Saturday, 28 July 2012

Musselburgh - Tuesday July 24th

MUSSELBURGH – Tuesday July 24th
Going – Soft  (Good to Soft in places)

This meeting attracted decent sizes fields at the 48 hour stage with the going quoted as ‘Good’, but heavy rain the day before resulted in soft ground and 30 non-runners. Further rain was forecast for race day, but as can be the case this part of the coast avoided significant rain and the latter part of the afternoon saw warm sunshine.  Judged on time the ground state looked accurately reported.

2.00 1m 1f TurfTV Handicap (51-69)
Out of nine entries four stood their ground, all fillies. The form doesn’t look special with the close second well exposed.
RAHEEBA, a compact and strong looking filly, led at a steady pace and stuck on tenaciously as she increased the speed into the straight. She just held an exposed second and the form doesn’t anything special. She may struggle with stiffer tasks in future. She seemed at the end of her tether by the line and I’m not sure she would want any further in this ground.
SANGAR, previously a winner on this ground, chipped away at the winner from three out. She seemed to hang fire over a furlong out but was picking up again and closing at the line. She doesn’t look entirely straightforward and may not be one to trust implicitly.
CHRISTMAS LIGHT couldn’t repeat the form of her close second to Lockantanks at Beverley and was held from two out. Her winning form came on faster ground and she may be better with less cut.
NAAFETHA was on her toes and didn’t settle particularly well in the race. She was outpaced once turned for home and well beaten. She showed a degree of promise first time up this season, but now has put in  three poor efforts in a row.

2.30 7f 30yds British Stallion Studs EBF 2yo Maiden (Class 5)

In these days of blanket coverage and with stacks of data available it can be difficult to get an edge. Just occasionally though it’s possible to get ahead of the game on course. The winner POLAR CHIEF stood out in the paddock and made a winning debut at a very rewarding SP of 20/1. A few paddock watchers were on and couldn’t believe their luck since this one seemed well readied and from a stable that can get produce forward youngsters.
Linda Stubbs’s gelding is very nicely bred and was very fit on debut. He was rather unwilling at the stalls, drifting from 14/1 to 20/1 in the couple of minutes before the start, but settled nicely before being produced three furlongs out. Moving smoothly up to challenge, he  was distinctly green but pulled clear with a persistent runner-up and just held sway at the line. While he won’t get much fitter the experience must do him some good and there should be another race in him before long.
MARHABA MALAYEEN, a 62,000 guinea purchase as a yearling, is a well grown sort who would be expected to show his best as a two-year-old. He led until headed by the winner two out, sticking to his guns all the way to the line and just held. He saw out this trip well enough and looks a decent prospect for nurseries.
EXCELLENT MARINER, a nice enough filly with a decent pedigree, was held up in rear and could only keep on steadily in the closing stages. The experience should do her good and there will be better to come, Though Mark Johnston does have his two-year-olds more forward than some.
CHANT , placed in a Wolverhampton maiden, was well held from two out. He will find his level now qualified for nurseries.
LADY MARGAEUX, a strong looking filly, was a weak favourite in the betting and possibly a bit over-revved. She made her challenge from three out but faded from the two pole and was disappointing.
RAGNARR, tall but not yet filling his frame, was bandaged on his off fore and wearing a net muzzle. He was saddled in a closed box and looked stubborn at the stalls. He was slow away and  never figured, giving little encouragement for his immediate career.

3.00 5f Scottish Racing 3yo Handicap (45-65)

Fourteen became seven with the change of ground.
ALNAIR seemed to have benefitted from a long break, looked well enough and ran on well after racing near the head of affairs for the whole race. He just held on from a second who was perhaps a trifle unlucky but won in the style of a gelding who should be capable of a repeat somewhere along the line.
ELEGANT GIRL made headway approaching the final furlong, but she was stopped in her run and once in the clear had insufficient distance left to get in front.  She has some speed and there should be a small race in her.
MAJESTIC MANNAN was taken very steadily down to the start. He offered a persistent challenge from the furlong marker but was held to the line. He’s lightly raced, has some speed and looks on a feasible handicap mark on this evidence.
IMPERIAL LEGEND veered right at the start but recovered sufficiently to lead briefly approaching the furlong pole. He was just being run out of it when squeezed up in the final furlong. He appears better than the bare result suggests.
Hat-trick seeking TUIBAMA led until two out but was soon under pressure and couldn’t match his challengers. He might be harshly treated now as he was running off 15lbs higher than his first win,  despite only winning having a only a total of just over 1 and a half lengths in hand in the two victories.
ROY’s LEGACY chased the leaders but was well held in the closing stages.
MAJESTIC ANGEL  looks too slow even off a lowly mark of 46.

3.30 1m 4f 100yds Brown Shipley Wealth Management Handicap (44-70)

A field of ten cut up to four, with a list of trainers (Whillans, Richards, Russell and Goldie) that wouldn’t have been out of place in a race at Kelso in winter.
HOUSTON DYNIMO’s previous best had been shown on good or faster ground, but the soft surface proved no barrier against three moderate opponents. He looked nicely prepared by Nicky Richards, set off in front at a decent pace and galloped the opposition into submission from the home turn.  He seems in good heart and there might be better to come on faster ground.
Sturdily built RAVI RIVER won twice on the flat last year , but was well below form over hurdles in the winter. He chased the winner up the straight but made no impact.
A SOUTHSIDE BOY is an angular gelding who doesn’t win any prizes on looks. He’s a maiden and never looked likely to lose the tag here, though he’s not been over raced and it may be worth noting that he got closest to the winner over 14 furlongs at Redcar.
CADORE proved mainly frustrating over hurdles in the winter and hasn’t sparkled on the flat since. He looked distinctly lighter than the first two and was beaten three furlongs out.

4.00 5f Musselburgh Festival Handicap (66-80)
The feature race was disappointingly only a £7,000 pot given that the course would normally put on a £10,000 event. There is so much racing taking place though and the prize money is spread necessarily thinly.
The start was delayed a little as AMENABLE proved the exact opposite of his name. Stubborn coming on the track, he whirled round a few times and lost his rider, then racing round a full circuit before being withdrawn. He was blinkered first time which could explain his recalcitrant behaviour.
The finish was fought out between two regular consistent performers. CRIMSON KNOT got up close home to rob THE NIFTY FOX of what would have a third win in recent times. The winner has placed often but is not a prolific winner where the second remains in decent form and doesn’t look handicapped out of things yet.
QUAROMA showed some promise on her first run for Paul Midgley and followed up with a fair third here. A small filly, she made progress to look dangerous one out but was a bit short of room and her effort petered out. She’s a winner on better ground and looks to be coming to herself.
SANDWITH has been showing up well this season and raced close to the pace before being held from the furlong pole. This wasn’t a bad effort though, given that his recent wins have been in Class 6 events.
BRONZE BEAU disputed early but well beaten a furlong out and is on a long losing run.
ANGELO POLIZIANO, tongue-tied for the first time, hasn’t been showing enough to be competitive in this class, and his chance here went west with a tardy start.

4.30 2m Racing UK The UK’s Best Racecourses Live Handicap (42-63)
This was a weakly contested contest, but was won by JAN SMUTS in the style of a stayer who can trouble better opponents. Stepped up significantly in trip, he galloped away from the only opponent to threaten him and was pulling away at the line. He can win again.
Jan Smuts has just run a decent fourth in a much better event at Newcastle, tapped for pace three out but picking up in good style to the finish on the heels of the leaders. The ground was touching firm there  and easier ground might just show him to better effect.
VTTACHI did his best to match the winner, but was well held in the final furlong. He ran to his form.
PURKAB kept on through the field for third but couldn’t threaten the first two. A maiden after seventeen tries his profile doesn’t offer encouragement to backers.
SYDNEY COVE has proved less than committed. He came to have his chance two out but faded under pressure.
Winning hurdler WORD OF WARNING, bandaged behind, led three out but quickly came under pressure and weakened.
RHYTON’s form since joining Brian Storey has been dire and he was beaten a long way.
Irish import SINNAMARA was made 2/1 favourite here, despite the form book offering little encouragement. Taken down early, he refused to race and looks one to oppose.

5.00 7f 30yds Watch Racing UK on Sky 432 Handicap (58-67)

Nine of the twelve stood their ground to provide the biggest field of the day, but FLORIO VINCITORE made the others look slow in the final two furlongs. Leading two out he soon had the race won and was pushed out to the line. He’s not raced that often on turf and this was by far his best effort on the grass. He will be forced to take on better horses next time unless brought out under a penalty.
SABRATHA looked very fit and kept on for second place, just holding stablemate BERBICE, who is well exposed and not a prolific winner, with another exposed performer KEYS OF CYPRUS half a length back in fourth.
NADEEN won here earlier this season, but has disappointed since including refusing to race last time. She was slow away and her effort three out was without any serious impact.
CANNON BOLT, a front-runner who needs an easy lead, was swallowed up two out.
MICK SLATES was well below his decent form of late. He was in the rear early and driven along, making no impact. A prominent position is helpful over this course and distance, and it’s possible he can be forgiven this.
GONINODAETHAT never threatened a repeat of his Ayr effort, while NUFOUDH was in rear and remains well out of sorts.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Kelso course layout changes in the offing

The latest bulletin from the Milnathort Racing Club suggested to members that Kelso are planning layout changes for the coming campaign starting in October. I understand that there will be a separate run-in for the chase course, meaning that the 'Aintree style elbow' will no longer be used.

Full details are still to be finalised and agreed. A statement will be released by the course authorities in August.

Back in Scotland...

Back on Scottish soil and the weather has been doing the game no favours up here. Soft ground prevails as in most other places, it has even rained in Yarmouth since my visit. Perth's two day jump meeting in the first week of July was lost, and day one of the Glasgow Fair meeting at Hamilton went west.

AYR - July 8th and 9th

Ayr's two day meeting went ahead on soft ground.

Most interest for the future surrounds the opening contest, a decent looking 7 furlong juvenile maiden. This was won by previously promising ELNADANCER, as expected benefiting from a step up in trip and franking the form of Tickle Time from the previous meeting. He should go on to take better races than Class 5 tag of this race. A mile will be well within his compass this term.
The other four are all worth putting inn the notebook, headed by Richard Fahey's filly SIMPLY SHINING who took time to get going but was picking up nicely in the closing stages. She should have no trouble finding a race before long. She should stay a mile.
Favourite BURNING BLAZE tried to match the favourite but gave way in the final furlong having raced a bit keenly early on. He wasn't disgraced and will come on for this run.
As is the way with many Mark Johnston runners, HUNTING RIGHTS bowled along in front and kept on once headed if unable to match the pace of the first three close home. The trainer's horses are just a little off their best at this time, so there's reason to believe that this American bred animal, related to a US Grade 1 winner, can produce better.
ZADIG looked a bit green, she was ponied to the start, but she showed enough to suggest she can make a mark in easier company in time.

GONINODAETHAT finally broke his duck in the 7f 50yards Class 5 Handicap. He's always hinted that he's capable of winning but it's taken time for the penny to drop. There are plenty of opportunities for him and he should add to this win before long. SABRATHA came with a wet sail late on to wrest second place from pacesetter Emeralds Spirit. Her best form has been with cut in the ground which should give her chances in the coming weeks.

One of the better winners on the card was SILVERY MOON in the 1 mile Class 4 Handicap. He made it 2 out of 2 here, galloping on strongly at the finish. He likes soft ground and a galloping track. PROPHESY ran a decent race in second considering he's probably better at 7 furlongs, so could win again if dropped back down in trip.

THE OIL MAGNATE was a comfortable winner of the Class 5 1m 5f handicap and looks a fair bit better than the 68 mark he ran off here. He's had back problems and now they are cleared he should show his true worth. One to note in a higher grade as he was rated in the 90s two years back.

The second day was rather low key and I didn't find too many strong pointers.

HEAD SPACE threw a way his chance in the feature sprint handicap, ducking at the mown strip the line and almost unseating his rider. Ruth Carr will now do some therapeutic work after getting the stable lawn mower out! This one is better than the third place here suggests and is progressing.
MAYOMAN just held the fast finishing HAAJES though both would have been behind Head Space if the latter had seen his race out.

THE NIFTY FOX won his Class 5 six furlong handicap nicely and is in a decent run of form.

LUCTOR EMERGO stayed on to hold off HAWDYERWHEESHT in a 1m 2f Class 6 handicap, but the latter lugged in behind his opponent and gifted him the contest. Those behind are much of a muchness and the feeling is that these two will not make appealing betting material in the foreseeable future.

Lightly raced filly ODYSSEY won the closing apprentice handicap for Michael Dods moved up to the extended seven furlongs. The third Mick Slates has won since, admittedly in a monsoon at Catterick, but overall the form reads well enough to suggest that the winner can follow up.

Yarmouth follow up...

HASOPOP was a convincing winner of a 3 runner conditions race at Newmarket this afternoon, following up his Yarmouth win. The ground was heavy and the form is difficult to weigh up, but he showed a fine attitude and can continue his progression.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

North goes East... to Great Yarmouth

YARMOUTH – Thursday July 5th

Going – Good to Firm

A holiday visit to friends in Norfolk enabled me to pay a first visit to Yarmouth racecourse. With the remainder of the country worried about floods Yarmouth had escaped the rain and was bathed in sunshine. I’m told the course can be a bleak place if the wind blows off the North Sea, so I chose the right day.
The course is clearly signposted off the A47, signs appearing on the outskirts of Norwich, and alternative routes are given when reaching the roundabout at Acle. Once in the town the course can be found in Jellicoe Road off the A149 road to Caister. Public car parking is £2 which seems a bit off given minimum admission prices of £14, £21 being charged for the Premier Enclosure which doesn’t provide any significant extra creature comforts for the added £7 . A racecard is £3 for pretty much the same content  as we get for free at Musselburgh.
Plenty of cover is provided in two stands, though the steps are very steep and play havoc on the legs if a lofty viewing spot is to be attained. There was no big screen provided on this occasion, and I am led to believe such an aid is a rare luxury. Viewing is decent with binoculars.
The paddock area is pleasant and accessible to all patrons.
Although I won’t see many of these live over the remainder of the season, but at least one of the winners is likely to appear north of the border.

2.10 6f British Stallion Studs BHEST EBF 2yo Maiden Stakes (Class 5)
The first contest was supported by BHEST, the British Horse Racing Standards Trust, bringing racing to schools across the country. A local junior school party was welcomed by the course in conjunction with this contest, a number of the pupils carrying out the presentation to the winner. Why didn’t they do trips to the races when I was at school?
Two Royal Ascot came here with chances but were trumped by an improving sort from what appeared to be a decent  Doncaster maiden. Off a steady pace HASOPOP produced a nice turn of foot inside the final furlong to win a trifle cosily.
AJMANY, in the ruck in the Windsor Castle Stakes was well touted for this contest. He challenged tow out but was held in the final half furlong. Trainer Luca Cumani isn’t one to rush his youngsters and it’s likely there is more to come from this 65,000 Euro purchase.
OCEAN APPLAUSE made late headway into seventh in the Norfolk Stakes. That looks flattering as he was held in third place, may find his handicaop mark a bit high so an ordinary maiden would seem the best bet.
Newcomer HASBAH looks a fair prospect for the future. She made good headway over two furlongs out, leading briefly only to be put in her place in the final furlong. She’s a nice enough looking filly and will progress from here.
VINIFERA is a compact sprinting type who may do better once eligible for nurseries. She showed up for four furlongs but then gave way.

2.40 6f Yarmouth Stadium 2yo Selling Stakes (Class 6)
The winner SENORA LOBO is trained by Lisa Williamson, a frequent traveller north,  and may well be seen on the Scottish circuit. She picked up nicely off a pace just a shade quicker than the maiden, holding on in a duel to the line. She is a strong sort and it was surprise that there was no interest at the subsequent auction, though these Yarmouth sellers can be ordinary contests of  their type. The filly knew her job and I would expect she will be thereabouts again before long.
SMILING SHARK made little impact when fourth ion poor maidens, but was made favourite for this race. A narrow sort who didn’t particularly appeal on looks, he disputed the pace but was held by the winner in the closing stages.  He was claimed for 5,000 guineas by Claes Bjorling, a Scandanavian owner trainer who is not averse to raiding these contests. I presume this colt will resume his career in Sweden.
STRAWBERRY DUCK, placed in similar company here previously, couldn’t match the first two and looks ordinary even at this level.

3.10 7f WaterAid Charity Handicap (55-74)
MRS GREELEY was dropped down in class and recovered the form that saw her win last term. In a tight finish she led inside the final furlong and held on well.  She needs to stay in this sort of grade so her trainer will be hoping she doesn’t get bumped up too far in the ratings.
EXCELLENT JEM, probably suited by the drop back to seven furlongs, led briefly in the final furlong only to be run out of it. This was only his fifth race and he showed enough to suggest that a seven furlong handicap is within his capabilities.
Consistent FIRST CLASS put in a challenge in the final furlong and kept on to the line finish a close third. He doesn’t look handicapped out of these contests yet.
FLYNN’S BOY, a muscly sort looking the best of these in the paddock, led a furlong out but was run out of it in the final 100 yards. He’s back to near his best and might well land a handicap before long.
SPIRIT OF CONGREE had to be walked to the start, the chatty Cathy Gannon following on foot, and delayed the start. He led until one out,  but quickly gave way and blinkers didn’t work the same way they had on his previous run.
BRIMSTONE HILL was too revved up for his own good, 4-time winner this year SPIN AGAIN faded in the final two furlongs and INTOMIST, second here the previous week, was very disappointing in rear.
ANTON GHIGURH is a nice enough individual but looks too headstrong at the moment.

3.40 5f 43yds Norfolk Chamber Of Commerce Handicap (44-60)
A handful of this moderate bunch had appeared on my radar at one time or another. However, it was well handicapped filly at the bottom of the handicap who had enough to win the race. IRISH GIRLS SPIRIT  made an effort two out, led one out and did enough to hold on. She was collared close home at Windsor and five furlongs on fast ground looks best for her.
ONE KOOL DUDE looked about as fit as could be. He was gaining on the winner at the line but never looked likely to catch her and remains a maiden, placed 2nd or 3rd in 10 out of 17 runs.
AUTOCRACY kept on for third. His recent good efforts have been on sharp tracks and that maybe the key for this one, not over-raced for a five-year-old sprinter.
Well exposed THE JAILER occupied a fair fourth, followed by SIMPLE RHYTHM who couldn’t impact on the principals from the furlong pole. Three raced near side but were held two furlongs out. Of those, northern challenger ARCH WALKER performed best in eighth place and might be worth an interest in similar company. He’s back to a feasible mark and has hinted at a return to form of late.
OOI LONG totally missed the break and had no chance. He has been progressive and should pick up the threads before long.
Giles Bravery’s PRINCESS PALMER was withdrawn at the start and carried back to the stables in the horse ambulance. I would guess she knocked into herself, but enquiries drew no other information than that she was ‘being looked at by the vet’. I trust that she is recovering.

4.10 1m 1f Guide Dogs For The Blind (3yo) Handicap (64-79)
This looked a reasonable event though, with winning prize money of less than £4000 for the ‘feature event’, it proves that courses can get away with low levels of reward.
Major stables were well represented here and Sir Henry Cecil’s TOUCH GOLD made all and had the race in safe keeping from the furlong marker. He is progressing nicely now and will presumably aimed a bit higher next time, though he did have things his own way here.
SARMATIAN KNIGHT raced prominently and kept on to hold second. This was decent effort on handicap bow and there should be a race in this one, with Ian Williams ready to travel to take an opportunity. The fast going suits and he looks the sort to be suited by a bit further.
DISPOSITION stayed on through the field to take third, performing best of those held up. She showed promise in maidens and can do better with handicap experience in the locker.
FULNEY, another on handicap debut, looked spot on for this but a promising run three out didn’t produce enough to threaten the winner.
OPERATION TRACER may be one to take out of this contest. He appears to be coming to himself and was on his toes for this, he kept on into fifth place and can make a mark in a lower grade over a longer distance.
Luca Cumani’s STRADO FACENDO was well touted, but two handlers in the paddock was a bad sign and his shortlived effort fizzled out inside the final two furlongs. OCEAN TEMPEST, a winner at Windsor last time, was very fizzy in the paddock and had nothing left two out.

4.40 1m 2f E.A.C.H. Charity Handicap (52-70)
Lightly raced three-year-olds took on more experienced campaigners in this contest. One of the former, TIS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL was the victor, leading two out and then rallying when challenged and pulling away again close home. A winner this year on the all-weather, he showed the right qualities here and could still be ahead of the handicapper.
Ex-German LANDESHERR battled on well under pressure for second. This was arguably his best effort in four starts in Britain and Steve Gollings should squeeze a small handicap out of him. He didn’t seem madly keen on the tongue-tie in the preliminaries, but he didn’t seem unduly troubled on the track.
SILVER ALLIANCE looked very fit, had every chance from two out and kept on for third. He seems honest enough but the handicapper has him covered.
ROGUE REPORTER, running for the first time since being gelded, stayed on through the field for fourth. Connections were discussing a step up in trip after the race.
Top weight TIN PAN ALLEY didn’t show but has the look of a jumper about him.

5.10 1m 3f 101yds The I.J.F.  Hands And Heels Apprentice Series Handicap (47-65)
Two pulled clear in this event, THE DUCKING STOOL repelling the persistent challenge of LOCUM in the final furlong. The winner was well handled by Shirley Teasdale, one amongst a number of decent young  female jockeys riding at this time. The winner has run well on heavy and looks a pretty easy sort, so should continue to show up well in similar company.
LOCUM saw his race out well enough. He normally finds at least one to beat him, showing 11 seconds in 46 runs against 2 wins.
The rest were well beaten off, RIO SILVER plugging on into third and basically looking very ordinary, while MAGICALMYSTERYTOUR seems on the downgrade as the years catch up.
IVAN THE TERRIBLE is a robust animal who looks as if he could do a job over hurdles, but his jumping efforts  were lousy and this return to the flat offered precious little encouragement.