MUSSELBURGH – Saturday March 30th
Going – Good To Soft (Soft in places)
The chilly weather continued though the snow showers had died since earlier in the week. That didn’t mean I avoided the snow, driving through a heavy shower on the way around the Edinburgh by-pass. At the course though the weather was cold but generally sunny.
The course looks rather tired after hard winter, desperately in need of some warm growing weather. The tacky ground was hard work for some of the runners, front or prominent runners being favoured throughout this opening Scottish Flat meeting of the season.
To save typing a succession of irritatingly long race names I’ll acknowledge Totepool support of this meeting at the beginning.
1.50 5f 2yo Conditions Stakes (Class 3)
Brocklesby winner MICK’S YER MAN looked well forward for an early season two-year-old. He had a strength advantage over his opponents and made the long trip from Dorset pay nicely. He can win again while he holds a physical advantage.
SKYE’s THE LIMIT tried hard enough to match the winner but gave way in the final furlong. A sound enough effort for this sprint bred type and Richard Fahey should be able to place him to win an early season contest.
INTENSE FEELING looked a bit revved up in the paddock, but she couldn’t match the pace of the first two. She has subsequently won a small contest at Warwick at short odds which does at least suggest this form will prove reasonably strong at this stage.
SCARGILL, fit enough but more sparely made than some, was taken off his feet early on but made some moderate late headway into fourth. A stiffer track should help and he will learn from this.
VINE DE NADA was one of the favoured three in the betting, but was well short of what was required from halfway.
2.25 5f 67-85 Handicap
A field of largely exposed sorts and a race won by one who wins in his turn. This was OLDJOESAID’s 7th career win from 65 efforts and had slipped to a generous mark if he was at his best. He followed the pace and was comfortably in command from the furlong pole.
CADEAUX PEARL might be another on a decent mark as her later form in 2012 was not up to much. She kept on in the closing stages for second and may well be positioned to take similar contest soon.
French import GANDALAK is an odd looking animal, rather wide and low slung if that makes sense! Leading early on, he kept on encouragingly in the closing stages to take third. He should be capable of finding a race before long.
GO GO GREEN franked the form with a win on Monday at Redcar having been held from two out here.
3.00 5f Borderlescott Sprint Trophy (Class 2)
A nice early event for sprinters just below the top class, won by a back to form TANGERINE TREES who fought off one serious challenger from the furlong pole. Bryan Smart’s eight-year-old is an imposing animal and was turned out looking on the spot for his seasonal debut. The race conditions favoured him here as Hamish McGonagall had to give 15lbs to this Group 1 winner.
KINGSGATE CHOICE put a personal best in second, pushing the winner until the closing yards. He should be capable of mixing it at Listed or Group 3 level this term.
MARY’S DAUGHTER was well held by the first two but ran soundly to fill third place and would be competitive in fillies’ pattern events on this evidence. The Land O’ Burns Stakes at Ayr in June might be a target.
HAMISH MCGONAGALL had a tough task conceding 15lbs and more to the rest. He weakened quickly in the final furlong to finish last of the seven. He still had his winter coat and I suspect he will strip fitter.
3.35 1m 78-96 3yo Royal Mile Handicap (Class 2)
This race might be expected to yield a few handicaps, but last year’s renewal wasn’t that fruitful bar a useful winner in Chapter Seven. The 2013 renewal was dominated by those who had run on the all-weather and over-riding impression is that race fitness told. The winner NEWSTEAD ABBEY certainly looked hard fit and came clear in the final furlong to win eased down. There may be another race in him on turf before the handicapper catches up.
On a day when winners came from on the pace the one to take from this race might be the lightly raced CARRY ON SYDNEY. Second at Kempton last time, he picked up ground steadily through the final two furlongs to take runner-up spot here.
HIDDON COIN set the pace and kept on determinedly for second. He’s had a successful winter and doesn’t look badly treated on a turf mark of 82.
TOP NOTCH TONTO ran a fair race to finish fourth but couldn’t get to grips with the leaders having been held up.
Mark Johnston ran four here, but results suggest his string might be a gallop or two off their best. GREELEYS LOVE looked best of the quartet and finished fifth.
4.10 1m 6f 51-69 Handicap
FULL SPEED seems a rejuvenated performer at the age of eight. He sprinted clear of his field his field here and might be expected to follow up.
ACTIVATE is consistent and kept on well enough to fill third place. He can win a race in this grade.
AZERODEGREE was always on the premises but lacked an extra gear from two furlongs out. He’s lightly raced and may have some scope for improvement, this run being his most encouraging to date.
HAWDYERWHEESHT was well held in the straight, but he’s likely to come on for the race and is better than the bare form.
4.45 7f 30yds 66-90 Handicap
This was won by a progressive sort who goes on the list of horses to follow. HI THERE led one out and quickly put distance between himself and his rivals. He raced off 80 here and that could prove generous as he looks capable of stepping up a grade.
LAFFAN has proved a decent sort in his ten races and acts as the measure with a sound second place. He led until headed by the winner and kept on for second. Four times a winner in the first half of last season he appears well prepared for an n early tilt at prizes this term.
GALICIAN was held form the furlong pole but, given that Mark Johnston’s horses seemed just short of the mark on the day, he should be capable of better. His two wins last season were over 6 furlongs.
5.15 5f 67-85 Handicap
MOVE IN TIME won a Listed contest in 2011, so running off top weight of 85 gave him a fine chance in this contest on his debut for David O’Meara. He put the race to bed with no trouble in the final furlong. He’s been shunted up 10lbs for this, but such was the ease with which he came away from his field that a win in higher class must be a possibility.
COME ON DAVE was in rattling good form last backend, and a sound second here suggests he’s picking up where he left off.
ROTHESAY CHANCER raced toward the rear early on but kept on well in the latter stages to take third. He will be in there and pitching for similar events in Scotland in the coming months and is capable of notching up a win before long.
A rare tubed runner, MASTER ROONEY was walked down to the start well before the other runners. He remains a pound above his previous winning mark and still has to prove he retains that ability.