AYR – Wednesday January 23rd
Going – Soft
Ayr survived the cold weather that had hit the rest of the country and were able to stage a decent replacement meeting with good prize money up for offer. The Ayrshire coast micro-climate ensured that the temperature had kept above freezing for the previous few days. However, an overnight frost caused problems and it wasn’t until around 12:30 that the meeting finally got the go ahead.
The ground was soft, but not as testing as it has been previously this season at Ayr.
1.10 2m Talk To Victor Novices’ Hurdle Division 1 (Class 4)
Three were clear of the remainder and it looks as if this form will hold up well. VELOCE was well suited by the drop back to two miles and held off two challengers down the straight. Donald McCain’s charge could prove quite decent over this trip on good ground.
HALLMARK STAR stepped up significantly on his hurdling debut, making the running until two out and still chipping away at the leader after that. His jumping can improve, he was not fluent at a few flights, but he looks more than capable of winning a northern novice contest.
ROCKAWANGO looked fitter here and was nearer to his French form in finishing third under a penalty. The French form has really worked out, but Rockawango has come on for his initial UK effort and may have benefitted from the application of a tongue-tie. He can win a modest novice contest, but his future looks to be as a chaser.
LISBON kept on into fourth and will be better suited when going handicapping.
ONE FOR HOCKY was well beaten and has yet to show an aptitude for hurdling.
1.40 2m Talk To Victor Novices’ Hurdle Division 2 (Class 4)
A contest run in about the same time as the previous division so it’s not unreasonable to suppose the form will prove as strong.
BALLYBOGEY made the pace until the final bend, but was then well outpaced for a while. Stamina came into play and he picked up well from two out, taking charge after the last. He’s a chasing sort and will no doubt benefit from a stiffer test of stamina. James Lambe will no doubt aim to place him in Scotland again before long.
RED ADMIRABLE kept on well enough if held on the flat. Placed in a Down Royal bumper recently, his turn in the winner’s position looks delayed for only a short while. Stuart Crawford is another who frequently raids these events in Scotland and Northern England.
TITUS BOLT raced in touch and chased the leaders three out. He had a chance approaching the last, but a blunder put paid to his chances. This was a fair first effort and he may be suited by slightly less testing conditions.
KING’S PALACE was a bit keen, but led three out and still disputed when falling two out. He ran a decent race in a Listed event at Ascot and will have other opportunities.
CLONDAW FLICKA never got involved seriously and, as Lucinda Russell intimated in early season, may need some time to develop. He was last of six finishers, but not one to write off just yet.
2.10 2m 4f BetVictor Beginners’ Chase (Class 4)
Ridiculously long race title much abbreviated!
NUTS N’ BOLTS was a decent staying novice hurdler last season, but an injury curtailed what had promised to be a very successful season. He’s taken time to warm up over fences but has potential long term and won what was probably a fair little contest. He improved for the fitting of a tongue-tie, has stacks of ability, stays well and should go on form this.
BALDING BANKER ran at least up to the form of his decent Musselburgh handicap second. He led to four out and kept on once passed by a better opponent.
DIOCLES didn’t jump well enough to match the winner. He was under pressure from three out and couldn’t make any significant impact. His jumping needs to improve.
UN GUET APENS, without the hood that appeared to improve things last time, was cast aside easily from four out. He’s well thought of at home, but is struggling to consistently produce the goods.
Stable mate of the winner BOBBLE HAT BOB ran a cracker here coming off a break since April 2011. He has been hunting and jumped well until crashing through three out. He came down tow out but, assuming he’s none the worse, should be more than capable of winning chases.
2.40 2m 4f Twitter @Betvictorracing (107-127) Handicap Hurdle
A strong field cut up with on-runners, presumably because trainers were worried that frost was still in the ground.
HOLLO LADIES has some decent Irish form if you look back far enough. He challenged before the last and was driven out. He’s fallen significantly in the weights and, assuming Ferdy Murphy has his charges readied as he normally does at this time of year, should win again.
TOP WOOD made the pace and didn’t do an awful lot wrong but was held by a better animal on the day.
SPIRIT OF A NATION had every chance but was held in the closing stages. This was his first run since September and he should come on for the outing.
COOL BARANCA has not recovered last summer’s form and struggled here.
ONE FOR HARRY jumped poorly and was never going. He bled from the nose, so may be one to treat with care in similar conditions in the near future.
3.10 2m 4f Betvictor Handicap Chase (114-139)
A decent event won in convincing style by CONSIGLIERE, coming off the back of a decent effort at Wincanton. He’s probably best around this distance these days, and goes well over fences or hurdles. All his wins have come with cut in the ground.
RICH LORD couldn’t handle the bottomless ground at Haydock but performed well enough in a clear second. He was tapped for pace a mile out but battled on to the line. His stable is now hitting form and there should be easier opportunities in the coming weeks.
PROSECCO, on a track where he races best, raced up with the pace but was held from three out.
GOING WRONG jumped poorly in rear and in the end fifth place of 8 wasn’t too bad. He does need to pick his feet up to have a chance of a win.
STORMIN EXIT showed his customary enthusiasm and disputed early but was beaten by the home turn.
LOS NADIS once again appeared ill at ease over fences and needs a return to hurdling.
3.40 3m 1/2f Betvictor Handicap Hurdle (94-120)
A well exposed bunch here that the handicapper pretty much has tabs on, though the winner has had an interrupted career and could conceivably go on again from here. TOO COOL TO FOOL was returning to hurdles after a couple of moderate efforts over fences. He asserted from two out and was galloping on strongly at the end. He’s only had 10 races over jumps and there may be a bit more in the locker.
MERRYDOWN ran an honest enough race in second and is a reasonable marker at this level, but hasn’t won since March 2009.
FRONTIER BOY was third and might be best giving weight in extreme distance hurdles or chases.
SOLIS stayed on late, but that’s pretty typical and he’s not reliable punting material.
FORESTSIDE stayed on late to win here last time but was well held in the latter stages. He raced very keenly which won’t have helped and his overall record in uninspiring.
HARRY THE LEMMON was close up when falling four out. He seemed to be going well enough, is lightly raced and has win prospects when he stands up.
4.10 2m Betvictor Open NH Flat (Class 6)
SWATOW TYPHOON made the pace and his rider was hard at work from fully five furlongs out. This Irish pointing winner kept pulling out more and was in charge in the final two furlongs. His Irish maiden point win in heavy ground is working out well as all four who finished that event have since won. He clearly has stamina in abundance and is a nice sort to take forward to staying hurdles and chases.LATIN REBEL kept on for second, stepping up on previous form. A late maturing sort, he should go on from here.
FRANKIE’S PROMISE pleased his trainer in stepping up on his debut effort. He couldn’t match the first two from three furlongs out but is going the right way. May not win a bumper but will be of interest once he goes hurdling.
BEN AKRAM was ridden to close entering the straight, but weakened two furlongs out. He was a winner of a maiden Irish point and is likely to show up prominently with more experience behind him.