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.