Monday, 25 April 2011

Kelso says farewell to season 2010-11

KELSO – Saturday April 23rd

There was plenty of racing in the area over the weekend, Carlisle running an all chase card and Musselburgh a two-day flat meeting. Nevertheless there was a decent attendance for Kelso’s sole evening meeting of the season. The chases suffered with small fields, but the hurdles events were plenty competitive.

After a dry week, rain set in just before 5 o’clock, continuing steadily until around 6.15, the going easing from an early Good to Firm to GOOD.

5.40 2m 6½f Border Facilities’ Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-125)

A disappointing turn out for what was opened as a 0-135 contest, but the reported fast ground, all chase card at Carlisle and jumps card at Haydock didn’t help.

FRANKIE ANSON jumped nicely and looked to have the contest in safe keeping appro0aching the last having kicked on three out. He started to labour on the uphill run-in allowing MONSIEUR JOURDAIN to overhaul him close to the post. FRANKIE ANSON is a winner at Cartmel and would be suited by a return to that sharp track.
There was some doubt as to whether or not the trip would suit MONSIEUR JOURDAIN, but he got home well enough. He might find things harder in a more competitive contest.
PILGRIMS LANE moved closer approaching three out, but he was soon outpaced and couldn’t match the first two from that point.
APPEAL DENIED, two stone out of the handicap, jumped poorly early on. He did clear the fences a bit better from halfway, but he was well detached from that point. Connections picked up £287 for the fourth place but he will struggle in anything but the lowest class.

6.15 2m ½f NSPCC School Service Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

This was weak event and many of these will struggle to get competitive in any company.

NELSON’S CHIEF was given a gem of front-running ride by Richie McGrath, stepping in for injured stable jockey Harry Haynes. Winding it up steadily from the fifth he stayed on determinedly from the last to hold a couple of challengers. The slightly quicker ground here might well have suited him.
One for the notebook is INOOGOO who stayed on well to take second, a performance with which connections were well pleased. He will come into his own over further and looks to be a chasing prospect.
FORTUNI performed better than on previous hurdles’ outings, though held in the final furlong. There’s always going to be a question mark about his stamina and I suspect he will need fast ground and a sharp track to be seen at his best.
AGRICULTURAL appeared to improve on previous efforts, keeping on for fourth with OH SO BEAUTIFUL just behind, stepping up a bit on last summer’s debut.

I might end up looking silly over this one, but one to keep in mind for a couple of years hence might be Bruce Mactaggart’s KING KALIUM. The five-year-old is a big, chasing type, who probably has bit of strengthening to do and is hardly likely to be seen at his best at two miles over hurdles. He only lasted a mile, so the jury could be near to a quick verdict, but patience might be rewarded.

Sue Bradburne’s BATTLE HONOUR showed a little promise in the winter, but seems regressive and was well behind in the last mile, being pulled up before the last.

6.45 2m 2f Arfurminute Bulldog Handicap Hurdle (0-112)

ROLECARR is in decent form and wore down the long time leader on the run-in. He shouldn’t be too heavily punished for this win and will remain competitive even if moved above the 115 mark.
BOW SCHOOL returned to his best blinkered for the first time. He led at a sensible pace but couldn’t shake off the in-form winner.
SHERIFF HALL has ability but has always been quirky. He looked held from the last, but his steering problems cropped up again as he hung left toward the far rail in the final furlong. He is on a mark he’s well capable of winning off, but backers have to take it on trust that he is putting it all in.
BARRON WATLASS stayed on late without ever threatening. There is a suggestion of a return to form though, and it’s worth noting that he goes well at Sedgefield.
Lightly race NISAAL kept on for fifth and might be of interest in a low grade novices’ handicap. He handled quick ground on the flat.
Well backed as he often has been, ALTAN KHAN faded from two out.

7.15 3m 1f totepool Handicap Chase (0-115)

Ideally ZITENKA needs a recent run to perform to his best. However, he was presented plenty fit enough here and saw off opposition who all have their own quirks. At his best he can match it with better company and will be worth an interest if appearing again in the next couple of weeks. Disputing or leading all the way, he pulled clear from the final turn.
MORE EQUITY kept on for second but n ever got the winner from three out.
Blinkers made no difference to the weak finish of GUNS AND BUTTER. He chased the leader from two out but weakened after the home turn.
COPPER’S GOLD needs things his own way, and wins when able to dominate inferiors, but was never given any leeway here.
RAINING HORSE didn’t jump fluently and lost touch after clouting the fourteenth. He was pulled up before two out and is struggling.

7.45 2m 6½f Pharmistice at 20 Handicap Hurdle (0-123)

Tracing prominently was the tactic that worked most of the evening, STOPPED OUT making most to take the staying handicap hurdle. A previous course and distance winner, and one who has arguably had excuses of late, he proved determined in front from the last and couldn’t be worn down.
PREMIER GRAND CRU, dropped from 131 when appearing in the Scottish County Hurdle to 120 here, put up his best performance since arriving from France. Looking as immaculate as everything that James Ewart ran at the meeting, he moved into contention three out and made the winner pull out all the stops. He looks likely to win before long.
SENDALI raced close to the pace and challenged at the last. He couldn’t quite keep up the effort close home but remains in good form and will meet less determined opponents.
POLITICAL PADDY kept on into fourth but, like so many of Rayson Nixon’s runners in recent times, couldn’t make sufficient mark at the business end.
Notable under performers here were FLYING DOCTOR, on a losing run and tailed off by the eighth, and novice winner WHISPERING DEATH who ran no sort of race and was pulled up before two out. THE SHY MAN was also below form and hasn’t firing since a win at Aintree in October.

8.15 2m ½f Radio Borders Cash For Kids Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Kelso closed the 2010-2011 season with a close fought bumper, though it does seem ridiculous that Plumpton started next season less than 18 hours later! Can't we just have a bit of a break?

This wouldn’t rate as the strongest bumper run at Kelso this season, but the front two were clear and have plenty to like about them. The third has run well enough previously to underpin the form.

CAPITAL VENTURE led or disputed all the way and Nathan Moscrop wound up the pace down the far side. That was enough to have a few hard a work some way out. Typical of a Ewart inmate, Capital Venture kept finding a bit down the straight and held a promising newcomer in a bobbing finish. He will now go jumping and is likely to improve for a longer distance.
SIMPLY NED looks a nice sort and showed plenty on the track, joining issue with the leader three out and pushing him all the way to the line, probably leading inside the final furlong. Nicky Richards should place this one to advantage with a run behind him.
THIRTY DAYS OUT ran a fair second at Hexham and wasn’t disgraced here though couldn’t match the first two from three furlongs out. She will have opportunities if taking to hurdles.
VENITZIA looks a chasing type, so I suspect anything he does in these events will prove a bonus. He raced in touch but was held in the straight.
Out of a winning three mile hurdler, KINDER SCOUT wasn’t disgraced in fifth and has enough about her to suggest she will progress.
One or two such as RHYMERS HA’, a one paced seventh, and JOHN CRABBIES, a fairly backward jumping type who was well beaten, will need time.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Sunny Spring Afternoon at Hexham

HEXHAM – Sunday March 27th

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

Normal instructions for Hexham are to wrap up warm, but the weather came up warm and sunny for the first spring meeting at High Yarridge. Many thanks to the ladies on the ‘passes entrance’ who helped arrange badges for two of us.

I made a quick re-acquaintance with the Hexham surroundings, confirming that if you want creature comforts this is not necessarily the place to be, but for an excellent view of racing there aren’t many better.

2.10 2m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle – Div 1 (Class 4)

The race favoured those running close to a moderate pace. Those coming form behind weren’t able to get into the contest and the first had been up there all the way.

Chunkily built FLINTY BAY was always going well. He didn’t help himself by making a mess of two out and stumbling, but forged clear up the straight.
BUNRATTY, a big gelding who doesn’t look one who will do anything too quickly, raced up with the pace and kept on once headed. I wouldn’t imagine he would want the ground much faster.
Sprinter URSUS kept on from midfield for third though well held. Paddy Aspell felt he didn’t settle early on so the third place looks creditable. His chances would seem at their best on sharp tracks with quick ground.
Irish challenger VIVALDI was disappointing, as were all of James Lambe’s runners on the day. He never got to the leaders and couldn’t make any impression under pressure. He’s better than this and wasn’t suited by the way the race was run.
Hurdles debutant TOWER made some late progress but there was no promise from the remainder of a moderate bunch.

2.40 2m ½f SIS Novices’ Hurdle – Div 2 (Class 4)

The stronger of the two divisions of this event and run 9 seconds quicker than the first heat.

Once again it paid to be prominent, the winner ATTAGLANCE leading from start to finish and pulling clear in the closing stages. He was outpaced over two miles at Bangor but the stiffer track here helped and a return to a longer distance as he own over 2m 3f at Market Rasen. He might be good enough to pick up another novice event under a double penalty.
BELOW THE DECK chased the leaders and kept on for second, but he’s a nine-year-old inconsistent maiden.
SENDIYM kept on from two out though never threatening. Post race Graham Lee expressed the opinion that he may have a questionable attitude.
IT’S A MANS WORLD came from a long way back to finish fourth despite making a hash of both three out and two out. A modest miler on the flat this does at least suggest he might be competitive in lowly company over hurdles.
James Lambe’s IMPERIAL BREEZE never got into the race. Howard Johnson trained HOBSON’S BAY faded up the hill and seems to be going the wrong way.

3.10 3m 1f Northern Racing Club Beginner’s Chase(Class 4)

This was an uncompetitive event, won by a gelding that has shown attitude problems in the past. Wearing the colours of popular veteran Mister McGoldrick, FINAL VETO battled well to win this having appeared held approaching the last. A fair chase debut but he’s not guaranteed to repeat the form.
SILENT CLICHÉ made most of the running but came under pressure on the flat and was caught close home. The impression was he may have idled, but on looking at him in the unsaddling area and listening to connections he appeared to have given it his best.
NICK THE SILVER, a hurdles winner in 2005, ran quite well for an unsuccessful pointer. He was outpaced from three out.
CITY OF DORAL added to the list of Lambe stable disappointments, left behind from three out.
QBUSTER looked tubby and couldn’t keep up in the final mile, while PAN PAN, well related but only an occasional visitor to the racetrack, lost touch at the thirteenth and was soon pulled up.

3.40 2m 4½f Roe Deer Handicap Hurdle (0-122)

A prize of £2927 for the ‘feature event’ on the card reflects how difficult it is to put up decent prize money these days. That being said, the low rewards didn’t stop a full house of runners on the day.
CHARINGWORTH has struggled a bit over fences of late, but showed he retains ability with a late rattle on the flat to take this event.
BOLLIN RUTH could be set to pick up a spring prize on the Scottish and Northern circuit. Racing handily, she took up the running two out and stayed on only to be denied in the final hundred yards.
TEXAS HOLDEM ran another excellent race to finish a close second. Having reached a handicap mark of 126 in 2006, he was off the track for a couple of long breaks but has been admirably consistent this term. He stayed on from two out but just couldn’t get to the first two.
TEENAGE IDOL, wearing light bandages in front, challenged from two out but couldn’t raise his game on the flat.
STICK TOGETHER ran respectable race back over hurdles after a two month rest. He was in the firing line approaching the last but then gave way.
GOLFER’S CROSSING, raise 11lbs and up in class, found the combination too much to overcome.

4.10 3m Red Fox N.H. Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

Winning chaser EYRE SQUARE looked a cut above these in the paddock and proved as much on the course. Always going well, he came clear down the home straight to win with authority. He’s relatively lightly raced and there could just be a little improvement left.
Twice a course winner, MAJESTIC MAYHEM lost nothing in following home the winner under14lbs of penalties.
The unsaddling area owners’ love in that followed SADDLER’S SECRET’s third place suggests that connections weren’t setting their sights high. She plodded on through the field having been behind three out. Her achievement does at least suggest that, for some owners, prize money matters little compared with the thrill of getting into the first three.
LUA DE ITAPOAN chased the leaders three out but struggled in the straight and lost third on the flat. DRUM BUSTIBLE pulled up to end a dismal afternoon for James Lambe. Staying chaser BAY CHERRY showed little sign of a revival, weakening up the hill to finish in sixth place, while his stable mate SENOR ALCO stumbled and unseated at the fifth flight.

4.40 3m 1f Primary Websites Handicap Chase (0-115)

This was a competitive event for its level and went right down to the wire.

MORGAN BE finished a tired third in the Eider having been pulled up after two out, rested a while and then sent over the last to gain some prize money. He showed no ill effects, challenging two out and battling determinedly to hold the challenge of Lockstown on the flat. Assuming he doesn’t go up too much for this victory he would get into the Highland National at Perth in late April and would have a chance assuming the ground doesn’t get too fast.
LOCKSTOWN was disappointing at Carlisle but came right back to his best here. He was a bit outpaced no the downhill run to three out, but picked up nicely from that point and made the winner pull out the stops.
CAMDEN GEORGE is a frustrating sort who has ability but doesn’t win all that often. He had every chance at the last but couldn’t raise his game on the flat.
DAWN RIDE, never going in the Eider, made a bit of late headway to pick up fourth while AGHILL came from tailed off down the far side to stay on for fifth place.
OVERLADY was in with every chance until weakening quickly before the last. She probably needs softer going but hasn’t hit the heights of her 2009 form.
FIFTYFIVE DEGREES raced prominently until dropping away from two out. He’s been out of sorts this year.
IT’S A CLASSIC made the long trip from East Garston but struggled in the second half of the race was pulled up four out. He’s 11lbs higher than his last winning mark and struggled in this company.
COPPER’S GOLD went up 10lbs for winning a weak race last time and a mark of 109 makes life tough. He raced up with the pace until weakening quickly two out and pulled before the last.
BALLYMACDUFF ran no sort of race, SOTOVIK jumped sketchily and TEERIE EXPRESS made no impact from halfway, the trio being pulled up.

5.10 2m ½f Hexham For Tourists Maiden Open NH Flat – Div 1

I suspect this was the weaker of two bumper heats. BOSTON BOB, third on his previous bumper outing, looked very fit and was driven out for victory. This Irish pointer cost £150,000 which looks very steep, though he has scope about him to make into a chaser.
THIRTY DAYS OUT showed promise in a decent bumper at Kelso last time and stayed on well enough for second. Donald Whillans should place this one to advantage once going jumping.
BURGUNDY BEAU made a fair enough debut, racing prominently but one paced in the straight. He has enough about him to suggest Willie Amos can coax a race out of him in time.
James Ewart’s RIVERSIDE POPPET looks to need time and more of a stamina test. He was well behind four furlongs out but kept on to take fourth place.

5.10 2m ½f Hexham For Tourists Maiden Open NH Flat – Div 2

Karen Mclintock specialises in bumper horses and took her record to 12/52 in bumpers since 2007. BYGONES SOVEREIGN, benefitting from a couple of decent previous runs, was kicked on six furlongs and came clear down the straight for an impressive victory. Although McLintock will have focussed on a bumper win, this one is well enough related to have a decent future over hurdles.
VICTOR HEWGO was well held but stayed on from two out. He had the remainder well beaten off and should pick up a race.
HIDDEN HARMONY, bringing forward only moderate form from the pointing field, chased the leader in vain from four furlongs out. He did give a glimmer of encouragement for the future.
CAPITAL VENTURE was another James Ewart runner staying on late and will be better suited by a stamina test.
AHHDEHKEN, a nice jumping type, couldn’t match the principals from two out but has enough about him to make up into a chaser.
Best in the paddock was TUTCHEC. A fine big grey gelding, he still has a frame to fill into. He was well outpaced down the far side, but as a long term project he is worth keeping an eye on since there is plenty of encouragement in his breeding.