Sunday, 30 October 2011

Carlisle - plenty of pointers once again.

CARLISLE – Sunday October 30th

Going – Good to Soft

KOUP DE KANON won the opening novices’ handicap hurdle with any amount to spare. Second and third are exposed, so he probably beat a huge amount, but he’s a likeable sort out of which the McCain yard should find more improvement.
The second CLAUDE CARTER has ability but doesn’t find much at the sharp end, and NORTHERN ACRES plodded on thorough the field for third. Not much encouragement for any of the others.

David Pipe has a decent novice chaser on his hands in NOTUS DE LA TOUR. Jumping really well, he had his field beaten from four out and this decent handicap hurdler will stand a step up in class over fences.
STOPPED OUT stayed on promisingly for second on chasing debut and should find a similar event in the north.
Lightly race QUEL BALLISTIC kept on for third without ever getting into the contest. He’ll be better for this and John Wade should get a win out of this one.
SIGNALMAN jumped exuberantly, typical of many a Ewart trained chaser, but paid the penalty for taking on the winner, fading into last of six. I presume he’s been difficult to train, as races have been few and far between, but he has some ability and will be competitive once finding his level.

SUPER DUTY was a very easy winner of the 2m 3½f novices’ hurdle. Previously a Bangor bumper winner, he came clear of two previous winners. E was a bit green out in front but still eased close home. His pedigree suggests he will improve with distance.
Previous winners BENEFIQUE and HOUSTON DYNIMO ran to form under penalty and double penalty respectively.
A half-sister to Sir Harry Ormesher, FASHION STAKES was well beaten in bumpers last year, but showed a glimmer of ability in keeping on from well back for fourth. There’s plenty of work to be done still, but she hinted that she may progress from here.

The Cumberland Handicap Chase is a competitive early season Class 3 event and the first five here all look to be going in the right direction.
POWER PACK JACK impressed with an all the way win at Perth, and proved he’s versatile with another front-running win over this stiff circuit. He unseated last time, but he jumps boldly and also has plenty of stamina.
QHILIMAR was always on the premises and stayed on for second place. He seemingly ran into a well-handicapped winner and shouldn’t be out of the winners’ spot for long.
HUMBIE progressed up the hill and looked the main danger to the winner at the last. He skewed left which cost him a few lengths, but he recovered to close on the first two and just miss out on second place. He’s improved with steps up and trip and might well come on again over a longer distance.
CAPTAIN AMERICO never quite got the leaders but kept on to take fourth. He’ll find easier contests.
Hexham novice winner LACKAMON found this tougher, but he held every chance up the straight and was far from disgraced in a close fifth. He will know more next time he faces this company and I think he will progress into a decent staying chaser.
The Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase has proven a decent pointer in recent years and the six competitors are worth keeping an eye on for various reasons.

Sue Smith is adept at pulling here horses out to perform well after a break and MR MOONSHINE was impressive here. He jumped nicely in front and was allowed to fiddle the last two when well clear.
HIDDEN KEEL, rated 149, was probably a bit below par on seasonal debut and outpointed from three out. However, from past experience I suspect second here will prove a reasonable effort.
Ferdy Murphy’s horses are all short of top fitness at the moment and his three will no doubt come on for the race. KELLYSTOWN LAD came from well back to take third place. He was lowest rated here and his place probably owes something to the way the race was run. LORD VILLEZ chased the leaders but was well outpaced from four out, while DIVERS was never going and pulled up before three out. He’ll need to be much fitter if aimed at the upcoming Cheltenham meeting.
GILBARRY was niggled at for much of the way and never got into the race. He’s much better than this effort suggests.

The Class 5 handicap hurdle does not look an awful lot of help for the future. The winner ARISEA has only won in selling company previously and a rise for winning this won’t help him in handicaps since he had a couple of regular soft touches in second and third. KING BENNY, admittedly a winner at Newton Abbot where the quirky course may have suited him, seldom finds much late on and ditto LEITH WALK who capitulated when asked for an extra effort approaching the last.

I was eagerly awaiting the juvenile bumper with a good vibes eminating from the Ewart camp for UEUETEOTL, suggesting they might have a decent animal on their hands. Leading from the front he quickly went clear when asked three out. In the end it was a close run thing, with Malcolm Jefferson trained HI GEORGE closing at the line and just failing with a telescope needed to view the other runners. The pair are both bred to do a job over jumps, could just be very sharp and their hurdling debuts are eagerly awaited.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Carlisle's late October Meeting looked a decent card

CARLISLE – Thursday October 20th

Going – Good to Soft

This was a cracking Carlisle card, plenty of strength in depth over a range races and there should be a fair few winners to emerge for the future.

The first of the 2m 3½f novices’ hurdle heats looked to be the stronger. OSCAR DAVY looked the likely winner until diving at the last and coming down. He looks a sure winner of a similar contest and family record suggests this is around his right distance. SIVOLA DE SIVOLA may find life a bit tougher with a double penalty, though he stayed on admirable once given his winning chance. BOUND FOR GLORY ran a sound race and will win races for the McCain stable, while MAJORCA KING was finishing best of all back in third and looks to be crying out for three miles.

CAPE DUTCH won the second division of the novice with a fair bit to spare. Hurdling newcomers WESTON LODGE and DOUBLE ROSS performed soundly on debuts. While this didn’t look as competitive as the first heat, the time was pretty much the same.

DO IT FOR DALKEY has clearly benefitted from a wind operation and strolled home in the Class 5 2m 4f handicap chase. He’ll go up a fair way but he jumped really well and had so much in hand that there seems no reason why he shouldn’t win moved up in grade. MALKO DE BEAUMONT has had a miserable couple years, but he stayed on well for third and is worth noting for the future. He’s 30lbs below his last winning mark, has a fine record around Carlisle (also 2 out 3 at Haydock) and clearly retains enough ability.

Multiple point winner HORSHAM LAD won a decent looking 3m Class 3 handicap chase. He looked well readied for this but might pick up another race while on a high. VAMIZI put up a decent effort in third, and the in-form Lucinda Russell should find a race for this one before long. One amongst a whole raft of newcomers at Arlary, this one looks as if he needs a thorough test of stamina. The stable might just consider the Borders National at Kelso in early December.

During the 2m 1f Intermediate Handicap Hurdle I noted that commentator Darren Owen referred to the ‘false straight’ on the new hurdle course. Longchamp transported to Cumbria? ATTAGLANCE strolled this and looks sharply progressive. CIRCUS CLOWN was outpaced form the fourth flight but picked up again in the latter stages to finish best of anything. THE STARBOARD BOW plugged on for fourth and probably need a middle distance on evidence of two runs this season.

The Beginners’ Chase might well turn out to be a distinctly decent contest. FRASCATI PARK was well readied for this one and held the upper hand from two out.
BOLD SIR BRIAN took a fair time to warm to his task. His jumping was a little untidy early on, but having almost been brought down at the fifth, he picked up well to the bottom bend. He would probably have been held by the winner, but thumping two out meant his winning chance had gone anyway. Keeping on well after the winner, he still looks work in progress, but has any amount of potential as a chaser.
AIKMAN jumped well enough, was outpaced from four out and then stuck on well up the hill. He needs further than this, but he’s got chaser written all over him and will win over fences. GOING WRONG filled fourth, fading two out, but he’s another that’s likely to win chases particularly over a distance of ground.
Willie Amos’s WILLIE HALL found this a bit tough on chase debut, and can sharpen his fencing. However, he looks the type to do well enough in chases once he finds his level.

Keith Reveley’s CROWNING JEWEL won the bumper in decent style, going clear from two out.
The second and third are both more stoutly bred than the winner. Jedburgh trainer Robert Bewley has a decent prospect on his hands in the runner-up BURY PARADE, and he should improve once going over a longer distance in hurdles. OSCAR ROMEO finished with a rattle to take third on his racecourse debut and is another who will benefit from a longer trip in time. I suspect he can probably pick up a run of the mill bumper in them meantime.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Kelso - Mid-October Meeting

KELSO – Saturday October 15th

Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

The weather forecast got progressively better during the week and in the end the rain avoided us altogether. In fact it was a pleasant afternoon, blessed by the sun for a fair part of the time. The course is in great nick, and a few prominent northern trainers clearly aim their horses at Kelso on this basis.

The card opened with a Pantomime Horse Race in aid Macmillan Cancer Support which commentator Lee McKenzie admitted was one of the more difficult races he has had to cover! The presence of a pantomime zebra, a cow and a elephant suggests the rules were pushed to the boundaries. Papillon won for Five Star Taxis who donated their winning prize money to the charity.

1.35 2m ½f Edinburgh City F.C. NH Maiden Hurdle (Div 1) (Class 5)

East Of Scotland league team Edinburgh City got two heats of this contest for their money. While their officials enjoyed themselves at the races, their team progressed to the next round of the Scottish FA South Region Cup with a 3-1 win away to one of my local teams Burntisland Shipyard.

Meanwhile, back on the racecourse we witnessed a very easy win for an interesting prospect in SIMPLY NED. I noted this one when a close second on his bumper debut here in April and placed him on my horses to follow list on The Racing Forum. He did me proud here, running comfortably in touch for most of the way and cruising home after leading on the run-in. He was produced looking very fit here, but so easy was his win that he must surely trouble much tougher opposition then he faced on this occasion. It’s also worth noting that Nicky Richards regularly aims his horses at particular events at Kelso.

James Ewart’s CIVIL UNREST appears to have progressed over the summer, his creditable second here a marked step up on two down the field bumper efforts. He led until after the last and was comfortably outpointed by the winner, but he stayed on well enough for second as will be unlucky to run into others as good as the winner. He should win a maiden or novice. Rider Nathan Moscrop was fined and given a three-day suspension because he ‘had weighed in at 2lbs or more than the weight at which he weighed out’. One assumes he left something behind when weighing out.

PYJAMA GAME looks to need further than the minimum trip. He never got near the leaders but was staying on at the end for third. Rose Dobbin should find a ace for this one at two and a half miles or more. He looks an uncomplicated sort and should have a decent jumping career in front of him.

JAWS was held up in the rear and stayed on late for fourth. A sound start at the age of seven for this brother to Material World.

James Ewart’s huge gelding ZARU raced in touch and was not far off the leader when capsizing at the last. He would likely have been in the first four and has prospects going forward.

Donald McCain’s BE TRUE had steering problems by the stands bend. He pretty well jacked it in after that and does not seem in love with racing. On hurdling debut, the same trainer’s RED ROCCO was hampered by his stablemate’s antics and never got back into the race.

2.10 2m 6 ½ f Clifford & Martin Firth Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase (for the Marshall Trophy) (109-126)

Unfortunately the trophy hadn’t been returned by the previous winner’s connections, so the connections of THE PANAMA KID will have to wait for it to adorn their mantelpiece. The winner is a progressive sort who stepped up on a Perth win to win by 10 lengths. His mark will go up into the mid 130s which will push him up to the better novice events or into senior company. He may need a race or two to acclimatise at the higher level.

GOLFER’S CROSSING appears to be one who doesn’t take too much racing. Coming off a break he ran well enough, and certainly jumped a good deal better than he has done in the past. It would be a surprise if he didn’t pick up a chase if given a rest between races.

SOFT SPOKEN GUY stayed on late for third. He has won over course and distance but may be better at slightly further.

LIVELY BARON was hard at work three out and could only plug on into fourth. Like many from the McCain stable at the moment he seems a gallop or two short of race winning fitness.

VOSGES jumped well enough on his chase debut until getting tired three out. He has filled out nicely over the summer, but he looked as if this race was needed to put him right.

Coming off a long lay-off, BLUE SHARK was very awkward at the first fence in front of the stands. He made up ground at his jumps down the far side, but was struggling by halfway and pulled up after the open ditch away from the stands. I’d need proof that he has retained his ability.

1.30 2m ½f Edinburgh City F.C. NH Maiden Hurdle (Div 2) (Class 5)

Part 2 of the maiden hurdle didn’t look as good as the first. Unconsidered BORULER led on the flat and quickened clear from the furlong pole. He’ll find things tougher under a penalty.

ALLOW ME made a fair comeback after a season off. He led from three until after the last. I think a try over a longer distance might help him.

PORRIDGE stayed on under pressure from three out, improving on his Perth hurdles debut. ROS CASTLE stayed on late, probably needs further and will benefit from the experience.

A dampener on the value of the form was well exposed RED TANBER who finished fifth. I do feel he might squeak a minor handicap hurdle one of these days, but he’s only rated 73 and surely hasn’t suddenly improved?

DR FLYNN needs further and didn’t jump well enough anyway.

CAPITAL VENTURE beat Division 1 winner Simply Ned in a bumper here in April. However, they look different sorts to me and I suspect this one will need time and a bit more ground to cover. He struggled from three out but will leave this form behind in time.

Another long term project is the massive four-year-old TUTCHEC, now with Nicky Richards. He was in rear much of the way, closed a bit to two out but then couldn’t offer any more. He looks to need time, but is another who will step up on his effort here.

3.25 3m 1f EDF-ER Fallago Rig Handicap Chase (117-138)

A decent turn out for the feature race on the card, an event also graced by Channel 4 coverage. It would be nice if Highflyer would send a team up to cover direct from the course, but in these days of belt tightening it would seem unlikely.

Alistair Findlay suffered an injured ankle as HEEZ A STEEL tumbled over Columbus Secret at the first and the fence was missed on the two subsequent circuits. Findlay’s mount needed the race but didn’t get much strenuous exercise here.

BESCOT SPRINGS is a well regarded sort at the Lucinda Russell stable. His form suggested he may have a tough task here, but he pulled clear nicely on the four furlong run-in from the second last, the intended last being omitted. His trainer regards him as better at this distance as this excellent result would attest.

GARLETON seems high in the handicap on 136, but he’s an honest sort who normally gives his running and is 8 wins from 31 in his career. He went well in front until held from two furlongs out.

ACCORDING TO PETE stayed on from two out but never threatened the winner.

The race looked likely to bring CAPTAIN AMERICO nearer to his peak. He was outpaced down the far side for the last time but kept on into fourth place. I’m sure he will step up on this before long and win races.

HENNESSY ran a sound enough after a lay-off since winning whatever they called the ‘Whitbread’ in 2009. Given time to settle in the rear he made eye-catching progress from three out, eventually running out of puff in the final furlong. He retains his ability and is one to keep an eye on.

STAR BEAT found this too competitive and was held on the final circuit, as was COOL MISSION whose jumping doesn’t convince in this company.

FAR MORE SERIOUS who has stringhalt in both rear legs in the paddock, ran no sort of race and ambled in well behind the rest.

COLUMBUS SECRET appeared to be unsighted by Bescot Springs at the first and came down. He’s a lovely big sort who will make up for this mishap in staying chases.

3.55 2m ½f Peter Doyle Handicap Hurdle (97-115)

A contest full of exposed performers and won by the in-form WEETFROMTHECHAFF, who was following up his win at the last meeting here. He went up 9lbs for that, but this was close and he might still be able to win another off a revised mark.

BEIDH TINE ANSEO stuck on well for second and might win a race before long, but the first few were in a heap and all look in their place in the handicap.

THE GALLOPING SHOE showed more than he did last season over hurdles. He kept on in to third, while AGGRAVATION had every chance but couldn’t sustain his effort in the last 100 yards. The latter looked hard fit and as a nine-year-old you have to think this is as good as he is.

PETE didn’t find too much after the last and faded to seventh.

4.30 2m 6½f Cooper Burton 1st Birthday Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

Eleven runners contested this event, but some are well exposed and only five were in contention at three out.

STORMIN EXIT is a decent chaser and Jim Goldie took advantage of his hurdling maiden status. Looking very well after a break, he was always up with the pace, led two out and stayed on strongly from the last. He would have every chance under a penalty in a similar event, and this does indicate he’s in good heart should his trainer return him to chasing.

A winner of a novice hurdle at Wetherby in May, MILANO SUPREME stuck on for second place without threatening winner. He might have a chance of picking up a moderate novice staying event under a penalty.

Lightly raced ROYAL DEAL made significant progress approaching three out but couldn’t sustain the effort on the long run-in. This wasn’t a bad effort though on only his third hurdles outing and he has time on his side.

HARRY HANDSOME, looking well and on his toes in the paddock, was outpaced from three out but this first hurdles outing should do him some good.

DREAMERS OF DREAMS looks a decent sort and is well related. He hadn’t been pushed when rapping three out and losing his action. After being pulled up he was ridden so there seems no lasting damage and he’ll be in the mix in similar company.

5.05 1st Choice Fire Protection Services Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-110)

I missed this bunch in the paddock as I was introduced to course commentator Lee McKenzie and stopped for a chat. Lee was keen to chat and really enjoys his trips to Scotland, making sure he’s a regular on the roster north of the border despite being based in London. It was interesting that we had a few common memories of racing down south, particularly one of the ‘flag man’ on the hill at Brighton who let those in the stand know 1m 4f races had started. That was before TV coverage and Lee revealed that, since the start was hidden, he and his colleagues hand timed races off that flag! I used to rely on speed figures in those days as well…

Back to Kelso action and THE COCKNEY SQUIRE gave Lucinda Russell a double on the day. He raced too keenly at Perth previously and was pulled up, but he was always going well here and was always holding the others once turned for home.

SOUL MAGIC has been in fine form over the summer and was not disgraced in occupying second place. He made progress to three out and kept on without troubling the winner.

BAAHER stayed on from rear for third, showing a bit more interest in chasing than he ahs done previously. This run suggests he could win a chase but he isn’t one to rely on.

Pointing winner BENEFICIAL REFORM wasn’t disgraced on his chasing debut. He couldn’t match the winner from the home turn, but he has enough about him to make a chaser and will be served better by a longer trip.

ROYAL MILE chased the leaders to the last but his effort petered out on the flat. He jumped Ok though and there’s a chance a drop in class may be of benefit.

I understand THE PADDY PREMIUM has been interrupted in his work since his last run at Perth. He faded from two out and is capable of better, though he’s possibly a bit high in the handicap now. JUSTTHEONEFORYOU was never going and ambled in a remote last.

5.40 2m 6½f Betfair Training Series C.J. Handicap Hurdle (64-100)

Reportedly fit after a back operation, SOLWAY SILVER won this race with any amount in hand. This wasn’t a great contest but he was never seriously troubled, leading all the way and pulling clear from three out. It would be handy if he could be pulled out again under a penalty but he might well shrug off a rise in the ratings. As he hadn’t been placed before Lisa Harrison was referred to the BHA, but a combination of recovered fitness plus moderate opposition should see no punishment.

TANZANITE BAY stayed on well for second place, the trip clearly suiting her. DICKIE HENDERHOOP briefly threatened to get to the leader going to two out, but his run came to nothing and he made no impact on the run-in. He’s well exposed as is STICK TOGETHER who bagged pocket money for fourth place but couldn’t get any closer from two out.

FUNKY MUNKY has been in form of late but faded from two out and disappointed. ANY GIVEN MOMENT chased the leader for a long way but faded once turned for home.

There’s an interesting meeting coming up at Carlisle on Thursday and I’ll keep an eye on Racing UK for anything significant. Musselburgh and Ayr close their flat seasons before Musselburgh pick up the National Hunt baton on November 3rd. I should be at that meeting as well as a return to Kelso for another potentially decent card on November 5th.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wetherby - Scottish Challengers and the Void Race

Wetherby - Wednesday October 12th

The main talking point of the afternoon was the void race following an injury to Ashburton Lad. I haven't seen the race so can't comment in full, but a photo I have seen suggests the riders passed a few yards from an official waving a yellow flag. On that basis the riders should have stopped and have to take their punishement. On course staff are occasionally called on to make a swift judgement on safety issues and the head groundsman deserves support on this occasion.

Thoughts should go out to Ashburton Lad's connections on their loss.

Keep an eye open for northern circuit regular LINDSEYFIELD LODGE. He hinted at a return to form when running an admittedly well held third in the Class 5 handicap chase. He showed a similar sign of revival before scoring at Kelso around the same time last year and might just be worth a few bob in upcoming outings. Don't risk the mortgage on him though!

SAFARI ADVENTURES led the Bobby Renton Handicap chase field a merry dance for most of the way, jumping exuberantly as ever. Lucinda Russell's kept on well once headed, finished a clear second and looks in good heart. Chris Bealby's winner PERSIAN GATES won this comfortably, is progressive and is likely to make a mark in upcoming middle distances chases.

BLENHEIM BROOK is well regarded as a potential chaser by Lucinda Russell. He took a while to warm to his task over hrudles, and I suspect the same is happening over fences. He kicked on four out but found MR MOSS too strong in the closing stages. I suspect the runner-up has come across two potentially decent chasers in Astracad and Mr Moss.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Hexham on a damp October Saturday

Hexham – Saturday October 8th

Good (rain during meeting)

The opening two mile novices’ chase was won in decent style by L’ELDORADO, pulling away up the hill. It’s worth noting that this one probably doesn’t want to be over raced and goes well after a break.
QUITE THE MAN didn’t jump fluently and was a tad disappointing in third place, and I got the impression the up and downhill didn’t suit him.

THE MAGIC BISHOP won the Class 4 handicap chase in decent style, making up a lot of ground from the bottom of the hill and winning cosily. No reason why he shouldn’t win another chase on this evidence.
FRED BOJANGALS ran a darned sight better than he had done at Carlisle the previous day, staying on from two out to take second place. He has won off his current mark of 112.
Newcomer EMPEROR CHARLIE jumped poorly in the rear and was well beaten by four out.

FILL THE POWER only beat four in the maiden hurdle but did so very easily. There has been encouragement in all his outings and his should make a chaser in time, but a novice handicap hurdle may be within his compass.
MOMKINZAIN jumped with no fluency and was held from two out. He has ability to make a mark over jumps, but needs to sharpen his hurdling.

CLOUDY DAWN won the staying handicap chase with something to spare, but it was a very poor event, the well exposed TOULOUSE EXPRESS filling second and STORMION in third jumping with little fluency. DESERTMORE STAR was well beaten in fourth and this four-time pointing winner did nothing to justify some market confidence. At 10 years old he’s going to struggle to adjust to this sphere.

Lucinda Russell has a fair collection of young bumper horses this autumn and filled the first two places in the closing event run in descending murk. ROWDY ROCHER looks a type to be going forward with and the win here was very encouraging. He has winning hurdlers and chasers amongst his family and, having already won an point in Ireland, has the makings of an interesting jumps prospect. The four-year-old filly LOVE FROM VERONA has shown enough in three efforts in the frame to suggest she can win a race or two. The strong form of her Perth races further boosts confidence in the winner.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Kelso open their Autumn programme

KELSO – Sunday October 2nd

Going – Good to Soft (Soft in places)

Kelso’s first meeting since May signals the start of the Scottish autumn jump campaign. There was heavy rain overnight and in the morning, but the course was presented in magnificent condition.

Proceedings opened with the annual Border Principals Race with various towns from the area that partake of the tradition of Common Riding putting forward a competitor. An interloper from outside the Borders one, with Musselburgh rider Scott Nisbet stealing a 5 length lead on the rest at the start in the two furlong event and never looking likely to be caught. Iain Dick of Lauder was first of the locals home and Tracey McNaughton was third for Edinburgh.

2.05 2m ½f Sunday Mail Handicap Hurdle (115-86)

A bunch of well exposed hurdlers contested the first Rules race on the card. WWETFROMTHECHAFF was well held by better weighted opponents at Perth last time, but led at the last here and held on determinedly in the last 100 yards. I fancy it was just his day on this occasion and he won’t be particularly well treated in future. He held off LAWGIVER, an inconsistent sort who wins occasionally but is eminently beatable.
The pair pulled clear of KING’S CHORISTER who performed respectably from 3lbs out of handicap and is a consistent sort worthy of consideration if dropped in class. Lucy Alexander’s claim will be useful assuming she keeps the ride.
Keen going BORDER TALE led or disputed until giving way at the last, and while CLAUDE CARTER has gone close a few times he is essentially a weak finisher and needs things to fall right.
KNIGHT VALLIANT was pulled up before the last after bashing two out and his rider losing his irons, the saddle having slipped. He went well enough to that point and was in contention.

2.40 2m ½f Unwin Second Half Century Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

Lee Edwards stole this race on KIE who travelled from Wolverhampton for this engagement. He set off in front, was soon clear and nothing got near him. The time was a couple of seconds slower than the first race so it was at least respectable.
MICA MIKA kept on for second and made a sound enough hurdling bow. RESIDENCE AND SPA made it four frame finishes from five hurdles runs and might need to wait for the handicapper to slow others down before he can win.
Well backed LEXI’S BOY ran no sort of race, fading quickly after the fourth. I assume there was a problem though nothing appeared on the BHA website.

A forty minute gap allowed us to watch the Prix De L’Arc Triomphe on the big screen. Sadly only those with access to the colours had any idea of who was doing what. Black mark to the usually reliable Kelso executive since there was no commentary over the PA and no colours in the racecard. It’s easy to get the impression that racing from elsewhere is stuck on the screen just to fill the time.

3.20 3m 1f Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Handicap Chase (86-115)

STAR BEAT is decent stayer on his day and proved too good for inferiors here. He got into contention from four out and picked off the leader after the last. A nine length win here will mean a move up in class is forced and life will be tougher.
COPPER’S GOLD ran a decent race in second, leading until the last and keeping on to finish a clear best of the rest. He did look in good nick, thrives when’s there’s cut in the ground and may still be capable of improvement.
ROSSINI’S DANCER made a bad mistake at the first and almost unseated. One or two slow jumps mid race didn’t help but he stayed on through the field form two out.
TREEHOUSE, an improver in 2009/2010, hinted at returning to form on his second run after a season off. He plugged on for fourth without threatening the leaders.
SOUBRIQUET gave way from two out and is difficult to catch right. Irish challenger dropped away from two out having made one or iffy jumps.
PRINCE MERANO looked rather lethargic in the paddock and struggled from a mile out, pulling up before four out.
NGONG HILLS ditched his rider at the first, but ran along enthusiastically with the field the rest of the way, which I rate as at least a sign of some interest.

3.55 2m 6 ½ f NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle (Class 4)

Three of last season’s decent Scottish novices appeared in this event.

AIKMAN didn’t disgrace himself in decent company toward the end of last season and I suspect there is still a little more to come. He was presented looking very well by James Ewart, yet still giving the impression there was something left to work on. He pulled clear readily in the latter stages and will now be aimed at chasing, with a beginners’ event at Carlisle on October 20th the first target. He looks one who has been crying out to be jumping fences and is an exciting prospect.
ARCTIC COURT progressed last season and turned into a decent handicapper. He was another who looked as if the race might bring on and he was unable to match the winner from the last, hanging toward the inside rail under pressure. A sound debut on which he should build upon in the coming weeks.
THE STARBOARD BOW was stepped up in trip here. He didn’t jump particularly cleanly and had nothing left in the tank from the last. He can jump better than this and will see out the trip properly.
AFRICAN FLORA was hopelessly outclassed but Kenny Johnson concentrated on getting her round for fourth prize money on here hurdling debut without taxing her unduly.

4.25 2m 2f Alexandra Carrington Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Div 1) (62-95)

The theory that low prize money is causing owners to desert the sport suffered a hole below the waterline as 29 were declared for this event racing for ‘take home prize money’ of £1238. The race was split into two heats and one runner was eliminated. We lost a few due to the change in the going, but plenty are willing to run horses regardless of reward, which suggests it’s viewed as a fun pursuit. Certainly my own very minor involvement in ownership is on ‘money I expect to lose’ basis.

Neither event was particular exciting with two groups of underachievers. ENDEAVOR led three out and was all out in the latter stages to hold BARLIFFEY. The second would not be the most committed to the job, and the rest were held with NISAAL and CARTERS REST doing no more than plug on at one pace to fill the frame.

5.00 2m 2f Alexandra Carrington Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Div 1) (61-94)

Episode 2 was won by THE DUNION from the yard of Bonchester Bridge trainer Rob Macdonald. Again this was a poor contest, but Macdonald had his contender nicely fit and Campbell Gillies rode a decent race from the front group. The winner responded well when asked from two out and shows enough to suggest there may be another little race for him along the line.
DRAMATIC JEWEL couldn’t make any impression in the final furlong and is basically a very moderate performer. Maiden under both codes TINSELTOWN stayed on under pressure for third.
SYDNEY COVE has proved very headstrong and was restrained in the rear. He picked up some ground in the latter stages and may get competitive once he learns to settle. He’s better than his bare jumps form suggests.

5.30 2m 6 ½ f Radio Borders Handicap Chase (60-95)

SUPER ALLY improved on previous chasing efforts and won this comfortably, pulling clear on the run-in. His probable serious rival whacked the last and the second was 9lbs shy in the handicap so I suspect this wasn’t up to much and that the contest fell into the winner’s lap.
BARRY THE CRACKER ran as well as might be expected for one rated only 60. He doesn’t impress in the paddock, walking rather stiffly, but tried gamely during the race. He led or disputed for much of the way and was only collared from the last.
SOME CATCH had every chance until thumping the last and not recovering. Her form offers more encouragement than some in this race and she would likely have given the winner more to do if not stopped in her tracks. She is worthy of consideration in similar company.
NIFTY ROY raced prominently until fading from three out. He was reported lame at the finish.
FRONTIER BOY looks a nice chasing type, but he made two many errors and lost touch in the final mile. The race will have brought him on.
GUNS AND BUTTER went wrong after three out and was swiftly pulled up. On an optimistic note the screens weren’t put up and he was walked into the horse ambulance.
WATERSKI attracted some interest in the market and looked plenty fit enough. He was well behind when pulling up. A bandage had come loose on his hind leg and surprised me that nobody attended to this when he was brought back to unsaddle, the bandage still flapping loose as he was led away to the stables.
LINDSEYFIELD LODGE, twice a winner around here, jumped poorly and never took a huge amount of interest. He’ll probably pop up at a fancy price when he feels up to, but when that will be is anyone’s guess.

6.00 2m ½ f City Roofing Ltd Standard Open NH Flat Race

No races get my pen and notebook going better than a Kelso bumper and once again there were numerous encouraging signs.

THE WEATHERMAN had run well enough here previously and sprinted clear from the ‘two pole’ for a comfortable victory. He’s not one in the normal McCain mould, being fairly small, but he shifts a bit and looks a decent prospect for hurdling.
MITCHELL’S WAY, hailing from the Swinbank yard who are often in the mix in these events, pulled hard early on but was still bang there two out. He kept without threatening the winner but will find easier opportunities.
Irish pointing winner BAWN REAGH, well regarded at Lucinda Russell’s Arlary Stables, set a steady pace and kept on under pressure to take third. He was reported sore after the race, but showed enough to suggest he will be a winner in time. He was just in front of stablemate RHYMERS HA’ who pulled very hard but is going the right way.
Mares’ bumper winner GROOVY DANCER wasn’t totally disgraced in fifth and will find easier opportunities against her own sex.
A couple of others well down the field caught eye. CALL IT OUT is a steeplechasing type but he’s only four and will need time to mature. His first two runs read as poor form but he may leave those efforts behind in time.
DARK EXILE was last, but he was never going to excel in a race where they only started racing from the mile marker. He’s an impressive chasing type who will surely show better than this run given time.
WILL BE MINE is another who should make a jumper in time. He was left behind from three furlongs out here.

Hexham – September 30th

OUTLAW TOM appeared at Hexham a couple of days earlier and pleased connections in staying on for third in a 3m 1f novices’ chase, beaten about 10 lengths. MAJESTIC MAYHEM ran a sound race in second and looks a good measure, while the winner LACKAMON is worth noting as one who could go on to better things over jumps.

Staying chasers EYRE SQUARE and SIMPLY SMASHING fought out a stirring battle in the 3m novices’ hurdle. No lack of commitment from either who go into the autumn campaign in good heart.

FRITH won the Class 5 two mile handicap chase off a mark of 68. He’s very well treated no his best form and might be placed to pick up a race or two more.

Carlisle – October 7th

The new hurdles course was used for the first time. HOUSTON DYNIMO won the novices hurdle to become the first winner around the circuit. The hurdles track is inside the chase track and noticeably sharper than the outer track used previously. It might just end being a bit of a specialist’s track as it mixes sharpness with a stiff finish.

HUMBIE stayed on to win the Class 4 handicap chase. I’ve liked this one for a while and he might make a mark in a higher class and he saw out this thee mile trip nicely. The story is that he is often taken out for trips in his horsebox to keep his mind occupied as he is a bit of a worrier!
STRONGBOWS LEGEND held every chance and kept on for second. He pulled clear of the rest and it would be a surprise if Charlie Longsdon couldn’t find a race for him.
NGONG HILLS made up for his Kelso mishap, being bang there most of the way and keeping on for third if held by the first two. His trainer has room for manoeuvre off his current mark of 97.

The two and a half mile novices’ chase at this meeting can be informative, but we lost three at the seventh fence. However, the winner TIME FOR SPRING looks to have a bit of scope as a chaser, and those behind him, BALLYCOLIN and ROLECARR created a sound enough impression. BALLYCOLIN will show up better when moved up in trip.

James Ewart has started the season in decent fashion and QUICUYO took the two mile handicap chase. A wind operation seems to have helped him and he is worth looking out for when racing at Ayr as he has a fine record there.

PETE won the conditional jockeys’ hurdle to give Lucy Alexander a first win as a professional. He was in front way too soon as horses either side fell away from two out, but his rider managed to coax more than expected to hold off fast finishing SOLWAY BLUE. The fact that PETE never wins by far does help as he doesn’t get harshly punished, is a good deal better than he sometimes cares to let on, and is ideally suited by a decent sized field where he can pick his way through late on.
Back in third SUPER BABY looked much happier than last season. He gave me the impression that he might have had a back problem last season. He jumped neatly in front here and battled back late on to take third place having been outpaced form two out. He certainly doesn’t look overweighted off a mark of 95.
BARLIFFEY had every chance approaching the last but jumped it very slowly and couldn’t get back into the race. He’s in good form but likely to prove difficult to win with.