Saturday, 15 September 2012

First visit to... Thirsk

THIRSK – Saturday September 7th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

We made a trip to Oxfordshire on the Friday for a family wedding and I didn’t need much of an invitation to take a race meeting on the way back to Scotland.  On the budget hotel front, Premier Inn pulled well clear of Travelodge.

A crowd in excess of 7,000 basked in glorious early September weather on Ladies Day at Thirsk. This was my first visit to Thirsk and I was suitably impressed. Plenty of facilities to deal with the large crowd and viewing is excellent, it being surprisingly easy to get a lofty viewing perch during the afternoon.

Course is easily accessed as it is on the A61 (Station Road) close to the town centre. Large car park provided for Paddock and Course enclosure, a separate parking area set aside for Club Enclosure. For public transport travellers the course is the length of the six furlong straight away from Thirsk railway station.

The paddock area is pleasant and easily accessible, the surrounds being banked a little to provide extra viewing spaces. The pre-parade ring is handily placed and proved very popular, while the course viewing is generally good, bar a little section obscured by a hedge behind the infield tennis courts. Decent sized terraced stands in the course and Paddock Enclosures, with steeply raked steps. About 600 seats in an area of raised seating in the Club Stand.

My wife grabbed a table on the Club lawn behind the stand and stayed there most of the afternoon, a big screen saving many moving backwards and forwards between lawn and stand. Your scribe meanwhile covered his usual mileage between paddock and stands, pausing to touch base now and then.  We had the company of a Geordie couple who make this meeting a regular stopping point.

2.20 6f Class 5 Maiden Auction 2yo

This race went with the best form . LADY OF THE HOUSE has been knocking on the door and ran on well enough under encouragement to win with a bit to spare. She’s a stocky, well grown filly who could find some catching her up next year, though she will have chances in the next few weeks.
THE BLACK JACOBIN, one who might still have some filling out to do, had shown promise behind a decent performer at Beverley though had run down the field in the Newbury Super Sprint. He should win a run-of-the-mill contest and there may be better to come in time.
NEXT DOOR kept on well enough for third and is going in the right direction. She should stay further in time. ANOTHER CLARET ran respectably in fourth, clear of the remainder and should win a race for his shrewd trainer.
MASH POTATO may turn into a racehorse in time, but it’s liable to be next season and he couldn’t match the leaders from two out.

2.55 7f Class 4 2yo Maiden

This may prove to be the best future pointer. The winner EPIC BATTLE had a bit of a scrimmage approaching the first bend and was out of his ground four furlongs out. He stayed on relentlessly down the straight and got up in the dying strides.  He’s clearly considered better than this class having been entered in the Middle Park Stakes, but it could be that we will see better next season. I’d expect him to progress through handicaps.
The filly REGGAE STAR made a typically determined Mark Johnston charge attempt to make all the running. She had the rest beaten off but got headed approaching the line. She’s a robust filly who will stay further next year and her handler should place her to advantage.
WYLDFIRE didn’t impress me quite as much as the other two and was held in the final furlong. There should be a similar contest for him though as he ran into a couple of decent opponents.
Most of the remainder looked as if they had a fair bit to learn, and some have some developing to do. PEARL RANSOM ran a respectable race off a break, and has been gelded since running in May, while APACHE RISING will need further and a winter to strengthen but hints at ability.

3.30 6f 70-80 Handicap

A cavalry charge of ‘whose turn is it today?’ sprinters. The far rail was favoured with BRONZE CHARLIE just holding outsider COMMANCHE RAIDER and well supported COCKTAIL CHARLIE. The winner was recalling previous glories from 2008 and might follow up off what appears a generous mark.
BUNCE did best of those on the near side and has a chance of a win in the near future.
DIAMOND BLUE stayed on in the closing stages for a close seventh and paid for a slow start. He saw out the trip well enough on only his second try at six furlongs.
DICKIE LE DAVOIR has plenty on the clock but did enough to suggest he retains a fair amount of speed. He started slowly and was behind on the far side, but picked up well from two out to be beaten about 2½ lengths. There may be a minor handicap for him this autumn.

4.05 1m 4f 72-84 Handicap

This was a competitive contest won in decent style by improving filly PARTY LINE. She whizzed clear from the furlong pole and should follow up even with a rating rise.
Eleven-year-old GRANSTON retains enthusiasm and ability, sticking on grittily in the latter stages. At this stage of his career what you see is what you get, but he’s in good heart.
CHOISAN was held in the final furlong but ran a sound race, while NICE ROSE, lightly raced to date, showed distinct promise in fourth place following a break and could be set up for a tilt at a handicap in the coming weeks.

4.35 1m 76-94 3yo Handicap

The Best Dressed Lady competition occupied the paddock before this so I didn’t get much of a look at these. My in-house fashion expert reported on the Clothes Horse Stakes and I get the impression such contests are the territory of ‘professional’ Best Dressed Ladies, last year’s BDL following up with a Best Hat win with a hat looking predictably over the top!

A £15,000 pot was on offer for this race and as a result there were some decent progressive sorts present.

Consistent TRAIL BLAZE looked a decent sort in the paddock and was driven out to win the equine contest. He saw this out well enough and might well be moved up in trip, stretching his run of first three places to 11. He might conceivably be worth a pot at the Cambridgeshire as he should see out the extra furlong and such progressive sorts can make their mark at Newmarket.
MABAANY was best in the paddock and ran a sound race to finish second, racing keenly but keeping on in the final furlong. He’s lightly raced, off the track since Haydock in May, and might prove a bit better than the 87 he ran off here. He may well pick up a race before the end of the season, but might be one to carry forward for handicaps next year.
OUR BOY JACK caught my eye at Musselburgh earlier on in the season. He was in contention over a furlong out but was eased a bit by Laura Barry and it turned out his saddle had slipped. On that basis it could be argued that this was a personal best since he may well have won otherwise. Worth an interest in upcoming runs and could well find an opening at the Ayr Western Meeting.
Bath winner CHARITABLE ACT has won two Class 5 contests and was asked a big question here. On the face of it a one paced fourth was at least respectable and there will be easier opportunities.
NAWWAAR looked in the mix form wise, but didn’t catch the eye as much as others in the preliminaries. He made no impression from two out.
GENIUS STEP looked ill at ease on the ground and this run can be set aside once the rains return as he doesn’t look harshly treated on previous two efforts. Last year’s win at Goodwood came in heavy ground.
ROGER SEZ, competitive in Pattern two-year-old events last year, looked well enough and went down nicely, but he was never in the race and has found many improving past him this year.
O’Brien reject BORIS GRIGORIEV has looked awkward since leaving Ballydoyle and burnt himself out front-running here. He was disturbingly fizzy in the preliminaries.

5.10 1m 67-76 Handicap

Brian Ellison has clearly turned around DOLPHIN ROCK’s form. He hadn’t shown a lot in recent times but was pushed out to win well enough. Rated 84 at best, the suggestion is that he retains his ability and can win again.
Solidly built SILVER RIME has been running soundly in recent times, picked up nicely from two out but couldn’t get to the winner.  I would presume he will be targeted at Ayr’s upcoming meeting.
THATCHERITE has been below form since a Lingfield win in March, but looked very well in himself here and stayed on encouragingly from two out. If the form wave continues then he could capture a similar contest before long.
MAIN BEACH was slow away and didn’t get a clear run. I doubt he would have won, but he may have been significantly closer.

5.40 7f 59-70 3yo Handicap

SARDANAPALUS doesn’t look the easiest sort to catch right. His form this season has been patchy but, after hanging both left and right, he found a rail and ran on soundly enough. I’m not convinced that he will go on from this.
SEE CLEARLY was keeping on when hampered by the winner around the furlong pole. She looked second on merit, but produced a sound performance.
INGLEBY ANGEL, down in trip and seeking a hat-trick, was not helped by a wide draw. Tom Eaves dropped him in rear and tacked over to the rail and, although staying on relentlessly, he was never getting there in the straight. This was a good effort and I’d expect another win back up in trip and on softer ground.
Lightly raced SHATTER looks an awkward customer, led by two handlers in the paddock and way too fizzy for my liking.
EBONY CLARETS delayed the start after being walked to the seven furlong gate, all bar SHAMROCKED and GINGER MONKEY having been loaded. The three were all out with the washing.

6.10 6f Class 5 Maiden Auction

A whole heap of horses finished close up in this contest so I’m not sure the form is that strong. However, the winner SKIDBY MILL produced a decent burst of speed close home and may be capable of better things. A small filly, she was slowly away but picked up nicely from two out and should cope with a step up in trip.
TONALITY was always close up and threatened to hold out a furlong out before being held in the closing stages.  A speedily bred type, I suspect she will prove best around this trip.
Another with plenty of speed in her pedigree, newcomer SAKHEES ROMANCE finished with a rattle to grab third place. A promising start and her progress is worth keeping an eye on.
CRACKING CHOICE looked to be lobbing along two out, but didn’t find and awful lot in the final furlong.
100/1 outsider KNOCKAMANY BENDS  led down the middle a furlong out, and briefly looked a possible winner, only to hang close home and lose a couple of spots. This was a good deal better than previous efforts.
STEELRIVER kept on in the latter stages after a slow start and probably needs further.