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
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.