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.