Monday, 25 June 2012

Ayr - Land o' Burns Stakes day

AYR – Saturday June 23rd 2012

Going – Good (Good to Soft from Race 5)

Ayr provided a decent support card on Royal Ascot’s last day. Given that so many top performers had been aimed at the big meeting down south the quality of the main races on the card held up very well.

The west coast avoided the worst of the rain and, though I drove through rain most of the way en route from Dunfermline, the ground had only eased slightly to ‘good’ by race time. A downpour spanning the fourth and fifth races eased the ground to ‘good to soft’, but the track was in decent nick.

My attempts at selecting on behalf of The Racing Forum, My Girl Anna's close second in the feature being rather galling. My steam driven phone struggles to cope with the internet, but thanks are due to TRF’s David Cormack, busy himself at Royal Ascot, who relayed my selections to Twitter.

1.55 5f Scottish Sun Miss Scotland Handicap (82-93)

The finish of this race featured two seven-year-olds, one of whom is making significant progress, and a three-year-old who really caught the eye and can become a force in similar event.
BOSUN BREEZE has been noted recently as a progressive sort and handled the step up to Class 3 level very well. He looked a picture in the paddock and made all the running, having sufficient pace in hand to assert approaching the final furlong and won cosily eased close home.  David Barron will be seeking a quick opportunity for a gelding that seems to remain ahead of the handicapper.
HAZELRIGG, who wears a combined blinkers and gauze eyeshield set, was near the pace all the way and stuck willingly to his task if meeting one too well handicapped for him. He hasn’t won since autumn 2010, and isn’t a prolific winner, but he’s putting it all in now and should be rewarded before long.
Most interesting here would be JACK DEXTER, outpaced early but finishing with a rattle for third place. This is the toughest task he has been presented with to date but acquitted himself admirably. The experience will do him good, and a move back up to 6 furlongs would help.
TAX FREE ran a sound race in fourth but the ten-year-old is penalised for his consistency and gets little respite from the handicapper. I’m sure his trainer would welcome a drop from 93 down to 90 or less since that would at least give a chance to tilt at 0-90 handicaps where his class might hold sway.
Connections comments were that KINGSGATE CHOICE ‘ran alright’ to take fifth place, but he’s not won off a mark as high as the 90 he ran off here. He’s won 2 out of 4 on the all-weather and his mark of 81 suggests that opportunities on Polytrack might be worth eyeing up.
BRONZE BEAU ran with protective pads on the inside of his hocks, presumably due to a tendency to rub his legs together when in action. He’s better off higher weights in Class 4 races, but is a good deal higher than his highest winning mark. He raced in touch until giving way from the furlong pole.

2.25 5f Scottish Sun Land O’ Burns Fillies’ Stakes

A decent contest with a very nice bunch of fillies on show
ANGELS WILL FALL showed up well as a two-year-old and has made sufficient progress to make her mark in the Pattern contest.  She started slowly and was keen early on, but moved sweetly through the field to hit the front two out and had enough in hand to hold a determined effort by the second. She was third in the Cheveley Park and should make her mark in a slightly better grade this year at 5 or 6 furlongs.
With few options for Irish fillies’ in sprint Pattern company in Ireland this race is now a target for Irish trainers. MY GIRL ANNA came here off the back of a fine second in listed company at Cork last weekend. Held up in touch and going very well two out, she made her effort approaching the furlong pole, closing the winner down stride by stride.  Only a head behind a Group 1 placed filly tells what a decent effort this was.  I suspect Muredach Kelly will be scouring the Irish and BHA Programme Books for opportunities for this tough and consistent five-year-old mare.
EXCELETTE put in decent work in the closing stages and ran to her form.  She’s an out-and-out speedster, best at the minimum trip on fast ground.
DUCHESS DORA was held by Excelette at Haydock, but was nearer to her best here. She couldn’t match the principals from the furlong marker.  She put in some good efforts in handicaps which have seen her rise to a stiff mark of 101, but her recent wins have been in Class 3 and her efforts at Listed class read 5642054.
ALBANY ROSE is a nice looking filly but was comfortably held from two out. She had a good run last year before getting ‘caned’ for a five length win at Windsor. She’s been thereabouts in competitive handicaps and that’s where her best chances lie.
CELERINA disappointed in first time blinkers and Tommy Stack reported that she ‘raced too keenly’.

2.55 1m Scottish Sun On Sunday 3yo Handicap (79-90)

This looked a decent event and should yield future winners.

ARDMAY had won twice over seven furlongs before this and Kevin Ryan’s progressive gelding comfortably saw of a 6lb rating rise and a step up in trip. He led two out and had the race in safe keeping in the final furlong, though swerving towards the stands’ rail close home, and was in command at the line.  He hasn’t finished winning yet and seemed ever better at this trip.
SATANIC BEAT made a determined attempt to make all, keeping on once headed at the furlong pole. He will remain competitive, particularly when favoured with quick ground.
BASSETERRE, a, fine strong animal was ridden confidently from the rear and made his challenge from two out, but couldn’t peg back the winner if keeping on to the line. This was his toughest task to date, but he should benefit from the experience and can make his mark at this level in time. He’s another who may have preferred a slightly quicker surface.
JUST FABULOUS stayed on but couldn’t get to grips with the first three.  She would have a chance in a fillies’ only handicap around this trip.
The Mark Johnston pair were disappointing. ASSIZES was held from two out, and ABISHENA, a superb looker in the paddock, went out like a light two out having raced up with the pace. A watching brief is advised of the pair.
BACCARAT, looking plenty fit enough after a short break, was never going and connections could offer no explanation. A winner at York last time, he’s surely better than ninth place here suggests.

3.30 1m 5f 13yds STV Appeal  Handicap (72-92)

The rain hit just before this contest and turned conditions rather miserable for the next 45 minutes. With the start in front of the stands I would normally have gone across to listen to the jockey’s banter and watch the action at the start, but regrettably the rain made me wimp out!

A field of largely exposed performers and the race was won by a consistent performer from the all-weather. REEM STAR has only won over a mile before, but she’d seen out a longer trip at Wolverhampton and was sent on in a decisive move two furlongs out by Amy Ryan, the latter currently riding at the top of her game.  Reem Star has only once been out of the first four in eleven races, and that on her debut, so it could well be that she will kick on to further success.
CAPE RISING raced prominently and led three out, but was held from two furlongs out though keeping on stoutly.  Given time by Alan Swinbank, he’s been thereabouts in most of his seven races and there will surely be a staying  race to be found before long.
BLUE DESTINATION kept on but made no impression on the first two. His best performances have been at Class 4 level.
THE BELLS O PEOVER showed up menacingly on the outside three out but the effort petered out at the furlong marker. He’s been tried over a variety of trips, various going and even on snow at St Moritz last winter, the latter on going described as ‘frozen’! He’s devilishly difficult to pin down form pattern wise, but his last two efforts suggest he’s returning to something like his best and he has won off a similar mark to his current rating.
BOLLIN GRETA lost ground at the start by rearing, and runners went tanking into the first bend before throttling back down the far side. The mare worked her way into the race two out but the told, though this was an improvement on her seasonal debut and hints at better to come.
Hurdler come chaser BEIDH TINE ANSEO must have been wondering where the jumps had gone. He raced prominently until fading in the final two furlongs.

4.05 6f Sunsport EBF 2yo Maiden Stakes (Class 5)

There was some reasonable previously from pitched up against some interesting newcomers. Although a Class 5 contest, this may prove to be quite decent. I struggled to make much judgement on these in the paddock, the runners appearing in a string for one circuit, then were mounted and off to the start.

David Barron will have a fair handle on his two-year-old string, the standard set by Ahern who ran respectably after a slow start at Ascot this week.  From a brief glance the gelding TICKLE TIME seemed ready enough to perform well first time up, and thus it proved as he was always prominent and proved too strong in the final furlong. He looks to have enough about him to progress from this.
ELNADANCER, more stoutly bred than the winner, stayed on well without seriously threatening. This was a promising debut for one who is likely to show to better effect over a longer trip. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win a race before long.
NORDIKHAB is a nice looking sort, perhaps a bit green in the paddock on what little I saw of him close up. He certainly seemed a bit edgy for his debut, was keen early on and couldn’t make an impact on the winner in the final furlong.
A brief chat with two of the connections of BONNIE LESLEY suggested disappointment with fourth place here, particularly after a decent second at Musselburgh, and she was comfortably held by the first three from two out. However, this may prove to a decent race and Bonnie Lesley will have chances once the nurseries start next month.
Robert Winston found LUCKY BEGGAR pulling fiercely for his head early on. He made the decision to come the stands’ side, presumably on the basis that he would be better served against a rail. Having blazed a trail to approaching the furlong marker he faded quickly. At the moment a sharp five furlongs looks the best option as he just wants to hurtle along.
Keith Dalgleish’s CORTON LAD has some filling out to do and seemed rather weak. He was outpaced early on and will need time.

4.40 6f Weatherseal 3yo Handicap (64-80)

This contest should provide decent pointers to the future. The winner SHOW FLOWER is a progressive filly not yet in the grip of the handicapper. She responded to Paul Mulrennan’s urging two out and won just a shade cosily.
DSICRESSION is yet to win but put in a decent  effort on his sixth start. Always near the pace, he put in an effort approaching the furlong pole but found the winner too good. He’s eased in the handicap and is on a nice mark.
Definite eyecatcher here was seasonal debutant DUTCH HERITAGE. A winner at 2, he seems to have done well over the winter, though looked as if the race would do some good. On that basis a fast finishing third was notable after a slow start. He won on ground with a little cut at Thirsk last term and it shouldn’t be long before he wins a race.
Lambourn challenger WEST LEAKE HARE was held from the furlong pole and may be better on slightly faster ground, while ROCK CANYON couldn’t cope with 2 grade rise in class.
TAKEALOOKATMENOW went well for four furlongs in front but was eased once headed and reported as having lost her action.

5.15 1m 2f Peoples Ford (67-85) Handicap

There was a nasty fall for Royston Ffrench as KING OF WINDSOR stumbled at the half furlong marker when looking destined for third. Ffrench was shaken but walked away, while his mount was none the worse, this run hinting at a return to form.
COOL McCAVITY led two furlongs out and ran on well to hold off a persistent challenger. This is his class as his current record in Class 4 reads 311, and he’s struggled in Classes 2 and 3. The chance is that he’ll be forced into a higher class if rising a few pounds for this win.
RED INCA, bandaged on his hind legs,  bustled up the winner in the closing stages but couldn’t get past. The rain will have helped as he has shown his best with cut in the ground, and looks poised if the wet weather stays with us.
SHAMARLAY was well held in fourth when inheriting third, but is steadily easing into form while dropping down the ratings.
Consistent THE LOCK MASTER has been thereabouts in lower class with cut in the ground. He was held from two out on this occasion, but against softer opposition will go close.
SANTEFISIO threatened two out, but he needs quick ground and his effort soon petered out. If the sun appears for a length of time he will find opportunities.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Final Day at Royal Ascot..., and an eye on Ayr

Day 5

One Scottish runner on the last day as HAWKEYETHENOO contests the Wokingham Handicap. He's probably as high as his trainer would want him in the handicap, but the draw did for him last time and his early season training has been aimed toward this race.

A winner of big hurdles in Scotland, OVERTURN runs in the Queen Alexcandra Stakes and will have a class edge over most here. Biggest rival could be winner earlier in the week Simenon, but I believe Overturn can land the meeting finale.

…while in Scotland
Ayr stage a decent card today though the going will likely change significantly from its overnight state of good to firm.

The feature race is the Listed 5 furlong Land O' Burns Fillies Stakes. Irish trainers normally send fillies over for this as 5 furlong Pattern races are thin on the ground across the  water, even more so for fillies only. Best of the bunch on this occasion seems to be MY GIRL ANNA, second in a Listed event at Cork last week having made most of the running. She's at the top of her game and nothing form the home contingent looks outstanding. Any rain will be a help and the forecast suggests a damp day.

There's a competitive mile handicap for three-year-olds at 2.55. This isn't an event I'll get involved in from a betting point of view, there being a number of progressive sorts, but I suspect a few future winners will come out of the event and I'd keep tabs on the contestants.

A couple of potentially interesting sorts appear in the two-year-old maiden at  4.05. Kevin Ryan introduces Nordikhab and his juveniles are respected, but the one that interests me is TICKLE TIME. David Barron produced a decent two-year-old in Ahern who ran very well at Royal Ascot despite a slow start, and  I wonder if his newcomers might still slip under the radar. This one is sprint bred and from a stable who specialise in sharp types.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Royal Ascot - Day 4

Day 4

No pulling up of tress yesterday and familiar animals to me are light on the ground at Ascot today.

Consistent IMPERIAL DJAY, trained by Ruth Carr, contests the Buckingham Palace Stakes. His effort at Chester was pretty decent, any further rain will help, and he does seem to be going in the right direction even at 7 years old. He should get in the mix and a draw on the far side seemed to help yesterday. Ruth Carr hasn't got a big string but she places her charges well.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Royal Ascot - Day 3

2.30  Norfolk Stakes

AHERN caught my eye as an impressive winner of what has proved a very good pointer to this meeting at Musselburgh. He's an impressive sort, won with a ton in hand and this race has been won 3 times out of the last 5 by once raced horses.
STORM MOON impressed on debut at Musselburgh but was found out in better company at Sandown last time.
Cay Verde, victor over Hototo here on second run might prove the strongest form of the race but i'm happy to go for Ahern.

4.25 Britannia Handicap

CHAPTER SEVEN won a very competitive strong form race at Musselburgh first time out, having SWITZERLAND and BRONZE ANGEL (a winner since well held), and has progressed since with a win at Doncaster last time. This race can be won by a lightly raced sort sometimes, but Chapter Seven is going forward. His best form this season has been with cut in the ground, and the forecast rain has to be an encouragement.
EVERVESCENT was a close second in the Musselburgh race and might get involved in the places at a fancy price.

5.35 King George V Handicap

PRUSSIAN won well at Musselburgh over 9 furlongs in May, the third Clayton franking the form since and on a collateral form line SPARKlING PORTRAIT (sixth in the Edinburgh Cup where Clayton was second) may be held. Prussian impressed me with her looks and attitude at Musselburgh. Too much rain might be a worry, but i'd trust the trainer if he decides to run.
Progressive ROCKTHERUNWAY battled hard to win a Class 4 event at Musselburgh last time, but that did look a decent event and there may be more to come.
COMMITMENT was a couple of places behind SPARKLING PORTRAIT at Musselburgh and has something to find.

Royal Ascot - Day 2

Hototo stepped up to the plate to take the closing race, not that my comments were particularly encouraging though!

Not too many of the second day runners have caught my eye directly this year, but JILLNEXTDOOR comes firmly into the equation in the Queen Mary Stakes, based on a close second to Hototo last time at Ayr. Presumably the odds will be clipped a bit to reflect the form line.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Royal Ascot - Day 1

 A look at a few horses which have registered no the radar on the Scottish circuit and now take on the best at Ascot.

3.05 5f King's Stand Stakes

Consistent HAMISH MCGONAGALL, awarded a race at Musselburgh in early season, looks held by a few in this Group 1 event. His Group 2 third at Chantilly however does suggest he could pitch for prize money.
TANGERINE TREES, seen mopping up minor handicaps at Hamilton three years ago, has left that territory far behind, reaching a pinnacle when winning last season's Prix De l'Abbaye. His race at Haydock will have brought him on and it would be no surprise to see this one placed at a decent price.

3.40 1m St. James's Palace Stakes(3yo)

GABRIAL was seventh in what is turning out to be a very strong 0-100 handicap at Musselburgh in early April. This company is a huge ask for Richard Fahey's colt, but a prominent run may help confirm Musselburgh form
FOXTROT ROMEO has only won what appeared a weak maiden at Hamilton last August, victory coming on debut last year. however, he's left that form way behind and was second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last time. He was length behind Power on that occasion, and my gut instinct is that form will be repeated. However, that form looks as good as any brought into this race and a place is a strong possibility if running to the same level.

5.35 5f Windsor Castle Stakes 2yo

Two colts who emerged from early season Musselburgh maidens appear in what looks an open contest.

HOTOTO has progressed nicely after showing promise when a fast finishing third in East Lothian. He ran into a decent performer in Cay Verde when he last ran at Ascot then just held Jillnextdoor in a tight finish at Ayr. He has ability but this contest may stretch him.
POLSKI MAX was third to Storm Moon at Musselburgh opening meeting, and has progressed steadily since, making all on Fibresand at Southwell. He's well built for a two-year-old and looked well forward for a youngster in early season, so I expect a few might improve past him here.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Kelso Ladies' Day

With apologies for the delay in posting this up.

KELSO - Sunday May 27th

The Borders track finished their season under clear skies, sweltering sunshine and a with decent crowd present on Ladies' Day. The course were presented with an unusual problem in Scotland, that of lack of water for the horses. The runners were all unsaddled in the enclosures and a JCB forklift brought in to shift a large water tank in order to fill paddock water butts, a single hose proving woefully inadequate early on. The water shifting caused delays, tolerated by most of the crowd, but more disturbing to the crowd were a number of calls to owners of distressed dogs which had been left in cars. Numerous measures were suggested by those regulars I chatted with, most having little sympathy with the dog owners.

In the opening novices' hurdle KEENELAND kept up his unbeaten hurdles record with a second win holding off a proven performer in MAKBULLET. The winner should go on to prove himself quite decent while Makbullet has enough speed to hold his own in handicaps when the conditions are dry. CAVITE ETA ran a sound race a clear third best. Looking back in the field there are some which will do better given time. NOTONEBUTTWO has enough about him to turn into a racehorse with more experience. YOUNG SPARKY is well enough bred to make a mark over jumps, but he was tubby here and needed the race. GOLDTREK has the look of a chaser but looks to need time, despite having run on the flat for Roger Charlton. The huge TEAR AND TURN is another which might make up into a chaser in time, but she's need to strengthen to her frame.

SWIFT ARROW made a winning chasing debut in a novices' handicap chase in which many could be given chances, but at the same time there were plenty of question marks. FREDDIE BROWN made a brave attempt to make the pace and is getting nearer to a first chase win. BEIDH TINE ANSEO made a sound debut over fences, but he's been placed plenty of times over hurdles without finishing off his races.

CROWNING JEWEL held off newcomer WITNESS IN COURT in the staying novices' hurdle. The latter should prove good enough to win a similar event. L'EMINENCE GRISE ia disappointng sort and only inherited a remote third when ATTYCRAN pulled up with an apparent problem. The latter was ridden back so it doesn't seem too serious, but his record suggests one to be wary of.

Quirky but potentially decent NIGHT IN MILAN was an easy winner of the staying handicap chase, a fair looking event for the time of year. He may be one to make hay while the sun shines. HUMBIE ran a sound race in second but couldn't match the winner, while pacesetter MORE EQUITY race her usual honest race in third, keeping on once passed. ROCKABILLY was always struggling and his fall at Perth may have shaken him up a bit. BADGER FOOT never threatened and this looked one race too many for now as far as INVERLOCHY LAD was concerned. Sad to see former Welsh National winner DREAM ALLIANCE fail to keep up and retirement surely beckons? I do hope connections accept the inevitable and he doesn't end up pottering round South Wales fields in points.

The 2m 2f novices' handicap hurdle was marked by some pretty poor jumping from the majority of the contestants. Dianne Sayer has her string in fine form this spring, her STAGS LEAP just pipping TALK OF SAAFEND. The latter has followed up since and I suspect it's her time of year over hurdles. I was regaled with interesting of the campaigning of PAS TROP TARD, but a big opportunity was missed here as he came down three out. He's got ability to win a race but that's where efforts need to be concentrated instead of 'waiting for the day', if indeed tales are true (salt may be required!). ROCK RELIEF jumped abysmally and on that basis did quite well to finish third of five finishers.

The closing Scottish hunter chase of the year went ITZACLICHE, always handy and holding back enough to see off challenges from the last. He won at Cartmel last summer and I presume might be kept on the go in the warmer months. SIERRA VICTOR stayed on for second and probably has enough about him to worth an interest in similar company next term. BEAU TRAVELLER led for a long way but his reserves genrally run out in the lcosing stages. Not a good looker but he should win a weak point somewhere though as he can lead his field at a decent pace. BAY CHERRY's light is fading these dyas and the promise of his novice campaign is now but a memory. He kept on without threatening. ABRAGANTE was appearing or the first time since his win in this race last year. He looked fit enough but surely there was some ring-rustiness?

Two nice sorts fought out the finish of the closing bumper. BRADY from the McCain stable held off bumper specialist Karen McLintock's MASON DAVID BROWN. Both newcomers are decent looking animals well readied on this occasion but, such was their superiority, both should win in the future. DISCOVERIE was third and kept on in the straight. The dam was a 6.5f winner in Ireland, but I presume James Ewart has seen enough to feel he can turn this one into a jumper. This was an improvement on his debut. Another Ewart horse finished fourth in UNEX VALADON. This one is built like the proverbial brick-outhouse and should make a jumper. He's flat bred and may prove best around two miles. HORTON, a half-brother to the capable if not always committed hurdler Pete, caught the eye in the paddock as a nice sort. On the track he showed up from four furlongs out if unable to offer anything more up the hill. The yard hasn't got much of a record in bumpers but this one showed enough to suggest he will win races in time.

I hope to post a quick flat summary in the next couple of days, with one or two Royal Ascot runners on the horizon. Upcoming course visits for me are Ayr next Saturday 23rd June, followed by an out of territory 'tick' at Yarmouth on July 5th. The latter gives me a chance to add to my list of courses visited, and also to move one closer to the set in the UK. That will be 42, with Thirsk lined up for September likely to be 43.