Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Kelso Course Layout Changes

News from Kelso Racecourse of course layout changes to be implemented for their next meeting on Sunday October 7th.

The two furlong run-in has now gone as the chase course acquires a separate finish, doing away with the 'elbow' and finish on the hurdles course. The courses changes mean the turf on the hurdles finish will take less of a pounding and the chase run in will be less of a slog. In addition there will be more flexibility on positioning of the last hurdle.

The course's chase fences have undergone construction changes. They will now be built in 6 feet sections which allows more flexibility for re-positioning should the ground take a pounding over the season. There will now be just two fences in the home straight, the first of those being the only open ditch on the course, the two open ditches now becoming plain fences.

A few of the start positions in the straight have changed and a number of distances have now altered with a few new distance options.

Map provided courtesy of Louise Grey of Kelso Racecourse.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Perth - Carnival Day

PERTH – Saturday August 18th
Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places)

A crowd in the region of 10,000 attended on 'Carnival Day' at Scone Palace Park, going some way towards making up for what has been a miserable year weather wise. Even then overnight rain turned the ground soft, not suiting every horse entered by any means.
Crowd size meant it was difficult to cross the course quickly so I was unable to take in the steeplechases from my favourite position by the final fence.

3.10 2m ½f Bet totescoop6 Text Tote to 89660 Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

A two way contest here, somewhat marred by the demise of Lucinda Russell’s NAJLAA. She broke down approaching  the fifth hurdle having suffered a broken tibia, and sadly had to be put down.
CADORE has been a hard character to win with, but he was given a patient waiting ride by Grant Cockburn to take advantage of a big weight pull over HAWKHILL. The second may now be forced into0 handicaps or perhaps up in class as he’s stuck with penalties for three wins. Cadore on the other hand might not necessarily find things as easy in future.
LILLIOFTHEBALLET is hard work but plugged on best of the rest to take a remote third place. She would be better off ain mares’ only races as some such contests can be rather weak.

3.40  2m 4½f North East Steel Services Ltd Novices’ Handicap Chase (99-105)

On the face of it this was a fairly even contest, but EYRE APPARENT turned it into a procession from the home turn, galloping on to win in impressive style. He’s been shunted up 11lbs for the win, which doesn’t seem unreasonable and might be progressive enough to cope with a new mark of 110. His jumping is sound and should set him in good stead against better opponents.
FOG PATCHES was tried in the latter stages but plugged on for second place. He’s now off a mark of 101 which is about as high as he would want to be.
PLOOPLUCK BRIDGE, a winner of a beginners’ chase at Limerick before joining Chris Grant, is potentially a bit better than the well beaten third he occupied here. His jockey reported that he off the bridle early on and just finding the pace a little tough, though he jumped very well. He’s only a youngster and is likely to step up on this effort in time. Of the runners here he may be the one to keep in mind.
TRUE BLUE weakened very quickly after leading to the ninth. He was pulled up before three out, his jockey reporting that he failed to handle the soft ground.

4.15 totepool Summer Champion Hurdle (Limited Handicap) (100-137)

I’ve abbreviated the ludicrously long title for this race which stretched to three lines on the racecard!
Last year’s renewal was won by Overturn, and I don’t think there will be a Champion Hurdle contender out of the contest, but there were a decent few progressive sorts.

KIAN’S DELIGHT travelled well throughout the race and asserted on the flat having challenged from two out. Peter Bowen has his string in fine form this summer, but this might be one to take on to better races in the autumn. A stayer on the flat, he ought to see out a longer trip which will increase the options.
ABSINTHE represented fair form from the north and ran a sound race in second place.  He wasn’t one that totally convinced me last winter, despite a decent record, but this was a very good effort. He briefly led before the last and kept on well enough once passed. His overall record in all disciplines is 18 times 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 24 efforts and he will be competitive in similar company in the coming months.  I got the impression Kelso’s stiff finish found him out, so this sort of track may suit best.
SMALIB MONTERG has been progressive this summer and ran a very creditable race to finish third here. This was the toughest company he’s taken on so far and the experience should be a benefit. Previous campaigns suggest he will be one kept to racing in the warmer months.
HUNTERVIEW has an interrupted career since recording a decent win in last year’s Scottish County Hurdle. He helped  set a decent pace and kept on doggedly under pressure once passed two out.
HIS EXCELLENCY is a nice sort who was on his toes in the paddock. He ran a fair race in fifth but is high in the handicap over hurdles and fences, and it may now take all of David Pipe’s skill and planning ability to place him.
A close second in the Galway Hurdle, CAUSE OF CAUSES was held from two out on this occasion. It could be that he needed a bit longer between races.
COOL BARANCA started slowly here and could never get into the race. This class was probably too big an ask despite her good form in recent months.

4.45 2m 4 ½ f Bet totepool… Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (93-115)

A pointing winner in February, KELLY’S BROW looks to be a progressive hurdler.  Leading all the way he stayed on strongly from two out and the others couldn’t get to him. He looks sure to win again over hurdles, even with a rating rise, and has the makings of a chaser as he jumped plenty big enough over the hurdles. He’s in the right hands in Donald McCain and is a definite for the notebook.
RAAJIH rallied well after looking at the end of his tether coming to the last. He’s been unlucky to catch progressive sorts on two consecutive runs and can surely be placed to win a similar hurdle before long.
CATCH THE FIRE stayed on from two out without ever threatening the leader. Yet to win, there should be a small race for him in the coming weeks. This trip doesn’t seem a problem.
NAY SECRET, a two mile winner on the flat, was under driving before two out and could only keep on at the one pace under pressure. He’s more lightly raced over hurdles than the first three though and has enough about him to turn into a capable hurdler at a lowly level. A step up to three miles wouldn’t be a disadvantage.

5.20 2m 4 ½ f Crabbie’s AGB Handicap Chase (110-123)

BOBOWEN has been in magnificent form of late and rewarded Richard Newland’s first visit to Perth with a comfortable win. He made a winning chase debut  at Market Rasen in July and had no problem seeing off senior opposition here.  Disputing from four out, he asserted from the last. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t add to his chasing tally in the coming months.
PYRACANTHA is more exposed than the winner but put up an excellent performance coming back off a lay-off. He disputed for much of the way before giving best at the last. Having slipped steadily down the handicap, Pyracantha now looks favourably weighted and won’t always run into such a progressive sort.
TOUT REGULIER was no threat once turned for home.  She did win a point in heavy ground back in 2009, but she seems better on a faster surface.
GO SILVER BULLET has had interrupted seasons of late and is probably not as good as he was. He was struggling in the last half mile. He needs the ground faster so that his stamina is not under so much pressure,  and connections post-race discussions suggest they feel he needs to drop a bit in the ratings.
MY MOMENT mixes a host of duff performances with the odd decent run, but was way off his game on this occasion. He seems better on faster ground.
RED KINGDOM has put away moderate opposition of late with his big jumping front running style. However, he doesn’t like being taken on and spat out the dummy when headed halfway through the race. The stewards report hints that the officials were not entirely happy with the explanation that Red Kingdom was ‘unable to dominate’  and  ‘noted the explanation’. To my eyes it was clear cut and a race scenario I had suggested to a fellow racegoer before the start.  Life is not going to be easy for Dianne Sayer with this one now rated 110.

5.50 2m 4½f STV Appeal 2012 Handicap Hurdle (105-125)

GLINGERBANK retains his enthusiasm and rallied hard on the flat to hold on having been challenged at the last. It’s worth noting that he has generally required a bit of a rest after his best efforts, butb should remain competitive despite his advancing age.
RED HOT POKER is an in and out performer who was on a going day here and battled hard from the last. He’s lightly raced for a 10 year old and has shown his best on soft ground, though he can have off days.
HUNTERS BELT kept on late having looked outpaced down the far side.  He doesn’t seem particularly generously handicapped at the moment.
WHEYAYE had every chance two out but was held approaching the last. She goes well at Hexham so it might be worth keeping her in mind when the Northumberland track starts their autumn programme.
LORD REDSGIRTH is a big angular gelding who is better over fences. Claimed by Lucinda Russell out of a seller here at the last meeting, he was held here but will be seen to better effect over the bigger obstacles.
SUMMER SOUL was running for the first time for two years having changed stables. The race was needed but there was a hint that ability remains intact.
D J MILAN didn’t like the going and faded from three out having set the pace.
QUITO DU TRESOR raced up with the pace until weakening quickly from two out. He should show up better over fences and the race will have helped.

6.20  2m ½f Racing Post Form with totepool Mobile Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 5)

Plenty to take forward from the closing contest. The winner MISTER PAGAN caught eye in the paddock, but was very keen on the way to the start. He came to take it up two furlongs out, but looked very green once in front, hanging both right and left. Lucy Alexander organised the Jim Goldie trained gelding to great effect and he quickened clear in encouraging style. Decently bred out of a winning chase mare and by Sulamani who has a decent record as a jumps stallion, Mister Pagan seems to have decent prospects for the future.
ABSOLUTELY BYGONES won a weak contest at Hexham, but he has plenty of ability and caught a tartar in the winner. He showed a willing attitude in the closing stages and may pick up another ordinary bumper before going hurdling.
LORD OF DRUMS looks a chasing type and anything he does at this level will be a bonus. Keeping on honestly enough, he won a point in Ireland and should come into own once encountering jumps under Rules.
WOR LASS performed a little better than when green on debut at Kelso, though she has some work to do to threaten a win.
ONE IN A ROW set a steady pace but was put in his place in the straight. This one wasn’t disgraced in bumpers for Shark Hanlon and Alistair Whillans should be  able to place him to advantage in time.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Early August at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH – Friday August 3rd 2012

Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

Drying weather gave us fast ground, a rather rare occurrence this summer. A healthy crowd was in attendance and it’s a pity there aren’t more of these Friday evening fixtures at Musselburgh this season.
The course showed the Olympic action on the big screen in between racing. With my wife keeping me updated on London 2012, my visits to the paddock managed to correspond with Victoria Pendleton’s kierin victory and the victory of the GB mens' pursuit team!

6.10 1m 5f 44-69 BlackRock Amateur Riders’ Handicap
A competitive amateur race resulted in a win for STORMY MORNING who has been out of form of late. He’s only won twice, a selling hurdle at Sedgefield in 2011 and a three-year-old handicap back in 2009. No particular patterns that I can spot in his form. Kicking on two out he had the race well in hand inside the final furlong well ridden by Harriet Bethell.
SOHCAHTOA made good headway in the latter stages without threatening the winner. He’s another with a poor strike rate.
TALK OF SAAFEND has been in decent form of late and looking in fine condition here. She was put into the race with every chance by Emma Sayer , but couldn’t impact on the winner from two out.
HOUSTON DYNIMO, a convincing winner in a small field the previous week here, found this tougher and was held from the two furlong marker after contesting the pace.

6.45 5f 45-65 Wilkinson & Associates Nursery Handicap
This was a poor event with a few already going backwards from a lowly start level.
The winner MILL END DANCER hadn’t made a mark in previous race, though a seventh in a decent seller at York probably wasn’t a bad effort. She made a effort two out and was driven out to win with a little in hand. She starts from a very low mark and Mick Easterby might look for a repeat in a poor event on quick ground.
PERFECT WORDS, thereabouts in most efforts to date, kept on in the final furlong. He’s selling class.
THERAPEUTIC made the pace and kept on once headed a furlong out.
SOMEONE’s DARLING showed much promise first time up here, but she hasn’t go on form that effort. She kept on late for fourth but never threatened the winner and appears frustrating.
VANESSA, a selling winner here earlier, was very mulish coming on to the track and unseated her rider. She was slow away, never in the race, and looks one to avoid.
Locally trained PRINCESS IN EXILE showed early promise, but she hasn’t gone on from April/May efforts and was well held in fifth.
CROMWELL ROSE unseated and cantered riderless to the start. She was outpaced and tailed off.

7.20 1m 1f 44-67 iShares Handicap
DOUBLE CEE followed up two Hamilton wins with a convincing win here on faster ground. Making headway three out, he took it up inside the final furlong and had a cosy advantage at the line. The impression is that there may be more in the locker.
CALL OF DUTY stayed on well under pressure from two out. This wasn’t a bad effort given that the trip was probably on the sharp side and a stiffer track would be better. After a decent season in 2010 he spent 2011 in the wilderness, but has bounced back to form in2012. Maybe worth noting when track and trip suit better.
SANGAR had every chance but was not disgraced in third. She’s on a workable mark at the moment and could pick up a slightly less competitive event. CHRISTMAS LIGHT confirmed previous form with Sangar, as held final furlong and looks on her mark.
ROYAL STRAIGHT had going to suit and won easily at Ayr bur couldn’t get to grips with the leaders in the straight. He has won a lowly contest here but seems much better on a more galloping track such as Ayr or Hamilton.
DESERT VISION led until two out but had raced too keenly and quickly folded. Since two wins last year his form has been poor.

7.50 7f 56-75 Tatty Banks Bags A Nag Tomorrow Handicap
A contest of generally exposed performers won by a most consistent sort in CYFLYMDER, well ridden by Lucy Alexander who should benefit from the 5lbs she can still claim on the flat. Driven to the front over a furlong out he had a bit in hand. He’s had a really good run this year for one with so many miles on the clock and remains highly competitive.
SPRINGHEEL JAKE, a keen going sort equipped with a cross noseband, raced prominently and ran on to the line having been denied a clear run approaching the final furlong. Well worth following while the sun shines since he should win a race on fast ground and had no problem with this sharpish seven furlongs.
SOOPACAL looks a fizzy sort. He was mounted in the saddling box and taken down very early, setting the pace until over a furlong out. He kept on for third and his recent wins have come at Southwell which may be more suitable for his style of running.
CHOOKIE AVON put up a passable effort in fourth without threatening a win.
SHUNKAWAKHAN looked hard fit on this occasion but this company is too tough and his wins are few and far between these days.
MUSIC FESTIVAL looked fit enough but there was insufficient response when asked for an effort over two furlongs out.

8.20 5f 69-80 BlackRock Handicap
A £10,000 pot for the feature race here, fairly standard for Musselburgh and they were rewarded with a decent field for the level.
Chances are limited for five furlong handicappers in Ireland, so it’s not a surprise to see one of their number this side of the Irish Sea.  QUEEN GRACE broke her duck at Wolverhampton last autumn and has proved a progressive sort since, moving steadily up the ratings. She’s suited by a sharp track but there aren’t that many suitable five furlong courses in Ireland. Making headway two out she took over at the furlong pole and won with a bit in hand. She has a fair bit of speed and her trainer will be seeking more opportunities in the UK, presumably now in 0-85 or 0-90 contests. Note that Queen Grace hasn’t been out of the first four in 14 races since dropping down to the minimum trip.
BARNEY McGREW still retains plenty of speed at his advancing age, but he keeps a little back for himself now, staying on for second without threatening the winner. He hasn’t won for osme while and best chance these days will be kidding him home late in a big field.
WE’LL DEAL AGAIN raced close up and kept on in the closing stages.  Both his wins have been over a stiff five furlongs but he’s now on a career high mark, rather stiff for one with a 2 out of 33 win record.
NOMOREBLONDES showed promise off a break. Her overall win record is sound and she is probably best on fast ground.
IDLER looked fit enough for his seasonal debut but couldn’t make any impact. It could be that ring-rustiness didn’t help.

8.50 1m 42-63 Wilkinson and Associates Handicap (3yo)
A lowly rated contest but it contained a few previous winners and the winning filly may well go on to better.
DANCE FOR GEORGIE was given a fine ride by Julie Burke, setting the pace, rallying well when challenged and pulling clear in the final furlong. Looking fit and ready here, she has benefitted from the step up to a mile and can win again before the handicapper catches up.
MISS ELLA JADE, another on her toes in the preliminaries , was keen early on but kept on for second without being a position to challenge the winner. Ideally she would want a slightly stiffer test than this sharp mile.
KATHLEENSLUCKYLAD looks to me to need a bit further than this. He couldn’t match the winner but kept on well enough and another quarter will probably be a help.
My wife was tempted to risk a couple of pounds on SLEEPY LUCY since we have a cat called Lucy who sleeps on the end of our bed!  I put her off but as the filly loomed up two furlongs out there seemed a possibility that we would regret missing out. However her run petered out and she faded to fourth. She is lightly raced, but is running off a very low mark and will need a poorly contested basement race to have much chance of winning.
GIBRALTAR ROAD kept on but never got into the race seriously, running as if a stiffer track would be of benefit.
HIKMA walked a bit stiffly on her near hind. She was behind for a long way and picked off a few late on.  She won a Lingfield maiden in March but hasn’t shown much since.
WINDYGOUL LAD was upped in trip but pulled for his head early on and was out of contention two furlongs out. He’ll have to learn to settle to have a chance even at this level.