Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Ayr in late March

AYR – Thursday March 25th

Going – Good in Soft (Good in places) changed to Soft after race 4

The second last fence down the back straight remained ‘ground under repair’ but will hopefully back in action for the Scottish National meeting.

2.10 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

OSCAR HONEY had lost his way since stringing together a decent sequence of results in spring 2008. When he main rival went wrong here he was left to win comfortably and must take some confidence out of this display. He seemed to lose confidence over fences, but a mark of 115 might be exploitable in handicap hurdles.
MERIDIAN CITY led briefly before three out but it soon became clear there was something amiss and he was pulled up after two out, badly lame in front. Taken away in the horse ambulance it’s clear that at best he’ll be off the track for a fair while.
EIGHTEEN CARAT put up by far his best effort so far to finish second. The dam comes from a good jumping family and he should improve with time.
HATHAMORE stayed on for third, but is only rated 69 and hadn’t got anywhere near previously. RAVENSBILL plugged on for fourth but is basically slow, though Willie Amos has eeked out a little improvement since taking over from Swanee Haldane.
Fife trainer Nick Alexander reports that FEARLESS FOOTSTEPS has suffered a breathing problem and will be retired after pulling up here. Alexander said, “she will make a lovely horse for someone”. May she live a long and happy life.

2.40 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

With a 49 rated tortoise finishing third here the form means nothing, but NOBLE ALAN had a gentle exercise canter to win this. The second EL BANDINDOS doesn’t look anywhere near his 118 rating while ELLANDSHE added another completion and some more ‘keep money’ in third, plugging on honestly but slowly.
LE PLATINO was a slow fourth and Bellewstown hurdles winner LIGHTENING SKY doesn’t look up to it over fences.

3.15 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

OVERTURN won this very comfortably and might be a decent novice if his jumping wasn’t so sloppy. Setting the pace he stretched on from three out and didn’t look like getting caught.
SI BIEN stayed on from three out but couldn’t hold the winner from two out. He’s rather one paced at the business end but should find a race somewhere along the line.
MALIN BAY stayed on late for third giving some cause for hope on his hurdling debut. WORLD OF EVENTS was a one paced fourth and the rest were well beaten off.

3.50 2m 5f 0-105 Handicap Chase

SOMETHING SILVER has been hinting at a possible win of late, and with the ground softening during the afternoon the conditions that suit him prevailed. He won this comfortably, leading most of the way and staying on strongly. Given a wet spell there may be another race to be won soon.
MANOUBI is in decent heart at the moment and stayed on determinedly to take second place. He generally stays on from out the back, but has been raced noticeably nearer the pace of late with a good deal of improvement.
BENNY THE PILER is not the most reliable character and was cajoled along in the rear before consenting to stay on down the straight for third. He may win a similar race but can’t be relied on.
CROFTON ARCH ran a fair race to finish fourth, certainly better than a number of recent efforts, but was well held from four out.
SKIPPING CHAPEL made an effort going to four out but dropped away approaching the next. He’s proving a weak finisher and will need to be dropped to the lowest level to have a chance of winning.
PANTHER’S RUN was a never dangerous sixth, PHONE IN was struggling by the end of the back straight, finishing tailed off though in front of enigmatic YANKEE HOLIDAY who couldn’t dominate here and probably found the going too soft.
SNOWY fell away disappointingly down the far side and was pulled up. He has had a ‘bitty’ season and isn’t in good heart at the moment.
PLAY THE ROCK made progress to the home turn but faded swiftly and was pulled up before the last.

4.25 2m 0-108 Handicap Hurdle

ELITE LAND was out the back early but picked up mid race, challenged two out and got up on the line. He’s still eligible to run off about the same mark that he ran off here and there may be scope for completion of a treble if brought out again soon.
PATRIOT looked the likely winner approaching the last, but gave the fence a clout and couldn’t recover enough to hold the winner.
BEIDH TINE ANSEO made a fair handicap debut, staying on from three out, whilst NIGHT KNIGHT had every chance but was held from two out.

4.55 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

DUKE OF MALFI led or disputed and was stretching on, four lengths clear, when left well ahead of one rival four out. The other two were going well but you have to jump round.
EMOTIVE and THE KEALSHORE KID were matching strides when coming down independently four out. The impression was that THE KEALSHORE KID was going better at the time and would likely have troubled the winner.
KOSTA BRAVA pulled too hard and lacked of concentration on his fences saw him come down at the third. He will be troubled if not learning to settle.
CALCULAITE was left a remote second four out, a shadow of his performance here last time.

5.30 2m NH Flat

This looked a moderate contest. The pace was slow early and COMERAGH KING, well held at Doncaster, asserted from two out on this occasion.
BROOKLYN BAY stayed on to take second off FLINTY BAY in the final furlong. I wouldn’t mind betting the latter to come out best of the first three over time and he will come on for this outing.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Kelso - Buccleuch Cup Day

KELSO – Monday March 22nd

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

Buccleuch Cup day at Kelso, with the named event a novice hunter ‘championship’ in Scotland. The race may have seen the appearance of a potential hunting chasing star in easy winner Quotica De Poyans.

2.10 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

HOLD FAST had a problem at Catterick, losing his action on that occasion, but was back in the groove here winning tidily. It would appear he needs good ground and given that drier weather persists then it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s aimed at Aintree.
GILBARRY challenged going well two out but couldn’t hold the winner on the flat. He is a type to need a bit of time and a second here is a great encouragement.
COASTLEY ‘s effort in third holds the form together. He ran a decent second at Carlisle last time and stayed on here to be beaten only a handful of lengths
Previous winner DR LIVINGSTONE was a fair fourth, though tapped for pace from the last, while DICE, a 42,000gns purchase and a decent performer on the Flat, was another found out for pace late on but likely to benefit form a step up in trip.

2.40 2m 6 ½ f 0-115 Novices’ Handicap Chase

Progressive BENE LAD, benefitting from a step up in trip here, led after the last and stayed on well for victory. After a curtailed campaign last season he’s making up for lost time, winning from 5lbs out of the weights, and it’s unlikely he has finished winning just yet. Jim Goldie’s horses can often run up a number of wins once on a roll.
PADDYS UNYOKE produced a second consecutive decent effort, going on four out and keeping on once headed. This trip seems to suit better than the two miles he ran over last time.
WATERSKI looks held off his current mark and was beaten from the last, but ran a fair race.
PRIMROSE TIME struggled from three out and her jumping isn’t holding up when push comes to shove.
MARLEYBOW went out like a light from three out, a similar story to his last effort.
SEVEN IS LUCKY was still in touch when falling at the thirteenth while GRAND UNION never looked happy and was pulled up before the same obstacle.

3.10 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

LIGHTENING ROD is progressing. He probably learnt from his last run at Catterick and went clear on the flat here to win comfortably. The decent ground clearly does no harm and this suggests he is making good progress.
BAAHER stayed on under pressure but was easily outpointed from the last. He runs some decent races but doesn’t look especially well handicapped.
SUPER BABY, possibly needing a confidence booster, was up with the pace jumping big. He got tapped for pace going to two out but stayed on under pressure.
NIGHT FORCE stayed on from well back to take fourth place but never figured in the main battle.
BORDER TALE set the pace until giving way from the last. He seemed much happier dictating the pace and there’s a chance this run may signal a revival.
Four year old MELANGE has run some decent races in novice company but hasn’t been done any favours by the handicapper. He plugged on from two out but didn’t threaten the principals.
NEW TRICKS likes to be near the front. He got the worst of a mid air argument with White Lightening at the second, dropped to the rear and never figured. I’d ignore this run.

3.40 2m 1f 0-128 Handicap Chase

Each of KILMACKILLOGE’s wins have been on his seasonal debut, so the obvious conclusion is that he needs a long gap between races. He stayed on under pressure to capture this event, but he’s likely to be under priced if re-appearing soon.
STORMIN EXIT ran another creditable race, keeping on under pressure if held on the flat. He’s one to include on the short list in similar company as he has a good attitude and jumps well.
ORMELLO isn’t noted for his pace in the closing stages and was held from the last.
QUICUYO was held up and joined the main issue approaching two out. He couldn’t raise his game any further once turned for home and dropped away on the run-in. Recent evidence suggests much softer ground is needed.
OPEN DE L’ISLE was not looking happy after a mile and dropped away from three out.
TARTAN SNOW failed to build on the promise of his recent run here and was very disappointing. It seems he struggles when matched by others over fences.
BLACKS BRIDGE went well enough until four out but weakened three out and was pulled up before the last. He struggled off a much higher mark than last time and taking on tougher opposition.

4.10 2m 6 ½ f 0-114 Handicap Hurdle

HUMBIE caught my eye when first appearing and confirmed promise introduced to handicaps. He took charge three out and stayed on from the last to win in decent style for one so inexperienced. He looks a chaser long term, but might well pick up another hurdle before going over the bigger obstacles.
YOUNG BUDDY has been in good form all season and chased the winner home well clear of the rest.
KING MAK was up with the pace most of the way but couldn’t match the first two from the second last.
DUNDOCK showed signs of a revival. He was at the back most of the way but stayed on for fourth and might make a mark now the better ground is here.

4.40 3m 1f Class Maiden Hunters’ Chase (for the Buccleuch Cup)

A comparatively quiet Scottish hunter scene was woken up in serious style by the performance of the Shirley-Beavans’s QUOTICA DE POYANS. Unbeaten in points, he set the pace jumping really well and Kelly Bryson had only to let out a bit of rein for the French-bred to cruise home in not much more than a canter. The opposition included a few point winners to set the level, and it is reasonable to assume that this gelding might cut the mustard at top novice hunter level in the near future.
BENNY BOY, a five times point winner, has struggled to make the mark under Rules. However, he didn’t do much wrong here, jumping well enough and keeping on for second if not in the same realm as the winner.
PUTITAWAYFORAYEAR seems to have found his level in points and performed respectably here. He took second two out but weakened on the flat and had to settle for third. There will be easier contests in which he can get competitive.
ARDNACLANCY was always behind and beaten a long way in fourth ahead of SPECIAL PORTRAIT who briefly chased the leaders going to three out before weakening rapidly.
KNOW THE ROPES visored for the first time, though quite why only the trainer knows, fell at the sixth. He jumped well, if at a steady pace, last time and would surely be better off without the ‘aids’.
MY FINAL BID and OLD ROLLA fell at the eleventh and seventh respectively when in the rear.
BENBEOCH, who ran well here until falling last time, was making progress when hampered at the eleventh after which he was quickly beaten and pulled up.
CHARMING KNIGHT, with some promising hunter form behind him, ran no sort of race and was pulled up before the thirteenth.
CHESTER RIDGE, a six-year-old who has shown promise in points, went well in touch for a way but dropped back from the twelfth and pulled up before three out.
RAHOOD and SAM GAWN were both Irish point winners, but they must have won some dire events between them as both soon struggled and were pulled up after a couple of miles.

5.10 2m ½ f NH Flat

Regular readers will know that I place a lot of value on Kelso bumper form.
The winner here DR FLYNN is from a decent jumping family and will surely benefit from jumps and distance of ground. That didn’t stop him showing pace to win this event and his jumps debut is eagerly awaited.
Previous winner BOLD SIR BRIAN chased the winner home and lends weight to the value of the form since he was clear of the third. His is only a four-year-old and given that he’s out of a Galway Hurdle winner and is another who must surely be of much interest when going hurdling.
BRIDLINGTONBYGONES was held from two out, but is bred to be suited by further (dam is an unraced sister to Royal Athlete) and third place in this event looks no disgrace.
GOFFA CRAG plugged on in the straight and will come into his own once his stamina is tested.
CHICKINI a winner here as a three-year-old, may well have needed this run and finished a one paced fifth. She is likely capable of better.
Things happened a bit quick in the last half mile for WINTER ALCHEMY, but he stayed on for sixth and showed enough to offer hope for the future.
FORCEFIELD stayed on down the straight and once again at least hinted at promise for the future. He’s bred along flat middle distance lines, but has done enough to suggest he sees out the two miles well enough and he should have chances once sights are set.
SHERIFF HALL has ability but may have a problem between his ears and faded from three out on this occasion.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Newcastle and Carlisle - March 20th/21st

Time constraints mean that I shall revert to full comments for chasers only at English meetings, though I’ll add notes on any significant hurdling performances, particularly on Scottish runners.

NEWCASTLE – Saturday March 20th

Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places), softening during the afternoon and resulting in a significant number of non-runners toward the end.

3.25 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

ST KILLIAN’S RUN had hinted at chasing ability last time, though outclassed by the principals at Kelso. Racing close up until taking over three out, he stayed on well to win this event.
NATIVE COLL got into contention early in the straight but he was outpaced at that point. He stuck on late to take second on the run-in. He would have every chance dropped in class if his trainer could find a 0-90 or 0-95 event.
ICE IMAGE was one paced from three out though this may have been a confidence booster after his mishap last time. He certainly has enough ability to cut it at this level.
PRINCE TAM was once again found out for pace in the straight.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU raced prominently for a long way but once headed three out his race was run. He may need less use made of him, but significantly remains a maiden.
STOLEN LIGHT was well held from four out and hasn’t shown much in recent times.
FARNE ISLAND fell at the fifth and Rayson Nixon’s wretched season continued as NORMINSTER capsized a fence before that.

4.35 3m 0-100 Handicap Chase

The first two are going forward and were well clear of two other finishers.
SCHINDLER’S MAZE had performed no better than moderately in maidens. However, he looked better than this class on his first go in handicaps. He came clear up the straight, idled on the run-in but responded well to his rider's urgings as the second closed,
SEEKING POWER doesn’t do anything particularly quickly, but what he does do is jump well and stay. Ironically as he was staying on an error three out set him back, but he responded to Lucy Alexander’s urgings from two out and at least made the winner pull out the stops. The stable have a useful prospect for moderate long distance staying chases in future.
TEENANDO raced prominently but dropped away quickly one headed and finished a remote third, still a fair way clear of SYCHO FRED who was coaxed home in his own time in fourth.
Well backed OCARINA was going well when capsizing at the twelfth, bringing down MONEYLAWS who had made some progress from the rear.
PANAMA AT ONCE has been out of sorts since taking a nasty tumble at Kelso earlier in the season and never got involved, pulling up before two out, as did WINDY HILLS who dropped back form the thirteenth.
CRACKADEE raced briefly up front but didn’t look interested after and was pulled up before the ninth.
ADARE PRINCE raced prominently but was pulled up swiftly before the fourteenth having lost his action. Any effect would appear temporary as he returned sound.

In the hurdle races TURBO ISLAND returned to form having apparently been short of a gallop or two before his Kelso run. He was headed up the straight but stayed on again and gives the impression he needs further than the minimum trip. He should come into his own over fences.
MISTER MARKER is progressive and recorded a third win in the staying handicap hurdler. DANCING DIK continues to perform well and might find another race soon. BOLD RANSOM has put up two creditable efforts in hurdles and is a decent staying chaser on the evidence of his Borders National run.
The going was very testing for the closing tow hurdles and I doubt the form will be carried forward. LIZ’S DREAM is huge and does nothing in hurry, but was the only one who could raise a gallop in the latter stages of the closing handicap hurdle. WHAT’S OCCURRIN led to before two out then weakened quickly and was pulled up. However, this front runner is hitting form and might pick up a race before long.

CARLISLE – Sunday March 21st

Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places)

3.00 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

MR WOODS went well in front and kept up the gallop up the final hill. He likes going right handed and may be aimed at Perth in April. He was eased close home, James Reveley watching the big screen and nudging him out as the others closed.
LOGAN’S RUN ran a creditable race in second without ever looking like getting to the winner. He will find easier opportunities and will win if repeating this effort.
SINATAS stayed on from the bottom of the hill. This was a decent effort following an extended absence and he should win a chase if kept healthy.
POLITICAL PADDY offered some encouragement in keeping on for fourth.
GREENBELT weakened two out and might be better at a less stiff track.
LORD LARSSON looks unreliable and unseated his rider as he dipped out towards the track exit after the stands. He’s now UUFU and doesn’t look a reliable conveyance.
GO ON BE A LADY (6th), EXECUTIVE’S HALL (pulled up) and RECOIL (pulled up) were all struggling to keep up from the tenth.

3.35 3m ½ f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

ERNST BLOFELD had arguably the best form of these and stayed on from three out to take first prize. He had MIRAGE DORE held in second, though that one who seemed to see out this trip.
CLASSIC CUT was once again let down by his jumping, though his close third was testament to his basic speed. He’s conceding 20 lengths by jumping left though he does seem a little better if he has another runner upsides. It’s possible a bigger field might suit.
CHERRYLAND, well held in hunter chases previously, led until headed and outpaced three out. He beat EL BANDINDOS who did at least complete this time though was beaten from four out.

4.45 2m 4f 0-125 Novices’ Handicap Chase

A competitive looking contest for its level from which I would expect a few future winners to emerge.
AWARD WINNER recorded a second consecutive win, staying on up the hill, leading after the last and driven out for victory. It wasn’t the easiest win but there were a few with fair form behind.
KING FONTAINE, twice a winner over hurdles this season, translated some of that ability to chasing here. He led from four out until headed after the last and stayed on for second. He looks capable of winning a similar event.
DESCRIPTION looked to be struggling after the twelfth, but stormed up the hill to pinch third close home. He had fallen on his last two starts and this should serve as a confidence booster.
WORK BOY probably found this class a bit tough, but he stayed on from two out and would have every chance of repeating his Market Rasen win if dropped in class.
OUR JIM, second to the winner at Bangor, raced prominently but dropped away after two out.
LOCKEDINTHEPOCKET produced a promising performance on his chasing debut. He stayed on through tiring rivals and should have learnt much from this, though a recent hurdling second puts him quite high in the weights.
CHECKERBOARD, a winner here back in October, led or disputed until four out and then weakened quickly to trail in last. The race should bring him on and he looks a decent ground sort.
MORE EQUITY and SOLWAY BAY were outpaced from a mile out.

The form horse, COOL MISSION took the opening novice hurdle, but there was much to like about GO SILVER BULLET’s return to the track. Likely to benefit from the race he set the pace to three out before weakening and this should put him right for a return to chasing. PLAYING THE FIELD stayed on up the hill for third.
SAMIZDAT got off the mark ion the novices’ handicap hurdle, but given the time it has taken him to win then the form must be of questionable value. JERONIMO JOE finished second, much happier in handicap company than the Graded contest he took in at Kelso. Maiden SOLWAY BLUE finished best of all in third and, though the stable is in form, rather drags the form down.
Alan Swinbank’s second string NUTS N BOLTS made a winning debut in the bumper. He’s a half-brother to useful flat stayer Swingkeel. In a finish o0f newcomers, TIGER MAGUIRE, jumping bred, JAGO RIVER, an expensive purchase as a three-year-old, and YUROK, a half-brother to Brave Inca, all suggested they can win a race sooner or later. FRONTIER BOY was badly hampered early on and always out the back. He didn’t run badly first time up and this run can be set aside.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

While the eyes were on Cheltenham ...

The north provided two support cards in Cheltenham Festival week…

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday March 16th

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

1.45 2m 4f Class 4 Mares' Novices’ Hurdle

Stepped up in trip GWYRE was rewarded for a succession of decent efforts in hurdles over recent months. She’s been held by better opponents over two miles but, looking very fir in the paddock, she made use of stamina reserves to win with a bit in hand if idling on the run-in.
BELOW THE DECK is an exposed average sort who occupied second while MOORSLAND TERI, a four times winner to date, looks to have been cannily placed in the past on the evidence of third here.
IDENTITY PARADE stayed on for fourth and looks a long term prospect, probably for staying chases.

2.20 2m 4f Class 4 Maiden Chase

A very ordinary looking contest in which SPELLCHECKER was left well clear when his two main rivals capsized at the last. He ran well here in September, but broke a blood vessel last time out. I wouldn’t think he would be value for a follow up.
BALTIC PATHFINDER led at the last but dived at it and came down. He’s nothing special but has at least showed the ability to get involved here.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER had run well to a point though was held when falling at the last. He still looks mid-80s quality to me.
Safe but slow ELLANDSHE got round safely in his own time and was rewarded with second prize money.
NODANAWINK would be one of the slowest in a stable of decent chasers and was detached by four out. He’s shown very little of any serious note to date.
MISTIC ACADEMY, a poor hurdler, was still in touch when falling at the twelfth. Her proximity at that point says much about the quality, or lack of it, on offer here.

2.55 2m 1f 0-113 Handicap Hurdle

WATERLOO CORNER scored a first jumps win here though was all out and it’s difficult to see there’s much improvement in him. He has run two good races here though, a fact which may of use in future.
CATCH BOB is a previous winner and went close here. He was under pressure two out but did pick up in the latter stages and just failed.
SHIFTING GOLD made a promising handicap debut in third, keeping on under pressure though just held after the last.
The three were well clear of EURO AMERICAN who used to be much better than this but never threatened here though making late headway.

3.35 2m 1f 0-103 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

In a poor event SHADRACK had to do no more than repeat his previous winning efforts to win this. He’ll presumably go up again and will not have things anything like so easy in future.
BARRON WATLASS once again looked at difficult ride, albeit one with some ability at this level, and was just held for third by MOUNTSKIP who placed for the first time having been well held previously.

4.15 2m 4f 0-109 Handicap Chase

CANADA STREET is basically a stayer but found a nice opportunity here, helped by better fencing than he normally manages. Maybe benefitting from a bit of a break, he was always near the front and stayed on to lead before the last, his stamina seeing him through.
SEA VENTURE won an ordinary race at Musselburgh on his chasing debut. He ran well enough here, staying on form two out if held after the last. He was reported as finishing distressed last time and this seems a fairer comment on his ability. He needs good or fast ground.
QUINCY DES PICTONS was held up in the rear, got into contention two out but could only keep on under pressure from that point.
JERINGA ran a respectable race after an 11 month lay-off. He set the pace and only gave way approaching the last, This augurs well if he can be kept healthy.
QUATRE HUIT, a winner in minor company in France, didn’t look anything special on UK debut. He was under pressure two out and made no impression from that point.
I’M YOUR MAN has two ways of running and it was clear from four out that this wasn’t his day.
SMUGGLERS BAY showed a little promise in early chases but is basically a disappointing sort and was well beaten here.

4.55 2m ½f 0-92 Handicap Chase

This was a poor quality chase in which KEALSHORE KID, previously disappointing in chases, appeared to have a significant class advantage being 14lbs clear in the weights. He made that advantage tell, holding off two in-form but quite slow opponents. He won‘t have many easier tasks and though staying on for victory was not totally convincing.
Mrs Watt has done well to get three consecutive decent performances out of the previously unpredictable LERIDA. He has showed he is suited by this course and distance, but was just held from the last having led three out.
TROODOS JET is another in decent form and is well matched with Lerida on previous efforts. He held every chance at the last but was just run out of it.
CROFTON ARCH has shown nothing of late and was beaten from halfway.
THE FABRICATOR has bits and pieces of form on decent ground, but he made a couple of mistakes which didn’t help and dropped away from three out.

5.25 2m 1f NH Flat

Irish point winner LOVEY DOVEY held off SENOR ALCO in what looks a moderate bumper. MR JAY DEE was held from two out and finished third.
MARLENO had decent form in better company but faded disappointingly in the straight.

HEXHAM – Thursday March 18th

Going – Good

2.20 2m ½f 0-105 Conditional Jockeys’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

Given a positive ride OVERBRANCH, below par for some time, took the race by the scruff of the neck. She looked held when headed two out but battled back up the hill to lead and won a shade cosily.
MINI MINSTER looked the winner from two out but was overtaken on the run to the last. She kept on for second in front of THARAYA who made an encouraging handicap debut in third.

2.55 2m ½f Class 3 Novices’ Chase

A dramatic finish to this three runner contest, though the field had been reduced to two fairly early on as chasing debutant LOS NADIS stumbled and unseated at the water. He struggled to sharpen his hurdling for sometime and may need time over fences.
PICAROON led Noble Alan up the hill towards the finishing straight. Dean Coleman tried to route him on to the main circuit, then realised his mistake by which time it was too late and Picaroon crashed through the rail, taking Noble Alan out with him. Coleman was unseated so couldn’t re-trace on Picaroon, but Brian Harding gathered his wits and completed the course for victory on NOBLE ALAN. Coleman was given a long holiday for his error.

3.35 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

Well exposed QUATTRO PIERJI broke his duck after failing in handicap company. He led and ran on well in the straight, holding off the challenge of PREMIER SAGAS who performed soundly under a penalty.
The pair were clear of hurdles newcomer VANNIN who was held from the top of the hill. COCOA KEY ran pretty much to the level of previous efforts in fourth, staying on in the latter stages.

4.15 4m 0-110 Handicap Chase

The ‘Hexham Four Miler’ was a contest between two contenders from a long way out.
SIMPLY SMAHING looked the type to be suited by this event and came clear nicely from the last. He suggested extreme distances might suit when staying on to win at Carlisle and on this evidence will be worth aiming at similar tests.
RECKLESS VENTURE often runs well but is frustrating. He seemed to run of stamina in the closing stages here and was comfortably held from the last. He did keep up a decent record at this track.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND plodded round for a very remote third place. He’s unreliable and was out of contention by halfway.
JIMANDGARY raced prominently early but was out on his feet when his rider understandably surrendered the chance of minor prize money by pulling up before four out.
GERSHWINNER, by no means certain to be suited by the extended trip on what I’ve seen, was weakening when unseating at the eighteenth.
THE GREEN HAT led but was starting to feel the pinch when hitting the nineteenth and unseating. This one-eyed gelding will need a very poor contest to score.
GREENANDREDPARSON won a maiden point but has shown little under Rules, though was in touch when unseating at the fifteenth.

4.55 3m 0-95 Handicap Hurdle

A very poor staying contest won by OLD NODDY who does see out these trips well if his jumping isn’t always as sharp as it could be.
STEVEYS LAD stayed on up the hill and secured second though he has his limitations and INSIGNIA, very ordinary even at best, occupied third place.

5.25 2m 4 ½f 0-95 Handicap Chase

Four of these figured in a rogues’ gallery at Ayr last week and this occasion accompanied by a selection of their equally shifty mates!

MANOUBI is about as frustrating as they come, but even he couldn’t find a way of losing against this poor bunch. Racing quite prominently he took over on the flat and stayed on well.
TULLY HILL is very slow and is normally beaten by the crucial stages of races. He has run well here on occasions, the hills clearly slow opponents down to his pace, and he kept on after being headed climbing the final hill.
REASONABLY SURE led three out until approaching the last, but he’s a soft touch in the closing stages and could only muster one pace on the flat.
VIEL GLUCK is more talented than most of these, but his trainer has trouble teasing too much out of him. He plugged on for fourth without looking like winning.
HURRICANE JACK briefly joined the leaders going to two out but could muster no extra from that point.
JANAL made progress to three out but a mistake two out was enough to see him drop away.
ART GALLERY was outpaced from three out as was DAY DU ROY, who I suspect retains a little more ability than he cares to let on.
REXMEHEAD, backed down to favourite and thus providing evidence of the lack of quality, unseated at the fifth.
LUSENTO doesn’t look interested and was pulled up.
CONTENDO was reported as not liking the ground, but he seems to me another not inclined to exert himself.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Ayr - Mid-March meeting

Ayr staged its two day pre-Cheltenham meeting in a good deal more clement conditions than in 2009. I attended the second day last year and the group was like a swamp come late on Saturday afternoon. In contrast this year the going was good on the Friday and was fast enough on the Saturday for a few withdrawals from the hurdle races.

The second last fence on the far side remained omitted from every race both days, but I would hope it will be available for the Scottish Grand National.

AYR – Friday March 12th

Going- Good

2.10 2m 4f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

The opening event was won with consummate ease by NAFAATH who looks capable of going on to better things. He was rated 102 on the Flat in Ireland and the way he came clear from two out suggests he might get near to the equivalent 142 over hurdles. He would doddle a novice hurdle under a penalty and might conceivably be worth aiming for Aintree.
SAVEIRO ran a creditable enough race in second, keeping on once passed going to two out, and his rating of 115 sets the standard.
CAERLAVEROCK ran a fair race in third though was held from three out.
MOSCOW MISCHIEF and SOLWAY SAM both picked up a little ground late on, whilst DEVIL WATER led until three out but was then left behind as he found a few too good once again.

2.45 3m 1f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

TEXAS HOLDEM was going nicely when falling at the thirteenth. At the age of eleven this was only his second chase, but he did at least travel well and jumped well until his mishap.
The departure of Texas Holdem left GILSLAND to see off a single remaining opponent. He set the pace for most of the way and came comfortably clear over the last three fences.
INVERLOCHY LAD was hampered when Texas Holdem came down, but was well held by Gilsland in the straight.

3.20 2m Class 4 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

OVERTURN ran well off this mark at Doncaster the previous week and was never in difficulty here. He came clear very comfortably and can move up in class again with some confidence.
NEW TRICKS has now found his level and kept on after the winner without looking like troubling him. Decent ground suits and there should be a few opportunities in similar events in the coming weeks.
In third NIGHT KNIGHT was held by New Tricks as at Musselburgh and the rest seem nothing special.

3.55 3m 1f 0-120 Handicap Chase

CATEGORICAL has been a consistent type, he’s only finished out of the first six 8 times out of 52 attempts. He’s been frustrating as far as winning is concerned but has hit form big time now, going clear two out and hosing up here off a career top mark. He might just have another win in the locker while in such good heart even off an increased mark.
FIFTYFIVE DEGREES stayed on for second though not able to match the winner. This was a sound effort and he will have decent chances in similar company.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE was back in his class here after taking on Sa Suffit at Kelso. He seems on his mark now and kept on for third.
CAMDEN GEORGE was towards the rear most of the way, chased the leaders up the straight and stayed on for fourth. I thought he might win a handicap or two this season, but other than going close when haring off in front at Market Rasen he hasn’t really threatened.
Unusually for him the normally sure-footed SNOWY has capsized a couple of time of late. He set the pace here but didn’t have enough to offer once passed. He might still pick up a minor handicap now the ground has dried out.
HARRY FLASHMAN has not been a good jumper of fences and a few mistakes let him down here. He was outpaced in the straight.
GENERAL HARDI faded from five out and disappointed given that the ground should have been right for him.
EL BANDINDOS, returning after a spell with injury and now resident with Peter Monteith, was always in the rear and lost touch before pulling up four out.
ROYAL MACKINTOSH isn’t at his best on drying ground and was struggling from a mile out, pulling up before the fifth last.

4.30 2m 5 ½ f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

DIAVOLERA recorded a third consecutive win suggesting the handicapper hasn’t caught up with her. She led approaching two out and pulled clear from the last.
DELIGHTFULLY was equipped with a visor instead of blinkers here and there seemed to be some improvement. Held by the winner she kept on for second.
SOMETHING SILVER ran a fair race back over hurdles but was one paced from three out. He’s best on softer ground.
AINT SHE THE LADY ran a fair race in fourth but looks on her mark and it might be a question of working out favourable conditions to get the best out of her.
The remainder were held.

5.05 2m 4f 0-95 Conditionals/Amateurs ‘Hands And Heels’ Handicap Chase

An equine psychologist would have a field day with this bunch. A tale of their quirks would stretch this report to a few pages.
YANKEE HOLIDAY is difficult to win with but does place quite often and there was a thought that if he got into a rhythm here he might have enough to see off this bunch. He jumps well, which is a real help in this company, and looked happy once settled in front or sharing the pace. He came away down the straight and was kept up to his work to win with a bit in hand. His second at Musselburgh was better than some would give credit for, even allowing for mishaps to others, and he’s never fallen in 51 races.
MANOUBI normally stays on from the rear but raced a little more prominently on this occasion. He stayed on from two out but didn’t get near the winner.
VIEL GLUCK has been a disappointing sort and didn’t pull up any trees in finishing third here, making progress from four out and keeping on.
CLASSY CHAV is a poor maiden and was well beaten here.
INSTANT SHOT ran a decent second at Newcastle in January but has disappointed since and was last of the five to finish.
HURRICANE JACK is a brother to Silver By Nature but isn’t a patch on that one for ability. He fell four out when chasing the winner, but he was being ridden and not closing. He probably has a little ability but has been disappointing to date.
JANAL raced up with Yankee Holiday until the eighth but he was outpaced approaching four out and fell when fading at the last.

5.40 3m ½ f 0-86 Handicap Hurdle

A really moderate bunch of mainly exposed hurdlers and nothing of any use for the future for me.
SOLWAY BEE returned to some sort of form after a very poor spell of form. GLEN ROUGE is a poor maiden who places occasionally and stayed on into third in front of AUBERGE who is pretty much on a par with the second on previous efforts.
Bottom weight DESTINY HILL raced in front to two out but faded finishing just in front of the temperamental pony-sized CINAMAN.

AYR - Saturday March 13th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

2.10 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

This wasn’t the strongest novices’ hurdle and Fairyhouse handicap winner DRUSSELL proved a good deal better than the others. He won this comfortably.
SI BIEN led two out and stayed on once headed. He’s steadily improving and should pick up a hurdle race before long.
BUCEPHALUS confirmed his Newcastle fourth was no fluke with a third place here, held from two out, though he may need to be aimed for handicaps before he can win a race.
Australian import ONAJET has raced 52 in all disciplines, had every chance here and was held from two out.
KELLYSTOWN LAD, a winner over half a mile further at Musselburgh, faded from three out and presumably needs the longer distance.

2.40 2m 4f 0-125 Handicap Chase

I thought that QUITO DE TRESOR might have been collared by the handicapper after his Musselburgh win, but that assumption was proved wrong here. He jumped well in front but was tiring and only just held on in the end.
STORYMAKER has been a bit hit or miss but is useful at this level on his day. He stayed on from three out and was close to catching the tiring winner at the finish.
CAST IRON CASEY was another doing his best work at the end. He goes well on fast ground and may pick up a race soon.
WATER TAXI is out of form and was beaten by the turn for home.
BILL’S ECHO needed the race after a year off, pulled a bit hard early on and was struggling by the home turn.
NIRVANA SWING raced prominent early but dropped out down the back straight and was pulled up.

3.15 2m 4f 0-124 Handicap Hurdle

Quite how RAMSDEN BOY was going to cope with this ground was a bit of a mystery before the start. Add to that the fact that he’s been well out of form and he wasn’t an obvious choice here. He handled the ground with no problems, leading before two out and running on well.
PONTOP is suited by fast ground and it’s coming to his time of year. He chased the leader from two out, and though pulling away from the rest couldn’t reel in the winner.
SON OF FLICKA set a good pace and kept on once headed on his return to hurdling.
TERENZIUM ran a fair race in fourth though making no impression on the leaders from two out.
LEITH WALK kept on for fifth and repeated Musselburgh form with QUICK WILL who finished sixth.

3.50 2m 0-125 Handicap Chase

As with Categorical on the previous day’s card FRED BOJANGALS has gone from consistent at his level to very much a progressive sort. I did think he was a bit of a soft touch at one time, but he has proved me wrong big time recently. Off a career high mark he was going well all the way, challenged at the last and was driven out to the line. He only won by half a length so could score again off a revised mark.
CALCULAITE, jumping better than he did at Doncaster last time, led until the last and ran on once headed. He lost nothing in defeat.
KNOCKAVILLA was going well four out but a slow jump there cost him ground and he could only stay on for third place.
ALL FOR THE CAUSE is yet to win a chase and was found wanting from two out.
DAR ES SALAAM had a tough task off bottom weight, made a few errors early on and could make no impression from three out. He would have a better chance in 0-110 company.
CHARINGWORTH faded from four out.

4.25 3m ½ f 0-104 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Liz Harrison scored a second win in two days as SOLWAY ALLY stepped up on a staying on second at Carlisle two days previously. The step up half a mile in trip made no difference, and if probably suited this mare. Disputing most of the way she led two out and ran on. She is going the right way and it would be no surprise to see her score again provided the going remains good.
WATERCOLOURS followed up a fair handicap debut run here last time with another sound performance. He looks to have the ability to pick up a staying handicap before long.
TURTLE SPIRIT raced on better ground than at Kelso but didn’t seem too inconvenienced. He was held from two out but remains in good form and would be a good bet in a similar race if we got a bit of rain.
BLED led from the seventh until three out, putting up his best effort so far.
CUIGNY had the blinkers applied here. I’m not sure they are necessary, but he didn’t seem to see out the trip.

5.00 3m 3 ½ f 0-109 Handicap Chase

A furlong and a half was knocked off the distance of this contest compared to last year’s race, but it didn’t increase the field as we had two less runners.
SEIZE was waited with, took over three out, saw off Lucky Nellerie at the last and was pushed out. Conditions were spot on since all his best form has been on good or quicker ground.
ROSIE ALL OVER challenged the leader four out but she hit three out and looked finished. To her credit she stayed on again and took second place on the flat.
LUCKY NELLERIE led until the last but couldn’t respond once Seize went past and lost second on the run to the line. He’s favoured by slightly softer going and I believe his long term target is the Grand Pardubice in October, an event in which he ran out last time when seeing the too much daylight at the front of the field. I’d love to follow him to that event for my fiftieth birthday present, but a quirk of the school holidays means my wife can’t get away for that weekend. Doh!
The other runner DAWN RIDE was settled in the rear and fell at the seventh.

5.30 2m NH Flat

WYSE HILL TEABAGS had shown promise in a couple of bumpers at Musselburgh on similar ground to this and put that experience to good use here. He had two previous winners behind him, the three coming clear, so it’s hard to pick holes in the form. He caught the leader in the final furlong and ran on.
YES TOM, a winner at Down Royal previously, led and pushed on three out. Looking the likely winner he was caught in the final furlong.
STORM BRIG challenged a furlong out but could offer no extra from that point. He was well clear of fourth SHAYNOUR who did make some late progress.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Carlisle - Thursday March 11

Going – Good To Soft (Hurdles), Good, Good To Soft in places (Chases)

With high pressure continuing to dominate, the going dried out significantly at Carlisle. However, the hurdle away from the stands was omitted and the ground in that area cut up a good deal more than elsewhere. The problem will be alleviated once the new hurdles course is in action next year, and in addition that will save the flat track from punishment during the winter. I wonder if Carlisle will apply for extra flat fixtures next year?

2.10 3m 1f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The pace didn’t pick up until the second circuit, but even then it was enough to see off most in this field.

WHATS UP WOODY is an out and out stayer who will presumably be seen to even better effect over fences in time. He was thereabouts all the way and stayed on better than the doubly penalised second from the last hurdle.
EDGE OF TOWN is another who looks a long term chasing prospect. He was not disgraced under a double penalty if just held on the run to the line.
BEL HUGO was outpaced going to the eighth but stayed on again up the hill and put in a respectable effort in third.
OIL BURNER was held from a mile out upped significantly in distance after lay-off.

2.40 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

TARA ROYAL benefitted from taking on slightly easier opposition and was able to add to his Sedgefield success, seeing out the half mile extra in decent style.
COASTLEY’s last race was a novice hunter chase win at Perth, but a long lay-off and a hurdling debut didn’t seem to inconvenience him unduly. He led at the sixth and kept for second after being headed. This was a good effort and he may find a novice hurdle.
GRAND ZOUKI stayed on for third and POINT WEST ran respectably in fourth on his hurdling debut, if outpaced up the hill, and should learn from this.

3.15 2m 4f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

MIDDLETON DENE has learnt from experience and proved too good for mainly moderate opposition here. His jumping looks more assured now and he asserted on the run to the last, staying on well on the flat. There may be better to come now.
MR WOODS can be a bit hit or miss, and his jumping went to pot last time, but he was more confident here and nay schooling he may have done seems to have worked. He led until before the last, kept on once passed and looks capable of winning a similar event if his jumping holds.
MORE EQUITY ran to form in third given that she’s 15lb and 14lb pounds respectively worse than the first two. She was still in the hunt when hitting three out after which it was a losing battle. There should be easier contests for her.
ISLA PEARL FISHER performed slightly better than at Kelso. His jumping was awkward early on but improved as the race progressed though he couldn’t make an impression on the leaders from three out. He’s rated 82, so low grade handicaps will be his best target.
POLITICAL PADDY, making his chase debut, was never going well enough and back pedalled after hitting four out. Rayson Nixon’s stable was buzzing last season but hasn’t had a winner since this one was victorious at Kelso last April.
MARLBOROUGH SOUND was last seen when winning a selling hurdle at Towcester in November 2008. He lost touch by the tenth on his chasing debut and finished tailed off.
OH YAH DANCER fell five out, but was never in the contest anyway.
CALIN ROYAL was pulled up and quickly dismounted before the eighth, being reported as lame.

3.45 3m 2f 0-110 Handicap Chase

MATMATA DE TENDRON is a bit of a cuss, normally best at Sedgefield, and suited by the mud. He has run some fair races at Carlisle though, was clearly on good terms with himself and led at the last to win here. He’s dropped a long way in the handicap but backing him next time would involve a leap of faith.
CHERNIK led or disputed most of the way, and looked the likely winner two out, only for the enigmatic ‘grey in the sideburns’ to pass him in the final half furlong. He’s run well this time of year in both 2008 and 2009, and there might be a chance to strike while the iron is hot.
OCARINA made progress to three out and briefly threatened before weakening on the run to the last. He’s running consistently without threatening a win.
This looked TREEHOUSE’s sort of contest, and he made an effort approaching three out, but made no impression from that point and might ideally need softer ground. He did win on fast ground last spring, but that was a desperate contest.
GERSHWINNER was held from three out.
SHULMIN led from five out until three out but weakened soon after.
MASTER SEBASTIAN was beaten a long way out and doesn’t look the horse he once was.
TOP DRESSING probably found this too stiff a test and he was beaten from six furlongs out.
MONEYLAWS was always behind and though closing for a time mid-race soon lost touch again.
COLDWELLS wan no sort of race and was pulled up approaching the fourteenth.
DARINA’S BOY was beaten when unseating three out and looks a back number now for whom retirement beckons.
STAGECOACH DIAMOND fell at the fourth.

4.20 2m 4f 0-110 C.J. Handicap Hurdle

Overall it is difficult to pick up many positives from this ordinary contest.
MISTER MARKER put a disappointing effort at Ayr behind him to land this race, though with second and third well exposed and moderate it’s questionable how good the form is.
SOLWAY ALLY and YOUNG BUDDY improved on recent efforts, while VECCHIO SENSO failed to progress from his easy win at Wetherby.

4.50 2m 0-99 Handicap Chase

BENE LAD confirmed the promise of his Kelso effort, a significant drop in trip being no hindrance. Having raced up with the pace he looked as if he maybe held as they approached the last, but he rallied to great effect and got up on the line. The second and third’s recent efforts suggest the form may be sound and Bene Lad has prospects of going in again.
SHELOMOH looked the winner until mugged in the shadow of the post. This was a good effort given that his previous best was in soft or heavy. A repeat should put him close again and I’d be extra confident with some rain.
STORM SURGE ran a sound race in third though held after the last. He might find a softer event at this level.
PANTHERS RUN stayed no from two out without ever getting involved. This is his way of running and his only win came when he got lucky in catching an idling Fred Bojangals at Hexham.
MORE LIKE IT weakened three out.
NAVAL ATTACHE came second in a dire contest at Sedgefield, but was well held against better opposition here.
BULLIES ACRE disputed the lead until weakening from two out. He regularly runs out of reserves come the latter stages.
MORE SHENNANIGANS was unlucky at Southwell, carried out by as loose horse when leading and going well, but was never happy here and always looked booked for last place.

7.20 2m 1f NH Flat

SEREN ROUGE stayed on well to hold off a previous winner in EASTERN SUPREME. The pair were closely followed by the newcomer EBONY RIVER who looks bred to make a jumper.
The form looks sound enough as the rest were strung out like washing, BOW BADGER running passably well in fourth.

Friday, 12 March 2010

A short March tour of North east England

I've had a slight rethink about the title of the blog. The subject has veared away from Scottish racing and is more Scotland and 'Oop North' in England, so I've settled for 'A View From Scotland'.

I've secured a new job which may limit weekday day-time access to 'the net', so there may be a case for abbreviated reports, but I'll keep as much detail as I can. Direct reports from meetings may restricted to weekends and whatever days I can get off work. In the short term, shock horror, the Perth Festival might be TV recording only this year (sob, sob!), though if I manage one day at the meeting it will be Highland National day.

SEDGEFIELD - Sunday March 7th

Going – Soft (Good to Soft in places)

Sedgefield held a run-of-the-mill card for what I believe was their first ever Sunday fixture. The going had dried out a little bit as we’ve had a period of high pressure dominated dry weather, although most meetings are having to survive at least one frost inspection.

Time constraints mean I’m concentrating on the chases, but I will significant notes on any hurdlers.

2.20 2m ½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

Typically this event covered range of a abilities from the incapable to the promising.

GRINGO reached a rating of 134 over hurdles. While this performance didn’t reach those heights he showed more than enough promise on chasing debut and should be capable of taking on stiffer opposition. He now has two wins on soft to his name but I suspect will produce improved form on faster ground.
KARMADICE is rated 106 and ran creditably to keep a better performer honest. He evidently suffered no ill effects from a previous heavy fall and was well clear of the field.
WHAT A BUZZ was in front and going strongly when falling heavily two out. He looked dazed when he got up from his head first fall and I’d prefer confirmation of his well-being. Given that he emerges healthy, he rated 127 over hurdles and looks capable of matching that over fences.
SMUGGLERS BAY was outpaced from four out and plugged on for third. His last two runs don’t suggest a win is imminent.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER has twice got round in his own time. This run probably merits a rating in the low 80s, a mark of the level he has to be aimed at.
EYRE SQUARE faded from the ninth and failed to confirm previous promise.
SCALE BANK is better on faster ground and was outpaced form the ninth.
QUALITY CONTROL, coming off a long absence, was never put in the race and got round in his own time.
RECOIL plodded round in a remote last place, while NAUGHTY DIESEL pulled up down at the ninth and JUST MATTY shows no signs of being a racehorse, pulling up before the sixth here.

2.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

DOUBLE EXPRESSO looks better than the average Sedgefield novice winner and impressed in coming clear down the straight. He can trouble better opposition.
BENNY BE GOOD (2nd – 10 lengths) performed adequately under his penalty but is vulnerable to improvers in this sort of contest, as is the third BLACK APACHE who was beaten from the second last.

3.20 3m 3½ f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

These events are a peculiar ‘Sedgefield thing’ as few tracks match this distance over the lesser obstacles.
ONIZ TIPTOES stays well and held two other similar performers in OF COURSE and PADDY’S TERN, the latter being desperately one paced at the business end.
The novice CLUB CLASS was well backed but reported as not handling the track. He may be worth another chance in a staying hurdle elsewhere.

3.50 2m ½ f 0-89 Handicap Chase

Not a good event and there were reasons to be put off each one here.

TROODOS JET has been running consistently over fences of late, and finally found a soft event to get his head in front. He led before the last and stayed on better than his pursuers. While he may be capable of a repeat he may struggle against any opposition better than this.
NAVAL ATTACHE’s chase record around here isn’t bad and he got involved all the way, leading three out then tapped for pace two out before rallying to take second on the run-in. He’s ideally suited by a longer trip.
LERIDA’s new trainer has done quite well to conjure a couple of decent runs in successions out of a very quirky sort. He kept on for third having been prominent all the way, but he’s not one to be backing at the 100/30 on offer here.
PRINCE TAM was once against found out for pace in the last half mile and was well held in fourth.
GINGER’S LAD didn’t get seriously involved but kept on from two out on his chase debut giving at least a glimmer of hope.
ELLANDSHE raced prominently to three out and then weakened but added another completion to his record.
EMOTIVE didn’t seem over enamoured with the bigger obstacles on his chasing debut and was well beaten.
SATINDRA won at Fakenham in November but was well beaten when falling two out here. He was declared to run with a tongue-tie but ran without it!

4;20 2m 4f 0-92 Handicap Hurdle

Having shown very little over hurdles before this BARON WATLASS won a very moderate event despite himself. He looked a very difficult ride from two out, but Dougie Costello did a fine job to coax him home. On this evidence he doesn’t look one to trust.
SHARADIYN set the pace most of the way and was a long way clear of the third.
The remainder were beaten 29 lengths or more and offered no encouragement.

4.50 2m 4f 0-95 Handicap Chase

This contest was reduced to eight fences as the four down the back straight were all omitted due to the low sun. This probably came as a bit of a boost to a few connections as some here would not be considered the sharpest of jumpers.

TEERIE EXPRESS made a successful step up from hunter chases, getting into contention three out and staying on best in a three way battle. This was not a great event but the performance was sound enough.
KINKEEL wouldn’t go down as the most predictable, though he is sometimes eccentrically/optimistically campaigned, but this is definitely his level. He ran a creditable race, staying on for second.
RUSTY RED would have been one to benefit from a reduction in the number of fences. He raced close up and stayed on to produce a best effort since his move from Ireland.
RED DYNAMITE was one paced from two out and finished just in front of REXMEHEAD who couldn’t make any impression from the same point.
PISTOL BASC was starting to struggle by three out and came home in sixth, with SEVEN IS LUCKY ten lengths back in seventh confirming his tag as a frustrating maiden.
DAY OF CLAIES isn’t the performer he was and was beaten from three out having set the pace.
ARCTIC ROCK made no show on his chasing debut, though he did beat WHATCANYASAY who just isn’t showing anything at the moment. BLUEBELL FLYER, out of the weights here and having shown little ability to date, and DARK GENTLEMEN, whose recent form has been dire, made up the full set of completions.

NEWCASTLE – Tuesday March 9th

Going – Soft(Heavy in places)

Only two flights of hurdles were jumped in the straight instead of three, the first being omitted.

2.20 2m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

LORD VILLEZ, a French import who had shown some promise on his British debut, kept on well under pressure to take this event. I’m not sure what the form is worth as MONTOYA’S SON had been below his best on his previous hurdles effort and ALLOW ME, while well regarded by James Ewart, isn’t proving completely straight forward having drifted across the track in the latter stages. MAC AEDA had every chance and was just held for fourth, the first four being a long way clear.

2.50 2m 4f 0-94 Handicap Hurdle

A lowly contest was won by in-form MISTER PETE who led and then stayed on determinedly up the straight.
ARDESIA produced improved form last time and stepped on that to finish a close second here. His overall profile is not impressive and doesn’t give much encouragement for those behind, though HOT ‘N’ HOLY (fourth) did run passably well after a year off.

3.20 3m 0-115 Handicap Chase

BLAZING DIVA won here last time at a fancy price, but I suspected she might be capable of a repeat given testing conditions and she duly obliged from a more proven opponent. She came clear from three out and was pushed out for victory.
ITS TEESCOMPONENTS looked capable of improving further on her mark but was put in her place by an improving sort suited by the conditions.
BORIS THE BLADE is a bit of a soft touch against anything decent and determined. He was struggling by the home turn.
SCOTTISH MUNROS, the only one not coming off a last time out win, fell at the fifth on his chase debut.

3.50 2m 0-107 Handicap Hurdle

A race of exposed or ordinary looking performers was won by HI DANCER who has steadily dropped to a workable mark. NEVSKY BRIDGE, not an easy ride, occupied second and MONTIYRA produced arguably his best hurdles effort in a share of third. LONG DISTANCE stayed on to dead-heat for third and Lucinda Russell might be able top place this one to advantage, possibly on better ground.

4.20 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

LITTLE PROMISE, a typically exuberent jumper for the Ewart stable, showed a battling quality that is not untypical of the yard. Having led to halfway, he looked to be going nowhere on the final bend but rallied all the way up the straight to land the spoils close home.
PEGASUS PRINCE, having gone close to a Ewart runner at Kelso, was once again pipped for the main prize by a runner from Langholm. He stayed on and didn’t do a huge amount wrong.
Well backed LUSO’S LAD faded from the last into a well held third.

4.50 2m 4f 0-130 Handicap Chase

JIMMY BOND had a fair record up to spring 2008 but his form has been patchy since. He was held up in the rear but stayed on from three out, led with a good leap and the last and stayed on. He has dropped in the handicap, but I can’t imagine there’s a huge amount extra to come at the age of eleven.
JASS stayed on well having had every chance and ran a creditable race over a trip well short of his best. He’s in form and worth noting back up to a staying test.
ET MAINTENANT race prominently until weakening two out and SILVER SEDGE was struggling by the home turn.
MAGE D’ESTRUVAL isn’t making much impact currently and was beaten by the home turn.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT is suited by farther, but his recent form is poor and should be watched until showing signs of a revival.
OPEN DE L’ISLE, returning form a successful spell hurdling, went well to the tenth but was ‘half-lengthed’ by Et Maintenant , hit the fence and then his confidence went out of the window.
MR PRICKLE, twice a winner this season but inconsistent, had an off day and was pulled up.

5.20 2m NH Flat

A very interesting looking bumper and the form of the first two in particular looks strong.

ROCKS RULE, coming from a stable who waste few entries in these events, came clear to beat previous winner by three lengths. Given the speed he showed it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this one aimed at a Graded bumper, or failing that maybe a maiden on the flat.
EAGLE OWL, a winner at Sedgefield last time, gave a boost to that form by coming clear with the winner.
SUNNYSIDE pulled clear of FRIDAYTHORPE, a previous winner, in the final two furlongs for third and looked to improve on his previous effort.
PAPAMOA comes from a stable whose runners normally need a bit of time. He was in the mix entering the straight though seeming to run a bit green. Held from that point he did keep on in his own time, fifth in this company looks quite decent, and may be one to look out for in future. His breeding certainly suggests a distance of ground over jumps will suit.

CATTERICK – Wednesday March 10th

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

The tour of North East England continued with a meeting at Catterick, their last jump fixture of the current season. There’s been no rain in the north for a couple of weeks now and the going came up just on the fast side of the good. The surface has suffered over the winter and the top remained very loose in places.

2.20 2m Class 5 Selling Hurdle

A dreadful contest that was a penalty kick for ALONG THE NILE who has struggled to recapture his form of late. With the aid of blinkers the ball was buried in the net with the utmost ease, and it is hoped this will serve as a confidence booster. At 100/30 he was one of the better value bets of the season.
TIPSY INDIAN and ANDURIL, both having some ability at this level, followed the winner home at a safe distance.
Surprisingly there was no bid for the winner, but SKYE BUT N BEN was claimed by J.J.Best for £5,000 after plugging on for sixth.

2.50 2m 3f 0-90 Handicap Hurdle

This event was nothing to shout about, but MARDOOD has acquired the winning habit and made it two in a row over this course and distance. Having won this under a penalty he may go up a fair chunk and might find life more difficult from now on.
BOYOBOY is lightly raced and put up a creditable effort on his handicap debut, keeping on from two out.
CORNISH CASTLE improved on previous efforts, finishing fastest of all for third, and RAWAAJ put up a passable handicap debut in fourth.

3.20 2m Class 4 Maiden Chase

FARNE ISLAND has gone close in handicaps and found an uncompetitive event here. He blew a good chance when falling here last time but finished well under pressure to get up close home.
KOSTA BRAVA looked the likely winner at the last only to be caught in the final 50 yards. Using on the winner’s mark as a measure Kosta Brava needs to be aimed at low level handicaps.
STUFF OF DREAMS kept on for third showing his best form since arriving from France.
OTTO QUERCUS put in some poor jumps and dropped out of contention three out. He had been less than fluent at Taunton and his fencing needs to be sorted out.
BARDOLET was held when hampered two out on his chasing debut.
ICE IMAGE went well to three out but was feeling the pinch when falling two out. He at least gave some hope for the future.
NIGHT REVELLER, rated only 64, was detached early and completed in his own time.

3.50 2m Class 4 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

BOGSIDE THEATRE jumped and galloped this field into submission. Her hurdling is as sharp as any I’ve seen for a while and she had her race won by the home turn. She may trouble better performers than these.
FLORA’S PRIDE ran a fair race in second though well held. She may find a little race, and the same goes for GWYRE who made no impression from two out.
LAST OF THE BUNCH was disappointing in fourth. She doesn’t jump that well and it’s holding her back.

4.20 3m 1½f 0-95 Novices’ Handicap Chase

The blinkers were applied to STAR BEAT who produced a first victory over fences. He stays well and goes well around Catterick, being at or near the front the whole way and staying on to win comfortably despite giving the last a serious rap. He’s capable in staying events on decent ground, but isn’t likely to be particularly well treated in future.
THE BRIG AT AYR had given no more than the vaguest hint of ability previously and ran from 8lbs wrong in the handicap. He never threatened the winner but stayed on for second and gives his stable hope for the future.
ANOTHER CHARMER raced close to the pace, coming clear with the winner three out, but was outpaced from two out.
LORD COLLINGWOOD rallied to close three out but soon tired and clambered over the last. Given that he has had problems this run offers a little more encouragement.
FEELING PECKISH is very ordinary and made no impression from four out.
TULLY HILL led to the twelfth but he’s weak in the closing stages and faded from four out.
I SEE A STAR, winner of a hunter chase here last season, didn’t cut any ice on his move up to handicaps. He dropped out of contention from the fourteenth.
NAVAL HERO was all at sea and looks very slow.
EBAC’s two decent efforts last season are a fading memory and he was tailed off in the last mile.
DOODLEBOP lost touch after halfway and was pulled up before the fourteenth.
LUSENTO didn’t jump well, soon lost touch and was pulled up before four out.

4.50 3m 1 ½ f Class 6 Novices’ Hunters’ Chase

A collection of very ordinary hunter chasers and pointers.

AREYACODDINMEE didn’t figure in the race until making ground from two out. He finished with a fair rattle and won going away. This 10-year-old is no better than a moderate pointer noted for safe jumping but not much else. He clearly likes fast ground.
RACING ACE looked the winner over the last and stayed on well, only to be mugged in the last 100 yards. His family has a few winners amongst them and as a six-year-old he has time on his side. He might find a similar contest in the north.
Like the winner, L’OUDON stayed on from the rear but his effort could only gain him third place. He’s twice a point winner and was rated 125 over hurdles. If he could get within 20lb of that over fences he’d win a race like this.
BLAZING BULL challenged three out and wasn’t out of contention at the last, but was one paced on the flat.
THE VIKING was close up from halfway, held every chance two out but then weakened. He has struggled to see out the trip in points and it may be worth seeking out a mid distance hunter chase.
CHERRYLAND led or raced prominently, rallied to three out but could make no impression from that point.
HIGH MOOR never got closer than his finishing seventh place. He’s been well held on all efforts under rules.
OH SO PERKY has a fair record in five points including a maiden win, but looks some way short of the ability to win a hunter chase. He briefly got near the leaders at halfway but was then on the retreat.
SHANTEEN LASS came close in this event last season, the winner was well beaten in the earlier novices’ handicap, but has shown little else under Rules and was beaten a long way here.
WAS I RIGHT has a little ability, but his best days are behind him and he receives precious little assistance from the saddle.
COOL CLICHÉ set the pace from the fifth to the fourteenth but weakened quickly. His best efforts have been at two and a half miles.
PENDLE FOREST spent most of last season trundling around the rear in novice chases. This time she trundled around in the rear in a hunter chase before shedding her rider at the twelfth.
JIMMYS DUKY was right in the argument at the fourteenth, but once headed four out he quickly back pedalled and was pulled up. He’s won three points but his chances of an elusive Rules win are receding.
POP PLAY AGAIN was starting to struggle when falling at the fourteenth.
KEEN WHIP was made favourite but stumbled and unseated his rider as the runners set off. This was unfortunate since he would appear to have enough ability to win a contest like this.

5,20 2m Mares’ NH Flat

The Catterick season ended on a downbeat note with a distinctly ordinary looking mares’ bumper.

Newcomer BABA O’CURRAGH shows she has some speed, leading two out and running on well. She’s a half-sister to a staying chaser so might conceivably improve when upped in distance.
Previous form was upheld by CLASSICAL MIST, recording a second runner-up spot, and HANNAH JACQUES who once again stayed on late and looks to be crying out for a longer trip. Everything else was comfortably held.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Kelso - Premier Hurdle Day

KELSO – Saturday March 6th

Going – Soft(Heavy in places)

Kelso staged an interesting card headlined by the Grade 2 totepool Premier Kelso (Novices’) Hurdle, a contest which attracting some promising northern novices. In the Premier Chase locally trained Sa Suffit laid his reputation on the line in a warm up for his planned Aintree.

The track had a distinctly tired look toward the end of this harsh winter. The turf was dull with a yellowy tinge, indicating that there had been no growing for some months. That being said, having come through still lying snow south of Edinburgh I should be grateful that the frosty conditions had finally relented in the Borders. We really do need a warmer spell to ‘green things up’ a bit.

1.55 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase

RAYSROCK showed his well being with a hurdles win at Ayr in February. He looked the most straightforward in a contest where many had questions to answer. He led three out and better than his pursuers on the flat. He has won a few times on soft and heavy, but his Ayr win was on much better ground. He will be on a career high mark, but is in good heart.
PADDYS UNYOKE had struggled to make the step up from hunter chases, but this was his best effort of the season from 3lbs out of the handicap. He was outpaced three out but came back strongly up the run-in to wrest second place close home. His three best efforts have been at Kelso and this run suggests he needs further.
DUKE OF MALFI had every chance but he got tired on the flat, drifted toward the stands’ rail and lost second close home. He ran creditably given the rise in the weights.
JUSTTHEONEFORYOU is a maiden after fourteen attempts and was run out of the first three in the final furlong. He’s a big strong sort who often runs passably well but is rather frustrating.
NATIVE COLL ran a decent race form 10lbs out of the weights. He got into the race for the places a furlong out but couldn’t hold higher rated opponents. He’s in good heart and would be an interesting contender in a lower class.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS led early but faded once headed. He is capable on his day, and has a decent win record in recent times, but he does need things his own way.
PRIMROSE TIME, coming here off the back of two promising runs behind Bedlam Boy, was always struggling in her first attempt at handicap chasing. She finished tailed off and connections could offer no explanation.
CLOUDMOR looked plenty fit enough on return after 876 days, but was struggling past halfway and was pulled up before three out.

2.30 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

KING O’ THE GYPSIES was made favourite off the back of a second at Wetherby in a race from which the first and third have since one. Howard Johnson’s charge, apparently still an entire, was forced to work hard to add to the Wetherby contest’s tally, but his gameness saw him home. He looks good enough to follow up.
COLOUR CLASH had shown promise when placed at Sedgefield before falling at Newcastle. None the worse for that mishap he made the winner pull out all the stops and shouldn’t be kept out of the winner’s position for long.
EUROHUNTER has joined Willie Amos since being well beaten in an Irish bumper last June. He had every chance though was unable to match the pace of the first two, but this was a sound start over hurdles.
TURBO ISLAND, a winner at Ayr back in December, led until the flat but was tapped for pace in the run to the line. He needs further than this, and his big jumping style suggests he will be seen to better advantage in time over fences.
CHESTER LAD was on his toes in the paddock and took a firm grip going down. He caught my eye as a potential jumping sort when I first saw him and gave at least a glimmer of ability here. It appears that he could be quirky but the basic ability is there.

3.00 2m 1f Class 2 Novices’ Chase

This valuable novice event boiled down to a match between two useful chasing recruits in Bedlam Boy and Silk Drum with the others left to come home in ratings order for the remaining places.

BEDLAM BOY tracked the leader most of the way and took over on the flat, staying on to go clear in the final furlong. He’s aimed at the Arkle for which Ferdy Murphy thinks he at least in with a chance.
SILK DRUM is only a five-year-old and has more time on his side than the winner. He was held from the furlong pole but performed soundly.
TARTAN SNOW was ridden to finish third and in the end stayed on well to get within eight lengths of Silk Drum. He jumped soundly here and this will have done his confidence some good.
ST KILLIAN’S RUN earned an expected fourth place, losing touch with Tartan Snow before three out.
The race was named in memory of Cyril Alexander, and the sponsoring family was represented by SKIPPING CHAPEL who was hopelessly outclassed here. He settled better than on his last effort over hurdles at Catterick, but was understandably struggling from four out. That being said he pretty well ran to his mark and might still be of interest in a low grade middle distance chase.

3.35 2m 6 ½ f Class 2 totesport.com Premier Chase

James Ewart remarked earlier that SA SUFFIT had “destroyed the box again” on the way to the course. Apparently this is a good sign and Sa Suffit justified odds-on here in decent style. He was settled close up, challenged at the last and forged ahead from the furlong pole. The second seemed to run to form and Scotland’s top rated chaser is now aimed at the John Smith’s Handicap Chase, a three miler at Aintree.
WILL BE DONE was held on the ratings, but did at least make it a decent test. Turned out looking very well, he took over at the second jumping well in front and kept on once headed on the run-in. A prominent show might be expected back in a handicap.
WILD CANE RIDGE jumped slowly early on. He was outpaced going to three out and looked likely to fill fifth place behind his inferiors, but he stayed on again up the run-in to take third.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE, lowest rated of the five contestants, was outpaced but grabbed fourth place close home.
NOT LEFT YET, lightly raced in recent times, stayed close to two out but weakened once turned for home.

4.10 2m 2f totepool Premier Kelso (Novices’) Hurdle

A decent turn out of winning novices from the northern circuit were firmly put in their place as BYGONES OF BRID set the pace, then galloped clear of the field form the last. Karen McLintock’s charge revels in these conditions. I was impressed when I saw him sprint away up the hill at Hexham in October 2008 and he has come along nicely since then. He needs the soft so plans are fluid, with Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown all possible destinations if the rain arrives. The intention is that he should go chasing next season.
Michael McAlister isn’t a rider necessarily noted for getting involved in the finish of a Graded race, but he was understandably beaming at the end of this event as SOFT SPOKEN GUY left a number of fair novices in his wake. He proved in this race that his Hexham defeat of Sitting Tennant was no fluke and a run of the mill novice must surely come his way under a penalty.
PREDICTIVE raced prominently and plugged on once held. One would imagine the McCain stable will be thinking steeplechaser in the long term.
WASHINGTON IRVING was disappointing and faded quickly on the run-in. Presumably he will be tried on better ground as he seems to be struggling with the trip in the mud, but signs aren’t encouraging.
BISHOPS HEIR was firmly put in his place from two out and seemed to find this company a step too far.

4.45 2m 6 ½ f Man That Oo Ca’ Bill Hunters’ Chase

A race named in honour of recently passed rugby commentator Bill McLaren. It’s perhaps appropriate that his name should be associated with a hunter chase since it’s the sort of ‘sport in the raw’ event which would have appealed to the Hawick stalwart.

ALWAYS RIGHT saw off his only serious opponent with the minimum of fuss, taking over on the run-in and coming comfortably clear. He’s an imposing sort and may be more up to the task of taking on the top hunters this season.
DOC ROW ran respectably against a decent opponent, setting the pace until passed at the last. He goes well around here and would be unlucky not to pick up a similar contest.
KNOW THE ROPES completed for third in his own time. He jumped very accurately and that might at least enable him to pay his ‘bus fare’ with the odd placing at this level.
FIRST LOOK drew gasps from the crowd as he clouted the fence in front of the stands, flinging Claire Metcalfe over his head in the process. Miss Metcalfe was none the worse for the tumble.

5.20 2m 6 ½ f 0-109 Handicap Hurdle

The card finished with a moderate handicap of mainly exposed sorts.

I always make a mark against animals by Turtle Island when the going is soft or heavy. TURTLE SPIRIT obliged here, leading at the last and staying on better of the principals. He had shown some promise at Ayr previously and might be capable of building on this performance given similar conditions.
DON’T RUSH IT is a fetching sort who ran a second decent race since coming to the UK from Ireland. He’s yet to win a race, but this was only his twelfth visit to a racecourse and he seems to be improving with age. Showing the right attitude here it seems only a matter of time before he wins a staying hurdle.
SIRKEEL isn’t blessed with exceptional pace but does tend to stay on when others are stopping and occupied third here in front of THATLLDOFORME who led two out but was one paced once headed, though progressing a shade form recent Newcastle efforts.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Catterick - First March Meeting

After a break of nearly a couple of weeks the Northern jumps circuit was back in action at Catterick. It’s still very cold in Scotland though, after snow and rain at the end of last week we have frost for the last few days, and it has been struggling to clear most days. Kelso have a decent card planned on Saturday including a couple of Class 2 chases and the bill topping Grade 2 Totepool Premier Hurdle which has drawn a decent entry of northern novices. The weather conditions are forecast to less severe running up to the weekend so the meeting should go ahead with no problem.
Kelso’s meeting heralds a busy period in the north with 17 meetings due to take place in my chosen area of study to the end of March. I just hope I can keep up with the action!

James Ewart flew the Saltire at Catterick and returned o’er the border with two wins.

CATTERICK – Tuesday 2nd March

Going- Good To Soft (Soft in places)

2.00 2m 3f 0-93 Lady Riders’ Amateur Selling Handicap Hurdle

One or two with bits of form, but overall this was a poor event.

MARDOOD wouldn’t go down as the most reliable performer, but he had enough resolution up the straight on this occasion to lose his maiden tag.
SAMIZDAT raced prominently but couldn’t raise his effort enough from two out. He has now run 21 hurdle races without a win.
MT DESERT kept on from two out without seriously threatening the winner.
NIGHTBOAT TO CAIRO looked to have a decent opportunity here but faded from two out.
SKIPPING CHAPEL, who had shown a little promise recently, pulled too hard early on and could offer nothing from two out.

2.30 3m 1½f 0-100 Handicap Hurdle

A staying handicap hurdle notable for the number of refugees from chasing, perhaps taking the chance of an outing after recent weather interruptions.

QUAY MEADOW isn’t very fast, but he stays well and handles cut in the ground. He made steady progress from three out, took over at the last and stayed on well to add to the win recorded off this mark of 83 last winter.
DAUNTSEY BAY made progress to lead two out going well, but found the winner stronger from before the last. He’s yet to win over hurdles, but isn’t doing too much wrong and there should be a lowly handicap within his compass.
COUNT BORIS, coming into the race off a run of three seconds, had every chance but was one paced form before the last. He’s yet to record a win over hurdles, but his previous record suggests he will need an extreme stamina test, either in the mud or at a stiff track.
The well backed WHAT’S OCCURRIN led until two out at a decent pace but weakened once headed. He ran a similar sort of race over half a mile less last time.
TEENANDO ran a fair race in fifth. His confidence seems low over fences and it is hoped this hurdles outing might help him.

3.00 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

DREVER ROUTE seemed better suited by the slightly less testing conditions on this occasion. He’s always given the impression of being a long term project and it could be that things are starting to click. He kicked on from three out and those chasing didn’t get to him. His trainer apparently feels he ideally needs a longer distance and he may well prosper as the ground dries out.
STORM SURGE put up a season’s best in second place. He never quite got to the winner down the straight though keeping on well enough.
DESPERATE DEX, up 34lbs from his official mark two runs ago (he ran 16lbs wrong then), tried hard enough but was held in the latter stages. He needed to be driven along from quite a way out and may just have found this better class just beyond him.
TRANOS plugged on late. This was a bit better than his recent efforts, but he doesn’t threaten a win in the near future.
ORMUS never got seriously competitive and was left behind from three out. He took a heavy fall at Musselburgh last time and hasn’t yet got close over fences.
I’M YOUR MAN found this tougher than recent contests and was crying enough by the home turn.
Leading in his now customary style, CARRIETAU didn’t jump as well as he has done recently. He was feeling the pinch on the home turn and finished well held. He’s been very busy lately and looks to need a rest.
JIM TANGO, off 115 in his first handicap chase, raced up with the lead but dropped away quickly once headed on the final bend.

3.30 2m 3f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

GOOD OLD THYME’s form set the standard in this event. He challenged two out, led at the last and ran on for victory.
They went no pace early on, so it’s difficult to work out how much the form is worth. KRIS KIN LINE was well beaten here last time but kept on well for second place having raced prominently. It’s difficult to judge this form, though he may be a bit under-priced next time.
HARD ACT set the steady early pace, picked things up from the sixth and kept on once headed two out. This was an improvement on a poor effort at Chepstow. The latter course is quirky and doesn’t suit all horses, so I’d be happy to accept this form as more his level though with a little still to prove.
TWENTYNINEBLACK showed promise here last time, but he faded from two out on this occasion. Given the slow pace I’m not sure the longer trip would be an excuse.
CAERLAVEROCK chased the leaders three out but couldn’t raise his game enough form that point. He should come on for the race.
One of the more significant performances may have come from FINBAR FLYNN in sixth place. He raced in the rear for much of the way but made significant ground from two out. He’s from a chasing family and would be expected to show up with time, a bit more distance and fences.

4.00 3m 1½f Class 4 Beginners’ Chase

CLASSIC CUT’s jumping isn’t particularly impressive and he won this despite himself. He regularly lost a couple of lengths at fences, but his staying power was too much for his rivals in the latter stages. He’s rated 123, which doesn’t seem unreasonable on what he’s done, but his jumping must cost him around the equivalent of 20lbs so he could rate much higher.
GREENBELT ran well stepped up in trip. He couldn’t quite match the winner’s superior stamina in the latter stages.
WATERLOO ROAD, stepped up from around the minimum trip, was pushed along approaching three out and weakened from two out. He comes from Rathgorman’s family and the obvious thought is that he will be better at shorter.
BLUE SHARK was left behind from three out and was very disappointing.
Point winners BATTLE OF SONG and ONCE BEFORE were well outclassed and pulled up, not offering much encouragement for the near future.

4.30 2m 0-95 Mares’ Novices Handicap Hurdle

CAT SIX had nothing of note over hurdles previously but her latest stable seem to have found the key to her. Her temperament had let her down previously but, having won a maiden point quite nicely back in December, she saw off this moderate field with ease. Another win in similar company would seem likely.
BASFORD LASS was keen in a first time visor but kept going well enough for second place. She won a bumper back in January 2009 and would have a chance of picking up a similar event to this.
HAZY OAKS has a fair record at this track and recorded a fourth placing in seven attempts here, but she remains a maiden. She stayed on up the straight.
DEVILS DELIGHT was one paced in the straight and reported as having a breathing problem.

5.00 2m Maiden NH Flat

WILDE PASTURES built on an encouraging debut in November. He hit the front three furlongs out and galloped on well. He’s liable to improve once upped in distance over jumps.
KENSIX STAR chased the winner up the straight but could make no impression. This was a satisfactory debut and, since he looked a bit green, there should be improvement to come.
Stable record and breeding didn’t encourage support of FENTARA. However, she picked up nicely in the straight and looks one for the future. There is staying chasing blood in the family so it wasn’t a surprise to see her picking up as the race came to an end.
TALKIN SENSE comes from a stable whose runners often need a bit of time. He went well for much of the way before being held from two furlongs out.
PAIR OF KINGS, placed on his previous outing, was in trouble exiting the back straight and making no progress but kept on again in the final two furlongs.