Lucinda Russell gave SAPHIR RIVER a first start over fences at Uttoxeter. He saw off a field containing a number of performers rated in the 120s and 130s in convincing style. Two miles would be two short a distance for the French bred grey and I would expect to see improvement once he is upped n distance. His trainer rates this one a ‘Cheltenham horse’, and nothing seen here suggests that’s off the mark.
Another stable inmate rated a decent prospect for this season is SAMSTOWN who made a re-appearance at Aintree recently. He finished seventh, eased significantly in the closing stages in a race where all the hurdles in the straight were omitted. The race will bring this one on and there will a staying handicap hurdle for him before long.
AYR – Saturday November 3rd
Going – Soft
Back on home territory and Russell made her mark, notching a hat-trick on what appeared to be a pretty decent autumn Scottish card.
There should be a winner or two to come from the opener, what seemed a reasonable maiden hurdle for its level. BONNIE BURNETT built on a decent Hexham effort, forging clear from the last and may well follow up in a minor event under a penalty, particularly if her trainer can find a mares’ event. AYE WELL came from miles back to take second, a big step up on previous form.
ANITOPIA looks to need to go over fences. He’s a big animal for which things tend not to happen that quickly. He jumps big and looks all over a chaser.
SECRET DESERT was given a fine ride by Lucy Alexander in the Class 5 two and a half mile handicap chase, coming to take his race on the flat. TUTCHEC was the one headed on the flat, making a significant step up on Kelso form and looking one who can win at this level.
DAASIJ made it four in a row in the staying handicap hurdle. He missed a year and a bit, so the four-timer has occurred over a long period, but he still looks in front of the handicapper. He can score again even if raised in class.
SOLIS stayed on from a long way for second, but he has flattered before and his wins tend to be well spaced out.
The 3m 1f handicap chase was closed fought contest with OVERQUEST just holding on. He stays well, is best with cut in the ground and still looks favourably handicapped judged on past form. He hasn’t got a huge amount of miles on the clock for a 10-year-old.
A 10-year-old who has been round the block a few times is ET MAINTENANT who stayed on for second. He goes well in soft ground and has shown his best form on stiff, galloping tracks.
BEAU DANDY was the unlucky one here and the one to take forward. Having jumped well in front, he was still in with every chance when knocked sideways three out as The Hollinwell made a mess of the fence. To his credit he was still there at the last and stuck at it determinedly if not able to raise that little bit extra. This 7-year-old looks a nice prospect for these middling staying handicap chases this season.
Lucinda Russell’s PROSECCO put up a career best to see off a fair bunch of 0-135 chasers over two miles. He pulled comfortably clear of the able, if quirky, BOCCIANI.
Second season chasers KUDU COUNTRY and REALT MOR are capable enough, and will likely make their mark in this company, but both made mistakes here. A race or two more at this level may be required.
The 2 mile handicap hurdle looked a decent contest and was won in encouraging style by TAP NIGHT. He was pushed by the runner up but had other decent performers well beaten. A promising novice last season, he stepped on that form here. He’s aimed at a middle distance event at Ascot before Christmas, and the step up in trip will do no harm.
AUENSCHUTZE stormed up the run-in, and just failed, but he’s flattered in this way before.
UBALTIQUE will win races at this level, but is inexperienced and needs to sharpen his hurdling. Donald McCain will presumably sort him out.
UN GUET APENS is well regarded by James Ewart, but dropped out very quickly down the far side.
One of a host of imports from Ireland, RHYMERS STONE made it three on the day for the Russell stable, kicking clear of his bumper field in the final two furlongs. His trainer reports that he ‘wil lbe given time’, but he looks a nice prospect.
CARLISLE – Sunday November 4th
Going – Heavy (soft in places on the chase course)
The hurdles course was back in use for this meeting, though the going was testing.
Best performance on the card was that of BOLD SIR BRIAN who pulled clear of three decent animals in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase, a race that has produced some very decent performers in the past. Lucinda Russell’s charge has strengthened no end in the last year and she described him as ‘like a tank’ when we chatted a few weeks ago. Initial target may be a Graduation Chase, but Bold Sir Brian holds and entry in the King George at Kempton. Given the ease with which he came clear of an in-form horse rated 143 who had 10lbs less on his back , you can easily come to the conclusion that Grade 1 entries are not unrealistic, even at the age of six. He should be as effective at an easy three miles as at two and a half.
RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL stayed on well enough to take second. He should have chances off 143, and will go better once upped in trip from this two and a half miles.
MR MOONSHINE was rated 152, but has now slipped to a mark of 143. He was put in his place from three out, but probably needs better ground and should not be dismissed.
RAILWAY DILLON dropped away from five out. He’s a law unto himself, a cracking performer on his day when getting his own way but apt to throw in the towel if taken on.
RUPERT BEAR saw off four opponents to win the opening novices’ handicap hurdle, but he’s going the right way and probably idled in front suggesting he may still have a bit to give. I suspect he will make a nice two handicap chaser at his level in time.
The beginners’ chases here can be fair contests and CLOUDY TOO stayed on well to win over 2m 4f. all his previous racing had been done on better ground, but he handled the heavy surface well enough and saw out three miles over hurdles. Stablemate VINTAGE STAR pushed Cloudy Too all the way and was rated on the same 125 mark over hurdles.
Sandy Thomson’s NETMINDER is on my list of horses to follow this season, but the stable has had a slow start from few runners. He dropped out of contention in the final mile but will surely produce better in the forthcoming months.
The Cumberland Chase is a decent handicap chase and was won by Welsh challenger HAROUET, building on an encouraging Chepstow performance in a slightly better class. With the exception of a below par effort in the summer National at Uttoxeter he has been generally progressive this year.
SUPER ALLY ran a much better race than at Kelso. He was only headed at the last and kept on well to the post. Well clear of the remainder, his current mark gives room for manoeuvre class-wise and he looks poised to win soon.
ROLECARR looks held off his current mark unless finding a weaker contest. He was held from two out.
VALLEY VIEW came to win his race before the last, but his stamina gave out on the run-in. A return to less testing conditions will help him.
VINSTAR sprinted clear of his opponents in the juvenile bumper. He recorded an equally comfortable win at Chateaubriant before coming to the UK, and must surely now progress to hurdling as an exciting prospect.