Musselburgh's Trials Day meeting was frozen out last Sunday, but in typical style the executive were quick to put themselves forward to run the meeting this coming Saturday February 11th. As things stand the weather seems likely to allow the meeting to go ahead and, with Uttoxeter and Warwick both in the freezer, Musselburgh should stand prominently as one of two Saturday jump meetings. It's dreich in the east of Scotland at the moment, and that's no bad thing at this time of year if you want to avoid frost!
Four meetings have taken place in the north in the last couple of weeks, Ayr being the last to survive the freeze.
NEWCASTLE - 26th January
Lucinda Russell's stable have hit form with a vengeance, topping and tailing the meeting with wins from two progressive sorts, BRINDISI BREEZE and LUCIA BAY. The former won very comfortably in the three mile novice hurdle and might be worth a tilt at Graded races. LUCIA BAY followed up this win at Ayr, both races seeing off her own sex and is as good a female novice as there is in the North.
Nick Alexander's PAPAMOA struggled against tough opposition in Brindisi Breeze's race and would welcome a return to a handicap.
CHESTER LAD jumped boldly if tending to go right in winning the beginners' chase, with VOSGES once again finding one too good. The winner wasn't completely straightforward over the smaller obstacles but could prove useful on his day over fences. DEGAS ART ran a fair race in third without threatening to win, but is essentially exposed and can be a bit moody. Given that second, third and fourth are all rated in the 120s, it does suggest Chester Lad might be decent in this sphere.
Having been left clear when Allanard departed two out, MORGAN BE stayed on and just had enough to hold fast finishing CATEGORICAL in a competitive three mile Class 3 handicap chase. Both are well exposed, but the latter normally picks up a race at this time of the year and seems in good heart. ROLECARR ran a sound race if just lacking a little extra from two out, while EYRE SQUARE was a bit disappointing in fourth place.
ALLANARD led from five out until taking a crunching fall two out. He's been moved up 6lbs for this performance, which seems a bit harsh as plenty can happen from two out.
Nick Alexander managed to tap into previously unadvertised ability with TIPSY DARA. The 2m 4f Class 5 chase was between two in the closing stages, and the winner probably did well to see off apaprently progressive SHADOW BOXER. The winner's owners have been very patient according to the trainer, having owned Tipsy Dara since the age of three.
AYR - January 30th
The opening novices' hurdle was close fought contest between DIOCLES and a back to form JET MASTER, the pair well clear of the remainder. The winner's dam Ardrina was a fair staying chaser and here son might prove interesting once going over fences.
Sandy Thomson has acquired some fair performers of late and the Greenlaw trainer's NETMINDER scored a comfortable and deserved success when pulling clear of TALKIN SENCE in the 2m 4f novice hurdle. Not the strongest of events but the winner is going the right way, and it's nice to see his enthusiastic trainer being rewarded.
RAILWAY DILLON comfortably saw off a disapponiting YES TOM in a novice chase match. I don't think the winner is the easiest character to catch right and I'd be wary of this form.
OVERLADY returned to from with a win in the 3m 1f handicap chase. Previously and inmate of James Ewart, she now resides with Stuart Coltherd. She relishes a staying test in the mud as she had here and could notch up another win at this level given similar conditions. ROSSINI'S DANCER ran his best race for a while in second, though he was held from two out.
ROYAL MACKINTOSH couldn't build on a decent Kelso effort and faded tamely in the straight.
SOMETHING SILVER led until after teh last in a battle of the course specialists against SAMMY SPIDERMAN. The latter is now hitting form and his stamina took over as Something Silver's fuel guage flickered. The winner is 5 from 11 runs at Ayr and, though he has seen out 3m 1f in the mud here, he's probably best around 2m 4f to 2m 5f. The runner-up was nicely ridden from the front by Lucy Alexander (she rode four seconds on the card!) and may pick up a small contest.
LADY BLUESKY looked all over the winner of the two mile handicap hurdle, a class 3 event, before walking through the last and unshipping Ewan Whillans. She has been bumped up 7lbs for this, but she is in good heart and might defy the rise. Calum Whillans benefitted as NELSON DU RONCERAY was left to lead home a number of exposed performers splitting their time between hurdles and chases.
LORD WISHES galloped on relentlessly to win the five runner bumper. Difficult to judge the form in a small field, but this one is related to a number of hurdle and chase winners.
NEWCASTLE - February 1st
Not a strong card and signiifcant pointers were few and far between.
DANCING ART won the novices' handciap chase and is progressing steadily at his own level, doing enough here to comfortably hold Catterick winner BEST LEGEND. It wouldn't surprise if the winner can pick up another handicap before long.
TAP NIGHT is one amongst a host of decent novice hurdlers in Lucinda Russell's yard, and was not troubled to see off a moderate field here. Worth a try in much better company. FALCUN ran on well enough in second though having no chance with the winner, while Donald Whillans's SNAPPING TURTLE kept on determinedly from the second last and will have a chance once gaining a handicap mark.
KING OF THE WOLDS saw off WOLF SHIELD in a duel up the striahgt in the lcosing bumper. However, it was a loose horse that caught the eye in the closing stages. Squeezed for room, jinking out and unseating as the runners passed through a 'hurdle gap', David Thompson's LOGICAL APPROACH raced enthusiastically with the field and led them up the straight. He clearly doesn't mind a gallop and might just be worth an interest in a similar contest.
AYR - February 6th
We lost Musselburgh the day before, but warmer weather on the west coast allowed Ayr to stage what has been the only jump meeting in the cocuntry so far this week.
LUCIA BAY saw off Gordon Elliott's previous winner MAE'S CHOICE in the mares' novices' hurdle. I spotted the winenr looknig a bit down in the dumps on a visit to Lucinda Russell's yard last summer, but she has certainly perked up in recent months and proved she has a decent engine.
SYDNEY PAGET was a very easy winner of the 2m 4f novices' hurdle and merits a step up in class. Eyecatcher here was HIGGS BOSON, running another excellent race in second against a talented opponent and he will win a race soon if he avoids hotpots!
The staying novices' chase was a fascinating tactical contest between three decent horses. Providing part two of a three-timer fro Lucinda Russell, BLENHEIM BROOK had too much speed up the striaght for more of an out and out stayer in LIE FORRIT. The winner holds an entry in the National Hunt Chase and, assuming he stays, he has the ability to be in the mix.
LIE FORRIT has disappointed at Cheltenham and it's likely Willie Amos will look elsewhere to test his stable star.
EIGHT IS MY NUMBER tried hard to run the finish out of the other two but was a spent force two out. He's entered in the Natinoal Hunt Chase and the RSA Chase, but would be outclassed in the latter.
QUACITY beat a field of maidens, 56 runs between them without a win before this, in winning the novices' handicap chase. WHAT A DREAM stayed on for second but is nothing special. SADDLE PACK faded to fourth and is becoming frustrating.
MISTER MARKER was thereabouts all the way in the 3m 1f handicap chase and held on after leading at the last. He stays well and revels in the mud. POSH BIRD pushed the winner all the way to the line and would be suited by a step back up in trip.
Bandaged in front, Bonchester Bridge trained ABBEYBRANEY led three out but, soon passed, was held on the urn to the last. He holds a Grand National entry, which may be ambitious, but if his legs hold up, he may pick up a race where the accent is on stamina
The Kamikaze Squad were once again on course to make DICKIE HENDERHOOP favourite for a Class 5 handicap hurdle over two and a half miles. Someone must see something in him, but he clings resolutely to maidenhood and unseated at the second to put supporters out of their misery early on. SEE THE LEGEND just held ANCIENT TIMES ni a battle royal to the line. Neither are greatly gifted, but they showed the irght attitude given a chance. SYDNEY COVE stayed on late and might be worth another try over a longer trip.
BIG WATER galloped clear in the closing bumper to make it two wins from two runs. There's a mix of blood in the family, but the sire blesses progeny with stamina and the dam was a fair two mile hurdler.
ONES TO NOTE
CATEGORICAL - Just touched off at Newcastle and his wins have generally been at this time of year.
SNAPPING TURTLE - not disgraced in hurdles to date and wiorth an interest once handicapped.
LOGICAL APPROACH - jinked out and unseated on bumper debut, but raced to the front at the finish and showed some enthusiasm!