Sunday, 22 August 2010

'Perth 800' Race Day

PERTH – Saturday August 21st

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

Perth staged a Saturday card for the first time in many years, the racing being part of the ‘Perth 800’ celebrations marking the signing of the Fair City’s charter in 1210. Various events took place from 12.00, a falconry display kickoff proceedings and then a Jousting Show taking centre stage. The latter was quite entertaining in it’s own way, the Scottish Knight beating The Black Knight in a sword fight play-off after a drawn final. The local hero slew the baddie, but the latter was dramatically brought back to life when doused with a bucket of water!

There followed a procession down the course by ‘King William’ and his wife to meet and handover the City Charter. The king, equipped with what must surely have been the naffest red wig in Perth, was met by the Lord Provost of Perth accompanied by Sam Morshead dressed, we were informed by the announcer, as Friar Tuck. Quite what Friar Tuck was doing in Perth in 1210 I wasn’t sure, but apparently he was a character in Scottish May Festivals in medieval times.

Meanwhile back on the racecourse the fare was lowly but nevertheless entertaining for a decent sized ‘festival’ crowd. It’s notable that Scottish crowds seem a lot better at enjoyable themselves on a Saturday whereas there seems to be so much more rowdiness at weekend meetings south of the border. Before anyone questions that as Scottish bias I might point out I’m Berkshire born and bred with of the worst offenders, Newbury, being my former local.

3.00 2m ½f New Homes At The Mill Balgowan Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

The card kicked off at a slightly later than usual time to accommodate the Perth 800 activities. The opening maiden hurdle would not go down as a particularly competitive event and only two got seriously involved from out.

JEWELLED DAGGER set the pace, was ridden after two out and had more determination than a proven less than committed second. The winner looked very well, seemingly a straight forward type that Jim Goldie should be able to place to win again in the future.
DUTY FREE has more ability than the remainder here but doesn’t show much when challenged. Although he ran on the winner held him from the last. His best chance might just be kidding him through off a fast pace in a big field, but he’s no betting material at short odds.
MORNING TIME kept on from midfield for third. He’s shown a glimmer of ability over hurdles and might show better given a stiffer track or step up in trip.
RAIN STOPS PLAY ran a moderately decent race in fourth, being held up off the pace and picking off tiring rivals late on.
Gordon Elliott’s MAKHAALEB made no impact once turned for home.
DRAMATIC JEWEL, Lucinda Russell’s second string, is a lengthy gelding who doesn’t look cut out for hurdling. He was outpaced from three out.

3.30 2m 4½f Fearless Freddie Williams 0-114 Novices’ Handicap Chase

This was a card financed entirely by Perth Racecourse and Sam Morshead expressed the hope that the course can hang on to the fixture in future years. They cast around for sponsors among the bookmakers and Julie Williams stepped forward to name a race in memory of her father, a renowned layer in the ring.

EMOTIVE seems to have benefitted from a change of tactics. He’s generally been held up in chases but, encouraged by a good showing behind Strobe here, he was sent up to harry that opponent. It worked well as the consistent if slightly frustrating gelding stayed on well to win nicely.
KING ROONAH challenged from four out but was held from before the last. He jumped a bit better in this small field but can be a little awkward at his fences.
MORE EQUITY kept on from three out and offered some encouragement after a break.
Jim Dreaper’s chasing debutante PAINT THE TAPE was out paced from four out and didn’t offer too much encouragement off a mark of 88.
STROBE set the pace but dropped back after hitting the eleventh when hustled by two others. He gives the impression that he needs things his own way.
ANNIBALE CARO went wrong behind and was quickly pulled up approaching the seventh fence.

4.00 2m 4½f Ecosteel 0-107 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Ten-year-old FLY TIPPER broke his maiden at the 27th attempt. He’s gained a few places previously but recent poor efforts perhaps encouraged application of the tongue-tie. He didn’t seem bothered by the addition in the paddock and there was certainly improvement on the course, Fly Tipper seeing off a persistent runner-up as the pair pulled clear.
CAPE SECRET won a seller at Uttoxeter and didn’t do much wrong off top-weight here. Held up in rear, he progressed to close approaching the last and ran on if held on the flat.
ORMELLO has ability but doesn’t win very often, keeping on for third without threatening a win.
A tall rather sparely made gelding, SOUL MAGIC ran a fair race coming off a 486 day absence. He looked as if the race would bring him on, but led until approaching two out before fading into fourth. Lightly raced for an eight-year-old, and with a fair Kelso second to his name last year, he looks worth keeping an eye on.
Course winner MAOLISA led until two out before weakening.

4.35 2m ½ f 0-90 Selling Handicap Hurdle

A poor contest won by a gelding with more ability than his mark suggests, but one whose attitude has been questioned frequently in the past.

Sporting a natty set of red and white striped blinkers to match his silks, PEREZ closed at halfway, led three out and pulled clear without any great alarms. He’d rid himself of Lucy Alexander at Wetherby earlier in the year, but Paul Gallagher kept him up to his work all the way to the line for a 21 length victory. He’s probably a good deal better than the 70 mark he ran off here and Consett-based Wilf Storey, recording a quick double, went to £5,200 to retain him at the auction. Though he will presumably only be raised value for about half the winning distance the problem for backers is that he’s far from guaranteed to repeat the form.
The horse had been taken out of the ring by his groom before the auction. Sam Morshead had to make an announcement to Anne Wilson to bring her charge back to the unsaddling enclosure. Thankfully for the groom the gelding remains in the stable.
ARCH, a big strong gelding clearly difficult to keep fit, plugged on for second though clambering in tired fashion over the last.
DESERT SOUL charged off in typical style and kept going well enough for third.
DARAYBAD, rather fidgety in first time visor, had every chance three out but couldn’t keep up a strong enough gallop from there.
The Michael Blake trained pair BARI BAY and WE’RE DELIGHTED, having travelled all the way from Trowbridge, were disappointing. The former faded from three out, and the latter was pulled up after trying to match Desert Soul from the start.

5.10 3m Murrayshall House Hotel 0-101 Handicap Chase

This race looked a weak affair and TWELVE PACES, presented looking very well after a season off, saw off two challengers from the last fence. Twelve Paces is none too consistent, but he can handle better than this opposition on his good days and ran on determinedly from the last having travelled well throughout.
KYBER has struck me as a possible chasing type. He was making a belated chasing debut here but gave Jim Goldie plenty of cause for optimism. Held up early on he progressed from the last, challenged on the flat and didn’t go down without a fight.
ADRIANEO looked very well and made a satisfactory handicap chasing bow. He led at the twelfth and had every chance at the last though unable to respond to more race hardened campaigners. He has time on his side.
CHARMING KNIGHT is basically hunter class and was pulled up before three out.
THUNDER HAWK is another better off in hunter company, a fact totally ignored by those who made him 6/5 favourite. He led until before the twelfth, was then ridden and lost touch before his jockey called it a day approaching three out.
CUTE N YOU KNOW IT had bits and pieces of form but isn’t very good these days. Inclined to jump slowly at times, he was left behind from the twelfth and pulled up before four out. He showed signs of stringhalt in the paddock, though the effects seemed lessened after a few circuits of the ring.

5.45 2m ½ f Perth Bookmakers 0-112 Handicap Hurdle

SHOPFRONTSPECIALST looked to have an excellent opportunity to continue a run of victories. In the event he stepped at the third hurdle and fell. Paul Carberry got hung up as the horse recovered and seemed to get a nasty kick as the gelding freed himself of the ‘encumbrance’. The rider lay still for a while, track staff making quick efforts to doll off the hurdle, but Carberry then waved frantically that he would get clear. The jockey limped to the side helped by medical staff and the hurdle was re-instated. Carberry was taken off in the ambulance but, as is the way with this tough breed, he presumably saw it as a handy way back to the changing room!
The favourite fall meant that Gordon Elliott suffered a rare Perth blank, but the Irish did finally notch a win as REPORTAGE saw off his remaining three rivals from the last. Looking hard fit, he was excitable early on in pre-parade and parade rings but settled a bit if still on his toes. He led before the last and ran on well.
BAAHER, forced to hurdle Shopfrontspecialst and Paul Carberry after the third flight, kept on under pressure for second.
COOLNAHARAN had every chance but was held on the flat.
TIGER KING set the pace but could muster no extra once headed approaching the last.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Hamilton Park - Ladies' Day

HAM ILTON – Saturday July 31st

Going – Good

Apologies for a delay in posting this report, and you’ll note that a few mentioned have come out once or more since. I’m struggling to fit reporting around other commitments right now since my job changed, so there maybe a few catch-up articles spaced out a bit, unless someone sees fit to pay me for this drivel…

Ladies’ Day at Hamilton saw a very healthy crowd in attendance, officially a shade under 7,000, despite some damp weather. Rain fell for about an hour leading up to racing, with a particular downpour arriving just before 6 o’clock. The going description remained ‘good’ though I suspect the downpour might have inconvenienced one or two needing a fast surface.

I was attending along with my wife and a couple we are friends with. This does tend to cramp my style a bit, and for a rare event see race 2, but everybody enjoyed the evening and three of us managed to come away in front on the night.

6.40 5f Champagne Cocktails at Hamilton Park 0-76 Nursery Handicap

This was an average little nursery that offered a good opportunity to the dropped in class NASHARRA. He had run in Listed company and then finished in the ruck of the Weatherbys’ Sprint, though not disgraced on either occasion. This looked a much more reasonable target and Kevin Ryan’s colt proved equal to the task. Shaken up to lead a furlong and a half out, he ran on well up the hill to win with just a little in hand.
INTRUSION was a rather spooked as she entered the paddock, needing a fair bit of encouragement to pass into the ‘arena’. She looked very well and ran to his form, chasing the leader in the final furlong without being able to make an impression. Previous evidence suggested a step up in trip will do no harm and she looks likely to benefit from a move up to seven furlongs.
FAST SHOT was held in the final furlong but made a satisfactory handicap debut and doesn’t look over burdened on 59, a minor nursery win being a possibility.
NOVABRIDGE looked best in the paddock but was held up the hill and has not moved forward an awful lot from two early season wins.
CRIMSON KNOT was outpaced up the hill and a sharper track would appear to suit better.
MEMORABILIA was prominent in the betting, but he looks to have some growing to do. He’s a sort who is bred to better in time, and leading this field for a way burst him inside the final two furlongs.

7.10 1m ½f Avia Signs 3-4yo 0-65 Claiming Stakes

The commitment to out party meant that I managed something I had seldom done in 30 odd years of regular race-going. I missed the race queuing for drinks! At such a meeting you can be sure there will be huge queues for over priced beverages. Out of sight of TV monitors, I caught snippets of the commentary over the PA and did at least have the consolation of backing the winner, as did my wife who managed to beat SP in the process. I caught up with the replay once I got home.

I find claiming races straight forward contests to analyse as they can readily be reduced to no more than a handful of contenders. Often it’s just a question of listing previous winners, of which there were three in this race, and all qualifiers here finished in the first four.
MIAMI GATOR generally runs fair races and had managed three wins before this. He was jumped out in front, kicked on from three out and held on well up the hill. He followed up in claiming company at Carlisle three days later, subsequently finishing third at Redcar where the track doesn’t play strengths so much.
ISLAND CHIEF, a previous winner of two, chased the leader over the final two furlongs having been squeezed up as he came to challenge. He followed up with a double at Thirsk(claimer) and Ayr(selling handicap), suggesting that the form here was decent.
NORTH CENTRAL stayed on for third, running a similar sort of race to those he had run at sprint distances.
KING’S SABRE kept on in the closing stages to finish a never nearer fourth.

Postscript to the drinks queuing was that I settled for a coffee. No queue at the coffee stall…

7.40 1m 3f MacGregor Flooring 0-60 Handicap

Paddock inspection here threw up a ‘stand out’ in SHORT SUPPLY who was produced in tip-top condition by Tim Walford. I informed our party that I thought Short Supply would show up well but sadly I couldn’t find enough in her form to justify even a small stake. Mixed feelings then as the Sheriff Hutton trained filly forged ahead from two out. She gave the impression of idling when in front and, while this event was no great shakes, she should prove a bit better than the 46 she ran off here.
The stewards enquired into short supply’s improvement. The gist of the story was that the stable had previously been under a cloud and that the filly had been in good form of late. It’s not untypical for fillies to make forward progress at this time of year anyway.
AMICAL RISKS kept on for second without threatening the winner. He has run some fair races but a tally of 1 from 26 runs sums up his level.
SHARP SOVEREIGN led from three out until the winner took over, coming home at one pace in third.
REGENT’S SECRET worked his way through the field late on in typical style. He needs a cut-throat pace up front in order to pick off weakening rivals.
The remainder were seven lengths or more back and offered little immediate encouragement.

8.10 5f European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ 0-82 Handicap Stakes

MEY BLOSSOM was finding it hard work down the hill but picked up well up the slope, leading around the furlong pole and staying strongly. She has won on fast ground at Beverley since and wouldn’t want the ground any slower than it was here. Her two wins haven’t been by far, but she is tenacious and that could be useful while she is in good form.
The form is working out well and the only one who hasn’t appeared since as I write is BRIERTY. She kept on under a pushed out ride, her jockey having lost his whip in the final furlong.
WICKED WILMA has run a succession of decent races in the last couple of seasons. Leading until the final furlong, she kept on for third.
GAP PRINCESS looked to be in trouble two out but kept on late. She wasn’t suited by the slightly softened ground and is better at six furlongs anyway, both proven by her Ripon win a couple of days later.
BASLE couldn’t make an impression from two out. She has run well on the all-weather and may well take a chance or two on the sand in the coming months.

8.40 6f The Kane Gang (Class 5) Maiden Stakes

Sprint maidens for older horses are not typically well contested at this stage of the season. Anything with speed will have likely shown something earlier.
HENRY MORGAN seems to have had his problems but followed up his promising debut with a win here. He has been tubed and I have not seen many such runners in recent times. He’s bred to be a bit better than this level, though it remains to be seen if his breathing problems ultimately hold him back.
RED ROAR chased up the winner in the final furlong, showing more than she had in two previous efforts.
KRISTEN JANE was a right pain at the stalls and was ordered to have to pass a stalls test before running again. She was in the firing line approaching the final furlong but couldn’t produce nay extra. She runs consistently but is only rated 47.
BILLIONAIRE BOY briefly threatened two out but was one paced up the hill. He gave just a glimmer of hope.
JEMIMA NICHOLAS disputed the pace, but gave way approaching the final furlong and was disappointing.

9.10 1m 1f Dulciano Restaurant And Bar 0-74 Handicap Stakes

The value of a sharp burst of pace in an improving handicapper was amply illustrated in this race. HIGH RESOLUTION, a double winner here recently, had to be rousted to challenge approaching the final furlong, but once he quickened the race was quickly in the bag. An improving three-year-old, he looks well capable of continuing his winning streak.
STARRY MOUNT led after the two furlong pole but couldn’t respond to the winner’s acceleration. He won in heavy ground last autumn so could be one for the notebook in the next month or two.
Top weight VEROON stayed on well but his recent runs suggest the handicapper has him at his level.
CARACAL led briefly approaching the final furlong but was one paced once headed.
TALK OF SAAFEND was held in the final furlong though she does at least get in the mix in the latter stages.
ZAMBUKA couldn’t repeat her York win and was well held from two furlongs out.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Perth - late July Meeting

PERTH – Tuesday July 27th

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

6.40 2m 4f 110yds John Smith’s Extra Smooth (Class 5 Maiden Hurdle

GULF PRESIDENT saw off moderate opposition well enough; will find it tougher in novices under a penalty.
SYMPHONICA was well held; ordinary and exposed.
The rest are moderate.

7.10 2m 4f 110yds Sheep Dip Whisky Novices’ 0-93 Handicap Chase

STROBE needs to dictate and was able to do that in a soft race; had enough determination once headed.
EMOTIVE is capable at this level but soft in a finish and outbattled from the last.
JANAL is slow but just got up for third.
ELLANDSHE regularly completes at his own pace; just pipped for third.
CINMAN is small and struggles over fences, though does seem to try.
GREENGABLES with the pace to four out, but hit that one and quickly faded.

7.40 2m 4f 110yds Bet With The Dewhurst Ring Selling (0-88) Handicap Hurdle

LORDS BRIDGE is better than his 70 mark and cruised home from a desperate bunch for whom immediate prospects are limited.
The second ZELOS DIKTATOR was claimed for £6,000 and as a four-year-old might have more in him than the other beaten horses.

8.10 3m 110yds Orion Group All Stars (0-98) Handicap Hurdle

SUPERCEDE doddled up here and clearly appreciates quick ground more than the mud he encountered in Ireland.
UNCOMMITTED looked awkward on the final bend but kept on for a well held second.
GIFT OF THE GODS and SOLWAY BLUE plugged on but were well outpointed.

8.40 3m John Smith’s (0-125) Handicap Chase

The feature event, but not madly competitive.
SEIZE goes well on quick ground and stayed on well to wrest the race on the flat. He will be on a career high mark after this.
DEAD OR ALIVE looked the likely winner in the straight but was tired after the last. He remains in decent form.
THUNDER HAWK, running better than at Cartmel, struggled from four out.
CHORIZO lost touch from four out.
MIZEN RAVEN raced a bit too keenly and weakened quickly in the straight.

9.10 2m 110yds Daily Record (0-110) Handicap Hurdle

SHOPFRONTSPECIALST took time to get the hang of things, costing a few bob in the process, but is putting together a decent string of races. He stayed on from two out. These events look easier than handicaps in Ireland and Gordon Elliott’s exploitation of the Scone Park venue showed as he landed his 50th Perth winner.
FRONT RANK kept on for second but he looks handicapped to his mark.

PERTH – Wednesday July 28th

Going – Good To Firm

2.25 2m 110yds Glengoyne Single Malt (4) Novices’ Hurdle

This may prove to be fair contest in time.
WIND SHUFFLE, rated 123, made all and had enough to see off the runner up close home.
DUTY FREE ran to form in second, keeping on after the last.
SIR BOSS is trained by Don Cantillon, a trainer I have a lot of time for. He faded from two out on his hurdling debut but wasn’t overpressed once beaten and will produce better. I suspect the same goes for Lucinda Russell VIA ARCHIMEDE who should produce better than a well held fourth.

2.55 2m 110yds Trawler Dark Rum (Class 5) Claiming Hurdle

DREAM RISK led two out and kept on under pressure. He was well beaten in handicap though and a mark of 108 may prove tough to win off.
ANNIBALE CARO kept on for second but has become frustrating of late.
MISTER CASTLEFIELD ran creditably at the weights in third, but APT TO RUN doesn’t look particularly straight-forward. The latter had a tongue tie and blinkers, and didn’t look a comfortable ride from three out.

3.30 2m London Dry Gin (Class 4) Novices’ Chase

RIGHT OR WRONG hasn’t improved 20lbs since last time, so it’s safe to assume PICAROON ran well below form in second. The winner showed commitment after the last to hold off the trial-blazing runner-up who may have raced too freely.
BAAHER was held from two out on chasing debut, finishing just in front of the ordinary and exposed SKIDDAW JONES.
FIGAIRY has made no impact in a bumper, hurdle race and this chase. He looks of little account.

4.05 2m 4f 110yd Bott Limited (0-120) Handicap Chase

SUNDAY CITY is useful on his day but puts in some duff performances as well. He doddled up here, pulling clear in the straight to win very easily.
ORMELLO would probably be suited by two mile cross-country races. In the absence of those he gets a mixed campaign, and is fair on his day if hardly regular win material. He stayed on to take second.
GRAND LAHOU made a few jumping errors which took a bit out of him and he could muster only one pace from three out.
THE DUKE’S SPEECH plugged on through tired horses for fourth.
OHANA kept on in the straight but never got near the leaders. This was only his second race for Alistair Whillans who should be able to coax better out of him while the quick ground remains with us. If the winter is fairly dry he could be worth remembering for Musselburgh chases.
MON OISEAU gave in tamely after leading for two thirds of the race while RUN TO SPACE was never going.
KING ROONAH has ability but his jumping has let him down more than once. He unseated in mid race.

4.40 2m 4f 110yds New Fixture August 21st Conditional Jockeys’ (0-115) Handicap Hurdle

Perth took the chance to advertise the ‘Perth 800’ fixture that they have been awarded for August this year.

WORD OF WARNING just held DANIMIX, the pair clear of habitual ‘win avoider’ TARKANI, with another workshy wonder, STORM PROSPECT, filling fourth.

5.05 3m 110yds Isle Of Skye Blended Malt Whisky Novices’ (0-105) Handicap Hurdle

MAOLISA has run a few decent races of late and finally got off the mark under Rules. She saw off SUPERCEDED, appearing quickly under a penalty, the result suggesting that he may have been feeling the effects of Tuesday’s efforts.
There was very little of promise for the remainder, AUBERGE proving to be Andrew Crow’s last runner before he was banned for seven years following falsification of veterinary information on horses’ passports.