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 Café 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.