Monday, 30 May 2011

May Round-Up

Apologies for being rather slow in updating. I’ve changed jobs this month and my energies have been geared toward that rather than race analysis. That being said, the notebook has been active and there are few horses noted as worth following.

Not quite fitting the May round up brief, but worth noting from April 30th, was the Hexham Heart Of All England meeting. The main event threw up a dual from which both combatants can be noted for future Rules appearances. Six-year-old BITTER BLUE just held seven-year-old IMPACT ZONE in a sprint from the last, the pair well clear. Boasting 3 from 4 and 8 from 14 respectively in points, both look good enough to hold their own in senior Hunter company. The latter has been handicapping in the past, and is rated only 84, but pointing seems to have improved his confidence.

REXMEHEAD ran respectably to fill second place in the selling hurdle behind Folk Tune and may be worth noting for a lowly chase in the next month or two. Consistency isn’t his strong point, but he has ability at his own level.

MISTER WALL STREET, oft highly tried over hurdles, may well have found his niche in chasing. He won the 2m 4f novice chase here, jumping very well all round and staying on under pressure. While this wasn’t the toughest event, Hexham is a stiff test and Mister Wall Street proved well up to it.

PERTH – May 11th

While England complains of lack of rain there was no shortage in Perthshire, the ground coming up ‘Soft’ for the day May meeting. The final hurdle was set back before the last fence, giving an unusually long run-in here of 300 yards plus.

SEAN SIRGEAD won a weak novices’ handicap hurdle from SOLWAY BLUE. The second has had plenty of opportunities and only won a Market Rasen seller, so the form isn’t strong. The third, RED TANBER, is a potential winner at the lowest level, but he’s headstrong and not helping himself. The rest are a motley crew, and it’s difficult to see them mustering many wins.

MAID IN MOSCOW showed fair form at Kelso and stepped up to take the 3m novices’ handicap chase. She won again at Sedgefield, this time over 3m 3f and looks to be an out and out staying mare. Stuart Crawford takes advantage of the ferry service from his Larne base and this mare is worth noting on any further trips for staying chases. (Won at Cartmel today in a soft event, but so easily she could well pick up another race soon) . DOLLAR MICK was a fair second and is bred to stay well, rallying on the run-in though just held. He’s not been over raced and James Moffatt can place him to win. John Wade’s APACHE BLUE is not bad at this level and was held from two out.

Tom George has made a few raids from his base at Slad in Gloucestershire. BE DEFINITE saw off a moderate bunch ion the 0-115 conditionals handicap hurdle at the minimum distance. He held on in a driving finish from RICH LORD who has been out of form for a couple of years. They were followed by TIME MACHINE who looks held off 115 and PETE who has ability but is often uncooperative.

Dual point winner FIDDLER’S REEL won the maiden hurdle. The result suggests there’s better to come as the second, RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL won at Cartmel’s first meeting of the season. The winner will be of interest when going chasing. QUEL ELITE stayed on from well back for third, seemingly finding this track too sharp. There’s a race in him at a stiffer circuit.

CABBYL DOO held BABE HEFFRON in the two mile handicap chase. The former would appear to have some scope for improvement in chases. Malcolm Jefferson’s veteran POLAR GUNNER holds his form and filled third place.

OSCAR’S BALLAD couldn’t cope with a 15lb rise in the weights when favourite for the closing staying handicap hurdle. The race he won here previously didn’t seem anything special and he may continue to struggle. LEWLAUR SUPREME is steadily improving in these contests and was pushed out to win with a little in hand. AMORE MIO and SAM PATCH stayed on to fill the places. Richard Phillips seems to have rejuvenated the former after a quiet period and might coax a small race out of him, while SAM PATCH will presumably contest lowly staying contests in Scotland and the north with some hope.

TRENDELENBURG didn’t look totally straightforward in winning here at the Festival. Made short priced favourite for the Intermediate Hurdle he disgraced himself by ducking out through the wing at the last, challenging though having to be rousted along. Exposed chaser SELECTION BOX was thus presented with an easy win. He beat little else and we learnt very little.

The novice chase was blighted by jumping varying from moderate to appalling. GRAY MOUNTAIN took the race despite being messy and guessy at his fences. He worth comfortably though and may progress IF his jumping is improved. I’d be loathe to take a chance on him in a bigger field than against the three opponents here. THE PADDY PREMIUM jumped best of the quartet but is rated only 100 so second here was respectable. FIGHTSTAR was all over the place at his jumps, just holding third from favourite WIKAALA who has ability, but is ungenuine and didn’t relish her task.

FOOL’S WILDCAT comfortably beat two others when landing the odds in the claiming hurdle. We learnt little but were reminded that Gordon Elliott is master at spotting opportunities.

Hit or miss SOTOVIK got his jumping right in the 3 mile staying handicap chase and won with something in hand. He’ll go up a fair bit for this and a repeat is unlikely.
CURRAHEE seems in good heart at the minute and ran creditably in second, he might pick up a minor handicap off his current mark. He has since dotted up in an uncompetitive novice event at Hexham, a win which won’t have done his confidence any harm.
SCOTCH WARRIOR was not disgraced on his first effort in handicap company, having run some fair races in hunter chases. He handles better ground than this and would be worth an interest if kept on the go.
For Lucinda Russell, ET MAINTENANT was below par in fourth, while GO SILVER BULLET ran no sort of race and was pulled up four out.
DARK BEN has had spells off the track but this exuberant front runner generally gives his running. He was going well enough when unseating at the fourteenth.
MISS VIVIAN won Perth’s novice hunter ‘championship’ seeing off point winner PEAR CHARLES and 110-rated MOMENT PRESENT. I suspect the form’s not as good as the latter’s rating might suggest, but this event has thrown up some fair performers in the past.

Gordon Elliott scored with WESTERN BOUND in what appears a competitive 0-120 2m 4f hurdle. He was chased home by CIRCUS CLOWN who improved in the mud over previous months.
DRUSSELL’s effort in third probably wasn’t bad and Richard Phillips seems willing to travel to place his charges. This one won for Steve Donohue last year and hints at recovering that form, significantly now that the handicapper has given him a chance.

BURY PARADE stepped up on his debut performance to take the closing bumper ahead of a staying on NOW IT’S MY TURN. The close third TEKTHELOT had been well beaten twice previously, and most of these will need time and development if they are to produce anything worthwhile.

KELSO – Sunday May 22nd

Going – Good

Ladies Day opened with a couple of pony races, useful for those noting possible riding stars in years to come. In the 148cm and under class Ned Curtis on Little Pea saw off Lorcan Murtagh on Miss Tiny. Both are sons of trainers, the former having travelled from Weston-Super-Mare, and he had Channel 4 exposure this past weekend when winning at Newmarket. Murtagh is only twelve and will presumably be a force in these events for the next three years.

Overnight rain gave us perfect good ground; a healthy crowd around the 3,500 mark witnessing some decent racing to close Kelso’s 2010-11 campaign.

2.15 2m ½f SSAFA Forces’ Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

A very moderate novices’ hurdle opened the card with lightly raced STRONGHAVEN holding off two challengers from the last flight. Hurdles newcomer RANGEFINDER, decent at best on the flat, filled second place by keeping on though unable to make an impression from the furlong pole. 112-rated MR TALLYMAN was third, racing in touch but held from the furlong marker.
This bunch was not impressive in the paddock. However ZARU, immaculately turned out in typical Ewart stable style, at least has some scope. He’s tall and leggy, needing to fill out a fair bit, but stayed on encouragingly having been outpaced three out.
SANTIAGO BOY was equipped with bandages in front and walked feelingly round the paddock. His jumping never looked comfortable and he was pulled up after jumping violently left twice down the far side.

2.45 2m 1f KOSB Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-106)

PEACHEY MOMENT created a favourable impression when winning at Perth, and backed that up with a determined performance here. He was dropped in distance which probably wasn’t in his favour and up 9lbs, but saw off his main challenger from the last. Peachey Moment has more improvement in him stepped up in trip. He jumps very well which is a key at this level.
SHERIFF HALL was on good terms with the world on this occasion. Leading for most of the way, he still held the call at the last but was worn down on the run-in. He’s generally thereabouts and probably a bit better than the 93 he ran off on this occasion.
TRANOS plugged on for third, though well held from three out. BALLABROOK, winner of a soft event at Wincanton, was outpaced down the far side and struggled thereafter. Donald McCain runners often catch the eye in the paddock, but Ballabrook wouldn’t rate as one of their best lookers. BARRON WATLASS made no mark on this race and seems happier at Sedgefield, even if he should consent to perform to his best over fences. SANDMAN has shown little in recent times, while BALNAGORE was behind from halfway. His second at Carlisle flattered him, as it was a very moderate contest and he was well held.

3.15 2m 6½f Reece, Ben and Jessica Coppola Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

ANOTHER DIMENSION, an improver when winning at Huntingdon in March, suggested that staying in his game. Wilson Renwick wound up the pace going away from the stands for the final time and his charge showed ample stamina to hold off his only serious challenger OMOKOROA, the latter 24 lengths clear of the third.
HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL chased in vain from three out, though performed a little better than on his Hexham hurdling debut.
Well backed LATIN CONNECTION, who has been a bit frustrating, fell at the third flight.

3.45 3m 1f Jacques Handicap Chase (0-124) for the Wilf and Patricia Crawford Memorial Trophy

BADGER FOOT made a successful first Rules appearance for Lucinda Russell. A winner for Jonjo O’Neill at Hereford last season, he would appear to have benefitted from a spell of picking up point-to-point wins in the north. Three pulled clear from two out here and the winner stayed on to win comfortably, the suggestion being that there’s more in the tank from this improving six-year-old.
HARRY FLASHMAN lost nothing in defeat to what may turn out to be a generously handicapped winner. He’s generally on his game at this time of year, and normally goes well at Hexham where he may still have an opportunity or two in the coming weeks.
JUSTWHATEVERYOULIKE stayed on through rivals from the rear. That’s not untypical, but he’s back on manageable mark now and a drop in class could pay dividends.
OR DE GRUGY faded before the last and finished fourth. Judging from previous campaigns he’s likely to have a rest until the autumn.
LETHEM PRESENT performed respectably from 13lbs wrong, staying on late and wouldn’t be a lost cause in a little event at Hexham where he often runs well.
OUR JIM’s comment in the programme stated “Latest success came courtesy, and needs to pull out extra to take this”. Err…, yes! He struggled from three out when the pace picked up.
BAY CHERRY faded from two out and hasn’t fulfilled potential as yet.
RORY BOY weakened quickly approaching three out, whilst MORE EQUITY never got competitive.

4.20 2m 2f Peter K Dale Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (0-117)

This was probably a fair event in which any could be identified as potential future winners in some shape or form.

RED TANBER set the pace but his exertions told from half a mile out. He was 13lbs out of the handicap but needs to calm down.
WHAT A STEEL raced in touch led at the last and stayed on well. He was staying on over 21 furlongs at Market Rasen suggesting a greater stamina test might bring about further improvement.
COOL BARANCA made headway from three out and stayed on for second. He jumped better than on previous efforts.
FREDDIE BROWN is gradually calming down, though he still pulled too hard for his own good here. He les three out and went clear but was caught on the run-in. He tends to keep on once passed and I reckon an increase in trip might pay dividends.
The rest were held. CITY GROUND was well held when hitting the last and slowed to a walk close home as he had gone lame. He has ability so the hope is that it’s nothing lasting.

4.55 3m 1f Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Challenge Cup (Hunters’ Chase) (Class 4)

These contests can turn into a procession, but this was closely fought for much of the way. ABRAGANTE was nursed along in midfield but picked up from three out and led in the final furlong. He’s not the easiest ride but he was put into the race to perfection.
SPECIAL PORTRAIT probably lost this race with a couple of sloppy jumps down the far side for the final time. Those cost him 5 lengths, and he only lost by two. He was considered good enough to appear at the Cheltenham Festival and we probably haven’t seen the best of him in this sphere yet.
FLOREANA kept on for third if unable to match the front two. This was much better than her Perth effort.
SACRED MOUNTAIN took up the running four out but was found wanting in the straight. He’s won three times in points but found this company just too good.
BEAU TRAVELLER looked half asleep in the paddock. He woke up on the track though leading to four out and remaining in contention when his saddle slipped approaching the last.
L’OUDON was just picking up when thumping three out and then he dropped away.
KILBRICKEN ROSE, a pointing winner but nowhere near good enough here, finished a remote late and appeared lame post race.
ROYAL MAN, bandaged in front, struggled from halfway and was pulled up before two out.

5.30 2m ½f John Smiths’ No Nonsense Standard Open NH Flat Race

Linda Perratt’s huge gelding ANITOPIA re-appeared here having made a good impression at Perth in late April. He’s very big, but all in proportion and once he picked up four out he had this field on the stretch. Once again he ran green when asked the question, but picked up in the final 100 yards in strong style. He remains an exciting prospect.
I’d identified two newcomers who had enough on breeding and looks to make an impact. It proved the case as THE WEATHERMAN and MIA MATRARCH were the ones still in contention at the furlong pole. THE WEATHERMAN doesn’t look the finished article and as a four-year-old still has some strengthening to do. He stayed on well enough and will likely pick up a race. Meanwhile owner bred MIA MATRAIARCH kept on after the first two and this half-sister to three winners, including the previously mentioned Harry Flashman, must surely be capable of winning races. If her trainer could find a mares’ bumper for her it would be at her mercy at this time of year.
GEORGE MY FRIEND completes the set for my ‘follow the first four from Kelso bumpers’ system. He looks a staying type, keeping on through the field late on.
FLEET FOX is a neat sort who is related to jumping winners. Nick Alexander has had some fair prospects running in bumpers over the last couple of years and this one looks the time to reward his stable in time.

5.50 1m 5f Fine Fillies Charity Flat Race – sponsored by the Injured Jockeys “Fund in aid of The House That Jack Built”

Old red shirt himself, Jack Berry, was on course as this was run in aid of his charity effort. He was rewarded with an excellent contest, many winners to show between the first three jockeys home, Polly Gundry, Fiona Needham and Pauline Robson.
Sadly one opportunity from this race has already passed as winner HONG KONG ISLAND followed up at Pontefract last Friday. He just held off RAIN STOPS PLAY who recently won over hurdles and lost nothing in defeat here. She seems to be getting the hang of things now and, having won over hurdles recently, could find another race soon. GRAND DIAMOND was right in the mix until the last 100 yards.

I've not seen much flat racing this season, but hope to get in a few notes before the weekend. It's a busy time for Scottish racing with meetings at Hamilton (Thursday), Musselburgh(Friday and a big day on Saturday) and Perth Gold Cup day on Sunday. All of this I'll miss as I'm off to my brother's wedding at Christchuch in Hampshire, or Dorset, or whereever it is these days! Even with racing on family comes first.

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