The Scottish weather having reverted to its default condition of ‘raining’, the Perth Festival took place in testing going with the first day weather in particular being pretty horrible.
The going was reported as Soft (Heavy in places) throughout the meeting though investigation of the surface on the Friday suggested that the turf had soaked up the moisture remarkably well.
Wednesday April 25th
2.00 2m 4½f Aberdeen Asset Management Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
Regular Perth raider Nigel Twiston-Davies opened the meeting with a comfortable winner of the maiden hurdle in KRUZHLININ. He ran creditably in a fair maiden at Ascot last time and can pick up a novice contest under a penalty before moving to handicaps.
AVENGING ACE wasn’t disgraced in second, leading until the last and battling on the flat if always held. Stamina may prove his strong suit and a move up in trip will do no harm.
BLAZIN WHITE FACE, who didn’t appear comfortable in sloppy going, would be better served in mares’ company and will have opportunities given that she remains a maiden going into the new season. FOUR FIDDLERS is better than a distant fourth place suggests and needs better ground.
2.30 3m ½f EBF ‘Future Champions’ Novices Hurdle (Class 2)
A winner of a competitive Grade 3 event at Sandown, AMBION WOOD pulled away to win this contest in decent style. He is now likely to go chasing and could prove a decent recruit to next season’s staying novice chase ranks.
GOLDEN CALL made the pace for much of the way, but couldn’t hold the winner from two out. HE looks another likely to go novice chasing as he’s very high in the handicap over hurdles after two handicap wins.
TALKONTHESTREET plugged on into third. He’s another with decent novice form behind him but apparently rather high in the handicap and another likely to go chasing soon.
MISS MILBORNE and DARK GLACIER appeared to run near to their form in fourth and fifth.
3.00 2m Aberdeen Asset Management Novices’ Chase (Class 3)
ASTRACAD seems to have stacks of ability as a chaser, but he does appear a quirky character. Left in the lead at the seventh he made it quite clear he wasn’t prepared to exert himself overmuch, but was persuaded to see off two vastly inferior opponents on the run-in. He has plenty of ability if inclined to use it.
KAI BROON ran an honest race in second given that he’s rated 30lbs worse than the winner. His jumping is sound enough, he acts on a faster surface and he will presumably be kept going in the coming weeks. He can pick up a novices’ handicap chase.
THE PADDY PREMIUM pootled around for third. He was well held and loses his novice tag now, but will presumably be aimed at handicaps here at a more realistic level.
Musselburgh chase winner OSCAR HILL bowled along in front until clouting the seventh and decanting Jason Maguire. He has proved he goes well on good ground and may return here over the spring and summer.
3.30 3m ½f Caledonian Hunt Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle (79-105)
I doubt this event will be much of a pointer to future events given a very steady pace for two miles in the testing ground. The winner JASPERITO had shown little on three outings, but would appear suited by the stamina test. Always close up, he led two out and stayed on well.
DUNDOCK has had periods off Musselburgh, not dissimilar to this track, and with cut in the ground. Clearly in decent nick, he might manage a win if the rains continue in the coming weeks.
STORMION is hard work, though he does well enough in the mud. He kept on under pressure for third without really threatening a win. DICKIE HENDERHOOP had his fair share of support as ever, but pockets must be near to empty as he stretched his record to 0 from 23.
MORE EQUITY ran a fair race back in fifth. She normally sticks to better ground so 6 lengths fifth here wasn’t a bad effort. BOLLIN FIONA plugged on from the rear for sixth.
4.05 3m Aberdeen Asset Management Handicap Chase (Scottish Memories Cup) (112-138)
Down the field at Cheltenham, the lightly raced SUMMERY JUSTICE worked his way into the race after four out with some serious encouragement from on top. He stayed on determinedly from the last to gain the day, is on a decent mark and might be a possible for the Perth Gold Cup in early June. He’s had spells off the track and I suspect he’ll be kept to ground with a bit of cut.
Gordon Elliott had a quiet week by normal standards of his forays to Perth. COTTAGE OAK pushed the winner on the flat. He won on his previous outing here and will presumably be back before long, possibly another for the Perth Gold Cup.
TYRONE HOUSE led until headed after the last. He was very tired but clear of the fourth. He won over three miles as an Irish pointer, but the impression is a slightly shorter trip would help.
ET MAINTENANT, a winner in similar conditions at Newcastle over this trip, moved into contention four out but faded in the straight. Decent novice BLENHEIM BROOK, from the same stable, weakened three out and will presumably be rested ready for an autumn campaign.
SATOU finished well beaten and, though he placed in very soft in France, looks to need a better surface.
SELECTION BOX was never going and penalty carrying RHUM unseated early on.
GO SILVER BULLET was still on the bridle when whacking the tenth and unseating. I was surprised he ran here as he needs faster ground.
4.40 2m ½f Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Handicap Hurdle (99-125)
COOL BARANCA won on much better ground at Ayr the previous week, but soft came as no barrier here. He forged clear up the straight to win with any amount in hand. He followed up at Market Rasen four days later, Dianne Sayer’s yard being in decent form at this time.
SITTING TENNANT was a very decent animal in bumpers, and promising as a novice hurdler. He never matched the winner but kept on stoutly for second. He has had two long spells off the track, but clearly retains ability and John Wade should find a race for him.
Locally trained PARSON’S PUNCH kept on for third and would have a chance in a lower class.
NINE STORIES needs better ground and is steadily dropping down the weights. I’d give him a chance on faster ground.
Thursday 26th April
Slightly more favourable weather for the second day but still very testing ground.
2.00 2m ½f Murrayshall Hotel Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
Dropped in class after being well held in a Kelso Grade 2 hurdle, UBALTIQUE found this task a fair bit easier, being driven out to win. He should go on from here and further wins wait.
Sue Bradburne’s JET MASTER performed admirably for the shortly to retire Cupar handler. He lost nothing in finishing eight lengths second to a decent winner. He may have a run or two more for Bradburne before presumably migrating west to Nick Alexander’s yard.
OSCAR HILL, unseated over fences the day before, was held from before the home turn. Hammered by the handicapper over hurdles and fences, I would expect Gordon Elliott to keeping aiming at non-handicaps here in the coming months.
HIDDEN FUTURE is consistent but simply not as good as the first three. He challenged two out but cried enough before the last.
Flat maiden RYTON RUNNER has shown some promise in two hurdles outings and may make his mark once establishing his level.
2.30 3m Bill and Bunny Cadogan Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (122-132)
RAILWAY DILLON is not always the greatest jumper, but he has overcome that successfully on a few occasions recently. He walked through the tenth fence and made a mess of the next (the water). He disputed the lead soon after and wasn’t in a lot of danger from three out, coming home well clear. He’s gone up 8lbs for this and if he jumps soundly can overcome that new mark.
MOLESKIN was knackered from three out in the ground and just held on to second from an opponent who was never travelling. He wants better ground, and probably needs a rest after exertions here.
FRONTIER SPIRIT was never happy, tired on the last circuit and just plugged on for third. This test found out his stamina.
SOLE WITNESS seemed to be feeling the pinch when coming down at the twelfth.
3.00 3m ½f Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (99-118)
PAPAMOA is hard work, but stays all day and Lucy Alexander knows him well. He looked destined for third at best but rallied under driving approaching the last, picking up on the flat to wrest the contest from tiring rivals on the line. I reckon his ‘off the bridle’ style hides a fair bit of ability and he’s a bit better than the 103 he ran off here, or indeed his 106. Worth keeping an eye out for in similar testing conditions.
TALKIN SENCE led to two out and was all out to hold off Alpha Victor, only to be mugged on the line by Papamoa. He’s run some fair races on the Scottish circuit and looks the time to pick up a minor staying handicap.
ALPHA VICTOR disputed for most of the way, was then outpaced early in the straight, but rallied and went down battling. Evidence of this run and his win at Sedgefield suggests his current mark is workable.
SEVEN IS LUCKY needs to dictate and never got to the front here.
3.30 Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Handicap Chase for the Kilmany Cup (111-137)
STOVIK set the pace, was headed at the last but rallied to regain the lead close home. His handicap wins have all been when carrying less than 11 stone and he seems best receiving weight. His record around Perth is 12311, all his wins coming with cut in the ground.
ZITENKA used to be a pattern horse, but the ‘needs a recent run’ isn’t so clear these days, though he’s one to avoid after a long lay-off. He’s as good as ever, raced prominently and looked the winner before tiring and being caught close home. He’s not far off a career high mark but seems in good heart.
DEGAS ART couldn’t match the handicappers coming out of novice company and RIGUEZ DANCER disappointed again. TARTAN SNOW was never going and pulled up.
4.05 3m 2½f Champion Stayers Hunters’ Chase (Perthshire Hunt Cup)
They have fiddled with the distance of this race in recent years, but this trip seems about best. The hunter division isn’t particularly strong in this area at the moment, but Cumbrian based SPECIAL PORTRAIT is probably about the best of those who appear on the Scottish circuit. He travelled well and saw off one other finisher with the minimum of fuss. (Since a winner over 4m 1f at the Cheltenham Hunters’ meeting)
COMMERCIAL EXPRESS unseated before halfway but most of the action centred on the last fence. SIR BATHWICK set the pace but was very tired when falling heavily at the last. CANNDAR also came down when knackered at the last, HONEST AND TRUE appearing to stumble over the stricken jockey and immediately dismounted. HAWTHORNE BAY trundled through the carnage to take second prize.
Of the beaten horses it’s the five year old HONEST AND TRUE that’s interests me. He has been struggling to see out the trip in points, but is worth persevering with at trips short of three miles under Rules. A try at two mile handicaps might be an idea as he is now qualified for a mark and has been ‘awarded’ a figure of 76. He’s no worse than many that bumble round in Class 5 two mile handicaps.
4.40 2m 4½f Sue Bradburne Happy Memories Handicap Hurdle
DEN OF INIQUITY has shown little over fences of late, but returned to form over hurdles with a determined effort to hold off consistent performer Los Nadis. All Den Of Iniquity’s turf wins have come on soft or heavy ground.
LOS NADIS continues in excellent form. He’s probably as far as he’d want to be up the handicap assuming he’s bumped up for this, but is admirably consistent. He has won three times around here and I would presume Jim Goldie will seek out further opportunities though a mark of 135 doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre.
CONQUISTO led until the last and was then outpaced. This was a decent effort given that his wins have been on better ground.
LADY BLUESKY flattered briefly to three out but couldn’t get to the leaders after that.
Favourite SUSTAINABILITY appeared to hate the rain softened ground, but he’s won in soft and heavy so it could be something else was amiss.
Friday April 27th
Crossing the course I found the going to be pretty decent given the rain that had fallen. The turf had started to dry out on the last day of the meeting. There was some rain toward the end of the afternoon, but in the main the weather was reasonable for one of my favourite days of the season. The going took its toll with small fields generally the order of the day.
2.00 2m ½f Highland Hospice NH Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
Winner of a Musselburgh bumper in January, KEENELAND proved sharp enough on his debut. Turning out looking in superb condition, as standard for the McCain yard, he led all the way and pulled clear in the straight. He can tackle much better company than this.
LITTLE GLENSHEE has strengthened up in the last year and is clearly going the right way on the track. She was never good enough to match the winner, but kept on stoutly up the straight. She’s looked likely to be suited by further than this and there should be more to come given a greater test of stamina.
CHEATINGSIDEOFTOWN has had periods off the track but, given that he headed up the Dundee road from his Cupar stable on one occasion, that’s not surprising. He was on his toes, and a little fractious when mounted and was found out for pace in the straight. He’s a lengthy type who will likely be suited by a longer trip.
ONE FOR HARRY looked green over his hurdles early on and probably needed the experience.
INISHKEA, from George Charlton’s stable, is a typical big strong Charlton type. However he’s 9 and this was only his second outing so he must have had major problems. He was tailed off from three out.
2.35 3m 7f G A Engineering Highland National Handicap Chase (Julian Llewellyn Palmer Trophy) (88-124)
The feature event of the meeting was a competitive looking event but turned into a battle of attrition in the testing conditions.
Our own OUTLAW TOM made an appearance and, though going and distance were right, there was a doubt about his ability to go the pace around this sharp track. Fears proved well founded as the pace was starting to tell by halfway. Tom was tailed off and on the point of being pulled up when two departures left him in third place three out, only to blunder and unseat. In retrospect he probably should have been pulled up but, like the owners in the stand, Campbell Gillies eyes presumably lit up at the chance of decent third place money. The gelding came out of the race tired but unscathed and now goes for a summer rest. He’ll be aimed at staying contests at stiffer tracks next autumn.
Your correspondent shouted “Keep going, Campbell!” when the two came down three out. Readers are invited to escort me from the course should they witness such behaviour again!
CERIUM, twice a finisher in the Grand National including a fifth place, hadn’t won since 2006, though he ran a decent race over 3m 5f at Warwick in the winter. He would likely have been third at best but was left in front three out and kept going to beat one other finisher. Even then Trevor Whelan had to recover from a blunder at the last, but connections will be well pleased with this foray from Newmarket for a sizeable first prize. It’s difficult to see a follow up, but Cerium has had his day in the sun.
DOVE HILL’s effort wasn’t blunder free and he made a mistake three out when left second. He couldn’t match the winner from that point and Cathy Walton nursed him home. Like Outlaw Tom he will be better at stiffer tracks and will find opportunities in stamina tests.
ROCKABILLY led but was being pushed along when falling three out. Only a seven-year-old, he should prove a force in staying events in the next season or two.
NODEBATEABOUTIT, tongue tied for the first time, was chasing the leader when brought down three out. Another youngster on the upgrade and not looking inconvenienced by an extreme trip.
OVERLADY, one suited by the testing conditions, set the pace but weakened four out and was pulled up before the third last.
INVERLOCHY LAD jumped well once again and raced up with the pace but his stamina gave out before four out and he was pulled up.
VAMIZI was always in the rear and fell at the fifteenth.
CAPTAIN AMERICO looked to find the track too sharp here. He was pulled up going down the far side for the last time.
BLAZING DIVA is suited by these conditions, but she’s best at a stiff track and was pulled up before the eighteenth fence.
TIPSY DARA, a good winner at Hexham a few days previously, toppled at the first. Lucy Alexander got a kick from a following horse and missed the remainder of her rides on the day.
3.10 2m 4½f Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (103-107)
Four evenly matched opponents but it came down to a prolonged duel down the straight between LOCKEDINTHYEPOCKET and MARKADAM with the former prevailing close home. Both will find future events more competitive.
WINSTONE was outpaced from two out and his stable is having a quiet spell.
BADGER FOOT is better over fences, though has struggled of late, and wouldn’t have been at his best in the testing conditions here.
3.45 2m 4½f Lonmar Global Risks Novices’ Handicap Chase (118-132)
This event cut up to just three runners, though all winners in recent times. Gordon Elliott finally produced a winner in LORD REDSGIRTH who challenged from three out and asserted on the flat. A nice chasing sort, he should have a bit of improvement in him over the bigger obstacles, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s seen out here again before long.
RED HARBOUR couldn’t match the winner on the flat. He won at Fontwell for Paul Nicholls last September and has run creditably since and his new trainer should find an opening for him.
AKARSHAN led but was left behind once headed after three out. His wins have all been at shorter trips.
4.20 2m Turning Out Quality Handicap Chase (95-117)
A small field once again and this looked a good opportunity for sprightly veteran POLAR GUNNER. Unfortunately he was struck into approaching the seventh fence and was pulled up and dismounted. He had been struck into, but did at least walk back to the unsaddling area and I hope he is none the worse.
On a brighter note ROSSINI’S DANCER provided Sue Bradburne with a winner at here ‘farewell meeting’. The runners were tanking along early on and the winner kept up the gallop impressively, forging clear up the straight. Huge cheers greeted the winners from the stands and in the unsaddling enclosure. Bradburne may continue with a few horses for a short while before joining Nick Alexander as assistant.
NELSON DU RONCERAY kept on for second and ran an honest race. He’s not getting any younger and generally finds one too quick for him these days.
RED KINGDOM led until four out but couldn’t match the first two. He’s pretty ordinary and needs to be kept to lowly events to have hope of winning.
GREY SOLDIER jumped ponderously at times and was o0ut of contention by four out. He has ability but has been off form in his last few runs.
4.50 3m 3f Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (102-122)
One of the longest hurdles races of the season, I believe only Sedgefield stages anything over a longer distance, and a rattling good battle up the home straight to finish the Festival.
There was precious little to choose between POCKET TOO and JAUNTY JOURNEY up the straight, the former just sticking his head in front on the line to give Vic Dartnall a winner Devon trainer another Perth winner. POCKET TOO needs some stoking but stays all day and has plenty of ability. He won’t go up much for this and could score again if similar conditions can be found.
JAUNTY JOURNEY has been consistent in staying chases and a move back to hurdles was no inconvenience. He isn’t a prolific runner but regularly gives his running in staying events.
Novice HIGGS BOSON was detached by three out and came home in his own time. I think there is a race in him, but he doesn’t look an easy ride and the jury is out.
HOCKENHEIM led early but dropped away quickly before pulling up two out.
LEWLAUR SUPREME won here for Jim Goldie last May, but has been way off his game for Willie Young since. He was tired on the final circuit and pulled up before two out.