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.