KELSO – Saturday November 10th
Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places)
The going was testing for this fixture and many of the runners were struggling to get home.
12:25 2m 6½f Premier Traffic Management NH Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
This was a competitive looking contest, but a number of previous winners were comfortably put to the sword by MAGGIO, a winner over the course and distance last time. Coming into this contest on a rating of 127, Maggio had every right to be in the mix. Leading three out, he came clear before the last and won comfortably. He’s just as good a chaser which gives his trainer a few different options.
GREEN FLAG tried to match the winner but paid for the effort and weakened on the run-in. A sound effort on his second hurdles start and he should make a chaser in time. In the meantime another hurdle should be there for the taking as he will not always meet as sharp an animal as Maggio.
Connections were well pleased of the third BOP ALONG on his hurdling debut. Other than the winner he was the only one ‘going on’ at the finish. He hurdled tidily enough and will likely stay trips beyond this. Bought as a potential chaser he hints that there may be a staying novice hurdle to be won with him.
GROUSE LODGE was outpaced three out. This track can be a stiff test in these conditions and he seemed to find it beyond him at the moment.
BUFFALO BALLET is well regarded at home, the race won’t have done any harm and his trainer was well enough pleased with fifth place. He made some progress approaching two out but never threatened the leaders.
GREEN WIZARD is a tall animal who should make up into a chaser given time. He weakened form three out, but sixth in this race was respectable and he should step up on the performance.
A winner here recently, STREAMS OF WHISKEY was disappointing and never really going.
Sandy Thomson’s THE SHRIMP looked well enough, but the stable haven’t fired so far and it may be worth keeping a watching brief.
1:00 2m 7½f Ship Inn Dalkeith Novices’ Handicap Chase (69-94)
A weak event won with little fuss by TWICE LUCKY who came clear from four out. He saw out this trip well enough, though his staying power will get more of a test in stronger fields.
BALLYBANKS was comfortably put in his place form four out having led to that point. He kept on for second.
WHAT A DREAM never got into the race and was tired when pulled up before two out. Presumably the race was needed.
BOLLIN RIVER was struggling early on, pulled up after the tenth and appears to be of no account as a racehorse.
1:30 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage and Friends Handicap Hurdle (103-131)
A tough test in the conditions.
SOUTH LEINSTER was disappointing last time, but equipped with cheekpieces here. Leading at halfway, he was under pressure a long way out but kept finding more, always holding his challengers in the closing stages. He’s hard work but potentially a bit better than the 120 he ran off here. He may go chasing, but he has leg trouble so George Bewley is likely to take some care with this one.
WHAT A STEEL kept on after the winner, with NIGHT IN MILAN not far behind, However, both are exposed and don’t have a jump on the handicapper.
MILANO MAGIC is less experienced than most of these and is the one with potential to move forward. He was held from two out but the run was encouraging enough for one who I would expect to go chasing in future.
Last year’s winner SOPRANO ran no sort of race, and SCOTSWELL dropped out quickly after leading to the seventh.
2:05 2m 7 ½ f Flannigan Skip Hire Handicap Chase (115-140)
KNOCKARA BEAU was sixth in the Gold Cup last season and is better than this class when on song. Confidently ridden from the front by Lucy Alexander, he had the race in safe keeping on the run-in. He goes well round here, but lack of opportunities these days limits his visits and he will be back in the mid-140s after this. On the upside, he jumped well and is in good heart.
BLENHEIM BROOK kept on well enough to take second. He jumped well and saw off the remainder, so it would be expected that he will pick up a similar event before long.
LACKAMO didn’t jump well enough and was held from two out.
CAVERS GLEN, looking more forward on his second run of the season, would have been third at worst but for blundering and unseating at the last. Testing conditions suit and he looks on the way back to his best.
LOCKSTOWN never got in a blow. It may be that he needs an out-and-out test these days.
Scottish National winner MERIGO is a spring horse and lost touch in the last mile.
DYSTONIA’S REVENGE was pulled up after making a mistake and losing his action. Hopefully this run can be ignored as he is capable of winning staying events in a lower class.
2:40 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Handicap Chase (129-149)
One of the better autumn two mile contests in the north, this was won by a southern challenger. Unfortunately the two fences in the straight were missed out, turning the race into a two furlong sprint.
IDARAH stood out in the paddock and showed a decent turn of foot to come clear in the final furlong. He’s not straight forward and has his off days, but proved plenty useful enough on this occasion. Liam Treadwell rode the winner on his first ride at Kelso.
KING’s GREY looks one to take from this race. He appeared to have a tough task in this company, but kept on well for a decisive second place. Like most of John Wade owned or trained horses he’s a decent jumper and must surely add to his sole chasing win before long.
E BOITRON appeared to need the race and was outpaced from two furlongs out.
ULTIMATE made progress to get into contention two out. He was well held from that point and hasn’t sparkled in recent runs. His wins have been on ground good or faster.
TITO BUSTILLO was disappointing, fading from two out. He may be better bullying inferiors if his trainer can find a 0-130 or 135 contest.
STAGECOACH PEARL may well have been feeling the effects of a hard race when third in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree. He faded quickly once passed at the omitted two out. He may need a rest now.
3:15 2m 2f Unwin Family Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (63-100)
The runners were strung out like washing on a line at the end of this contest.
I was in the paddock for the run of SHISHA THREESIXTY, but there was always going to be a doubt about this one’s ability to handle the going. He was always in rear and never got in a blow, pulling up before the last. He was blowing hard back in the unsaddling area, so he had certainly put in some effort, but was galloping on the spot in the last mile. He will now be aimed at Musselburgh where the ground will be better. There is a contest on November 3oth which may suits, but at the moment we go in hope that he will perform rather than with any trust.
ANNA’S ARCH went through the ground and was a clear winner, not in much trouble from two out. He followed up at Sedgefield three days later, so will presumably be bumped up the ratings a fair way.
VITTACHI couldn’t get in a blow from two out. He stays further than this, but got second by virtue of going in the ground rather than any other reason.
CASTLELAWN will need further and was a well held third.
GLACED OVER was well beaten and tired when falling at the last.
Lucy Alexander reported that ANOTHER FOR JOE (pulled up before two out) had run too free. Since he has won in heavy ground on the flat, I have to go along with that report.
BALWYLLO led until trying to duck out at the bend past the stands. He looks wayward.
3:50 2m 1f Stuart Simon Memorial Handicap Chase (91-115)
This race resulted in an easy win for Donald McCain’s SWIFT ARROW, record a second course and distance victory. He disappointing on his return to the track at Uttoxeter but he pulled quickly clear from two out. He will be forced up in class a bit now.
SOUL MAGIC kept on from two out. Although a Cartmel specialist, he has a fair record around Kelso which reads 2P232, the pulled up being when priced 100/1 in a Class 2 novice chase.
PRINCE TAM plodded into third but was well beaten.
FREDDIE BROWN set the pace but was out on his feet two out and could barely raise a canter by the line. He’s doing enough to suggest he win a chase, and goes well here, but needs better ground.
LUCKY SUNNY is considered one of the best handicapped horses in Lucinda Russell’s stable but his jumping is a bit hit or miss. Ironically he unseated three out here when over jumping. PETE unseated at the same fence, and was never jumping particularly well.
SADDLE PACK was stretched to keep up when hampered three out and any chance he had was gone.
CARLISLE – Monday November 12th
Course specialist ROYALMACKINTOSH stayed on determinedly to see off FOG PATCHES in the opening 3m 2f handicap chase. He revels in the heavy ground.
WHATS UP WOODY recorded John Wade’s first training win since June by winning the 2m 4f Class 4 Handicap Chase. He led or disputed all the way in the four runner contest, jumping soundly, and stayed on well for victory. He was off his game last season, but has dropped significantly in the weights now and his record at tracks with stiff finishes reads 211P2171. He’s lightly raced and may well have further improvement in him.
ACROSS THE BAY, an impressive winner at Kelso recently, caught the eye once again with a fine front running display in the Graduation Chase. He jumped very well and was significantly eased in beating CAPPA BLEU who made a satisfactory come back. Across The Bay will be aimed at the Welsh National while Cappa Bleu has the Grand National as his main target this season.
SNAPPING TURTLE made a satisfactory chasing debut in the beginners’ chase. Rated significantly below the other six runners, he kept on from the last and will be much better off in a novice handicap. He’s been given time and should reward patience.
NO DEAL made a promising debut for Lucinda Russell, staying on determinedly to win the bumper. He will improve when going over jumps and looks a likely hurdles winner in the near future. Fellow Irish pointing winner CLOUD CREEPER couldn’t raise his game in the final furlong, but was well clear of the remainder and Donald McCain should have no problem placing him to win races.
BRAE ON plugged on for third, but probably isn’t the finished article yet and should show significantly better in time for George Bewley.