Monday, 7 May 2012

MUSSELBURGH - Friday May 4

Going – Good to Soft (Good in places)

A cold wind blew in off the Firth Of Forth and I was as cold in early May as I have been at Musselburgh’s February meetings. The racing was of a decent standard though, with an interesting £12,000 event headlining and a respectable supporting card, presenting some decent pointers for the future.

2.00 5f Wee Boab’s 21st Birthday 3yo Handicap (45-64)
Three stood out in the paddock here and they were the ones to fight out the finish. LORD BUFFHEAD is a muscly sort who should pay his way at this level. He was well set up for this, looking very fit and on his toes. He ran on well to get his head in front almost on the line. His best form to date is with cut in the ground.
WILD SAUCE rattled along in front and kept finding more for pressure only to be headed in the shadow of the post. Another looking well prepared for this contest; she tanked along in front and looks one favoured by a sharp five furlongs.
PHOENIX CLUBS was rugged up in the paddock, but what glimpse I did get of his physique suggests a robust sprinting type. Picking up two out he never quite got to the leaders though staying on to the end. Of the first three he looks the one most likely to benefit from a six furlong trip.
Lowly MADAM BONNY encountered traffic problems, but kept on for fourth and this five furlongs would be a bit on the sharp side. She won’t be a forlorn hope stepped up in trip at basement level.
WINDYGOUL LAD has too much air about him for a sprinter and was taken off his feet. He needs to be upped to a more realistic trip and a quick chat to one of the owners confirmed that they are thinking along the same lines.

2.30 5f EBF Strides Ahead at RZ Group Maiden Stakes (2yo) (Class 4)
Nothing caught the eye as outstanding here, and a few will need time. However, it was one of the youngest in the field, April foal TATLISU who prevailed recovering from a slow start and picking off the long-time leader close home. His trainer normally has his two-year-olds well forward, but this one will be sharper next time and can improve for breaking with the others.
BOXING SHADOWS got away quickly and raced up with a rattling good pace, keeping on well though headed late on in the contest. He’s got plenty of basic pace and should find consolation before long.
HOTOTO was slowest starter of the lot and ridden along in rear for the first half of the race. He picked up to great effect late on. His breeding suggests a longer trip would do no harm and he can step up significantly on this effort in time.
BLUE LOTUS kept on in the final furlong without quite threatening the first two, but this was a sound debut.
LIMIT UP rattled along in front but faded once headed at the furlong pole. He’s a 78,000gns purchase who looked as if the race would bring him on, and he will likely need a longer trip to be seen to best effect. He’s a nice sort who went down to start with a nice smooth action.
The only filly in the field, BAKER’S PURSUIT kept on nicely in fifth place. She’s a half-sister to a winning sprinter and will make more of a mark against her own sex.

3.00 1m 1f 3yo Handicap (72-85)

Notebooks at the ready as I suspect this will prove to be a decent contest. The first three places were filled by lightly raced all-weather winners, a trio who appear to be progressive.
Mark Johnston entered seven in this and the filly PRUSSIAN ended up as his sole runner. A winner at Kempton recently, she hit the front two out and, battling away in typical Johnston ‘though shalt not pass’ style, was always holding on. After the race course MC John Budden pushed her trainer on Edinburgh Cup possibilities, but I suspect this filly might prove best around ten furlongs. She is likely to win higher rated contests.
SILVER BLAZE is a strapping sort, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Alan Swinbank has half an eye on a hurdling career starting in the autumn. He began an effort three out, briefly challenged for the lead two out and kept on under driving to hold second place. He’s a half-brother to twelve furlong flat and hurdles winners and looks likely to benefit from a step up in trip. He ran into a good winner here and can gain compensation in handicap company.
CLAYTON, easy winner of a moderate Southwell maiden, challenged down the centre two out but couldn’t get to the leader. I suspect ten furlongs will prove his optimum trip and he can win a handicap soon.
Back in fourth place was ACT YOUR SIZE who looks to have done well enough over the winter and looks a well grown three-year-old. She ran to form in fourth and looks a decent measure for the form of the race. She may be eased a pound or two and there will be easier contests for her.
SATANIC BEAT looked fit enough but couldn’t match the principles from two out.
SOUND ADVICE led the race until three out beat soon beat a retreat and hasn’t inspired on two outings this season.

3.30 1m 1f Core (Oil And Gas) Ltd Handicap (72-85)
STAFF SERGEANT looked well forward on his seasonal debut. Quickly away and into the lead, he kept finding more to repel challenges up the straight and had something to spare at the finish.
LUCKY WINDMILL made steady progress all the way up the straight but never got to the leader. She has won over 11 furlongs at Hamilton and hints that a stiffer test will suit. This was a promising return and he would be of interest next time out.
The tallest in the file, ORIENTAL SCOT challenged down the centre of the course but couldn’t close from the furlong pole. His wins have been at one mile.
JUDICIOUS lacked nothing in fitness but was held from over a furlong out. His wins last year were over ten furlongs at Beverley (2) and Leicester suggesting this was a little sharp for him. Worth noting if upped in trip at a course with a stiff finish.
EUSTON SQUARE looked in need of the race, was slow away and never got involved. He’ll leave this form behind, as will BOTHAM who is better suited by Hamilton where he has scored seven times.

4.00 7f 30yds Daikin D1 Installer Handicap (81-90)
A closely matched contest won in decent style by POWERFUL PRESENCE who is in the form of his life at six years old. He’s a five times winner at Southwell over 7 furlongs and a mile, but then he’s also won over sharp seven furlongs at Catterick so is a versatile sort. He should have further chances in this grade even with a rise in the ratings.
HONEYMEAD was tapped for speed three out having been prominent, but she picked up again approaching the final furlong and was putting in sound work at the finish. I suspect a stiff seven furlongs may suit her best.
CAPAILL LAITH stayed on without troubling the first two. It doesn’t come as a surprise to see that his wins have come over a mile at Newmarket and a stiff seven furlongs at Ascot. This is his class; he just needs to be racing at the right course.
IMPERIAL DJAY stayed on from well back for fourth place. He needs a few front runners to set contests up for him. It may be worth careful investigation of race make-up as he could pop in at a fancy price if others set him up. He’s a seven furlong specialist, so don’t get kidded that he needs further.
I noted SANTEFISIO as having a daisy cutting fast ground action. His best form has come on fast ground or on Polytrack and he never got into the race here. Supporters would be short in the nail department as four career wins have been achieved by an aggregate distance of less than one length!
SNOW BAY and OIL STRIKE raced up with the pace and need things to fall right in front.

4.30 1m 6f Au Revoir Colin Shand Handicap (55-69)
LA BACOUETTEUSE looked as if he was crying out for a longer trip when running over nine furlongs here a few weeks back, and for those who noted that 14/1 SP was a gift. Upped in trip significantly he saw his race out well, just getting the better of a sustained duel from the two furlong marker. Hawick trainer Iain Jardine has his eye on a Carlisle double of the Cumberland Plate Trial and then the Cumberland Plate. His charge is likely to go into those events on a reasonable mark and prove competitive.
Handicap hurdler/chaser CATEGORICAL ran a cracker, briefly leading in the final furlong and just done on the nod. He races only occasionally on the flat these days but is capable of winning a contest at this level.
Catterick winner LIGHT THE CITY hit the front three out but was soon headed and one paced. He has won at this trip, but ran off 64 with his penalty here which is as high a mark as he has raced off.
POKFULHAM was awkward coming on to the track, and he was on and off the bridle in the race. Capable on his day, it could be that he is becoming moody with age.
SILVER TIGRESS had a good record in Class 6 events last year and could get competitive dropped to basement level. She couldn’t match the leaders from two out here.
Like stablemate Euston Square earlier, VITTACHI seemed just a bit short of peak fitness.

5.00 7f 30yds Scottish Racing Best Bet Apprentice Handicap (55-65)
An event in which an ability to be in the right place at the right time meant as much as anything. Experienced Amy Ryan had LINDORO nicely positioned in midfield, asked for an effort three furlongs out he then hit the front before the furlong pole and quickly had the contest in safe keeping. His turf record is 5 out of 35, better than average, but he’ll be on a bigger than he’s been for a couple of years after this.
Consistent CYFLYMDER kept on for a clear second and will normally be thereabouts in this class.
Locally trained HELLBENDER filled third place, though well held by the first two. He’s another with plenty of miles on the clock who regularly gives his running in this class, although all his wins have been on the all-weather.
ALLURING STAR picked his way through rivals late on to take fourth place. His form on stiff tracks reads 11570, he’s back around his winning mark and this effort does suggest he can get seriously involved at the right track.
BEST TRIP raced up with the pace, led over two furlongs but couldn’t sustain the effort. His wins have all been at 5 and 6 furlongs, and he is now on an attractive turf mark.

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