Monday, 31 May 2010

Perth Gold Cup Meeting

PERTH – Sunday May 24th

Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places)

The normal packed house was in for Perth Gold Cup day, the official figure being 11,144 and showing the pulling power of this delightful track.

The going had eased with some rain and as a result there were a number of non-runners.

2.15 2m 4½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

Gordon Elliott is not one to miss an opportunity and it’s not untypical to see his progressive chasers revert to hurdles to pick up easy money. The job was done with ease here as NEDZER’S RETURN followed up his Perth Festival double. He was not the slightest bit troubled from three out.
Another swapping from chasing was the second HUNCHEON WELLS. He chased the winner up the straight without threatening.
PROFICIENCY ran an honest enough race in third. She should eventually find a small novice or maiden, particularly if there’s a mares’ only event available.
ELCANOS promises much but went out like a light from two out and all the indications are that he has a physical problem once pressed.

2.45 2m 4½f 0-112 Novices’ Handicap Chase

SOTOVIK has been rather frustrating over fences but he got lucky here, being left in the lead when the likely winner keeled over at the last. He kept on under pressure with those chasing even more tired than he was.
KING ROONAH looked to have the race won when falling in slow motion at the last. He couldn’t quite get his legs under himself as he went down. He’s shown enough in his last two efforts to suggest he will win a chase before long.
ATHOSS, an ordinary hunter chaser at best, was held from three out.
MEADOWS THYNE was well out the back most of the way but stayed on late and almost snatched second. While he seemed to finish well he was never in the race.
CROW SPINNEY was outpaced form the eleventh.
PHONE IN was well fancied but struggled from the tenth fence and pulled up before four out. All his best form is on good or faster, so it looks safe to put this run aside.

3.15 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

THE ROCKING DOCK ran a succession of good race here last summer, and bounced back to form with a win here. Leading at the eighth, he had to be reminded of his job up the straight after being headed, but kept on to good effect.
Lightly raced HELEN WOOD took up the running in the straight but was headed at the last and could muster only the one pace.
COACH LANE won a weak event at Uttoxeter. This wasn’t strongly contested, but he was outpointed from four out.
PRINCE TAM is a weak finisher and the distress signals were out with four to go.
ALL THE CAUSE ran a poor race, pulled up three out, and remains frustrating over fences.
ANNIBALE CARO barely went a yard and was pulled up before the seventh fence.

3.45 2m ½ f 0-104 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

WIND SHUFFLE showed promise here on his previous outing, the third has won since, and he made a successful handicap debut on this occasion. He led until headed at the last and then showed admirable battling qualities to get back up.
CABERNET SUAVIGNON sets the standard with a solid performance in a Limerick handicap recently. He looked the likely winner at the last but was worried out of on the flat.
The other three, SHPFRONTSPEECIALST, SOLWAY BLUE and ROSSINI’S DANCER are ordinary and were beaten in the straight.

4.20 3m 0-136 Handicap Chase

OLLIE MAGERN suggested with his second at the previous meeting that he still had a win in him. He proved very game here, making the running and holding too much in reserve for this field. He’s been done plenty of favours by the handicapper, running off 134 here, but it’s heartening to see the popular veteran return to winning form. Leading all the way, he kicked on form three out and stayed under pressure from two out.
Wincanton SIR BATHWICK chased the winner up the straight without quite getting close enough to challenge. He’s in solid form and there may be another race for him before long.
GO SILVER BULLET was entering new territory trip wise. He chased the leaders most of the way but had run out of reserves after two out. This was a good effort and he would be interesting drop back in trip. He certainly had no trouble handling this class.
PIANO STAR closed to three out but hit that fence and that ended his chance. He has won the Midlands National at Kilbeggan in July two years running and I would imagine that would be a target again.
GINOLAD was struggling from four out and struggles in the latter stages of his races.
CATCH THE PERK plugged on but this company is a bit too competitive for him these days.
FLEMROSS went well on fast ground last summer. The cut in the ground wouldn’t have helped him, and he back pedalled after a mistake four out.
LOTHIAN FALCON and HOOPY never made a serious mark and finished in rear.
JACK THE BLASTER was detached by the twelfth and pulled up as was DOC ROW, the latter finding this far more competitive than his recent runs.
MILITANT, running his first race under Rules since 2007, was another to pull up before the thirteenth.

4.45 2m 4 ½ f 0-120 Handicap Hurdle

SUMMER SOUL has been a frustrating sort in the past, but he had the run of the race on this occasion and came clear from two out. He’ll be punished by the assessor for this and will struggle to follow up.
CORKAGE stayed on having been outpaced to three out.
BATHWICK MAN led or disputed until two out but was one paced form that point.
STROBE ran a little better than in recent months, his jumping let him down over fences, but was held from two out.
BAAHER closed to three out but could offer disappointingly little from that point.

5.30 2m ½ f NH Flat

Not a race I could get too excited about, but Sedgefield winner LOVEY DOVEY beat this field nicely. Already a point winner, she should be competitive when sent over hurdles.
CALL ME BILL chased the winner home clear of the remainder. His bumper form looks sound enough and he has prospects going forward.
Of the remainder, the third FLOAT MY BOAT and MONASHEE, eased once held in the straight, look long term prospects. Both are bred to stay well and will need a stiffer test to bring out the best in them.

HEXHAM – Tuesday 25th May

Going – Good to Firm

7.35 3m 1f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

The low sun meant that the second last down the near side was omitted on both circuits.

MIDNIGHT CHASE won this with the minimum of fuss and has proved that
he’s capable of troubling better class than this.
BALLYLANGAN tried to put it to the winner in the latter stages, but was well outpointed up the hill and very tired when falling at the last. He will probably be better running at a sharper track.
POLITICAL PENDANT was struggling for much of the way but stayed on past a tiring opponent to secure second prize.
CURRAHEE showed just a hint of promise on his chasing debut. He had a tendency to jump big but went well enough until tiring after the climb to the last.

8.35 2m ½ f 0-105 Handicap Chase

ARUMUN is pretty well exposed but had a nice opportunity against some ordinary northern two-milers. He made steady progress to three out, took over at the last and stayed on to catch an idling leader on the flat.
ICE IMAGE really should have won this. He looked the likely winner at the last and went on, but then idled and was caught, though apparently having a bit still left. He’s more than capable of winning a race like this, though not necessarily inclined to show it.
THE KEALSHORE KID was in rear for most of the way but picked his way through the field from three out. He wasn’t beaten far, is still in fair form and I suspect he’s better on a sharper track.
HEAVENLY CHORUS was detached early but kept on for fourth.
MORE SHENNANIGANS ran respectably from 9lbs out of the handicap, keeping on for fifth. He’s run more decent races than bad in latter times and I still feel there might be race in him if kept to the lowest company.
STORM PROSPECT is never the most committed and having progressed to two out he couldn’t offer any more.
GLIMMER OF LIGHT led at a decent pace but faded before the last. He’s capable on his day but used up too much too soon here.
MORE LIKE IT weakened three out as did SEA COVE, MAGELLAN STRAITS and the tailed off SKIDDAW JONES. More Like It won a moderate hurdle race recently, but none of these offer any immediate encouragement over fences.

I couldn’t pick up much of significance from an ordinary asset of hurdle races on the card. However, PATRIOT was rewarded for a succession of decent efforts, taking the maiden hurdle.

SEDGEFIELD – Wednesday May 26th

Going – Good

2.50 2m ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

ELLERSLIE TOM led and made a succession of ‘cat like’ jumps, really stretching to clear his fences. He made his ability tell and held the second from two out, idling a bit on the flat.
FINANCIALREGULATOR didn’t do much wrong but was outpointed by a better opponent. It’s difficult to make too many judgements from a three runner contest, but he hinted at ability over fences.
SCALE BANK was beaten from four out.

4.00 3m 3f 0-95 Handicap Chase

A race rendered a two-runner contest at the fifth fence. SOLWAY BEE dived at the obstacle, came down and GREENANDREDPARSON and OVERON LAD had nowhere to go, both being brought down. Thankfully all horses and riders got up in one piece.
FINBIN was left to see off HASPER from before the last, and was eased close home.

5.00 2m 4f 0-95 Novices’ Handicap Chase

GINGER’S LAD was in contention when falling here the previous week. Always going well he challenged at the last but hit the fence, then recovered to head the long time leader near the line. His jumping appears a bit hit or miss but he should be capable of winning another handicap.
PUGNACITY, a hurdle winner here on his previous outing, was going well three out but then looked tapped for pace going to the last. He picked up again on the uphill run to the line and was staying on.
PERSIAN PRINCE, a winner here last time, set the pace and still led briefly after the last but could offer no extra on the run-in.
CLUELESS challenged approaching the last but was one paced on the flat. This was at least an improvement on recent efforts.
JANAL stayed on to finish a close fifth, but his proximity does little for the value of the form.
SOLWAY BLUE chased the leaders to two out but was then held. He has yet to win a race.
EXIT FORTY FOUR was tailed off by halfway.
CHERRYLAND raced prominently early but as previously had nothing left when the race began in earnest and was pulled up.
DOWNING STREET was behind early, briefly flattered before the ninth but was well behind when pulled up before two out.
PATCHOULIE CONTI and maiden point winner FLAG HILL never figured and were both pulled up.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Mid-May Scottish Flat Meetings

HAMILTON – Friday May 14th

The Lanarkshire course served up a couple of Listed races for one of its big cards of the year. A couple of last year’s entries went on to the Queen’s Vase which be a consideration for CORSICA, the winner of a couple of mile and a half handicaps before this. Finding more in the final furlong, like so many of Mark Johnston’s runners, he showed that he isn’t lacking in stamina. ADMISSION pushed him all the way in second and is improving. The big disappointment was Layali Al Andalus, moved from the winner’s stable after last season, who faded badly in the final two furlongs.
The preceding three-year-old sprint handicap saw 40/1 chance Ginger’s Lad just hold Flaneur, the second having picked up a race since then. On that basis I fancy the close third, maiden KELLY’S EYE, should be worth an interest in upcoming races. She stayed on well up the hill.
HILLVIEW BOY continues to progress and was a decent winner of the Braveheart Listed Handicap over a mile and a half. He’ll go up around the 100 mark for this but may still have a bit in the tank, and although only seven ran here it was a select field.
ORIENTAL CAT seems to have wintered well and was an impressive winner of the maiden. He didn’t beat a huge amount, the second looks about right on 77, but the winner should go on from here and contest decent handicaps in time. SMARTY SAM made good progress late on and will be interesting once handicapped.

MUSSELBURGH – Tuesday May 18th

FREMEN took advantage of yet another clear opportunity to make it five wins in a row this year, a phenomenal performance for a 10-year-old gelding. He was made to pull out all the stops in the nine furlong seller by the determined runner-up Liberty Trail. JOINEDUPWRITING ran respectably at the weights back in third, though well held.
TIMELESS ELEGANCE doddled up in the three-year-old seven furlong handicap. She has clearly done well over the winter and is a filly going forward. Coolella’s run in second gives the form some support.
Bryan Smart introduced a smart two-year-old in EXCEL BOLT. He’s well bred to go a bit as a youngster and Smart will presumably eye a target a Royal Ascot. CRIMSON KNOT offered promise in second, stepping up on her first effort.
NUFOUDH was well suited by the sharp pace in the seven furlong 0-70 event, tracking the leaders and asserting in the final furlong. He corners very well, hugging the tight bottom bend, and that does make a difference in a truly run race. Moving forward to Friday you will see that he wasn’t as sharp in a muddling affair. MISTER JINGLES was just held in the final furlong and seems in good heart id an exposed type. JONNY LESTERS HAIR looked none to keen when asked for an effort, wandering around in the last two furlongs. He seems one to be wary of.
FAIRY SHOES beat a moderate field in the maiden, but she did it well enough and will prove better over a stiffer track.

MUSSELBURGH- Friday May 21st

Going- Good to Firm

It was glorious evening on ‘The Links’ with a decent crowd turning out to see some low class but nevertheless exciting racing. Many of the crowd seemed quite happy to stay on the lawns to the side of the stand, thus allowing those us around the paddock a little more elbow room than we might have expected. With the bars packed the alcohol free Rosebery CafĂ© was an oasis of calm, giving me a chance to grab a coffee and a snack in mid evening.

Bereft of my own transport as a recent redundancy has left me, I took the 26 bus from new my workplace all the way across to Musselburgh. It’s slow old journey in the rush hour, but at £1.20 single I’m really not complaining. The after meeting bus back to Edinburgh was a good deal quicker!

I was accompanied at paddock side by David Cormack of the Racing Forum. David was providing paddock picks for Twitter watchers on what was the first meeting of a busy weekend for the Borders based correspondent. He travelled to Haydock on Saturday, but was still fresh enough to travel to Perth on Sunday.

6.40 5f 0-65 3yo Handicap

Generally an ordinary collection in the paddock though MONTE MAYOR ONE looked well and on his toes ready for the contest. He couldn’t carry forward looks to the contest and finished a well beaten last.
JIGAJIG is in good form at the moment and was good enough to reverse form with Lees Anthem, his conqueror last time they met here. Jigajig is a thick set type who looks every inch a sprinter, was always prominent and driven clear in the final furlong.
LEES ANTHEM proved his win here was no fluke and sets the standard at this level.
NORTH CENTRAL, gelded since his last appearance, looked plenty fit enough for his return. He was tapped for pace in the final furlong but probably has enough pace to win a race somewhere along the line.
DOWER GLEN, running respectably without really threatening, and KRISTEN JANE showing a glimmer of ability from the bottom of the weights, were clear of the other five.

7.10 5f 2yo Class 4 Maiden

This was not a great event. Two stood out in the paddock and they finished first and second.
MOLLY MYLENIS has shown enough to suggest a race was within her compass. She looked well forward compared to others, making all and staying on well.
KHEYA was reported as ‘backward’ on her first outing. She was fit enough to do herself justice on this occasion and bustled up the winner in the final furlong, coming clear of the other four. She was only beaten a neck and got the hang of things in the last two furlongs.
ROODEE QUEEN ran to her previous level in third.
FAST SHOT was well backed, but neither previous run nor paddock inspection really gave cause for optimism. He weakened in the final furlong.

7.40 7f 30yds 0-70 Handicap

I would be wary of the form of this race since CAMEROONEY stole the race under a shrewd ride from Barry McHugh. Setting a steady pace he quickened the tempo approaching three out and comfortably put the race to bed. I suspect Camerooney is capable of mixing it with better opposition, but he will have something to prove.
HOSANNA was left flat-footed early in the straight but picked up late on to take second for one of my local trainers, Kinnesswood based John Barclay. The fact that this exposed filly was 11lbs out of the weights sums the race up.
COLD QUEST is an imposing and if the saying went ‘handsome does as handsome is’ then he would win some decent race. Sadly it’s the other way around, though Linda Perratt’s gelding did hint that he still possesses some ability, just being held for second as he stayed on.
NUFOUDH needs a stronger pace to make use of his nimbleness around the bend.
MR LU pulled too hard and had run himself out with a furlong to go.

8.10 5f Class 6 Selling Stakes

A fascinating contest full of battled hardened ‘street fighters’.
THE BEAR was difficult on the way to start, forcing Paul Mulrennan to kick his feet out of the irons. I did remark that he didn’t look “out of control”, though I wasn’t absolutely convinced! As it happened my judgement was right, The Bear contesting a hot pace with Stolt and then keeping up the gallop in the second half of the race. He was still throttle fully open passing the post and continued most of the way down the back straight before being pulled up. Not finished yet, Linda Perratt’s gelding hurtled back to the unsaddling enclosure at a fair lick!
He’s subsequently been bumped up only 5lbs to 64 for this effort which isn’t too bad if he can produce a repeat. I guess you would have to get inside his head to see if that were likely to occur.
STOLT hurtled off in front but couldn’t hold The Bear, though he kept on stoutly enough for second.
MANDARIN SPIRIT performed very well, keeping on toward the finish. He does need things his own way if he is to win though.
RACCOON needs to be up front and couldn’t get there from stall seven against a sharp front runner popping out of the number two box. He had burst himself by the furlong pole and faded into fourth.
INGLEBY STAR had it all to do at the weights and couldn’t get into the race form the outside draw.

8.40 1m 6f 0-73 Handicap

A race full of exposed sorts was won by the consistent JACKDAY. Nicely set up his seasonal debut second, he took over two out and stayed on well for victory. He’s by no means a straight forward sort, but is normally thereabouts at this level.
GFORREST FLYER kept on for second and Jim Goldie should be able to coax a race out of him at this level or lower, particularly at this track.
WICKED DAZE and DANISH REBEL were held from two out.
ODDSMAKER seemed too keen in front and, though Cathy Gannon tried to kick clear from the home turn, there wasn’t enough in the tank.
9.10 7f 30yds 0-70 Handicap

This was an ordinary closing event with nothing looking obviously progressive. The first five finished in a heap, though it did mean a good percentage of punters were in with a shout, the crowd noise reflecting this. Your correspondent had a darned good go at calling the first five places with the naked eye, though I can surely be excused not identifying the second place dead-heat!
DESERT FOREST showed the greater will close home having seemed in danger of being swamped in the final furlong. His determination might be worth noting for future races.
KILLING MOON and LOCHANTANKS stayed on to tie for second.
CHINESE DEMOCRACY seemed the most likely winner a furlong out, but to my eye he seemed to lack some of the heart of the first three.
COULD IT BE MAGIC was picking up throughout the final furlong, but is a well exposed maiden.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kelso Spring seasons ends

Wednesday May 19th

A double header on the northern jump circuit with Kelso’s spring finale leading the way and Sedgefield filling the evening slot. With very little rain about the fast ground form should be of use for the coming weeks…., cue three works worth of downpours!


Going – Good to Firm(Good in places)

2.10 2m 2f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

This race was set up for BENMADIGAN, held up off a decent pace and picking his field off once turned for home. His jockey was hard at work approaching the last, but the Nicky Richards trained gelding responded when driven out on the run-in. He needs the right sort of ‘race shape’ but on his day he’s decent at this level.
SMARTIES PARTY took up the running two out and kept on once passed. This was a good deal better than her recent efforts.
MARDOOD is probably on his mark now but ran respectably in filling third place.
NELSON DU RONCERAY was held up but couldn’t get to the leaders as the winner did while LEITH WALK was caught flat footed three out and didn’t get nay closer.
Well backed SAUJANA ran as her form suggested, receiving reminders from an early stage and never in the race.
WITNESS RUN has been in poor form over fences, but showed just a hint of a revival here from well out of the handicap. He led approaching three out but found things too tough after the turn for home. Aimed at the lowest level of handicap Alistair Whillans might coax at least a place out of this one.

2.45 3m 1f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

DIAVOLERIA took advantage of mishaps which happened to her two main rivals, seeing off a determined runner-up in the final furlong. It’s difficult to know what value to put on this form, but she idled a little in front.
For a 12-year-old running only her second chase RIVER ALDER did connections proud. She just lacked the pace of the winner from the elbow.
QUICK WILL was in the lead and going well enough when falling four out.
MR WOODS’ tendency to jump right didn’t help him and, though he has plenty of ability, might stop him reaching full potential without correction. He hit the eleventh and jettisoned his rider.
WARNELL VIEW jumped slowly in the rear and gives no hint of being a racehorse.

3.29 2m 1f 0-115 Handicap Chase

A small field and the chance to dictate was a perfect recipe for front running CARRIETAU. Jumping accurately as ever he led all the way and had plenty in hand from the last. He does need things his own way, and will now be forced into a tougher class, but in a small field he’s a solid investment.
DUKE OF MALFI never got to the front and was outpaced early on. He stayed on from second and remains in fair heart, but he’s another who arguably needs things his own way.
JIM TANGO raced in second to the last but was then well outpointed.
WELL OILED, coming off a break, was left behind from two out.

3.55 2m 6 ½ f 0-128 Handicap Hurdle

This was a competitive event with a few progressive types present.
Liz Harrison’s stable remain on fire, surely a good pointer with the short trip to Cartmel available soon. SOLWAY BAY recorded a second win on the trot, progressing under pressure approaching the last, leading a furlong out and pulling clear. With a hurdle and a chase win behind him there should be a few options.
COASTLEY stayed on for second, running another gallant race and he has proved a revelation since moving from the pointing/hunter chase sphere. He was running off a 14lbs higher mark than his last run.
LAWGIVER’s rider was hard at work approaching three out, but his mount responded well enough to hold third in the run to the line.
HUMBIE led to the last but dropped away quickly once headed while McMURROUGH had two ways of running and never looked completely at ease on this occasion. He faded from contention approaching the last.

4.30 2m 2f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

BALNAGORE progressed from his first effort, niggled along to two out but conjuring enough to see off a runner-up who is in good heart. The bear form here is nothing to shout about, but he should progress with experience.
SOLIS, previously less than reliable, is in decent nick and frame of mind right now, making the winner pull out the stops.
CHOCTAW NATION made headway approaching the last and finished with a rattle.
WALDVOGEL led approaching the last but folded on the run-in and the impression was that more was expected.

5.05 3m 1f Hunters’ Chase

A decent hunter chase but the favourite ELIZA DOALOTT, successful in three completed hunter starts, fell at the sixth fence.
The favourite’s veteran stable mate MOMENT OF MADNESS proved an able substitute, disputing the running all the way, kicking on going to the last and showing good determination on the flat.
Another in the twilight years of his career, ANSHAN SPIRIT goes well round here and made up for a disappointing Hexham effort, staying on and making the winner work hard.
FLOREANA and AREYACODDINME, both outpaced going to three out, finished with a rattle for the places.
ARDNACLANCY chased the leaders and kept on, not beaten more than 5 lengths in fifth. He ahs won plenty of points and the impression is that he’s best ‘bullying’ inferiors.
SILVER SEDGE chased the leader to the last but could make no impression on the flat.
DAVY BOY LEGEND looked to be struggling in rear for much of the way, but he picked his way through tired rivals in the straight.
BENBEOCH found the competition too tough here and weakened from two out.
Plenty capable at this level on his day, he does seem to need things to go for him.
DIX VILLEZ generally shows up well but finishes weakly and was another find the competition too much. The impression is that a slog would suit.
SILVER PALOMINO isn’t good enough at this level and finished tailed off.
ALMOST BLUE was another tailed off and has shown very little under Rules this year.
DORIS’S GIFT is at best as lowly handicapper. He had no chance at this level and unseated at the ninth.

5.40 2m ½ f NH Flat

FREDDIE BROWN was signalled by your correspondent following paddock inspection last time out. George Charlton’s decent bumper horses invariably progress when sent jumping, and the Northumberland trainer has a very exciting prospect on his hands. He was still a bit keen, but galloped into the lead inside the final two furlongs and stayed on relentlessly.
Regular readers will know how I rattle on about the quality of Kelso bumpers. PASTURE BAY is another who will surely turn into a jumping winner. From the family of Silver Birch, he progressed two furlongs out and stayed on after the winner.
MR JAY DEE has run three decent races and kept on for third if held once the winner passed.
THURNHAM is a first foal of a bumper winner, but looks capable of making a mark of behalf of his dam. The leaders got away from him two out but he kept on well enough. A similar comment could be applied to the fifth ORRALOON another doing his best work from two furlongs out.


Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)

7.00 2m 4f Class 4 Maiden Chase

The last fence was omitted following a fall on the first circuit.
Never in the race on previous outings, BIG BURROWS found this small field to his liking. He took over going well three out (two out here) and wasn’t in much trouble from that point. I’d still be a bit wary in a more ‘hustle bustle’ type of contest, though he clearly has ability.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN kept on in his customary fashion without seriously threatening the winner. He jumps well enough and will win a chase or two through stickability.
BUGSY’S BOY was close up to three out, but under pressure into the straight and made no impression.
PSEIDON was in trouble four out having raced in the rear all the way and was passed by THE GLOVES ARE OFF late on, the latter having been well detached from past halfway.
STILL AT LUNCH was presumably capable of winning chases but sadly suffered a fatal injury when falling at the eighth.

8.00 2m 4f 0-100 Handicap Chase

Locally trained PERSIAN PRINCE went well at the head of affairs and and was left to win comfortably when WINGED FARASI departed at the last, holding I’M YOUR MAN who, as a few times before, was held for pace in the latter stages. WINGED FARASI ran a fair race but like most of these he’s no great shakes.
HIGH STAND LAD was outpaced form the three out and never seriously threatened.
STAR TENOR was under the shove three out and weakened, unable to repeat Bangor form.
NAVAL ATTACHE was beaten from the tenth finishing in front of LETHAM ISLAND who was remote from a mile out.
GINGER’S LAD fell at the twelfth, while SOLWAY BLUE was struggling in rear when unseating a fence earlier.

8.30 2m ½ f 0-92 Handicap Chase

SCHINKEN OTTO has won for a long while, but he goes well when the ground is fast and was good enough in a very moderate contest, leading two out and staying on.
MY CONDOR led to two out but was not progressing when falling at the last.
TRRODOS JET is consistent in similar contests and ran respectably to fill second. He’s always one to consider in 0-95 and lower class, but he’s vulnerable to anything with any zip.
JANAL and CROFTON ARCH are exposed as slow and the fact that they filled third and fourth sums the contest up.
MISCHIEF MAN was held from two out, as was STOLEN LIGHT who has shown little in recent times.
CLUELESS got round here after two pulled ups, but his form is uninspiring.
MEZUZAH, unreliable previously on the flat and over hurdles showed no signs that chasing is his forte and was last of those to finish, the 56 rated BALLYBOE BOY pulled up before the last and a forlorn hope.

The hurdles threw up very little to go forward with though the selling handicap hurdle winner AUTHENTIC ART might prove a bit better than his lowly rating. The opening novice was won by the quirky BARRON WATLASS, though he was given a good ride and those close up, HEART OF DUBAI and BARREL OF FUN possess some ability. PUGNACITY won a closing handicap full of exposed types.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Perth - Mid-May Meeting

PERTH – Wednesday May 12th

Going – Good ( Good To Firm in places)

As last year this was fairly sparsely attended meeting. I can’t quite fathom why this should be, but this first evening meeting of the Scone Palace Park season always seems the quietest.

5.50 2m 4½f Class 4 Mares’ Intermediate Hurdle

This proved to be a straightforward opportunity for SMUGLIN, a hurdles winner at Newcastle in November. She disputed from the seventh, led two out and came clear under driving.
Fife trained PROFICIENCY is going the right way and should be capable of finding a small race. Having led for the first half of the race she was outpointed in the straight, but she saw off the remainder well enough.
DARK HALO stayed on but looks nothing special, the fourth POSH BIRD is well exposed and Irish point winner CATLEEN has been disappointing over hurdles.

6.20 2m ½f 0-95 Handicap Hurdle

A poor contest won by habitual loser SOLIS, a result which suggests the form won’t be worth a huge amount. The winner stayed on under pressure from two out.
10-year-old Rules maiden NOVEMBER PAPA GOLF stayed on for second while four-year-old KING’S CHORISTER was a one paced third but might conceivably have a little more to give in time.
MIDDLEMARCH set off in front and was well clear by the third. Once passed he kept plugging on but was well beaten and needs to show a little more restraint.

6.50 3m 0-105 Novices’ Handicap Chase

SOLWAY BAY has not been setting the world alight, but the Harrison stable are firing on all cylinders at present. He closed on the leaders from five out, challenged at the last and stayed on. If he can be kept in this form he’s more than capable of a repeat since he stays well and handles quick ground.
HURRICANE JACK jumped a good deal better than in the past, and he seemed very happy given a chance to pop away up front. Winning prospects depend on his jumping holding together, but he has the basic ability to make a mark off 83.
KING ROONAH raced prominently but was one paced in the closing stages. His previous record isn’t encouraging but this run suggests joining Gordon Elliott is reason for a degree of optimism.
EMOTIVE kept on for fourth place but never threatened the leaders.
TOO COOL TO FOOL was in the rear from halfway on chasing debut, while previous winner LE PLATINO struggled in the last mile and finished tailed off.
DALLAS BELL didn’t confirm the promise of his Hexham run, pulling up along with ZIGGY ZEN, who struggled very early, and ART BANK who jumps fairly well but is slow in between the obstacles.

7.20 2m ½ f 0-115 Handicap Hurdle

Lucinda Russell has a very interesting prospect on her hands in the rapidly improving BEIDH TINE ANSEO. An easy winner at Kelso the previous week, he eased clear from the last with any amount in hand, suggesting that he’s far better than the 106 he ran off here.
BAAHER stayed on through the field for second. He looks capable of picking up a race as this and his second at Aintree read nicely.
REGENT’S SECRET made progress form two out but couldn’t threaten the leader. He’s capable but difficult to win with, often [picking up too late both on the lfat and over hurdles, his only win of last season coming in a quirky ‘two runners and a tortoise’ novices’ chase here when pipping Pigeon Island. The two geldings’ chasing careers have gone in opposite directions since!
BORDER TALE seems in fair heart and set the pace until before the last, unable to respond once passed.
TETOUAN threatened going to two out but then weakened.

7.50 2m 4 ½ f Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

WHAT A RIDDLE would appear to have been difficult to keep fit. This was only his fourth racecourse appearance spread over three seasons, but he showed he has plenty of ability if he can be kept right, staying on well to head the second on the line.
MALIN BAY has shown enough in four runs to suggest he can pick up a race. He was run out of it close home here, but has the rest held.
PEGASUS PRINCE had every chance but was held form approaching the last and is a tad frustrating.
FOOL’S WILDCAT, a well exposed Irish challenger, threatened briefly two out but could then make no impact.
EIGHTEEN CARAT led but weakened after belting two out. He’s probably better than the bare result suggests and might be worth noting in similar contests.
Favourite APACHE COUNTRY was disappointing, fading from three out.

8.20 2m 0-115 Handicap Chase

SEEYAAJ has been well out of form for some time, but he’s decent at this level when at his best. Perhaps refreshed by a good lay-off, he led two out and stayed on for victory.
The winner’s stable-mate STORM PROSPECT stayed on from the rear. He did win a few times at a lowly level over hurdles but has been rather frustrating over fences. The impression is that he saves something.
ALL FOR THE CAUSE ahs run a few decent steeplechases, but he has a knack of finding one or two too good. He had every chance two out but was held.
YANKEE HOLIDAY won a ‘softies day out’ event at Ayr in March, but found the competition here far tougher and couldn’t respond once headed two out.
FLAMING HECK was outpaced after four out.
CALCULAITE led to the sixth but was struggling by four out. He gives the impression that he needs things his own way.
NORMINSTER added another depressingly poor run to a lengthening list. He’s a light of the horse he was in early 2009.
TRANOS took no interest and was pulled up before the fifth.

8.50 3m ½ f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle

BALLYMACDUFF raced keenly as ever, but Jan Faltesjek managed to keep a bit in hand on this occasion. Challenging at the last, Ballymacduff led in the final 100 yards and kept on.
My notes on this race become rather confused as I managed a third and two fourths, but no second! Consulting the official sources tells me that well exposed MAOLISA was second suggesting on this occasion that the trip is no problem to her. She was followed in by DUNDOCK, rather disappointing recently but perhaps signalling a return to the form he is capable of, and the capable but unreliable SUMMER SOUL.
FOLLOW ON couldn’t raise his game from two out and MINI BECK was a rather disappointing in sixth in event where I expected him to make a mark.

PERTH – Thursday May 13th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

2.20 3m ½ f Class 4 Intermediate Hurdle

Three were a good deal better than the rest here. COOL MISSION was not inconvenienced by step up in trip, staying on under pressure to see off the steadily improving CAERLAVEROCK, the latter also suggesting the trip is no hindrance.
LEGGY LAD isn’t quite as good as the other two but filled third place, held from two out.
PAIR OF KINGS lost touch from three out and looks more of a long term project.

2.50 2m Class 5 Maiden Chase

This race provided an early candidate for ride of the season, Andrew Lynch making a remarkable recovery on DEL RIO. Going well approaching three out, Del Rio thumped the fence and Lynch ended up clinging on to his neck. Manoeuvring back into his seat, the jockey got things back together before the last and then rousted his mount to an effort on the flat which wrested the race in the shadow of the post. His Fairyhouse chasing debut offered promise and his reaction in the latter stages here suggests more in the tank. The time of this race much nearer to standard than anything else on the card.
Winning pointer MAYO ABBEY ran a sound race on Rules debut. He looked the likely winner from three out, but his rider seemed rather heavy with the whip after the last, his mount got unbalanced and Del Rio passed.
Hunter chaser ATHOSS ran up to form in staying on for third.
ANOTHER DARK RUM, hinted at in previous reports as a possible long term prospect, got involved in the straight but was held form two out. His progress is worth plotting.
ISLA PEARL FISHER wasn’t good enough form four out.
DEVIL WATER was disappointing on a return to chasing and is going the wrong way at present.
POSEIDON was going well in front when falling four out. He’s done enough to suggest there’s a chase to be won with him.
MORE SHENNANIGANS needs to be running in low grade handicaps to have any chance and was detached by the eighth, pulling up before three out.

3.25 2m ½ f Class 5 Claiming Hurdle

A seven-runner overnight entry was reduced to a three horse non-event, won in a canter by RIGHT OR WRONG who’s a decent handicap hurdler at best.
STILL CALM chased in vain from the fifth, the point at which newcomer CATELLI forfeited any chance when stumbling badly.

4.00 3m 0-123 Handicap Chase

SHERIFF HUTTON was placed on my list of horses to follow lat autumn. It’s taken an age for him to click, but confidence was eventually justified as he just held on in a tight finish. He’s probably a little better than his 123 mark and might pick up another handicap on decent ground.
BEAR WITNESS was hampered and put out of the race in the Highland National. He showed here that his place in that contest was justified, just missing out on a first chasing win. He should win a chase and is likely to be back in Scotland over the summer.
OR DE GRUGY is probably still high enough in the weights but was not disgraced in third place.
TOP DRESSING threatened two out but was held and might find this 10lbs higher mark prohibitive.
BALLY WALL got into the race down the far side but weakened from three out.
NATIVE CORAL weakened quickly form two out.
CATCH THE PERK didn’t look madly keen in this competition and faded from the fourteenth before pulling up.
OSCAR HONEY(pulled up) couldn’t mix it back over fences and KELLS CASTLE(pulled up), who ran good races here last year, is out of form.

4.35 2m 4 ½ f 0-130 Handicap Hurdle

HEARTHSTEAD DREAM picked his way through the field from three out. He’s best ridden this way and took charge on the flat, driven out for victory. A decent pace and a double figure field are helpful.
SANTA’S SON ran his best race for sometime in second, keeping on when headed at the last having led three out.
LOS NADIS does stay this distance on fast ground but is possibly best at slightly shorter. He was tapped for pace on the flat.
HAZELDENE set the pace but couldn’t respond once passed before two out.

5.05 2m 4 ½ f Class 5 Novices’ Hunter Chase

QUINDER SPRING couldn’t cope with the bigger fences following a very successful spell pointing. He was awkward at the first and shed his rider at the fifth.
SCOTCH WARRIOR came clear from four out for a facile win and jumped well enough for won that I understand has not been fluent over pointing fences. There’s precious little to judge this form against, CHAPMANS PEAK being exposed as very ordinary under Rules, and recent pointing winners BARRY THE CRACKER and BEAU TRAVELLER looking slow.
OOJAR struggled from halfway and was pulled up.

5.40 2m ½ f NH Flat
With a couple of previous winners in the field this race has a decent look about it. On that basis James Ewart might just have unearthed something a little bit special in AIKMAN. Making all the running, he quickened in impressive style two furlongs to pull clear. His Irish pointing form was no more than fair, but he clearly ahs plenty of basic speed and his progress will be followed with interest.
Previous winner PRICELESS ART filled second, chasing in vain from the two furlong pole. His trainer always has a strong hand in these events and he is a good measure.
WITHER HILLS ran a sound race in third on debut and should progress. CORKY DANCER was not far away in fourth and to some extent confirmed the good impression he gave at Kelso.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Hexham - Second May Meeting

HEXHAM – Saturday 8th May

Going – Good to Soft(Good in places)

The final flight in the back straight was omitted due to ‘ground under repair’. This resulted in a very long run between second last and last, and only six flights jumped in the two mile races.

2.15 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

MONTOYA’S SON finally showed the winning ability that he has hinted at. Previously a weak finisher over hurdles, he stayed on determinedly to pip TWENTYNINEBLACK near the line. The latter should pick up a small race before long as he didn’t do much wrong here. PYRACANTHA ran creditably under a penalty to finish a close third, if just held on the flat.
ATTAGLANCE ran a promising fourth, one paced from the last, and will benefit from a step up in trip. He has prospects.

2.45 2m ½f Class 5 Selling Hurdle

DUNASKIN finished with a rattle to pip the consistent PRIORYJO on the line. The latter is a fair measure at this level but should probably have won this. She went clear but idled after the last.
DR VALENTINE was one paced from the last in third and this is his level, while SUNSET RESORT stayed on to show just the faintest glimmer of ability, though never seriously involved.

3.15 3m 1f 0-91 Handicap Chase

FINBIN presumably benefitted from his reason comeback after a lay-off. He’s plenty capable at this level on his day and won this race with a bit to spare, staying on up the hill and pulling clear from that point.
SHULMIN chased the leaders two out and kept on for second. She’s in reasonable heart now and has plummeted in the weights.
HASPER plugged on for third. He’s at least competitive at this level, but he’s getting on a bit and lacks any serious pace near the finish.
JANAL plugged on for fourth but his presence ni that position sums up how moderate this race was.
CINAMAN went well until two out but a bad mistake there blew any chance he had. Early evidence is that he tries hard enough over fences, but he’s small and that’s always going to be a drawback. It might be interesting if he went pointing since he has reasonable speed and would be better over less arduous obstacles.
THE ARTFUL FOX was a well held sixth and has struggled under Rules.
IMPACT ZONE was in the hunt approaching two out but then weakened.
REXMEHEAD probably didn’t stay but he was beaten a long way out anyway.
The remainder pulled up. EDITOR’S ROSE was too keen early keen early and THE GREEN HAT was never going. BENNY THE PILER went well until a mile out but then struggled and seemed to lose his action before pulling up four out. GLACIAL RAMBLER is poor maiden and struggled from halfway.

3.50 3m 0-99 Handicap Hurdle

Nicky Richards has FLYING DOCTOR in rattling good form at the moment. He eased into the lead at the last and came clear with any amount in hand. His trainer will presumably do his best to exploit opportunities in the near future.
SOLWAY ALLY has been running well of late. She kept on under pressure but couldn’t respond to a clearly well handicapped winner. There will be other opportunities in the coming weeks.
AUBERGE kept on for third but is an ordinary maiden, the same going for ALMOND COURT who was a one paced fourth.

4.25 2m 4 ½ f 0-122 Handicap Chase

I’ve always considered OCARINA a decent performer at this level as he will jump them silly when he gets his act together. Things finally clicked after mediocre spell and James Ewart’s charge made up for an indifferent 2009-10 campaign. He raced prominently, was ridden to the last and led on the flat.
CASH MAN was headed after the last but kept on for second, remains in good form and has both hurdles and chase options.
NILE MOON felt the pace down the far side but stayed on again for third. He’s capable at this level on his day but not particularly consistent, and probably needs a race where he can dictate terms.
LIVINGONAKINFEDGE ran a little better than of late but was held by the top of the hill.
JUST FOR MEN weakened two out as did BABE HEFFRON, while NELLIEDONETHAT once again ran no sort of race and finished well behind.
QUICUYO raced close up but weakened approaching tow out and was pulled up before the last. He had threatened a return to form but this was a backward step.
BLEU POIS is another out of sorts, losing touch from the eleventh and pulling up before three out.

5.00 2m 4 ½ f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

Liz Harrison has her string in fine form at the moment and picked up another win with SOLWAY SAM. He led before the last and stayed on to go clear. This trip suited and he hints that a longer trip will do no harm, so there’s a fair chance of more to come.
PATRIOT kept on for second but is basically exposed which perhaps shows the level of the beaten horses. WAVE POWER has proved ordinary over hurdles and struggled from the top of the hill.
SOULARD couldn’t replicate recent chasing form back over hurdles and was beaten on the long run to the last.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hamilton - First Evening Meeting

HAMILTON – Friday 7th May

Going – Good

The card opened with a moderate five-runner two-year-old maiden won with come comfort by SAUCY BUCK, a raider from the West Ilsley yard of Mike Channon. This one had the best form coming into the race and comfortably saw off ROODEE QUEEN who might find her level in nurseries.
Channon missed out on the £13,000 added three-year-old sprint, his MISTER HUGHIE been seen off by less exposed northern trained BOW BEAVER. The latter has potential to make a mark in decent sprint handicaps since the second has won such an event. Mark Johnston’s BELOW ZERO was well outpaced after two furlongs out.
MEETINGS MAN fulfilled the promise of a fair effort at Pontefract to win the three-year-old mile and a half handicap. He stayed on well to win with a bit to spare and should be capable of moving up a grade from this 0-65. IL PORTICO kept on for second if held.
TAARESH has been running well on the all-weather and turf, and found the stiff finish to his liking here. He stayed on after leading two out in a nine furlong 0-78 contest. DANDAREK rallied two out but couldn’t make an impression in the final furlong and is probably pretty much on his mark now. ZAPLAMATION ran respectably in the company and has scope for a drop in class off a current mark of 67. ERGO stayed on at one pace for fourth and is gradually coming to hand.
BEAT BABY did a sound job in the six furlong maiden, pulling clear inside the last two furlongs. His breeding suggests he might progress as a three-year-old and he made a decent start to the season. ANTARCTIC DESERT chased the winner home and suggested a move back up in trip would do no harm. Mark Johnston’s newcomer OPERA CAT was disappointing, outpaced early on and never in the race. PRINCE OF FIFE is well related but was left twenty lengths at the start, so ended up having no more than an exercise gallop.
The card was compeled by a ‘whose turn is today?’ 0-75 handicap. It was TADALAVIL’s turn and he’s well exposed, while GUEST CONNECTIONS kept up a good record at Hamilton by finishing second. APACHE RIDGE and NORTHERN BOLT were both putting in good work at the finish.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Early May Jumps at Hexham and Kelso

HEXHAM – Saturday May 1st

Going – Good(Good To Firm in places)

Decent fields for the ‘Heart Of All England’ meeting despite ground just on the firm side of good.

5.50 2m ½f Class 5 Selling Hurdle

Despite the low numbers this was one of the better selling hurdles held in the north this year. ALONG THE NILE continued his good form at this level, going clear on the run-in and only costing connections £4,500 to retain in the auction. He should be worth aiming back at handicaps now his confidence is high.
THE DUKE’S SPEECH acquitted himself well on returning to hurdling, staying on for second with moderate but consistent PRIORYJO third. Four time winner in 2009, WOODY VALENTINE, was a one paced fourth and is just a little off his game right now.

6.25 2m 4½f 0-105 Handicap Chase

A moderate chase big on numbers but with few in decent form.
BALTIC PATHFINDER has hinted at ability and got his jumping act together on this occasion. He was always thereabouts and stayed on best in the straight for a deserved win. He may pick up another race ‘if’ his jumping holds up.
EMOTIVE stayed on from well back to take second place. This was a fair effort.
CROW SPINNEY chased the leader from two out without getting close enough. Not a bad effort but she still only has a hurdles win at Perth as her jumping success.
ICE IMAGE was close up two out but offered no more. When his jumping has held together he hasn’t offered much at the business end.
I’M YOUR MAN didn’t get things his own way and distress signals were apparently on the final climb.
SMUGGLERS BAY has flattered to deceive over fences and was again found wanting when push came to shove.
BARDOLET made a hash of a couple of fences mid race, briefly got to the leaders four out but couldn’t offer any more form that point. He’s probably better than this bare result suggests and is worth keeping in mind for the future.
MANOUBI made no impression from four out.
CROFTON ARCH had little chance at the weights and back pedalled form two out.
DUKE OF MALFI needs to dictate and had run out of reserves by two out.
IT’S A ROOFER never got involved and his jumping isn’t up to scratch at the moment.
NORMINSTER started the new season as dismally out of form as for ’09-10.
TULLY HILL, always a weak finisher, raced prominent early but struggled form halfway and pulled up before the last.
JANAL ditched his pilot at the first, then ST KILLIANS’S RUN, who appeared to have a fair opportunity here, fell at the second.

6.55 2m 4½f 0-122 Handicap Hurdle

CASH MAN, consistent without winning of late, stayed on to take an event where a few were in form. He’s versatile and has options over fences and hurdles in the coming weeks.
MAGICAL LEGEND ran a decent race in second and looks a type to pick up a summer handicap. The consistent if frustrating PONTOP was third and lacks a turn of foot to turn places into wins. HEAVENLY CHORUS stayed on for fourth and remains in fair heart.

7.30 3m 1f ‘Heart Of All England’ Maiden Hunters’ Chase

The finish of the main event, if not the biggest prize, was fought out by two progressive pointers. Six-year-old SPECIAL PORTRAIT looks an interesting prospect in hunter chases and came clear to just hold POPPY DAY, his jockey’s tidier style arguably making a difference. Both are worth bearing in mind for the future.
FATHER MURTAGH had every chance at the last but was left behind by younger more progressive opponents. He probably finds the company a little tough in all but the lowest level hunter contests.
ARDNACLANCY was held form two out, followed home by ATHOSS who progressed to threaten approaching the last at which point the petrol ran out.
BUCKSTRUTHER looks held at this level and finished sixth, a place in front of GUN SMITH who has ability to win a similar race if he didn’t treat the fences with such contempt.
CHERRYLAND led for the first half of the race but struggled in the final mile.
SILK PARASOL was in touch to three out but then struggled as did KNOW THE ROPES.
HARWOOD DALE, THATSTHEREASONWHY and DYSTONIA’S REVENGE were pulled up and look forlorn hopes at this level.

8.00 2m 4½f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

LOGANS RUN won well enough, staying on gamely after taking up the running two out. His jumping look sound enough and he has possibilities under a penalty.
DIAVOLERIA ran respectably on her chasing debut, staying on well after challenging at the last. She’s another well capable of picking up a run of the mill event.
BLUE SHARK led until two out. He stayed in the hunt but though keeping on couldn’t raise his game on the flat. This was an improvement on recent efforts and could be a sign that his confidence level is higher.
CHARMING KNIGHT was disappointing and beaten going to three out, eventually pulled up.
GRAND AWARD ran no sort of race and was tailed off when pulled up three out.

8.30 3m Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

The winner of this could be one with a serious future. THYNE FOR DEPLOY is an impressive chasing type and it wouldn’t surprise me if he reached decent heights over the bigger obstacles. He came clear with ears pricked and seemingly a stack left in hand. Pop Michael Hourigan’s charge on a list of horses to follow.
INNER STEEL kept on for second and will find less tough opponents than the winner.
GRAND ZOUKI was held from the top of the hill. LITTLE WIZARD, a chasing type who has had an interrupted career, was outpaced from two out. He should show up better when his size and stamina are put to more use.

KELSO – Wednesday May 5th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

2.05 2m 6½f 0-95 Selling Handicap Chase

This event attracted a field full of moderate and downright slow northern handicappers who run against each other on a regular basis.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE isn’t often a winner, but can set a decent gallop. If not put under too much pressure there’s always a chance he’ll hold on and he did that with something to spare here, stayed on well after being kicked on form two out. He’s won at Cartmel and might be worth a glance there in similar company if he can blaze a trail.
INSTANT SHOT chased the leader from three out without getting to him. He runs some fair races and Jim Goldie should be able to coax a win out of him in a weak event.
SMART MAN was held from the last, but did show up a good deal better than of late. He is a previous winner and this run suggests he isn’t a back number.
RED DYNAMITE chased the leader from two out but gave way from the last and has run to this sort of level a number of times.
SKIPPING CHAPEL couldn’t raise his game sufficiently from two out. I thought he might get involved in the finish of a race like this, but he has proved very weak at the business end.
CASH ON FRIDAY plugged on from two out.
REASONABLY SURE gave way from two out and seems soft when asked for an effort in the latter stages.
BULLIES ACRE was up against it from out of the weights and raced in rear.
KALMO BAY is sliding down the weights with no sign of revival.
SEA COVE and SIERRA PEAK were well beaten.
VIEL GLUCK is frustrating and ran a poor race before being pulled up alongside WITNESS RUN, the latter adding another lousy performance to a lengthening list.

2.35 2m ½f 0-102 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

BEIDH TINE ANSEO saw off a moderate bunch in emphatic style, easing clear on the run-in. He progressed from a promising run at Ayr and might now be replicating his decent Flat form.
MOUNTSKIP kept on for second and lost nothing in defeat.
BARRON WATLASS has a mind of his own and can’t be trusted, running prominently before being held on the run from the last.
PICCOLO PRIDE chased the leaders but was held from two out.

3.05 3m 1f 0-128 Novices’ Handicap Chase

It’s difficult to judge the value of the form in this three runner event. GILSLAND didn’t jump particularly well but had enough in hand to hold his opponents on the flat. I’m not sure I’d be confident in a bigger field where his jumping might come under pressure.
HEEZ A STEEL made the winner pull out the stops and performed better than at Cheltenham where his jumping let him down.
GREENANDREDPARSON looked very ordinary on early evidence, but he’s starting to get the hang of things now. He stuck to his guns on the flat if just outpointed. The small field may have helped him to settle into a jumping rhythm.

3.40 2m 6 ½ f 0-110 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Rose Dobbin had a struggle during the 2009-2010 season. Her horses were nowhere near right most of the time, including JURISDICTION who had shown early promise. The stable’s fortunes have improved in recent weeks and Jurisdiction proved he is back to his best in emphatic style under Graham Lee going clear from two out. It might be worth keeping an eye on Dobbin’s runners as handicappers might be under weighted and many runners over priced.
MINI BECK has run some decent races but regularly finds one too good. He never threatened the leader but kept on for second. He seems to run honestly enough and it would be nice if his trainer could find him a small race in his twilight years.
PADDINGTON BOB kept on at one pace from two out. The increase in trip seemed to serve him well enough. SAMIZDAT on the other hand didn’t seem to see out the trip, leading until the eighth and weakening from two out.
The rest are a poor bunch.

4.20 3m 4f 0-108 Handicap Chase

MINOUCHKA has steadily improved of late and got a deserved win as she stayed on from the elbow to win here. It was a last racecourse appearance for Simon Shirley-Beavon’s mare as she now goes to the paddocks and a date with Indian Danehill. I’m sure a few of us in these parts will keep an eye out for her ‘wee yins’ in the future.
SEIZE is at his best on quick ground at went well here, taking the lead two out but being run out of it in the final furlong. He is in good heart and should pick up a race this spring/summer.
RECKLESS VENTURE once again got into a challenging position but typically got raced out of it after the last.
ROSIE ALL OVER ran well until weakening after the last. She seems best when able to dominate and could never do that here in a well contested event.
OLD NODDY, blinkered for the first time, raced prominently until weakening approaching the last.
WINDY HILLS was tailed off from three out and has shown very little form of late.
PRINCE OF SLANE was well out of the weights, struggled a mile out and was pulled up.

4.55 3m 1f Class Hunters’ Chase

BENBEOCH, arguably unlucky in a stronger race here earlier this year, found a weak contest to his liking here. He came clear from the last to win with a large amount in hand.
Pointing winner LADY BRIG was not disgraced in second though well outpointed by Benbeoch. She just pipped another winning pointer, SILVER PALOMINO in the race for second.
CHERRYLAND was held up for a change but it didn’t save anything for the latter stages and he was well beaten again.
TEMPLE GREEN made his Rules debut was in touch but made a mistake at three out and then came down two out.
WHAT A CLICHÉ improved to the fourteenth but was soon in trouble and pulled up before the last. He has been placed twice in points and has better chances in that weaker sphere.

5.25 2m 2f 0-105 Handicap Hurdle

Two came clear from two out with MASKA PONY working hard but ultimately successfully to see off ANNIBALE CARO. The former has been frustrating but showed resolution here, while the latter has proved before that he goes well on quick ground.
PAINTED SKY was a one paced third and looks held by the handicapper.
It was encouraging to see that NEVSKY BRIDGE has recovered from a horrible fall at Hexham. The front too had too much pace for her.
I couldn’t take too much encouragement from the others but it might be worth noting WENSLEYDALE WEB who went passably well until outpaced going to two out. Martin Todhunter will presumably have an event lined up at Cartmel at the end of the month.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

May Bank Holiday Weekend Scottish Flat Meetings

A summary of May Bank Holiday weekend flat fixtures:

MUSSELBURGH – Friday April 30th

Going – Good / Good To Firm

The opening three-year-old handicap looked an ordinary event. The winner LEES ANTHEM is well exposed as ordinary, though JIGAJIG has at least shown a little form of late and ran creditable under a penalty.
The following two-year-old race was run only 0.36s slower which marks it as a fair early season race. DOLLY PARTON set the pace before being held in the final furlong. She’s clearly getting the hang of the game and has the pace to win a race, particularly if pitched against maiden fillies. MAJESTIC MYLES picked up nicely to take charge from the furlong pole. He has enough about him to progress form this and should pick up another race. KASSSAAB showed fair speed in third.
FUJIN DANCER looked rather awkward early on in the nine furlong handicap but stayed on through the field in the straight. He arrived just too late to foil SAND TIGER who took over inside the final furlong and ran on for victory. This one has been lightly raced since leaving Andre Fabre and might just be quietly progressive.
GRAND DIAMOND is consistent and underpins the form in third place. CHARLIE COOL led until the final furlong but looks to be sharp enough more Mrs Carr to place him off a low mark.
The feature event, a Class 2 sprint, attracted five runners rated from 90 up to 98. The highest rated runner was the winner, MOORHOUSE LAD making the running and holding on under pressure. JARGELLE was theoretically best weighted but gave way tamely in the final furlong. REBEL DUKE, just pipped for second by STRIKING SPIRIT, will have tough tasks off 94 and may be better suited if Ollie Pears can seek out similar events just now.
ODDSMAKER does well here, his tried and trusted ‘kick off the final bend’ tactics employed once again. He kept on under pressure from quite a way out, but couldn’t resist PARK’S PRODIGY who outstayed him and should be a factor in similar contests. The remainder were well held, the lowly rated PETELLA staying on for third.
A mixture of exposed and progressive appeared for the 0-95 seven furlong handicap which was won by far from straight forward type EZDEYAAD. CAMEROONEY has continued solid all-weather form on to the turf and put up a decent effort in second, gaining at the line. Brian Ellison can place him to win again particularly in a lower class. BECKERMET isn’t the horse he was. I saw him win the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury back on a very warm day in 2005, but he has regressed steadily since although he ran a fair race for third here, dead-heating with generally consistent but exposed DUBAI DYNAMO.
The card closed with a 0-65 handicap over the seven furlongs, won by NUFOODH who isn’t bad at this lowly level, particularly at Musselburgh. JONNY LESTERS HAIR chased him home but is frustrating, winless since 2008. MISTER JINGLES stayed to be a never nearer third with FINSBURY running a similar race in fourth.

HAMILTON – Sunday May 2nd

Going – Good

Hamilton Park attracted a very healthy crowd for their first meeting of 2010. The cars itself was fairly average though and there will be better fayre to come in the next few weeks
FUJIN DANCER found a softer event than at Musselburgh a couple of days earlier, staying on under pressure to win the Scottish Trophy Series handicap over the extended mile. His running style is probably a little better suited to Hamilton than Musselburgh, since the front runners stop up the hill at the Lanarkshire venue. The rest were much of a muchness, though lightly-raced GEORGE ADAMSON staying on for second offered prospects for the near future. Newcastle winner SAVING GRACE was held in the final furlong having led three furlongs out. BOTHAM kept on up the hill and should figure in similar races at this course.
Progressive FIBS AND FLANNEL was pushed out to win the extended mile three-year-old handicap for those rated 0-85. He looked to have a bit more in hand than the ¾ length winning margin. He could well continue his winning run. The form looks rock solid with Thirsk winner DOLPHIN ROCK running on for second and double nursery winner WILLIAM MORGAN filling the third spot. Local runner SUNNANDDAEG ran passably back in fourth if held form the furlong pole.
A number of familiar ‘old suspects’ lined up for the six furlong 0-70 event and they will no doubt clash a few times over the course. TOP BID came clear in the final furlong, but as a six-year-old with only one previous win I do wonder if things just came right on the day. WHERE’S REILEY carried forward Southwell form to finish best of the rest. MANDARIN SPIRIT needs to dictate and couldn’t get enough air between himself and the remainder, though he managed a respectable if one paced third.
PRINCE PICASSO came clear to win the thirteen furlong handicap (0-89) getting the run of the race in front of GORDONSVILLE. The latter’s jockey, Danny Tudhope, appeared to exchange words with Andrew Heffernan on Valdan as the latter kept him pinned on the rail at the three furlong marker. Whether Tudhope liked it or not it’s a legitimate tactic, and Gordonsville got out too late to make up ground. Given the run of the race I would expect GORDONSVILLE to pick up a staying handicap soon as he seems in good heart. VALDAN put up a fair effort, keeping on for third off bottom weight and would offer hope lowered in class.
RAWNAQ was comfortably winner of the eleven furlong maiden, pulling clear from three out. PALAWI chased the leader from the bottom of the hill but was well held, while I’M FRANK could make no impression kept on without making an impression and may benefit from a longer distance. The other two. LE VOLCAN D’OR and HAUNTING, are both well bred but have shown little to date.
CAWDOR beat INGLEBY STAR as the two best rated field top spots in the claimer. Five-year-old mare DOLLY ROYAL, making only her third appearance, was slow away and struggled to go the pace in the six furlong contest, but she picked up nicely up the hill and stayed on for third. Given the ratings of those behind her she is no lost cause.
The card finished with a very ordinary five furlong handicap, with inconsistent ACE OF SPIES emerging best on this occasion. WELCOME APPROACH, normally seen on the all-weather, is consistent at this level and finished well for second. MEGALO MANIAC stayed on late for third. TONGALOOMA showed good speed and kept going well enough for fourth. The latter is lightly raced and she would likely have more going for her than a few of the rest.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

And They're Off! Introducing NH 2010-11!

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday April 27th

Going – Good To Firm

Ah, it’s nice to back after the close season break…. Just wish we had more of a rest than three days!

6.50 2m 4f Class 4 Novices’ Chase

KNOCKAVILLA was pushed out to win the first northern chase of the new season. He’s very much better than most of these and this should serve as a confidence booster.
DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN ran to his hurdles mark on his chasing debut so connections can take plenty of encouragement. With obstacles in the way there’s less emphasis on out and out speed, something which favours this gelding who keeps on well enough without showing much acceleration. He should win a chase or two this summer, though being a versatile type he may well be seen out on the flat.
ANOTHER DARK RUM showed a modicum of promise in keeping on for third.
MAGELLAN STRAITS was held from three out but should benefit form this experience.
FOLLOW ON struggled from halfway finishing a place in front of ELLANDSHE who got round in his own time as usual.
BRADEN BROOK and BIG BURROWS cut no ice and finished tailed off.
DEER FIN was tailed off when falling two out. His Rules form has been consistently awful.

7.20 3m 4f 0-130 Durham National Handicap Chase

GENERAL HARDI jumped better than he has done in the past and stayed on down the straight to land the race for local trainer John Wade. He has a fair record on fast ground.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER had shown improved form at Wetherby last time having shown at little promise in early outings. He could prove a fair performer in these events with a big more experience and the fast surface seemed to do no harm.
LEAC AN SCAIL raced close up but was outpaced going to four out and could only keep on for third.
JUSTWHATEVERULIKE kept on from two out but was never better placed than his final fourth place.
DESCRIPTION weakened from three out and didn’t appear to see out the distance on his first attempt at three and a half miles.
DALDINI made a little progress to four out but was left behind from that point as was QUATTROCENTO who never got seriously involved.
Last year’s winner LUCKY NELLERIE struggled from four out. I suspect the ground was too fast as all his wins bar one, in a two horse race, have come with cut in the ground.
MR POINTMENT raced prominently or led until fading from the seventeenth. He is on the downgrade. Paul Murphy’s other runner CERIUM has run well enough in the last two Grand Nationals but has been well put in his place elsewhere, losing touch with a mile to go here and eventually being pulled up.

KELSO – Thursday April 28th

Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)

The forecast rain didn’t show up and the watered ground dried out, leading to a number of withdrawals throughout the evening.

5.50 2m ½f Class 4 Novices’ Hurdle

SAVEIRO was finally rewarded for his consistency, out-battling the runner-up with the pair well clear. With AL QEDDAAFF carrying forward decent form from Aintree, and not shirking the battle here, the form has a solid look about it.
DEVIL WATER ran pretty much as he has done previously over hurdles, setting the pace but having no answer once passed. He kept on well enough and now needs fences and a distance of ground.
IMPERIAL BREEZE chased the leaders until weakening on the flat. Jimmy Lambe should find a small race for him somewhere along the line.
KING PENDA stayed on late to offer some hope for the future.

6.20 2m 6½f 0-122 Novices’ Handicap Chase

This contest was reduced to five runners as four defected, and SIERRA VICTOR departed after a less than a mile being reported as losing his action, though he returned sound.
QUICK WILL ran a decent race at Musselburgh in February but otherwise has struggled as have the stable in recent days. He was good enough to see off his main rival here. PHONE IN kept on for second if held and the impression is that the first two are both around about their mark over fences.
BORDER REIVER led until four out, a mistake two out ending any chance he may still have held. He has proved a weak finisher in chases to date and was reported as having breathing problem.
Irish challenger ON GOSSAMER WINGS was put in his place from three out.

6.50 2m 2f 0-125 Handicap Hurdle

HAZELDENE needs things his own way and got his wish on this occasion. Ryan Mania judged the race well and held enough in reserve as his charge stayed on well under pressure to win.
Ewart’s seem to have recovered their form or fortune and NEVERTIKA chased the leader from two out, though couldn’t get near enough to challenge seriously. This was a solid effort.
NINE STORIES ran promisingly after over a year off the track. He lost a lot of ground when blundering badly two out, but he battled back in the latter stages.
PREMIER DANE, blinkered for the first time, was one paced form the last. He hasn’t won a hurdle since 2006, but it may be worth noting that his hurdles wins have all come on fast ground.
CASSIUS was outpaced approaching two out and may have found this ground a trifle too lively.
SUNARRI was pulled up before the sixth with the ground being given as an excuse. Previous evidence suggests the problem lies between his ears rather than below his feet.

7.20 2m 6 ½f Class 3 Handicap Hurdle

COASTLEY has been progressive since moving form hunter chases and continued his upward momentum. He led on the flat and stayed on under pressure to take what was a competitive event, and in doing so suggested that he is capable of standing a rise in the ratings.
PONTOP is getting no favours form the handicapper, and is vulnerable to improvers. He led until the flat and kept on once headed to record a fourth consecutive place. To my mind he’s honest enough but just lacks an extra turn of pace at the business end.
WOT WAY CHIEF, whose chasing form has been better than his hurdles efforts, acquitted himself creditably here. He kept on for third and would be an interesting prospect back over fences as he seems in good heart.
THE GLOVES ARE OFF ran quite well under a penalty but he was held from two out.
HARMONY BRIG hasn’t seemed keen over fences and pretty much jacked it in from the eighth here.

7.55 3m 1f 0-116 Handicap Chase

TOP DRESSING wouldn’t any awards for consistency, but he’s capable on his day and took advantage of what would be a generous mark at his best. He made progress from the home bend, led at the last and stayed on well for victory. He wouldn’t be guaranteed to produce the same next time.
SEIZE, pulled out of the Highland National when the ground softened, proved how well he acts on fast ground. He made progress from the fourteenth and got involved up front at the last but was held by the winner from there. He’s another who is not the most consistent.
NILE MOON goes well around Kelso. He raced prominently most of the way but was found wanting headed at the last.
MINOUCHKA failed to build on a promising effort last time. She plugged on form two out but didn’t threaten the leaders in the latter stages.
HARRY FLASHMAN was another failing to build on recent promise. He struggled from three out. That being said, he does have a strong record at Hexham and could be worth considering if returning there in the right class.
I fancied OCARINA to pick up a race or two over the winter but he was never quite good enough. He was outpaced form two out on this occasion and this has been typical of his recent performances.
BILL’S ECHO raced close up for a long way but weakened quickly from three out and finished tailed off.
SOMETHING SILVER was pulled up having not handled the lively ground.
SNOWY lost touch past halfway and is out of sorts.
RING STREET ROLLER struggled going down the far side for the final time and was pulled up before the last. She has disappointed of late.

8.25 2m ½ f NH Flat

This was possibly not as competitive as some Kelso bumpers, but nevertheless the notebook should be used.
STORM KIRK comes from a very good family and looks set to continue their tradition. He stayed on in impressive style and gives the connections another interesting prospect in addition to Storm Brig.
GOLDEN VIEW, a maiden point winner in Ireland, made a satisfactory Rules debut. He disputed the lead and battled back well once headed, if held by a decent looking winner.
KVARNER RIVIERA stayed on to take third having had a chance two out.
LA BACOUTTEUSE showed some promise after a lay-off in finishing fourth. The latter has shown some ability at Catterick last year and has shown enough to suggest a win is possible. Though the name might not suggest it, this one is a gelding.