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.