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.