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.