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!

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