Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cartmel August Meeting - Opening Day

CARTMEL – Saturday August 24th

Going – Good, Good to Soft in places

2.30 2m 6f E.B.F. Mary Cookson Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (Class 4)

This was a weakly contested mares hurdle. ME AND BEN travelled nicely for most of the way, took over after two out and went clear, though having to be kept up to her work as she idled on the run-in. J T’AIME was more competitive than at Perth, but having led was readily put in her place from two out, though plugging on. On recent evidence these mares’ events offer her best chance of success. TILLERNOORA gave a tad more encouragement with a hurdles and a distance of ground than she had a weak ago in a Perth bumper. She was with the leader for much of the way but cast aside from two out. MINI MUCK hurdled untidily and a blunder three out put paid to any chance she may have held. LANGLEY HOUSE was well beaten when her rider suffered tack problems and was jettisoned after three out.

3.05 2m 6f Hadwins Handicap Hurdle (64-95)

This event was contested by a collection of ‘characters’ with plenty of previous between them and pretty much a case of which of them felt inclined on the day. PETE hasn’t won for a while, but if he consents to give his best he’s better than most Class 5 performers. He cruised up to the leader going to two out and led fractionally at the last. Anyone who has watched Pete run before will know it was never going to be as simple as it looked. As it turned out the Barry Murtagh gelding kept going sufficiently well to hold off his only serious challenger after the elbow. FLYING DOCTOR has been off his game since winning at this time last year but put in a much more encouraging effort here. He shared the pace for much of the race, taking over from three out ,and kept on honestly enough from the last if always held by one probably a godo deal better but not inclined to show it. The pair were 22 lengths clear of the third and will inevitably be bumped up by a fair amount, as if they’ve suddenly improved at the age of 10. GALLEY SLAVE, part of Michael Chapman’s regular Cartmel visiting party, picked off a few late on to take third with twelve-year-old WESTERN SOUND a never dangerous fourth.

3.40 2m 5½f Burlington Stone EBF Beginners’ Chase (Class 4)

These events can be worth a glance here as it’s not unknown for a half decent chaser to start out at Cartmel. Not sure quite what to make of this though as BRACKEN HOUSE made a few blunders but stayed on much the best on chasing debut. His saddle may have slipped a bit, Paul Moloney looking distinctly uncomfortable on the final bend, so it may prove a meritorious effort. FOUNDRY SQUARE put in some slow jumps and having every chance was held in the final furlong of the long run-in. He has ability but needs to jump better over fences. DANNANCEYS HILL looked a shade disappointing when hurdling and once again was unconvincing here. Disputing until the last he found little on the run-in, rather typical of a few from the McCain yard in recent days. REEF DANCER was nursed home by Kenny Johnson if not nearly good enough. WINGED FARASI was beaten with a lap to go and CUMBRIAN FARMER gave the second a thump giving Jonathan Bewley no chance of staying in the saddle.

 4.15 2m 5½f Grant Thornton Handicap Chase (70-93)

PRESENTING JUNIOR travelled handily for most of the race. He chased the long time leader from the last and got up near the line to follow up his Hexham win of 70 days previously. This is a low level but he showed the right qualities when the chips were down. Off the track since the same weekend alt year, OH RIGHT set a decent pace and jumped a good deal better than the others here. He had them all on the stretch over the four fences on the woodside, but once the fences had been jumped he had just too little in the tank to hold the winner. He should pick up a race before long if in this mood. CLOUDY DAWN chased the leader most of the way but was found wanting from two out. THE GOOD GUY was never much better than mid division and didn’t get to the leaders. His best recent form has been on slightly quicker ground than this. TRUCKERS BENEFIT flattered with some progress from a mile out but was beaten two out. In general his form has been uninspiring of late, though he did win at Plumpton last year. GIBBSTOWN has shown very little in Ireland. Poor jumping in rear here offered precious little encouragement and he was beaten a mile out. PADDYSPARKS was flattered by a third in a moderate event at Worcester last time. He wasn’t very fluent in his jumping and was well behind four out. IN THE HAVEN jumped abysmally in rear and was beaten by halfway. He won a beginners’ chase here in May but there were moderate horses a bit too close for comfort on that occasion and he has shown nothing since.

4.50 3m 2f Totepool Handicap Chase (Sadik Memorial Trophy) (73-99)

Action at the scrag end of the staying chase division, but I’m sure the late Gus Sadik would have taken any amount of pleasure from this contest. The jumping here was a good deal better than that shown in the previous race.

MORE EQUITY has dropped down the handicap of late and has struggled a bit. She showed plenty of zest here against lowly opposition and bounded clear from the last having taken the contest by the scruff of the neck form the thirteenth. I was quite to surprised to note this as only her fourth win, but she’s been an honest enough mare for many seasons and it was nice to see she retains here enthusiasm.
MR DUFFY was presumably sent to Cartmel by Dessie Hughes in the search for softer opportunities than in Ireland. He travelled well enough for much of the way, pursuing the winner from four out but found wanting from the last fence. This was his best effort over fences in what has been an interrupted career of late. SOLWAY DORNAL was beaten from four out, along with PEAK SEASONS, a regular here who never got near the leaders. FORESTSIDE was always in the rear of the field. LE SEYCHELLOIS raced prominently for two circuits but was behind by four out. He was second in the same moderate race that Paddysparks (see 4.15) contested at Worcester but that’s about the sum of recent achievements and he seems in decline at 13. SIERRA VICTOR belted the sixth fence, Jamie Hamilton exiting stage left. He’s capable at this level and note is twice a winner at Hexham.
5.20 2m 1½f Cartmel Cup Handicap Hurdle (106-127)

DARTFORD WARBLER raced in touch with the leaders, took over two out and gradually pulled clear from that point. A decent win from one successful twice in 2011-12 but having had a curtailed career since. BRIGHT ABBEY was never close enough to get in a blow. On the face of it this wasn’t as good as the effort at Perth, but he couldn’t stick with a lively pace and only showed toward the end. There’s a race in this one so stay patient. SUD PACIFIQUE was under the pump some way out but stayed on in the latter stages. TINSELTOWN race prominently and took over at the fifth. He was headed two out and only found one pace after that. His recent decent jump runs have come at Southwell where he has a fair record. TOLEDO GOLD blazed a trail for a mile and a quarter but went too fast for his own good, particularly in a competitive contest.

 5.55 2m 1½f EWGA Racing Excellence Hands And Heels Conditionals and Amateurs Handicap Hurdle (65-95)

RAVI RIVER finally broke his jumps maiden tag at the age of 9. He was in the lead or thereabouts for most of the way. Passed on the final bend and led into the straight, he responded well to Kieron Edgar’s urgings and was going away at the finish. He’s more than capable if he could be cajoled into a repeat effort, but I wouldn’t rely on it. CLARION CALL came to lead before the last looking the likely winner. He was passed on the run-in and found no more. He is on his lowest ever jumps mark but was found out once again when the chips were down. BROTHER SCOTT had every chance but wasn’t good enough in the final reckoning. GRETHEL was in rear most of the way but picked her way through the field late on. 4 wins from 106 efforts sums up her usefulness as betting material. TIM’S APPROACH ran as well as could be expected in finishing fifth from his lowly rating. He puts in some effort but is very slow. GLACED OVER seems an odd acquisition for the strong McCain stable, though has shown bit and bobs of form in the past for Bob Shiels. She raced prominently for a long way but was beaten from two out. MORNING TIME has run well this summer but was taken off his feet here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Lanark Silver Bell Night

HAMILTON – Friday August 23rd
Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

Hamilton finished their 2013 evening programme with a card headlined by a competitive renewal of the Lanark Silver Bell, run successfully at the course since its resurrection. The main contest was won by a progressive sort.

5.30 6f Ladbrokes Nursery Handicap (Class 5)

The David O’Meara trained OMANOME wore down Handwoven in the closing stages to record a first win, having hinting at it when second in a maiden here previously. The stiff finish seems to suit. HANDWOVEN took over a furlong and a half out but couldn’t resist the winner in the last 50 yards. With his sights lowered a little of late he is going close and there should be a small contest for him. ANOTHER ROYAL kept on but never threatened to be better than third. BOOGANGOO ran with head held toward the rail and did not look particularly comfortable, even though disputing for four furlongs. She won here on good to firm though it was a weak maiden.

6.05 6f Variety Club Handicap (3yo) (Class 6)

GOLD BEAU has been competitive a grade up on this and the top weight made his lsight class edge tell in what seems a moderate sprint handicap. He ran on up the hill, has been reasonably consistent this year and should continue to pay his way. GAMBINO started at 80/1 here having never been less than 66/1 in any race but he stepped up significantly on some poor previous form. Showing enough speed to lead, he was headed at the furlong pole but kept on to the line. ALEXANDERKOLLONTAI is three times a winner but basically a Class 6 horse who can get in the mix in this company. He had every chance but was held in the final furlong. BAPAK PESTA struggled early on and gave typical signs of one struggling with this course. He picked up well in the latter stages and it was the downhill section that troubled him, a decent run at Carlisle suggesting a course consistently ‘against the collar’ is more suitable. The bare form is not brilliant but there are races to be won with this one.

6.35 6f Download the Ladbrokes App Handicap (Class 4)

The distance dial seemed to be stuck on six furlongs as we saw the third consecutive race over the trip. Saves lugging the stalls about, I suppose! SPIN ARTIST followed up his debut maiden win at Chepstow with a win in handicap company. Racing handily, he led a furlong out and stayed on determinedly to hold two challengers. I suspect he can progress again after this as he has plenty of speed and a typically good attitude for a Mark Johnston inmate. FREE SPIN was held by the youngster in the last 50 yards but lost nothing in defeat. He ran some fair races on Polytrack at the start of the year and will presumably be given chances on that surface in the coming months. SALVATORE FURY was not disgraced in third. Attempting this grade for the first time this season, he travelled keenly but well enough and challenged in the final two furlongs, being held in the final half furlong. If he can repeat this effort in Class 5 company he can win again. I stopped trying fathom BONNIE CHARLIE some time ago. He’s decent at this level when on his game but not particularly predictable. He was held from over a furlong out here. My wife has backed him before because we used to have cats called Bonnie and Charlie… We now have cats called Lucy and Suzy, so if there’s ever a horse called LucySuzy then the money will be down!

7.05 1m 4f Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell Handicap (Class 3)

A decent first prize of over 16,000 for this ancient prize was rewarded with a competitive field. SPECIAL MEANING caught my eye here in lesser company earlier this season and it was no surprise that this progressive filly took this contest in impressive style. She dictated the pace under a canny ride from Franny Norton, kicked on four out and was in control in the final two furlongs. She won well enough here to suggest that she can move up in company once again. Stable companion NIMIETY chased from four out though held in the final two furlongs. She was clear second best though and put in a really decent effort stepped up in trip. There are races to be won with her in the ten to twelve furlong range and she looks to be coming to herself now. COSMIN SUN flew the flag for the older brigade, keeping on well enough for third. CERTAVI came from off the pace and was gaining ground late in the day. He would have be suited by more pace, is lightly raced and looks capable of landing a handicap before long.

7.40 1m 1f Always Trying Open Maiden Stakes

NIGHTSTER landed this race for Mark Johnston, sponsor of this race and a consistent supporter of Hamilton racecourse in terms of runners. The newcomer held off the challenge of Alan Swinbank ARZIYAD. The latter is going the right way and assuming the handicapper uses the third 66-rated MAGIC SKYLINE as a mark then neither of the first two will get a mark of much more than 70. Both NIGHTSTER and ARZIYAD should be capable of progressing to win handicaps. 4/11 favourite HEROINE REQUIRED was hampered two out and could make no impression afterwards. For all that there may have been an excuse here she is not going the right way.

8.10 5f AFM Electrical Ltd Handicap (Class 6)

GOTTCHER followed up his Wednesday Musselburgh win, quickening up well to beat a well exposed bunch with no great problems. He’s progressing now and can move up a grade successfully. ROCK CANYON stayed on best to take second in front of CARRIE’S MAGIC but there were three others in close proximity and there’s no guarantee they will finish in this order next time.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Summer Champion Hurdle Day at Perth

PERTH – Saturday August 17th

Going – Good
Hurdles run-in 170 yards, shorter than usual.

The rain which swept across Scotland in the morning cleared as I drove over the hill toward Perth and the sun was out by the time I arrived at Scone Palace Park. There followed a breezy but bright afternoon, favourable enough for a crowd of around 8,000 to a popular fixture now in its fourth year.

Field sizes were not perhaps what the course would have liked, but with Market Rasen also racing there’s a limit to the number of horse to go round. In conversation with Clerk of the Course Harriet Graham midway through the meeting, local trainer Nick Alexander suggested that the problem was that there simply aren’t enough trainers up and running at this time of year with the resources to travel to two meetings. He suggested there were maybe no more than 10 trainers who might be in a position to visit both meetings. I noted that Perth regular Gordon Elliott spent the afternoon in the company of fellow Irish trainer Paul Nolan, suggesting that the two may have pooled resources for the Scottish raid.

3.00 2m 4½f totepool Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (65-110)

JIMMY THE HAT was disappointing here when Gordon Elliott’s only runner at the Perth festival, and fared no better at Killarney three months ago. Elliott couldn’t offer any explanation to the stewards for his charge’s improvement, though those who backed this one form 5/1 into 2/1 may have had an inkling of what was to come. Always travelling well, Jimmy The Hat challenged two out and asserted from the approach to the last. The form looks solid enough as the second is a good marker and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the winner return here in September.
FAIRWOOD MASSINI, a strong sort who won over fences recently, set a decent pace and stuck to his task to finish well clear of the third. He looks capable of a handicap hurdle win before long.
TANTAMOUNT was on his toes in the paddock, generally a negative sign in my experience. He was outpaced from three out and plugged on for third. He won a maiden here recently and has time on his side.
DICK DUNDEE has the look of chaser. He made a winning debut in that sphere at Wexford and should be suited by a return to fences. He jumped neatly and travelled up to the leader going well before two out, but dropped away rather tamely after that.
On a disappointing afternoon for the stable, Donald McCain’s J T’AIME raced rather too freely and his chance was gone by three out.

3.35 2m 4 ½ f Special Piping Materials (Scotland) Novices’ Handicap Chase (84-110)

This wasn’t a strong contest, with one of the main fancies running no race. DIDDLEY DEE has been an iffy jumper at times but did the job well enough here, held up early on before joining issue four out, leading two out and staying on well enough. I suspect he would be one to oppose in a bigger field which might put his jumping under pressure.
MERRY MINSTER was held up and stayed on steadily down the straight without ever getting to the winner. This was her best effort for a while.
LORD OF DRUMS led but was stopped in his tracks when dropping his hind legs in the water (eighth fence). He did get back to the head of affairs, but had nothing left when headed at the last.
(Lucinda Russell reports that Lord of Drums received a tendon injury and was subsequently operated on by the vet. He apparently seems on the mend now but clearly had an excuse for the poor run and will presumably have an enforced rest)
GEORGE WOOLF was equipped with a cross noseband, Australian noseband, tongue-tie, visor and a ‘bar bit’, not at all a good sign. Although disputing, he jumped poorly and was beaten before three out.
D J MILAN, who has had chances previously and fluffed them, raced wide on the stands’ bend and struggled thereafter before being pulled up before three out. He has won races but looks easy to beat at this time.

4.10 2m ½ f Fonab Castle Hotel Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

A weak novices’ hurdle, just the sort of race that Gordon Elliott is so good at hoovering up here. His runner BAYAN led before the last and was ridden out to see off his only serious rival, despite carrying a double penalty. He ran well at Galway on the flat and there should be other opportunities along the way.
BUTNEY ROCK led to the last, but was in front on sufferance and readily held. He should win a hurdle or two though and will be suited by a step back up in trip.
ZAMBEZI TIGER plugged on into a remote third, clear of HIGH ON A HILL, neither offering a huge amount of encouragement. The other runner, JACK KANE, struggled from halfway and was pulled up.

4.45 2m 4½f CPS Handicap Hurdle (107-122)

TOYE NATIVE has progressed nicely since going hurdling and won this with a little more in hand than the half-length margin might suggest. She was challenged at the last but was getting on top by the line and is a progressive sort who can be followed.
BRIGHT ABBEY looks a decent acquisition for Dianne Sayer and is well capable of winning in similar company. Ridden to challenge at the last, he was held close home but is a consistent sort who lost nothing in defeat.
THE TRACEY SHUFFLE, an angular sloped backed gelding, wouldn’t win any prizes in a beauty contest. However, on his day he is competitive and set a decent pace as he does on his going days. He’s dropping to a workable mark now and might take an opportunity if allowed an uncontested lead.
LOS NADIS wasn’t far away in fourth. He came with a chance two out but couldn’t make an impact on the flat. WALTZ DARLING was held in fifth, not far away but never threatening the leaders.

Sadly we lost Lucy Normile’s PARSON’S PUNCH who suffered a broken leg on the bend into the back straight. BESCOT SPRINGS slipped up at the same time, but returned sound, and the two incidents occurred independently. The bends were sanded after as a precaution, but there was no evidence otherwise to suggest a problem.

5.15 2m ½f STV Appeal Summer Champion Hurdle (Limited Handicap 119-146) for the Governor’s Cup

A disappointing turn out of six for a decent prize, though I note it has dropped from £24,000 to the winner to £15,000 since Overturn won the first running. The race was won by arguably the best hurdler of the summer, SEA LORD notching up a fifth consecutive win.
Leading two out, he gave the last hurdle a rattle, which stopped him a bit, but he found more than enough on the run to the line. If the ground doesn’t get two soft I would imagine that John Ferguson will have his eye on a decent prize or two in the autumn.
NOW THIS IS IT was third in the contest two years ago and clearly retains that ability. He was given a chance at the last but found the winner too strong. His record at Perth is now 111232U2 and his is saved for summer campaigns.
SHADOW CATCHER chased the leaders to the last but made no impact on the run-in. This was a creditable effort from a gelding that was fourth in the Vincent O’Brien hurdle last March and is decent ammunition in competitive handicap hurdles.
OUTRAGEOUS REQUEST was dropped in at the deep end after his previous win. Outpaced from two out, he wasn’t totally disgraced, remains on a workable mark and will find easier opportunities.
AAZIF, in great from for the McCain yard of late, was held form two out and was rather disappointing.
HAWKHILL, coming back after a 246-day layoff, showed up well early but faded from three out. He should presumably come on for the outing.

5.50 2m 4½f Pipe and Piling Supplies Handicap Chase (104-123)

A competitive handicap chase with most of the runners in decent form of late.

SERGEANT PINK has a reputation as not being the most reliable of animals, though he seems to have turned over a new leaf in recent times. He looked spot on for this contest, travelled well throughout and took charge once leading three out. Photographer John Grossick, a man who has forgotten more about this sport than most of us have ever known, commented after the race that he couldn’t how well Sergeant Pink travelled. There’s always the chance he might sulk again, but surely there are more races to be won with this improving seven-year-old?
SCOTCH WARRIOR would have been helped by the rain that fell as he ideally needs a bit of cut. Under the circumstances this course specialist ran a cracking race in second place and I’d presume his trainer will eye up races at the course in September. He chased the leader from three out but could make no impression.
QUITO DU TRESOR had every chance in the straight but was held from before the last fence. He hasn’t won since November 2011 but has run some decent races of late.
ACAPULCO GOLD was outpaced four out and couldn’t get back to the leaders after that. He has been running well in Ireland and has time on his side, so we may not have seen the best of him yet.
BE MY DEPUTY struggled from three out and wasn’t at his best.
STROBE set the pace but had lost his place before four out. He was severely tightened up on the bend and virtually put out of the race and pulled up. He had a hard task in this company but wouldn’t be without a chance if dropped in class.
VALLEYOFMILAN seemed to drop himself out approaching the stands on the first circuit and didn’t get into the race afterwards. This was final disappointment on the day for the McCain stable.

6.20 2m ½f STV Appeal Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 5)

Not a race to get over excited about at first glance. The previous form on show didn’t amount to an awful lot and any prospects are likely to long term.

Ian Semple doesn’t have many National Hunt runners and scored his first ‘jumps’ winner since 2005-06 in the shape of BELLGROVE.  Rather green when appearing in a couple of bumpers last term, the experience seemed to be the key as he raced prominently and stuck on sufficiently well to hold a single challenger. This was his dam’s first winner from seven foals.
The mare THIS THYNE JUDE looked as if she was auditioning for dressage in the paddock. She’s a ‘showy’ sort and very stoutly bred from the family of stable star Silver By Nature. Held up off the pace, she picked up pleasingly in the final three furlongs to make the winner pull out the stops. She will come into her own with a distance of ground and fences in the way, but this was a promising start for a mare with a bit of developing to do.
DONNA’S PRIDE was well backed here, but outpaced in the straight. She is well enough bred for jumping and the experience will do her good, but she may need some time.
EUROURMRLUCKY won a point in Ireland in March but that form hasn’t worked out to be anything special. He was a cheap buy subsequently. Having set the pace for a mile he was totally outpaced five furlongs out only to keep on again in the latter stages. He’ll need much more of a test than this to be seen at his best.
Irish-trained mare TILLERNOORA has proved clumsy in Irish points and was too slow to keep up here. Immediate prospects are bleak.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Archerfield Cup Day at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH – Friday August 9th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

2.00 7f Watermans Nursery Handicap (62-78)

Upped two furlongs, SANDSMAN’S GIRL won this very nicely. She was covered up early, racing rather keenly, but moved into contention two out and went past the leader from one out. It’s worth noting that they did go rather slowly and the form isn’t guaranteed to work out.
SPLIT ROCK set the pace, upped the tempo in the straight only to be outpointed form the furlong pole by the winner. He has a whole line of places but he has never raced more than five opponents, largely being tapped for pace in the closing stages. He won first time up at Southwell on a surface which might see him to best advantage.
Of the others IMSHIVALLA pulled hard while held up in the rear and wasn’t seen to best advantage. I suspect she might prove better over six furlongs at this stage.

2.30 5f British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes (2yo) (Class 3)

A disappointing turn out of only four for an £8,000 prize. It must be galling for the course to find all races having single figure fields on a card with decent prize money up for grabs.
VIVA VERGLAS showed plenty of early pace and kept going in fine style to win here. He won a six runner nursery at York last time and continues on the upgrade.
BACK LANE matched the leader for four furlongs but was held from the furlong pole. He has enough pace to suggest a mark of 85 may not be too harsh in a sprint nursery.
REBEL CODE tried to match the first two but was struggling two out. He was well held at Lingfield first time and needs sights lowered.
MICK’S YER MAN, off the track since winning at Musselburgh season opener meeting, was taken off his feet right from the start and never got anywhere near the others. He presumably needs soft ground, though might have been expected to be closer.

3.00 1m 6f Archerfield Cup Handicap (79-97)

PARTY LINE, visored for the first time, challenged two furlongs out and stuck on well from that point. She’s a tough mare having run at Catterick three days previously . She hit form about this time last year, has won off a higher mark than the 84 she ran off here and may add to this £16,000 prize.
TROPICAL BEAT stayed on from the rear to take second but never got to the winner. This was a good effort on seasonal debut, though he ran off a career high mark here.
Dual purpose veteran NOBLE ALAN tried to stretch them in the straight but was under the pump two out and couldn’t raise his game. He stays well and is honest, but lacks an extra gear in a finish.
JONNY DELTA was keen early on and was not suited by the steady pace. He kept on through the field for fourth and needs a true run race.

3.30 7f Nairns Oatcakes Handicap (72-92)

As has been the way for much of the season those running close to the pace. Coming off the back of a good second at Goodwood, ALEJANDRO hit the front two out and stayed on from that point to win by a couple of lengths. The race was run to suit but this one has the ability to make use of his chances.
FROG HOLLOW was drawn wide and had to be dropped in early to get some cover. He made an effort three out but had a fair bit to and could only stay on for a never nearer second. He certainly wasn’t favoured by the draw on this track and the effort may be better than it first looks.
SILVER RIME ran a creditable race upped a couple of grades. He chased the leader honestly enough in the final quarter of a mile and remains one to keep an eye on if eased in class once again.
POWERFUL PRESENCE shared the pace with Alejandro but could only find the one speed once passed two out.

4.00 1m Arthritis Research UK Handicap (45-68)

RALPHY BOY made most of the running to hold off his only serious challenger BORDER BANDIT at any time in the race. The first pulled clear and it was two horse race from two out. The race was run to suit the pair and a mainly ordinary followed at a respectable distance.
The favourite PUSH ME reared and lost lengths at the start. Although getting back to her field she was then forced wide on the bend. From that point it was a losing battle, but she is capable of much better is generally a consistent sort who can be forgiven this lapse.

4.30 1m 4f 100yds Daikin Climate Control Handicap (45-71)

A messy race, with horses weaving back and forth in the final two furlongs. VITTACHI just got up on the line to beat GEANIE MAC who looked the winner 100 yards out. Another exposed performer in GRAND DIAMOND kept on for third.
Hat-trick seeker PEARL SPICE, who had them strung out like washing over a longer trip at Nottingham last week, had to work hard to get near the front. He was outpaced in the straight but stuck on again late under pressure. He probably wasn’t seen at his best over this shorter trip.

5.00 2m Thomson Travel Amateur Riders’ Handicap (53-67)

GOLDEN FUTURE had the run of the race here and got revenge for his defeat by Gucci D’Oro last Friday. Jamie Hamilton outrode his opponents in this race.
Alex Ferguson looked to caught napping somewhat on GUCCI D’ORO. He gave the leader a similar amount of rope to last week but Golden Future had an easy lead here and the runner-up couldn’t make up five lengths in two furlongs. He wasn’t helped by LA BACOUETTEUSE weaving about, but that didn’t affect the result. The latter put it to the winner but weakened approaching the furlong pole.
BOLLIN BOB was beaten three furlongs from home.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Ladies Night at Hamilton

HAMILTON – Saturday August 3rd

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

6.15 Avia Signs Nursery Handicap (43-64)

A moderate handicap to start the evening with only one previous performance better than fourth place between them.
Visored for the first time and dropped back a furlong in distance, ALL IN A GAME broke well, led all the way and was driven out to win with a few lengths in hand. This wasn’t a strong event but this one showed speed and a decent attitude.
BANDOLIER played up in the stalls. He made progress up the hill to chase the winner in the closing stages and may have enough in him to challenge for a lowly nursery maybe over seven furlongs.
CLAUDIA OCTAVIA had not shown much in three runs in the spring, though on one occasion hinting that a step up from five furlongs would do no harm. She came with a late rattle to take third, admittedly well held and will surely benefit from seven furlongs or a mile.
The favourite TAMAYUZ DREAM is a half-brother to a Chester Cup winner though apparently not seeing out the trip over seven furlongs last time.  He was struggling before halfway and seemed up against it in a sprint event.

6.45 6f McGuire On Fire Maiden Stakes (Class 5)

Apparently a three runner contest with the rest in as fillers, but the winner came from well back to win at 80/1.
STONEACRE OSKAR, debuting on the turf having been well held in four all-weather outings, responded to pressure throughout the final two furlongs to get her head in front on the line. It’s difficult to weigh the form up but the third and fourth had shown enough speed so far to suggest this isn’t a contest full of duffers. If we believe that then the winner may just be much better on turf than the artificial surfaces.
PILATES, off the back of fair runs at Doncaster and Newmarket, took over a furlong out and looked the likely winner only to be collared in the shadow of the post. She now qualifies for handicaps and shouldn’t be over-burdened given that the winner is only rated 39.
Newcomer YARN, from the yard of William Haggas, showed good speed.  She showed some greenness on the run to the line and was held in third. She will improve for this, has some basic speed and looks capable of winning a race.
MEETING IN PARIS was up with the pace for much of the way but was found wanting in the final furlong. This form didn’t build on a promising effort at Beverley though that was over the minimum trip.
There was market interest for ROUAL DUCHESS who showed good speed for four furlongs before giving way. She looks like one for a bottom level five furlong handicap at a sharp track.

7.15 5f Handicap (56-75)

The field lost two at the start as both Chasing Dreams (refused to enter stalls) and Findog (after getting loose) were withdrawn. Both were amongst the leaders in the market. And the way the race panned out the form is at best of somewhat dubious value.

Duran Fentiman stuck to the stands’ rails on PERFECT PASTURE, raced up with the pace and was well in command in the final furlong and a half. I presume that Fentiman had someone to do his pre-meeting work to check on the course condition as he was late arriving from Thirsk. He may indeed have taken a flyer at the rails course, but his mount gave plenty in a first time visor.  The winner had shown ability on a couple of occasions previously. Only concern is that maybe the race fell for him.
TOM SAWYER was best of the rest down the centre and saw off his rivals in their own race. He won at Sandown last August but has struggled in the main this season.
DA’QUONDE had every chance down the centre two out, and might just have led the field, but was one paced in the final furlong.

7.45 6f TBA British Stallions EBF Fillies’ Handicap (67-88)

Four sprints in a row might save on stalls shifting, but it doesn’t show an awful lot of imagination in race programming! The fourth however was the feature race and run for decent prize of £9,704 to the winner.
HOPES N DREAMS made her record 5 wins from 6 starts with a convincing win. She made the pace and wound it up from halfway, having the race won at the furlong pole. She will go up to a mark in the mid to high 80s and her opportunities at Hamilton might be reduced a bit. That being said, she’s been placed in her only runs at Carlisle and Beverley and would surely go well if tried at those two tracks more often.
DRATRIX made progress from the rear but could make no impact on the winner. She was clear of the remainder though and she ran well enough off her new mark to suggest she can take another race this season.
The ‘peloton’ was led home by DREAM MAKER who needs dropping in the handicap, but on the basis of two consecutive thirds probably won’t be, and ECONOMIC CRISIS who once again ran passably well but previously recorded by your correspondent as ‘runs often, wins seldom’. The latter does at least add regular prize money to keep costs!

8.15 1m 65yds IHE Stainless Ltd Handicap (Betfair Scottish Mile Series Qualifier) (65-75)

TED’S BROTHER joined the issue two furlongs out and wore down the runner-up in the closing stages.  He is regularly competitive in this class and favoured by a stiff finish, so his trainer might be a bit frustrated that the final of the Scottish mile Series is to be held at Ayr!
SATANIC BEAT tracked the leader and kicked on over two out. He battled hard to try to fend off his challenger and was only mastered close home. This hints that he’s back in the same form he was last summer and he has won off 8lbs higher than his current mark.
HIGH RESOLUTION is exposed but kept on into third.
JEBEL TARA was the subject of new tactics. He led until headed after three furlongs out, at which point he seemed he might capitulate. To his credit he stuck to his guns and kept on to fight for third if held by the first two.
DARK OCEAN finished with a rattle but way too late to trouble the leaders. He has done this before which hints at needing a longer trip.
ARGAKI has been consistent of late but never got into this contest.
A winner here last time, WELLINGROVE was never better than midfield and faded tamely. He looks one to be wary off.

8.45 1m 3f Margaret Smith Memorial Handicap (63-75)

The pace was steady here and the race turned into a ‘three furlong burn-up’.

CORTON LAD had been thereabouts a few times of late and showed plenty of determination to hold on here.  He has done well at Hamilton, but most of his racing has been in Scottish or nearby so I can’t see any particular pattern to his performances other than he’s an honest handicapper.
COSMIC HALO pushed the winner all the way and is another who generally runs his race.
It’s worth noting that WOODSTOCK came from the rear to fill third, not an easy task in a slowly run race. An all-weather winner earlier in the year, he’s dropped down the handicap and this performance does at least hint that he retains that ability.
KING KURT set the pace but couldn’t up his game sufficiently having increased the pace three out. He kept on at one pace for fourth place.
KING OF PARADISE pulled too hard off the slow pace and didn’t have the pace to match the principals in the final two furlongs. He has made the pace recently, including when successful here and appeared to resent the restraint.

Musselburgh - Early August Evening Meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Friday August 2nd

Going – Good

A glorious sunny evening brought out a decent crowd for Musselburgh’s last evening meeting of the current season. The card was handicaps only, perhaps not one to suit the purists but plenty of chances to bet at a decent price with some shorter priced winners and the main event won by a long-shot.

Once again I’ve shortened the titles of some of the races. I don’t mind making some acknowledgement to the sponsor, but some of the race titles are starting to get plain silly.

6.10 1m 5f Amateur Riders’ Handicap (49-67)

A decent contest to open the card, plenty of these in form before the contest and a winner who appears progressive.

Mikey Ennis was patient enough not to go chasing the leaders too hard too early, allowing GUCCI D’ORO to use his staying powers from the three furlong marker. He wore down the leaders and led in the final furlong.  The winner hasn’t had too much racing to date and looks one to carry forward for staying handicaps. He’s has really hit form now and will stay further than this thirteen furlong trip.
The veteran GOLDEN FUTURE showed that he still has enough about him to be competitive at this level.  Turned out looking in really good nick, he disputed the lead for much of the way at a good clip. He kept finding more down the straight but found the winner staying on better close home. He’s not a prolific winner, but his attitude was good here and he can continue to give his owners some fun in these minor staying handicaps.
VOLCANIC JACK, running into form of late and another looking well in the paddock, mixed in with the first two throughout the final two furlongs but was held in third in the last half furlong.
Nothing else got into the race bar AL MUHAT who helped set the pace but was much too keen and spent by three out.
FROSTY BERRY is a lightly made sort who appears on the downgrade. He flattered with a brief effort over three out but was well held.

6.45 5f Wilkinson and Associates Nursery Handicap (49-64)

A weakly contested nursery that lost one contestant when BARLEYCORN played up in the stalls and was withdrawn.

The old system of following seller winners into nurseries worked here, with TOUCH THE CLOUDS well in charge from halfway. For all that it was a weak contest there was much to like about the way the gelding came clear and he is clearly on the upgrade.
KIRTLING BELLE chased the winner from two out but made no impression. She showed some promise first time out, and this effort suggests she’s not devoid of ability but she is moderate.
STONEY QUINE has gone backwards since a decent looking second at Hamilton. He was well beaten here.
COUNTESS LUPUS was unsettled by Barleycorn’s antics in the stalls and had to be led out the front then reloaded. She was always outpaced in the race and doesn’t seem quick enough even at a lowly level.

7.20 1m 1f PDM Ltd and FP McCann Handicap (54-67)

Lightly raced MANCHESTAR had shown enough to suggest a race was well within his compass.  Racing in touch with the leaders, he made a sustained effort from three out and got on top in the final furlong. He beat a few in decent form here and should be able to move on to win again.
Much encouragement back in second place for the mare PUSH ME, running her first race for Iain Jardine off a break of over three months. She was produced looking in excellent condition and showed a nice action on the way to the start. Having been squeezed for room over a furlong out she stayed on relentlessly to the line if running out of ground to catch up. In general races on the round course here suit those running close to the pace, so the performance is all the more meritorious since Push Me came from the rear. Although the mare has a few miles on the clock, Jardine has her in fine fettle and he should be rewarded before long.
LORD FRANKLIN set the pace and kept on once headed two furlongs out. He’s consistent and ran to his new mark here.
OUTLAW TORN made an effort and led down the centre two furlongs out. One headed inside the furlong pole he could only find the one pace.
Outlaw Torn ran off 57 here which is about his mark and he ran a decent race if just found wanting close home. He was shunted up 6lbs for winning a dire race at Newcastle recently and will struggle off that mark. That race fell into his lap and I get the impression he is being penalised for the distance he won by rather than the merit of the victory. That isn’t the way to handicap fairly, and while there is a need to catch improvers to even chances this mitigates the chances of exposed performers where races fall for them.
JONNY LESTER’S HAIR, coming here off the back of a promising Redcar effort, chased the leader but was held form the two furlong pole. His wins have come at Beverley and Carlisle, and he may be better at stiff tracks that blunt the speed of his opponents.
DANDARELL was close enough if good enough , but dropped away in the final three furlongs.

7.50 5f Cashino Gaming Handicap (74-89)

Decent prize money for this contest and very competitive field resulted. There was plenty of pace on and the result favoured those coming through the field. The result was a 40/1 beating a 22/1 and a 25/1 which sums up how difficult the contest was to fathom.
The winner NOODLES BLUE BOY didn’t appear on the premises until the final furlong, led no more than 50 yards out but had forged three-quarters of a length clear by the line. He’s got a decent wins to runs record but is very much an all or nothing performer these days and it’s difficult to pin him down to a win in advance.
Ten-year-old MOORHOUSE LAD, lightly bandaged behind, was taken down to start early. He came to challenge approaching the final furlong and looked the likely winner before being passed near the line. He’s well exposed, and what you see is what you get, but he remains competitive at this fair level.
MIDNIGHT DYNAMO, the youngest of the first three at the age of six, stayed on well in the latter stages if never looking like the winner. He was hampered somewhat at the start which won’t have helped. He is a consistent performer and can win a similar contest given the run of the race.
AVON BREEZE was running only his ninth race so may have more in the tank than some here.  Backed down to favourite, he had every chance but was held in the closing stages.  Evidence to date suggests a stiffer track might be helpful and he certainly has more victories in him.
CRIMSON KNOT showed good pace and ran a decent race to finish fifth. This was a good effort in this company and she needs easing in class, though she hasn’t got a great wins to runs ratio.
THE NIFTY FOX is often thereabouts at this level and wasn’t disgraced in keeping on into sixth, while OIL STRIKE’s  winning run came to an end as he was found wanting in this stiffer company.
RED BARON couldn’t get to the front and was struggling by halfway. Now he’s been forced into better class, he may be better in a smaller field where he is able to dominate.

8.20 1m Wilkinson and Associates 3yo  Handicap (47-65)

A weak handicap and I’m not over inclined to pay too much attention to the result, not the gaps at the finish.
The contest was run at a decent lick though, and LEXINGTON BLUE soon had the race in safe keeping after hitting the front three out. He was visored for the first time and this was a much softer contest than his Beverley win in June. He has ability and this may be a confidence booster, but I would presume the handicapper won’t do him any favours.
BOUSATET looked the obvious form choice following a promising handicap debut, but couldn’t match the winner once passed.  He’s lightly raced though and has proved recently that he has race winning ability.
INOVATE is a well grown three-year-old who looks more of a staying type to me. He was outpaced two out and plugged on from that point. He’s tried trips up to fourteen furlongs and it may just be worth persisting at staying trips.
BIRDY BOY set the pace until three out but quickly gave way and this was not encouraging from one who had fair form in the winter. In general his turf form has not matched form on Polytrack.

8.50 7f 30yds Cashino Handicap (64-74) (A Betfair Scottish Mile Series Qualifier)

JUST PAUL has been in excellent form this season, progressing by means of a series of narrow wins which were never harshly penalised.  He took over after the two furlong pole and always looked the winner from that point. He idled in the closing stages, which might explain his tight races in the past, but had any amount in hand at the line. If we ignore a Catterick disappointment he is still going forward and, given that the mile shouldn’t be beyond him, he may be competitive in the final of this series.
JEANNIE GALLOWAY closed no the winner to the line but it was on sufferance and she was held.  A decent enough effort though and she’s unlikely to come up against such a progressive type every time. Her last win was two years ago, but she looks capable off a mark of 72.
MOWHOOB hasn’t looked a particularly easy ride and kept on for third without ever threatening.
CARA’S REQUEST led until headed after two out. She plugged on into fourth but is vulnerable to anything progressive.
DUMBARTON ROCK made an effort three out but was beaten fairly quickly. He might be better suited by six furlongs but would have to improve on this effort even if dropped back in trip, signs here not that encouraging.


Hamilton hold their popular Ladies Night evening meeting this Saturday August 3rd.

Musselburgh's programme continues on Friday 9th August with an afternoon meeting featuring the £25,000 1m 6f Archerfield Cup Handicap, a contest which it is hoped might feature one or two limbering up fro the Ebor Handicap.