Wednesday April 21st
Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)
There’s been a decent dry spell in Scotland, caused by the same high pressure that has seen the volcanic ash hang around in the atmosphere with chaotic consequences. Nothing like natural forces to prove how small we are? Perth opened their three day Festival opened on a bright afternoon, though the turf was showing clear signs of the hard winter suffered in this part of the world. The grass growth in Scone Palace Park is not what it might have been and it might need another month or so before the course is in its best condition.
2.10 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle
First blood to the Irish raiding party in the opening maiden hurdle, the more competitive of the two divisions. These events are less well contested this side of the Irish Sea and it isn’t unusual to see Irish winners of such events at Perth.
Maiden point winner KILBRANNISH HILL had shown improved form when fourth at Downpatrick and proved best here. He was forced to pull out all the stops to hold on though and would struggle under a penalty in a novice event. Rated 110 he would appear well collared in handicaps.
PEGASUS PRINCE had every chance but carried his head rather awkwardly on the run-in suggesting he’s by no means straightforward. Three times second he’s becoming a bit frustrating.
APACHE COUNTRY made satisfactory comeback after a 14-month break and would appear the one most likely to go forward from this. He disputed most of the way but weakened after the last. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gordon Elliott brings this one back here for a similar event.
The third of the Irish challengers I NEED A HERO was one paced from four out.
CIRCUS CLOWN, well held in heavy ground before this, made a little late progress.
ROLL OVER ROSE, promising at Hexham, struggled in the final mile and was pulled up. Campbell Gillies reported that the bit slipped through the mare’s mouth.
2.45 3m ½ f Class 2 Novices’ Hurdle
Not a big field but nevertheless this was a competitive event. As can happen at this time of year form from a big meeting was let down as the favourite was beaten.
Gordon Elliott’s MEATH ALL STAR showed promise at Musselburgh earlier this season and had recorded two UK wins since. He was lowest rated here, but his presence at Cheltenham suggested he’s highly regarded, and he proved his quality here going away from an Aintree third on the run-in.
POSSOL, third to Big Buck’s at Cheltenham, let down favourite backers when unable to respond once passed going to the last.
SOFT SPOKEN GUY had done Maurice Barnes proud in recent weeks and was not disgraced in third less than a length behind Possol. He looks an honest sort and should be a fair prospect for staying handicaps next season.
CARSONSTOWN BOY has made steady progress since winning here last May. He could make no impression from two out.
THE KNOXS was very disappointing and eased right down once beaten two out.
3.20 3m Class 2 Novices’ Chase
DIABLO was one I had marked down as a chasing prospect when I first saw him at Perth. He’s taken time to get off the mark but, apart from a struggle at Aintree in the Topham, is going the right way. He pushed on in the straight and stayed on under pressure.
BARCADERO ran about as well as could be expected on previous form at these weights. He couldn’t raise his game from two out.
LATANIER seems to have tailed of for the season and may be in need of a rest. He produced a second consecutive tame display, being beaten by the entrance to the final straight.
EL BANDINDOS had done nothing lately to suggest he could trouble the other three. He didn’t look keen, was detached by the twelfth and soon pulled up.
3.55 2m ½ f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle
David Pipe’s stable have been firing of late and SURE JOSIE SURE was backed down to favourite for a competitive handicap hurdle. A drop back in trip here seemed to suit and she stayed on under pressure. The mare seems versatile as she’s recorded good form at a number of different tracks and handles good ground as well as heavy.
NEARBY has been running well from a mark which pretty well reflects his current ability. He pulled hard early, which may not have helped, but chased the leader honestly enough from two out if held. He is a winner on fast ground so might be kept on the go for the summer.
DRUMSHAMBO ran a respectable third on handicap debut and should be capable of picking up a similar event with the experience behind him. He’s only four years old and probably still has a little strengthening to do.
WORD OF WARNING was held from two out and will probably benefit from a step back up in trip.
FRONT RANK stayed on late and is not especially reliable.
SANTA’S SON has struggled over fences and has been sent back hurdling of late. He led or disputed to two out but was unable to produce extra once challenged, not looking particularly well treated off 125 at this time.
4.30 2m 4 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Chase
NEDZER’S RETURN might prove to be a fair bit better than the 121 that he ran off here. Progressive before falling at the Canal Turn in the Aintree Foxhunters’, he continued his progress here with a comfortable win. Despite idling on the run-in he had plenty in hand and could be one to kick on into decent handicaps next season.
STORYMAKER is in decent form at the moment and ran a creditable race against a well handicapped opponent. He saw off the rest well enough and should be capable of picking up a race in this form.
QUICUYO closed to four out but was held once turned for home.
NIKOLA was close enough two out, but belted the fence and with that went his chance.
SAFARI ADVENTURES likes to dictate the pace so had a tough task on here and gave way from four out. Small fields probably give him his best chance off his current mark.
EMERGENCY EXIT jumped abysmally and his chance had gone approaching four out.
SUPER BABY had a tough task here and, though he jumped better than of late, he was beaten from four out.
MIGHTY MASSINI was never going and pulled up before three out. It’s possible his fall last time has knocked his confidence.
BRAVE REBELLION jumped moderately, was struggling early and pulled up before two out.
OR DE GRUGY, rated 123, has not won off a mark in the 120s. He struggled from halfway, pulling up before three out.
5.05 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Maiden Hurdle
CAULKIN, an Irish point winner, was a comfortable winner of a weak looking contest after being switched from hunter chases. This was good placement, or fortunate placement given that the race was divided, and life will be tougher under a novice penalty.
PATRIOT is well exposed and his second place does precious little for the form of the remainder.
CHARLIE BUCKET made late progress into third while ROSSINI’S DANCER couldn’t up his game from two out.
DEVIL WATER was below his best and James Ewart’s stable have been struggling in the last couple of weeks. His jockey claimed he wasn’t suited by the going, but quite frankly I don’t buy that excuse.
5.40 3m ½ f 0-100 Handicap Hurdle
Anyone who writes about horse racing will tell you that there is always one horse out there waiting to make you look stupid. It my case it’s the Liz Harrison trained LIZ’S DREAM who I wrote off as big and slow at Carlisle in October. Having found a good reason to explain a Newcastle win as a fluke it was clear he had no chance here… You can imagine that I was sitting rather uncomfortably as ‘the slow old boat’ cruised up behind the leaders going down the far side. In the end he had to work quite hard for victory but did it well enough, and this lightly raced ten-year-old is making up for lost time.
MANADAM moved into contention approaching the last but was held on the run-in. On the face of it this was a fair effort, but this wasn’t a strong event.
TOP BRASS stayed on well for third while AGHILL posted a fair fourth upped in distance, though showing a lack of pace in the latter stages.
LEITH WALK was disappointing taking on an easier task than her last two runs.
BUBBLY BREEZE, noted in a hot novice at Musselburgh, raced promisingly until two out. He’s going the right way and I’m sure he will leave this form behind if going chasing.