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.