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.