tracks. ALDERLEY ROVER stayed on under pushing and will benefit from the race.
SEIGNEUR DES BOIS wasn’t put into the race and might be a long term prospect. He has much to learn and his jumping was novicey, but this four-year-old hinted at ability in France and is likely to improve with UK experience.

SOTOVIK put up a lifetime best chasing performance to win the two mile handicap chase, a competitive 0-125 contest. Though he has won on soft he wouldn’t want too much cut in the ground.
CANTGETON stayed on up the hill to take second place.
CARRIETAU showed his usual zest out in front, and battled well once challenged though he was running on empty in the last 100 yards. He is handicapped to the hilt but has proved a tough nut to crack since blinkers were applied.
FORTY FIVE, in good form two seasons ago, hinted that he is no back number by keeping on steadily for fourth. He’s on a workable mark and is worth noting, perhaps at a sharper track.
Frustrating HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY made progress to three out, but ploughed through that fence and his chance had gone.

NEWMAN DES PLAGES showed determination in abundance to take the stayers’ handicap chase. Having set much of the pace, he looked held by OVERQUEST two out but battled back to lead before the last and stay on for victory. The second ran creditable stepped up in class following his Hexham win.
STAR PLAYER was held from two out, but this was a great improvement on a dismal 09-10 season. Assuming he can be kept straight, he’s well below his last winning mark.
WESTERN GALE plugged on for fourth but hasn’t yet fulfilled his early novice promise.

LIVELY BARON cruised home in the bumper and Donald McCain has yet another capable animal on his hands. He is related to capable jumpers and I look forward to seeing him hurdling.
Newcomer MIDDLEBROOK performed well in second. A £20,000 buy as a three-year-old, he should repay patience before long.
DR FLYNN represented solid bumper form and performed soundly in third, a place he just held from a staying on HARRIS HAWK who offered John Wade cause for long-term optimism.

HEXHAM – Saturday October 9th

A couple of useful prospects fought out the finish of the opening Beginners’ Chase with SAVEIRO seeing off TWENTYNINEBLACK. The former should be capable of defying a penalty in a novice event, whilst Twentynineblack looks a ready made chase winner.
Back in third KELLYSTOWN LAD ran respectably, though outpaced from two out. He should improve for the run.

Pointing winner QUINDER SPRING unseated on his chasing debut having jumped awkwardly, but he looks to be one capable of progressing and stayed on to win the two and half mile handicap chase. The run won’t have done him any harm after a break and he is one to keep in the notebook.
TIFOSO was just touched off and is another youngster who can make progress over fences, while STAGECOACH AMBER ran a sound race in third to set the standard.
OSCAR HONEY ran in snatches, though was in touch three out before being held from the top of the hill.

The maiden hurdle looked a decent effort. MONOGRAM put his Perth aberration behind him, a few ran out on the bend there anyway, and ran on to hold the challengers from the last here.
BLENHEIM BROOK showed plenty of promise, staying on in the straight, and looks a decent prospect for Lucinda Russell. He’s likely to pick up a race soon.
TWENTYPOUNDLUCK and OIL BURNER were held in the straight but both look jumping types and have hope for the future.

SIERRA VICTOR won a soft stayers’ handicap chase holding a one paced MURPHYS BEAU from the home turn. BENBEOCH made some progress two out but didn’t seriously threaten. Normally consistent if frustrating, RECKLESS VENTURE was beaten two out and pulled up before the last.

COOL VIC won the bumper on his Rules debut for David Carr. He saw off Donald McCain’s DUNOWEN POINT and Malcolm Jefferson’s RIVER DRAGON in the closing stages, the three well clear of the rest. The latter has now used up his allocation of bumpers and should be competitive over hurdles. The first two are worth consideration in further bumpers.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Kelso - Autumn Opener

KELSO – Sunday October 3rd

Going – Good

Kelso’s autumn campaign commenced with a marathon card that took us into the twilight. The course was presented in magnificent condition, a drop of rain in the preceding days just easing any firmness out of the ground. There was drizzle up to two o’clock which cleared to give a fair afternoon’s weather.

The meeting began at 1.30 with the Border Principals Flat Race, a contest between riders represented local areas which carry out the tradition of Common Riding. The event, listed as five furlongs but probably a bit shorter given that it started after the final bend, was won by Graeme Murray representing Langholm.

2.25 2m ½f Sunday Mail Handicap Hurdle (0-115)

MIDNITE BLEWS probably wouldn’t be the most consistent performer, but provided another winner in a successful year for Brampton based Maurice Barnes. Looking well enough after a break, the grey gelding led all the way racing keenly, but talented Ryan Mania kept enough in the tank to drive his mount out for victory. He looks quite nicely handicapped at his best though he does need good ground.
SUMAK settled nicely, was never far away and stayed on best of the rest for second place. He handles soft ground and can be seen to advantage in the coming weeks.
GRAND DIAMOND has been kept busy on the flat and showed no ill effects with a decent effort in third, if just held on the run-in. He’s consistent but not a prolific winner with 3 flat wins to show from 52 efforts at all disciplines.
The horse to take out of this contest looks like CAST IRON CASEY. Giving the impression there’s still something to work on, he stayed on for pressure from the home bend and was picking up on the leaders to the line. A versatile performer, he looks on a workable mark over hurdles and fences.
Another capable of better is LONG DISTANCE who would have been closer but for making a ‘horlicks’ of the second last. Peter Buchanan felt he would have won the race, apparently blaming himself for the error, and this was an improvement on recent hurdles efforts.
FRONT RANK is plenty high enough in the handicap and faded from the last.

2.55 2m ½f Unwin Half Century Juvenile Hurdle (Division One)

TURF TRIVIA made his experience tell, forging ahead on the run-in having jumped tidily. A double penalty might make life difficult.
ALMATUHAM kept on after the last but couldn’t hold the winner. He hurdled soundly enough. His flat form suggests a stamina test suits and he will be suited when able to move up in distance.
HENRY HAVELOCK hurdled better than on his debut and kept on for third.
MAISON BRILLET was held up, presumably to conserve stamina, and kept on up the run-in. His hurdling can be tidied up and there may be better to come.
Well backed COPERNICUS jumped untidily in the rear and has a bit to learn.

3.40 3m 1f Stark Main Accountants Handicap Chase (0-113)

LA PANTERA ROSA, returning from an 18 month lay-off, raced up with the pace, jumped well and stayed on determinedly from the last. This was a decent effort and if kept fit he looks capable of adding to this victory.
CASADEI is a bit of a plodder who often runs competently but seldom wins. He challenged at the last then chased the winner without making an impression.
COLDWELLS went off the boil toward the end of last term but ran passably well, though not matching the first two on the run-in.
FESTIVAL KING couldn’t progress from a successful return and was held after the turn for home. This event may have been just a little tougher than the Sedgefield race.
NOT LEFT YET is evidently difficult to keep right. He was held from three out.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS probably doesn’t stay this distance, but was struggling from the fourteenth anyway.
NELLIEDONETHAT has been out of sorts for some time. He looked very well on his return, but had become detached five fences from the end.
SEIZE progressed briefly four out but was soon back pedalling and definitely has two ways of running.

4.15 2m 6½f NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle

Irish trained NOW THIS IS IT prevailed after battle up the run-in with ANY GIVEN DAY and STRONGPOINT. At the weights there was little to choose between the three of them but NOW THIS IT finished strongest of all up the far rail.
GLACED OVER confirmed the promise of her Sedgefield effort, running a creditable fourth and likely to be much better of in lesser company.
GRAND ZOUKI gave way form two out.
£40,000 purchase BERTIE MILAN found this company too tough and was tailed off by three out.

4.55 2m ½f Unwin Half Century Juvenile Hurdle (Division Two)

PENA DORADA was a maiden on the flat but lack of pace is more than adequately outweighed by jumping ability. He went along nicely up with the pace and came clear on the run-in.
FEARLESS FALCON chased the leader in the latter stages but was outpointed on the long run-in. He looked very fit after his recent outing and the third at Clonmel might underpin this form.
STAGS LEAP ran respectably, but any chance he had was gone once he hit the last and he was held from that point.
PETROCELLI was given an easy introduction, held up and staying on from two out for fourth. He stayed a mile on the flat but disappointed over ten furlongs and might struggle with a stamina test over jumps.

5.30 2m 2f SIS Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (0-92)

Two stood out in the paddock before this race and they filled the first two places. Your correspondent managed to back the winner on inspection backed up by a decent Sedgefield run, but in retrospect a value forecast was staring him in the face.
ZAHARA JOY looked an absolute picture in the paddock, and quite an athletic sort for this level. She’s clearly a late developer having spent her early career sprinting on the flat. She ‘went missing’ for the best part of four years but is now progressive at this lowly level. Always going well, she took over two out and the result was not in doubt from that point. She will go up a bit, but given the ease of victory a rise in class shouldn’t stop her progress and she joins a list of progressive Maurice Barnes novices in recent times.#
AUTHENTIC ACT, second best but still looking very well, didn’t do a huge amount wrong but was held from the last. His attitude seems right and he should pick up a similar contest.
NATIONAL HERITAGE kept on for a never nearer third and ROYAL ENTOURAGE stayed on from the rear.
Pint sized POBS TROPHY ran a respectable fifth against his elders but couldn’t muster the pace of the leaders from two out.

6.00 2m 6½f Snowy’s Farewell Radio Borders Classified Chase

The Scottish racing scene bade farewell to a familiar character as Peter Monteith’s grey ran his last race. There was no fairy tale ending for SNOWY as he got outpaced down the far side, though did stay on under some determined driving to pass a tired Lindseyfield Lodge close home and gain a place in the unsaddling area. A warm round of applause welcomed him and Snowy is now bound for the British Racing School at Newmarket.

On a sadder note we also said farewell to COOLNAHARAN as he suffered a fatal injury when falling at the last fence when still in contention. He seemed to get up OK but it was a horrid fall.

Two dominated the closing stages and produced a rattling good finish. DESPERATE DEX got up in the closing stages, his determined effort just getting the better of Red Dynamite. Ferdy Murphy has worked the oracle with the 10-year-old since acquiring him four runs ago and he should win again before long.
RED DYNAMITE held his head slightly awkwardly once challenged but he seemed to battle hard enough and was well clear of the third. He hit two out, a mistake which may have cost him victory but he may pick up a race while in good heart.
STROBE raced prominently but couldn’t make an impression from two out. He has yet to prove he stays this distance.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE ran better than of late, though weakening from three out.
COPPER’S GOLD looks moody and lost touch from the fourteenth here.
ELLANDSHE finished tailed off though looked after himself as ever.
CHARMING KNIGHT has struggled in even the softest company away from hunters and was tailed off from the fourteenth, being pulled up before the last.
SEEK THE TRUTH unseated at the fourteenth when in rear.

6.25 2m ½f City Roofing Ltd Standard Open NH Flat Race

A stamina sapping afternoon ended just before sunset, though regular readers will know I always look forward to Kelso bumpers. I was not disappointed with some interesting types on show.

ROCKING BLUES, a nice type but looking as if the race would bring him on, proved to have plenty of pace, leading two out and pushed clear. Rose dobbin found last season a struggle but the likes of Rocking blues might mean different story in 2010-11. He should pick up another bumper.
FIRST ROCK is a big strong type for whom the summer has presumably been a benefit. He was done for pace from two out, but has enough about him to make his presence felt over hurdles.
MILANO SUPREMO shapes as a stayer for whom two miles on the flat is a bit sharp. He kept on in the final three furlongs and will be one to look out for once upped in trip over hurdles.
BALLET D’ANGES showed better than on two efforts last term. He led early but was put in his place in the straight.
SHANEN is evidently well regarded and looks the type to do better. Possibly needing the race, he weakened two out but went well enough to that point to suggest he’s worth keeping an eye on.
SCOTSWELL was out with the washing, but he’s still very green and pulled too hard. If he settles down he isn’t a total lost cause for Jedburgh trainer Hilary Graham.

I’ve got to the point where in depth notes on races is taking too much of my time. I’ll keep full reports for meetings I visit and Scottish meetings, but will have to stick to comments on significant performances from elsewhere.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Musselburgh - Royal Scots Day

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday September 26th 2010

Going – Good (Round Course), Good To Soft (Good in places) (Straight)

The afternoon opened with a couple of pony races in the Charles Owen Series. The 138cm and under class was won by Charlotte Greenway on Red Pepper, though the winning rider was tiring as Tom Hamilton closed on Simply Simon. Both riders showed they have the skills of a jockey. A few shrewdies were well aware of Henry Morshead’s ability and he took the 148cm and under one mile event, forging clear on Over To Kerry from Thomas Greenwood on Springs. The bad news for his opponents is that young Morshead is only twelve and has four more years at this level if he wishes!

2.15 5f Royal Scots 3yo Handicap (0-65)

Hawkeyethenoo took this race last year and has progressed a long way since. It’s difficult to see RED ROAR doing the same, though she has done quite well in recent weeks and followed up a Beverley maiden win. On her toes and looking very fit, Red Roar progressed two furlongs and ran on to lead in the final furlong.
Favourite OONDIRI had every chance having raced prominently, and briefly looked the likely winner at the furlong pole, but was held close home.
DRUMPELLIER race prominently but was one paced in the final furlong.

2.50 1m 4f 100yds Racing UK Selling Stakes

The runners in this race were noticeably bigger and stronger than the three-year-olds in the first event. It’s not until you get to the course and have a good look at different types of animal that the differences become clear.

Though a seller this wasn’t a bad event with ratings ranging from 72 to 55. It was one of the lower rated runners, HONG KONG ISLAND running of 57, that took the contest in decent style. This was only his seventh race and Nicky Richards seems to have found the key to him. He was sold to local trainer George Foster for £11,000 and it wouldn’t be total surprise if this one is seen back here in juvenile hurdles.
ROYAL STRAIGHT chased in vain form two out, though ran a sound race.
ODDSMAKER was raced up to the lead and came past us tanking along. He went too quick for his own good and weakened once headed after three out, just holding third place.
KAMES PARK made a little progress two out but never got to the leaders.
NORTH CENTRAL didn’t see out the trip and EMIRATES ISLE, dire since returning after a lay-off, was well beaten in last.

3.25 7f 30yds RSP Consulting Engineers Handicap (0-80)

CARA’S REQUEST has benefitted from being ridden prominently and led all the way here. The pace was well judged by Michael O’Connell, pushing on four out and keeping sufficient in reserve for the winner to hold a steadily gaining second. Ridden prominently on a course favouring front runners he has a chance of repeating this success.
GEORGE BENJAMIN ran a sound race but couldn’t get to the winner despite finishing well. He’s consistent and should add to his Catterick maiden win.
From the bottom of the handicap, BERBICE and COMMANDO SCOTT kept on to fill the next two places without ever threatening the winner.
REVUE PRINCESS was held in the final two furlongs, though may not have had this race run to suit and is not a type to desert just yet.
NUFOUDH, who scoots around the tight bend here, chased the leader into the straight but was comfortably put in his place once challengers emerged from the pack.

4.00 1m European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ Handicap (0-87)

This was the feature event on the card and type to throw up an improving sort. This year’s candidate is HAMLOOLA, racing for only fifth time, who added to her earlier Yarmouth win. She didn’t have the run of the race at Kempton, but proved that she has continued to progress when driven out for victory. I’d be surprised if she didn’t add another win soon.
PATH OF PEACE chased the winner in the final two furlongs to take second. She is another lightly raced sort and was clear of the third.
Double winner SOCIAL RHYTHM made progress from three out but never got to the leaders. She’s in good form, ran soundly off a raised mark and looks a good measure.
HARRIET’S GIRL looked very well, but was sweating in the paddock and rather keen going down. She was outpaced in the closing stages.
At first glance CHERRY BEE looked fit, but fellow paddock watcher David Cormack felt she came up a bit light. His judgement was backed up in the race as she dropped away once headed after two out.

4.35 1m 1f Scottish Racing Claiming Stakes

The conditions set claiming prices form £24,000 downwards, but this was a weak contest and concerned only the top two.
BENCOOLEN was best favoured at the weights, 8lbs best in on the ratings, and made the most of his advantage. He’s not the most consistent, but was well placed here and asserted in the final furlong.
RED JADE challenged two furlongs out and led briefly before giving way.
KING OF THE MOORS ran as well as could be expected against better opponents, challenging three out but held approaching the final furlong.
RA JUNIOR ran a fair race in fourth and but is inconsistent and difficult to place effectively off 65.
The other four were not remotely good enough.

5.10 1m 6f Royal Scots Club Handicap (0-75)

Val Donoghue has taken over the hot seat at Belstane, following Linda Perratt, Ian Semple and Noel Wilson, none of whom remained in situ for long. CHOOKIE HAMILTON recorded a winner for the stable, having notched up five for Semple in 2009. He looks an uncomplicated and honest sort who led two out and stayed on well for victory. This admirable performer now boasts 12 wins from 46 runs.
BEAT THE SHOWER stayed on to take second place. This wasn’t a bad effort and he’s unexposed on the flat so might be worth keeping tucked away for reference.
ACT OF KALANISI needs to dictate and have the run of the race. He was never allowed enough rope here and kept on at one pace from two furlongs out.
LADY BLUSESKY might need a stiffer test to be seen at her best, despite the fact that she won over 12 furlongs last time. She was one paced in the last two furlongs.
LA BACOUETTEUSE and CORKY DANCER, both graduates from bumpers, are struggling for basic pace on the flat and I’d look to jump races to bring out better in them.

5.40 5f Royal Regiment Of Scotland Handicap (0-65)

A smallish field of exposed performers contested the closing event. Class told as the top weight HIGHLAND WARRIOR challenged approaching the final furlong and led close home to win a little cosily. A veteran of 121 runs, he’s run well this season and retains his enthusiasm.
SANDWITH raced prominently, looked briefly held a furlong out, but stayed on close home. Another with plenty of miles on the clock, he’s regularly been in the mix of late.
WICKED WILMA ran a bit better than her recent efforts, racing prominently but held in the final furlong.
SHARP BULLET showed speed but hadn’t enough in reserve once passed approaching the final furlong.

That closes out my visits to Musselburgh this flat season, though the course stage two midweek meetings in October, closing on the 27th with the Willie Park Trophy. Jump racing starts in Musselburgh and the decent ground normally guarantees a few runners with potential appear.

Perth Finale for 2010

PERTH – Wednesday September 22nd

Going – Soft (good to Soft in places)

Perth’s two day season finale took place on a softened surface as the autumn rains arrived in the Tay Valley. Respectable crowds attended on both days, 2,600 on day one and just over the 3,000 mark for the closing day’s racing.

2.25 2m 4½f Salutation Hotel Maiden Hurdle(Class 4)

Nigel Twiston-Davies often makes a mark at Perth and he opened the meeting on a successful note courtesy of FRONTIER SPIRIT. Building on the promise of his Plumpton jumps debut in the winter, he raced close up if a trifle keen and took over on the flat. The six-year-old has not been hurried and looks sure to continue to reward his trainer’s patience.
DEVOTION TO DUTY steeped up on his previous effort here, both going and trip seeming more to his liking.
Gordon Elliott’s TRAFFIC ARTICLE stayed on up the straight to finish a close third, apparently benefitting from the application of a tongue-tie.

3.00 2m ½ f Perth FM 106 Claiming Hurdle (Class 4)

Rated 132, RIVERSCAPE took an easy opportunity here, her only scare being when having to jump a falling horse after the third hurdle. She cruised away in the latter stages and was claimed by B.D.Haynes for £7,000.
The rest look much of a muchness with exposed GRAND DIAMOND leading the race for second.

3.35 2m 7th Edward Massie Brown Classic Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-107)

CAPPAGH looks by no means straight forward, and didn’t jump brilliantly, but the champion jockey McCoy organised him well enough and he was unextended in beating a moderate field. He can improve and should cope with better opposition.
RELAND raced prominently but couldn’t match the winner from two out. He has enough ability to be placed to win a similar contest.
Although lightly raced recently, BEST HORSE has plenty of miles on the clock. He was beaten three out but offered al ittle encouragement on chasing debut.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE, desperately out of sorts lately, charged toward the course exit passing the stands and KOSTA BRAVA followed him in running out.
SAFIN was foiled by the first on his chasing debut.
SIOLVER PALM was still in touch though ridden when whacking three out and unseating.

4.10 2m ½f A C Management Consulting Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

AL DAFA followed a fairly gentle hurdling introduction in Ireland with a tidy win here. He probably didn’t achieve a huge amount here but is far enough forward to take advantage again soon.
ANCIENT TIMES stuck to his task in second but there was not so much encouragement from those behind.

4.45 3m Sodexo Prestige Handicap Chase (0-130)

SOUBRIQUET was out sorts last winter but has much better with the sun on his back. He came clear in the straight but will be hit by the handicapper and things will be tougher over fences in the near future. He’s on 115 over hurdles though and he may be aimed at the lesser obstacles.
TWEKLVE PACES, never the most predictable, ran respectably upped in class if well held from two out.
URSIS raced with some zest in front, though his jumping can be hairy if apparently spectacular! He was headed four out and struggled from two out.
CATCH THE PERK isn’t easy to catch right, though he still retains more ability than he sometimes lets on. He looked well beaten then picked up again late on for fourth.
NUDGE AND NURDLE, a winner here in 2008, was beaten before the straight.
ECHO POINT raced prominently for two miles but felt the pinch down the back straight and pulled up before three out. He’s not especially well handicapped over fences.
VALERIUS lost his place approaching the thirteenth and was pulled up before three out, along with STEEL MAGNATE who jumped moderately and never figured seriously.

5.20 3m ½f Handicap Hurdle (0-112)

MAD MOOSE found little on the run-in allowing BESCOT SPRINGS to overhaul him close home. Both have question marks against them and I’d be loathe to attach too much weight to this form.
Triple winner LIZ’S DREAM was very disappointing and pulled up, while the remainder SOUL MAGIC, DICKE HENDERHOOP and GUERILLA aren’t win betting material.

PERTH – Thursday September 23rd

Going – Soft

2.20 3m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

Outsider GLACED OVER was pulled up after the fifth when his saddle slipped. The field was further reduced when MONOGRAM dumped Ryan Mania over the rail on the stands’ bend, taking Wood Yer part way with him.
WOOD YER was always chasing in vain after being steered back on course, but has enough about him to suggest he can win races in time.
SUPERCEDE made the best of a race that fell in his lap. He has been well placed over fences and hurdles by Gordon Elliott, a trainer who continues to plunder Scone Park prize money.

2.50 2m ½f Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

TIME MACHINE had shown plenty of promise in Ireland, including some decent efforts in handicap company. He was going well three out, took over two out and was driven out to win.
MAKAHAALEB, a winner at down Royal kept on for second, and further confirmation that the form is quite solid came as course and distance winner JEWELLED DAGGER filled third place.
Locally trained THE COCKNEY SQUIRE, a £25,000 purchase out of Charlie Swan’s yard, led until two out before weakening. He was an easy winner of a maiden hurdle in April and will presumably come on for this outing.

3.20 2m 4½f George Stubbs Insurance Services Novices’ Chase (Class 3)

Chasing newcomer FRONTIER DANCER made a favourable impression, jumping very well and pulling away from three out. He has the make of a chaser and should go on from this effort.
STEEL MAGNATE plugged on fro a well held second. Though running better than the previous day, his jumping was still far from foot perfect.
BAAHER well held up and couldn’t make an impression from three out.
ELLANDSHE was well outclassed but added another completion and some pocket money to his record.

3.50 2m 4½f Brewin Dolphin Investment Management Novices’ Handicap Hurdle(0-104)

DE BANSHA MAN has struck me as more of a chasing type, though his first effort at that discipline was disappointing. He recorded a first win here, forging clear from before the last and will be suited by further.
COOSAN BELLE ran a sound race is second, if held form before the last, and is showing promise over hurdles.
ON THE LOOSE plugged on for a well held third and is quite well exposed, while DESERT SOUL did his usual trailblazing before gradually fading once headed three out.
Sue Bradburne’s PROFICIENCY, who had shown ability previously, was disappointing and dropped away before the fifth flight.

4.20 2m ½ f Anderson Anderson and Brown Handicap Hurdle (0-118)

REGENT’S SECRET has a very good record around here and made it 4 wins from from 8 efforts at Perth. He’s normally held up, pretty much ridden like a non-trier, but seems much happier closer to the pace at Scone Park and was kept in touch by Graham Lee. When asked the question he found enough under pressure to hold off his only challenger.
Consistent QUITO DE TRESOR made the winner pull out the stops and lost little in defeat. He had no trouble with a return to hurdling after three chase wins earlier in the year.
VINNIES FRIEND and TRUMPSTOO filled the next two spots, but were held from two out. TRUMPS TOO is better on a faster surface.

4.50 2m 4½f Brewin Dolphin Investment Management Handicap Chase (0-120)

SWINCOMBE ROCK made a very promising chasing debut despite starting in senior company. He came clear from two out to win very nicely, though pays for his effort with a revised mark of 135. That being said, he does look potentially good enough to compete well off the higher mark.
KING ROONAH made a few jumping errors, as is his way, but remained in contention until hitting two out, after which he was eased home for second. He needs to tidy up his fencing to progress further.
OR DE GRUGY led until four out, and looked likely to hold on to third at one pace. However, he was cannoned into by a loose horse and unseated on the run-in.
MORE EQUITY inherited a remote third on the run-in and isn’t going forward over fences.
ORMELLO was beaten four out and looks desperately difficult to win with, even though he does possess ability at this level.
TOP DRESSING was putting out distress signals approaching four out.
STROBE raced prominently until weakening three out and the company was probably a bit tough for him.
KYBER didn’t build on his promising chase debut and was struggling some way out before pulling up.

5.20 2m ½f Perth FM 106.06 Standard NH Flat Race

The first pair were clear here and their form is probably sound enough given that the runner-up is a previous winner.

THE COCKNEY MACKEM won with ears pricked and looks a promising sort, even if he wasn’t tested to the maximum here. He’s by a St Leger winner yet a half-brother to two fair sprinters, but evidence is that dad has the influence on this occasion.
DR FLYNN could make no impression on the winner in the closing stages. He won at Kelso in March and this run will have done him no harm.
MONROE PARK filled third, but he was well beaten equipped with a first time tongue-tie, whilst TOMZATACKMAN made no impact after long lay-off.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Ayr Western Meeting and Hamilton Finale

AYR - Western Meeting – Thursday September 16th to Saturday September 18th

It’s normally safe to assume that the going will be on the soft side for showpiece of the Scottish flat season. This wasn’t the case though as the west of Scotland avoided any significant rain, the ground drying out from just softer than good on Thursday to touching fast on Saturday.

The meeting opened with an ordinary maiden in which the favourite didn’t fire, Another Citizen passing Macho’s Magic in the final furlong. SHADOW CATCHER was outpaced in the first half of the race, but picked up nicely in the final two furlongs and looks to need a stiffer test than this six furlongs.

NORTHSIDE PRINCE impressed me with his battling qualities in the feature event, the mile and a quarter Kilkerran Cup Handicap. He has progressed through the season but was just pipped by PENDRAGON, another who has come on in leaps and bounds in recent months.

PUY D’ARNAC ran a decent race in Thursday’s closing 1m 5f Handicap. His best from has been on soft ground, and he’s not been over-raced this term, so there must be an opportunity or two in the closing weeks of the turf season.

WELL SHARP quickened up nicely to win the seven furlong maiden on Friday’s card. His family improves with distance and he looks a handy prospect for next year.

ALBEN STAR won a decent looking maiden on his debut at Musselburgh, the second, fourth and sixth having all won since. He had to work to hold off Drawing Board in the nursery here, but he looks to have a fair bit of scope and could make a mark in Pattern company in time.

Exposed performer ARCTIC FEELING won the Listed Rosebery Stakes with a late burst. On the face of it we could have seen the best of him, but it’s worth considering that he comes from a family who have won races as three and four-year-olds.

DESCARO has improved for being upped significantly in distance, and won the extended 17 furlong Eglinton Cup with ease. He showed some promise over hurdles last season and his trainer now has a choice of flat or hurdles for the coming weeks.

Frankie Dettori weaved his way through on the stands’ side to win the Ayr Gold Cup on REDFORD. The winner has since followed up over a furlong more at Ascot and looks to have a little more in hand in current mood. This was a very high class renewal which would have made a strongly contested Listed contest. The popularity of the Ayr sprint event is emphasised by the fact that the course can fill both Silver Cup and Bronze Cup. HITCHENS won the race on the far side in finishing third, the stands’ side holding a two or three length advantage over most of the meeting.

TIGER REIGNS took a strong renewal of the Ayrshire Handicap, but one I’d take from the race is OUR JOE MAC who rallied well in the closing stages for fourth after being caught for pace two. Off a mark of 94 there may be just a little scope for easing the latter in class, or perhaps a taking a three-year-old handicap if the opportunity arises.

HAMILTON – Sunday 19th September and Monday September 20th

STATE OPERA put up the most significant performance of Hamilton’s two day seasonal finale. A lengthy colt who looks to have some developing, in similar mould to the same stable’s Sergeant Ablett, Mark Johnston’s charge wound up the pace from four furlongs and came clear when asked. The third is on a solid looking 77 rating and that must put the winner up in then 90s. One for next season assuming he strengthens over the winter.

MING MENG looks to be an improving sort and was a staying on third in the six furlong Flower Of Scotland Handicap.

Mark Johnston has TOBERNEA at the right end of the handicap, Joe Fanning setting a typically well judged pace over the eleven furlong trip and his mount seeing off challengers up the hill. He should pick up another race this autumn.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Catching up with.... Sedgefield in early September

Apologies for infrequent updates of late. I'm not able to commit as much time as i'd like to my reports these days. I do have a number of Scottish meetings lined up for the coming weeks as there are a number of weekend meetings. I do feel happier doing an on the spot reports rather than picking up replays off the internet.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday September 7th

Going – Good To Soft

Overnight rain, and a subsequent softening of the ground, led to a number of non-runners and the four chases were weak affairs. The last fence was omitted once again, the open ditch being the last fence giving a run in of well over two furlongs.

3.35 2m 4f Poker@Bet365 0-95 Handicap Chase

STOLEN LIGHT recorded a first win over fences, pretty much having the run of the race here. He set the pace, was still going best two out and was driven out to win. Subsequent tasks are likely to be tougher.
FESTIVAL KING made a promising re-appearance after missing last season. Held up early, he got into the race from three out and made steady progress approaching the last. He kept on under pressure and connections must take encouragement from one who can step up on this.
KEOGHS BAR, a pointing winner representing Irish trainer Irene Monaghan, had every chance from the final but wasn’t good enough.
In form from hurdling, ISLE OF INISHMORE was making a chasing debut. He got into the argument three out but was another found wanting in the closing stages.
COLOURS OF AUTUMN made bad mistakes at crucial stages and dropped away after thumping two out. He didn’t do badly in Irish points but is finding handicap chasing a tough assignment.
MAIDSTONE MIXTURE is capable at best but rapidly descending the handicap. He weakened from three out and is offering little encouragement.
SENDEED raced close up until weakening from three out. He went lame on landing over the last and was pulled up.

4.45 2m ½f bet365 Best Odds 0-112 Handicap Chase

A weak event went in ratings order with CALCULAITE staying on to pick off the front runner on the line.
FILM FESTIVAL was plenty keen enough, but kept up the gallop until finding the final climb just too much. He is suited by this tight track where he can get out in front and lead his field a merry gallop.
SCHINKEN OTTO was held from two out and probably not suited by the overnight rain.
SKIDDAW JONES is readily opposable, jumped poorly and was pulled up before three out.
TIGER KING doesn’t look a natural chaser, jumped clumsily in rear and was pulled up before the seventh. He looks better kept to hurdling.

5.20 3m 3f 0 – 91 Handicap Chase

ARCHIE’S WISH showed once again that he’s much happier over fences than he was over hurdles. That being said, this race didn’t take huge amount of winning. He tracked the leader all the way round and forged clear on the run-in.
I’ve suggested in the past that EXECUTIVE’S HALL can improve with time and a decent trip. The move to the latter brought about some improvement as he set the pace until overhauled at the last. He kept on but didn’t have the pace of the winner.
The acquisition of a visor on Executive’s Hall is not a good sign. I do feel that a jumper needs to be able to see what’s going on around him, though the aids do work on occasion, notably with Carrietau last season.
MOON MELODY has a fair record for a lowly rated horse. He’s best on a turning track but the ups and downs here may not have suited so well and he was held from two out.
SHULMIN, a three time course and distance winner, has periods in form and periods in the doldrums. After a purpled patch at Cartmel in the springs she’s back to moderate form, being outpaced form two out on this occasion.

The Scottish summer jumping season comes to end in the last week of September, Perth closing up for the year with a two day meeting. Kelso then starts the winter campaign with its first meeting on October 3rd, Hexham picking up the threads in early October just over the border.

On the flat, an Ayr Western Meeting summary will follow then I'll be at Musselburgh for their meeting a week Sunday(26th).

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Gannin' down the East Coast Line... see the Blaydon Races!

NEWCASTLE – Monday August 30th

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

I made my annual August Bank Holiday pilgrimage down the east coast to Newcastle for a card featuring the Blaydon Race Nursery. Regrettably the meeting seems to be done on the cheap since the Class 2 feature race ‘rewarded’ the winner with only £5050 and the winning owner’s ‘take home pay’ for the Class 6 handicap was a mere £1107. It may be a case of ‘While you can get away with it’ I suppose, and the racing was well supported, but Northern Racing doesn’t seem inclined to dig too deep for what could be a showpiece card.

Having lost the privilege of a company car on being made redundant earlier this year I had to be content with a journey by train. That being said, it wasn’t expensive booked in advance and the trip down the coast around Berwick is as scenic a section of railway as I’ve travelled on. The track is about a mile and a half from Regent Centre Metro station, 12 minutes journey from Newcastle Central, with a bus connection to the course. As it was I chose to walk which took about 25 minutes, on the return walk sharing the pavement with joggers and runners presumably limbering up for the Great North Run. The jogger who I could keep pace with while walking has a lot of work to do…

The rail on the stands’ side was moved to allow 3 metres of fresh ground to come into play. The only one to try this ground was P J McDonald on Coole Dodger in the claimer. To my mind the gelding performed above himself at the weights, but no one else took the hint.

2.15 7f European Breeders’ Fund 2yo Maiden (Division One)

There are normally one or two of interest in the maiden on this card, and we had a bonus of two divisions this year. The first division appeared the weaker of the two heats, but the times were identical.

LOUKOUMI stayed on under pressure from two out having been held up. She seems likely to see out a mile and that might bring about a little more improvement.
The fly in the ointment here is the 100/1 second RUDEGIRL who had shown little on her first two outings. On the face of it there was no fluke since she came through to lead inside the final two furlongs only to be run out of it in the final 200 yards. She is entered in a Sales race at Fairyhouse in September and after this effort it wouldn’t be a total surprise if connections had a go there.
IBSAAR didn’t particularly impress in the paddock and was keen going down. He competed for the pace until after two furlong pole, only raising one pace from that point.
DEEP APPLAUSE never got into the contest seriously but stayed on to some effect in the final two furlongs. He’s from a middle distance family and should be seen to better effect when stepped up in trip next year.
MAVERIK, equipped with a cross-noseband, was taken down early. He had every chance over a furlong out and wasn’t good enough. He does now qualify for nurseries.
THE BELLS OF PEOVER raced prominently on the far rail but was one paced from two furlongs out.
Newcomer PINK DIVA opened at 11/2 but eased to 7/1. She’s entered in the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot, but she was green in the paddock and struggled after a slow start. She has enough about her to suggest there’s better to come in time.

2.50 7f European Breeders’ Fund 2yo Maiden (Division Two)

The time was identical to the first heat but the first two here were both newcomers and caught eye in the latter stages.

The winner SERGEANT ABLETT is far from the finished article. He’s a lengthy gelding who looks to have some filling out to do, and looks likely to benefit from a winter’s growth. As it was he led one and a half furlongs out and soon had the race safely secured. His half-brother Drill Sergeant is a three times middle distance winner and stays two miles, and Sergeant Ablett looks the same sort of material.
SUD PACIFIQUE was held up by Daryll Holland and pretty much caught out by Sergeant Ablett’s burst. He would have won most similar contests as he quickly pulled clear of the remainder and his visit to the winner’s enclosure is only delayed. By Montjeu out of a sister to a Prix Marcel Boussac winner, Sud Pacifique has Group 1 entries and is clearly well regarded.
INDIAN GIVER is a sound marker and probably ran to his 69 rating though totally outclassed by the first two from two furlongs out. There’s probably a minor fillies’ maiden for her, or she could be aimed at staying nurseries as her new mark is downgraded to 65.
FACE THE FUTURE stayed on for fourth and improved on his Ayr debut effort.
WHITE FUSION raced prominently but was held from two furlongs out.
A few were headstrong on the way to post, particularly ADLINGTON who has regressed from his initial efforts.

3.25 1m LA Taxis Claiming Stakes (maximum claiming price £10,000)

I’m very comfortable assessing claimers and this race threw up the best bet on the card in MOODY TUNES who looked very well in himself. A fair enough handicapper, these races are much easier for him and he pulled clear from two furlongs out having raced prominently.
JUST FIVE is rated a couple of pounds less than the winner, and is possibly a few pounds better on Southwell’s artificial surface than he is on turf. He kept on well for second and it’s worth bearing in mind that he has been eased from 80 down to 77 in the all-weather ratings.
WIGWAM WILLIE plugged on a well held third. He won a handicap off 85 last year so even at the age of eight his trainer may have something to work with off 73.
TEN TO THE DOZEN kept on after a sluggish start to pick up fourth place, but he’s only rated 40 and the position probably flatters him.
COOLE DODGER ran better than his 50 rating suggested he might. He was brought up the stand rail, the only one to try it during the meeting.

4.00 1m Blaydon Race 0-83 Nursery Handicap

We were treated to Lindisfarne’s version of The Blaydon Races in full in the minutes leading up to the main race on the card, though I can’t help feeling that there was very little play on the theme during the afternoon.

The time was 0.7 seconds greater than that of the claimer, but at the weights that’s at least respectable and would suggest the winner is capable of running to a good bit more than his mark here of 74. MY SINGLE MALT is a robust looking colt who needed the attentions of two handlers in the paddock. He went about his business well when asked for an effort two out, and held on well from the persistent second.
Of the first two I’d probably give a little more weight to the performance of NEXT EDITION. He led until the furlong marker and was not brushed aside from that point. A good effort and he looks likely to step up a place soon.
ARABIAN STAR stayed on for third and seemed happier here than he had at Epsom.
The fourth REGIMENTAL should be worth keeping in mind for upcoming races. He came through to challenge with the winner but was held form the furlong pole. There’s a class difference between the two and this one would have a strong chance is a lesser contest.
MY MATE JAKE struggled with pace form halfway but stayed on in the closing stages.
Course winner CHIN ‘N TONIC had every chance but wasn’t good enough in the final two furlongs.

4.35 7f Hanro 56-72 Fillies’ Handicap

CLUMBER PLACE is an occasional winner who pulled clear with her nearest challenger ALWAYS DAZZLING, another near the bottom of the weights. It’s difficult to believe that the two have improved so much over third placed LEITZU, another exposed performer, and my gut reaction is to take the form with a pinch of salt. Cue wins for all three!
LUV U NOO didn’t appear to run to her recent level in finishing fourth, she was held from two out but did at least keep on, and SILLY GILLY was below form in fifth.

5.10 5f Alexandra Cars 46-65 Handicap

Twelve turned up for the princely first prize of £1419 (oh yes, and 29 pence) and CAYMAN FOX was given an easy ride to the purse. Allowed a comfortable lead, she forged on from two out and was never in danger. She’s in good heart and might just have another race in her in the near future.
DISPOL KYLIE chased the leader from two out without making an impression. She has been thereabouts at this level a few times, but hasn’t won for a couple of years.
FUTURE GEM, who has struggled this term, hinted at a return to form in third. She appears to retain her ability and might just squeak a weak sprint handicap before the season is out.
DIVINE SPIRIT kept on for fourth but is difficult to win with and on a long losing run.

5.45 5f Happy 21st Birthday Laura Jane Fenwick 56-72 Handicap

BRONZE BEAU was another leader able to dictate and took charge approaching the furlong pole. This was a pattern that had been repeated throughout the afternoon, late runners not getting near to the front. Linda Stubbs’ consistent gelding is noted as enigmatic but he’s not been out of the first three for some time.
JIGAJIG added another place in what has been a successful season. A right ‘street fighter’ type, he’s probably as high as he needs to be in the handicap but continues to give his best.
DANCING FREDDY made his effort approaching the furlong pole but was held.
TEXAS QUEEN got tapped for pace two out and, though she picked up again, she could not make an impression on the leaders.
AREEG was outpaced at halfway and isn’t good enough in this company.
TILLYS TALE faded approaching the furlong pole and looks held by the handicapper at present.

6.15 6f Waverley TBS 61-80 Handicap

GINGER TED had the race set up for him here. He needs to come off a decent pace and was able to do so, taking the lead approaching the furlong pole and running on well.
MANGO MUSIC was near the head of affairs most of the way. He kept on well enough in the final furlong. Given that he was coming off a break this run was very encouraging and, in the hands of a shrewd trainer in Richard Fahey, he can be placed to advantage soon.
REVUE PRINCESS has been in good form and looks a sound marker with her third place finish.
Three exposed sorts followed home the first three in AVONTUUR, BOND CITY and BAYBSHAMBLES, none having any discernable advantage over the assessor.