Friday, 22 October 2010

Kelso - mid-October Meeting

KELSO – Saturday October 16th

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

It would be reasonable to assume that the rains would have started seriously in the Borders by halfway through October. Not this year it would seem, a dry early autumn leading to a fast surface at Kelso. The form might be worth remembering for free draining Musselburgh, but not so much here once the inevitable precipitation makes an appearance.
An afternoon in aid of Macmillan Cancer support commenced with a Pantomime horse Race, scheduled to last a furlong but started from the half furlong pole. Some still struggled to stay the distance…

2.30 2m ½f Clifford Firth Memorial National Hunt Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A few here will turn into fair-to-middling hurdling handicappers, whilst a handful might progress to competence over fences.
MR JAY DEE, an angular gelding not immediately appealing to the eye, proves that handsome is as handsome does. This was an improvement on his Sedgefield hurdling debut and he should be capable of progressing further. Always handy he led approaching the last and stayed on well under riding.
MAGGIO, now trained in Ireland but with a trainer who often runs his charges in the UK, led until the last and kept on once headed.
FLICHITY has taken time to settle down and still doesn’t seem 100% straightforward. He kept on under pressure for third without threatening the winner.
Many of James Ewart’s runners needed an outing last season and SI BIEN’s fourth suggested the pattern might be repeated. Having raced prominently he was held from the last.
COUNTY COLOURS took a keen hold and had burst himself approaching the last. He doesn’t look a very easy ride and is one to oppose at short prices.
WICKED STREAK looked well enough after break but was put in his place from two out. He showed a hint of ability in bumpers but has a bit to do to prove himself.
SCARVAGH ROSE showed a little promise, closing to three out but then tapped for pace. She isn’t a lost cause.

3.05 2m 6½f Edinburgh City F.C. Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-115)

Given that three figure crowds are a novelty at Meadowbank Stadium, it always strikes me as a bit odd that the East Of Scotland Premier Leaguers choose a Saturday meeting for their jolly! They are however regular supporters of a race at Kelso.

The race was one by one of those ‘I’m not totally surprised he won, but I could never have backed him’ runners. LINDSEYFIELD LODGE is capable on a going day but throws in a lot of moderate efforts. He’s at his best when able to dictate, as he ahd done for a fair way here last time, so Kenny Johnson must have been quite happy to get a free run in front. Baulked by a loose horse approaching three out, Lindseyfield Lodge soon recovered and stuck on stoutly for a second course and distance win. Johnson was riding his first winner after a 16-month injury lay-off and despite riding an outsider was given a good reception.
MORE EQUITY had every chance but couldn’t wear down the winner, though this was a best effort for a while.
STORM PROSPECT could never be rated as the most co-operative animal. He often runs moderately well whilst avoiding winning, staying on for third here.
BORDER REIVER raced prominently but was held from the last. He gets round over fences but is beatable.
KYBER was in touch two out but then weakened and has two ways of running.
POSEIDON thumped the first and was never really going.
SIRKEEL has looked like one who should make a chaser, but his jumping was very novicey on debut and he struggled from halfway.
DUKE OF CHESTERWOOD should be capable of a win in this class, but your correspondent’s stake went up the Swanee when a blunder at the twelfth dislodged Fearghal Davis. He was going well within himself at the time and should not be written off.
AMALFI COAST fell at the fifth.

3.35 2m 6½f Doc Harvey Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

LADY JINKS refused to co-operate at the start and was withdrawn. ELEVENSES pulled up after the third, presumably with something amiss though irritatingly nothing was reported.

Graham Lee had to work hard most of the way on JURISDICTION, but I suspect this one has a lot more in the tank than he cares to let on. He can win again, though his jockey will once again more than earn his fee.
Irish pointing winner DOVE HILL made a very encouraging hurdles debut. Working his way into the race from three out he stayed on well and looks a likely future winner.
BOW SCHOOL ran up to form in third and this may put him right for a return to chasing.
SAM HALL needed the race and was always behind.
GLACED lost touch from three out and finished distressed. A handicap mark of 106 looks harsh and she’s likely to best suited by mares’ only races.

4.05 2m ½f Peter Doyle Handicap Hurdle (0-114)

This race was run at a furious pace with the field well spread out down the far side. Of the first five home four came from off the pace, so the second place of MIDNITE BLEWS looks particularly meritorious. He won here last time and briefly threatened a follow up, giving way in the last 200 yards. He does need good ground or faster.
GRAND DIAMOND finally got his head in front after a few near misses. Brought with a well timed run by Paul Norton, he was pulling away at the line. The large field and strong pace suited.
LONG DISTANCE stayed on for third but there are keener competitors.
BENMADIGAN stayed on in a race that was run to suit him, but he looks held off a mark of 114.
PILLAR OF HERCULES has ability and was still in with a chance when rapping the last, but he’s too keen to do himself full justice.

4.40 3m 1f Elliot Landells Roadsweeper Handicap Chase (0-129) for the Marshall Trophy

This was an open contest where many could be given a chance, though few could be absolutely relied upon.
OR DE GRUGY enjoys racing here and made it four wins from 7 races at Kelso. Leading or disputing all the way, he stayed on well in the straight.
ALWAYS RIGHT made a very encouraging handicap debut, racing up with the pace and sticking to his job on the run-in. He’s a strong type and I got the impression the race would bring him on a bit. He looks a ready made handicap winner.
CAST IRON CASEY stayed on from two out to take third, though he was held from ‘the elbow’. He appeared to see out the trip.
CASADEI had every chance two out but was held from the last. He often runs passably well but his wins are few and far between.
YOUNGSTOWN will be better for this race. He was in contention until weakening two out and possibly raced a bit too keenly early on.
ZITENKA needs a recent race to show his best. He struggled from the fourteenth, but is worth putting on the shortlist when racing within a couple of weeks of his last outing.
SOUBRIQUET dropped away quickly from two out and may be held after his latest rise in the ratings.
NATIVE CORAL and TOP DRESSING never got involved and finished well beaten. Neither seem particularly reliable.
BLAZE TRAILER was going well in the leading group when unseating two out. Twice a winner in Ireland last season, he may be worth an interest if revisiting Scotland.

5.15 2m 1f Hutchinson Sewage Treatment Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-107)

KOSTA BRAVA built on previous promise, and set aside an aberration at Perth, staying on under pressure to pick up this contest. The form looks sound and it would be a surprise if he didn’t win again soon.
MORNING SUNSHINE is in good kept after the winner determinedly under pressure, though he was held in the final furlong.
The one I am interested in form this event is the third SADDLERS DEAL. He looked a chaser when I first saw him and did nothing to dispel that notion here. A recent nice sort who should still come on for the race, he jumped superbly in front until thumping three out. He recovered well but couldn’t respond sufficiently on the run-in, his rider accepting that third place was likely and riding with that in mind. Chris Grant’s charge will repay the favour.
TRANOS ran a fair race but was held on the run-in.
BEST HORSE is lightly raced and ran a respectable close fifth.
TIGER KING was better here than on his previous chase outing but doesn’t look a natural fencer.
MORE SHENNANIGANS jettisoned his jockey at the first, whilst STEEL MAN is no racehorse and was beaten over 100 lengths.

5.50 2m 6½f Betfair Training Series Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-99)

This was a contest light on numbers but one in which none of the contestants could be ruled out.
Sadly DESERT SOUL took a crashing fall at the seventh flight. I’m not sure of his fate but he was attended by the vet and things did not look good.
I’ve liked BUCKSTRUTHER since I first saw him and always felt there was race to be won with the grey. A decent spell in points seem to have helped his confidence and he made most of the running, staying on well in the straight. It looked to me as if the race wouldn’t do any harm either.
PLANETARIUM stayed on from the last but was always held by the winner. POLITICAL PENDANT was one paced in third but is running a bit better than a few Nixon inmates.
SOLWAY BLUE lost touch in the final half mile. He was walked round on the grass in the paddock which perhaps suggests that a fast surface isn’t likely to be appreciated.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

North Of England Jumping - Early October Round Up

Time has caught up with me and I’m unable to do a full analysis of as many race as I would like. However, I will cover Scottish meetings as closely as I can and significant performances from the north of England.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday September 28th

Better known as chaser, FRED BOJANGALS had a sound re-introduction to the racecourse, following home Oxfordshire raider Ashammar in the opening novices’ hurdle. He lost nothing in defeat here, staying on though held from the last hurdle.

SHOPFRONTSPECIALST, well placed by Gordon Elliott in recent months, made a winning chasing debut in the 2m 4f Beginners’ Chase despite a few novicey leaps. He was driven out and this trip is probably as far would be ideal. After a few hard early lessons, LORD LARSSON is getting the hang of chasing and kept on well for second. HARBOUR WAY stayed on late for third, showing that he might be capable of making a mark at a lowly level.

The less exposed of the runners in the 2m 4f 0-110 Handicap Hurdle, JEU DE ROSEAU and HEART OF DUBAI, filled the first two places. The former won very comfortably and has more in the tank. HEART OF DUBAI was held in the closing stages but is lightly raced and capable of making a mark off a current level of 96.

The oldest in the field held the youngest in the 2m 4f 0-108 Handicap Chase, eleven-year-old AMALFI COAST leading in the last furlong and showing he holds his form despite advancing years. REBEL HUNTER found very little in the closing stages and looks one to oppose when heading the market. Coming back from six months off, BALLABROOK ran well enough in third to promise better in the near future, but the rest were well held.

Chasing debutante PENNY QUEEN made the long trip from Cropredy worthwhile on her chasing debut. She stayed on from the rear in the minimum distance handicap chase, leading 100 yards from home and denying STOLEN LIGHT a double. The latter ran another sound race despite a 7lb rise. TRANOS stayed on for third but he’s very difficult to catch right, BUDS DILEMMA stayed on for fourth, but TROODOS JET found it a bit tough when asked to battle on the run in.
BAJAN SUNSHINE showed some enthusiasm but he’s presumably hard to keep fit and struggled in the last half-mile or so. ALFLORAMOOR was once again too keen for his own good.

DESERT SOUL found a very soft contest where his tearaway tactics were enough to stay in front. The Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle was a dire event and he would be lucky to get it this easy again.

HEXHAM – Friday October 1st

CAPE TRIBULATION ran to head MAGICAL LEGEND after the last in what might just turn out to a fair 3m 1f novices’ chase. 120 rated BALLYVESEY was held in the straight though was only beaten five lengths, while FLYING DOCTOR couldn’t match the leaders from the bottom of the hill.

Lucy Normile has had a quiet time of late but might just have a decent staying novice on her hands in the shape of SUNNYSIDE. Having show promise in bumpers without winning, he proved in his element over this trip, winning unchallenged. The opposition was the strongest, but the runner-up MOON INDIGO should win races.

Point-to-point winner OVERQUEST won the 3m 1f Handicap Chase, staying on well enough to come clear of an ordinary field. RECKLESS VENTURE ran a typical ‘almost but not quite’ second. MURPHY’S BEAU shared the pace for much of the way but couldn’t muster an extra effort from the bottom of the hill. PISTOL BASC was held here but as I write has boosted the form with a win at Wetherby.
ARCHIE’S WISH unseated at the fourteenth. He has shown ability at this level of fences, but is inclined to put in a few dicey jumps.

AL QEDDAAFF was comfortable winner of the maiden hurdle. He departs from the expected McCain type, being principally flat bred with plenty of speed amongst his relatives. He does go well on soft ground though, having recorded his flat win with cut.

A dire two mile chase, full of professional losers, was won by JANAL who showed enough determination to hold AGAINST THE WIND. Long standing maiden MORE SHENNANIGANS, probably better suited by a flatter track, stayed on for third place. Conditions were against SAM CRUISE who has a poor record with cut in the ground.

CARLISLE – Friday October 8th

The opening novices’ hurdle looked a decent contest and the first three in particular are worth noting. RECESSION PROOF, a decent handicapper on the flat, made smooth headway up the straight and ran on well. COUNTY COLOURS stepped up on previous efforts in second place and seems to have benefitted from the summer break, looking more the jumper now. FLINTY BAY was not given a hard time in third on his hurdling debut and should be capable of better next time.

BOW BADGER was an easy winner of the second heat, racing clear from the last. He could be decent.
CHAOPOLIMOSS looks more of a long term project for Martin Todhunter, but a 10 length second here might not look bad in time. Everything points to him making a chaser in time.
Another late developer filled third, YOU KNOW YOURSELF being tapped for pace from two out. A stamina test looks needed and he will likely prove a more formidable proposition over fences.

ALVARADO won on his chasing debut, progressing well up the hill and driven out to win. FLYING DOCTOR filled second place, running a bit better than at Hexham. C’MONTHEHAMMERS ran prominently, kept on for third and it might be wroth noting that his two wins have come on sharper tracks. ALDERLEY ROVER stayed on under pushing and will benefit from the race.
SEIGNEUR DES BOIS wasn’t put into the race and might be a long term prospect. He has much to learn and his jumping was novicey, but this four-year-old hinted at ability in France and is likely to improve with UK experience.

SOTOVIK put up a lifetime best chasing performance to win the two mile handicap chase, a competitive 0-125 contest. Though he has won on soft he wouldn’t want too much cut in the ground.
CANTGETON stayed on up the hill to take second place.
CARRIETAU showed his usual zest out in front, and battled well once challenged though he was running on empty in the last 100 yards. He is handicapped to the hilt but has proved a tough nut to crack since blinkers were applied.
FORTY FIVE, in good form two seasons ago, hinted that he is no back number by keeping on steadily for fourth. He’s on a workable mark and is worth noting, perhaps at a sharper track.
Frustrating HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY made progress to three out, but ploughed through that fence and his chance had gone.

NEWMAN DES PLAGES showed determination in abundance to take the stayers’ handicap chase. Having set much of the pace, he looked held by OVERQUEST two out but battled back to lead before the last and stay on for victory. The second ran creditable stepped up in class following his Hexham win.
STAR PLAYER was held from two out, but this was a great improvement on a dismal 09-10 season. Assuming he can be kept straight, he’s well below his last winning mark.
WESTERN GALE plugged on for fourth but hasn’t yet fulfilled his early novice promise.

LIVELY BARON cruised home in the bumper and Donald McCain has yet another capable animal on his hands. He is related to capable jumpers and I look forward to seeing him hurdling.
Newcomer MIDDLEBROOK performed well in second. A £20,000 buy as a three-year-old, he should repay patience before long.
DR FLYNN represented solid bumper form and performed soundly in third, a place he just held from a staying on HARRIS HAWK who offered John Wade cause for long-term optimism.

HEXHAM – Saturday October 9th

A couple of useful prospects fought out the finish of the opening Beginners’ Chase with SAVEIRO seeing off TWENTYNINEBLACK. The former should be capable of defying a penalty in a novice event, whilst Twentynineblack looks a ready made chase winner.
Back in third KELLYSTOWN LAD ran respectably, though outpaced from two out. He should improve for the run.

Pointing winner QUINDER SPRING unseated on his chasing debut having jumped awkwardly, but he looks to be one capable of progressing and stayed on to win the two and half mile handicap chase. The run won’t have done him any harm after a break and he is one to keep in the notebook.
TIFOSO was just touched off and is another youngster who can make progress over fences, while STAGECOACH AMBER ran a sound race in third to set the standard.
OSCAR HONEY ran in snatches, though was in touch three out before being held from the top of the hill.

The maiden hurdle looked a decent effort. MONOGRAM put his Perth aberration behind him, a few ran out on the bend there anyway, and ran on to hold the challengers from the last here.
BLENHEIM BROOK showed plenty of promise, staying on in the straight, and looks a decent prospect for Lucinda Russell. He’s likely to pick up a race soon.
TWENTYPOUNDLUCK and OIL BURNER were held in the straight but both look jumping types and have hope for the future.

SIERRA VICTOR won a soft stayers’ handicap chase holding a one paced MURPHYS BEAU from the home turn. BENBEOCH made some progress two out but didn’t seriously threaten. Normally consistent if frustrating, RECKLESS VENTURE was beaten two out and pulled up before the last.

COOL VIC won the bumper on his Rules debut for David Carr. He saw off Donald McCain’s DUNOWEN POINT and Malcolm Jefferson’s RIVER DRAGON in the closing stages, the three well clear of the rest. The latter has now used up his allocation of bumpers and should be competitive over hurdles. The first two are worth consideration in further bumpers.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Kelso - Autumn Opener

KELSO – Sunday October 3rd

Going – Good

Kelso’s autumn campaign commenced with a marathon card that took us into the twilight. The course was presented in magnificent condition, a drop of rain in the preceding days just easing any firmness out of the ground. There was drizzle up to two o’clock which cleared to give a fair afternoon’s weather.

The meeting began at 1.30 with the Border Principals Flat Race, a contest between riders represented local areas which carry out the tradition of Common Riding. The event, listed as five furlongs but probably a bit shorter given that it started after the final bend, was won by Graeme Murray representing Langholm.

2.25 2m ½f Sunday Mail Handicap Hurdle (0-115)

MIDNITE BLEWS probably wouldn’t be the most consistent performer, but provided another winner in a successful year for Brampton based Maurice Barnes. Looking well enough after a break, the grey gelding led all the way racing keenly, but talented Ryan Mania kept enough in the tank to drive his mount out for victory. He looks quite nicely handicapped at his best though he does need good ground.
SUMAK settled nicely, was never far away and stayed on best of the rest for second place. He handles soft ground and can be seen to advantage in the coming weeks.
GRAND DIAMOND has been kept busy on the flat and showed no ill effects with a decent effort in third, if just held on the run-in. He’s consistent but not a prolific winner with 3 flat wins to show from 52 efforts at all disciplines.
The horse to take out of this contest looks like CAST IRON CASEY. Giving the impression there’s still something to work on, he stayed on for pressure from the home bend and was picking up on the leaders to the line. A versatile performer, he looks on a workable mark over hurdles and fences.
Another capable of better is LONG DISTANCE who would have been closer but for making a ‘horlicks’ of the second last. Peter Buchanan felt he would have won the race, apparently blaming himself for the error, and this was an improvement on recent hurdles efforts.
FRONT RANK is plenty high enough in the handicap and faded from the last.

2.55 2m ½f Unwin Half Century Juvenile Hurdle (Division One)

TURF TRIVIA made his experience tell, forging ahead on the run-in having jumped tidily. A double penalty might make life difficult.
ALMATUHAM kept on after the last but couldn’t hold the winner. He hurdled soundly enough. His flat form suggests a stamina test suits and he will be suited when able to move up in distance.
HENRY HAVELOCK hurdled better than on his debut and kept on for third.
MAISON BRILLET was held up, presumably to conserve stamina, and kept on up the run-in. His hurdling can be tidied up and there may be better to come.
Well backed COPERNICUS jumped untidily in the rear and has a bit to learn.

3.40 3m 1f Stark Main Accountants Handicap Chase (0-113)

LA PANTERA ROSA, returning from an 18 month lay-off, raced up with the pace, jumped well and stayed on determinedly from the last. This was a decent effort and if kept fit he looks capable of adding to this victory.
CASADEI is a bit of a plodder who often runs competently but seldom wins. He challenged at the last then chased the winner without making an impression.
COLDWELLS went off the boil toward the end of last term but ran passably well, though not matching the first two on the run-in.
FESTIVAL KING couldn’t progress from a successful return and was held after the turn for home. This event may have been just a little tougher than the Sedgefield race.
NOT LEFT YET is evidently difficult to keep right. He was held from three out.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS probably doesn’t stay this distance, but was struggling from the fourteenth anyway.
NELLIEDONETHAT has been out of sorts for some time. He looked very well on his return, but had become detached five fences from the end.
SEIZE progressed briefly four out but was soon back pedalling and definitely has two ways of running.

4.15 2m 6½f NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle

Irish trained NOW THIS IS IT prevailed after battle up the run-in with ANY GIVEN DAY and STRONGPOINT. At the weights there was little to choose between the three of them but NOW THIS IT finished strongest of all up the far rail.
GLACED OVER confirmed the promise of her Sedgefield effort, running a creditable fourth and likely to be much better of in lesser company.
GRAND ZOUKI gave way form two out.
£40,000 purchase BERTIE MILAN found this company too tough and was tailed off by three out.

4.55 2m ½f Unwin Half Century Juvenile Hurdle (Division Two)

PENA DORADA was a maiden on the flat but lack of pace is more than adequately outweighed by jumping ability. He went along nicely up with the pace and came clear on the run-in.
FEARLESS FALCON chased the leader in the latter stages but was outpointed on the long run-in. He looked very fit after his recent outing and the third at Clonmel might underpin this form.
STAGS LEAP ran respectably, but any chance he had was gone once he hit the last and he was held from that point.
PETROCELLI was given an easy introduction, held up and staying on from two out for fourth. He stayed a mile on the flat but disappointed over ten furlongs and might struggle with a stamina test over jumps.

5.30 2m 2f SIS Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (0-92)

Two stood out in the paddock before this race and they filled the first two places. Your correspondent managed to back the winner on inspection backed up by a decent Sedgefield run, but in retrospect a value forecast was staring him in the face.
ZAHARA JOY looked an absolute picture in the paddock, and quite an athletic sort for this level. She’s clearly a late developer having spent her early career sprinting on the flat. She ‘went missing’ for the best part of four years but is now progressive at this lowly level. Always going well, she took over two out and the result was not in doubt from that point. She will go up a bit, but given the ease of victory a rise in class shouldn’t stop her progress and she joins a list of progressive Maurice Barnes novices in recent times.#
AUTHENTIC ACT, second best but still looking very well, didn’t do a huge amount wrong but was held from the last. His attitude seems right and he should pick up a similar contest.
NATIONAL HERITAGE kept on for a never nearer third and ROYAL ENTOURAGE stayed on from the rear.
Pint sized POBS TROPHY ran a respectable fifth against his elders but couldn’t muster the pace of the leaders from two out.

6.00 2m 6½f Snowy’s Farewell Radio Borders Classified Chase

The Scottish racing scene bade farewell to a familiar character as Peter Monteith’s grey ran his last race. There was no fairy tale ending for SNOWY as he got outpaced down the far side, though did stay on under some determined driving to pass a tired Lindseyfield Lodge close home and gain a place in the unsaddling area. A warm round of applause welcomed him and Snowy is now bound for the British Racing School at Newmarket.

On a sadder note we also said farewell to COOLNAHARAN as he suffered a fatal injury when falling at the last fence when still in contention. He seemed to get up OK but it was a horrid fall.

Two dominated the closing stages and produced a rattling good finish. DESPERATE DEX got up in the closing stages, his determined effort just getting the better of Red Dynamite. Ferdy Murphy has worked the oracle with the 10-year-old since acquiring him four runs ago and he should win again before long.
RED DYNAMITE held his head slightly awkwardly once challenged but he seemed to battle hard enough and was well clear of the third. He hit two out, a mistake which may have cost him victory but he may pick up a race while in good heart.
STROBE raced prominently but couldn’t make an impression from two out. He has yet to prove he stays this distance.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE ran better than of late, though weakening from three out.
COPPER’S GOLD looks moody and lost touch from the fourteenth here.
ELLANDSHE finished tailed off though looked after himself as ever.
CHARMING KNIGHT has struggled in even the softest company away from hunters and was tailed off from the fourteenth, being pulled up before the last.
SEEK THE TRUTH unseated at the fourteenth when in rear.

6.25 2m ½f City Roofing Ltd Standard Open NH Flat Race

A stamina sapping afternoon ended just before sunset, though regular readers will know I always look forward to Kelso bumpers. I was not disappointed with some interesting types on show.

ROCKING BLUES, a nice type but looking as if the race would bring him on, proved to have plenty of pace, leading two out and pushed clear. Rose dobbin found last season a struggle but the likes of Rocking blues might mean different story in 2010-11. He should pick up another bumper.
FIRST ROCK is a big strong type for whom the summer has presumably been a benefit. He was done for pace from two out, but has enough about him to make his presence felt over hurdles.
MILANO SUPREMO shapes as a stayer for whom two miles on the flat is a bit sharp. He kept on in the final three furlongs and will be one to look out for once upped in trip over hurdles.
BALLET D’ANGES showed better than on two efforts last term. He led early but was put in his place in the straight.
SHANEN is evidently well regarded and looks the type to do better. Possibly needing the race, he weakened two out but went well enough to that point to suggest he’s worth keeping an eye on.
SCOTSWELL was out with the washing, but he’s still very green and pulled too hard. If he settles down he isn’t a total lost cause for Jedburgh trainer Hilary Graham.

I’ve got to the point where in depth notes on races is taking too much of my time. I’ll keep full reports for meetings I visit and Scottish meetings, but will have to stick to comments on significant performances from elsewhere.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Musselburgh - Royal Scots Day

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday September 26th 2010

Going – Good (Round Course), Good To Soft (Good in places) (Straight)

The afternoon opened with a couple of pony races in the Charles Owen Series. The 138cm and under class was won by Charlotte Greenway on Red Pepper, though the winning rider was tiring as Tom Hamilton closed on Simply Simon. Both riders showed they have the skills of a jockey. A few shrewdies were well aware of Henry Morshead’s ability and he took the 148cm and under one mile event, forging clear on Over To Kerry from Thomas Greenwood on Springs. The bad news for his opponents is that young Morshead is only twelve and has four more years at this level if he wishes!

2.15 5f Royal Scots 3yo Handicap (0-65)

Hawkeyethenoo took this race last year and has progressed a long way since. It’s difficult to see RED ROAR doing the same, though she has done quite well in recent weeks and followed up a Beverley maiden win. On her toes and looking very fit, Red Roar progressed two furlongs and ran on to lead in the final furlong.
Favourite OONDIRI had every chance having raced prominently, and briefly looked the likely winner at the furlong pole, but was held close home.
DRUMPELLIER race prominently but was one paced in the final furlong.

2.50 1m 4f 100yds Racing UK Selling Stakes

The runners in this race were noticeably bigger and stronger than the three-year-olds in the first event. It’s not until you get to the course and have a good look at different types of animal that the differences become clear.

Though a seller this wasn’t a bad event with ratings ranging from 72 to 55. It was one of the lower rated runners, HONG KONG ISLAND running of 57, that took the contest in decent style. This was only his seventh race and Nicky Richards seems to have found the key to him. He was sold to local trainer George Foster for £11,000 and it wouldn’t be total surprise if this one is seen back here in juvenile hurdles.
ROYAL STRAIGHT chased in vain form two out, though ran a sound race.
ODDSMAKER was raced up to the lead and came past us tanking along. He went too quick for his own good and weakened once headed after three out, just holding third place.
KAMES PARK made a little progress two out but never got to the leaders.
NORTH CENTRAL didn’t see out the trip and EMIRATES ISLE, dire since returning after a lay-off, was well beaten in last.

3.25 7f 30yds RSP Consulting Engineers Handicap (0-80)

CARA’S REQUEST has benefitted from being ridden prominently and led all the way here. The pace was well judged by Michael O’Connell, pushing on four out and keeping sufficient in reserve for the winner to hold a steadily gaining second. Ridden prominently on a course favouring front runners he has a chance of repeating this success.
GEORGE BENJAMIN ran a sound race but couldn’t get to the winner despite finishing well. He’s consistent and should add to his Catterick maiden win.
From the bottom of the handicap, BERBICE and COMMANDO SCOTT kept on to fill the next two places without ever threatening the winner.
REVUE PRINCESS was held in the final two furlongs, though may not have had this race run to suit and is not a type to desert just yet.
NUFOUDH, who scoots around the tight bend here, chased the leader into the straight but was comfortably put in his place once challengers emerged from the pack.

4.00 1m European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ Handicap (0-87)

This was the feature event on the card and type to throw up an improving sort. This year’s candidate is HAMLOOLA, racing for only fifth time, who added to her earlier Yarmouth win. She didn’t have the run of the race at Kempton, but proved that she has continued to progress when driven out for victory. I’d be surprised if she didn’t add another win soon.
PATH OF PEACE chased the winner in the final two furlongs to take second. She is another lightly raced sort and was clear of the third.
Double winner SOCIAL RHYTHM made progress from three out but never got to the leaders. She’s in good form, ran soundly off a raised mark and looks a good measure.
HARRIET’S GIRL looked very well, but was sweating in the paddock and rather keen going down. She was outpaced in the closing stages.
At first glance CHERRY BEE looked fit, but fellow paddock watcher David Cormack felt she came up a bit light. His judgement was backed up in the race as she dropped away once headed after two out.

4.35 1m 1f Scottish Racing Claiming Stakes

The conditions set claiming prices form £24,000 downwards, but this was a weak contest and concerned only the top two.
BENCOOLEN was best favoured at the weights, 8lbs best in on the ratings, and made the most of his advantage. He’s not the most consistent, but was well placed here and asserted in the final furlong.
RED JADE challenged two furlongs out and led briefly before giving way.
KING OF THE MOORS ran as well as could be expected against better opponents, challenging three out but held approaching the final furlong.
RA JUNIOR ran a fair race in fourth and but is inconsistent and difficult to place effectively off 65.
The other four were not remotely good enough.

5.10 1m 6f Royal Scots Club Handicap (0-75)

Val Donoghue has taken over the hot seat at Belstane, following Linda Perratt, Ian Semple and Noel Wilson, none of whom remained in situ for long. CHOOKIE HAMILTON recorded a winner for the stable, having notched up five for Semple in 2009. He looks an uncomplicated and honest sort who led two out and stayed on well for victory. This admirable performer now boasts 12 wins from 46 runs.
BEAT THE SHOWER stayed on to take second place. This wasn’t a bad effort and he’s unexposed on the flat so might be worth keeping tucked away for reference.
ACT OF KALANISI needs to dictate and have the run of the race. He was never allowed enough rope here and kept on at one pace from two furlongs out.
LADY BLUSESKY might need a stiffer test to be seen at her best, despite the fact that she won over 12 furlongs last time. She was one paced in the last two furlongs.
LA BACOUETTEUSE and CORKY DANCER, both graduates from bumpers, are struggling for basic pace on the flat and I’d look to jump races to bring out better in them.

5.40 5f Royal Regiment Of Scotland Handicap (0-65)

A smallish field of exposed performers contested the closing event. Class told as the top weight HIGHLAND WARRIOR challenged approaching the final furlong and led close home to win a little cosily. A veteran of 121 runs, he’s run well this season and retains his enthusiasm.
SANDWITH raced prominently, looked briefly held a furlong out, but stayed on close home. Another with plenty of miles on the clock, he’s regularly been in the mix of late.
WICKED WILMA ran a bit better than her recent efforts, racing prominently but held in the final furlong.
SHARP BULLET showed speed but hadn’t enough in reserve once passed approaching the final furlong.

That closes out my visits to Musselburgh this flat season, though the course stage two midweek meetings in October, closing on the 27th with the Willie Park Trophy. Jump racing starts in Musselburgh and the decent ground normally guarantees a few runners with potential appear.

Perth Finale for 2010

PERTH – Wednesday September 22nd

Going – Soft (good to Soft in places)

Perth’s two day season finale took place on a softened surface as the autumn rains arrived in the Tay Valley. Respectable crowds attended on both days, 2,600 on day one and just over the 3,000 mark for the closing day’s racing.

2.25 2m 4½f Salutation Hotel Maiden Hurdle(Class 4)

Nigel Twiston-Davies often makes a mark at Perth and he opened the meeting on a successful note courtesy of FRONTIER SPIRIT. Building on the promise of his Plumpton jumps debut in the winter, he raced close up if a trifle keen and took over on the flat. The six-year-old has not been hurried and looks sure to continue to reward his trainer’s patience.
DEVOTION TO DUTY steeped up on his previous effort here, both going and trip seeming more to his liking.
Gordon Elliott’s TRAFFIC ARTICLE stayed on up the straight to finish a close third, apparently benefitting from the application of a tongue-tie.

3.00 2m ½ f Perth FM 106 Claiming Hurdle (Class 4)

Rated 132, RIVERSCAPE took an easy opportunity here, her only scare being when having to jump a falling horse after the third hurdle. She cruised away in the latter stages and was claimed by B.D.Haynes for £7,000.
The rest look much of a muchness with exposed GRAND DIAMOND leading the race for second.

3.35 2m 7th Edward Massie Brown Classic Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-107)

CAPPAGH looks by no means straight forward, and didn’t jump brilliantly, but the champion jockey McCoy organised him well enough and he was unextended in beating a moderate field. He can improve and should cope with better opposition.
RELAND raced prominently but couldn’t match the winner from two out. He has enough ability to be placed to win a similar contest.
Although lightly raced recently, BEST HORSE has plenty of miles on the clock. He was beaten three out but offered al ittle encouragement on chasing debut.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE, desperately out of sorts lately, charged toward the course exit passing the stands and KOSTA BRAVA followed him in running out.
SAFIN was foiled by the first on his chasing debut.
SIOLVER PALM was still in touch though ridden when whacking three out and unseating.

4.10 2m ½f A C Management Consulting Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

AL DAFA followed a fairly gentle hurdling introduction in Ireland with a tidy win here. He probably didn’t achieve a huge amount here but is far enough forward to take advantage again soon.
ANCIENT TIMES stuck to his task in second but there was not so much encouragement from those behind.

4.45 3m Sodexo Prestige Handicap Chase (0-130)

SOUBRIQUET was out sorts last winter but has much better with the sun on his back. He came clear in the straight but will be hit by the handicapper and things will be tougher over fences in the near future. He’s on 115 over hurdles though and he may be aimed at the lesser obstacles.
TWEKLVE PACES, never the most predictable, ran respectably upped in class if well held from two out.
URSIS raced with some zest in front, though his jumping can be hairy if apparently spectacular! He was headed four out and struggled from two out.
CATCH THE PERK isn’t easy to catch right, though he still retains more ability than he sometimes lets on. He looked well beaten then picked up again late on for fourth.
NUDGE AND NURDLE, a winner here in 2008, was beaten before the straight.
ECHO POINT raced prominently for two miles but felt the pinch down the back straight and pulled up before three out. He’s not especially well handicapped over fences.
VALERIUS lost his place approaching the thirteenth and was pulled up before three out, along with STEEL MAGNATE who jumped moderately and never figured seriously.

5.20 3m ½f Handicap Hurdle (0-112)

MAD MOOSE found little on the run-in allowing BESCOT SPRINGS to overhaul him close home. Both have question marks against them and I’d be loathe to attach too much weight to this form.
Triple winner LIZ’S DREAM was very disappointing and pulled up, while the remainder SOUL MAGIC, DICKE HENDERHOOP and GUERILLA aren’t win betting material.

PERTH – Thursday September 23rd

Going – Soft

2.20 3m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

Outsider GLACED OVER was pulled up after the fifth when his saddle slipped. The field was further reduced when MONOGRAM dumped Ryan Mania over the rail on the stands’ bend, taking Wood Yer part way with him.
WOOD YER was always chasing in vain after being steered back on course, but has enough about him to suggest he can win races in time.
SUPERCEDE made the best of a race that fell in his lap. He has been well placed over fences and hurdles by Gordon Elliott, a trainer who continues to plunder Scone Park prize money.

2.50 2m ½f Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

TIME MACHINE had shown plenty of promise in Ireland, including some decent efforts in handicap company. He was going well three out, took over two out and was driven out to win.
MAKAHAALEB, a winner at down Royal kept on for second, and further confirmation that the form is quite solid came as course and distance winner JEWELLED DAGGER filled third place.
Locally trained THE COCKNEY SQUIRE, a £25,000 purchase out of Charlie Swan’s yard, led until two out before weakening. He was an easy winner of a maiden hurdle in April and will presumably come on for this outing.

3.20 2m 4½f George Stubbs Insurance Services Novices’ Chase (Class 3)

Chasing newcomer FRONTIER DANCER made a favourable impression, jumping very well and pulling away from three out. He has the make of a chaser and should go on from this effort.
STEEL MAGNATE plugged on fro a well held second. Though running better than the previous day, his jumping was still far from foot perfect.
BAAHER well held up and couldn’t make an impression from three out.
ELLANDSHE was well outclassed but added another completion and some pocket money to his record.

3.50 2m 4½f Brewin Dolphin Investment Management Novices’ Handicap Hurdle(0-104)

DE BANSHA MAN has struck me as more of a chasing type, though his first effort at that discipline was disappointing. He recorded a first win here, forging clear from before the last and will be suited by further.
COOSAN BELLE ran a sound race is second, if held form before the last, and is showing promise over hurdles.
ON THE LOOSE plugged on for a well held third and is quite well exposed, while DESERT SOUL did his usual trailblazing before gradually fading once headed three out.
Sue Bradburne’s PROFICIENCY, who had shown ability previously, was disappointing and dropped away before the fifth flight.

4.20 2m ½ f Anderson Anderson and Brown Handicap Hurdle (0-118)

REGENT’S SECRET has a very good record around here and made it 4 wins from from 8 efforts at Perth. He’s normally held up, pretty much ridden like a non-trier, but seems much happier closer to the pace at Scone Park and was kept in touch by Graham Lee. When asked the question he found enough under pressure to hold off his only challenger.
Consistent QUITO DE TRESOR made the winner pull out the stops and lost little in defeat. He had no trouble with a return to hurdling after three chase wins earlier in the year.
VINNIES FRIEND and TRUMPSTOO filled the next two spots, but were held from two out. TRUMPS TOO is better on a faster surface.

4.50 2m 4½f Brewin Dolphin Investment Management Handicap Chase (0-120)

SWINCOMBE ROCK made a very promising chasing debut despite starting in senior company. He came clear from two out to win very nicely, though pays for his effort with a revised mark of 135. That being said, he does look potentially good enough to compete well off the higher mark.
KING ROONAH made a few jumping errors, as is his way, but remained in contention until hitting two out, after which he was eased home for second. He needs to tidy up his fencing to progress further.
OR DE GRUGY led until four out, and looked likely to hold on to third at one pace. However, he was cannoned into by a loose horse and unseated on the run-in.
MORE EQUITY inherited a remote third on the run-in and isn’t going forward over fences.
ORMELLO was beaten four out and looks desperately difficult to win with, even though he does possess ability at this level.
TOP DRESSING was putting out distress signals approaching four out.
STROBE raced prominently until weakening three out and the company was probably a bit tough for him.
KYBER didn’t build on his promising chase debut and was struggling some way out before pulling up.

5.20 2m ½f Perth FM 106.06 Standard NH Flat Race

The first pair were clear here and their form is probably sound enough given that the runner-up is a previous winner.

THE COCKNEY MACKEM won with ears pricked and looks a promising sort, even if he wasn’t tested to the maximum here. He’s by a St Leger winner yet a half-brother to two fair sprinters, but evidence is that dad has the influence on this occasion.
DR FLYNN could make no impression on the winner in the closing stages. He won at Kelso in March and this run will have done him no harm.
MONROE PARK filled third, but he was well beaten equipped with a first time tongue-tie, whilst TOMZATACKMAN made no impact after long lay-off.