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...