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.