Sunday, 4 September 2011

Betfair Scottish Champions Day

MUSSELBURGH – Saturday September 3rd

Going – Good (Good/Soft in places in the straight)

Musselburgh’s Betfair Scottish Champions Day proved to be a great success with competitive fields and a decent crowd. All the finals and consolation races filled to capacity and I’m sure there’s sufficient encouragement for Scottish Racing, and presumably Betfair, to continue this Series next year.

2.35 5f Betfair Sprint Series Consolation Handicap (50-65)

All the runners here were well exposed and at this level it’s often a question of which one gets it right on the day. MONTE MAYOR ONE proved a surprise winner, though nibbled at in the market, and won with a bit to spare to open the day with a Scottish trained winner. He looked as well as she has done for some time, having not sparkled in three efforts this season, but as with some fillies it could just be the time of year. Coming through off a fast pace, she led inside the final furlong and was forging clear by the finish. She’s certainly capable of adding to this victory if she can be kept sweet. It’s possibly significant that this race was run a shade quicker than the following 66-82 contest.
DISTANT SUN, another who hasn’t set the track alight of late, ran on in the final furlong to take second. His overall record of 6 wins and 11 places from 59 isn’t bad and does suggest one who can win once he’s right. The race fell right for a place here as he picked his way through having been outpaced early on.
BALLARINA ran creditably from the front, disputing the lead until having no more to give inside the final furlong. She mixed it with previously progressive IRISH BOY who was burst at the furlong pole and faded to fifth.
SAXONETTE kept on for fourth without ever seriously threatening, but seems high in the handicap at the moment on a mark of 65.

*Race trivia (blame Derek Thompson): Winning rider Duran Fentiman was named after boxer Roberto Duran.

3.05 5f Betfair Sprint Series Final Handicap (66-82)

A competitive event with many of these having recorded victories this term.

The winner INGLEBY STAR has run some decent races during a busy campaign, now boasting a career tally of 10 wins and 15 places. He was taken down to start very steadily a while after the rest, and went into the stalls very late. Always handy, he took over a furlong out and forged clear to win with a bit in hand. This is his highest winning mark to date.
WICKED WILMA has been in cracking form and ran another stormer to fill second place off a career high mark of 73. She is another who has provided sound returns for her owners over the years and has done them proud this year in particular. It’s nice to know such performers have a chance to pitch for decent prize money in this contest.
ROTHESAY CHANCER, outpaced and in arrears in at halfway, stormed through the pack in the final two furlongs to take third. His form dipped a little after a storming start to the season, but I suspect he may still have a bit more improvement in him given another year. He looks a fine sort in the parade ring and was well turned out here.
IGOYOUGO stayed on in the final furlong, a great improvement on recent efforts. He was in decent form last backend and might be the ‘quiet one’ to take forward from this event, particularly given that he mark with allow him to be targeted at a lower class.
TADALAVIL kept on for fifth on the tails of the placed horses and ran a sound enough race.
DOC HAY is a big animal who probably found this five furlongs just too sharp. He dwelt at the start and never got into the race, but I’d forgive him the run when encountering a stiffer track.

*Race trivia: Winning rider Justin Newman is a nephew of Royston Ffrench –
North’s verdict: he looks good enough to make a decent impact in the next few years.

3.40 1m Betfair Mile Series Consolation Handicap (57-64)

The leaders went quickly here and the first three benefitted from being waited with. Half a dozen ranged up with a chance approaching the two furlong pole. JUST THE TONIC disputed the running at that point and forged ahead in the final furlong. The second fought back but she had enough in hand, though doesn’t stand out as particularly progressive.
MILITARY CALL headed the field briefly approaching the final furlong and battled well if held by Just The Tonic. He was favoured by the way the race was run, though you couldn’t fault his attitude.
SOCIAL RHYTHM kept on for third though was held in the final furlong. This was his best effort of the season, a pleasing result for dual purpose Hawick trainer Alistair Whillans who saddled second and third.
EMERALDS SPIRIT performed creditably given that he chased the leaders from the start. Understandably he was held from before the furlong pole but stuck at it to the line.
ISHEFORREAL came from well behind to fill sixth place. This one is a big animal who still looks raw and will never be one to do things in a hurry. He certainly needs a stiffer track than this, he’s not built to handle the tight top bend, but may reward followers given time. He had a couple of bumper outings and might conceivably be targeted at hurdles in the coming months. The alternative could be to target a race at Southwell as he’s out of an unraced daughter of a US Grade 2 winner.
Two pulled up, MANGHAM looked very well but went wrong early in the straight. I haven’t got any report of his condition. OLD ENGLISH appeared to have a tack problem as David Nolan had no irons from early on.

4.15 1m Betfair Mile Series Final Handicap (65-84)

FOCAIL EILE progressed from midfield to lead a furlong out and ran on well to the line. The Stewards Report form his last race said he was ‘unsuited by the good going’. I’m sorry Mr Ryan, but I don’t believe that, aversion to first time blinkers would be more plausible. That aside, he has won twice on heavy going and twice on the all-weather.
IMPERATOR AUGUSTUS wearing a bridle with plenty of bits and pieces on it (don’t you just love my technical jargon?), and accompanied by two handlers in the parade ring, ran a cracking race. Disputing the pace from the start, he repelled challengers in the straight but had no answer to the winner’s challenge. He’s run well on Polytrack before and Patrick Holmes should be able to place him to win again before long, even allowing for him not being straightforward.
SWIFTLY DONE stayed on from midfield for a never nearer third. Not a bad effort for one who appears to need a stiffer test.
SOLAR SPIRIT kept on for fourth but looks plenty high enough in the ratings.
I’M SUPER TOO was well held from three furlongs out. He pulled too hard and I suspect the track’s a bit sharp for him.

4.45 1m 5f Betfair Stayers Series Consolation Handicap (51-67)

THINK ITS ALL OVER is a strong impressive sort for this level. He’s done well on the Fibresand at Southwell and that suggests ‘stickability’, a quality he showed in spades from the front here. He led from the start, and kept finding a bit extra after being driven two and half furlongs out. Julie Camacho, on ‘stablegirl’ duty here as well as training, should find an opening at Southwell for this one.
The winner is cannily named as he’s by Tiznow, though I’m not sure it’s quite so well received in Scotland, and he runs in the ‘Rooster Booster silks’ of Terry Warner.
AMIR PASHA, one I found a little frustrating over hurdles if perfectly able on his day, chased the winner from two out to occupy second place. He’s been consistent this flat season.
POKFULHAM performed well over hurdles and on the flat this year, though ran a lack lustre race last time out. He kept on for third but never got in a blow at the leader. He remains in fair form and still doesn’t seem harshly handicapped off 65.
DANE COTTAGE, looking fit and on her toes in the paddock, ran on from the rear to take fourth place.
Few others got seriously involved in this contest.

5.15 1m 5f Betfair Stayers Series Final Handicap (67-78)

Jim Goldie scored a second win of the afternoon as JONNY DELTA confirmed previous promise. His staying power came into play as he forged clear of his field from two furlongs out. Lightly raced, he looks an interesting sort to take forward, both as a hurdling company in the winter and in better class on the flat.
MEETINGS MAN chased the winner in the closing stages but couldn’t make any impact. He’s consistent and a good measure.
LOS NADIS is well exposed but ran a sound race to finish third, staying on from two furlongs out, followed home by ZENNOR, a rangy filly who couldn’t impact on those in front in the last 300 yards.
UNKNOWN REBEL led until two out and then weakened. Initial verdict might be that the trip is too far, but I’m not sure and I reckon he’ll get the distance as he strengthens with time.

5.50 7f 30yds Betfair Bonus Scottish Racing Apprentice Handicap (46-66)

The youngsters took the stage in the closing contest and winning rider Jason Hart looks one with a decent future ahead of him. This wasn’t a great contest, but the winner CATALLOUT had gone close a couple of times and looked deserving of the win. He wore down the wandering Goninodaethat in the closing stages.
GONINODAETHAT drifted back and forth across the track under pressure and probably should have recorded a first win himself. This was a third placing in handicaps and he looks to have enough ability to land one before long, though he may require a more senior jockey aboard to sort him out.
Previous course and distance winner CHOOKIE AVON wasn’t far away in third, but was held in the final 100 yards.
The remainder were comfortably held.

For the notebook:
IGOYOUGO – when dropped in class
DOC HAY – needs a stiffer track than Musselburgh
ISHEFORREAL – may go hurdling, but worth an interest if aimed at Southwell’s Fibresand surface
JONNY DELTA – he should progress with experience and stays well

NEWCASTLE – Monday August 29th

The Bank Holiday ‘Blaydon Races’ card at Newcastle was disappointing and was suffering from lack of investment. This was decent card a few years but has been gradually downgraded in recent seasons, a pattern not untypical of all bar the top racing days at Gosforth Park.

The 7 furlong two-year-old maiden normally oftens fling up one or two of interest. I suspect the handicapper is likely to have the winner ZAKREET covered for nurseries. Favourite WARCROWN disappointed and couldn’t make an impact form two furlongs out, but he should strengthen with time and shouldn’t be written off. Another to note was tom Tate’s NEVER PERFECT who missed the break but put up some pleasing work in the closing stages to take fourth place. He will step up on this.

The form of the closing six furlong handicap will probably prove strong. Three were clear, LAYLA’S HERO, now back on a workable mark, asserted in the closing stages and can win again. Runner up LITTLE JIMMY ODSOX, a winner twice in three previous races, looks capable of adding to that tally before long. Previous winner SPINATRIX gives the form a solid look after finishing a close third.

CARTMEL – Monday August 29th

The Lakeland track closed their season as a packed house attended as is standard for this fixture.

COUNTRYWIDE FLAME won the four-year-old hurdle very easily and might well pick up another event or two before the season picks up in earnest. Other than that though there weren’t that many strong pointers to future races on this occasion.

Course specialists SOUL MAGIC and SCOTSWELL both scored on the day, making the tally 7 wins from just 11 runs this season for Borders trainer Harriet Graham.

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