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.