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.