Saturday, 31 December 2011

Post Christmas Action


OUR MICK followed up a comfortable win at Catterick with an impressive victory in a novices’ handicap chase at Kempton. He galloped and jumped his field into submission and looks one to take forward to the Festivals, probably in one of the handicaps.

ALWAYS RIGHT disappointed in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby. He went out like a light from the home turn, the inference being that there was something wrong. Malcolm Jefferson landed the race with ACCORDING THE PETE who made all the running and held on all out. MERIGO ran another lack lustre race, but previous evidence suggests that he won’t come to himself until the spring.

WETHERBY – Tuesday December 27th

I heard Richie McGrath talking up the performance of EMBSAY CRAG at Kelso, and I must admit to have dismissed it as #sweet talking’ the owners. Richie, I have to apologise, since Embsay Crag showed a decent turn of pace to win the opening novices’ hurdle on the second day of the Wetherby meeting. The quality of this race was dubious, but the winner showed he has ability.
Danny Cook took a horrible fall when Amtired ducked out at the second last, breaking his knee in three places. A desperate setback for Cook who had been having a pretty good time of late.

EMPRESS ORCHID made all, jumping well, to win the beginners’ chase. She may win again. STOPPED OUT stayed on for second place, without quite getting to the winner, and should manage to win a chase before long.

Lucy Alexander coaxed a burst of speed from CHARINGWORTH to snatch the Castleford Chase on the line. That was as good a riding performance as any over the holiday period.
SA SUFFIT stayed on at the end to finish a close fourth. He’s probably more of a middle distance performer these days and this was a fair effort. He remains competitive off his current mark.

CATTERICK – Wednesday December 28th

STAR IN FLIGHT was a comfortable winner of the opening two mile maiden hurdle. He will probably cope with tougher company, though this event seemed heavy on numbers but light on quality.

John Wade’s APACHE BLUE just wore down long time leader SYCHO FRED in the staying handicap chase. The latter is in good heart, but the form looks no better than ‘win in turn’ class.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT went wrong seriously with a circuit to go. I haven’t found a report of his condition, things didn’t look good, and at best it’s probably career ending.

GINGER GREY was clear of CAVITE ETA in the second episode of the maiden hurdle. The latter showed a glimmer of ability in a point earlier in the year, but he didn’t impress in bumpers or novice hurdles before this. Not a race to get too carried away with, though one who ran better than final position suggests was LITTLEDEAN JIMMY, competing for the lead when flattening the last and not recovering.

Sue Smith’s SHADRACK showed tenacity to hold off KING’S GREY in as bobbing finish to the novices’ handicap chase. There are now a significant number of these Class 3 limited handicaps, presumably an alternative to the risk of getting punished by the handicapper for a close finish in non-handicaps. The first two look decent at this level, and ARAUCARIA, a winner of two bumpers and two hurdles, was staying on close behind the first two. He shouldn’t have to wait too long for a chase win.

DOBERDAN pulled readily clear of ON GOSSAMER WINGS in the 2m 3f Class 5 Handicap Chase. Not many I would trust in the field, and the winner had been well beaten by the second here previously. SUPER BABY jumped well in front fitted with a first time visor, suggesting that whatever was ailing him last season is now a bit better, but he was put in his place from the home turn.

KELSO – Thursday December 29th

Going – Soft

A decent post-Christmas card at Kelso, with the weather slowing this fixture this year after the cold had put paid to 2009 and 2010 efforts.

The meeting was well supported by Scottish trainers, and the reward for the locals was 6 winners out of 7 races.

12.00 2m 6f 110yds toteplacepot National Hunt Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

BRINDISI BREEZE, winner of a maiden point at Loughrea in October and subsequently placed in a Musselburgh bumper, looked well suited by the test of stamina on his hurdling debut. Racing keenly, he jumped neatly enough and took advantage when the runner-up landed flatfooted at the last. This was promising effort from one who will likely be seen to best effect over fences.
One amongst a number of decent acquisition’s by Sandy Thomson in recent months, NETMINDER was perhaps a shade unfortunate not to win this. Favoured by the step up in trip, he looked to be going best until making a serious error at the last and landing flatfooted. He took time to recover, was headed inside the final furlong and couldn’t find any extra. A staying hurdle should be well within his compass.
QUEL ELITE has shown enough to suggest he’s capable of winning a contest like this, but was firmly put in his place from three out. A try at a novices’ staying handicap hurdle could be the route required.
NODFORM RICHARD was most disappointing, being firmly put in his place after four out. He has something to prove.
THE BOOZY BISHOP looks a chasing type, but showed only a glimmer of ability in points. He may have prospects long term, but couldn’t keep up from a mile out here.

12.30 2m 6f 110yds Ashleybank Investments Reg & Betty Tweedie Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Three very interesting chasings prospects competed here and, despite the low numbers, this could prove to have been a very decent novice event. Certainly three fine looking sorts in the parade ring.

There was a delay to the contest as one of the ambulances got stuck in the muddy ground. A tractor came to the r4scue, but then crossing and track repairs were required at the hurdles/chase course intersection away from the stands.

BOLD SIR BRIAN ran into a couple of decent sorts in two mile events earlier in the season. He clearly benefitted from the step up in trip and, ridden patiently by Peter Buchanan, came to take up the running at the last. He got first run on the stayer Lie Forrit and held on by a couple of lengths. He’s only five, should strengthen and is one hell of a chasing prospect for the Russell yard.
LIE FORRIT would have been suited by a steady pace on the first circuit. Looking a bit sharper than for his previous outing, he got tapped for pace approaching the last, but stayed on relentlessly up the run-in. He’s basically a stayer and will be seen to better effect when there’s more pace on. Worthy of entry in the World Hurdle a couple of seasons back, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be rated a ticket to the major Festivals by Willie Amos.
MOON INDIGO, the least high profile of the three, jumped very well in front and stuck at his task well once turned for home. He wasn’t far away at the finish, jumped better here than in his previous chase, and looks yet another decent chaser for John Wade.

1.00 2m 110yds Eric Gillie 65th Birthday Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

INTO WAIN confirmed the promise of his gritty effort at Catterick, looking very well in the paddock, leading three out and coming clear with a bit in hand. This franks the effort of hurdling debutant BOURNE in the Catterick event.
RHYMERS HA’ ran a satisfactory second on hurdling debut having shown ability in bumpers. He kept on without troubling the winner and shouldn’t be troubled by a step up in trip.
NEXT TO NOWHERE was left in the lead at the fourth but readily held once passed at the last. He might need to be aimed at novice handicaps.
LA BACOUTTEUSE hasn’t pulled up any trees over hurdles and was readily put in his place from two out as was TALKIN SENCE.

One to keep an eye on for the future is PAS TROP TARD. He showed some ability in bumpers, but I’m told then got a virus. Connections are now testing the water, and suspect that the soft going was against him, but he stayed on steadily from three out having been scrubbed along approaching the fourth flight.
The same connections ran L’EMINENCE GRISE, a private purchase out of Nick William’s yard, and are trying to find out about this one as condition requirements aren’t clear. They learnt nil here as the gelding jinked on the first bend and unseated Zander Voy. Considered good enough to contest the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham, the jury appear to be in no more than early discussions on this one!

Dramatic action at the fourth flight when MR MANSSON ran out, taking out GETTING READY in the process. Lucy Alexander made strenuous efforts to straighten Mr Mansson, but to no avail, and Brian Hughes was helpless on Getting Ready.

I missed most these in paddock as I nipped off to see HIDDEN CYCLONE’s Leopardstown chasing debut. I got word of this one at Perth in September, and the stable’s confidence was justified with a decent effort here, Shark Hanlon’s gelding jumping well and coming clear on the run-in.

1.35 2m 1f Timeform Race Passes Handicap Chase (102-120)

The likely clash of the front-runners didn’t really happen here. CARRIETAU came a cropper at the ditch away from the stands and STORM SURGE never got the chance to dominate this time. The latter led at the sixth, but was joined at the third last and very tired up the run-in. It might be this was just one race too many and a rest is required.

PRIMROSE TIME is unpredictable but looked very well and was on a going day. She was always thereabouts, led before the last and came clear to win comfortably. She’ll be on a career high mark after this.
PENA DORADA ran a sound race for a novice, keeping on for second though unable to get near the winner. He’s only four and there’s a chance he’ll improve with fencing experience.
WILLIE HALL plugged on for third but was never in contention.
DUKE OF MALFI never got competitive and probably needs softer company.
BOB’S DREAM was beaten by two out and pulled up having lost his action no the flat. He was reported as sound after the race.
CABYLL DOO lost a shoe and pulled up down the far side.

2.10 2m 6f 110yds Bunny Maitland-Carew Handicap Hurdle (88-115)

The wind was starting to pick up by this time, and it was not warm on my regular perch on top of the old stand!

A fine looking sort for which trip, course and company was right here, GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS started at 9/2 which suggests that a few had spotted it. I had this one on my ‘horses to follow’ list this season, and it was no surprise to see a comfortable win. I’ll look forward to seeing this one go chasing but, given that he cruised into contention and then eased clear, he should follow up in a staying hurdle.
CHARLIE BUCKET stayed on well from two out but remains a maiden, though was never near the head of the contest.
POLITICAL PADDY led two out but was headed at the last and could offer no more. This was his best effort for some time.
DICKIE HENDERHOOP ran a fair race without ever threatening to break his duck.
STEADY TIGER led for a good way but weakened quickly once headed and the suspicion is that he has a physical problem. He should promise early in his career but the fear is that he’s in terminal decline.
ANY GIVEN MOMENT folded tamely from four out and was pulled up. He’s not straightforward and may not have fancied it in this more competitive company.

2.45 3m 1f Timeform Jury Handicap Chase (98-121)

ROLECARR made his record around Kelso 3 from 3, staying on stoutly to hold two challengers. He’s also 2 from 2 at this trip and neither win was by far which helps future marks. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins another handicap chase before long.

The small Borders yard of Alan Mactaggart has only had two horses running for them in the last couple of seasons, but ROYAL MACKINTOSH is a fair performer at best. He’s dropped a fair way in the handicap in recent times, but put up a fine effort here. Setting the pace jumping accurately, he was headed on the run-in but battling back determinedly in the closing stages. Suited by a decent test of stamina, he’s a proven winner in this company and can pick up a handicap chase.
SUPER ALLY had a chance on the flat but was held from the elbow. He remains in decent form.
ISLA PEARL FISHER was held up, asked for an effort from three out but never got to the leaders. Nick Alexander’s hints in his blog that there might still be a bit more to come with this race behind him.
BADGER FOOT was disappointing and struggled from three out.
DODGEY DREAM was struggling from some way out, was pulled up and may have found this too stern a test in the conditions.
BALLYCOLIN faded quickly from two out and dug his heels in at the last when well held.

3.20 2m 2f totepool Handicap Hurdle (102-119)

After a couple of fine performances over the Bank Holidays, Lucy Alexander found herself on the floor 4 times in two days. EUROHUNTER crashed at the last in this event when ridden to fend off a challenge. Informed opinion suggested that maybe Lucy should have kicked on down the far side. However, the winner cruised up into contention and was going the better approaching the last. Eurohunter looks more than good enough to win a similar event.
SURPRISE VENDOR won a weak event at Sedgefield in the spring, but hasn’t done a huge amount otherwise recently. Having made good progress three out he was going best of the leading two when left clear at the last. He’s had a fair bit of racing for a 5 year old, and it’s difficult to find any pattern in his form, though he has won 4 races with two of them on the flat.
BEIDH TINE ANSEO was held up by Grant Cockburn and the leaders had flown before the last. He stayed on for second place.
KING MAK raced prominently but was comfortably held from two out.
MOGHAAYER performed a bit better than of late, being held up well behind by Joel Belbin and keeping on through tired opponents.
Nothing else got near in the final half mile. OPEN DE L’ISLE has ability but pretty much downed tools after a circuit.


PAS TROP TARD - showed a glimmer of ability in novice company and should make his mark before long.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Pre-Christmas - Musselburgh & Sedgefield

MUSSELBURGH - Tuesday December 20th

Going - Good to Soft

Musselburgh put on a fair pre-Christmas card with a headline £10,000 added event, the finish of which was fought out between two progressive types who should make their mark in higher company.

12.20 2m 4f Buy Your 1012 Annual Members Badge Today Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase

The Eternal Optimists Society turned up in force and made RAINING HORSE 15/8 favourite for this event. James Ewart's gelding has ability but his jumping varies between exuberant and awful, and there's too much of the latter to place much faith in him. After a couple of made mistakes he and his rider parted company at the ninth fence.

The race was won by the best jumper in SOUL ANGEL. His only real error was at the ninth, but he was left in the lead at that point and had the race won by two out. Even then he was running down his fences in the straight and he would not find things so easy in stiffer company.

CLARESBURN stayed on for second without threatening the winner, while SOMETHING SILVER weakened two out, possibly paying the penalty for a not particularly accurate guess at the twelfth fence. The race should have brought him on, and it’s worth noting that all his wins have come at Ayr.

THEBRAVETRAVELLER jumped moderately in the rear and was never in the race, while on chasing debut MOSCOW MISCHIEF decanted her jockey at the fourth fence.

12.50 2m Racing UK Showing The Best Racehorses Live Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

INGLEBY SPIRIT has steadily improved over three hurdles outings and won this comfortably. His superior final straight pace won the day in a slowly run race.

BOWDLER’S MAGIC improved on his debut effort, keeping on from two out without getting to the winner. Mark Johnston doesn’t run many over hurdles but he has a chance of picking up a race before long with this one.

MERCHANT OF DUBAI was outpaced from two out and looks in need of a stiffer test than this sharp two miles.

NUMBER ONE GUY jumped abysmally in rear early on, but picked up a bit once turned for home to finish an admittedly moderate fourth. He hints at some prospects in the long term.

1.20 2m 4f Scottish Racing Beginners’ Chase (Class 5)

MAGGIO has taken some time to lose his maiden tag, but he had shown plenty of promise in two chasing efforts prior to this. He out galloped the runner up down the straight to win with a bit in hand. A fairly distant third behind Al Ferof at Cheltenham last time, he’s not competitive in that company but has ability to win more chases.

VOSGES ran an honest enough race but found one too good on the day. ROYAL AND ANCIENT isn’t as good as the first two and was held from the end of the back straight, as was PUYOL who race prominently early on but was labouring by the final bend.

PENA DORADA capsized at the fifth and NODFORMS VIOLET ran no sort of race in rear, pulling up before four out.

1.50 2m 4f Arnolds Handicap Hurdle (74-100)

DIZZY RIVER is an improving sort, having won at Sedgefield and then run a fair enough race in better company at Aintree last time. He saw off an in form rival, the pair comfortably clear of the remainder. He should stand a step up in trip.

Sandy Thomson seems to have found the key to ANY GIVEN MOMENT, and he was unlucky to run into a decent opponent for the level. He challenged on the flat, but his efforts were resisted. His win last time was over three miles and a step back up trip would not be against him.

The rest were well held, headed by front running VIA ARCHIMEDE who was left behind from two out and NORTHERN ACRES beaten three out.

2.20 2m TurfTV Handicap Hurdle (95-117)

This was a contest which may prove to have been very significant when reviewed at end of term. Two progressive sorts came clear of some fair opponents.

Readers will know I was impressed with SIMPLY NED from the word. Looking a bit green before the last, he had to battle hard to get on top but asserted in the final half furlong. I believe he’s potentially a good deal better than the 117 mark he ran off here. I’ll look out for future engagements with interest.

Three year old ROYAL OPERA set a decent pace and then made the progressive winner pull out the stops. A facile winner at Market Rasen last time, I think he might be a type for the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

BRIDLINGTONBYGONES ran a sound race in third, suggesting a return to form. He got outpaced at halfway but stuck on again form the final turn. HUNTER’S BELT was close behind in fourth, showing up much better than on recent hurdling efforts. Both of these are worthy of consideration in upcoming engagements.

ALLOW ME was outpaced from the home turn and looks to need a stiffer test in handicap company.

2.55 2m Racing UK Handicap Chase (88-111)

The second last fence was omitted after being damaged on the first circuit.

RED TANBER has looked a different horse since going chasing, and his sharp jumping technique was way too good for more experienced opponents here. Moving smoothly into contention on the home bend, he quickened clear in the style of one who can rate much higher than his mark here of 88.

OTTO QUERCUS led from the fourth until outpaced on the flat. He jumped soundly enough, had the remainder well beaten, and John Wade should place him to win a similar event.

SHERIFF HALL ran a fair race in third, but isn’t especially well treated currently. JUST MADDIE made moderate late progress into fourth place and might benefit from an ease in class.

HEAVENLY CHORUS can be a moody sort and never got involved. She’s best at Catterick, though does have some fair efforts to her name around Musselburgh.

KAOLAK fell at the first, but can be forgiven this as Sheriff Hall jumped right across him, almost stopping Jim Goldie’s gelding in his tracks.

BAAHER’s previous race fell into his lap here. No such gifts this time and he was firmly put in his place.

3.25 2m Wishing You a Happy Christmas Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 6)

RENDL BEACH confirmed the impression given on debut here, holding off a well regarded sort in Makari. The winner has the build of a jumping sort and is well worth interest once going hurdling. He stayed on well in the final furlong here.

MAKARI, an expensive purchase in November, was well backed here but ran into a decent one in Rendl Beach. He didn’t do too much wrong if held form the furlong pole. This one’s pedigree oozes winners at all distances and is an exciting prospect for jumping.

Make space in the notebook for the third here BUFFALO BALLET. Very well regarded by trainer Nick Alexander, this one was blatantly unsuited by the track as his trainer admitted, but came storming through the field in the final two furlongs to finish fastest of all. Lack of opportunities meant a chance had to be taken here, but he will be a different proposition on a stiffer circuit.

NODDA HIGH KID found the company here tougher than for his previous race, but he kept on well enough for fourth to confirm the favourable impression.

SEDGEFIELD – Thursday December 22nd

With no Boxing Day fixture this year, the Durham track closed their 2011 programme on the last racing day before Christmas. I do note that the Boxing Day fixture returns in 2012.

Sedgefield novice hurdle can be weakly contested events, but the opener here over 2m 1f looks to have a bit of depth about it and the winner is potentially useful.

THE WEATHERMAN impressed me at Kelso when winning a bumper. He isn’t a huge type, but is a handy sort for hurdling. He challenged two out and saw off a previous winner with ease. There is every prospect that he can cope with better company.

KEALIGOLANE confirmed that his Musselburgh win was no fluke, leading until two out and keeping on if held afterwards. He will have easier chances.

Carlisle winner VINTAGE STAR was in with a chance two out bu8t held approaching the last. The race in which he finished fifth at Carlisle last time was probably a decent contest, and this run was sound enough. FRANKS A MILLION won a bumper contested by ‘long term projects’ at Musselburgh, but his fourth here was very promising and augurs well for his jumping career. There’s staying chasing blood in the family and that’s probably where his long term future lies.

LATERLY put up a gritty performance to win what looked a decent beginners’ chase, holding off CHARMINSTER and FLINTY BAY, both potential chase winners.

RISKIER jumped boldly out in front and had seen off all bar one opponent by the last fence in the Class 5 2m 4f handicap chase. Unfortunately he was caught close home, but his sound jumping will set him in good stead at this level. SYCHO FRED mugged him close home, but hadn’t won for a long time before this and there’s no guarantee he’ll repeat the effort.

The mares’ hurdle was won by ZEFOOHA who got up to beat LUCIA BAY close home. The latter was spotted looking a bit sorry for herself on a summer stable visit, I think she wanted some attention, but she is showing zest on the track. She had less experience than some here and should win a mares’ hurdle at least.

SWINGING SULTAN won the closing bumper very readily. His pedigree suggests he will be at his best around the minimum trip over jumps. BROTHER SCOTT kept on determinedly under urging in second. He probably isn’t anything special but appears to try hard enough.


RED TANBER – looks well ahead of the handicapper over fences.

ROYAL OPERA – A progressive juvenile hurdler, unlucky to meet another progressive sort.

– well regarded and likely to improve if given a stiffer test than Musselburgh.

– sound jumping should win a lowly handicap chase

Next live meeting for me will be Kelso the Thursday after Christams. Unitl then may I wish a Happy Christmas to readers of my blog!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Catterick, Newcastle and Carlisle

CATTERICK - Tuesday December 13th

Going - Soft

The Maiden Chase threw up a decent winner last year in Columbus Secret and teh second on that occasion, TIME OUT, returned to win with a bit in hand this time around. He jumped well and went clear from two out, givnig signs that he can step up to match better company. He's favoured by cut in the ground and should win again. It's orth noting the at James Ewart's website has had an overhaul and is now updated at

John Wade's record with chasers, both owning and training, is as good as any in the North. Chris Grant trained ALPHA ONE looks a fair recruit to the string and acquiited himself well enough in second, jumping well but never getting to grips with the winner. He shouldn't be too long in finding a small race, possibly a novices' handicap chase.

BOURNE made a successful winning debut in the 2m 3f novices' hurdle. He kept on nicely and there could be a bit more in the tank as he was rated 97 on the flat. Another decent looking recruit from the flat, INTO WAIN battled tenaciously from two out, stepputg up significantly on Market Rasen hurdling debut. He should win a race before long. CROWNING JEWEL once again came with a wet sail late on. He was outpaced before two out and the obvious conclusion is that this course wouldn't bring out the best in him.

DYSTONIA'S REVENGE came from miles back on the home turn to take the staying handicap chase, mugging the two other finishers on the run-in. Lucky though he was, his record around sharp tracks under Rules is now U4121 and he does stay well.
CORKAGE led until coming down two out. He would likely have finished second at worst and may well have won. This was much better than his Newcastle effort, though he has an enigmatic history. QUEL BALLISTIC, another likely chasing winner from the Wade stable, was chipping away at the elader's advantage when hampered and unseating two out.

The closing bumper was won by SPECIAL CATCH. three race experience presumably making a significant difference. In the long term keep an eye out for PLUS JAMAIS, a half-brother to decent chaser Sa Suffit. He got left behind from the home turn but should put up better performances in time.

NEWCASTLE - Saturday December 17th

Gonig - Good To Soft (Soft in places)

Newcastle really have 'let things a go' a bit in recent times and the prixze mnoey fro this card was pathetic for what should be a decent pre-Christmas card. The feature race was worth over £15,000 to the winenr when last contested in 2008, but only £4.431 this year. I know times are hard, but an effort needs to be made.

The chase course has been re-arranged a little this season. There is now only one fence down the side of the track, but five 'down the back', alleviating some of the problems of having to omit fences because of the low sun.

KING'S CHORISTER has threatened to win a lowly handicap on a few occasions and finally found a very moderate event here. He decided he had done enough in front and idled, but CARTERS REST and DZESMIN had neither ability nor perhaps inclination to pass, and WALTHAM ABBEY arrived too late to trouble the winner.

BLENHEIM BROOK has run into some decent novice chasers this season but finally got off the mark when taking the three mile beginners' chase. He had a straightforward task here and eased clear when asked after two out. He took time to warm to his job as a novice hurdler and I suspect he will fulfil the expectations of his stable at a higher level.
PRESQUE PERDRE improved on his chasing debut and performed soundly enough in second. He won't always come up against one as good as the winner.

AFSOUN has declnied from a career best mark of 166 down to 130. Welcoming the drop in class that the mark enabled, he won the five-runner handicap hurdle very easily. Lucinda Russell's recruit from Paul Nicholls, TITO BUSTILLO went well until weakening before the last and the race should bring him on.

One of the best at bringing horses back at the epak after a break, Sue Smith took the Northumberland Chase with PAPA CARUSO. It wouldn't be surprise if there's a little more improvement in this one.
PROSECCO ran soundly enough here for second, but needs a break between his races. He is essentially on his amrk though and nothing else in this race really hints at being on a decent mark.

Well touted by Lucinda Russell at the Arlary Open Day, NUTS N BOLTS proved to be just as good as suggested on his hurdling debut. He saw off a some fair performers with plenty in hand in the 2m 6f novices' hurdle. The staying novices deaprtment is sometimes a bit light on talent at the top end and it might be that this winner can cut it in Graded company in time.
SOUTH LEINSTER has shown plenty of promise on his two runs this season and looks capable of picking up a run-of-the-mill staying novice event. With two winners filling the next two places the form looks sound.

The Class 4 novices' handicap chase saw a close fought finish with TRANSACT holding on determinedly from DANCING ART and HOLE IN ONE. The eyecatcher ehre though was SADDLE PACK, confirming the encouraging impression given at Carlisle, staying on well from two out and would have been the winner with a furlong extra to cover. He got outpaced down the far side, but stayed on relentlessly from four out if always too late. The run here suggests my observation last time was right, and he will win over a longer trip, but I suspect his proximity at the finish might stuff the odds next time!

The closing juvenile bumper might work out as a decent event. 5/4 favourite HOUSEPARTY was very green thorughout, but raw ability got him into second. He should win a race with the experience behind him.
The winner CALL BACK was much more tuned into requirements having had a previous race. If Donald McCain can win a race with him as a three-year-old then I suggest that signs are good for the future.
BLADOUN led until three out and kpet on honestly enough once passed. He's a hlaf-brother to four jumping winners in Frnace and appears to possess a fair amount of speed.

CARLISLE - Sunday December 18th

Going - Heavy

All credit to Carlisle as their meeting survived a couple of inspections because of frost, meaning that they didn't have a single day called off in 2011. This meeting did have to be reduced to hurdles only though, and the flat course (the 'old' hurdles course) was once again called into action.

A half-brother to decent Irish hurdler Hidden Cyclone, KINGS CANYON put a disappointing seasonal debut behind him to win the opening 2m 4f novices' hurdle with a bit to spare, staying on well up the hill in testing conditions. Irish pointing winner AVENGING ACE was backed into favouritism here, but ran into a decent opponent and is likely to a chasing prospect long term. There should be a novice hurdle for him along the way though.
Donald Whillans' MINI THE MINX kept on for third if well held by the first two.

Neither division of the 2m 1f novices' hurdle looked very competitibve and there may be mileage in opposing the respective winners, DIAMOND D'AMOUR and JACKSON CAGE on their next outings.

ARTIC NIGHT's only previous significant form had been in the mud at Ayr. He was made favourite to take the second division of the 2m 4f Class 4 handicap hurdle and did it with something in hand, suggesting that he can follow up given the right conditions. He stays three miles and is suited by heavy going. He saw off a fair measure here in GULF PUNCH.

Tim Vaughan's ASHES HOUSE came clear from two out in the bumper and a win under a double penalty wouldn't be out of the question. He's already a winner of an Irish point and will be an exciting prospect when going jumping.
Donald Whillans's stable is in good heart and should be well satisifed with the effort of SPINNING TURTLE. Held from two out, he pulled clear of the remainder. This one has been given time, there is winning jumping blood in the family and, being by Turtle Island, he is likely to be at his best in testing going.
CRANBERRY ICE ran passably well in third. Another with winning jumping blood in his pedigree, he will be worth keeping tabs on with a jumpnig career in mind.

Ones to Note:

TIME OUT - jumped well and won with something in hand at Catterick.
QUEL BALLISTIC - was homing in on the leader when brought down by that one's fall at Catterick. A decent prospect for a staying handicap chase.
NUTS N BOLTS - impressive debut and could turn into a decent staying novice hurdler.
SADDLE PACK - confirmed Carlisle promise. Should win a novice handicap chase at 2m 4f+.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Borders National

I've finally been able to write a report ot catch up with recent action having been very busy at work in the last couple of weeks. I suppose I really should be grateful to be in that position given the ecomonic situation...

KELSO - Sunday Decmeber 4th

Going - Soft (Good To Soft in places)

There was early morning snow in Dunfermline, but thankfully Kelso avoided the wintry showers though the weather was very chilly.

Outlaw Tom's outing in the Borders National was eagerly anticipated by your scribe.

12.30 2m 110yds Happy Birthday Berwick Speedway's Julie Newton Novices' Hurdle (Class 4)

I must confess to have favoured a decent hospitality turkey dinner in the Paddock Marquee in preference to a paddock side position before this event.

Jim Goldie's MERCHANT OF DUBAI was well touted in this one and ran a sound enough race, but he was outstayed by Willie Amos's EUROHUNTER. The latter created a favourable impression at Newcastle after a break and stepped up on that here. The form might prove decent and I'd expect the first two to pick up winning prize money.
TALKIN SENCE tried hard to match the first two form the last and takes a fair bit of credit on his first hurdling completion. Stuart Coltherd should be able to place this one to advantage in time.

1.00 2m 6f 110yds John Smith's Paris Pike Novices' Chase (Class 2)

A decent contest for a prize fund of £12,400.

LIE FORRIT was making a comeback after missing last season due to injury. He was well enough, but looked as if the race might bring him on just a little, so given that then his victory was very pleasing. He chased the leader from three out and took over on the run-in, staying on nicely to give Willie Amos and Campbell Gillies a second winner of the afternoon. He jumped well and looks to have a bright future over fences.
BLENHEIM BROOK once again found one too good for him, but lost nothing in defeat here against a decent opponent. He should win a race before long, though he will not be much of a price.
141 rated THE PANAMA KID sets the standard here, particularly giving weight away to the two in front of him. He led until passed at the last and could offer no more from that point.
One to take from this event is DANCING DIK, 125 rated over hurdles but potewntially better over fences. He matched the prinicipals until approaching the last from which point he was held. A fine effort after a lay-off similar to that of the winner.
CASSIUS couldn't match decent oppostion on chasing debut and needs his sights lowered.
Long standing maiden PADDYS UNYOKE was unsurprisingly tailed off, but his lively demeanour after the race perhaps suggests that he doesn't exert himself to the extent he might.

1.30 2m 110yds Kevin Oliver Christmas Handicap Hurdle (100-119)

LADY BLUESKY was in fine form on the flat and continued the trend with a gritty performance to win a competitive handicap hurdle. She led and kept finding more form the last to land a third Scottish win, indeed a third win for Hawick stables. Her wins have come at tracks with a stiff finish.
COOL BARANCA pressed the leader from the last but couldn't make any impression.
FLAYGRAY plugged on for third, but he went up 11lbs after his win here and the forced rise in class might just have done for him here. This was a good effort though and he clearly wasn't out of his depth in the company. A step back up in trip may help.
FREDDIE BROWN faded tamely from three out and was pulled up. Jan Faltesjek reported he ran too free, though this wasn't immediately obvious from watching the race. I've always liked him but my patience is running thin.

2.00 2m 6f 110yds Monteith Memorial Champion Chase (Handicap) (119-149)

This was a very good event for a total £17,000 pot and good reward to Kelso for putting up decetn prize money. A fitting memorial also to a much missed Scottish trainer in Peter Monteith.

John Wade's cahsers are ni excelletn form and the progressive ALWAYS RIGHT took this in decent style. Always prominent, he stretched his field from two out and gamely held off his main challenger from the furlong pole. Quoted 33/1 best for the Grand National, this lightly raced former hunter chaser has 'Aintree type' written all over him. If you add in his point-to-point form his record is an impressive 10 wins from 15 races.
Another one presumably aimed at Aintree is last year's National ninth placed SKIPPER'S BRIG. He made almost as pleasing a return as the winner, making good progress from three out to challenge on the flat but then held in the run to the line. Another lightly raced sort, he's 9 wins from 19 races and there's no suggestion he's finished winning yet.
SA SUFFIT is probably as high as he would need to be in the ratings. He made a brave attempt to make all, only giving way a bit short of 'the elbow'. He might just be better suited by a drop back to two and a half miles.
PREMIER SAGAS briefly threatened to get involved two out, but made no impact in the straight. He's another better suited by a shorter trip.
DEN OF INIQUITY made steady late progress having been outpaced down the far side. He's worth noting when dropped in class or upped in trip, preferably both.
TARTAN SNOW ran a decent race from out of the weights and desperately needs to be given less exacting tasks.
Former Scottish national winner MERIGO is definitely a Spring horse and never showed.

2.30 4m Scottish Borders National Handicap Chase (105-137)

This was the event I had been waiting for as it saw the altest outing of OUTLAW TOM, the horse I have a small interest in through the Milnathort Racing Club. He earned a place here follwoing a win over four miels at Hexham, though was asked serious questions here agianst much better opponents. Ridden quietly off the pace by Campbell Gillies, he hit two fences hard with a circuit to go and, despite rallying for a while, could never get back to the field. Eased home in seventh place, he will now be dropped in class and aimed at staying chases over stiff or galloping tracks in 2012.

From the point of view of one having an interest in one of runners these were a scarily good looking bunch of chasers in the paddock.

As you may appreciate it wasn't that easy for me to be objective about this race. I was struggling to the binoculars shaking, let alone concentrate on the rest of the field. however, we were treated to an excellent contest as six horses were involved from four out. I've been impressed by EYRE SQUARE since I first saw him, and this bull of horse stayed on relentlessly on the flat to hold staying on in-form LOCKSTOWN. The winner should take the John Wade colours into the winner's spot again soon as he seems an ideal sort fro these stamina tests. LOCKSTOWN just bottomed out close home but did enough to suggest that he hasn't finished winning yet.
MISTER MARKER wasn't foot perfect here but remained in the mix until held on the flat. This was a decetn effort at his first try past 3m 1f.
CAPTAIN AMERICO added to his list of fourth places, as so often before rallying after being outpaced but unable to make an impact from the last.
DOUBLE DEFAULT, second to Outlaw Tom at Hexham, had a creditable effort at making all in this tougher company. He was still in front at the last, but then weakened. He's slightly frustrating in that he's often thereabouts but looks a weak finisher.
GARLETON found the company tough at Newcastle and may have found the exertions telling in the last half mile. He will now have a rest.
BALLYFITZ went well for two circuits, but having clouted the eigthteenth fence he then unseated at the next.
Seven-year-old BEAMAZED will likely be of long term interest in these staying contests, looking well and on his toes but unseating at the fifth.

3.00 2m 6f 100yds Edinburgh Audi/Melrose Rugby Club Mares' Hovices' Hurdle (Class 4)

Favourtie GLENORA GALE appeared to try to duck out at the second and unseated after htiting the flight. Running loose, she was last spotted being pursued around the golf course by Russell stable staff.
MICRO MISSION had shown promise in the Iruish pointing field, so a 22/1 starting price was a bit of a surprise. She raced promienntly, challenged at the last and forged on fro a decetn win. She's well enough bred and is an interesting sort to take forward.
Previous winner SEEDLESS ran a sound race but couldn't match the winner from the last.
GOLDEN SPARKLE ran at a similar level to Musselburgh form, held in the closing stages.
Deminutive LITTLE FIFI wasn't totally disgraced in fourth, giving way before the last.
MIA MATRIARCH looked best in the paddock, but she was much too keen on the track and had shot her bolt by two out. She can be better than this form suggests if she settles.

3.30 3m 3f SIS National Hunt Novices' Handicap Hurdle (64-98)

A low key event to finish a decent card, but wonj by an animal who is on the upgrade and has been cannily placed to win three races. Only a six-year-old SUPER ALLY had won two chases before this and still seems on a workable mark in both disciplines. He stays well and has shown a decetn attitude.
RIGHT ENOUGH performed very well on first effort in a handicap, making the winner work hard from two out and only just succumbing. Held up on previous outings, this was the first time he had been put into the centre of battle and it made a serious difference. He should win a staying hurdle.
FORCEFIELD was outpaced three out and could only stay on after that.
Backers optimism apparently knows no bounds since long-standing maiden DICKIE HENDERHOOP was once more made favourite, this time a ludicrous 2/1! He never got into the race.

MUSSELBURGH - Monday December 5th

The wintry weather hitting Scotland spared Musselburgh and we enjoyed a bright if chilly afternoon.

Going - Good (Good To Soft in places)

12.20 3m Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase (87-103)

HURRICANE JACK is not the easieat to win with but, given the right combination of course and conditions, he was able to dictate here and was not in danger from four out. Jumping well in front he stayed on nicely to give Grant Cockburn a first chase winner. However, I would be inclined to oppose him next time unless Lucinda Russell finds an equally cushy race.
SOPRANO stays well but ideally needs a stiffer test than course and going presented here. He could never get to the winner but would be of interest returned to a stiffer course.
BOB WILL never seriously troubled the leader and just held off long-standing Irish-based maiden MOLINERO for third place, well behind the second.
GAVROCHE GAUGAIN isn't certain to see out this trip. He seemed to be feeling the pinch when making a bad error at the twelfth, and he was well beaten when pullnig up before four out.

12.50 2m Buy Your Annual Members Badge Today Maiden Hurdle - Division 1 (Class 5)

ALSAHIL confirmed the promise of his previous run here. having gone clear three out he just held on from MAKBULLET who finished best. I'm not sure the form is particularly strong, but the seocnd is probably best around here on good ground as it doesn't stretch his stamina too much. He may win a similar contest.
KAOLAK was left behind from three out and nothing else threatened.

1.20 2m Buy Your Annual Members Badge Today Maiden Hurdle - Division 2 (Class 5)

Just occasionally a performacne makes you do a double take and check what you are really seeing. KEALIGOLANE finished this race a speed which might have troubled a few sprinters, racing clear from two out having led all the way under a well judged ride by Lucy Alexander. The gelding won well in a bumper at Wexford in 2009 but lost his way after. This run suggests the ability is still there and on the evidence of this he will trouble better company. I'd be tempted to take a step back and just watch his next race though!

DEMOLITION made a far hurdling debut in second, comfortably seeing off the remainder. He should win a maiden or novice hurdle. KOO AND THE GANG was a fair third just holding ANNA'S ARCH, though both were held from two out.

1.50 3m 110yds Turf TV Handicap Hurdle (70-100)

I was pleased to see ANY GIVEN MOMENT give his trainer Sandy Thomson a winner, as I have often seen the Greenlaw handler pacing nervously up and down during races. This wasn't a great race, but there seemed no fluke about this as the winner picked off the leaders from three out and won a shade cosily.
The second and third, VALLANI and EVERAARD, are honest enough but not prolific winners.
SYDNEY COVE stayed on late and looks to need a stiffer track. He did appear to see out this trip.

2.20 2m 4f Racing UK Handicap Hurdle (98-119)

As ever the Musselburgh managemnt are not frightened to put up a decent prize pot, and the £10,000 added here was decent for a quiet Monday in December.

GORDONSVILLE might just be very well handicapped. He's been held up twicee now for narrow wins and might just have a bit in hand provided there is a decent pace on and he can pick his way through the field.
FAIRYNUFF looked the likely winner, despite a couple of mistakes at the last two flights, but was caught close home. Compensation awaits.
CHESTER LAD has some speed, but his hurdling is clumsy and let him down once again. If he hurdles more cleanly he'll wipe the floor with opponents at this level.

2.50 2m 4f Scottish Racing Novices' Handicap Chase (77-98)

I had expected RED TANBER to pick up a race somewhere along the lnie. He's settling a bit better these days, and accurate jumpnig made sure he was too good for a moderate bunch. This run boosts the form of Saddle Pack who was noted from Red Tanber's previous race.
O CROTAIGH tried to make all but was held once passed four out. He kept on for second and will have chances at a similar level.
ROYAL MILE didn't seem to go through with his effort at Sedgefiled, and he dropped away very quickly from four out before pullnig up here. Connections said he didn't stay, but I wondered if something is ailing him.
WHY ARE YOU ASKING has picked up a succession of places in weak races, but he didn't threaten in the straight.

3.20 2m Scottish Racing Your Better Bet STandard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

It was desperately cold by this time and I can't guarantee the brain was worknig as well as it might have done, but...

A number of long term projects on show here, not least RENDL BEACH who should advance on a decent performance here noce jumping. He stayed on nicely from two furlong out and is worth noting when going jumping.
BALLYVOQUE had two handlers in the paddock and was unruly at the start. He did however keep on nicely in the closing stages and should improve with racing.
EDMUND is a big jumping type who found things happening too fast for him in the straight. He doesn't look one to win a bumper but will be of interest at a longer trip over jumps. Much the same comment goes for RHYMERS HA' who found this track too sharp.


DANCING DIK - decent fourth behind three useful types at Kelso. Should win a novices' chase.
ALWAYS RIGHT - excellent staying chaser who would have chance if going for the Grand National. Alternatively, could trouble decent horses if aimed at Cheltenham in March.
GORDONSVILLE- Good chance that two close margin wins might disguise how much he has in hand of the handicapper.


PEGASUS PRINCE looks a another decent John Wade owned staying chaser, this one trained by Keith Reveley. He just lasted home at Sedgefield over 3m 3f, but it wouldn't surprise me if he steps up on this effort.
SEEKING POWER - Nick Alexander's chaser would be ideally suited by 5 mile races. However, a slog round a stiff track in the mud is just right for one who just keeps staying on, and was closing in third at Hexham behind Celian. Not to be counted out in basement level staying contests.
OUR MICK - Doddled up in a beginners' chase at Catterick in the style of one who can take a decent step up in class.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A busy weekend at the end of November

MUSSELBURGH - Friday November 25th

Going - Good ( Good to soft in places)

Overnight rain and showers during racuing meant the going turned just the soft side of good in places. A strong wind blew straight into the horses' faces down the straight.

12.10 3m 1f Lagwell Insulation Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (76-100)

This was not a strong event, but GULF PUNCH came away for a clear win, staying on under pressure from the last. Neither second nor thrid would be rated reliable, so the winner will have a tougher task next time, particularly when re-handicapped.
VIA ARCHIMEDE led until two out and stuck on for second. This was probably as good an effort as he has managed over hurdles, but he's eminently beatable, as is ONIZ TIPTOES who stayed on from well back for third. SAM D'OC was another who stayed on up the straight, but he was never nearer than fourth place.

12.40 2m Weatherbys Printing Services Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

Not a strong event, and KIE was able to dictate as he had done at Kelso on hurdling debut, making all very comfortably in driving rain. He put a fair effort in listed class at Wetherby last time.
URBAN KODE acquired second two out but did nothing to show he achieved much, and there was no encoruagement elsewhere.

1.15 2m 4f Weatherbys Printing Services Novices' Handicap Chase (85-104)

This contest was marked by some abysmal all round. It's noticeable too that the fences at Musselburgh are very soft as the horses were brushing through them in the latter stages.

BALLYMACDUFF led until falling at the tenth. He's completed in only two otu of six attempts over fences.
SAMBELUCKY disputed the lead at that point but then came a cropper at the twelfth fence. He won a hurdle off 77, but his record otherwise isn't over-inspiring.
Next tale of woe was for SPICE BAR who was left in the lead by Sambelucky's exit. He looked the winner going to three out, but walked through it barely getting above the frame and Tom O'Brien had no chance of staying in the saddle. He would probably have won had he stayed up and his record offers a little more encouragement than others.
BAAHER is difficult to win with, but he had this handed to him on a plate. He looekd to be saving a bit from the last but had the race in safe keeping. His only other win was against a dodgepot over hurdles at Perthm and he's not one to get involved in at short odds.
STAND CLEAR was hampered at the twelfth, and then by a loose horse two out, so her second place has some merit. Allowing for the problems encountered, this wasn't a bad effort and she can improve on this chasing debut.
HOLE IN ONE had every chance if good enough and wasn't nearly that. EQUATION and LE REVEUR were in rear when hampered at the tenth and were never in the race afterwards.
FORREST LEMONS was no great shakes over hurdles, his second place coming in a weak contest, and proved no better over fences. He was well beaten when falling two out.

1.50 2m 4f Buy 2012 Annual Members' Badge Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

ALLOW ME finally gained a deserved win, staying on better than the second having led or disputed all the way. He's on a mark of 115 which doesn't look to be giving much away if going handicapping. It might be worth James Ewart trying to seek out another non-handicap novice event under a penalty.
EBANOUR was out jumped at the last and couldn't get back on terms.
LA BACOUTTEUSE was well beaten in the striaght, but just held off GLASSON LAD who's two second places were gained a fair distance behind the winners.

2.25 2m Nodram Handicap Chase (105-120)

CARRIETAU was given a chance to dominate from the front here. He's shown in recent times he's best when not hassled for the lead. He was ridden coming out of the back straight, but kept responding from that point and showed good resolution to hold on. He's definitely one whose chances depend on tactical make up of the race, but if he can get an uncontested lead he has to go on the shortlist.
The stewards enquired into Carrietau's improvement. They 'noted' the trainer's explanation that he 'had the run of the race'. Maybe if one of their number invested in a form book they might be able to work it out for themselves, though on this evidence I'm not holding my breath.
VOSGES chased the leader from four out, got level at the last and was then held to the line. He needed the race when running over 2m 6f at Kelso and should be helped by a step back up in trip.
HEAVENLY CHORUS raced toward the rear until the eighth and never got closer than third place. Her best statistic is that she's 3 from 6 at Catterick.
CORTINAS briefly threatened four out, but made no further impact, while SADDLERS DEAL never got into the contest.
HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY loooked to find the pace or the track (both?) too sharp.
THE PADDY PREMIUM was behind four out and can't recapture his Perth form at the moment.

2.55 2m Jeden Business Flooring Handicap Hurdle (84-100)

PARC DES PRINCES is comparatively lightly raced over jumps and could be progrssive over hurdles. He clsoed to the last and stayed on pleasingly on the flat. He's unlikely to be pushed up too far for this win and can win another handicap.
SHERIFF HALL is a desperately frustrating character who hadn't looked entirely comfortable over fences of late. He bowled along in front here but was collared at the last and, though keeping on, was held to the line. To his credit he does rally a bit once passed.
KING's CHORISTER stayed on under pressure but never got close enough to threaten a win, but nothing else got near from three out.
AMAZING STAR was going well approaching three out but went out like a light before the second last. He was reported as having a breathing problem.

3.30 2m Border Safeguard Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

Doanld whillans is not renowned for producing bumper winners, so NODDA HIGH KID's 80/1 SP was less of a surprise than the win here. He's out of a hurdles winner who had a winning half-sister over hurdles, so wasn't a no hoper on breeding and it would be reasonable to expect respectability once jumping. I'm not sure this race was particularly strong, but the winner did show plenty of commitment to hold off BRINDISI BREEZE in the closing stages. Peter Buchanan was banned for overuse of the whip, a second offence in recent weeks, and he may have to tread carefully now.
FLICKA WILLIAMS was held from two furlongs out. He will be better suited by a stiffer test of stamina than the early dawdle here led to.
Sadly Alan Swinbank's ALL AMERICAN broke down in the straight and was put down.
CHESTA stumbled and unseated on the final bend.

James Ewart's stable has hit form with a vengeance and recorded two wins at Doncaster. QUICUYO took the Class 3 2m 3f handicap in decent style, while the promising chaser BENEFICIAL REFORM took a four-runner staying novices' handicap chase.

NEWCASTLE - Saturday November 26th

Going - Good to Soft

I had planned to travel to Gosforth Park for the 'Fighting Fifth' meeting, but I didn't relish a journey of two hours plus in forecast gale force winds. Fortunately the winds didn't affect the course, but I watched from home.

LACKAMON won the opening novices' handicap chase in decent style. He was fifth in a well contested handicap chase at Carlisel last time, and I doubt he's stopped improving yet. TIPTOEAWAY ran a sound race in second, while AIKMAN was disappointing and well beaten in third. The latter didn't look particularly at ease from a long way out, though I doubt the course would be to blame.

QUETZAL led or disputed all the way in the Class 5 three mile handicap chase, finding enough in the latter stages to hold on with a bit to spare. DOLLAR MICK tried to close from two out, but to no avail though he was not disgraced.
Third placed TREEHOUSE stuck on up the straight and will be of interest if set a stiffer stamina test.
David Cormack of The Racing Forum marked TEENANDO down as one of his best two in the paddock, but he was a little disappointing, fading from three out to finish fourth.
PADDYS UNYOKE took a very heavy fall at the twelfth and I hope he was OK.

FILL THE POWER led or disputed all the way to take a competitive class 2m 6f novices' hurdle and is progressing nicely. SOUTH LEINSTER put up a decent effort off the back of a 21 mnoth lay-off, staying on from two out if not threatening the winner.
CUE TO CUE moved on to the tails of the leaders no the final bend, but she couldn't impact any further. She will be suited by a return to mares' company.
ROWDY ROCHER has done well to win a bumper and a hurdle but was outpaced from two out here. He should come into his own once going chasing.

Sue Smith's yard is in fine form and made it three on the day with DOUGLAS JULIAN. He had run down the field at Kelso and Wetherby, but stayed on well to take this race. He improved in leaps and bounds last season, and a drop in the handicap allowed him back into Class 4 here,
BENE LAD was well backed stepped up in distance and looks capable of taking a race before long. TIME OUT kept on for third and should find a small race to break his duck, most likely in handicap company.
RED KINGDOM kept on for fourth but is basically frustrating.
STORM SURGE led for a long way, but his record at 2m 4f+ is 5576, and he looks better around the minimum distance.

OVERTURN followed up a decent win at Ascot by taking the Fighting Fifth Hurdle seeing off BINOCULAR on merit. The winner is a tough old stick, and it's nice to see Perth Summer Champion Hurdle form given a boost. However, it's difficult to see either of these winning a Champion Hurdle and AP McCoy admitted that BINOCULAR was beaten on merit.
STORMY WEATHER matched the top three for quite a way, and is on a decent mark when dropped back to handicaps, assuming the handicapper doesn't take a literal line on this form.

Irish bumper winner MALT MASTER looked a decent novcie prospect when taking the maiden hurdle. The second was closing, but the impression was that the winner had a bit more to give. A potentially useful hurdlers from a Henderson stable crammed full of decent sorts.
CROWNING JEWEL didn't jump well down the far side, but closed at the entrance to the straight. Outpaced from three out, he picked up again in the latter stages and was closing at the line. He shouldn't go long before winning a hurdle.
Back down the field, RUPERT BEAR showed some promise and, although by a sprinter, there's serious staying blood on the distaff side. A typical homebred Walton type, he's unlikely to set the world on fire over hurdles, but don't be surprised if he progresses once chasing over a distance of ground.and is bred to be a staying chaser.
CAPITAL VENTURE was once again raced over what appears a trip shorter than he needs, not having the pace to match the prinicipals. Nick Alexander has been fairly quiet about this one, but I wonder if he might be eyeing up a novices' handicap hurdle over 2m 4f+.

After the victory of Carruthers in the Hennessy, HEY BIG SPENDER was well backed to win the closing Rehearsal Chase having finished just behind the Newbury victor last time. Leading four out and staying on well, he held on well from the last. He might be a bit of a twilight horse now though as this win will take him into the mid-150s.
THE HOLLINWELL put up a career best to finish a close seocnd. His best efforts have been at around three miles with a stiff finish, form reading P12202. He did manage a jumpers' bumper win at Southwell last winter, but that track can be a slog.
Lightly raced ASHFIELD'S DREAM ran a cracking race in third, leading for a long way and sticking at it once passed. He has won over middle distances, but does give hte impression that he's a stayer. Only 7 and worth keeping on the right side.
CAPTAIN AMERICO was otupaced from the home turn before staying on again late on. He won a hurdle over 3m 3f at Kelso last season and does look in need of a longer trip.
MINELLA THEATRE couldn't get a blow in from four out, and GARLETON was off his game having been unable to get to the front.

CARLISLE - Sunday November 27th

Going - Hurdles - Soft, Chases - Soft (Heavy in places)

The hurdles were run on the flat course, the old hurdles course, as the new hurdles track has been a bit loose of late. The flat track is much stiffer than the new hurdles track that'st's worth bearing this in mind when carrying this form forward
Two fences were omitted in the chases, the first on the far side and the open ditch four out.

The opening novices' hurdle over two and a half miles looked a potentially decent contest. I developed into a duel, with SEE WHAT HAPPENS and ANYCHANCEDAVE pulling clear. Both should be noted for future contests as should the nicely bred DREAMER OF DREAMS who was tapped for pace in the closing stages back in third. The latter went well until rapping himself three outt Kelso and should pick up a novices' hurdle.

FRASCATI PARK jumped left in the novices' chase, but had enough in hand to hold his only serious rival KUDU COUNTRY, pretty well reflecting the gap between the two over hurdles.
SADDLE PACK was cannily ridden by Cathy Walton to gain third place. He showed ability in the pointing field and will show up better once handicapped and over a longer trip.

NOWURHURLIN stayed on well to win the 2m 1f novices' hurdles and is another promising sort from the McCain yard conveyor belt, steppnig on previous hurdles efforts. GUESS AGAIN has plenty of decent blood in his family and should win races, fnishing close up in second here. He's been given time and is likely to come into his own once going chasing.

LOCKSTOWN amde it two in a row in the 3m 2f handicap chase, comfortably seeing of EXTALAR and MORGAN BE, both of whom look kept in their place by the handicapper.
HENNESSY showed some promise on his return at Kelso, but his last two races suggest he's going backwards. He faded quickly on the long run to three out.

HIGH RANSOM won the Class 4 handicap hurdle very nicely. She took over form CHESTER LAD when the latter rapped the last and came away to win with a bit to spare. Considered good enough to be tried at Cheltenham last March, she looks one to keep on the right side in the near future.

The fact that maiden Dickie Henderhoop was made 3/1 favourite for the closing amateur handicap hurdle pretty well sums the event up. In such circumstances it sometimes pays to look to the outsiders, but neither 25/1 winner Crackerjac Boy nor the 20/1 Shoal Bay Dreamer had much to recommend them pre-race.

Keep an eye out for:

STAND CLEAR - would probably have won but for being hampered twice at Musselburgh
CAPITAL VENTURE - Needs a step up in distance (2m 4f+) and may start on a decent mark if aimed at a handicap.
DREAMER OF DREAMS - promise at Kelso and not disgraced behind See What Happens. Can win a novice hurdle.
SADDLE PACK - Will be a decent proposition in staying chases, particular if tried in a handicap.
HIGH RANSOM - Looks a progressive type off a fairly low mark in handicaps.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A few pointers from Sedgefield

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 22nd

Going – Good to Soft

The opening novices’ hurdle saw a comfortable win for short priced favourite BOUND TO GLORY. His hurdling debut was decent at Carlisle, he will stay further than this 2m 4f and should make his mark in better company. BADGERS RETREAT ran into hotpot for the second race running, but he does seem well suited by the track, stuck to his guns though held and might have a shout in a maiden or weak novices’ event.

TRUSTAN TIMES looks a promising chasing recruit and won the 2m 4f beginners’ chase. He should have had a bit to spare but made a hash of the last two fences. He’s a nice looking sort who had jumped well until then and should progress.
DODGEY DREAM performed creditably in second, jumping nicely in front though showing a tendency to go slightly left. He made the winner pull out all the stops and should find a chase a a minor northern track.

TIPSY INDIAN is in decent form and battled well to see off a few of the usual suspects in the 2m Class 5 handicap chase. He’s not brilliant but does have a decent attitude. ROYAL MILE was second and hinted that he didn’t go through with his challenge as he might have done, given that he was going best two out. He may needs things to fall his way.
BRADDOCK ISLAND unseated early and then careered into the rails near the stands. The gelding injured a course worker who had to be taken to hospital, though I understand the course worker Ivan Porter is now on the mend.

FRONTIER BOY hinted at being a progressive sort when upped in trip at Kelso. In confirmed that comfortably here in taking the 3m 3f Class 5 handicap chase. He eased clear from two out, jumping well all the way and should stand a step up in grade. RISKIER made a brave attempt from the front but was held from two out. He would be an obvious choice in a similar contest.

FUNKY MUNKY had hinted at being capable of wining a hurdle and obliged at the eighth time of asking, catching SHORT SUPPLY on the run-in. Alistair Whillans should be able to place the winner to advantage again before long. The runner-up made a brave attempt having kicked on from three out. I wouldn’t have thought SHORT SUPPLY would want the ground any softer.
SYDNEY COVE chased the leaders from two out but never got in a blow. A stiffer track will suit him,and he now seems to be settling better.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A round-up of Mid-November action

CARLISLE - Monday November 7th

Carlisle put on an excellent card by normal Monday standards, headlined by a feature event with a penalty value a shade under £13,000.

KUDU COUNTRY made an impressive debut over fences, seeing off the well regarded BOLD SIR BRIAN by eight lengths. The winner, a half-brother to decent chaser Noble Alan, looks as if he’s better over fences than hurdles and is an exciting prospect. BOLD SIR BRIAN jumped well enough here, but he’s still far from the finished article and will be better in a season’s time.

Lucinda Russell won the novices’ handicap hurdle with TAP NIGHT. This one absolutely cruised up here and will stand a rise in class.

Russell added the staying handicap chase with an equally facile win by the much improved DO IT FOR DALKEY. He’ll probably be forced up in class for another easy win, but there is still a fair bit to come from this relation to Silver By Nature. The 3m 2f here was no barrier. A Kelso winner over hurdles two days before, SOPRANO ran a cracker in second and should pick up a staying chase. TEENANDO hinted at a return to form in third and will have every chance in a lower class.

AIKMAN was made 6/4 favourite for the three mile Betfair Graduation Chase, the feature event. This was doing a great disservice to 149 rated SARANDO who was too strong from three out. He survived a bad blunder two out, but had plenty in hand. AIKMAN didn’t do too much wrong on his second chasing effort, jumping well enough but tapped for pace by the winner. He probably performed around his mark of 140.
Decent staying hurdler CROSS KENNON was never going and has something to prove over fences on this showing.

The bumper was probably a fair event, won in convincing style by SYDNEY PAGET who can cope with classier races. RHYMERS HA’ ran a creditable second and should improve once going jumping, keeping on well enough here though held in the final two furlongs.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 8th

SIMPLY NED dotted up in the opening novices’ hurdle. He’s a potential Graded class hurdler.

Ferdy Murphy has started to get a few into challenging positions and managed two winners on the card. GOING WRONG won here, but wasn’t madly convincing in a race which FLINTY BAY looked the most likely winner until thumping the open ditch two out and unseating.

Murphy won the next with GAVROCHE GAUGAIN, but the one to take forward form that event is NIGHT IN MILAN who was staying on well in the two mile and a half handicap chase. He’s coming into form and should win a handicap chase before long. A stiffer track or longer trip would do no harm.

Frustrating CLAUDE CARTER finally got his nose in front in the closing Class 5 handicap hurdle. He beat some regular opponents, so it’s not inconceivable he could manage a repeat, but he’s not one I would trust at shorts odds. THE DUNION proved his Kelso victory wasn’t a complete fluke, keeping on for fourth place.

Newcastle – Friday November 11th

EUROHUNTER made a very promising comeback after a long lay-off. The Willie Amos trained novice hurdler moved smoothly into contention in the straight, but was held close home by the tenacious Kent Street. Eurohunter’s place in the winner’s spot looks only delayed.

Nick Alexander took the staying handicap hurdle with FORCEFIELD, brought with a well timed run by in-form claimer Lucy Alexander. The winner had shown promise in early races, and seems to have found his forte at three miles. He didn’t win by far but did it well enough to suggest he might pick up another race.

ISLA PEARL FISHER is another from the Alexander stable who is one to carry forward. Returning following a leg injury, he was on the tails of the leaders when unseating two out and may well have won. Lockstown stayed on best to take spoils, but I’d be surprised if Isla Pearl Fisher doesn’t add to last season’s decent record of wins before long.

John Wade’s stable dominated the Class 4 two mile hurdle, KING’S GREY coming to take the race off front running DIAMOND FRONTIER close home. The pair were clear, and Wade has proved himself a master at training and placing his steeplechasers.

CUE TO CUE took the mares’ maiden hurdle in decent style. She stayed on strongly and will see out three miles. She will see off decent staying mares and would be a decent prospect in mixed company. Her dam Marello was a talented staying hurdler and she looks likely to follow in here mum’s hoof prints.
Lucinda Russell’s GLENORA GALE was not disgraced in second. She won’t come up against many mares as goods as the winner and ought to win a race sooner rather than later. There is staying chaser blood in her family.

HEXHAM – Wednesday November 16th

It’s taken me a long time to achieve the childhood dream of being involved with a winning four mile chaser. Milnathort Racing Club, in which your correspondent has a small portion, scored their first winner as OUTLAW TOM outstayed front running Double Default after the last. Much will depend on how the winner comes out of this one but, given that he proved he stays all day, he will be aimed at stamina tests in the 0-120/0-125 grades in the north. The ground was soft here, and he coped with it well, though I don‘t think really heavy will suit him.
DOUBLE DEFAULT lost nothing in defeat and front running tactics over a trip suit him down to the ground. The one I would take out of this though is the third, five-year-old REBEL SWING. Just out speeded in the straight, he stuck to his task and will be a nice one for the Smith stable in the next year or two.

LIGHTENING ROD won the opening limited novices’ handicap chase in the style of one who can go on to better things. He jumped superbly, and it wouldn’t surprise if he is making his mark in decent company by spring.
James Ewart’s SIGNALMAN wasn’t disgraced in just holding on to second, having tried to match the winner from the bottom of the hill.

BURY PARADE won the novices’ hurdle in decent style, in a race where well fancied KING’S GRACE was very disappointing.
My eyes were looking farther back here, with CAPITAL VENTURE staying on for third. He beat decent novice Simply Ned in a Kelso bumper, but he looks to me to be crying out for a longer trip over hurdles. FOG PATCHES was another to stay on, but he looks a long term job, and will probably be seen to better effect over fences in a season or two.

Like Capital Venture PAPAMOA is on my list to follow on The Racing Forum. He looks progressive, staying on having been off the bridle a mile out, only to meet another progressive sort in DUSKY BOB who held him after the last. Both should win in future, and it’s a mark of their achievement that they were well clear of a previous winner filling third place.

TANZANITE BAY flew the flag for Lucinda Russell’s satellite yard at Kilduff. She stuck to her task well to hold previous course and distance winner DOMOLY from the last in then novices, handicap chase. She won’t go up too much for this but looks progressive.

I'm now due to take in Musselburgh next Friday and then a first visit to the Fighting Fifth meeting at Newcastle. That might be my lot until after Christmas due to other commitments, but I'll keep an eye on any meetings that take place in December. Weather permitting I'll then be off to Kelso and Ayr over the Christmas holidays. I suspect Musselburgh Ne'er Day Meeting might be missed as we are due at a Hogmanay do the night before. Now, when I was younger...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Kelso - November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 5th

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

A decent card at Kelso was blessed with pleasant weather and afternoon long sunshine. The course was in superb condition, as is normally the case here, for a card topped by a decent standard two mile limited handicap chase.

12.25 2m 6½f Premier Traffic Management ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle
(Class 4)

These contests are normally well fought out here and there were one or two potentially above average stayers on show.

ROWDY ROCHER put in a solid performance to win at Hexham previously and was always one likely to benefit from a distance of ground. Always going well in touch with the leaders, he battled hard from the last and just got up on the line. Rowdy Rocher is only five and has the look of a chaser about him, having won a point in Ireland. Only surprise was that he was allowed to start at 12/1.
TARLAN is a typical attractive Donald McCain chasing type who will go on from this decent start. He jumped really well up front and looked the winner at the last, only to be pipped close home. He’s a winner in waiting and another who will be seen to full effect over fences.
STORMIN EXIT ran a typically honest race under a penalty, staying on under pressure for third. I believe his target is now the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which would be a tough ask, though he should have a few other options.
RAVENS SECRET is another big chasing sort and John Wade should have no problem placing him to win in time. He got outpaced from three out and couldn’t get back to the leaders here but he may pick up a small novice hurdle before going over the bigger obstacles.
ROS CASTLE has more of the hurdler look about him. This trip suits but he was another tapped for pace from three out. He could find one or two too good in non-handicaps, but will be interesting once handicapping.
Double bumper winner DARK GLACIER looked as if the race would bring him on. He was still in contention three out but was outspeeded from there. He’ll be a different proposition next time up.
Best in the paddock was RAGGIO’S BOY but he was totally clueless on the track, jumped awkwardly and lost touch early on. He is a chasing sort and is worth keeping on a look-out list as he is the raw material if the penny drops.

1:00 3m 1f Ship Inn, Dalkeith Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-100)

SUPER ALLY has improved since going chasing and picked up a second course win in decent style here. Racing prominently, he was headed at the last, but responded when passed and got the upper hand in the final furlong. He has a sound attitude which makes a difference at this level and I see no reason why the progression shouldn’t continue.
FRONTIER BOY stepped up significantly on his previous effort, the trip helping and his jumping having been sharpened significantly. Bagging another in Bryony Ewart’s increasing pile of Best Turned Out Awards, he looked well readied here. He led briefly at the last but was held by a better opponent on the run-in. Staying chases are clearly his game and he is one to take forward for the coming months.
Wilson Renwick was ‘done’ under the new whip rules for his ride on CHICAGO OUTFIT. While I can understand the need to quantify the use of the whip, instances like this perhaps shows there are two sides to the argument. John Wade’s charge raced lazily early on and Renwick administered a couple of cracks with a circuit to go. Driven from two out he picked up well on the flat and finished fast for third, but suffered one slap too many. Presuming that things don’t change on the whip front then Wade has a task on hand to get the best out of this one. Lightly raced and potentially better than this level.
Hexham winner QUETZAL was held from three out, while ELIADES BOY looked as if the race would bring him on and couldn’t make an impact from two out.

1.30 2m 6 ½ f Persimmon Homes Handicap Chase (136-115)

A race in which a progressive winner was hard pressed by a consistent stayer in second. The rest bar one finished close together a few lengths back.

The last open ditch was bypassed on each circuit due to damage received in the previous race.

THE PANAMA KID won comfortably here last time and stepped up on that effort off a much higher mark. He thumped the middle one down the far side first time, but apart from that jumped very well near a pace set by the eventual second, hitting the front on the flat and holding Garleton’s challenge from the elbow. He won well enough here to suggest there is still more in the tank.
GARLETON is a consistent stayer and made a brave attempt to make most of the running. He needed geeing along a bit with a circuit, which is a bit out of character, but he responded all the way home. Despite being collared on the flat he was still battling back at the line. The problem might be that the handicapper will split the difference back to the third and bump him up a few pounds. Anything over 140 starts to cut down palatable options, and this event was over as short a trip as he would be raced at. Chatting to one of the joint owners, I understand that the plan is either the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle or the Becher Chase at Aintree, with the former favoured.
MIRAGE DORE made progress from the omitted two out, but never quite got to the leaders. He is going the right way however and retains a fair amount of his ability.
RAYSROCK kept on for fourth without seriously threatening to win. A reasonable effort, but he doesn’t win often.
INDIAN GROOM looked very well on his seasonal debut but was held in the straight. As a six-year-old he has time on his side and is boarded in a stable likely to get the best out of him.
CIRCUS CLOWN was dropped in at the deep end on chasing debut. He jumped well enough and was not disgraced in a close up sixth place. Twice a winner over hurdles he would be of interest in novice handicap company.
SAFARI ADVENTURES was held up here, possibly to help see out the trip, but he was held in the last three quarters of a mile.
DOUGLAS JULIAN appeared to fins the task a bit tough in this company, while DEN OF INIQUITY was another Ferdy Murphy horse in need of the run.

2.05 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage Handicap Hurdle (98-127)

This is one of the longest hurdles of the campaign, only Sedgefield staging anything past this distance over the small obstacles.

A largely exposed bunch were put comfortably in their place by SOPRANO, following up a Perth win in July and having run creditably on the flat recently. He pulled clear from the last to win with a bit in hand.
SCOTSWELL followed up a fine Aintree third with another decent performance in second here, having been in fine form over the summer. He led before two out but was held from the last.
MORE EQUITY kept on for a never nearer third.
BOLLIN FIONA put in a good effort from 3lbs out of the weights, but was held from two out. She would benefit from a drop in class, though she seems to need a distance of ground and her chances are in the hands of the racing programme.
Nothing else threatened, though KING FONTAINE was on premises when walking through three out. He didn’t recover, but might be worth keeping in mind as he is a fair chaser who finished in the National last season.

2.40 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Limited Handicap Chase (166-122)

The open ditch was back in use for this race after repairs were carried out.

This event has filled a nice little niche in early season for two mile chasers, balancing up the Haldon Gold Cup which takes place down at Exeter the same week.

For backers these contests can be money spinners as they favour certain types. In typical Sue Smith had STAGECOACH PEARL spot for this contest and he made all in decent style. Those around about the minimum mark can be favoured in these contests as the ones above are handicapped to the hilt. On decent ground the winner might be capable of scoring again, but finding suitable races can be a problem.
SA SUFFIT was making a comeback following a career threatening tendon injury. He stays 2m 6f at least, so his trainer can try different options. Never far off the pace, he stayed on determinedly up the run-in, but was always just held by a well prepared winner. This was a promising effort from a stable boasting more strength in depth than ever before.
TCHICO POLOS has moved to Lucinda Russell, though staying in the same ownership. There were doubts about suitable races for this one, but this race was a decent alternative to the Haldon Gold Cup and I understand Ayr might lay on a contest at their upcoming meeting. Tchico Polos was chasing the leader most of the way, though held from the last if keeping on well enough. Long term target would likely be either the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and start was sound enough.
PREMIER SAGAS made no impression from two out, but ran well enough from 9lbs wrong and should be interesting once running off his real mark.
TARTAN SNOW performed admirably from 24lbs out of the weights, but was tapped fro pace at crucial stages. Given that he was coming off a 6 month lay-off this effort augurs well fro the future when back in his class.
KALAHARI KING looked forward enough to do himself justice, but finds everything happening a bit quick at this trip these days. He lost touch with the leaders three out and was well held. He is another with a long term target of the Ryanair Chase, but short term he’ll go to the Betfair Chase just to see if he can see out the three miles in decent company.
DE BOITRON needed the race and was struggling form the seventh. He’s weighted to have a chance in handicap chases and this race will have brought him on.

3.15 2m 1f Ferneyhill Handicap Chase (93-115)

A race marred by the lost of Lucinda Russell’s improving young chaser THE COCKNEY SQUIRE. He was sitting in midfield when unseating at the fourth, jumped two more fences with the field and then collapsed with a heart attack.

The race was won by virtue of a superb front-running display by STORM SURGE, ably ridden by Lucy Alexander who notched up a third win in three days. Kicking on going away from the stands, nothing ever got near enough to put in a serious challenge. The winner jumped well and was driven out to maintain the lead on the flat.
BAAHER ran a not untypical race, staying on through the field to take second place close home.
PRIMROSE TIME is probably handicapped to her best, but kept from the last for third.
BENE LAD was another who kept on late and Timmy Murphy was of the opinion that he should be stepped up to two and a half miles. That makes sense since he won hurdle over that distance in January.
DUKE OF MALFI chased the leader but was held from before the last. He’s now moved from the Russell yard to that of Harriet Graham near Jedburgh.
BISHOPS HEIR looked as if the race would do him good after a lay-off and he faded form two out. CARRIETAU couldn’t dominate here and was struggling from some way out.
RICH LORD needed the race on his chase debut and never figured.

3.45 2m 2f Flannigan Skip Hire & Border Skip Hire Handicap Hurdle (83-106)

The curse of the low sun struck this contest. Graham Lee and Timmy Murphy took their mounts down the last, had a peer from behind the hurdle and decided the sun was too bright. Thus a ten hurdle contest became six hurdles with a run-in of four furlongs plus.

The winner FLAYGRAY looks as if he could make progress. He won a bumper then shaped well in novice hurdles without winning. He came clear comfortably here and won with enough in hand to suggest he will stand a rise in class
INOOGOO close from the last down the far side but couldn’t make an impact in the final two furlongs. He’s lightly raced type who showed promise, initially in bumpers, and will be suited by a step up in trip.
KARMADICE showed up well until held from passing the omitted last hurdle. He’s not been too reliable previously but seemed on good terms with himself in the paddock, showing up for most of the way on the track.
CASSIUS has been out of sorts of late. However, he stayed on having been outpaced leaving the back straight. He probably needs softer ground and could be of interest in the winter months when the rain arrives.
JUMBY BAY ran down the field after a 725 day lay-off. He needed the race, and briefly progressed on the home turn but never got into the contest. He will probably prove well handicapped once reaching full fitness.
BALNAGORE was struck into when the field jostled for position on the stands’ bend. Campbell Gillies eased him to a halt, and reports are that he suffered only a superficial wound and it will just need time to heal.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mussleburgh open their jumps season

MUSSELBURGH – Thursday November 3rd

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

Musselburgh kicked off their jumps campaign with a pretty decent card offering the three best prizes countrywide on the day. Credit is due to the course management for their efforts on this front. They were blessed with decent weather, the overnight rain serving to do no more than freshen the surface a little, with mid-teen Celsius temperatures and bright sunshine prevailing.

Although the ground was touch on the fast side, the ground was in good nick. It is worth warning though that the difference in ground between Musselburgh and other tracks can mean form here doesn’t work out so well elsewhere. It’s an unusual jumps meeting at the Honest Toun when ‘good’ doesn’t figure somewhere in the going description.

1.0 2m 4f Scottish Racing Handicap Hurdle (125-103)

The meeting opened with a competitive looking class 3 hurdle, though the winner set a comfortable and had plenty in reserve from the last.
John Wade has steadily cranked up his training operation in recent seasons, now boasting over 60 boxes, and the quality is steadily on the up. BOW BADGER was acquired by Howard Johnson’s self-inflicted forced absence from the game and made a fine start. Taking up the running from the offset, Bow Badger was a few lengths clear two out and continued the gallop to the line. A lightly race, this one should have enough improvement to win a race or two more.

Housekeeping note – Someone at the Wade yard appears to have put the silks on the hot wash. The maroon and white colours were maroon and pink on this occasion!

MY ARCH, a two mile plus on the flat, won in convincing style here when last seen out over fences in the corresponding meeting in 2009. He jumped his field silly on that occasion, but couldn’t get into the race over hurdles until staying on up the straight for second. He should win a hurdle race given a stiffer test, and I reckon he could be a bit better over fences if given another chance.

ROCKAZAR ran better than his Irish form suggested to fill third place though held from two out. The decent ground helps and he will presumably be shipped back here over the Irish Sea before long. The course probably helps as well, as his last win came at Bellewstown, a track plenty sharp enough if a little more undulating than Musselburgh.

The rest look pretty well held in their place by the handicapper. THE STARBOARD BOW was back to what looks an ideal distance but made no impact from three out.

BEAT THE SHOWER, possibly one with more scope for improvement than others here, exited early when falling at the third. He routed himself on to the chase track and jumped a fence quite neatly in the straight.

1.30 2m 4f Download Your Free Musselburgh App Now Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

Last year’s renewal of this contest yielded a ride of the year for Matt Crawley. This year’s event was more mundane.

A 98 rated performer was made favourite, and a 99 rated exposed performer was still there at the last, so the level is pretty well established. The winner D’GIGI has more scope about her than most and should make up into a chaser. A robust mare, she was sweating a bit in the preliminaries but it proved no problem on course. Always thereabouts, she had the race in safe keeping when those chasing were hampered at the last. It made no difference to the result and she can win again in moderate company.
TALK OF SAAFEND is an exposed performer but wasn’t out of the battle for second when falling at the last. She is no more than moderate though and 2m 4f is at the buckle end of her stamina.
GOLDEN SPARKLE was presented with second when third and fourth were hampered at the last. She hadn’t made any impression on the leader from three out and kept on at one pace from the last.
Wilson Renwick did well to stay on GROOVY DANCER when knocked sideways at the last. He then managed to get enough of a run out of her to take third place. This was not a bad jumping debut and she might well take a mares’ maiden or novice event.
MADAMLILY was made favourite, but was up against it on the final bend and didn’t threaten the winner. She doesn’t look overly keen on the game.

2.00 2m 4f Daikin UK Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Three times point winner BALLYCOLIN looks every inch a chaser and took this in quite decent fashion. His jumping wasn’t fluently early, but when the pace picked up he was much sharper and had the race won despite idling on the run-in. Currently rated 121, he looks potentially a bit better than that. His Trainer Ian Duncan has recently settled in at Coylton in Ayrshire after a mover from Ireland.
MAGGIO looked very well in himself and set the pace until four out. He kept chasing the winner and was closing at the line. His place in the winner’s spot appears merely delayed.
BENEFICIAL REFORM had something to find with the first two on the book He was held from three out, but it’s worth noting that a racecard interview quoted James Ewart as expecting him to win a race here this season.
MYSTIFIED doesn’t have the build of a chaser and wouldn’t be good enough in this company.
HOLLINS didn’t relish a first attempt at fences. He jumped ponderously in the rear.
Peter Beaumont ended up on the deck for the second time in an hour as chasing newcomer DEVOTION TO DUTY unseated at the first open ditch.

2.30 2m Racing UK November Handicap Hurdle 128-100

The £10,000 pot for this race put other courses to shame on the day, but Musselburgh might have expected more than eight to contest the race.

GOLDEN FUTURE has an excellent record at Musselburgh on the Flat and added a cosy hurdles win here. He was left in the lead two out and picked up nicely when asked after the last. This was a creditable win and his current mark should allow him a chance to add to his course record.
KING FINGAL looked sharp enough on seasonal debut and stayed on for second. Lightly raced over hurdles, he should soon add to his single win over this course and distance.
AGGRAVATION stayed on under pressure for third but he looks handicapped to his best at the moment. He reversed Kelso places with BEIDH TINE ANSEO who is another in his place in the ratings.
A change of tactics threatened to pay dividends for GRAND DIAMOND until he unseated two out. Formerly a hard puller, and normally held up, he set a fair pace here and was still going well when departing.
HIGGY’S BOY joined Sandy Thomson recently and the Greenlaw trainer has gradually upped the strength of his string. This former Nicky Henderson one looked well enough but was held from three out, though only beaten 7 and a bit lengths. His mark of 128 looks workable and if he’s eased to 125 or less that would increase options.
TOSHI and GENTLEMAN JEFF remain out of sorts.

3.00 2m Edinburgh Evening News Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This could prove to nave been a fair contest in the long run.

GORDONSVILLE has looked a natural hurdler on his two previous attempts, but his flat speed got him home after the last. I had to watch the replay to pick up his run, I hadn’t noticed him until the run-in, but he jumped the last two well which gave him momentum to pick off four rivals on the flat. He needs holding up, so the race pretty much fell for him, but he’s capable and big field handicaps might prove his cup of tea.
ALLOW ME has a string of places against his name but lost nothing in defeat, looking the winner from the last only to be denied close home.
GEORGE ADAMSON looked the likely winner at the last, but jumped the flight awkwardly and couldn’t recover. Four times a winner on the flat he should win a hurdle race.
Perth winner JET MASTER could never quite get to the leaders up the straight, but kept on for fourth place.
ALSAHIL pulled hard, but remained on the premises until tapped for pace approaching the last. This was a step up on his previous hurdles effort.
CIVIL UNREST is a sturdily built type, and not one who would be seen to his best around here. That being said, he went well enough in front until outpaced from two out. This performance was probably better than the bare placing suggests.

3.30 2m 4f Fugro Subsea Handicap Chase (95-120)

It was pleasing to see a double figure turn out for this handicap chase as there wasn’t one all last season.

FRED BOJANGALS is decent at this level when he is at his best. He was ridden to perfection by Lucy Alexander who snuck up the inside of Heavenly Chorus at the last, and stayed on well enough to the line. He is two wins from three attempts at Musselburgh.
HEAVENLY CHORUS is another who isn’t always straightforward but she has a fair win record of 7 from 45. The decent ground suits her and she was only cut down after the last here, finishing well clear of the third.
ROSSINI’S DANCER finds two and a half miles around here too sharp these days, but, given that his trainer has the most northerly yard in the country she can be excused for looking for opportunities nearby. This one needs a return to three miles and I’d expect him to pick up a race before long.
WORD OF WARNING was held from three out and looks held by the handicapper.
BOB WILL raced up with the pace until weakening three out. He had a tough task in this company and his current mark gives scope for a drop back to a more comfortable level.
ALTAN KHAN never got a blow in at the leaders. He may be better dropped back to two miles. Exposed UNANSWERED weakened form three out, LIVVY INN didn’t look comfortable on chasing debut and OCARINA struggled in the final straight having been up with the pace from the start.
THE PADDY PREMIUM dropped away quickly after the turn for home. He’s better than that, but is higher than he should be for beating moderate opponents at Perth. His trainer really needs the handicapper to clock this if he’s to be competitive.

4.00 2m Racing UK ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

While light on numbers this contest saw the introduction of six potentially interesting types. The pace was very steady for the first mile and a bit, and the runners sprinted from four furlongs out. The three fittest contenders filled the first three places.

FRANKS A MILLION is bred to need a distance of ground, so the fact that he showed speed enough to win here is encouraging. He showed a good attitude in holding off a determined second, the latter being am ore obvious bumper contender.
MADAME BLAVATSKY is a small filly who is bred to be effective at two miles. She pressed the winner to the line and would win a mares and fillies’ event.
ALL AMERICAN looked best in the paddock but raced very keenly. He was left flat footed turning for home, only to come with a wet sail up the stands’ side in the final furlong. He wants a more truly run race.
DETROIT RIVER looked a bit tubby and the race will bring her on. She kept on well enough if not quick enough to deal with fitter opponents. She might need time, but is bred well enough to make up into a jumper.
REASONABLE FORCE was held up and couldn’t make an impact from two furlongs out. He wasn’t far away and offers hope for the future.
New Zealand bred TWEEDO PARADISO needed the race and was well outpaced in the straight.

HEXHAM – Friday November 4th

Action has been flying thick and fast in the area over the weekend, so a summary only from Hexham.

Ferdy Murphy’s runners have looked short of peak fitness to date this season. However, OCKEY DE NEUILLAC was much too good for the selling hurdle field here, cruising clear from the home turn. Favourite PALOMAR would beat these at his best, but struggled in third and must have problems.

SYDNEY COVE cast away moderate previous form to win the Class 5 handicap hurdle. The key to him has been getting him settled, and he picked off his field gradually from two out, taking up the lead on the flat. Sydney Cove has proved a difficult character for more than one trainer, but rewarded hard graft put in by Nick Alexander and his staff.

ROLECARR won a novice chase in which only three finished and the rider of the second LIVELY BARON was ‘given 13 days’ for breaking the whip rules. ROLECARR’s determination in the final 100 yards saw him prevail, but the finishers were very tired and the other five pulled up.

DANNY JOHN BOY was comfortable winner of a moderate staying handicap chase but will find life tougher off a likely much stiffer mark.

PANTHERS RUN saves his best efforts for Hexham and saw off TIPSY INDIAN in a close battle form the last. Henry Brooke acquired a 13 day suspension for overuse of the whip on the winner. The winner’s overall record is lousy, though he has ability which mostly stays hidden, and I wouldn’t trust to him to repeat the form.