AYR – Saturday February 13th
Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)
Friday’s extra card was called off and I reckon most Scottish racing followers expected this card to go the same way. However, an overnight rise in temperature meant the green light was shown. Good news as this was a decent card for the first Ayr meeting to go ahead since well before Christmas. With little rain or snow of late the ground had dried out significantly.
Ayr has a record in recent times of having a fence missed out and once again it was the second last in the back straight.
1.40 3m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
EDGE OF TOWN had to do nothing more than repeat previous form to pick up this contest with a fair bit to spare. I’m not sure we learnt much more than we knew previously, but Edge Of Town looks another McCain staying chasing in the making.
CLUB CLASS was held by the winner from two out, but kept on to secure second. This type of test suits and there should be a modest maiden or novices’ contest within his compass.
BEL HUGO progressed from his debut form to keep the second honest close home.
FLY TIPPER, an exposed maiden, was best of the rest, followed by one who suffered a breathing problem last time with two apparent slowcoaches pulled up.
2.10 2m 4f Class 3 Novices’ Chase
GANSEY impressed me at Carlisle back in October and he has progressed into a decent novice chaser. He led jumping well and had the race comfortably won from three out. Given what he has achieved in three wins he must be worth a try in Graded company. He was considered worthy of that level as a hurdler and his chase form suggests he’s better over the larger obstacles.
EYRE SQUARE has shaped nicely over hurdles and the move to fences seems to his advantage. He saw off a decent performer in third and Keith Reveley should be sharp enough to find a contest for him.
MIRAGE DORE should have had conditions in his favour here and did not progress from his Market Rasen win. He was tapped for speed from four out and probably needs further, but nevertheless this was disappointing.
BATTLE OF SONG and RICO HOMBRE offered little immediate encouragement, both being well detached from the eleventh.
MR WOODS set the pace but jumped markedly right and an exaggerated right twist at the tenth dislodged Garry Whillans. He ran well going right-handed at Carlisle and a move back there may help, but this effort suggests a confidence problem over fences.
2.40 3m 1f 0-134 Handicap Chase
BALLABRIGGS doddled up at Catterick recently and beat a better field here just as comfortably. His declared aim is the Topham Chase. Certainly the way he jumps, and the fact that he hails from a stable who know their way around Aintree, suggests he would have every chance in that event.
GYPSY GEORGE raced up with the pace took over four out. He couldn’t answer once Ballabriggs passed but lost nothing in finishing second to a progressive opponent. The race won’t have done him any harm, he went well in first time blinkers and he must have a sound chance of winning soon.
NEWMAN DES PLAGES plugged on for third but was held from three out. A drop back in trip might help as he won over five furlongs less at Carlisle earlier this season.
EXTALAR disappointed once again, though he plugged on past tiring rivals for fourth place.
HIMALAYAN TRAIL was struggling before the straight. His jumping let him down as it has done before, and I suspect he needs a bit further these days anyway.
CRAIGLANDS was left behind from four out. He has had some tough tasks of late and would appear to need a drop in class.
HARRY FLASHMAN was another struggling from four out and was not helped by some iffy jumping. He had a very tough task here.
3.15 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Chase
FIFTYFIVE DEGREES hinted at a return to form when running third to Mill Side and confirmed the impression with a decent win here. He challenged from four out and came clear from the last. He looks good enough to overcome a rise in the weights.
SOMETHING SILVER, three times a winner at Ayr, ran a very creditable race, leading at a decent pace and keeping on once headed. I’d expect him to be there or thereabouts in similar contests here and I would expect Jim Goldie to be thinking along similar lines.
OCARINA was tapped for speed towards the end of the back straight but stayed on all the way up the straight. He seems to be in fair heart and a longer trip might aid his winning chances.
WATERSKI probably needed the race off a break. He’s as high as he would want to be in the weights, though can get closer next time.
NELLIEDONETHAT was feeling the pinch when tipping over five out. A twelve pound rise for winning an ordinary event at Musselburgh seemed very harsh and he could pay for that for a while.
LIVINGONAKNIFEDGE never got competitive but needs softer ground.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU struggled from the tenth, remains a maiden and needs to sharpen his jumping in this company.
3.50 2m 5½f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle
Lucinda Russell lost the promising WITHERSPOON, killed by a fall two out.
TARABALOO moved into contention down the back straight, pushed on from two out and held enough in hand on the flat. A chase fall at Aintree may have dented his chasing confidence, but he seems on a decent level over hurdles and may pick up another handicap.
TIME OUT stayed on up the straight for second, though never getting to the winner. He has improved with increasing trips and a move up to three miles might do no harm.
WATERCOLOURS made a promising handicapping debut in third, staying on from three out. He will have learned from the experience and should be placed to advantage before long.
PALOS CONTI kept on from two out and dead-heated for third place. This was a second creditable run in succession, but he’s not obviously well handicapped.
BIRCH HILL BEDOUIN looked well out of it four out but put in sterling work up the straight. Of a mark of 95 there is scope for a drop in class, he is a winner, having won a bumper and a tougher stamina test might put him in the mix.
QUWS LAW has been off his game over fences and a return to hurdles brought about no improvement.
KEMPSKI probably found this too competitive and has tough tasks off his current mark three pounds higher than his last win, the latter coming when he dictated here in a small field.
OLIFAN D’OUDAIRIES won a poor race here in December and found this more competitive contest beyond him.
DUNDOCK, twice a winner at Musselburgh early in 2008, in right out of sorts at the moment and was pulled up.
4.25 2m 0-124 Handicap Chase
There was a time when I would have avoided FRED BOJANGALS like the plague. Earlier in his career he seemed a type very good at getting near the front, but somehow avoiding winning. He has become a real force at the head of action and put up arguably his best performance to see off this field. He was going well three out then took over at the last, going away on the run-in. He has won over half a mile farther, though I get the impression he’s best around the minimum trip and he wouldn’t want the ground too much softer.
STORMIN EXIT ran a creditable race staying on for second, though I get the impression the step down in trip did not favour him. Given that his win was at Newcastle over 2m 4f in heavy then a second place here on near good is decent form. A stiffer test should se him back in the winner’s spot.
ET MAINTENANT had every chance and kept on for third though pretty well handicapped to his mark.
CHARINGWORTH came to challenge two out for then faded. His win was over half a mile further and that seems to be what’s needed since he was found out for speed here.
I put up CAMDEN GEORGE for ‘List To Follow’ this season as I felt that he’s capable of picking up an event like this. He’s getting to be hard work, receiving reminders from early on and fading from four out. He needs soft or heavy ground and might pop in at a fancy price, but I suspect backers may need patience.
STORM SURGE was stepped up significantly in class and found things too tough from the final bend. He has ability but needs to be pitched in with opponents at his own level.
LE ROI ROUGE was held up until hitting the seventh and falling.
4.55 2m 0-112 Handicap Hurdle
The closing hurdle went to the top weight RAYSROCK and didn’t look a great event. This run was from his third stable in three runs, but it would appear that Peter Monteith has found the key, and perhaps more encouragingly is a better result following a quiet spell after the cold weather. He seems to have lost his way over fences, and isolating his record in hurdles shows three consecutive wins.
Maiden BAAHER kept on for second and may pick up a minor contest though he doesn’t seem particularly consistent.
BAMBY kept on for third hand hasn’t been running too badly mixing hurdling and chasing.
SIRKEEL kept on and looks suited by a longer distance.