Friday, 8 March 2013

Kelso Premier Hurdle Day

KELSO – Saturday March 2nd

Going – Soft, Good to Soft in places

The ground had dried out somewhat for Kelso’s feature races of the year. However, it was still quite tacky and the course looked rather tired and will benefit from a good summer.

1.55 2m ½f Terry Frame Joiners Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

There were a right bunch of allsorts for this contest and a few are unlikely to trouble the judge in the near future. In the event the race was fought about between the two form horses.
SUPREME ASSET, possibly benefitting from a drop back in trip, wore down the favourite Ubaldo Des Menhies on the flat after the latter made a hash of the last hurdle. Turned out looking typically well by the McCain stable he put in a prolonged challenge from two out and got on top when the second was flat footed.
UBALDO DES MENHIES disputed or made the running but was headed when battering the last.  A winner at Fakenham there should be another hurdle in him round a sharp track.
BALLYBROE was the only one of the remainder to seriously attempt to match the first two. He was held from two out but kept on and looks as if he will make up into a chaser.
TRUST THOMAS looked a bit headstrong in the paddock. A decent pace probably suited him but having the first three to two out he could offer no more.
HOT SPICE stayed on from well back to take fifth place and should be well set up for handicapping.
OSCAR LATEEN made a little progress into sixth on his debut when taking at fall three out. He looks likely to make a staying chaser given time.
DE BEE KEEPER was never in the race but he will need further and is likely to get into handicaps on a reasonable mark.

2.30 2m 1f Cyril Alexander Memorial Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

NO PLANNING disputed the lead and then kicked on form the eighth. Shadows lengthen had moved to challenge at the last but it looked to me as if No Planning would have held his measure. He’s run well enough in handicaps and should remain competitive in that company.
SHADOWS LEGTHEN moved to challenge at the last but hit it and unseated. I felt he had got as near as he was going to. This was a fair effort though and he can win a similar contest in the coming weeks.
GRIS LORD was held up off a strong pace and patience told as one came down and another weakened to hand him second place.
HOUSTON DYNIMO helped set a strong pace but was out on his feet approaching the last and could barely raise a canter by the line. He was reported distressed after the race.
CRAICNEASY is a poor performer who completed in his own time for fourth.
KING KALIUM was well outclassed here and reported as having bled from the nose for the second race in a row. A watching brief is advised.

3.05 2m 1f Rutherford Handicap Chase (88-113)

Plenty of flaws in the character of many of the runners here and the improving SACRE TOI took advantage to win by a long way. He jumped well and was not in any trouble once turned for home. The handicapper will punish him for this win, but he is better than this class on this evidence.
ENDEAVOR is useful if he cares to exert himself but unreliable. He kept on from well back for second place, overtaking LORD OF DRUMS who is capable of winning a race but needs further than this.
BOB’S DREAM looked as well as I’ve seen him for some while, but he faded after chasing the winner to two out.
PRINCE TAM couldn’t get to the front and made no impact.
KING BREX was always struggling and Kit Alexander reported a slipped saddle. Hiss mount showed he has ability when second to stablemate over hurdles at Musselburgh, but doesn’t appear inclined to show it too often.
WELL OILED was struggling by the eighth and pulled up.
ORMUS belted the third and lost his action. The screens went up but he broke free and proved difficult to catch. Led back to the stables he appeared to have recovered from the knock.

3.40 2m 2f totepool Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

The feature event of Kelso’s season, and one that has thrown up some decent performers in recent seasons.
MWALESHI had found himself held in competitive handicaps of late. However, he got to the front here, jumping economically, and kept finding more when challenged by a talented runner-up. He’s improved no end this season and is as game as they come. I would presume Sue Smith will look for handicaps as he’s tough enough to take a decent contest in that sphere.
EDUARD, Nicky Richards’s choice over Duke Of Navan for this race, raced handily and came to challenge from two out but couldn’t get past the winner. He couldn’t be faulted for effort and there should be a decent novices’ contest for him this spring.
Bearing in mind his rider commented after BRICK RED’s second at Musselburgh that he needed a sharp two miles, right-hand track and decent ground, it seemed a strange choice of race to go over 2m 2f on soft, left-handed. It could be that choices are limited with Cheltenham coming up but he didn’t have conditions in his favour and was beaten two out.
BALLYBEN was held from three out but wasn’t disgraced on his second hurdles run. He can win in less taxing company.
ONLY ORSENFOOLSIES might have been expected to have got in the mix here, but he faded tamely in the straight. His two wins have been in testing conditions and softer than this may be the key, though I’d have expected him to get closer.
GUMDOLI was outclassed in sixth but earned over £300 for finishing.

4.15 2m 7½f totepool Premier Chase (Listed)

A cracking contest that justified the decision to upgrade this race from Class 2 to Listed level. I watched the race from the in-field down by the last fence.

The two shortest in the market dipped out here. HARRY TOPPER unseated at the ninth, possibly distracted by a huge leap from the leader Garleton, Timmy Murphy taking a knock that saw him miss his remaining ride. Second favourite BOLD SIR BRIAN looked to have had his confidence dented by his heavy fall at Cheltenham, making mistakes in rear and pulled up at the thirteenth when Peter Buchanan realised it wasn’t it wasn’t his day. Harry Topper may head to Aintree for consolation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if bold Sir Brian is given a break until the autumn.
ALWAYS RIGHT returned to form at the right time with the Scottish Grand National the most obvious option. Held up in rear he moved steadily into contention from four out, challenged at the last and just pegged back the long-time leader on the run-in. This was encouraging after a spell in the doldrums.
I had heard a story that GARLETON had had some leg trouble, but there was little evidence of it here as he led and put in some fine leaps. He stood off a mile at ninth but cleared the fence spectacularly. He kept producing from the home turn and put in another fine leap at the last, battling all the way if just outpointed. He should pick up another race before long in this sort of form and is as good as ever at the age of 12.
BALLABRIGGS, once again aimed at the Grand National, was bang there at the last but one paced on the run-in. He’s going the right way in National preparations, but I feel that he’ll find a few too good in the Aintree contest.
YES TOM ran a decent race. He was given a clout when Harry Topper swerved no unseating but remained in contention, giving way before the last and finishing fourth. He’s probably better at 2m 4f and that’s worth bearing in mind in the near future.
AURORA ENCORE lost touch from four out and was well beaten. He’s aimed at the Grand National, but his form has regressed significantly since last April and it’s hard to see him making a mark at that level.
GOING WRONG, bandaged in front as he has been previously, raced prominently early but was beaten in the final mile. He won a couple of times at Sedgefield last spring but can’t get into races there off a current mark of 135.
4.50 2m 6½f Kingdom Taverns Handicap Hurdle (85-105)

An ordinary event with most runners well exposed.

GREY AREA appears to have thrived in Tristan Davidson’s yard and picked up a second win on a second stable appearance. He didn’t win in Ireland, but the Cumbrian air seems to have benefitted him. He made all the running and asserted from two out here. A four length win will mean he can still race in this class and in this form he should win again.
ROYAL DEAL, five times a pointing winner in 2012, closed to two out but could make no further impact on the winner.  He should be capable of winning a similar event and, though there’s not much of him, is surely worth a try over fences given his unbeaten record between the flags.
SOLIS stormed up the run-in in not untypical fashion, without ever looking like winning. He has plenty of ability but it’s a devilish job to get him to produce it in the right place at the right time.
CAPITAL VENTURE looked well on his return following a curtailed 2011/12 season. Held up off the pace he made steady headway under riding from the eighth but never got a blow in at the leaders. He’s a chasing type but is more than capable of winning a staying hurdle in the meantime.
UNEX CANALETTO ran a fair race no handicapping debut. Making headway after the seventh he could not make an impact after the turn for home. He’s shown enough in four hurdles to suggest there is a race in him in time.
SCIMON TEMPLAR couldn’t follow up a promising effort behind Coverholder and faded inside the final half mile having raced prominently.
POLITICAL PADDY acquired blinkers for the first time at the age of 11 and they brought about no improvement. I don’t particularly like seeing blinkers on jumpers as they need to see as much as possible, but what on earth are they are expected to achieve on an 11-year-old with plenty of mileage on the clock?

5.25 2m 7½f CGA Foxhunters’ Chase (Class 6)

Veteran TARTAN SNOW had these covered on official ratings, has been in fair heart of late, and obliged, by challenging two out and taking control from the last. He has tendencies to jumping errors but there are events in this class where he can continue to make his mark.
SUPREME BUILDER ran a good better than his last run here, outpointed in the latter stages but keeping on for second.
OCARINA is a fair performer on his day and he can jump fields into submission, but he’s always been hit or miss. A recent winner between the flags, he was held from two out here but ran a sound race.
RED KINGDOM was struggling in rear for much of the race but stayed on past beaten opponents for fourth.
WATERSKI had stones to find with the others no official figures, so fifth place was no disgrace having raced near the pace for much of the way. It’s difficult to expect any more as he’s basically slow.
BACK ON THE ROAD won a chase at Roscommon in August, but has generally gone backwards in the last two years.  He was never in the hunt here on rules debut for the Alexanders.
HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL would likely have contested second but for unseating two out when making progress. He demolished part of the final fence when loose!
TOMMYSTEEL, a winner here last season, was disappointing and well beaten by three out, pulling up in the straight.

Friday, 1 March 2013

February Round-Up

I’ve been very busy on other matters and not had a chance to do an update lately. I have kept up with the local circuit through TV Replays though and I’ll do a summary of notable performances and prospects stable by stable.
I’ll be at Kelso this coming Saturday for Premier hurdle meeting, with visits to Ayr the following Friday and Kelso on March 24th to follow up. Just to show how quickly time passes Cheltenham will then be disappearing into the past as Musselburgh hold their competitive Flat Season Opener over the Easter weekend.


The Milnathort Stable continues to home in on Len Lungo’s Scottish record of 63 winners in a season. The tally currently lies at 52 with plenty of racing on the Scottish and north of England circuit coming up in the next two months.

Improving chaser NUTS AND BOLTS may be aimed at Cheltenham following two wins in testing conditions at Ayr. The last win was by less than a length from that regular ‘late rusher’ Charingworth, but Nuts N Bolts idled on the run-in and probably had more to spare. He has three entries at Cheltenham and is the type to make a mark in one of the staying handicaps, though his trainer is of the opinion that Aintree might suit a bit better.
TAP NIGHT is another with Cheltenham as a possible target. Chasing the strong pace set by front-runner The Tracey Shuffle in a recent Ayr novices’ chase, he eased in front on the run-in with merely an inch of rein released by Tony McCoy. His disappointing run at Musselburgh was likely due to the slow pace and a decent pace at 2m 4f seems to suit best at this point. He’s entered in the Arkle, but there will be a few better in that one. However, the choice then lays between the Jewson novices’ Chase and The Byrne Group Plate  both of which should see him in the mix. Rated 145 over fences, I think he can get well into the 150s in the near future.
GREEN FLAG is currently a 25/1 chance to follow Brindisi Breeze as winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival. He’s not that good and was put in his place in what was admittedly a decent six-runner staying handicap hurdle at Carlisle.
BOLD SIR BRIAN took a crunching fall at Cheltenham last month but has recovered well. Understandably pulled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he is entered in the Kelso Premier Chase this coming weekend and wo0uld have every chance if the fall hasn’t had any lasting impact. He is then entered in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. A run in the latter is presumably dependent on showing at Kelso.
THE FRIARY made a decent debut in handicap chasing company when second to Markadam at Carlisle recently. He will come on for the experience and looks a nailed on winner of a handicap before the season is out.
BALLYBEN put up a fair effort in a maiden hurdle at Ayr. Outpaced three out behind Broadway Buffalo and Firth Of The Clyde, he stayed on to the finish. That form seems sound, he will come on for the experience and should win a maiden or novices’ hurdle. He goes in the Kelso Premier Hurdle, but mnor prize money is likely against some decent opposition.
LADY OF VERONA kept on for third behind Little Glenshee at Newcastle. She is built like a chaser and I feel she will prove best in that sphere.
LORD OF DRUMS was nothing special over hurdles but, on the evidence of a second place behind Sacre Toi, he will prove a competent chaser in the 0-110/0-120 sphere. He kept on from four out over the two mile trip.
ISLAND CONFUSION made a successful debut in the bumper at Ayr on February 12th. He came clear under riding from three out and this Irish pointing looks an interesting prospect over jumps in the coming seasons.


The Fife based stable have put themselves firmly in place as the second best stable in Scotland this season, currently sitting with 20 winners. Nick’s daughter Lucy has now ridden out her claim, despite having been sidelined for a while due to a broken collar bone.
LITTLE GLENSHEE has farmed mares’ novices’ hurdle this season and pretty much ran to her level when seeing off Mary Milan at Newcastle. She will now be forced up in class, but ran most creditably when second in a listed event at Haydock and is worth a try back in more competitive races. She’s filled out into a robust mare and should make a mark in mares’ chases in the long term.
FRANKIE’s PROMISE scored a rare bumper win for the stable, staying on under Lucy Alexander’s driving to win at Ayr. It won’t go down as the best bumper ever, but he has progressed nicely and there is every expectation he can progress to win hurdle races.
PAPAMOA is never an easy ride, as Peter Buchanan found out at Carlisle recently. However, he does responding to pressure and stayed on to take third place behind Markadam. The grey looks more than capable of taking a marathon chase before long as he keeps staying on.
OR DE GRUGY is probably back up to his mark now but battled hard when second in a competitive amateurs’ handicap chase at Kelso. Keep an eye on young Blair Campbell who rode the Alexander animal here, a lad who has made an impact on the local point-to-point scene in the last year.
NORTHERN ACRES scored in a moderate two mile handicap hurdle as part of an Alexander double at Carlisle. This one’s career shows many moderate runs interspersed by three wins. The only pattern I can spot to this one’s form is that in the race before each of his wins he has been competitive top the later stages of the race, that following a spell of getting well beaten.
JET MASTER ran creditably at Carlisle’s latest meeting on February 18th, keeping on through the mud after being headed. A fair effort in a Class 3 contest, though he seems on a tough enough mark now.
Promising hurdler BUFFALO BALLET is reported as having an injury which will keep him out for the season.


Langholm based James Ewart has struggled a little this season, particularly considering the investment in facilities last year.  He may well have at least one runner at Cheltenham though as LORD WISHES is entered in both the Neptune Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett. In the short term he’s entered in the Kelso Premier Hurdle, but jockey and trainer felt he needed better ground after his good run at Musselburgh and it’s currently soft at Kelso. He has an alternative engagement at  Doncaster and look out for significant efforts when the ground turns good.
WILDE PASTURES has won two handicap chases in impressive style and is entered in the novices’ chase at Kelso, a race which also sees the stable entry of another progressive novice in SACRE TOI.
ROCKAWANGO put up a decent  effort at Ayr on his handicap debut.  The Listed race he won at Auteuil was no great shakes, but he has ability and it’s significant that he has an entry in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. He’s also in the Albert Bartlett which looks well beyond him, but he’s worth a glance in the handicap.


Jim Goldie ahs only recorded 8 wins in the current season, but he two wins and second at Ayr recently which suggests he’s hitting form. BENE LAD came out of the doldrums by coming clear in a two mile handicap chase. He’s eleven now, but it might be possible to score again with this one, perhaps in a hurdle off a mark 16lbs less than his chase mark.
SEVEN IS LUCKY saw off stable companion Spirit Of A Nation at Ayr. He has three wins to his credit at Ayr, but then he has done most of his racing at his local track so it may not be significant.
JONNY DELTA ran a fair sixth at Warwick and looks one capable of taking a minor novice hurdle in the north. He’s a strong, decent looking animal who remains on a decent mark on the flat if he clicks this year.
WYSE HILL TEABAGS, out since unseating at Perth in September, has Coral Cup and Martin Pipe Hurdle entries at Cheltenham. He has a decent second to Any Given Day in a Class 2 Handicap  Hurdle on his record, as well as an Aintree third in Listed handicap class, and is a decent handicapper if his trainer can get him to the track.
CALEDONIA, a Kelso bumper winner, was not disgraced when third in a competitive bumper at Newbury. He’s entered in the bumper at Cheltenham and looks to be an exciting hurdling prospect for next season.
TITUS BOLT ran creditably behind Sametegal at Musselburgh and can win a hurdle race once he finds his level. At the same meeting LOS NADIS confirmed his well being after an unsuccessful spell hurdling.


Nick y Richards regularly aims his charges at specific targets. Decent novice DUKE OF NAVAN did well to hold off a more experienced opponent when holding off Any Given Day in the Morebattle Hurdle.  He’s now aimed at an Aintree contest and this may be the option given that he’s just a little off top notch, but that many of the top line novices will be aimed at Cheltenahm.
Richards’s novice EDUARD is forecast favourite for the tote Premier hurdle, Kelso’s Grade 2 contest.  Eduard may find juvenile Only Orsenfoolsies a tough opponent, but I’d expect Eduard to win this event . He was a very impressive winner of a bumper here last year and has gone from strength to strength since then.


I’ve had GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS down as a potential chase winner for a while. He unseated at Carlisle early in the season when moving in contention, and then missed a good opportunity when tipping up at Kelso. He was chasing the leaders when belting the last at Carlisel and needs to eliminate errors if he is to win a handicap chase.


SNAPPING TURTLE has struggled with is jumping so far, but looks to me that he’s struggling to jump out of the heavy ground he has raced in. I’d like to see this one run on better ground and he may just prove a decent bet at fancy odds on good ground.

Andrew Parker’s stable has struggled this season and has yet to record a winner. Stable star MERIGO, a double Scottish National winner, has been out of sorts even allowing that he’s slow to warm up over the season. He was beaten at halfway in an amateurs’ handicap chase at Kelso recently.
One glimmer of hope for the stable could be RUDEMEISTER , one that caught my eye as a chasing sort, who ran well for a long way when beaten by Rapidolyte De Ladalka at Catterick. He was a fair novice hurdler and will win chases in time.


The latest to roll off the Shirley-Beaven pointers production line is RAPIDOLYTE DE LADALKA, twice a winner at Catterick recently and a likely contender for future long distance handicap chases. The giq question is whether his trainer will go his oft chosen route of cashing in his chips or will continue to run this one himself.
Shirley-Beaven has a potential hurdles winner in his stable in SORCIER. The diminutive gelding has shown up well enough in a couple of novice hurdles to suggest a handicap hurdle will be within his grasp before long.