Sunday, 28 November 2010

Kelso and Sedgefield - Late November

KELSO – Sunday November 21st

Going – Good To Soft changing to Soft by Race 3

The weather was miserable at Kelso and the going got progressively more testing as the afternoon went on.

12.15 2m 110yds 2011 Punchestown Festival Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

Dropped back in trip, MOSCOW MISCHIEF steeped up on largely moderate previous form. She led two out and stayed on under pressure up the run-in. Her last three races had been at Perth and it arguably that the stiffer finish was in her favour here.
SARA’S SMILE stayed on for second place. Her hurdling was better than her jumps debut but still has room for plenty of improvement.
LADY BLUESKY was made ½ favourite on her hurdling debut. She has shown winning form on the flat and will win hurdles assuming she benefits from the experience.
SCARVAGH ROSE stepped up on previous efforts, making progress to two out though unable to impress on the leaders from that point.

12.45 2m 1f Billy Erskine 80th Birthday Beginners’ Chase (Class 4)

ALFIE FLITS was the only one to put in a clear round here, the rest either departing or making errors. That being said he looks plenty capable of matching better opposition that he faced here. He went on from his only serious opposition two out and was ridden out to the line.
BLACKPOOL BILLY jumped left at most fences and this cost him a chance of matching the winner. This was an improvement on his Carlisle run but there is still plenty of work to be done.
MORE SHENNANIGANS was outclassed by the first but completed a respectable distance back in third.
ASHAMMAR jumped awkwardly and unseated at the fourth.
STEEL MAN, a poor performer, fell at the eighth.
PRIDEUS jumped poorly and his rider called it a day before the sixth.

1.20 2m 6f 110yds Clelands Jaguar Handicap Hurdle (0-125)

STOPPED OUT stayed on to win well here, despite having been hampered by a faller at the seventh flight. The first two were clear and the winner may still be capable of improvement. This was the longest trip he has tried to date and the step up did no harm.
CHARLIE BUCKET put up an excellent performance from 9lbs out of the handicap.
He’s lightly raced over jumps for a seven-year-old and looks to be coming to himself now. He made the winner pull out the stops, clear of the remainder and this must augur well for future handicap outings.
BALLYMACDUFF performed soundly in third following and 8lbs rating rise. He led two out but was held on the flat.
WATERCOLOURS kept on in the straight but looks to need a drop in class to make a real mark.
1.55 2m 6f 110yds Ashleybank Investments Reg And Betty Tweedie Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-125)

The form of this event is likely to be strong as most had shown decent form of late. TOP IT ALL looks progressive from the bottom end of the handicap and is one to place on a list to follow. He was forced to pull out all the stops, but the second looks capable of further progression. The winner appeared suited by the testing conditions.
LOCKSTOWN is a progressive sort from a small stable with a decent record in recent seasons. Mrs Hamilton boasts a 15% record with her chasers over the last five seasons. Consistent over hurdles, Lockstown doesn’t seem over burdened on a mark of 103 and should win a similar contest before long.
MORE EQUITY had every chance but couldn’t match the first two in the closing stages. She should win a chase before long, but her future may be uncertain following the tragic death of her trainer Peter Monteith shortly after this meeting.
QUINDER SPRING weakened from the last and may have found this race coming a little soon after his Market Rasen win.
CLUB CLASS was put in his place after three out and found this a good deal tougher than the Hexham novice he won last time.
These were a little too sharp for LINDSEYFIELD LODGE. . He led for much of the way but faded form the fourteenth.

2.30 2m 110yds Three Diamonds Handicap Hurdle (0-129)

DOESLESSTHANME rallied in the final furlong when challenged and held on from a fast finishing second. He was well held at Aintree in April, but does seem to have enough about him to take on better class opponents.
RAYSROCK stayed on to give Peter Monteith a second place from what turned out to be his last runner. A generally consistent sort, Raysrock should reward whoever picked up the training reins, hopefully staying at Rosewell.
Peter Monteith will be sorely missed in Scottish racing. He always struck me as a cheerful soul, never short of friends on the racecourse. As such his tragic demise, seemingly by his own hand, seems ever so much a mystery. Sympathy goes out to his family and friends.
BEST PROSPECT had every chance but couldn’t master the winner on the flat. Having been kept on the go during the summer he won’t have lacked fitness, but maybe the race will have his appetite for hurdling. He looks a likely hurdles winner in the near future.
BOGSIDE THEATRE raced prominently and kept on if held in the final furlong.
BEVERLEY HILL BILLY put in a decent effort from the bottom weight, holding every chance at the last but held though not easily cast aside.

3.05 2m 6f 110yds Louis Coppola Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

James Ewart’s stable has hit the ground running this autumn. TORTA DEL CIELO made a winning debut for the Langholm yard, staying on well to hold off three others in a tight finish. He had shown promise on his only other hurdles start and looks an interesting prospect for staying novice events.
WHAT A DREAM, having shown promise here on his last run made the winner pull out the stops. This half-brother to Lie Forrit is learning fast and his trainer should find a race for him.
IDENTITY PARADE set the standard here and put up a sound performance under a penalty. A mistake at the second last wouldn’t have helped her, but she stayed battling all the way to the line.
EMPEROR CHARLIE caught the eye staying on late to finish a close fourth. He looks a long term prospect so this run offers much encouragement.

3.40 2m 110yds Granny's Birthday Treat From E.F.C. Standard Open NH Flat Race

Regular know that I’m always keen on bumpers at Kelso. It was significant that four were in contention on the home bend and each can be taken forward at their own level.

DARK GLACIER came clear in the final two furlongs and looks potentially decent. His family contains enough ability to suggest he can win over jumps.

FOURJACKS kept on after the winner in the closing stages and finished well clear of the third. His breeding is such that he is likely to improve with distance, so a prominent showing in this company augurs well.
TRUCKING ALONG, easy winner of a Limerick point in October, was outpaced three out but kept well enough to regain third place.
FOUR FIDDLERS was in frontline swinging for home, but faded thereafter. He showed a glimmer of ability despite a last place first time out. He’s likely to progress once he goes hurdling, the stable having produced a similar promising sort in Papamoa.
SAM D’OC came for miles back to stay on for fifth and offers hope for the future.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 23rd

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

DORABELLE saw off BORAGH PRINCESS in a slog to the line to land the 2m 4f mares’ novices’ hurdle. They are competitive against their own sex but the winner may struggle under a penalty in open company. SOPHONIE had every chance when coming down heavily two out.

KELLYSTOWN LAD landed the beginners’ chase over 2m 4f, building on a promising Carlisle effort. POKANOKET looked to improve on his initial chase effort here; being held on the run-in, while CHAMIREY couldn’t raise his game once headed going to the last. The latter seems harshly handicapped on 130 over fences, a mark apparently based on his hurdles efforts.
MONSIEUR JOURDAIN plugged on for fourth but was well held. SOFT SPOKEN GUY was feeling the pinch down the far side for the final time and HEGRID unseated and the tenth.

MARSH WARBLER doddle up against moderate opposition in the juvenile hurdle. AL DAFA, currently rated a possibly harsh 114, held HADES for second.

WAR PARTY stayed on from the last to win the 2m handicap chase off top weight. NORTHERN QUEST set the pace to two out but was held once passed and MIGHTY MAGNUS gave way from two out.
TOULOUSE EXPRESS was well held from three out and is having one of his quiet spells. SCHINKEN OTTO wasn’t suited by these conditions.

BILLSGREY has looked progressive since joining Willie Amos and won the 3m 3f handicap chase with a bit to spare. His previous under-achievement could be to his advantage since he looks potentially a fair bit better than the 77 he ran off here. He stays well, handles testing conditions and jumps accurately enough.
A bunch of more exposed opponents followed the winner home. JERINGA kept on for second having been close up for much of the way. NELLIEDONETHAT was out the back for much of the way but stayed on for third and MATMATA DE TENDRON was off his game despite favourable conditions, struggling from three out.
YES MATE was well backed despite dire previous form. He pulled up when beaten four out. BENBEOCH never looked happy and was pulled up along with RARE SOCIETY.

In-form SPICE BAR beat a moderate field in the closing 2m 1f 0-95 handicap hurdle, BARBARIAN kept on well to get within a length at the line and of the two I’d be happier backing him next time. COSMETIC ran moderately well in thirds but the rest were comfortably seen off.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Musselburgh - First jumps meeting of the winter campaign

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 19th

Going – Good

Musselburgh put on their first jump meeting of the winter season, bright weather welcoming Racegoers and the usual decent ground pleasing trainers.

12.25 2m 4f Scottish Racing Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A moderate mares’ maiden featured one of the riding performances of the year by Newmarket based claimer Matt Crawley.
Crawley lost an iron on LASTROSEOFSUMMER as the saddle slipped to the side at the eighth flight. Jumping the next with only his left foot supported, Crawley landed across the horse but made a remarkable recovery to keep the partnership intact. Now riding with no irons, many would have steered a wide course and taken their mount out of the race, but Crawley opted to keep Lastroseofsummer tucked on the inside around the final bend. Making progress from three out, the Rae Guest trained filly slewed left two out, giving Crawley another scare. Clearly going well, Lastroseofsummer jumped the last well and came clear on the run-in under whip waving for encouragement. Gravity took over after the line and Crawley had to bale out.
The rider received generous applause on his return to the unsaddling area. He showed coolness under pressure and no little horsemanship in keeping his filly in the contest. LASTROSEOFSUMMER showed she has a bit of ability and eventually won with a fair amount in hand.
MADAMLILY, basically stamina bred and one who would just get going over this trip, looked the likely winner for a way but couldn’t impact from the last. This was a promising debut over hurdles and she should find a race.
SALLY’S IDEA was a fair third but held. She set the pace but couldn’t respond once headed going to the last.
MISS ABBEY made progress to three out but was held approaching the final flight. She lost a shoe during the race and can step up on this form.
Of the others with previous placed form, BEAT THE BAND suffered an overreach and was pulled up, while BEAT THE ROCK struggled from the second last.

12.55 2m 4f Doos And Donts Handicap Hurdle (0-127)

The handicap hurdles at Musselburgh are generally competitive and plenty of these brought forward decent recent efforts. The pace was steady and the contest turned into a sprint up the straight.
PYRACANTHA is consistent and in form. Off a steady pace he picked up best from two out although he was being pegged back on the flat.
CAILIN NA RI chased the winner home and was closing at the line. He was disappointing at Aintree last time but has been consistent otherwise.
COOL OPERATOR made up most ground of any in the closing stages. A greater test of stamina would have played to his strengths and he looks ready to pick up a race before long.
GRANDAD BILL had every chance but was held before the last.
COCOA KEY made ground up the straight but never got to the leaders. He won at Carlisle last time and he’s another possibly better with a stiffer test.

1.25 3m Birdcage Bar & Restaurant Eskmills Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

NEW SHUIL looks better over fences than he was over hurdles. He was turned out looking well, jumped accurately all the way and showed enough foot from the last to hold two challengers. His jumping should stand him in good stead in future.
ELZAHANN raced well, jumped soundly in front, but she pitched on landing at the last and this cost her the race.
BALLYCOLIN had every chance but was held on the run-in. His previous chasing form was nothing special, but he recently won what was rated a fair pointing contest
in Ireland.
DOUBLE EXPRESSO went well enough until unseating at the eleventh. Brian Hughes commented on his return that he had been knocked into at the fence. Looking at the replay it was clear that HEGRID had bumped him and that gives enough cause to set the mishap aside. HEGRID came down as a result of the clash.
BIG BURROWS jumped awkwardly for much of the race and lost touch from the twelfth.

2.00 2m Saltire 2010 26th-28th November Handicap Hurdle (0-112)

A race signalling the Saltire Festival in East Lothian, an event commencing with next Friday’s Musselburgh race meeting.

They went a rattling good pace in this contest and it’s significant that the first four all came from off the pace.
ALTAN KHAN raced in the rear, picked up from two out and ran on well to wrest the race on the flat. He looks progressive, is at the right end of the handicap and a stiffer test probably wouldn’t do him any harm.
PILLAR OF HERCULES settled a good deal better here. He challenged from two out but was just outpointed after the last. He appears to have calmed down a bit which should mean he will pick up a race.
GRAND DIAMOND is probably high enough in the weights but ran a sound race in third. Worth bearing in mind though that the race was run to suit him.
SIMONSIDE was out the back for most of the way but stayed on for fourth.
SPIRIT OF THE MIST made much of the running but paid the price, fading from two out. Sadly he sustained an injury on the run-in and had to be put down.
CROSBY JEMMA threatened two out but her effort petered out.

2.35 2m Scottish Racing Your Better Bet Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This didn’t look a particularly strong event with many likely to struggle to make a mark over hurdles.

The race was won in game style by 100/1 outsider DICA, giving Patrick Griffin his first winner for 800-odd days. Talented claimer Keith Donoghue set a sound pace, quickened before three out and always looked likely to hold the field from that point. Dica jumped accurately which is a real plus point in these contests.
DHAULAR DHAR could make no impression on the winner from two out. He might pick up a minor race but will probably have to stiff to the minimum trip on sharp circuits.
JAWAAB really got going in the latter stages. He finished with a rattle and just failed to get up for second. TALE OF TANGANYIKA faded from the last flight into fourth. John Wade’s gelding hasn’t progressed from his bumper win here in February.
Previous winner MICHELLE’S EXPRESS faded tamely from two out. Tony Martin had watched the race from the end of the stand in front of me, his destination being the Stewards’ Room to explain the lack lustre run.

3.10 2m 4f TurfTV Handicap Chase (0-117)

A couple races earlier I’d heard a message on the course radios telling staff that a group of South African rugby supporters had turned up and “it might be a good PR opportunity”. Peter Scudamore welcomed a party of half a dozen Springbok followers to see Ormello prepared for this race. Photos were taken and souvenirs handed out, but the gelding hadn’t read the script as he faded to last of four finishers.

CYBORA was accompanied by a two handlers, looking a bit of a ‘hairy goat’ in an unclipped coat and bandaged in front. For all the negatives she jumped well at sensible pace for Graham Lee and held plenty in hand to hold on in the straight. A fair effort from ‘7lbs wrong’ but this was a soft race.
ORMUS probably needs a stiffer track than this, staying on for second without really getting to the winner.
FOLK TUNE looked to be going well on the final bend but couldn’t find enough from two out. Another for whom a stiffer track might be best since he chasing win came at Towcester.
ORMELLO is desperately frustrating, jumped rather deliberately and struggled from four out.
BAAHER fell at the eleventh when still going within himself.

3.45 2m RacingUK Newcomers 3-5yo Standard Open NH Flat Race

There was no pace on here until the final straight in a contest for unraced horses.

BYGONES IN BRID, trained by bumper specialist Karen McLintock (8 from 39 in 5 seasons), made all at a steady pace and showed a sharp turn of foot in the final furlong, coming well clear. He’s bred to have a bit of stamina so it’s conceivable there might be a bit more in the tank.
D’GIGI is related to jumping winners, including Butler’s Cabin, and should build on a promising second here. He only cost £8,000 in May and might prove a bargain.
BLUE BLOODED raced prominently and had every chance but was outpaced from the furlong pole. This half-brother to Arcalis is a nice sort who should build on a fair debut.
KARAKOV’S GIRL was very green in the preliminaries, whinnying her way around the paddock and setting off a few of the others. She was caught for pace when they quickened three out, but picked up nicely in the final furlong and finished with a rattle. She should make an impact against fellow females.
BELLA REGALO looks a nice sort, but weakened two out. He should do better given time.
RED ROCCO will need some time but looks to have the build of a jumper. He’s only three and needs a while to strengthen but might be worth keeping an eye on.

Kelso report for Sunday will follow and I will be at Musselburgh next Friday. Providing the weather behaves itself, and the long term forecast isn’t particularly encouraging, it’s the Borders National meeting on December 5th.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Kelso - First November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 6th 2010

Going – Good (Good To Soft in places)

12.30 2m 6 ½ f Border Skip Hire National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This contest of a few with obvious ability, one or two with long term prospects and a few not likely to achieve much.

Graham Lee had to work hard on JURISDICTION at the last meeting and it was the same story on this occasion. Setting the pace Rose Dobbin’s gelding had to be driven out on the flat but was always just doing enough. With three wins under his belt a step up in class might be worthwhile as he does no more than he needs to.
ARCTIC COURT was well fancied to step up on previous form and ran a sound race in second, gaining to the line. He should picking up a staying novice contest.
SENOR ALCO was thereabouts the whole way and still held a chance on the run-in, finishing a close third. This was a first outing over hurdles and he should benefit from the experience. Another who should win a staying hurdle.
WHAT A DREAM proved best of the Willie Amos pair. He was held from two out but this wasn’t a bad jumping debut from a half-brother to Lie Forrit who might be capable of better given time.
BERTIE MILAN raced close up until two out and along with WILLIE HALL gave way on the run to the final flight. Both should produce better over jumps in time.

1.00 3m 1f Ship Inn Dalkeith Novices’ Handicap Chase

Most of this field could be given some sort of chance.

ISLA PEARL FISHER created a good impression when winning a moderate event. Nick Alexander’s charge doubled the stable’s autumn tally staying on determinedly to hold on from the last. He was pick of the paddock here, but is an improving sort and I’d be surprised if he can’t progress a few more pounds. Good ground and a decent stamina test appear to suit best.
Alexander suffered more than most in the dire weather last winter. The gallops at his yard near Loch Leven were under snow for a couple of months, and it was late season when his horses got into any sort of form. He has proved himself with point-to-pointers and his chasers are always worth at least a glance.
MORE EQUITY has returned to form of late and pushed the winner all the way. He was clear of the remainder and should win a similar contest.
TOP IT ALL took it up coming to the back straight for the final time, but was headed before the last and didn’t have enough in reserve. He didn’t look straightforward over hurdles, but this was a fair chase debut.
The run will likely have done LOCKSTOWN some good. He was held in the straight but can come on for this.
STORM PROSPECT got into contention three out, but he’s a soft touch in the latter stages and faded in the straight.
ROSSINI’S DANCER was closer to the winner at Carlisle last time. He was caught for pace going to two out and couldn’t get back into the race. He has ability but has proved rather frustrating over obstacles.
DUKEOFCHESTERWOOD led until four out, fading from that point.
Chasing debutant FLAMING THISTLE was in need of the race here and should produce better in time. He was in with a chance to three out but then weakened.
KYBER is capable but inconsistent. He never seemed happy here and lost ouch on the final circuit.

1.30 2m 6½f Premier Traffic Management Handicap Chase (0-129)

This was competitive event and the form should stand future tests.

This trip on decent ground suits SHERIFF HUTTON to a T. He led all the way and stayed on best from the last. The ground may go against him now.
I reported first time out that CAST IRON CASEY needed the race, but he looked pretty much the same here so it’s possible he just carries a bit of condition. He ran well enough, this time over a shorter trip, but was held from the elbow though staying on.
OR DE GRUGY ran sound race in third to keep up an excellent track record. He challenged form the last but held.
STAGECOACH AMBER weakened from two out and is probably better in a slightly lower grade.
ZITENKA weakened four out and soon lost touch. His wins have all come within of 15 days of his latest run. (Zitenka has since run at Wetherby in a race which concertinaed coming to the last. He couldn’t produce any extra on the run-in and still hasn’t quite hit form. He may be worth noting if kept on the go.)
SAFARI ADVENTURES wasn’t able to dictate and beaten from the twelfth.
MIDDLETON DENE jumped five fences poorly before Graham Lee called it a day.
JACK THE BLASTER, presumably difficult to keep fit and with lightly bandaged forelegs, hadn’t been asked any questions when thumping the ninth and unseating.

2.00 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage And Friends Handicap Hurdle (0-125)

There aren’t that many hurdles run over similar distances during the season though there this one produced at least one chasing pointer for the near future.

A Ewart recruit from Andy Turnell, CAPTAIN AMERICO was turned out looking an absolute picture. He stood out equally well on the track, leading two out and coming clear with the minimum of fuss. His new trainer seems to have found a key to this one and he could prove a fair bit better than the 120 mark he ran off here. He seemed to go off the boil after a spell fencing, but showed he retains the ability which saw him earn a hurdles mark of 132 last year.
Other than the winner, the most eye-catching performance came from veteran chaser RAMBLING MINSTER who stayed on relentlessly from three out, snatching second close home. His most obvious target would be the Borders National here in early December, an event he won in 2007. He certainly retains ability and enthusiasm.
SILENT CLICHE is less experienced than some here and probably has some scope for improvement. He went well enough for a long way, and was in contention going to the last, but couldn’t raise his game on the run-in.
REBEL SWING ran a sound race in fourth off bottom weight. There’s plenty of scope for a drop in class for this gelding who has stamina to make up for his lack of stature.
WILD CANE RIDGE set the pace to two out before weakening quickly.
Scottish National winner MERIGO had a pipe opener here. He was outpaced going to the tenth and not asked too many questions afterwards. He’s not really an early season performer and is likely to have a campaign geared toward a tilt at the Grand National.
TILIETUDLEM faded disappointingly, but it emerged that he was struck into so the form can be set aside.

2.40 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Chase ( A Limited Handicap) (0-165)

This event saw one of the top echelon of minimum distance chasers taking on some up-and-coming second season performers.

KALAHARI KING had top weight of 11-10 with the other four bracketed on 10-4. While fit enough to race competitively it did look as if there was a bit to work on, and he came up against a winner who looked primed for this contest. Graham Lee was hard at work from two out and he couldn’t match the pace of the first two, but the race will have brought him forward. I believe his next target is the Peterborough Chase, his subsequent races being dependent on how well he sees out the trip at Huntingdon.
NOBLE ALAN looked the paddock pick and Nicky Richards would appear to have targeted this race. Left in the lead at the last he ran on well to win in decent style. He’ll be at the top end of the better two mile handicaps this season and much depends on how he gets treated by the handicapper after the win.
This was a significant test for GRINGO compared to previous efforts but he came out with a few plus marks and is progressive. He chased the leaders to the last and ran on when inheriting second.
I’M DELILAH set a decent pace and though ridden was still in front when capsizing at the last. She’s a determined trail-blazing mare and will be one to consider in handicaps off her mark of 138.
CANTGETON ran creditably enough from well wrong at the weights, making Kalahari King work for third place. He’s capable but unpredictable.

3.15 2m 1f Hazelrigg Racing Handicap Chase (0-115)

A winner at Hexham in June, ORMUS proved he is still progressing, staying on better of the first two, the pair pulling clear. The second KOSTA BRAVA won what appeared a fair contest here last time but was outpointed in the final furlong.
SUPER BABY made a mark as a novice with some spectacular jumping. However, he can be a little guessy at times and that hinders him on occasions. Having been headed two out he couldn’t go with the first two.
THE COCKNEY SQUIRE was outpaced going to two out and may be a bit high in the handicap.
PRINCE TAM faded in the last half mile and doesn’t get competitive at the business end.

3.50 2m 2f Merry Farriers Stag Handicap Hurdle (0-109)

SUNARRI looked ungenuine last season, including jacking it in on the run-in at Musselburgh. A move to Mrs J Walton’s yard at Otterburn seems to have induced a change of attitude as he made all to win here. It may have helped that Sunarri was given an uncontested lead, but he stuck to his task well enough from the home turn.
TEXAS HOLDEM has had an interrupted career in recent times and retains a fair degree of ability. He was staying on at the finish and there’s enough to suggest he can pick up a minor handicap if staying sound.
ITSTOOEARLY is pretty well exposed and kept on for third.
The fourth, WINTER ALCHEMY, caught the eye in the paddock and does give a glimmer of hope for the future. He stayed on steadily from two out and Nicky Richards should be able to place him lowly company.

Time permitting I hope to do a round-up of recent North Of England action in the next few days, with emphasis on Scottish runners.