KELSO – Sunday April 11th
Going – Good to Soft(good in places)
Ladies’ Day at Kelso provided a bit of a taster before two of the major Scottish Festivals, The Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr followed by the Perth Festival. A decent crowd, just in excess of 4,000, was in attendance on a glorious sunny day in the Borders.
Two pony races were run as preliminaries to the senior action and it’s a sound idea to have these races before the ‘main course’ rather than tacked on at the end. Clerk Of The Course Anthea Morshead did ‘stable girl’ honours for Over to Kerry, a runner in the six furlong 148cm and under race. The pony was ridden by one Henry Morshead. Nicely bred for the racing game, by Sam out of Anthea(!), the 12-year-old proved to a chip off the old block as he rode Over To Kerry to victory. The first race was smaller ponies was a mad dash, but tactics came into play in the 148cm class with the riders biding their time until two furlongs out. Young Morshead showed decent style in riding his mount out from that point.
2.20 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
PYRACANTHA stepped up on a couple of fair runs in novice hurdles and came away from the last to win the opener. The drying ground may well have had an influence on his improvement and he might pick up another similar race soon under a penalty.
QUATRO PIERJI won what looked a soft contest at Hexham last time. However, he kept on well enough once headed to take second here and this was a respectable effort.
QUACITY picked up nicely in the straight and finished well to take third place. Lucinda Russell should be able to find a contest for this son of Sagacity who stepped up on the glimmer of promise shown at Newcastle.
BISHOPS HEIR was made favourite but the impression I get is that he needs softer going and the ground was drying up under the warm sunshine. James Ewart’s runners aren’t in top form at the moment, Sa Suffit having been very disappointing at Aintree.
HOBSONS BAY plugged on late but was a well held fifth with the remainder not showing nay immediate promise.
2.50 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase
BOB’S DREAM has done well seeing off lesser opposition and came up trumps for the fourth time in seven outings. He was brought steadily into the race approaching three out having been held off the strong pace set by the two leaders. He led inside the final furlong, just holding the game runner-up in a ding-dong battle to the line. He shouldn’t be penalised too much for a narrow win and may find further opportunities against lesser animals.
CARRIETAU was unlucky at Carlisle last time, being hampered and virtually put out of the race early on, but was right back to his battling best here. Helping set a very strong pace which saw two horses 10 lengths clear by halfway, he went on at the eighth. He looked held in the final furlong, but has demonstrated deep reserves since being equipped with blinkers and battled back in the last 100 yards. From my postion overlooking the line it looked as if Carrietau had prevailed, but the photo told otherwise and the Murtagh stable had to settle for second. Against inferiors Carrietau clearly isn’t weighted out of races yet.
ST KILLIANS’S RUN remains in good form and stayed on to finish a close third. He was close enough to suggest that a rise in the weights has not finished his chances of recording another win.
STORM PROSPECT stayed on from three out and finished clear of the rest. However, he’s basically frustrating.
ICE IMAGE led the chasing group until three out, but then chased the leading group in vain from two out.
ISLA PEARL FISHER was outpaced going to three out. The better ground brought no noticeable improvement in performance and I fancy he’ll have to be aimed at the lowest grade.
STUFF OF DREAMS never got near the leaders, and hitting the third last put the kybosh on any chance he may have held.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE matched strides with the second to the eighth, but isn’t nearly as talented as Carrietau and he weakened quickly from the second last.
TARTAN SNOW didn’t look happy in this bigger field. He doesn’t look a natural when his jumping is pressed as it will be in double figure fields.
OLEOLAT ran no sort of race and finished a remote last.
PACCYS UNYOKE lost his place early and pulled up before four out. It turned out he had broken a blood vessel.
AGAINST THE WIND never got involved and was pulled up having lost touch going to four out.
3.20 2m 6 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle
On the book this race seemed to involve three, but in the end two pulled well clear.
The second has been progressive so that’s a marker of SOFT SPOKEN GUY’s performance as he galloped away from his only serious rival from the last. He stayed on to finish second in a Graded event here in March, and this proved that was no fluke. Indeed the increased trip seemed to favour him.
CAERLAVEROCK chased the winner in vain from the last, but was twenty lengths clear of the remainder and lost nothing in defeat. He will find easier opponents in this class.
ALMOND COURT plugged on best of the rest but is an ordinary maiden.
LITTLE PROMISE was another Ewart runner to run below par. He was outpaced from three out, but he should prove best when put over fences.
I WITNESS made no impression from two out, WARMASTER looks headstrong and a trifle wayward, while LOCHORE made moderate late progress without getting into the race seriously.
Mark Bradburne suffered a back injury when SOLDIERS TREE decanted him at the first. At the time of writing he was due a scan to find out the exact damage to a vertebra.
3.50 3m 1f 0-125 Handicap Chase
RAMBLING MINSTER has had a poor season, but whether by application of blinkers or the drop in class he was galvanised here. His rider pushed on down the back straight for the final time and had his field stretched. He stayed on well enough after the last but found one just too strong for him.
REEL CHARMER raced prominently and was the only one left to match the leader going to the last. He led after the elbow and just had too many guns for his spirited veteran opponent.
The pair were well clear of MINOUCHKA who put in one of his better handicap chase efforts in third. He looked to be weakening on the home turn but stayed on after last and gives his stable a little more cause for optimism.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE made smooth progress to close on the leader going to two out but could make no impression once turned for home.
TEXAS HOLDEM closed approaching three out but was another to fade after the final turn.
DREVER ROUTE went well enough to four out but then faded. It seems likely he didn’t stay.
NELLIEDONETHAT looked very well in the paddock but was disappointing, fading from halfway.
PRIMROSE TIME was in touch when falling heavily at the open ditch away from the stands on the final circuit. OR DE GRUGY was hampered when Primrose Time and was soon pulled up. MOKUM was feeling the pinch at the same point and was another pulled up soon after.
THE SHY MAN and WATERSKI both struggled early on the final circuit and were pulled up before two out.
4.20 2m 2f 0-119 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
STOPPED OUT won this under a beautifully judged front-running ride by northern circuit ‘journeyman’ Richie McGrath. He kicked on going down the far side on the final circuit and nothing got anywhere near the pair after that. He will be well tested off a much higher mark next time, but good ground or perhaps faster looks a must.
TOP IT ALL made progress three out and chased the winner in the straight, but was never going to do better than second. This was an improvement on previous form and he will have chances at this level or lower off a mark of 95.
SOLIS kept on for third without ever threatening, which is pretty much typical and the well exposed PATRIOT stayed on late for fourth.
MINI BECK raced near the head of the chasing group but made no impression from two out while NEW TRICKS, admittedly better up front, was disappointing and is becoming a little frustrating.
PREMIER SAGAS was well backed but dropped away after hitting three out.
4.50 3m 1f Class 4 Hunters’ Chase
SILVER SEDGE welcomed the drop in class having run respectably in handicaps of late. He pressed on from two out and held off a determined runner-up in the final furlong. He might pick up another race if sticking to this company.
ANSHAN SPIRIT is no spring chicken but has served connections well, proving here that she retains both ability and enthusiasm. She led from the eleventh until two out and battled back to challenge on the flat.
HIGH FIVE has never been very fast, but does stay and plugged on for third.
THUNDER HAWK raced up with the pace for much of the way but was outpaced from three out.
ALMOST BLUE was detached early and plugged on past tired rivals.
WHAT OF IT raced prominently early but lost after four out and was beaten a long way.
PANGBOURNE has spent his career trying not to win. He showed speed to halfway but was struggling going on to the last circuit and came home a remote last. About the only positive thing is that he reminds me of my home village of Bradfield in Berkshire, situated just a few miles from Pangbourne!
BENBEOCH took no interest in proceedings and was tailed off on the last circuit before being pulled up before three out.
5.20 2m ½ f Open NH Flat
I’ve rattled on about it on numerous occasions, Kelso bumpers are good pointers to the future. The form of this one seems sound enough.
STORM BRIG, clearly benefitting from his run at Ayr, repeated his course and distance win of March 2009. He pulled clear from two out and offers Alistair Whillans chances over hurdles next season.
SUNNYSIDE has been consistent in bumpers and ran a sound race for second. He’s a point winner in Ireland and seems to have enough about him to prosper over obstacles.
ATTAGLANCE led until three out was outpaced form that point. He looks to have a bit of scope for strengthening and the family have winning hurdles form.
The one that really caught my eye in the paddock was FREDDIE BROWN. He’s not untypical of a few George Charlton inmates and has the stamp of a chaser about him. On that basis it’s not likely we will see the best of him in these events and he was outpaced three out though kept on galloping for fourth. I presume he’ll go hurdling next season, but I’d really look forward to a chasing campaign with this one.
GLENORA GALE made a fair debut in fifth, keeping on form the rear. The family boasts decent chasers and that’s where this mare is likely to show up best given time.
PAPAMOA showed promise at Newcastle last time, but Graham Lee was niggling from a long way out and he dropped away quickly from four out.