Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Cold Friday at Musselburgh - before the snows arrived...

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 26th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

It was a very chilly afternoon at Musselburgh, bearable in the watery late autumn sunshine but foot stamping required in the shade! Bearing in mind that it had been touch and go whether the meeting would be on and that there is about a foot of snow covering Fife as I write this, then we had reason to be grateful having racing to watch.

The meeting was preceded by a minutes silence in memory of Lothians trainer Peter Montieth following his death earlier in the week.

12.10 3m ½ f Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle(0-98)

BUCKSTRUTHER made up for a duff run at Newcastle, adding to his Kelso win by beating a moderate field here. His staying power came into play over the last three hurdles and he held off a single challenger on the run to the line. He should be capable of picking up another contest at this level.
GRAND ART stayed on honestly enough from the last if just held. The run won’t have done any harm after a three month break and he saw out the three mile trip well enough.
HARPS COUNSEL led to three out but could only keep on at one pace.
AUBERGE couldn’t respond to the first two from two out. He regularly runs passably well but is not a prolific scorer.

12.40 2m Saltire 2010 Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

The event signalled the opening of East Lothian’s Saltire 2010 Festival, an event advertised in unconvincing terms by a seemingly unprepared local councillor.

THE STARBOARD BOW was produced in excellent nick by Lucinda Russell for his hurdling bow. He set the pace, kicked on to three out and held on without any alarms. If the second is taken as a measure then the winner looks a decent prospect.
MEETINGS MAN, twice a winner previously, sets the standard for this form, his sharp hurdling technique indicating his experience. He chased the leader form two out but could make no impact.
MAKBULLET, apparently ridden to conserve stamina, stayed on to take third place.
CAPRICORNUS jumped a bit better than when I last saw him, but he was comfortably outpointed from two out.

1.15 2m 4f Weatherby’s Printing Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-105)

Plenty of failings amongst this bunch of novices, and the fact that the winner is not reliable sums the contest up.

STORM PROSPECT has won three hurdles, but has been easily beatable in recent times. On a ‘going’ day this time, he led at the tenth and pulled clear from the home turn for a comfortable win. He has ability to pick up more races but is not one to rely on.
HEAVENLY CHORUS led to the tenth and kept on for second place. Her handler might be able to coax a minor chase out of this mare.
APACHE BLUE was being bustled along at halfway, briefly rallied down the far side but was left behind from three out. He looks one who will need a stiffer test than this sharp two and a half miles.
TRANOS was in touch down the far side but dropped away in the straight and, though blessed with a bit of ability, is frustrating.
PAPA DREW lost ground with slow jumps and lost touch by the tenth.
BAAHER ran a poor race and along with HARD TO NAME, a poor performer ot date, was pulled up before four out.
DEVIL WATER raced prominently but was making no impression on the leader when unseating three out.

1.50 2m 4f Edinburgh Evening News Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A weakly contested maiden hurdle.

JAGO RIVER held on under pressure having taken up the running two out. He looked pretty fit and will have to step up a bit to win against tougher opposition.
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL, regressive on the level in recent times, made the winner pull out the stops on a belated hurdling debut. He might well be under-priced next time.
RETURN PERK had shown little previously and his proximity here does little for the form.
MINI BECK looked to have a golden opportunity for an elusive hurdles win but fluffed his lines. This one’s trainer was seen pacing up and down the terrace in front of me both before and during the race. Unfortunately ‘The Little Horse’ couldn’t raise his game having been headed three out.

2.25 2m Jeden Business Flooring Handicap Hurdle (0-100)

The application of a tongue strap appeared to work the oracle with previously frustrating SHERIFF HALL. He led at the third and quickly pulled clear down the far side. Headed two after clouting two out he looked held, but rallied under Jan Faltejsek’s urgings to get up close home. His bumper effort’s suggested plenty of ability, if wayward upstairs, but he’s at the right end of the handicap if moving on from here.
SWITCHED OFF looked likely to record a double when leading two out, only to be headed near the line. He seems in good heart and is weighted to pick up another handicap.
WHASTON had every chance but couldn’t make and impression on the first two in the closing stages. This was only his third hurdles run and an encouraging handicap debut.
LONG DISTANCE stayed on up the straight but never threatened the leaders. This was on a par with recent efforts and he doesn’t look win material in the short term.
PILLAR OF HERCULES settled better here, was given every chance and looked held when hitting two out.
WATERLOO CORNER gave some encouragement in sixth place, imp[roving somewhat on his two previous efforts this term.

2.55 2m Clarkson Hill Group PLC St Andrew’s Day Handicap Chase (0-112)

There was a poor turn out for the biggest prize of the day. The race was a penalty kick for Howard Johnson’s KOSTA BRAVA. He briefly looked stretched going to four out but responded to his pilot’s urgings, took over soon after and had something to spare at the finish.
KIT CARSON, on his second run back form a two year lay-off, at least gave some reason for optimism. He would have been closer but for hitting two out and would be interesting in a lower class.
THE COCKNEY SQUIRE lost touch by four out and this provided no particular encouragement.
FOLLOW THE SUN led to four out and then weakened, offering little cause for optimism.

3.30 2m Border Safeguard Ltd Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race

FIRST ROCK, bringing forward by far the best of previous form, was a bit keen early on but took charge in the final furlong, pushed out to the line. He may have something to prove in a tougher contest.
BIG SAM, an attractive strong sort previously with Malcolm Jefferson, looks capable of a win in time and he’ll come on for this outing. Now in the charge of Bruce Hellier, he ran on well in the latter stages and looks one capable of progressing further once presented with obstacles.
THURNHAM, another big strong sort who looks made for jumping, kept on for third place.
The mare BLAZING BAY ran a fair race in fourth, but possibly has less scope that others in the field.
Beaten a long way, PLUTONIUM wouldn’t be the obvious one to carry forward form this event. However, he’s bred to need three miles plus and has fair frame to fill to full strength. Struggling from six furlongs out, he will leave this behind though readers are warned time will be needed.

Newbury’s Hennessy meeting survived the freeze courtesy of course covers. SILVER BY NATURE found things happening too fast in a very competitive feature event and will leave this form behind given a tougher test.

The Northern jump scene has gone into a snow covered hibernation period. Seven consecutive days of snow has left the East of Scotland in particular under a thick layer. Successive days racing at Kelso, Musselburgh, Sedgefield and Hexham have all bitten the dust. It’s difficult to imagine much will happen before Christmas at the earliest.