Saturday, 24 September 2011

Perth Grand Finale + A few bits and pieces

Ayr Western Meeting

Work and family commitments kept me away from the Ayr Western Meeting and I wasn’t able to pick up an awful lot on TV either.

Om the first day Scottish yards scored twice, Keith Dalgleish continuing a good season when win in turn performer HINTON ADMIRAL picked up a Class 5 five furlong event. The dual purpose yard of Alistair Whillans won later in the card with SCRAPPER SMITH in the Class 2 Kilkerran Cup Handicap. Five pound claimer Julie Burke is in demand these days and did a sound job in the saddle.

Our Jonathon stepped up on a decent Goodwood effort to take the Ayr Gold Cup in testing going, The going won’t have helped many and there will be a few runs which can be ignored. ETON RIFLES put up another good effort to finish second and is worth considering while the ground is on the soft side. He will probably be brought out a time or two more before season’s close.

ZAKREET bolstered Newcastle maiden form by winning the opening nursery on the Saturday and Newcastle fourth Never Perfect’s next run could be worth a glance. He holds at entry at Newcastle this coming Wednesday the 28th.

LEXINGTON BAY won well in the closing event and may have a bit still in hand in staying handicaps.

A morning at Arlary Stables

Lucinda Russell welcomed Milnathort Racing Club and Tay Valley Chasers members to an open day on Sunday 18th September. Russell goes into this season with her string nearing 100 in strength, most at Arlary with an overspill yard at Kilduff a mile or two away.

It must be a long time since Scotland had two chasers rated 150+, let alone two in the stable, but with the arrival of TCHICO POLOS (rated 157) she now has a performer to rival stable star SILVER BY NATURE (159).

TCHICO POLOS will be aimed first at the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in early November. His next outing after that is likely to be a race which has been framed to accommodate him at Ayr toward the end of November. Some at the Nicholls yard apparently questioned whether there would be opportunities if the horse were based in Scotland but, with a ‘have horse will travel’ attitude and co-operative local tracks, Lucinda Russell should get some profitable mileage out of the newcomer.

SILVER BY NATURE goes for the Betfair Chase at Haydock first off with a trip to Leopardstown over Christmas a possibility. He will only run in soft or heavy ground and may be capable of surprising a few people when given the right conditions.

I have a small interest in OUTLAW TOM who is entered at Hexham this coming Friday. It’s a novice chase and there may be one or two too good, but it’s a good course to get a novice settled and jumping, and there’s prize money down to fifth. There’s only twelve entered at the initial stage so he well earn some keep if just completing.

BLENHEIM BROOK is rated a good prospect over fences for the coming season. He improved steadily over the season last year and should come on for a fair second to Astracad at Perth this week.

Bumper winner NUTS N BOLTS joins the stable from Alan Swinbank. He was considered good enough to run in a decent event at Aintree on his third run and, even though well held there, should win a hurdle or two.

BAWN REAGH is an Irish point-to-point winner who should make up into a decent chaser given time. Another Irish pointing winner to watch out for is BLAZIN WHITE FACE, twice third to decent performers at Perth in bumpers and likely to be aimed at mares’ only events.

Two young horses to keep in mind for the future at BALLYBEN and MUMGOS DEBUT. Both are well rated by Tim Reed who does the prep work for the Russell yard. It’s early days yet but these two may be seen out in juvenile bumpers and have done everything asked of them to date.

CULCABOCK has served the stable well and notched up 8 wins in a 78 race career. His retirement was announced to us and he will be looked after by Jaimie Duff, Russell’s hard working assistant.

PERTH – Wednesday September 21st

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

The lower key day of Perth’s Glorious Finale Two Day meeting but one that may have thrown up a Cheltenham prospect. Morning rain cleared to give a sunny afternoon with a strong breeze directly behind in the straight. The ground was in excellent nick though some found it just a bit too tacky.

2.25 2m 4½f Edinburgh Gin Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

There were really only two with a chance here, but MART LANE eased clear of his only rival so easily that it’s no that his trainer John Joseph ‘Shark’ Hanlon** already has this one earmarked for Cheltenham in March. A good winner of a bumper at Leopardstown in January, he got “bogged down in near unraceable ground” at the Curragh on his subsequent run. The plan is to take in decent novice events at Leopardstown to test him out. He’s a nice sort who will win much better events than this.

The winner was the first as a professional for Brian Hayes and should be the first of many.

HARD TO SWALLOW was well considered by Martin Keighley, but put in his place by a sharp opponent. He finished rather tired, but he still has some growing to do and
doesn’t seem the finished article. In time he is likely to prove decent.

WARANTS A NAME ended up tailed off in fifth. However it’s worth bearing in mind that he was the only one to take on the principles, and paid for that by weakening badly in the last mile. He has shown glimmers of ability and is likely to make a mark once handicapped.

FRONTIER LAD finished in front of something for the first time over hurdles in a distant third, with the slow looking BOSTON LAD well behind in fourth.

** The winning trainer has useful performer HIDDEN CYCLONE in his stable and rates that one a Gold Cup prospect. Only beaten once over hurdles, this one must surely be of great interest when appearing in novices’ chases in Ireland.

3.00 2m ½f Book Your Christmas Party At Perth Claiming Hurdle (Class 4)

ONE FOR JOULES challenged two out, led before the last and came clear on the flat to win a shade cosily, landing a double for Shark Hanlon in the process. The winner was claimed by Mr J L Flint for £10,000, so I presume he will now be running out of John Flint’s yard at Kenfig Hill near Bridgend.

Gordon Elliott’s FOOL’S WILDCAT has plenty of ability, and has won around here, but is rather too easily beaten.

BACCALAUREATE seems best in these events and sellers. He kept on under pressure for third without ever threatening. WHEATFROMTHECHAFF has been off her game recently and could make any impact once turned for home. LAKEMAN won despite jumping poorly at Cartmel. His jumping was totally clueless here and he was beaten turning for home.

3.35 2m 4½f Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Novices’ Handicap Chase (98-113)

QUITE THE MAN was settled nicely toward the rear on his chasing debut. He jumped accurately, working his way into contention approaching the last and wearing down the leader on the run to the line. He is tall, nice looking gelding and should go on from here over fences.

THE COCKNEY MACKEM was making his chasing debut having fallen here over hurdles on his last run back in April. He jumped well enough and pushed on four out. From my position by the last I could see he was coming to the end of his tether, pecking a little on landing and not able to resist the winner’s challenge close home. This was a good debut however, and he should win chases.

BALNAGORE ran prominently or disputing until thumping four out and he couldn’t get back to the leaders after that. This was a fair effort though his jumping does let him down at key points in the race. OTTO QUERCUS’s jumping was laboured for much of the way and he never threatened to take a part in the finish.

THE PADDY PREMIUM went well enough up front until headed four out. He then weakened and unseated after getting thump from Otto Quercus two out. SKY CALLING raced two keenly and was a spent force before four out, pulling up before two out.

4.10 2m ½f Hogmanay Party At Perth Racecourse Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

THE ICE FACTOR, a winner of a hurdle at Tramore, put experience to good use here. He led, wound up the pace down the far side and nothing got to him in the straight. Chances are he’ll pick up another hurdle or two before decent horses come out.

PRINCE FREDDIE made an encouraging debut in second. He never got the leader but kept on for second, just ahead of RED RIVERMAN who kept on at his own pace in third. Previous winner COOL NEWPORT found this tougher going than her debut race at Ffos Las. NAY SECRET was struggling a long way but stayed on a bit late on. He might improve on a stiffer track.

4.45 3m Sodexo Prestige Handicap Chase (For the Duke Of Atholl Challenge Cup) (90-120)

This looked quite a competitive event, but POWER PACK JACK was able to make all and stayed on to good effect down the straight. He hit a couple including the second last but held enough in reserve.

ST KILLIAN’S RUN, blinkered for the first time, chased the leader from four out but never got to him.

BESCOT SPRINGS and ROSSINI’S DANCER showed enough here to suggest they can land a steeplechase this season. They were both held from three out but ran well enough after a layoff.

SUPREME BUILDER weakened in the straight having raced in midfield fro much of the way. SOUBRIQUET, last year’s winner, looked as well as I can remember, but was struggling before four out. He wins only in his turn but is below his last winning chase mark.

Of the rest BOB’S TICKET jumped poorly and eventually Adam Nicol at the twelfth. RESTORATION looked well enough, and is an impressive sort, but never got into the race and was well detached when pulling up three out. FLOREANA was out of her depth here on Lucy Alexander made her professional debut, apparently making her the first professional jump jockey from Scotland.

5.20 3m ½f SIS Handicap Hurdle (110-135)

The highest grade event on the card and won with ease by LOS NADIS. Henry Brooke judged the pace to a tee here, leading then winding things up in the last mile. Nothing got close to him from three out. He’s sure to go up a fair way for a 23 length win and his rating is likely to be high 130s which will push him at least a grade higher. That being said this was a second decent win here on the trot and in this form he’s worth a go in better company. When he first started hurdling his jumping technique let him down, but his jumping ability is now such that he jumps fields at this level into submission.

SNAKE CHARMER stayed on from two out with no hope of catching the winner, but he was well clear of the remainder. DEVOTION TO DUTY plugged on for third but was beaten 40 lengths+.

MIRAGE DORE looked well enough after a layoff, but was well behind from three out.

PERTH – Thursday September 22nd

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

2.20 3m ½f Edinburgh Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

MANGER HANAGEMENT was never in great difficulty as he made it four in a row, paying testament to Gordon Elliott’s placement of his horses.

WHAT A WARRIOR was eased in once clearly held from two out. Sam Twiston-Davies did well to keep him on track when he veered toward the exit on the first bend, cannily tucking him behind others next time round.

2.55 2m ½f Maersk Oil Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

The country’s most northerly placed licensed trainer, Sue Bradburne, might have a fair hurdler on her hands in JET MASTER. He left two previous winners behind with ease from two out in the style of one who can move up in grade. This could be an exciting prospect for the future.

ESPERAO was held after two out having led until that flight but seemed to run to form, while 139 rated REDERA never looked entirely happy and was held form three out.

STAGS LEAP gave a hint of ability but felt the pinch from three out.

3.30 2m ½f Timothy Hardie Jewellers Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

This could turn out to have been a fair novices’ chase since I know that the stable of the second rate him as a chasing prospect.

ASTRACAD raced close up and forged clear from two out. After a promising start as a hurdler he was given some tough asks in Graded novice company. He certainly looks a decent chaser though, jumping very nicely here and is likely to win a few races.

BLENHEIM BROOK couldn’t match the winner from two out, but his jumping was accurate enough and he won’t always run into one as good as the winner. He will win chases and was well clear of BOCCIANI who jumped well enough but found the company too good.

UNCLE TAFFY was well held in fourth while FOOL’S WILDCAT blundered his rider away at the eleventh as the pace picked up.

Favourite CHAMPION COURT didn’t settle, was less than foot perfect and blundered AP McCoy out of the saddle three out.

4.05 2m 4 ½f George Stubbs Insurance Novices’ Hurdle (84-110)

WHAT AN OSCAR stayed on from two out to land another contest for Twiston-Davies and Son. The Gloucestershire trainer has relinquished his top Perth trainer to Gordon Elliott in recent times, but still saves a few for the far north.

FUNKY MUNKY made steady headway from two out and pressed the winner to the line. This was by far his best effort over hurdles and he would be interesting dropped in class. NORTHERN ACRES held every chance, leading from three out until the last, but couldn’t raise his game any further.

Most eye-catching effort came from PAPAMOA in fourth. I’ve got this on horses to follow list on The Racing Forum and I was well pleased with his effort here. He was outpaced a little after three out but kept on under pressure all the way up the straight, still closing at the line. He needs softer ground and probably a stiffer track and I’m sure he’ll win a novice handicap before long.

4.40 2m ½ f Anderson Anderson & Brown Handicap Hurdle (96-115)

QUITO DU TRESOR took advantage of a generous handicap mark 15lbs less than his chase mark to win this nicely. He led all the way and held enough in hand to win unchallenged. He’s in good heart and should remain competitive in decent handicap chase company.

CADEAUX FAX kept on well enough for second and should gain compensation. ARISEA came from well back to take third place but is well exposed.

5.15 2m 4½f Handicap Chase

THE PANAMA KID seemed well suited by the turning track here and doesn’t seem likely to be especially well treated after a clear win. He raced up with the pace and stayed on from two out

THE DISENGAGER ran creditably in second after a long layoff.

PROSECCO had been distinctly uncooperative when schooling in front of owners on Sunday. He was much better over the obstacles here but had to be niggled on the home turn and couldn’t make an impact from that point. Keep him in mind at Ayr since he’s 2111 from four runs there.

Most of those behind are exposed and didn’t offer immediate encouragement.

5.50 2m ½f Open NH Flat

SIR JOHNSON, a winner of two previously, had this in safe keeping form two out. He should be plenty good enough to win over hurdles.

LUCIA BAY is more of a long term prospect but a second placed bumper effort augurs well. He’s got a nice jumping pedigree and his hurdles debut is eagerly awaited.

PEG LEG and SUN CLOUD kept on without threatening the first two.

Newmarket – Cambridgeshire

Nice to see that versatile perfomer NANTON running a stormer in the Newmarket handicap, staying on relentlessly up the hill for fourth, no more than two or three inches from landing second. Having been a close second over 1m 6½f the previous time, I presume he will be back at Newmarket for the Cesarewitch. This animal must be an absolute dream for Jim Goldie to have in the stable and who’s to say he won’t be involved in the finish of the stayers’ event?

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