MUSSELBURGH – Wednesday February 17th
Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)
There was overnight frost and in a chilly Fife I was not confident this meeting would go ahead. In the end three inspections took place before the OK signal was given was given at 12.30 thus allowing Musselburgh to finish their jump season as scheduled.
Mike Cattermole was on duty in the commentary box and has apparently discovered a hitherto unknown feature at the East Lothian track. He kept referring to ‘the hill’! Now there maybe one or two links-land undulations, but there certainly isn’t anything that might be described as a hill. New spectacles, Mike?
1.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
LAST OF THE BUNCH caught my eye when winning a bumper at Carlisle back in October. She hasn’t looked a natural jumper to date, but does have a bit of flat speed and showed too much toe for this moderate field. She may find things tough off a penalty unless she improves her hurdling.
GRAND ZOUKI never got into the race proper but finished well under pressure for second place. This was an improvement on his previous efforts.
DEVIL WATER jumped accurately in front, kicked on from the seventh but was held once caught on the run for home. He’s going the right way.
AIN’T SHE A LADY stayed on for fourth without troubling the leaders.
Well backed despite chucking away his chance here last time, SUNARRI was disappointing and looks unreliable.
2.20 2m 4f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle
Musselburgh put on a succession of similar events over the jumps season and they are normally interesting contests.
GRANDAD BILL finished a very respectable fourth in the Scottish county Hurdle last time. On that basis it didn’t need a lot imagination to see that he had a decent opportunity here providing he saw out the trip. See it out he did, holding a persistent runner-up from the last. The step up in distance suited and he should be capable of defying a rating rise.
SIMPLE JIM challenged approaching the last and kept the winner honest. He has never won on anything softer than good and is one to keep in mind for a spring campaign on drying surfaces.
FIRST STREAM stayed on under pressure for third though well held by the first two. A 6lb rise since his win here may have anchored him for now.
BALE O’SHEA kept on from two out. Presumably he needs this ground, but he seems to find this track a bit on the sharp side.
QUICK WILL couldn’t respond from three out and this was a disappointing effort when compared to his second here last time out.
2.50 2m 4f Hunters’ Chase
BELEM RANGER won the last running of this race in 2008, and his accurate jumping was sufficient to see off the opposition. He’s plenty game enough and held the less than foot perfect second from two out.
BOW SCHOOL should be good enough to win a similar event, but his jumping hindered him in the straight. He did particularly well to stay in contention after thumping three out and he kept on after the leader if just held.
BENNY BOY steadily faded from the home turn. He’s a winning pointer but finds one or two too good in these contests.
I SEE A STAR looked unwilling after seeing a loose horse dart toward the exit on the stands’ bend. It was all his rider could do to guide him into the back straight and he didn’t look keen for the rest of the contest.
TO THE WIRE put in some poor jumps in the rear, his rider hailing a number of cabs, but continued to finish a remote fifth.
RUN FOR MOOR raced up with the pace until over-jumping and keeling over at the eighth.
BRISCOE PLACE took a heavy fall at the tenth but thankfully climbed to his feet. He made some awkward jumps early on and was never going particularly well.
SIMONSBERG was chasing the leaders though looking to be labouring when taking an odd looking fall three out. Having jumped a bit left, he stumbled on landing, recovered his feet and then appeared to trip over himself a couple of strides on.
3.20 2m 0-110 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
ORSIPPUS has run into a number of places but his attitude could not be questioned. His third behind Carlito Brigante promised much and he delivered emphatically at this lower level. He cruised to the lead two out and came clear. He will presumably be hit by a big rise now, but with careful placement might pick up a non-handicap under a penalty.
NEW TRICKS set a decent pace and kept on well enough for second. He has found his level and raced with some zest here.
POKFULHAM has lacked pace at the business end and this showed up once again here.
STRIKEMASTER was never better than his finishing place of fourth and seems held off a rating of 110 awarded on the back of a win in a soft event at Cartmel.
FIRST BAY and VERONICA’S BOY, both with fair runs behind them, had no answer to the leaders from the turn for home.
3.50 2m 0-129 Handicap Hurdle
Another decent looking handicap hurdle which ended up as a Johnson/Wylie benefit contest as their runners finished first and second.
CARAVEL clearly loves a sharp circuit, he’s also won at Sedgefield which is a smallish circuit, and made it three out of three by holding off his stable mate in the run to the line. He is one to be noted when the accent is on speed since his wins have been on good or faster.
DOESLESSTHANME battled hard but was just held on the run to the line. He seems to go well when brought to Scotland, his record at Musselburgh and Kelso reading 111F12. He should pick up a handicap on decent ground judged on this performance.
PALOMAR looked to have every chance, but he is not straightforward and there was a hint that he was not putting everything in. He was held on the run to the last.
AMANDA CARTER made a respectable handicap debut in fair company, keeping on but held for pace from two out.
LOS NADIS looks plenty high enough in the handicap at the moment and was held from two out.
4.20 2m 4f 0-107 Handicap Chase
Favourite DAR ES SALAAM lost his chance at the start, being cannoned into by another horse and Wilson Renwick dislodged. His last two runs now read PU, but that can be ignored if placed in this class once again as he has won a similar event here.
SILVER DOLLARS travelled from David Arbuthnot’s yard at Compton near Newbury, an area I know well having been born a few miles away. Arbuthnot clearly spotted an opportunity and Silver Dollars won this quite comfortably. He will go up a fair bit for this and has struggled off higher marks around the small tracks in the south before. He wouldn’t necessarily be one to mark down for a follow up.
QUINCY DES PICTONS kept on for second without seriously threatening the winner. He wouldn’t be one I’d fall over myself to support.
RED DYNAMITE, making his chasing debut, got to the heels of the leaders four out but could not raise his game from that point. As a nine-year-old maiden he doesn’t inspire.
EBAC ran a couple of good races last June but seems to have reverted to ‘non-achievement’ mode. His chance had gone before the straight.
Given that he finished fifth, ART BANK wouldn’t immediately stand out for future reference. However, he did jump well up with the leader until tiring from four out and then allowed to come home in his own time. His jumping might stand him in good stead at the lowest handicap level.
CHAPEL FLOWERS, in fair form in the autumn, was in touch when falling at the tenth.
STROBE set the pace but his jumping was starting to look a little ragged when he hit the eleventh fence and unseated. His problem is that he has been getting tired and not seeing out his races as well as he did over hurdles.
ORMUS fell heavily at the second fence.
Chasing debutant LE PLATINO raced prominently to past halfway but then lost touch and was pulled up.
MONTAUK HIGHWAY was never going and tailed off when pulled up before four out. He won an Irish point, but his Irish Rules form is nothing to shout about.
4.50 2m NH Flat
The field went no sort of pace early on and Dougie Costello took the race by the scruff of the neck, sending AMUSE ME on and kicking clear entering the straight. Nothing got to him from that point. The winner is flat bred and clearly has a bit of pace.
Alan Swinbank’s STETSON kept on from three furlongs out but couldn’t match the winner. He’s another coming from a family of mainly flat racers.
STEEL EDGE and ROCK ‘N’ ROSE were held from two furlongs out and probably performed to their respective debut levels.
One to tuck away for future reference might be FORCEFIELD who kept on up the straight though never getting near the leaders. Dismissed in the market, he comes from Nick Alexander’s Fife yard, not noted for their bumper performers. His dam is a well related middle-distance flat performer. He showed the right attitude and should go on from this.