Saturday, 14 April 2012

Musselburgh - Easter Meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Saturday April 7th

Going – Good to Soft (Soft in places)

Musselburgh kicked off the Scottish flat season with a cracking meeting which should prove full of decent pointers to upcoming contests. The recent rain softened the going which was reported as tacky by the jockeys.

The final bend has been much better aligned than in previous years, giving a smoother passage into the straight. It’s often had a kink which has thrown the horses wide, and it’s worth taking a look at the alignment as rails are moved over the season.

2.10 5f Betfred ‘ When Both Teams Score’ EBF Maiden Stakes (2yo) (Class 5)

This may well have been a decent event for its class and the first four are well worth carrying forward for future contests.
Mark Johnston appears to have his two-year-olds nicely prepared though it could be argued that the race may have brought STORM MOON on a bit. Green and coltish in the paddock, he seemed a good deal more settled once out on the track. Breaking fast, he was soon in the lead and had enough in hand to pull clear in the last furlong. The time was respectable and it would be a surprise if Storm Moon didn’t move on to win better contests.
JUST PAST ANDOVER ran respectably in the Brocklesby and performed soundly on his second racecourse effort. He was never on terms with the winner but kept on to hold second.
POLSKI MAX looked the biggest of these in the paddock and ready to do his job. He was found out a bit for pace at halfway but kept on stoutly and will benefit from the experience. A stiffer track might not do any harm.
A fairly ordinary looking sort, and rather skittish in the paddock, the filly SOMETHING’S DARLING stayed on nicely from two furlongs out and was just held in a tight battle for second. She was well clear of the remainder and would be a strong order in a similar level fillies’ maiden.
MAJESTIC JESS was another who was coltish in the paddock, but he showed decent early speed before fading from two out. He looked as if the race would bring him on and there should be much better to come in time. JORDANSTOWN was well held and looks to have a bit of strengthening to do before he can make a mark.

2.45 5f Betfred The Bonus King Whistlejacket Conditions Stakes (Class 2)

A decent contest for twilight horses between handicap and Group class.

BEAR BEHIND contested some decent contests last year though his only win came in a Nottingham maiden. I didn’t see him in the flesh as a two-year-old but he looks a well grown sort and I suspect he’s strengthened over the winter. He was quick away, rattling along in the lead and responding well when Hayley Turner urged him for an effort inside the final two furlongs. Unfortunately he drifted right in the final furlong, taking the second with him, and the short head margin meant that it came as no surprise to see him demoted. He should be up to Listed or Group 3 class this year.
HAMISH MCGONAGALL had never won first time out but came with a good burst to harry the first over the line in the closing stages. He would have had his head in front anyway in a few more strides and will be competitive in Pattern races this season.
EXCEL BOLT was running for the first time after gelding. He had a curtailed season last year having been decent as a two-year-old, but might prove to be attractively handicapped on a mark of 95.
SHOSHONI WIND ran a sound race in fourth keeping on to the line having been a little outpaced early on. She would be competitive in as Listed Fillies’ race if her trainer can find a suitable event.
BORDERLESCOTT never got into the race and has something to prove after two disappointing efforts this spring. It remains to be seen if he retains all his ability.
CAPATAIN DUNNE needed this and was well beaten while MISTER MANANNAN, slow away and always behind, was eased in the latter stages.

3.20 7f 30yds Betfred ‘Goals Galore’ Handicap (79-95)
A decent level handicap with a fair prize pot, but contested by a bunch of well exposed handicappers.
JUSTONEFORTHEROAD was not notably well handicapped but possibly readied as well as any. Hit the front at the furlong pole and ran on well. He may find life hard against improvers off a revised mark.
CAPTAIN DIMITRIOS, in fine form on the all-weather of late, raced prominently and hit the front before the furlong pole. He couldn’t contain the winner when headed but kept on with his effort. He came out the next day here and dead-heated over five furlongs, suggesting versatility which gives his trainer a few options. A tough sort who hasn’t finished winning yet.
PRIME EXHIBIT and PARISIAN PYRAMID ran pretty much to their level and the handicapper has them taped at the moment.
LAYLA’S HERO was never seriously in the race but picked up well late on, similar to his previous effort at Doncaster.

3.50 1m Betfred Royal Mile (3yo Handicap) (82-95)

Musselburgh are not frightened to push the boat out as far as prize money is concerned and this contest is likely to provide good pointers for the coming weeks. There aren’t that many courses which are willing put on this sort of £30,000 handicap, so full marks for Bill Farnsworth and his team. Last year’s winner went on to win a Group 3 race.
The race was won by a maiden in CHAPTER SEVEN, but the chances are that this one is well on the right side of the handicapper. Held up towards the rear, he made good progress two furlongs out and nipped through to lead close home.
Another maiden filled second place in EVERVESCENT, second in an Epsom listed contest last year. He held every chance from the furlong marker and was just run out of pole position close home. This one is more exposed than some, but on balance of form he seems on a decent mark.
KINLOCH CASTLE is a really nice looking sort, the best of Mark Johnston’s three here in my opinion, and put up a sound effort. Racing prominently he briefly hit the front two out but didn’t quite have enough in hand to hold the first two. A winner of a 7f Southwell maiden he looks sure to be suited by farther and should win a race in time. He made a quick reappearance at Kempton a few days after this and stayed on after being outpaced three out in a muddling race, but I suspect he’s better than that bare form suggests.
KICKINGTHELILLY, fresh from the all-weather, kept on into a never nearer fourth position. This was a good effort in this company and this filly will find easier opportunities off a mark of 82.
SWITZERLAND, fit from the all-weather and backed down favourite here, couldn’t make an impact from the furlong pole after having every chance. There is a chance he’ll be better back at seven furlongs.
BRONZE ANGEL never quite got to grips with the leaders though keeping on in the closing stages.
GABRIAL suffered a troubled passage through the field and is better than seventh place suggests.
ZAKREET looked fit on seasonal debut but faded after making the early pace.
SHABORA was out the back but more than likely wasn’t suited by the cut in the ground.

4.25 1m 1f Betfred Still Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s Handicap (45-63)
SHAMARLANE had been off the track sine winning in November 2010 but won nicely, steadily asserting in the final two furlongs. He ran off a mark of 59 here and is probably a bit better than that. He’s worth keeping on the right side.
CABAL ran a sound race in second and proved that his all-weather form translates to the turf. SELDOM and PROHIBITION were close up in the race for second and are competitive in this class if exposed.
NAAFETHA probably didn’t see out the nine furlongs having had every chance two out after setting the pace.
LA BACOUETTEUSE needs farther than this and never got into the race. After this effort there may be a bit of value in his price when upped in trip.
MYRAID looked fit but was very geed up, a bit too keen, and had nothing extra to give from two out. He has a modicum of ability of looks a bit too headstrong.

5.00 1m 4f 100yds Betfred ‘Double Delight’ EBF Maiden (Class 4)
A weakly contested maiden. The winner KEY GOLD led all the way and stayed on well enough that she was never in danger of being caught. She saw out the trip well enough and should stay further.
TORERO stayed on honestly after the winner without making a serious impression. He’s a strongly built likeable individual who will find his level handicapping. He struck me as the sort who will have one or two tracking him as a future hurdler, so it might be worth keeping an eye out for him over jumps in the autumn.
GREYHOPE was slow away and tapped for pace in the straight. He stayed on when pretty much left to do his own thing from two out and will presumably be aimed at handicaps now, though I would imagine his jumps orientated stable would be looking toward a hurdling career.
SWEET VERA, well held in lowly hurdle company, was left behind by the first two in the straight.
LADY GARGOYLE was left behind from three out. She hasn’t much yet but is bred to stay and could progress a little in time.

5.35 7f 30yds Betfred Bonus King Bingo Handicap (51-64)
A well exposed bunch contested this, though it should be said that they have managed 49 wins between them.
NADEEN was slow away, but the pace was strong and he picked his through to take charge in the final furlong. The race did fall his way and he wouldn’t be one to go overboard on in the near future.
RESPLENDENT ALPHA stayed on late, but his 7lb claiming rider got a little bit ‘out of synch’ with his stride. A decent effort from one who is at his best on Polytrack.
MONEL kept on to take third showing promise on seasonal debut. His wins have been at six furlongs and he would have chances dropped back in trip.
MARK ANTHONY set a strong pace and reached the end of his tether inside the final furlong. He’s another who has done his winning at six furlongs.
FAULT took on the leader and possibly paid for it. He’s since gained compensation at Catterick but wouldn’t go down as the most reliable performer.

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday April 8th

A lesser card than the first day and other commitments meant I wasn’t able to attend.

The Musselburgh Gold Cup was won in good style by the lightly raced SHUBAAT , a first runner at the course for Roger Varian. He should go on to better things, is likely to stay two miles and is one for the notebook. He’s a well-built animal who should improve for a galloping track. LEXINGTON BAY had a nightmare passage, so third place was creditable and he’s worth noting for a similar contest in the near future.

PRESIDENT LINCOLN won the maiden but weaved about and has proved in the past he’s not straightforward. He pulled clear with Jim Goldie trained newcomer JACK DEXTER who showed enough to suggest he may land a minor maiden race.

BOUCHER GARCON, gelded over the winter won the closing 46-06 Class sprint handicap. A sharp five furlongs suits and he quickly followed up at Catterick. He looks ahead of the handicapper and may well win a race or two more in the coming weeks. His trainer notes that he is suited by cut in the ground.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Kelso - Buccleuch Cup Day

Apologies for lack of updates of late. I’ve been up to my ears at work at just not had enough time to write anything in depth. I’m hoping to update on a more regular basis in coming weeks.

Kelso – Monday April 2nd
Going – Good
With your correspondent off work for a week, the summer weather of the last fortnight typically turned to winter! A stiff northerly breeze blew across Kelso racecourse with drizzle mixed in, making things uncomfortable for those in lofty viewing positions, with visibility not brilliant for the first couple of races.
2.30 Green Tree Hotel Peebles Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (94-115) – 2m 2f
SURPRISE VENDOR is more than capable on his day at this level, but had been off his game in recent outings. Though not anything like a betting proposition, it wasn’t a total surprise that he got involved here in what was an ordinary contest. The leaders went off quite sharply and Stuart Coltherd’s gelding was held up off the pace, picking off the leaders once turned for home. He stayed on nicely to record a second course and distance win, though it’s debatable if he will record a follow up.
ENDEAVOR is fine once he gets going and wins more often than average at this level, but he can be a cussed soul at the start. Led in by Emma Sayer, he consented to jump off with the others and was staying on enthusiastically at the death, though too late to trouble the winner. He remains in good form and hasn’t finished winning, though backers should remember there’s a chance their stake might go west at the start!
BEIDH TINE ANSEO was being niggled at from halfway and never got into the contest proper. He stayed on for third but, though consistent, seems put in his place by the handicapper and I’d be wanting much longer odds than the 2/1 SP here.
KING MAK raced up with the pace but couldn’t match the first three from the last.
SOLIS, not a straight-forward character, led from three out but couldn’t respond significantly when headed at the last.
SUMAK though bandaged in front looked well enough on return, but he never got into the race.
BOB’S DREAM was in the mix approaching the last but weakened on the run-in. The run should have brought him on.
CIVIL UNREST was well backed but went out like a light approaching two out having raced in front or disputing. He may have been a bit keen but he weakened so quickly that something may have gone amiss.

3.30 Virtuo Welath Management Novices’ Chase (Class 4) – 3m 1f
The form of INVERLOCHY LAD’s hunter chase win here didn’t look anything special but he ran creditably in a handicap last time. Taking this contest by the scruff of the neck, he gave his opponents a jumping lesson and had enough in hand to hold off his one serious challenger from the last. He will be hammered by the handicapper after this one, I wouldn’t imagine he’ll have much change out of 120, though his jumping technique might help.
BOB ‘N’ YOU, a sparely-made gelding who doesn’t inspire on looks, never jumped fluently enough to trouble the winner. He stayed on well enough but was held from the elbow. Sam Drinkwater probably hasn’t raced here before and almost went to the left of the rail at the elbow. That said, I don’t think the incident had any bearing on the result. His mount was out of his depth at Cheltenham when pulled up in the National Hunt Chase, though he does have a second to The Giant Bolster on his CV. He should win a run of the mill contest, though his jumping needs sharpening.
PENA DORADA kept on, but made no impression from two out, and similarly BISHOPS HEIR was held in his place. Both of them were under the pump from two out.

3.30 Princess Royal Trust for Carers Handicap Chase (80-115) – 2m 1f
KAI BROON confirmed the favourable impression of an effort behind stablemate Degas Art here last time. He was left on the same mark after that, but evidence of this run suggests he’s a fair bit better than 105 over fences. He eased to the front at the last and Campbell Gillies was not required to work hard to keep him there. He looks a nice chasing prospect who should win again.
BRADDOCK ISLAND, well exposed and out of the weights here, performed gallantly to take second place. Leading and jumping extravagantly, he kept on once headed to hold second place. Unfortunately his poor win record is a reflection that his jumping display here isn’t typical.
SOUL MAGIC kept on steadily from two out. This will have set him right now and his trainer will no doubt be eyeing the programme for suitable races at Cartmel, her charge having landed four races there last year.
RED KINGDOM was soundly put in his place from before the last.
THE THIRSTY BRICKY was already under the cosh when clouting two out and wants softer ground than he had on this occasion.

4.00 2m 2f Duncan Sinclair Memorial Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4) – 2m 2f
The field went hurtling off to the first and looked like an accident waiting to happen. DINGO BAY duly unseated and WHITEADDER, who attracted support at long odds, crashed to the ground. The latter looks a chasing type and I’d be surprised if he is quick enough to make a serious mark over hurdles.
BORULER set a sharp early pace which was tempered at halfway. He raced too freely at Carlisle, and it was the same story here as a patiently ridden runner-up comfortably picked him off after the last. Boruler needs to settle better to make maximum use of his ability.
MAKBULLET, one whose stamina was doubted by myself and others, was cannily ridden by Campbell Gillies who is proving a master judge of pace. Eased to the front he won with the minimum of fuss. He was well placed here and may now have to be aimed at handicaps.
APOLSKAPART was the only other competitor in contention two out, but was soon left behind though he plugged on for third place. This was a sound enough first effort for Maurice Barnes off a break and that trainer is canny enough to pick out a race for him in time.
ALLEGED VANITY, not a particularly well made sort in my eyes, plugged on from the rear into fourth.
Nicky Richards’s charge TALKIN THOMAS was on the retreat three out and was reported as finishing distressed. Richards’s other entry SHIVALRIC looked totally clueless in rear and has much to do to turn into a hurdler.
Rayson Nixon’s JUST STRIPE help set the fast pace with the second and wasn’t remotely talented enough to keep up the gallop on the second circuit.

4.30 Cazenove Capital Management Maiden Hunters’ Chase (for the Buccleuch Cup) (Class 5) – 3m 1f
Won last year by talented chasing recruit hold On Julio, this is a coveted contest in local circles but four saw their chance disappear at the first. RISK ASSESMENT jumped violently right and fell, distracting AMULREE who also came down. As the chain reaction worked its way outwards HAWTHORNE BAY was cannoned into and unseated, with DONTPASSGO suffering worst of the three on the outside, being forced onto the hurdles course with no space to avoid the hurdle approach rail. COOLE MURPHY’s pilot Tim Speke lost an iron but recovered before the second fence,
HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL suffered interference at the first, but Cathy Walton was able to avoid any terminal action. Soon up with the pace, he jumped soundly until making a nonsense of four out. Given time to recover by a pilot who holds her own with the best northern amateurs, Highland Cathedral stayed on well from the last for victory, adding to a couple of recent pointing successes.
BEAU TRAVELLER was well backed here, a fake gamble according to one ‘sage’ on the Betfair Forum whatever one of those might be? He’s an odd looking gelding, being lengthy, low slung and rather sparely made. He stayed on from a hold up position and challenged at the last from where he was outpointed by the winner.
MONTAUK HIGHWAY ran to the same level as his effort behind Inverlochy Lad here at the start of March. He had every chance but wasn’t good enough from the last. His Rules efforts have been a little better than pointing runs, so maybe the ‘grander surroundings’ are more to his taste.
RELAND, a maiden point winner in February, was held from before the last and isn’t one to get over excited about at this level.
COOLE MURPHY soon got into contention after being hampered at the first, but he was well held from the home turn. He’s one of the better lookers amongst these but remains a maiden.
SO IT WILL BE was comfortably held from two out and doesn’t look good enough at this level.

5.00 Clelands Jaguar Handicap Hurdle – (105-120) 2m 6f 110yds
MALIN BAY has proved rather clumsy of late, with three unseats in five efforts. He made one or two less than worthy jumps here, but showed he has plenty of ability when he gets round and was ridden clear from the last. He may be best in small fields as the hustle-bustle of a large number of runners isn’t going to help him over the obstacles.
RUDEMEISTER looks a chaser in the making. He’s done well enough over hurdles and placed a creditable second here, but is one to note for a novice chase assuming Andrew Parker selects that option next term.
HOWIZEE kept on for third, not a bad effort given that he didn’t jump well early on.
SEEDLESS, held up at the rear, stayed on to reach the heels of the leaders before the last but could make no further impression. She has looked held off her current handicap mark of 115.
HIGGY’S BOY was trying a trip in advance of those he had tried before. It may be that it was too far but he was beaten before the home straight.

5.30 SIS Mares’ Handicap Chase (89-102) – 2m 6f 110yds
A rare chance for the mares to match themselves in their own company, and a disappointing turn out given the infrequency of such races.
OVERYOU had shown enough until falling two out at Hexham to suggest she would be in the mix here. She looked very fit here and stayed on from the last to win with a bit in hand. She stays three miels and looks capable of making her mark in open staying handicaps.
Last year’s winner MORE EQUITY set a decent pace, kicking on down the far side for the final time, and saw off all bar the winner to the last. She kept on well enough once passed.
STICK TOGETHER was ridden two out and never got to the leaders and CLASSICAL MIST ran pretty much to the same level, held from two out.
ALONG CAME ROSIE didn’t jump as fluently as some and was always towards the rear, while JUST MADDIE was well held from the twelfth and needs to be dropped in class.

The Berwickshire Hunt held their point-to-point at Friars Haugh the previous day with few runners in attendance due to the firm ground. Amy McGregor, often seen leading up for her mother and for Nick Alexander, took her career score from 0 to 3 in one fell swoop! Askalott won the Open Maiden from two others, King’s Envoy then broke his duck at the age of 13 with a walk-over in the Ladies’ Open and ‘followed up’ under a penalty for that victory with a Club Members’ win from two others. I’d be surprised if King’s Envoy gets so lucky again, although his localFife Hunt meeting can be poorly attended in a dry spring, but word is that ASKALOTT may be aimed at a rules campaign over the summer. He handles quick ground and might find a weak contest at senior level.
Young Blair Campbell won a two-runner Mens’ Open on Laura’s Light and is a name to look out for in the future under Rules.