KELSO – Sunday October 7th
Going – Good to Soft (Soft in places)
There’s an air of the jumping season starting ‘properly’ as the Kelso season gets underway.
The course took on a slightly unfamiliar with layout changes having been made. The hurdles and chase course now have separate run-ins. A summary of changes:
More flexibility in positioning of the last hurdle, on this occasion my pacing out estimating the run-in to be 210 yards. The second last hurdle is now approximately 2½ furlongs from the finish.
The fence opposite the stand removed and the fence before that is now repositioned to give a run in of 260 yards. There is now only one open ditch on the course, which is the second last fence. A few distances have been changed and I’ll pick up on them as the season goes on.
The courses change result in a different type of finish with a handy position at the last being more of a factor than it was with two furlong slog to the finish.
The turf looked in immaculate condition for the start of the winter season.
2.20 2m ½f 93-115 Radio Borders Handicap Hurdle
A field full of exposed performers contested this race, and it wasn’t a great surprise that the race was won by a lightly raced promising sort. David Pipe’s WAR SINGER was considered good enough to compete in a decent handicap at Punchestown in April and found this company to his liking. Always travelling well, he took the lead approaching the last and was not pressed to record the win. He should win again.
Jim Goldie took second and third places, GRAND DIAMOND keeping on well enough for second
though he doesn’t win very often. LILLIOFTHEBALLET raced prominently, led from three out until approaching the last and had enough in reserve to hold third place. She’s on the upgrade and is good enough to pick up a minor handicap hurdle, perhaps on slightly quicker ground.
SNOOKER was near the front most of the way but found out for pace on the run-in. His best jumps efforts have been on quicker ground.
ENDEAVOR is a moody sort, but capable on his day. He’s below his best at the moment and never got in a blow. He looked as if the race would bring him on a bit after a lay-off.
FARMERS CROSS caught the eye on his first run for Jonathan Haynes. Held up in rear, he made significant progress approaching three out, staying in the straight but not getting in a serious blow. His best form is on quicker ground and he showed enough here to give hope for the coming months.
BOB’S DREAM looked a bit tubby, was beaten by two out and will come on for this race.
KAI BROON was disappointing back over hurdles.
WEETFROMTHECHAFF put in some clumsy jumps and was not a threat from two out.
TOSHI never showed and is currently running well short of his best.
2.55 2m ½f Betfair Commits £40 Million to British Racing Juvenile Hurdle
An unremarkable bunch in the paddock, this race was taken by the one I viewed as marginally the best looker. A tall gelding who looks a nice type for jumping, RED TYKE was made to battle but pulled out plenty from the last hurdle to hold on by a neck. He may find life tough under a double penalty, but shows the right attitude.
FINE KINGDOM has come up against one or two of the better early season juveniles. He pushed the leader all the way to the line and should find a similar contest before long. He wouldn’t want the ground any softer than this.
ASTEROID BELT stepped up on his Perth effort putting himself in the firing line second half of the race and only giving way in the final 100 yards. A maiden on the flat, he’s a rather narrow sparely made sort, but at least showed he can put the effort in when required.
FORSTER STREET chased the leaders until two out but had nothing further to offer from that point. He looked fit enough here, but may need some time.
RECKLESS ROMEO was well off the pace for most of the way, racing lazily, but picked off a few on the run to the line. After a couple of runs in Irish maiden hurdles this effort offers his new stable some cause for optimism.
GREYHOPE was making a move when clouting two out and that put paid to his chance.
3.35 2m 6½f NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle (Class 4)
This is normally a revealing contest and looked a decent renewal, decided by the conditions which favoured a well-rated hurdles maiden.
Irish raider MAGGIO impressed when winning a novice chase at Musselburgh last December. Still a maiden over hurdles, he was favoured by the fact that all the rated near him were conceding 7lbs or more. On that basis a 5 length win was no surprise, even if an SP of 9/1 was! Given that he’s a novice hurdler with only one race win then there must be scope for placing him this term. Alternative options would include handicap chasing.
There was some muttered post-race criticism of Lucy Alexander for setting a searching pace on JET MASTER. Looking at the ratings though I have to conclude that she got it right and it can easily be argued that this was a career best for this gelding on debut for Nick Alexander. It’s worth bearing in mind that his Perth win came in similar style, and this tight circuit definitely helped. He kept on well enough under pressure to suggest that this trip is no problem.
MIDNIGHT TUESADY chased the leader for much of the way, but could only race the one pace on the run for home. A sound enough effort and he ran near to his best.
SOUTH LEINSTER was the lowest rated of the principal contenders here, but kept on to finish a decent enough fourth. He would be fairly rated at 120 for handicaps, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him go chasing.
IMPERIAL VIC gave encouragement with a staying on fifth place. Rated a ‘three mile chaser’ in the long term by connections, this Irish pointing winner showed enough to rate 115+ here and a moderate staying novice should be his for the taking.
NUTS N BOLTS was badly off at the weights with his serious rivals. He was never seriously in contention and was eased when it was clear he was held. He’s reported by his trainer as being difficult to get fit, so the race will have helped, and it was felt he didn’t handle this track. He will produce much better.
4.05 2m 7½f 106-129 Betfair Boosts Prize Money at Kelso Handicap Chase
The first race using the new chase course layout and over a new distance to boot.
LIVELY BARON disputed the pace for most of the way despite jumping to his right. He stuck his heady down determinedly in the straight and just prevailed in a finish of bobbing heads. While his wayward jumping tendency didn’t help, he certainly makes up for it in effort. He won’t go up much for this and remains in the picture for similar events.
A big thick-set, typical Lisa Harrison animal, SOLWAY BAY moved into a prominent position down the far side for the last time. He stayed on all the way down the straight, and looked as if he might prevail up the run-in only to be ‘done’ in the shadow of the post. His record here now reads 04312.
YOU KNOW YOURSELF normally needs a race to get him straight, and so it appeared on paddock inspection. However, Sue Smith is good at getting them prepared off a break and this one gave it his best shot. He was just held in a three-way battle, but loses nothing in defeat.
BOCCIANI clearly gets revved up, was brought into the paddock very late and ridden to post with no irons. He made progress to go prominent at the twelfth but could never get to grips with the leaders once turned for home.
BESCOT SPRINGS was held up and struggled to match the first four from the final bend.
MORE EQUITY rallied briefly going to two out having been outpaced early on the final circuit. She was never close enough to get in a blow and found this contest a little too competitive.
LORD REDSGIRTH was never in with much of a chance and was tailed off from four out. He was reported to have a cut which needed vet’s treatment.
FLYING DOCTOR was never travelling all that well and was pulled up when tailed off two out.
O CROTAIGH needed the race. He led for the first mile and a half, but lost touch before being pulled up two out.
ROSSINI’S DANCER, an impressive winner at Perth, raced prominently early but was reported as not being keen at the start and hanging right most of the way. He was pulled up before two out and may need a rest.
4.35 2m 2f 62-95 John & Liz Eliot Ruby Wedding Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
MWALESHI set the pace and pulled clear impressively from two out. He’s not straightforward but the hood tried here seemed to help. On the face of it he’s better than this class, but not guaranteed to repeat the form.
ANGEL SUN was a clear second best, chasing the leader in vain down the straight but seeing off the rest with a bit spare. He’s lightly raced and looks good enough to be palced to advantage in a similar contest.
SOME LAD just headed a bunch all under pressure in the fight for third, just seeing off Malcolm Jefferson trained ACCORDINGTOSCRIPT who could prove better over fences.
CIGALAS stayed on from two out and fifth place was creditable from ‘7lbs wrong’. His proximity to the third probably says much about the quality on show here.
My own view of this race concentrated, arguably too much, on SHISHA THREESIXTY in whom I have a small ownership interest. Held up to get him settled quietly, he made progress to three out but didn’t get to grips with the leaders, though staying on a one pace under encouragement. This was a better effort than his previous two runs, probably down to a bit of a rest after a busy time in late summer. He is going the right way and will be aimed at similar contests on good ground, Musselburgh free-draining turf making races at that course an obvious target.
TALK OF SAAFEND, competitive at this level on a going day, ran no sort of race and was pulled up.
5.10 2m 7½f 69-95 Fleet Bar Eyemouth Handicap Chase
The second last fence was omitted due to the low sun. Typical that this happened on the first day of the new course layout, though we were spared a four furlong run-in!
OR DE GRUGY was off his game last season and has slipped down the ratings 122 to 92. His trainer Nick Alexander reported that he has gained 20kg since the spring and this win appears to signal a return to fitness. Racing prominently in his typical style, Or De Grugy took up the running approaching the omitted two out and forged clear from that point. Given that he appears in good health now then it would seem likely he will follow up, and remember that he has a good win record at Kelso.
Former pointer BALLYBANKS was another to race prominently, leading for much of the way. He’s yet to win under Rules, but ran a sound race here and his turn appears only delayed at this level. He saw out this trip well enough.
BOB WILL was another of the pacemakers, but got tapped for foot on the long run to the last. He stayed on but couldn’t get to the first two. This effort was a good deal better than some of his recent runs over fences. He wouldn’t want the ground any softer than it was here.
GUNNER ROSE raced near the pace and kept on in the closing stages. He was held on the flat but this was a decent effort for one whose wins have come on faster ground than this. He is a three times winner at Southwell and ran well last time at Worcester, suggesting that a flat left-hand track is ideal.
SECRET DESERT was the best finisher of those held up and put up a best effort over fences, if held from the home turn.
WORTH A KING’S has not looked a chasing natural on his rare efforts over the bigger obstacles. He struggled most of the way and was well beaten.
BARR HEAD led early, but he was beaten on the last circuit and his Rules record in uninspiring.
LEGBEFOREWICKET showed a degree of promise if well beaten at Perth last time in a decent contest. She ran no sort of race here and struggled on the last circuit before being pulled up in the straight.
LIVVY INN was never going and was pulled up before the last. He’s been below his best fro some while.
FESTIVAL KING, off the track for two years, raced prominently early but dropped away from five out and was pulled up before the last. He was reported lame on his near fore and retirement may now be beckoning.
5.40 2m ½f City Roofing Ltd Standard Open NH Flat
A few here that may make up into racehorses in time.
A tall gelding, CALEDONIA was on his toes in the paddock. He was distinctly green going on to the track and needed a fair bit of guidance from Lucy Alexander on the way to the start. Once on the track though he knew his job, moving into contention in the straight and running on well up the hill. He related to a number of winners and should learn a fair bit from this run.
ENCHANTED GARDEN, by the same sire as the winner and half-brother to a number of winners including Calatagan, made a move in the home straight to lead a furlong out. He led only briefly but saw out his race and should be capable of picking up a similar contest. He showed a bit of greenness in the closing stages, but the basics are in place.
SPITZ kept on encouragingly up the hill to take third and gives the impression he will be suited by more of a stamina test.
BOP ALONG raced prominently but was tapped for speed approaching the furlong pole. This was a decent effort from a cheap purchase and connections will draw encouragement from this effort.
From the same stable as the fourth, REGAL RAMIREZ kept on at one pace, another offering encouragement on debut.
JUST CAMERON’s effort back in sixth was similar to his spring debut. He’s a tall stoutly bred gelding who needed the race and will need more of a test than he’ll get in bumpers. A nice type though and worth keeping in mind once he goes jumping.
KARINGO led three out, but weakened after two out. He looked to need the race and on that basis this was an encouraging effort.
RINNAGREE ROSIE set the pace for a mile and a half, but dropped back quickly before the home bend. She had reportedly been schooled over the track, but this was not up to the form of her previous runs.