Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A busy weekend at the end of November

MUSSELBURGH - Friday November 25th

Going - Good ( Good to soft in places)

Overnight rain and showers during racuing meant the going turned just the soft side of good in places. A strong wind blew straight into the horses' faces down the straight.

12.10 3m 1f Lagwell Insulation Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (76-100)

This was not a strong event, but GULF PUNCH came away for a clear win, staying on under pressure from the last. Neither second nor thrid would be rated reliable, so the winner will have a tougher task next time, particularly when re-handicapped.
VIA ARCHIMEDE led until two out and stuck on for second. This was probably as good an effort as he has managed over hurdles, but he's eminently beatable, as is ONIZ TIPTOES who stayed on from well back for third. SAM D'OC was another who stayed on up the straight, but he was never nearer than fourth place.

12.40 2m Weatherbys Printing Services Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

Not a strong event, and KIE was able to dictate as he had done at Kelso on hurdling debut, making all very comfortably in driving rain. He put a fair effort in listed class at Wetherby last time.
URBAN KODE acquired second two out but did nothing to show he achieved much, and there was no encoruagement elsewhere.

1.15 2m 4f Weatherbys Printing Services Novices' Handicap Chase (85-104)

This contest was marked by some abysmal all round. It's noticeable too that the fences at Musselburgh are very soft as the horses were brushing through them in the latter stages.

BALLYMACDUFF led until falling at the tenth. He's completed in only two otu of six attempts over fences.
SAMBELUCKY disputed the lead at that point but then came a cropper at the twelfth fence. He won a hurdle off 77, but his record otherwise isn't over-inspiring.
Next tale of woe was for SPICE BAR who was left in the lead by Sambelucky's exit. He looked the winner going to three out, but walked through it barely getting above the frame and Tom O'Brien had no chance of staying in the saddle. He would probably have won had he stayed up and his record offers a little more encouragement than others.
BAAHER is difficult to win with, but he had this handed to him on a plate. He looekd to be saving a bit from the last but had the race in safe keeping. His only other win was against a dodgepot over hurdles at Perthm and he's not one to get involved in at short odds.
STAND CLEAR was hampered at the twelfth, and then by a loose horse two out, so her second place has some merit. Allowing for the problems encountered, this wasn't a bad effort and she can improve on this chasing debut.
HOLE IN ONE had every chance if good enough and wasn't nearly that. EQUATION and LE REVEUR were in rear when hampered at the tenth and were never in the race afterwards.
FORREST LEMONS was no great shakes over hurdles, his second place coming in a weak contest, and proved no better over fences. He was well beaten when falling two out.

1.50 2m 4f Buy 2012 Annual Members' Badge Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

ALLOW ME finally gained a deserved win, staying on better than the second having led or disputed all the way. He's on a mark of 115 which doesn't look to be giving much away if going handicapping. It might be worth James Ewart trying to seek out another non-handicap novice event under a penalty.
EBANOUR was out jumped at the last and couldn't get back on terms.
LA BACOUTTEUSE was well beaten in the striaght, but just held off GLASSON LAD who's two second places were gained a fair distance behind the winners.

2.25 2m Nodram Handicap Chase (105-120)

CARRIETAU was given a chance to dominate from the front here. He's shown in recent times he's best when not hassled for the lead. He was ridden coming out of the back straight, but kept responding from that point and showed good resolution to hold on. He's definitely one whose chances depend on tactical make up of the race, but if he can get an uncontested lead he has to go on the shortlist.
The stewards enquired into Carrietau's improvement. They 'noted' the trainer's explanation that he 'had the run of the race'. Maybe if one of their number invested in a form book they might be able to work it out for themselves, though on this evidence I'm not holding my breath.
VOSGES chased the leader from four out, got level at the last and was then held to the line. He needed the race when running over 2m 6f at Kelso and should be helped by a step back up in trip.
HEAVENLY CHORUS raced toward the rear until the eighth and never got closer than third place. Her best statistic is that she's 3 from 6 at Catterick.
CORTINAS briefly threatened four out, but made no further impact, while SADDLERS DEAL never got into the contest.
HIGH BIRD HUMPHREY loooked to find the pace or the track (both?) too sharp.
THE PADDY PREMIUM was behind four out and can't recapture his Perth form at the moment.

2.55 2m Jeden Business Flooring Handicap Hurdle (84-100)

PARC DES PRINCES is comparatively lightly raced over jumps and could be progrssive over hurdles. He clsoed to the last and stayed on pleasingly on the flat. He's unlikely to be pushed up too far for this win and can win another handicap.
SHERIFF HALL is a desperately frustrating character who hadn't looked entirely comfortable over fences of late. He bowled along in front here but was collared at the last and, though keeping on, was held to the line. To his credit he does rally a bit once passed.
KING's CHORISTER stayed on under pressure but never got close enough to threaten a win, but nothing else got near from three out.
AMAZING STAR was going well approaching three out but went out like a light before the second last. He was reported as having a breathing problem.

3.30 2m Border Safeguard Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

Doanld whillans is not renowned for producing bumper winners, so NODDA HIGH KID's 80/1 SP was less of a surprise than the win here. He's out of a hurdles winner who had a winning half-sister over hurdles, so wasn't a no hoper on breeding and it would be reasonable to expect respectability once jumping. I'm not sure this race was particularly strong, but the winner did show plenty of commitment to hold off BRINDISI BREEZE in the closing stages. Peter Buchanan was banned for overuse of the whip, a second offence in recent weeks, and he may have to tread carefully now.
FLICKA WILLIAMS was held from two furlongs out. He will be better suited by a stiffer test of stamina than the early dawdle here led to.
Sadly Alan Swinbank's ALL AMERICAN broke down in the straight and was put down.
CHESTA stumbled and unseated on the final bend.

James Ewart's stable has hit form with a vengeance and recorded two wins at Doncaster. QUICUYO took the Class 3 2m 3f handicap in decent style, while the promising chaser BENEFICIAL REFORM took a four-runner staying novices' handicap chase.

NEWCASTLE - Saturday November 26th

Going - Good to Soft

I had planned to travel to Gosforth Park for the 'Fighting Fifth' meeting, but I didn't relish a journey of two hours plus in forecast gale force winds. Fortunately the winds didn't affect the course, but I watched from home.

LACKAMON won the opening novices' handicap chase in decent style. He was fifth in a well contested handicap chase at Carlisel last time, and I doubt he's stopped improving yet. TIPTOEAWAY ran a sound race in second, while AIKMAN was disappointing and well beaten in third. The latter didn't look particularly at ease from a long way out, though I doubt the course would be to blame.

QUETZAL led or disputed all the way in the Class 5 three mile handicap chase, finding enough in the latter stages to hold on with a bit to spare. DOLLAR MICK tried to close from two out, but to no avail though he was not disgraced.
Third placed TREEHOUSE stuck on up the straight and will be of interest if set a stiffer stamina test.
David Cormack of The Racing Forum marked TEENANDO down as one of his best two in the paddock, but he was a little disappointing, fading from three out to finish fourth.
PADDYS UNYOKE took a very heavy fall at the twelfth and I hope he was OK.

FILL THE POWER led or disputed all the way to take a competitive class 2m 6f novices' hurdle and is progressing nicely. SOUTH LEINSTER put up a decent effort off the back of a 21 mnoth lay-off, staying on from two out if not threatening the winner.
CUE TO CUE moved on to the tails of the leaders no the final bend, but she couldn't impact any further. She will be suited by a return to mares' company.
ROWDY ROCHER has done well to win a bumper and a hurdle but was outpaced from two out here. He should come into his own once going chasing.

Sue Smith's yard is in fine form and made it three on the day with DOUGLAS JULIAN. He had run down the field at Kelso and Wetherby, but stayed on well to take this race. He improved in leaps and bounds last season, and a drop in the handicap allowed him back into Class 4 here,
BENE LAD was well backed stepped up in distance and looks capable of taking a race before long. TIME OUT kept on for third and should find a small race to break his duck, most likely in handicap company.
RED KINGDOM kept on for fourth but is basically frustrating.
STORM SURGE led for a long way, but his record at 2m 4f+ is 5576, and he looks better around the minimum distance.

OVERTURN followed up a decent win at Ascot by taking the Fighting Fifth Hurdle seeing off BINOCULAR on merit. The winner is a tough old stick, and it's nice to see Perth Summer Champion Hurdle form given a boost. However, it's difficult to see either of these winning a Champion Hurdle and AP McCoy admitted that BINOCULAR was beaten on merit.
STORMY WEATHER matched the top three for quite a way, and is on a decent mark when dropped back to handicaps, assuming the handicapper doesn't take a literal line on this form.

Irish bumper winner MALT MASTER looked a decent novcie prospect when taking the maiden hurdle. The second was closing, but the impression was that the winner had a bit more to give. A potentially useful hurdlers from a Henderson stable crammed full of decent sorts.
CROWNING JEWEL didn't jump well down the far side, but closed at the entrance to the straight. Outpaced from three out, he picked up again in the latter stages and was closing at the line. He shouldn't go long before winning a hurdle.
Back down the field, RUPERT BEAR showed some promise and, although by a sprinter, there's serious staying blood on the distaff side. A typical homebred Walton type, he's unlikely to set the world on fire over hurdles, but don't be surprised if he progresses once chasing over a distance of ground.and is bred to be a staying chaser.
CAPITAL VENTURE was once again raced over what appears a trip shorter than he needs, not having the pace to match the prinicipals. Nick Alexander has been fairly quiet about this one, but I wonder if he might be eyeing up a novices' handicap hurdle over 2m 4f+.

After the victory of Carruthers in the Hennessy, HEY BIG SPENDER was well backed to win the closing Rehearsal Chase having finished just behind the Newbury victor last time. Leading four out and staying on well, he held on well from the last. He might be a bit of a twilight horse now though as this win will take him into the mid-150s.
THE HOLLINWELL put up a career best to finish a close seocnd. His best efforts have been at around three miles with a stiff finish, form reading P12202. He did manage a jumpers' bumper win at Southwell last winter, but that track can be a slog.
Lightly raced ASHFIELD'S DREAM ran a cracking race in third, leading for a long way and sticking at it once passed. He has won over middle distances, but does give hte impression that he's a stayer. Only 7 and worth keeping on the right side.
CAPTAIN AMERICO was otupaced from the home turn before staying on again late on. He won a hurdle over 3m 3f at Kelso last season and does look in need of a longer trip.
MINELLA THEATRE couldn't get a blow in from four out, and GARLETON was off his game having been unable to get to the front.

CARLISLE - Sunday November 27th

Going - Hurdles - Soft, Chases - Soft (Heavy in places)

The hurdles were run on the flat course, the old hurdles course, as the new hurdles track has been a bit loose of late. The flat track is much stiffer than the new hurdles track that'st's worth bearing this in mind when carrying this form forward
Two fences were omitted in the chases, the first on the far side and the open ditch four out.

The opening novices' hurdle over two and a half miles looked a potentially decent contest. I developed into a duel, with SEE WHAT HAPPENS and ANYCHANCEDAVE pulling clear. Both should be noted for future contests as should the nicely bred DREAMER OF DREAMS who was tapped for pace in the closing stages back in third. The latter went well until rapping himself three outt Kelso and should pick up a novices' hurdle.

FRASCATI PARK jumped left in the novices' chase, but had enough in hand to hold his only serious rival KUDU COUNTRY, pretty well reflecting the gap between the two over hurdles.
SADDLE PACK was cannily ridden by Cathy Walton to gain third place. He showed ability in the pointing field and will show up better once handicapped and over a longer trip.

NOWURHURLIN stayed on well to win the 2m 1f novices' hurdles and is another promising sort from the McCain yard conveyor belt, steppnig on previous hurdles efforts. GUESS AGAIN has plenty of decent blood in his family and should win races, fnishing close up in second here. He's been given time and is likely to come into his own once going chasing.

LOCKSTOWN amde it two in a row in the 3m 2f handicap chase, comfortably seeing of EXTALAR and MORGAN BE, both of whom look kept in their place by the handicapper.
HENNESSY showed some promise on his return at Kelso, but his last two races suggest he's going backwards. He faded quickly on the long run to three out.

HIGH RANSOM won the Class 4 handicap hurdle very nicely. She took over form CHESTER LAD when the latter rapped the last and came away to win with a bit to spare. Considered good enough to be tried at Cheltenham last March, she looks one to keep on the right side in the near future.

The fact that maiden Dickie Henderhoop was made 3/1 favourite for the closing amateur handicap hurdle pretty well sums the event up. In such circumstances it sometimes pays to look to the outsiders, but neither 25/1 winner Crackerjac Boy nor the 20/1 Shoal Bay Dreamer had much to recommend them pre-race.

Keep an eye out for:

STAND CLEAR - would probably have won but for being hampered twice at Musselburgh
CAPITAL VENTURE - Needs a step up in distance (2m 4f+) and may start on a decent mark if aimed at a handicap.
DREAMER OF DREAMS - promise at Kelso and not disgraced behind See What Happens. Can win a novice hurdle.
SADDLE PACK - Will be a decent proposition in staying chases, particular if tried in a handicap.
HIGH RANSOM - Looks a progressive type off a fairly low mark in handicaps.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A few pointers from Sedgefield

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 22nd

Going – Good to Soft

The opening novices’ hurdle saw a comfortable win for short priced favourite BOUND TO GLORY. His hurdling debut was decent at Carlisle, he will stay further than this 2m 4f and should make his mark in better company. BADGERS RETREAT ran into hotpot for the second race running, but he does seem well suited by the track, stuck to his guns though held and might have a shout in a maiden or weak novices’ event.

TRUSTAN TIMES looks a promising chasing recruit and won the 2m 4f beginners’ chase. He should have had a bit to spare but made a hash of the last two fences. He’s a nice looking sort who had jumped well until then and should progress.
DODGEY DREAM performed creditably in second, jumping nicely in front though showing a tendency to go slightly left. He made the winner pull out all the stops and should find a chase a a minor northern track.

TIPSY INDIAN is in decent form and battled well to see off a few of the usual suspects in the 2m Class 5 handicap chase. He’s not brilliant but does have a decent attitude. ROYAL MILE was second and hinted that he didn’t go through with his challenge as he might have done, given that he was going best two out. He may needs things to fall his way.
BRADDOCK ISLAND unseated early and then careered into the rails near the stands. The gelding injured a course worker who had to be taken to hospital, though I understand the course worker Ivan Porter is now on the mend.

FRONTIER BOY hinted at being a progressive sort when upped in trip at Kelso. In confirmed that comfortably here in taking the 3m 3f Class 5 handicap chase. He eased clear from two out, jumping well all the way and should stand a step up in grade. RISKIER made a brave attempt from the front but was held from two out. He would be an obvious choice in a similar contest.

FUNKY MUNKY had hinted at being capable of wining a hurdle and obliged at the eighth time of asking, catching SHORT SUPPLY on the run-in. Alistair Whillans should be able to place the winner to advantage again before long. The runner-up made a brave attempt having kicked on from three out. I wouldn’t have thought SHORT SUPPLY would want the ground any softer.
SYDNEY COVE chased the leaders from two out but never got in a blow. A stiffer track will suit him,and he now seems to be settling better.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A round-up of Mid-November action

CARLISLE - Monday November 7th

Carlisle put on an excellent card by normal Monday standards, headlined by a feature event with a penalty value a shade under £13,000.

KUDU COUNTRY made an impressive debut over fences, seeing off the well regarded BOLD SIR BRIAN by eight lengths. The winner, a half-brother to decent chaser Noble Alan, looks as if he’s better over fences than hurdles and is an exciting prospect. BOLD SIR BRIAN jumped well enough here, but he’s still far from the finished article and will be better in a season’s time.

Lucinda Russell won the novices’ handicap hurdle with TAP NIGHT. This one absolutely cruised up here and will stand a rise in class.

Russell added the staying handicap chase with an equally facile win by the much improved DO IT FOR DALKEY. He’ll probably be forced up in class for another easy win, but there is still a fair bit to come from this relation to Silver By Nature. The 3m 2f here was no barrier. A Kelso winner over hurdles two days before, SOPRANO ran a cracker in second and should pick up a staying chase. TEENANDO hinted at a return to form in third and will have every chance in a lower class.

AIKMAN was made 6/4 favourite for the three mile Betfair Graduation Chase, the feature event. This was doing a great disservice to 149 rated SARANDO who was too strong from three out. He survived a bad blunder two out, but had plenty in hand. AIKMAN didn’t do too much wrong on his second chasing effort, jumping well enough but tapped for pace by the winner. He probably performed around his mark of 140.
Decent staying hurdler CROSS KENNON was never going and has something to prove over fences on this showing.

The bumper was probably a fair event, won in convincing style by SYDNEY PAGET who can cope with classier races. RHYMERS HA’ ran a creditable second and should improve once going jumping, keeping on well enough here though held in the final two furlongs.

SEDGEFIELD – Tuesday November 8th

SIMPLY NED dotted up in the opening novices’ hurdle. He’s a potential Graded class hurdler.

Ferdy Murphy has started to get a few into challenging positions and managed two winners on the card. GOING WRONG won here, but wasn’t madly convincing in a race which FLINTY BAY looked the most likely winner until thumping the open ditch two out and unseating.

Murphy won the next with GAVROCHE GAUGAIN, but the one to take forward form that event is NIGHT IN MILAN who was staying on well in the two mile and a half handicap chase. He’s coming into form and should win a handicap chase before long. A stiffer track or longer trip would do no harm.

Frustrating CLAUDE CARTER finally got his nose in front in the closing Class 5 handicap hurdle. He beat some regular opponents, so it’s not inconceivable he could manage a repeat, but he’s not one I would trust at shorts odds. THE DUNION proved his Kelso victory wasn’t a complete fluke, keeping on for fourth place.

Newcastle – Friday November 11th

EUROHUNTER made a very promising comeback after a long lay-off. The Willie Amos trained novice hurdler moved smoothly into contention in the straight, but was held close home by the tenacious Kent Street. Eurohunter’s place in the winner’s spot looks only delayed.

Nick Alexander took the staying handicap hurdle with FORCEFIELD, brought with a well timed run by in-form claimer Lucy Alexander. The winner had shown promise in early races, and seems to have found his forte at three miles. He didn’t win by far but did it well enough to suggest he might pick up another race.

ISLA PEARL FISHER is another from the Alexander stable who is one to carry forward. Returning following a leg injury, he was on the tails of the leaders when unseating two out and may well have won. Lockstown stayed on best to take spoils, but I’d be surprised if Isla Pearl Fisher doesn’t add to last season’s decent record of wins before long.

John Wade’s stable dominated the Class 4 two mile hurdle, KING’S GREY coming to take the race off front running DIAMOND FRONTIER close home. The pair were clear, and Wade has proved himself a master at training and placing his steeplechasers.

CUE TO CUE took the mares’ maiden hurdle in decent style. She stayed on strongly and will see out three miles. She will see off decent staying mares and would be a decent prospect in mixed company. Her dam Marello was a talented staying hurdler and she looks likely to follow in here mum’s hoof prints.
Lucinda Russell’s GLENORA GALE was not disgraced in second. She won’t come up against many mares as goods as the winner and ought to win a race sooner rather than later. There is staying chaser blood in her family.

HEXHAM – Wednesday November 16th

It’s taken me a long time to achieve the childhood dream of being involved with a winning four mile chaser. Milnathort Racing Club, in which your correspondent has a small portion, scored their first winner as OUTLAW TOM outstayed front running Double Default after the last. Much will depend on how the winner comes out of this one but, given that he proved he stays all day, he will be aimed at stamina tests in the 0-120/0-125 grades in the north. The ground was soft here, and he coped with it well, though I don‘t think really heavy will suit him.
DOUBLE DEFAULT lost nothing in defeat and front running tactics over a trip suit him down to the ground. The one I would take out of this though is the third, five-year-old REBEL SWING. Just out speeded in the straight, he stuck to his task and will be a nice one for the Smith stable in the next year or two.

LIGHTENING ROD won the opening limited novices’ handicap chase in the style of one who can go on to better things. He jumped superbly, and it wouldn’t surprise if he is making his mark in decent company by spring.
James Ewart’s SIGNALMAN wasn’t disgraced in just holding on to second, having tried to match the winner from the bottom of the hill.

BURY PARADE won the novices’ hurdle in decent style, in a race where well fancied KING’S GRACE was very disappointing.
My eyes were looking farther back here, with CAPITAL VENTURE staying on for third. He beat decent novice Simply Ned in a Kelso bumper, but he looks to me to be crying out for a longer trip over hurdles. FOG PATCHES was another to stay on, but he looks a long term job, and will probably be seen to better effect over fences in a season or two.

Like Capital Venture PAPAMOA is on my list to follow on The Racing Forum. He looks progressive, staying on having been off the bridle a mile out, only to meet another progressive sort in DUSKY BOB who held him after the last. Both should win in future, and it’s a mark of their achievement that they were well clear of a previous winner filling third place.

TANZANITE BAY flew the flag for Lucinda Russell’s satellite yard at Kilduff. She stuck to her task well to hold previous course and distance winner DOMOLY from the last in then novices, handicap chase. She won’t go up too much for this but looks progressive.

I'm now due to take in Musselburgh next Friday and then a first visit to the Fighting Fifth meeting at Newcastle. That might be my lot until after Christmas due to other commitments, but I'll keep an eye on any meetings that take place in December. Weather permitting I'll then be off to Kelso and Ayr over the Christmas holidays. I suspect Musselburgh Ne'er Day Meeting might be missed as we are due at a Hogmanay do the night before. Now, when I was younger...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Kelso - November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 5th

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

A decent card at Kelso was blessed with pleasant weather and afternoon long sunshine. The course was in superb condition, as is normally the case here, for a card topped by a decent standard two mile limited handicap chase.

12.25 2m 6½f Premier Traffic Management ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle
(Class 4)

These contests are normally well fought out here and there were one or two potentially above average stayers on show.

ROWDY ROCHER put in a solid performance to win at Hexham previously and was always one likely to benefit from a distance of ground. Always going well in touch with the leaders, he battled hard from the last and just got up on the line. Rowdy Rocher is only five and has the look of a chaser about him, having won a point in Ireland. Only surprise was that he was allowed to start at 12/1.
TARLAN is a typical attractive Donald McCain chasing type who will go on from this decent start. He jumped really well up front and looked the winner at the last, only to be pipped close home. He’s a winner in waiting and another who will be seen to full effect over fences.
STORMIN EXIT ran a typically honest race under a penalty, staying on under pressure for third. I believe his target is now the Paddy Power Gold Cup, which would be a tough ask, though he should have a few other options.
RAVENS SECRET is another big chasing sort and John Wade should have no problem placing him to win in time. He got outpaced from three out and couldn’t get back to the leaders here but he may pick up a small novice hurdle before going over the bigger obstacles.
ROS CASTLE has more of the hurdler look about him. This trip suits but he was another tapped for pace from three out. He could find one or two too good in non-handicaps, but will be interesting once handicapping.
Double bumper winner DARK GLACIER looked as if the race would bring him on. He was still in contention three out but was outspeeded from there. He’ll be a different proposition next time up.
Best in the paddock was RAGGIO’S BOY but he was totally clueless on the track, jumped awkwardly and lost touch early on. He is a chasing sort and is worth keeping on a look-out list as he is the raw material if the penny drops.

1:00 3m 1f Ship Inn, Dalkeith Novices’ Handicap Chase (0-100)

SUPER ALLY has improved since going chasing and picked up a second course win in decent style here. Racing prominently, he was headed at the last, but responded when passed and got the upper hand in the final furlong. He has a sound attitude which makes a difference at this level and I see no reason why the progression shouldn’t continue.
FRONTIER BOY stepped up significantly on his previous effort, the trip helping and his jumping having been sharpened significantly. Bagging another in Bryony Ewart’s increasing pile of Best Turned Out Awards, he looked well readied here. He led briefly at the last but was held by a better opponent on the run-in. Staying chases are clearly his game and he is one to take forward for the coming months.
Wilson Renwick was ‘done’ under the new whip rules for his ride on CHICAGO OUTFIT. While I can understand the need to quantify the use of the whip, instances like this perhaps shows there are two sides to the argument. John Wade’s charge raced lazily early on and Renwick administered a couple of cracks with a circuit to go. Driven from two out he picked up well on the flat and finished fast for third, but suffered one slap too many. Presuming that things don’t change on the whip front then Wade has a task on hand to get the best out of this one. Lightly raced and potentially better than this level.
Hexham winner QUETZAL was held from three out, while ELIADES BOY looked as if the race would bring him on and couldn’t make an impact from two out.

1.30 2m 6 ½ f Persimmon Homes Handicap Chase (136-115)

A race in which a progressive winner was hard pressed by a consistent stayer in second. The rest bar one finished close together a few lengths back.

The last open ditch was bypassed on each circuit due to damage received in the previous race.

THE PANAMA KID won comfortably here last time and stepped up on that effort off a much higher mark. He thumped the middle one down the far side first time, but apart from that jumped very well near a pace set by the eventual second, hitting the front on the flat and holding Garleton’s challenge from the elbow. He won well enough here to suggest there is still more in the tank.
GARLETON is a consistent stayer and made a brave attempt to make most of the running. He needed geeing along a bit with a circuit, which is a bit out of character, but he responded all the way home. Despite being collared on the flat he was still battling back at the line. The problem might be that the handicapper will split the difference back to the third and bump him up a few pounds. Anything over 140 starts to cut down palatable options, and this event was over as short a trip as he would be raced at. Chatting to one of the joint owners, I understand that the plan is either the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle or the Becher Chase at Aintree, with the former favoured.
MIRAGE DORE made progress from the omitted two out, but never quite got to the leaders. He is going the right way however and retains a fair amount of his ability.
RAYSROCK kept on for fourth without seriously threatening to win. A reasonable effort, but he doesn’t win often.
INDIAN GROOM looked very well on his seasonal debut but was held in the straight. As a six-year-old he has time on his side and is boarded in a stable likely to get the best out of him.
CIRCUS CLOWN was dropped in at the deep end on chasing debut. He jumped well enough and was not disgraced in a close up sixth place. Twice a winner over hurdles he would be of interest in novice handicap company.
SAFARI ADVENTURES was held up here, possibly to help see out the trip, but he was held in the last three quarters of a mile.
DOUGLAS JULIAN appeared to fins the task a bit tough in this company, while DEN OF INIQUITY was another Ferdy Murphy horse in need of the run.

2.05 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage Handicap Hurdle (98-127)

This is one of the longest hurdles of the campaign, only Sedgefield staging anything past this distance over the small obstacles.

A largely exposed bunch were put comfortably in their place by SOPRANO, following up a Perth win in July and having run creditably on the flat recently. He pulled clear from the last to win with a bit in hand.
SCOTSWELL followed up a fine Aintree third with another decent performance in second here, having been in fine form over the summer. He led before two out but was held from the last.
MORE EQUITY kept on for a never nearer third.
BOLLIN FIONA put in a good effort from 3lbs out of the weights, but was held from two out. She would benefit from a drop in class, though she seems to need a distance of ground and her chances are in the hands of the racing programme.
Nothing else threatened, though KING FONTAINE was on premises when walking through three out. He didn’t recover, but might be worth keeping in mind as he is a fair chaser who finished in the National last season.

2.40 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Limited Handicap Chase (166-122)

The open ditch was back in use for this race after repairs were carried out.

This event has filled a nice little niche in early season for two mile chasers, balancing up the Haldon Gold Cup which takes place down at Exeter the same week.

For backers these contests can be money spinners as they favour certain types. In typical Sue Smith had STAGECOACH PEARL spot for this contest and he made all in decent style. Those around about the minimum mark can be favoured in these contests as the ones above are handicapped to the hilt. On decent ground the winner might be capable of scoring again, but finding suitable races can be a problem.
SA SUFFIT was making a comeback following a career threatening tendon injury. He stays 2m 6f at least, so his trainer can try different options. Never far off the pace, he stayed on determinedly up the run-in, but was always just held by a well prepared winner. This was a promising effort from a stable boasting more strength in depth than ever before.
TCHICO POLOS has moved to Lucinda Russell, though staying in the same ownership. There were doubts about suitable races for this one, but this race was a decent alternative to the Haldon Gold Cup and I understand Ayr might lay on a contest at their upcoming meeting. Tchico Polos was chasing the leader most of the way, though held from the last if keeping on well enough. Long term target would likely be either the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and start was sound enough.
PREMIER SAGAS made no impression from two out, but ran well enough from 9lbs wrong and should be interesting once running off his real mark.
TARTAN SNOW performed admirably from 24lbs out of the weights, but was tapped fro pace at crucial stages. Given that he was coming off a 6 month lay-off this effort augurs well fro the future when back in his class.
KALAHARI KING looked forward enough to do himself justice, but finds everything happening a bit quick at this trip these days. He lost touch with the leaders three out and was well held. He is another with a long term target of the Ryanair Chase, but short term he’ll go to the Betfair Chase just to see if he can see out the three miles in decent company.
DE BOITRON needed the race and was struggling form the seventh. He’s weighted to have a chance in handicap chases and this race will have brought him on.

3.15 2m 1f Ferneyhill Handicap Chase (93-115)

A race marred by the lost of Lucinda Russell’s improving young chaser THE COCKNEY SQUIRE. He was sitting in midfield when unseating at the fourth, jumped two more fences with the field and then collapsed with a heart attack.

The race was won by virtue of a superb front-running display by STORM SURGE, ably ridden by Lucy Alexander who notched up a third win in three days. Kicking on going away from the stands, nothing ever got near enough to put in a serious challenge. The winner jumped well and was driven out to maintain the lead on the flat.
BAAHER ran a not untypical race, staying on through the field to take second place close home.
PRIMROSE TIME is probably handicapped to her best, but kept from the last for third.
BENE LAD was another who kept on late and Timmy Murphy was of the opinion that he should be stepped up to two and a half miles. That makes sense since he won hurdle over that distance in January.
DUKE OF MALFI chased the leader but was held from before the last. He’s now moved from the Russell yard to that of Harriet Graham near Jedburgh.
BISHOPS HEIR looked as if the race would do him good after a lay-off and he faded form two out. CARRIETAU couldn’t dominate here and was struggling from some way out.
RICH LORD needed the race on his chase debut and never figured.

3.45 2m 2f Flannigan Skip Hire & Border Skip Hire Handicap Hurdle (83-106)

The curse of the low sun struck this contest. Graham Lee and Timmy Murphy took their mounts down the last, had a peer from behind the hurdle and decided the sun was too bright. Thus a ten hurdle contest became six hurdles with a run-in of four furlongs plus.

The winner FLAYGRAY looks as if he could make progress. He won a bumper then shaped well in novice hurdles without winning. He came clear comfortably here and won with enough in hand to suggest he will stand a rise in class
INOOGOO close from the last down the far side but couldn’t make an impact in the final two furlongs. He’s lightly raced type who showed promise, initially in bumpers, and will be suited by a step up in trip.
KARMADICE showed up well until held from passing the omitted last hurdle. He’s not been too reliable previously but seemed on good terms with himself in the paddock, showing up for most of the way on the track.
CASSIUS has been out of sorts of late. However, he stayed on having been outpaced leaving the back straight. He probably needs softer ground and could be of interest in the winter months when the rain arrives.
JUMBY BAY ran down the field after a 725 day lay-off. He needed the race, and briefly progressed on the home turn but never got into the contest. He will probably prove well handicapped once reaching full fitness.
BALNAGORE was struck into when the field jostled for position on the stands’ bend. Campbell Gillies eased him to a halt, and reports are that he suffered only a superficial wound and it will just need time to heal.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mussleburgh open their jumps season

MUSSELBURGH – Thursday November 3rd

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

Musselburgh kicked off their jumps campaign with a pretty decent card offering the three best prizes countrywide on the day. Credit is due to the course management for their efforts on this front. They were blessed with decent weather, the overnight rain serving to do no more than freshen the surface a little, with mid-teen Celsius temperatures and bright sunshine prevailing.

Although the ground was touch on the fast side, the ground was in good nick. It is worth warning though that the difference in ground between Musselburgh and other tracks can mean form here doesn’t work out so well elsewhere. It’s an unusual jumps meeting at the Honest Toun when ‘good’ doesn’t figure somewhere in the going description.

1.0 2m 4f Scottish Racing Handicap Hurdle (125-103)

The meeting opened with a competitive looking class 3 hurdle, though the winner set a comfortable and had plenty in reserve from the last.
John Wade has steadily cranked up his training operation in recent seasons, now boasting over 60 boxes, and the quality is steadily on the up. BOW BADGER was acquired by Howard Johnson’s self-inflicted forced absence from the game and made a fine start. Taking up the running from the offset, Bow Badger was a few lengths clear two out and continued the gallop to the line. A lightly race, this one should have enough improvement to win a race or two more.

Housekeeping note – Someone at the Wade yard appears to have put the silks on the hot wash. The maroon and white colours were maroon and pink on this occasion!

MY ARCH, a two mile plus on the flat, won in convincing style here when last seen out over fences in the corresponding meeting in 2009. He jumped his field silly on that occasion, but couldn’t get into the race over hurdles until staying on up the straight for second. He should win a hurdle race given a stiffer test, and I reckon he could be a bit better over fences if given another chance.

ROCKAZAR ran better than his Irish form suggested to fill third place though held from two out. The decent ground helps and he will presumably be shipped back here over the Irish Sea before long. The course probably helps as well, as his last win came at Bellewstown, a track plenty sharp enough if a little more undulating than Musselburgh.

The rest look pretty well held in their place by the handicapper. THE STARBOARD BOW was back to what looks an ideal distance but made no impact from three out.

BEAT THE SHOWER, possibly one with more scope for improvement than others here, exited early when falling at the third. He routed himself on to the chase track and jumped a fence quite neatly in the straight.

1.30 2m 4f Download Your Free Musselburgh App Now Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

Last year’s renewal of this contest yielded a ride of the year for Matt Crawley. This year’s event was more mundane.

A 98 rated performer was made favourite, and a 99 rated exposed performer was still there at the last, so the level is pretty well established. The winner D’GIGI has more scope about her than most and should make up into a chaser. A robust mare, she was sweating a bit in the preliminaries but it proved no problem on course. Always thereabouts, she had the race in safe keeping when those chasing were hampered at the last. It made no difference to the result and she can win again in moderate company.
TALK OF SAAFEND is an exposed performer but wasn’t out of the battle for second when falling at the last. She is no more than moderate though and 2m 4f is at the buckle end of her stamina.
GOLDEN SPARKLE was presented with second when third and fourth were hampered at the last. She hadn’t made any impression on the leader from three out and kept on at one pace from the last.
Wilson Renwick did well to stay on GROOVY DANCER when knocked sideways at the last. He then managed to get enough of a run out of her to take third place. This was not a bad jumping debut and she might well take a mares’ maiden or novice event.
MADAMLILY was made favourite, but was up against it on the final bend and didn’t threaten the winner. She doesn’t look overly keen on the game.

2.00 2m 4f Daikin UK Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Three times point winner BALLYCOLIN looks every inch a chaser and took this in quite decent fashion. His jumping wasn’t fluently early, but when the pace picked up he was much sharper and had the race won despite idling on the run-in. Currently rated 121, he looks potentially a bit better than that. His Trainer Ian Duncan has recently settled in at Coylton in Ayrshire after a mover from Ireland.
MAGGIO looked very well in himself and set the pace until four out. He kept chasing the winner and was closing at the line. His place in the winner’s spot appears merely delayed.
BENEFICIAL REFORM had something to find with the first two on the book He was held from three out, but it’s worth noting that a racecard interview quoted James Ewart as expecting him to win a race here this season.
MYSTIFIED doesn’t have the build of a chaser and wouldn’t be good enough in this company.
HOLLINS didn’t relish a first attempt at fences. He jumped ponderously in the rear.
Peter Beaumont ended up on the deck for the second time in an hour as chasing newcomer DEVOTION TO DUTY unseated at the first open ditch.

2.30 2m Racing UK November Handicap Hurdle 128-100

The £10,000 pot for this race put other courses to shame on the day, but Musselburgh might have expected more than eight to contest the race.

GOLDEN FUTURE has an excellent record at Musselburgh on the Flat and added a cosy hurdles win here. He was left in the lead two out and picked up nicely when asked after the last. This was a creditable win and his current mark should allow him a chance to add to his course record.
KING FINGAL looked sharp enough on seasonal debut and stayed on for second. Lightly raced over hurdles, he should soon add to his single win over this course and distance.
AGGRAVATION stayed on under pressure for third but he looks handicapped to his best at the moment. He reversed Kelso places with BEIDH TINE ANSEO who is another in his place in the ratings.
A change of tactics threatened to pay dividends for GRAND DIAMOND until he unseated two out. Formerly a hard puller, and normally held up, he set a fair pace here and was still going well when departing.
HIGGY’S BOY joined Sandy Thomson recently and the Greenlaw trainer has gradually upped the strength of his string. This former Nicky Henderson one looked well enough but was held from three out, though only beaten 7 and a bit lengths. His mark of 128 looks workable and if he’s eased to 125 or less that would increase options.
TOSHI and GENTLEMAN JEFF remain out of sorts.

3.00 2m Edinburgh Evening News Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This could prove to nave been a fair contest in the long run.

GORDONSVILLE has looked a natural hurdler on his two previous attempts, but his flat speed got him home after the last. I had to watch the replay to pick up his run, I hadn’t noticed him until the run-in, but he jumped the last two well which gave him momentum to pick off four rivals on the flat. He needs holding up, so the race pretty much fell for him, but he’s capable and big field handicaps might prove his cup of tea.
ALLOW ME has a string of places against his name but lost nothing in defeat, looking the winner from the last only to be denied close home.
GEORGE ADAMSON looked the likely winner at the last, but jumped the flight awkwardly and couldn’t recover. Four times a winner on the flat he should win a hurdle race.
Perth winner JET MASTER could never quite get to the leaders up the straight, but kept on for fourth place.
ALSAHIL pulled hard, but remained on the premises until tapped for pace approaching the last. This was a step up on his previous hurdles effort.
CIVIL UNREST is a sturdily built type, and not one who would be seen to his best around here. That being said, he went well enough in front until outpaced from two out. This performance was probably better than the bare placing suggests.

3.30 2m 4f Fugro Subsea Handicap Chase (95-120)

It was pleasing to see a double figure turn out for this handicap chase as there wasn’t one all last season.

FRED BOJANGALS is decent at this level when he is at his best. He was ridden to perfection by Lucy Alexander who snuck up the inside of Heavenly Chorus at the last, and stayed on well enough to the line. He is two wins from three attempts at Musselburgh.
HEAVENLY CHORUS is another who isn’t always straightforward but she has a fair win record of 7 from 45. The decent ground suits her and she was only cut down after the last here, finishing well clear of the third.
ROSSINI’S DANCER finds two and a half miles around here too sharp these days, but, given that his trainer has the most northerly yard in the country she can be excused for looking for opportunities nearby. This one needs a return to three miles and I’d expect him to pick up a race before long.
WORD OF WARNING was held from three out and looks held by the handicapper.
BOB WILL raced up with the pace until weakening three out. He had a tough task in this company and his current mark gives scope for a drop back to a more comfortable level.
ALTAN KHAN never got a blow in at the leaders. He may be better dropped back to two miles. Exposed UNANSWERED weakened form three out, LIVVY INN didn’t look comfortable on chasing debut and OCARINA struggled in the final straight having been up with the pace from the start.
THE PADDY PREMIUM dropped away quickly after the turn for home. He’s better than that, but is higher than he should be for beating moderate opponents at Perth. His trainer really needs the handicapper to clock this if he’s to be competitive.

4.00 2m Racing UK ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

While light on numbers this contest saw the introduction of six potentially interesting types. The pace was very steady for the first mile and a bit, and the runners sprinted from four furlongs out. The three fittest contenders filled the first three places.

FRANKS A MILLION is bred to need a distance of ground, so the fact that he showed speed enough to win here is encouraging. He showed a good attitude in holding off a determined second, the latter being am ore obvious bumper contender.
MADAME BLAVATSKY is a small filly who is bred to be effective at two miles. She pressed the winner to the line and would win a mares and fillies’ event.
ALL AMERICAN looked best in the paddock but raced very keenly. He was left flat footed turning for home, only to come with a wet sail up the stands’ side in the final furlong. He wants a more truly run race.
DETROIT RIVER looked a bit tubby and the race will bring her on. She kept on well enough if not quick enough to deal with fitter opponents. She might need time, but is bred well enough to make up into a jumper.
REASONABLE FORCE was held up and couldn’t make an impact from two furlongs out. He wasn’t far away and offers hope for the future.
New Zealand bred TWEEDO PARADISO needed the race and was well outpaced in the straight.

HEXHAM – Friday November 4th

Action has been flying thick and fast in the area over the weekend, so a summary only from Hexham.

Ferdy Murphy’s runners have looked short of peak fitness to date this season. However, OCKEY DE NEUILLAC was much too good for the selling hurdle field here, cruising clear from the home turn. Favourite PALOMAR would beat these at his best, but struggled in third and must have problems.

SYDNEY COVE cast away moderate previous form to win the Class 5 handicap hurdle. The key to him has been getting him settled, and he picked off his field gradually from two out, taking up the lead on the flat. Sydney Cove has proved a difficult character for more than one trainer, but rewarded hard graft put in by Nick Alexander and his staff.

ROLECARR won a novice chase in which only three finished and the rider of the second LIVELY BARON was ‘given 13 days’ for breaking the whip rules. ROLECARR’s determination in the final 100 yards saw him prevail, but the finishers were very tired and the other five pulled up.

DANNY JOHN BOY was comfortable winner of a moderate staying handicap chase but will find life tougher off a likely much stiffer mark.

PANTHERS RUN saves his best efforts for Hexham and saw off TIPSY INDIAN in a close battle form the last. Henry Brooke acquired a 13 day suspension for overuse of the whip on the winner. The winner’s overall record is lousy, though he has ability which mostly stays hidden, and I wouldn’t trust to him to repeat the form.