Saturday, 31 December 2011

Post Christmas Action


OUR MICK followed up a comfortable win at Catterick with an impressive victory in a novices’ handicap chase at Kempton. He galloped and jumped his field into submission and looks one to take forward to the Festivals, probably in one of the handicaps.

ALWAYS RIGHT disappointed in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby. He went out like a light from the home turn, the inference being that there was something wrong. Malcolm Jefferson landed the race with ACCORDING THE PETE who made all the running and held on all out. MERIGO ran another lack lustre race, but previous evidence suggests that he won’t come to himself until the spring.

WETHERBY – Tuesday December 27th

I heard Richie McGrath talking up the performance of EMBSAY CRAG at Kelso, and I must admit to have dismissed it as #sweet talking’ the owners. Richie, I have to apologise, since Embsay Crag showed a decent turn of pace to win the opening novices’ hurdle on the second day of the Wetherby meeting. The quality of this race was dubious, but the winner showed he has ability.
Danny Cook took a horrible fall when Amtired ducked out at the second last, breaking his knee in three places. A desperate setback for Cook who had been having a pretty good time of late.

EMPRESS ORCHID made all, jumping well, to win the beginners’ chase. She may win again. STOPPED OUT stayed on for second place, without quite getting to the winner, and should manage to win a chase before long.

Lucy Alexander coaxed a burst of speed from CHARINGWORTH to snatch the Castleford Chase on the line. That was as good a riding performance as any over the holiday period.
SA SUFFIT stayed on at the end to finish a close fourth. He’s probably more of a middle distance performer these days and this was a fair effort. He remains competitive off his current mark.

CATTERICK – Wednesday December 28th

STAR IN FLIGHT was a comfortable winner of the opening two mile maiden hurdle. He will probably cope with tougher company, though this event seemed heavy on numbers but light on quality.

John Wade’s APACHE BLUE just wore down long time leader SYCHO FRED in the staying handicap chase. The latter is in good heart, but the form looks no better than ‘win in turn’ class.
MALKO DE BEAUMONT went wrong seriously with a circuit to go. I haven’t found a report of his condition, things didn’t look good, and at best it’s probably career ending.

GINGER GREY was clear of CAVITE ETA in the second episode of the maiden hurdle. The latter showed a glimmer of ability in a point earlier in the year, but he didn’t impress in bumpers or novice hurdles before this. Not a race to get too carried away with, though one who ran better than final position suggests was LITTLEDEAN JIMMY, competing for the lead when flattening the last and not recovering.

Sue Smith’s SHADRACK showed tenacity to hold off KING’S GREY in as bobbing finish to the novices’ handicap chase. There are now a significant number of these Class 3 limited handicaps, presumably an alternative to the risk of getting punished by the handicapper for a close finish in non-handicaps. The first two look decent at this level, and ARAUCARIA, a winner of two bumpers and two hurdles, was staying on close behind the first two. He shouldn’t have to wait too long for a chase win.

DOBERDAN pulled readily clear of ON GOSSAMER WINGS in the 2m 3f Class 5 Handicap Chase. Not many I would trust in the field, and the winner had been well beaten by the second here previously. SUPER BABY jumped well in front fitted with a first time visor, suggesting that whatever was ailing him last season is now a bit better, but he was put in his place from the home turn.

KELSO – Thursday December 29th

Going – Soft

A decent post-Christmas card at Kelso, with the weather slowing this fixture this year after the cold had put paid to 2009 and 2010 efforts.

The meeting was well supported by Scottish trainers, and the reward for the locals was 6 winners out of 7 races.

12.00 2m 6f 110yds toteplacepot National Hunt Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

BRINDISI BREEZE, winner of a maiden point at Loughrea in October and subsequently placed in a Musselburgh bumper, looked well suited by the test of stamina on his hurdling debut. Racing keenly, he jumped neatly enough and took advantage when the runner-up landed flatfooted at the last. This was promising effort from one who will likely be seen to best effect over fences.
One amongst a number of decent acquisition’s by Sandy Thomson in recent months, NETMINDER was perhaps a shade unfortunate not to win this. Favoured by the step up in trip, he looked to be going best until making a serious error at the last and landing flatfooted. He took time to recover, was headed inside the final furlong and couldn’t find any extra. A staying hurdle should be well within his compass.
QUEL ELITE has shown enough to suggest he’s capable of winning a contest like this, but was firmly put in his place from three out. A try at a novices’ staying handicap hurdle could be the route required.
NODFORM RICHARD was most disappointing, being firmly put in his place after four out. He has something to prove.
THE BOOZY BISHOP looks a chasing type, but showed only a glimmer of ability in points. He may have prospects long term, but couldn’t keep up from a mile out here.

12.30 2m 6f 110yds Ashleybank Investments Reg & Betty Tweedie Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Three very interesting chasings prospects competed here and, despite the low numbers, this could prove to have been a very decent novice event. Certainly three fine looking sorts in the parade ring.

There was a delay to the contest as one of the ambulances got stuck in the muddy ground. A tractor came to the r4scue, but then crossing and track repairs were required at the hurdles/chase course intersection away from the stands.

BOLD SIR BRIAN ran into a couple of decent sorts in two mile events earlier in the season. He clearly benefitted from the step up in trip and, ridden patiently by Peter Buchanan, came to take up the running at the last. He got first run on the stayer Lie Forrit and held on by a couple of lengths. He’s only five, should strengthen and is one hell of a chasing prospect for the Russell yard.
LIE FORRIT would have been suited by a steady pace on the first circuit. Looking a bit sharper than for his previous outing, he got tapped for pace approaching the last, but stayed on relentlessly up the run-in. He’s basically a stayer and will be seen to better effect when there’s more pace on. Worthy of entry in the World Hurdle a couple of seasons back, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be rated a ticket to the major Festivals by Willie Amos.
MOON INDIGO, the least high profile of the three, jumped very well in front and stuck at his task well once turned for home. He wasn’t far away at the finish, jumped better here than in his previous chase, and looks yet another decent chaser for John Wade.

1.00 2m 110yds Eric Gillie 65th Birthday Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

INTO WAIN confirmed the promise of his gritty effort at Catterick, looking very well in the paddock, leading three out and coming clear with a bit in hand. This franks the effort of hurdling debutant BOURNE in the Catterick event.
RHYMERS HA’ ran a satisfactory second on hurdling debut having shown ability in bumpers. He kept on without troubling the winner and shouldn’t be troubled by a step up in trip.
NEXT TO NOWHERE was left in the lead at the fourth but readily held once passed at the last. He might need to be aimed at novice handicaps.
LA BACOUTTEUSE hasn’t pulled up any trees over hurdles and was readily put in his place from two out as was TALKIN SENCE.

One to keep an eye on for the future is PAS TROP TARD. He showed some ability in bumpers, but I’m told then got a virus. Connections are now testing the water, and suspect that the soft going was against him, but he stayed on steadily from three out having been scrubbed along approaching the fourth flight.
The same connections ran L’EMINENCE GRISE, a private purchase out of Nick William’s yard, and are trying to find out about this one as condition requirements aren’t clear. They learnt nil here as the gelding jinked on the first bend and unseated Zander Voy. Considered good enough to contest the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham, the jury appear to be in no more than early discussions on this one!

Dramatic action at the fourth flight when MR MANSSON ran out, taking out GETTING READY in the process. Lucy Alexander made strenuous efforts to straighten Mr Mansson, but to no avail, and Brian Hughes was helpless on Getting Ready.

I missed most these in paddock as I nipped off to see HIDDEN CYCLONE’s Leopardstown chasing debut. I got word of this one at Perth in September, and the stable’s confidence was justified with a decent effort here, Shark Hanlon’s gelding jumping well and coming clear on the run-in.

1.35 2m 1f Timeform Race Passes Handicap Chase (102-120)

The likely clash of the front-runners didn’t really happen here. CARRIETAU came a cropper at the ditch away from the stands and STORM SURGE never got the chance to dominate this time. The latter led at the sixth, but was joined at the third last and very tired up the run-in. It might be this was just one race too many and a rest is required.

PRIMROSE TIME is unpredictable but looked very well and was on a going day. She was always thereabouts, led before the last and came clear to win comfortably. She’ll be on a career high mark after this.
PENA DORADA ran a sound race for a novice, keeping on for second though unable to get near the winner. He’s only four and there’s a chance he’ll improve with fencing experience.
WILLIE HALL plugged on for third but was never in contention.
DUKE OF MALFI never got competitive and probably needs softer company.
BOB’S DREAM was beaten by two out and pulled up having lost his action no the flat. He was reported as sound after the race.
CABYLL DOO lost a shoe and pulled up down the far side.

2.10 2m 6f 110yds Bunny Maitland-Carew Handicap Hurdle (88-115)

The wind was starting to pick up by this time, and it was not warm on my regular perch on top of the old stand!

A fine looking sort for which trip, course and company was right here, GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS started at 9/2 which suggests that a few had spotted it. I had this one on my ‘horses to follow’ list this season, and it was no surprise to see a comfortable win. I’ll look forward to seeing this one go chasing but, given that he cruised into contention and then eased clear, he should follow up in a staying hurdle.
CHARLIE BUCKET stayed on well from two out but remains a maiden, though was never near the head of the contest.
POLITICAL PADDY led two out but was headed at the last and could offer no more. This was his best effort for some time.
DICKIE HENDERHOOP ran a fair race without ever threatening to break his duck.
STEADY TIGER led for a good way but weakened quickly once headed and the suspicion is that he has a physical problem. He should promise early in his career but the fear is that he’s in terminal decline.
ANY GIVEN MOMENT folded tamely from four out and was pulled up. He’s not straightforward and may not have fancied it in this more competitive company.

2.45 3m 1f Timeform Jury Handicap Chase (98-121)

ROLECARR made his record around Kelso 3 from 3, staying on stoutly to hold two challengers. He’s also 2 from 2 at this trip and neither win was by far which helps future marks. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins another handicap chase before long.

The small Borders yard of Alan Mactaggart has only had two horses running for them in the last couple of seasons, but ROYAL MACKINTOSH is a fair performer at best. He’s dropped a fair way in the handicap in recent times, but put up a fine effort here. Setting the pace jumping accurately, he was headed on the run-in but battling back determinedly in the closing stages. Suited by a decent test of stamina, he’s a proven winner in this company and can pick up a handicap chase.
SUPER ALLY had a chance on the flat but was held from the elbow. He remains in decent form.
ISLA PEARL FISHER was held up, asked for an effort from three out but never got to the leaders. Nick Alexander’s hints in his blog that there might still be a bit more to come with this race behind him.
BADGER FOOT was disappointing and struggled from three out.
DODGEY DREAM was struggling from some way out, was pulled up and may have found this too stern a test in the conditions.
BALLYCOLIN faded quickly from two out and dug his heels in at the last when well held.

3.20 2m 2f totepool Handicap Hurdle (102-119)

After a couple of fine performances over the Bank Holidays, Lucy Alexander found herself on the floor 4 times in two days. EUROHUNTER crashed at the last in this event when ridden to fend off a challenge. Informed opinion suggested that maybe Lucy should have kicked on down the far side. However, the winner cruised up into contention and was going the better approaching the last. Eurohunter looks more than good enough to win a similar event.
SURPRISE VENDOR won a weak event at Sedgefield in the spring, but hasn’t done a huge amount otherwise recently. Having made good progress three out he was going best of the leading two when left clear at the last. He’s had a fair bit of racing for a 5 year old, and it’s difficult to find any pattern in his form, though he has won 4 races with two of them on the flat.
BEIDH TINE ANSEO was held up by Grant Cockburn and the leaders had flown before the last. He stayed on for second place.
KING MAK raced prominently but was comfortably held from two out.
MOGHAAYER performed a bit better than of late, being held up well behind by Joel Belbin and keeping on through tired opponents.
Nothing else got near in the final half mile. OPEN DE L’ISLE has ability but pretty much downed tools after a circuit.


PAS TROP TARD - showed a glimmer of ability in novice company and should make his mark before long.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Pre-Christmas - Musselburgh & Sedgefield

MUSSELBURGH - Tuesday December 20th

Going - Good to Soft

Musselburgh put on a fair pre-Christmas card with a headline £10,000 added event, the finish of which was fought out between two progressive types who should make their mark in higher company.

12.20 2m 4f Buy Your 1012 Annual Members Badge Today Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase

The Eternal Optimists Society turned up in force and made RAINING HORSE 15/8 favourite for this event. James Ewart's gelding has ability but his jumping varies between exuberant and awful, and there's too much of the latter to place much faith in him. After a couple of made mistakes he and his rider parted company at the ninth fence.

The race was won by the best jumper in SOUL ANGEL. His only real error was at the ninth, but he was left in the lead at that point and had the race won by two out. Even then he was running down his fences in the straight and he would not find things so easy in stiffer company.

CLARESBURN stayed on for second without threatening the winner, while SOMETHING SILVER weakened two out, possibly paying the penalty for a not particularly accurate guess at the twelfth fence. The race should have brought him on, and it’s worth noting that all his wins have come at Ayr.

THEBRAVETRAVELLER jumped moderately in the rear and was never in the race, while on chasing debut MOSCOW MISCHIEF decanted her jockey at the fourth fence.

12.50 2m Racing UK Showing The Best Racehorses Live Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

INGLEBY SPIRIT has steadily improved over three hurdles outings and won this comfortably. His superior final straight pace won the day in a slowly run race.

BOWDLER’S MAGIC improved on his debut effort, keeping on from two out without getting to the winner. Mark Johnston doesn’t run many over hurdles but he has a chance of picking up a race before long with this one.

MERCHANT OF DUBAI was outpaced from two out and looks in need of a stiffer test than this sharp two miles.

NUMBER ONE GUY jumped abysmally in rear early on, but picked up a bit once turned for home to finish an admittedly moderate fourth. He hints at some prospects in the long term.

1.20 2m 4f Scottish Racing Beginners’ Chase (Class 5)

MAGGIO has taken some time to lose his maiden tag, but he had shown plenty of promise in two chasing efforts prior to this. He out galloped the runner up down the straight to win with a bit in hand. A fairly distant third behind Al Ferof at Cheltenham last time, he’s not competitive in that company but has ability to win more chases.

VOSGES ran an honest enough race but found one too good on the day. ROYAL AND ANCIENT isn’t as good as the first two and was held from the end of the back straight, as was PUYOL who race prominently early on but was labouring by the final bend.

PENA DORADA capsized at the fifth and NODFORMS VIOLET ran no sort of race in rear, pulling up before four out.

1.50 2m 4f Arnolds Handicap Hurdle (74-100)

DIZZY RIVER is an improving sort, having won at Sedgefield and then run a fair enough race in better company at Aintree last time. He saw off an in form rival, the pair comfortably clear of the remainder. He should stand a step up in trip.

Sandy Thomson seems to have found the key to ANY GIVEN MOMENT, and he was unlucky to run into a decent opponent for the level. He challenged on the flat, but his efforts were resisted. His win last time was over three miles and a step back up trip would not be against him.

The rest were well held, headed by front running VIA ARCHIMEDE who was left behind from two out and NORTHERN ACRES beaten three out.

2.20 2m TurfTV Handicap Hurdle (95-117)

This was a contest which may prove to have been very significant when reviewed at end of term. Two progressive sorts came clear of some fair opponents.

Readers will know I was impressed with SIMPLY NED from the word. Looking a bit green before the last, he had to battle hard to get on top but asserted in the final half furlong. I believe he’s potentially a good deal better than the 117 mark he ran off here. I’ll look out for future engagements with interest.

Three year old ROYAL OPERA set a decent pace and then made the progressive winner pull out the stops. A facile winner at Market Rasen last time, I think he might be a type for the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

BRIDLINGTONBYGONES ran a sound race in third, suggesting a return to form. He got outpaced at halfway but stuck on again form the final turn. HUNTER’S BELT was close behind in fourth, showing up much better than on recent hurdling efforts. Both of these are worthy of consideration in upcoming engagements.

ALLOW ME was outpaced from the home turn and looks to need a stiffer test in handicap company.

2.55 2m Racing UK Handicap Chase (88-111)

The second last fence was omitted after being damaged on the first circuit.

RED TANBER has looked a different horse since going chasing, and his sharp jumping technique was way too good for more experienced opponents here. Moving smoothly into contention on the home bend, he quickened clear in the style of one who can rate much higher than his mark here of 88.

OTTO QUERCUS led from the fourth until outpaced on the flat. He jumped soundly enough, had the remainder well beaten, and John Wade should place him to win a similar event.

SHERIFF HALL ran a fair race in third, but isn’t especially well treated currently. JUST MADDIE made moderate late progress into fourth place and might benefit from an ease in class.

HEAVENLY CHORUS can be a moody sort and never got involved. She’s best at Catterick, though does have some fair efforts to her name around Musselburgh.

KAOLAK fell at the first, but can be forgiven this as Sheriff Hall jumped right across him, almost stopping Jim Goldie’s gelding in his tracks.

BAAHER’s previous race fell into his lap here. No such gifts this time and he was firmly put in his place.

3.25 2m Wishing You a Happy Christmas Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 6)

RENDL BEACH confirmed the impression given on debut here, holding off a well regarded sort in Makari. The winner has the build of a jumping sort and is well worth interest once going hurdling. He stayed on well in the final furlong here.

MAKARI, an expensive purchase in November, was well backed here but ran into a decent one in Rendl Beach. He didn’t do too much wrong if held form the furlong pole. This one’s pedigree oozes winners at all distances and is an exciting prospect for jumping.

Make space in the notebook for the third here BUFFALO BALLET. Very well regarded by trainer Nick Alexander, this one was blatantly unsuited by the track as his trainer admitted, but came storming through the field in the final two furlongs to finish fastest of all. Lack of opportunities meant a chance had to be taken here, but he will be a different proposition on a stiffer circuit.

NODDA HIGH KID found the company here tougher than for his previous race, but he kept on well enough for fourth to confirm the favourable impression.

SEDGEFIELD – Thursday December 22nd

With no Boxing Day fixture this year, the Durham track closed their 2011 programme on the last racing day before Christmas. I do note that the Boxing Day fixture returns in 2012.

Sedgefield novice hurdle can be weakly contested events, but the opener here over 2m 1f looks to have a bit of depth about it and the winner is potentially useful.

THE WEATHERMAN impressed me at Kelso when winning a bumper. He isn’t a huge type, but is a handy sort for hurdling. He challenged two out and saw off a previous winner with ease. There is every prospect that he can cope with better company.

KEALIGOLANE confirmed that his Musselburgh win was no fluke, leading until two out and keeping on if held afterwards. He will have easier chances.

Carlisle winner VINTAGE STAR was in with a chance two out bu8t held approaching the last. The race in which he finished fifth at Carlisle last time was probably a decent contest, and this run was sound enough. FRANKS A MILLION won a bumper contested by ‘long term projects’ at Musselburgh, but his fourth here was very promising and augurs well for his jumping career. There’s staying chasing blood in the family and that’s probably where his long term future lies.

LATERLY put up a gritty performance to win what looked a decent beginners’ chase, holding off CHARMINSTER and FLINTY BAY, both potential chase winners.

RISKIER jumped boldly out in front and had seen off all bar one opponent by the last fence in the Class 5 2m 4f handicap chase. Unfortunately he was caught close home, but his sound jumping will set him in good stead at this level. SYCHO FRED mugged him close home, but hadn’t won for a long time before this and there’s no guarantee he’ll repeat the effort.

The mares’ hurdle was won by ZEFOOHA who got up to beat LUCIA BAY close home. The latter was spotted looking a bit sorry for herself on a summer stable visit, I think she wanted some attention, but she is showing zest on the track. She had less experience than some here and should win a mares’ hurdle at least.

SWINGING SULTAN won the closing bumper very readily. His pedigree suggests he will be at his best around the minimum trip over jumps. BROTHER SCOTT kept on determinedly under urging in second. He probably isn’t anything special but appears to try hard enough.


RED TANBER – looks well ahead of the handicapper over fences.

ROYAL OPERA – A progressive juvenile hurdler, unlucky to meet another progressive sort.

– well regarded and likely to improve if given a stiffer test than Musselburgh.

– sound jumping should win a lowly handicap chase

Next live meeting for me will be Kelso the Thursday after Christams. Unitl then may I wish a Happy Christmas to readers of my blog!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Catterick, Newcastle and Carlisle

CATTERICK - Tuesday December 13th

Going - Soft

The Maiden Chase threw up a decent winner last year in Columbus Secret and teh second on that occasion, TIME OUT, returned to win with a bit in hand this time around. He jumped well and went clear from two out, givnig signs that he can step up to match better company. He's favoured by cut in the ground and should win again. It's orth noting the at James Ewart's website has had an overhaul and is now updated at

John Wade's record with chasers, both owning and training, is as good as any in the North. Chris Grant trained ALPHA ONE looks a fair recruit to the string and acquiited himself well enough in second, jumping well but never getting to grips with the winner. He shouldn't be too long in finding a small race, possibly a novices' handicap chase.

BOURNE made a successful winning debut in the 2m 3f novices' hurdle. He kept on nicely and there could be a bit more in the tank as he was rated 97 on the flat. Another decent looking recruit from the flat, INTO WAIN battled tenaciously from two out, stepputg up significantly on Market Rasen hurdling debut. He should win a race before long. CROWNING JEWEL once again came with a wet sail late on. He was outpaced before two out and the obvious conclusion is that this course wouldn't bring out the best in him.

DYSTONIA'S REVENGE came from miles back on the home turn to take the staying handicap chase, mugging the two other finishers on the run-in. Lucky though he was, his record around sharp tracks under Rules is now U4121 and he does stay well.
CORKAGE led until coming down two out. He would likely have finished second at worst and may well have won. This was much better than his Newcastle effort, though he has an enigmatic history. QUEL BALLISTIC, another likely chasing winner from the Wade stable, was chipping away at the elader's advantage when hampered and unseating two out.

The closing bumper was won by SPECIAL CATCH. three race experience presumably making a significant difference. In the long term keep an eye out for PLUS JAMAIS, a half-brother to decent chaser Sa Suffit. He got left behind from the home turn but should put up better performances in time.

NEWCASTLE - Saturday December 17th

Gonig - Good To Soft (Soft in places)

Newcastle really have 'let things a go' a bit in recent times and the prixze mnoey fro this card was pathetic for what should be a decent pre-Christmas card. The feature race was worth over £15,000 to the winenr when last contested in 2008, but only £4.431 this year. I know times are hard, but an effort needs to be made.

The chase course has been re-arranged a little this season. There is now only one fence down the side of the track, but five 'down the back', alleviating some of the problems of having to omit fences because of the low sun.

KING'S CHORISTER has threatened to win a lowly handicap on a few occasions and finally found a very moderate event here. He decided he had done enough in front and idled, but CARTERS REST and DZESMIN had neither ability nor perhaps inclination to pass, and WALTHAM ABBEY arrived too late to trouble the winner.

BLENHEIM BROOK has run into some decent novice chasers this season but finally got off the mark when taking the three mile beginners' chase. He had a straightforward task here and eased clear when asked after two out. He took time to warm to his job as a novice hurdler and I suspect he will fulfil the expectations of his stable at a higher level.
PRESQUE PERDRE improved on his chasing debut and performed soundly enough in second. He won't always come up against one as good as the winner.

AFSOUN has declnied from a career best mark of 166 down to 130. Welcoming the drop in class that the mark enabled, he won the five-runner handicap hurdle very easily. Lucinda Russell's recruit from Paul Nicholls, TITO BUSTILLO went well until weakening before the last and the race should bring him on.

One of the best at bringing horses back at the epak after a break, Sue Smith took the Northumberland Chase with PAPA CARUSO. It wouldn't be surprise if there's a little more improvement in this one.
PROSECCO ran soundly enough here for second, but needs a break between his races. He is essentially on his amrk though and nothing else in this race really hints at being on a decent mark.

Well touted by Lucinda Russell at the Arlary Open Day, NUTS N BOLTS proved to be just as good as suggested on his hurdling debut. He saw off a some fair performers with plenty in hand in the 2m 6f novices' hurdle. The staying novices deaprtment is sometimes a bit light on talent at the top end and it might be that this winner can cut it in Graded company in time.
SOUTH LEINSTER has shown plenty of promise on his two runs this season and looks capable of picking up a run-of-the-mill staying novice event. With two winners filling the next two places the form looks sound.

The Class 4 novices' handicap chase saw a close fought finish with TRANSACT holding on determinedly from DANCING ART and HOLE IN ONE. The eyecatcher ehre though was SADDLE PACK, confirming the encouraging impression given at Carlisle, staying on well from two out and would have been the winner with a furlong extra to cover. He got outpaced down the far side, but stayed on relentlessly from four out if always too late. The run here suggests my observation last time was right, and he will win over a longer trip, but I suspect his proximity at the finish might stuff the odds next time!

The closing juvenile bumper might work out as a decent event. 5/4 favourite HOUSEPARTY was very green thorughout, but raw ability got him into second. He should win a race with the experience behind him.
The winner CALL BACK was much more tuned into requirements having had a previous race. If Donald McCain can win a race with him as a three-year-old then I suggest that signs are good for the future.
BLADOUN led until three out and kpet on honestly enough once passed. He's a hlaf-brother to four jumping winners in Frnace and appears to possess a fair amount of speed.

CARLISLE - Sunday December 18th

Going - Heavy

All credit to Carlisle as their meeting survived a couple of inspections because of frost, meaning that they didn't have a single day called off in 2011. This meeting did have to be reduced to hurdles only though, and the flat course (the 'old' hurdles course) was once again called into action.

A half-brother to decent Irish hurdler Hidden Cyclone, KINGS CANYON put a disappointing seasonal debut behind him to win the opening 2m 4f novices' hurdle with a bit to spare, staying on well up the hill in testing conditions. Irish pointing winner AVENGING ACE was backed into favouritism here, but ran into a decent opponent and is likely to a chasing prospect long term. There should be a novice hurdle for him along the way though.
Donald Whillans' MINI THE MINX kept on for third if well held by the first two.

Neither division of the 2m 1f novices' hurdle looked very competitibve and there may be mileage in opposing the respective winners, DIAMOND D'AMOUR and JACKSON CAGE on their next outings.

ARTIC NIGHT's only previous significant form had been in the mud at Ayr. He was made favourite to take the second division of the 2m 4f Class 4 handicap hurdle and did it with something in hand, suggesting that he can follow up given the right conditions. He stays three miles and is suited by heavy going. He saw off a fair measure here in GULF PUNCH.

Tim Vaughan's ASHES HOUSE came clear from two out in the bumper and a win under a double penalty wouldn't be out of the question. He's already a winner of an Irish point and will be an exciting prospect when going jumping.
Donald Whillans's stable is in good heart and should be well satisifed with the effort of SPINNING TURTLE. Held from two out, he pulled clear of the remainder. This one has been given time, there is winning jumping blood in the family and, being by Turtle Island, he is likely to be at his best in testing going.
CRANBERRY ICE ran passably well in third. Another with winning jumping blood in his pedigree, he will be worth keeping tabs on with a jumpnig career in mind.

Ones to Note:

TIME OUT - jumped well and won with something in hand at Catterick.
QUEL BALLISTIC - was homing in on the leader when brought down by that one's fall at Catterick. A decent prospect for a staying handicap chase.
NUTS N BOLTS - impressive debut and could turn into a decent staying novice hurdler.
SADDLE PACK - confirmed Carlisle promise. Should win a novice handicap chase at 2m 4f+.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Borders National

I've finally been able to write a report ot catch up with recent action having been very busy at work in the last couple of weeks. I suppose I really should be grateful to be in that position given the ecomonic situation...

KELSO - Sunday Decmeber 4th

Going - Soft (Good To Soft in places)

There was early morning snow in Dunfermline, but thankfully Kelso avoided the wintry showers though the weather was very chilly.

Outlaw Tom's outing in the Borders National was eagerly anticipated by your scribe.

12.30 2m 110yds Happy Birthday Berwick Speedway's Julie Newton Novices' Hurdle (Class 4)

I must confess to have favoured a decent hospitality turkey dinner in the Paddock Marquee in preference to a paddock side position before this event.

Jim Goldie's MERCHANT OF DUBAI was well touted in this one and ran a sound enough race, but he was outstayed by Willie Amos's EUROHUNTER. The latter created a favourable impression at Newcastle after a break and stepped up on that here. The form might prove decent and I'd expect the first two to pick up winning prize money.
TALKIN SENCE tried hard to match the first two form the last and takes a fair bit of credit on his first hurdling completion. Stuart Coltherd should be able to place this one to advantage in time.

1.00 2m 6f 110yds John Smith's Paris Pike Novices' Chase (Class 2)

A decent contest for a prize fund of £12,400.

LIE FORRIT was making a comeback after missing last season due to injury. He was well enough, but looked as if the race might bring him on just a little, so given that then his victory was very pleasing. He chased the leader from three out and took over on the run-in, staying on nicely to give Willie Amos and Campbell Gillies a second winner of the afternoon. He jumped well and looks to have a bright future over fences.
BLENHEIM BROOK once again found one too good for him, but lost nothing in defeat here against a decent opponent. He should win a race before long, though he will not be much of a price.
141 rated THE PANAMA KID sets the standard here, particularly giving weight away to the two in front of him. He led until passed at the last and could offer no more from that point.
One to take from this event is DANCING DIK, 125 rated over hurdles but potewntially better over fences. He matched the prinicipals until approaching the last from which point he was held. A fine effort after a lay-off similar to that of the winner.
CASSIUS couldn't match decent oppostion on chasing debut and needs his sights lowered.
Long standing maiden PADDYS UNYOKE was unsurprisingly tailed off, but his lively demeanour after the race perhaps suggests that he doesn't exert himself to the extent he might.

1.30 2m 110yds Kevin Oliver Christmas Handicap Hurdle (100-119)

LADY BLUESKY was in fine form on the flat and continued the trend with a gritty performance to win a competitive handicap hurdle. She led and kept finding more form the last to land a third Scottish win, indeed a third win for Hawick stables. Her wins have come at tracks with a stiff finish.
COOL BARANCA pressed the leader from the last but couldn't make any impression.
FLAYGRAY plugged on for third, but he went up 11lbs after his win here and the forced rise in class might just have done for him here. This was a good effort though and he clearly wasn't out of his depth in the company. A step back up in trip may help.
FREDDIE BROWN faded tamely from three out and was pulled up. Jan Faltesjek reported he ran too free, though this wasn't immediately obvious from watching the race. I've always liked him but my patience is running thin.

2.00 2m 6f 110yds Monteith Memorial Champion Chase (Handicap) (119-149)

This was a very good event for a total £17,000 pot and good reward to Kelso for putting up decetn prize money. A fitting memorial also to a much missed Scottish trainer in Peter Monteith.

John Wade's cahsers are ni excelletn form and the progressive ALWAYS RIGHT took this in decent style. Always prominent, he stretched his field from two out and gamely held off his main challenger from the furlong pole. Quoted 33/1 best for the Grand National, this lightly raced former hunter chaser has 'Aintree type' written all over him. If you add in his point-to-point form his record is an impressive 10 wins from 15 races.
Another one presumably aimed at Aintree is last year's National ninth placed SKIPPER'S BRIG. He made almost as pleasing a return as the winner, making good progress from three out to challenge on the flat but then held in the run to the line. Another lightly raced sort, he's 9 wins from 19 races and there's no suggestion he's finished winning yet.
SA SUFFIT is probably as high as he would need to be in the ratings. He made a brave attempt to make all, only giving way a bit short of 'the elbow'. He might just be better suited by a drop back to two and a half miles.
PREMIER SAGAS briefly threatened to get involved two out, but made no impact in the straight. He's another better suited by a shorter trip.
DEN OF INIQUITY made steady late progress having been outpaced down the far side. He's worth noting when dropped in class or upped in trip, preferably both.
TARTAN SNOW ran a decent race from out of the weights and desperately needs to be given less exacting tasks.
Former Scottish national winner MERIGO is definitely a Spring horse and never showed.

2.30 4m Scottish Borders National Handicap Chase (105-137)

This was the event I had been waiting for as it saw the altest outing of OUTLAW TOM, the horse I have a small interest in through the Milnathort Racing Club. He earned a place here follwoing a win over four miels at Hexham, though was asked serious questions here agianst much better opponents. Ridden quietly off the pace by Campbell Gillies, he hit two fences hard with a circuit to go and, despite rallying for a while, could never get back to the field. Eased home in seventh place, he will now be dropped in class and aimed at staying chases over stiff or galloping tracks in 2012.

From the point of view of one having an interest in one of runners these were a scarily good looking bunch of chasers in the paddock.

As you may appreciate it wasn't that easy for me to be objective about this race. I was struggling to the binoculars shaking, let alone concentrate on the rest of the field. however, we were treated to an excellent contest as six horses were involved from four out. I've been impressed by EYRE SQUARE since I first saw him, and this bull of horse stayed on relentlessly on the flat to hold staying on in-form LOCKSTOWN. The winner should take the John Wade colours into the winner's spot again soon as he seems an ideal sort fro these stamina tests. LOCKSTOWN just bottomed out close home but did enough to suggest that he hasn't finished winning yet.
MISTER MARKER wasn't foot perfect here but remained in the mix until held on the flat. This was a decetn effort at his first try past 3m 1f.
CAPTAIN AMERICO added to his list of fourth places, as so often before rallying after being outpaced but unable to make an impact from the last.
DOUBLE DEFAULT, second to Outlaw Tom at Hexham, had a creditable effort at making all in this tougher company. He was still in front at the last, but then weakened. He's slightly frustrating in that he's often thereabouts but looks a weak finisher.
GARLETON found the company tough at Newcastle and may have found the exertions telling in the last half mile. He will now have a rest.
BALLYFITZ went well for two circuits, but having clouted the eigthteenth fence he then unseated at the next.
Seven-year-old BEAMAZED will likely be of long term interest in these staying contests, looking well and on his toes but unseating at the fifth.

3.00 2m 6f 100yds Edinburgh Audi/Melrose Rugby Club Mares' Hovices' Hurdle (Class 4)

Favourtie GLENORA GALE appeared to try to duck out at the second and unseated after htiting the flight. Running loose, she was last spotted being pursued around the golf course by Russell stable staff.
MICRO MISSION had shown promise in the Iruish pointing field, so a 22/1 starting price was a bit of a surprise. She raced promienntly, challenged at the last and forged on fro a decetn win. She's well enough bred and is an interesting sort to take forward.
Previous winner SEEDLESS ran a sound race but couldn't match the winner from the last.
GOLDEN SPARKLE ran at a similar level to Musselburgh form, held in the closing stages.
Deminutive LITTLE FIFI wasn't totally disgraced in fourth, giving way before the last.
MIA MATRIARCH looked best in the paddock, but she was much too keen on the track and had shot her bolt by two out. She can be better than this form suggests if she settles.

3.30 3m 3f SIS National Hunt Novices' Handicap Hurdle (64-98)

A low key event to finish a decent card, but wonj by an animal who is on the upgrade and has been cannily placed to win three races. Only a six-year-old SUPER ALLY had won two chases before this and still seems on a workable mark in both disciplines. He stays well and has shown a decetn attitude.
RIGHT ENOUGH performed very well on first effort in a handicap, making the winner work hard from two out and only just succumbing. Held up on previous outings, this was the first time he had been put into the centre of battle and it made a serious difference. He should win a staying hurdle.
FORCEFIELD was outpaced three out and could only stay on after that.
Backers optimism apparently knows no bounds since long-standing maiden DICKIE HENDERHOOP was once more made favourite, this time a ludicrous 2/1! He never got into the race.

MUSSELBURGH - Monday December 5th

The wintry weather hitting Scotland spared Musselburgh and we enjoyed a bright if chilly afternoon.

Going - Good (Good To Soft in places)

12.20 3m Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase (87-103)

HURRICANE JACK is not the easieat to win with but, given the right combination of course and conditions, he was able to dictate here and was not in danger from four out. Jumping well in front he stayed on nicely to give Grant Cockburn a first chase winner. However, I would be inclined to oppose him next time unless Lucinda Russell finds an equally cushy race.
SOPRANO stays well but ideally needs a stiffer test than course and going presented here. He could never get to the winner but would be of interest returned to a stiffer course.
BOB WILL never seriously troubled the leader and just held off long-standing Irish-based maiden MOLINERO for third place, well behind the second.
GAVROCHE GAUGAIN isn't certain to see out this trip. He seemed to be feeling the pinch when making a bad error at the twelfth, and he was well beaten when pullnig up before four out.

12.50 2m Buy Your Annual Members Badge Today Maiden Hurdle - Division 1 (Class 5)

ALSAHIL confirmed the promise of his previous run here. having gone clear three out he just held on from MAKBULLET who finished best. I'm not sure the form is particularly strong, but the seocnd is probably best around here on good ground as it doesn't stretch his stamina too much. He may win a similar contest.
KAOLAK was left behind from three out and nothing else threatened.

1.20 2m Buy Your Annual Members Badge Today Maiden Hurdle - Division 2 (Class 5)

Just occasionally a performacne makes you do a double take and check what you are really seeing. KEALIGOLANE finished this race a speed which might have troubled a few sprinters, racing clear from two out having led all the way under a well judged ride by Lucy Alexander. The gelding won well in a bumper at Wexford in 2009 but lost his way after. This run suggests the ability is still there and on the evidence of this he will trouble better company. I'd be tempted to take a step back and just watch his next race though!

DEMOLITION made a far hurdling debut in second, comfortably seeing off the remainder. He should win a maiden or novice hurdle. KOO AND THE GANG was a fair third just holding ANNA'S ARCH, though both were held from two out.

1.50 3m 110yds Turf TV Handicap Hurdle (70-100)

I was pleased to see ANY GIVEN MOMENT give his trainer Sandy Thomson a winner, as I have often seen the Greenlaw handler pacing nervously up and down during races. This wasn't a great race, but there seemed no fluke about this as the winner picked off the leaders from three out and won a shade cosily.
The second and third, VALLANI and EVERAARD, are honest enough but not prolific winners.
SYDNEY COVE stayed on late and looks to need a stiffer track. He did appear to see out this trip.

2.20 2m 4f Racing UK Handicap Hurdle (98-119)

As ever the Musselburgh managemnt are not frightened to put up a decent prize pot, and the £10,000 added here was decent for a quiet Monday in December.

GORDONSVILLE might just be very well handicapped. He's been held up twicee now for narrow wins and might just have a bit in hand provided there is a decent pace on and he can pick his way through the field.
FAIRYNUFF looked the likely winner, despite a couple of mistakes at the last two flights, but was caught close home. Compensation awaits.
CHESTER LAD has some speed, but his hurdling is clumsy and let him down once again. If he hurdles more cleanly he'll wipe the floor with opponents at this level.

2.50 2m 4f Scottish Racing Novices' Handicap Chase (77-98)

I had expected RED TANBER to pick up a race somewhere along the lnie. He's settling a bit better these days, and accurate jumpnig made sure he was too good for a moderate bunch. This run boosts the form of Saddle Pack who was noted from Red Tanber's previous race.
O CROTAIGH tried to make all but was held once passed four out. He kept on for second and will have chances at a similar level.
ROYAL MILE didn't seem to go through with his effort at Sedgefiled, and he dropped away very quickly from four out before pullnig up here. Connections said he didn't stay, but I wondered if something is ailing him.
WHY ARE YOU ASKING has picked up a succession of places in weak races, but he didn't threaten in the straight.

3.20 2m Scottish Racing Your Better Bet STandard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)

It was desperately cold by this time and I can't guarantee the brain was worknig as well as it might have done, but...

A number of long term projects on show here, not least RENDL BEACH who should advance on a decent performance here noce jumping. He stayed on nicely from two furlong out and is worth noting when going jumping.
BALLYVOQUE had two handlers in the paddock and was unruly at the start. He did however keep on nicely in the closing stages and should improve with racing.
EDMUND is a big jumping type who found things happening too fast for him in the straight. He doesn't look one to win a bumper but will be of interest at a longer trip over jumps. Much the same comment goes for RHYMERS HA' who found this track too sharp.


DANCING DIK - decent fourth behind three useful types at Kelso. Should win a novices' chase.
ALWAYS RIGHT - excellent staying chaser who would have chance if going for the Grand National. Alternatively, could trouble decent horses if aimed at Cheltenham in March.
GORDONSVILLE- Good chance that two close margin wins might disguise how much he has in hand of the handicapper.


PEGASUS PRINCE looks a another decent John Wade owned staying chaser, this one trained by Keith Reveley. He just lasted home at Sedgefield over 3m 3f, but it wouldn't surprise me if he steps up on this effort.
SEEKING POWER - Nick Alexander's chaser would be ideally suited by 5 mile races. However, a slog round a stiff track in the mud is just right for one who just keeps staying on, and was closing in third at Hexham behind Celian. Not to be counted out in basement level staying contests.
OUR MICK - Doddled up in a beginners' chase at Catterick in the style of one who can take a decent step up in class.