KELSO – Saturday October 19th
Going – Good to Soft (Soft in places)
This meeting really gets the season going at Kelso with plenty to go into the notebook ready for the coming months. The novice chase in particular looked a strong event with two very decent staying chasers fighting out the finish.
The rains arrived midweek and softened the ground a fair bit, though the jockeys reported it as pretty decent ground on the soft side of good.
1.35 2m ½f Dalkeith Bowling Club NH Maiden Hurdle – Division 1 (Class 5)
Not a strong event to start the card but Donald McCain had PLAN AGAIN well readied to win this one with the minimum of fuss. Always travelling well, he led two out and pulled clear. Previously winner of an Irish point and a Musselburgh bumper this six-year-old gelding should make strides up the scale and is likely to make up into a chaser.
BERNARDELLI looked reasonably straight for his seasonal debut and kept on stoutly from two out without threatening the winner. This was a step up on previous efforts and he looks to have benefitted from a break since January.
SPITZ caught the eye in the paddock on hurdling debut. He was always well placed but couldn’t match the winner from two out. A winner of a Musselburgh bumper last December this one should come on for the experience.
ELLISTRIN BELLE chased the clear leader Aw Ripe China for much of the way but could only find one pace once turned for home. She stuck to her task though and there are a few weak mares’ hurdles in the north where she could make a mark.
FRANKIE’S PROMISE, a double bumper winner last term, put in two poor jumps the second of which decanting Lucy Alexander who had to be stood down for the meeting after suffering a broken nose. Her mount was just as bad jumping the third loose and then found a way to by-pass the remaining obstacles! More schooling will presumably be on the agenda. Lucy Alexander is as tough as they come and isn’t expected to be out for long.
2.10 2m 7 ½ f Clifford and Martin Firth Memorial Novices’ Chase (Class 4)
The best contest on the card and in terms of the animals contesting this could be rated a Class 2 event. The finish was a ding-dong battle down the straight between two distinctly decent looking novice chasers.
GREEN FLAG was flagged up to me as a horse to follow from Lucinda Russell’s yard. He was pretty decent as novice hurdler but has always been regarded as a chaser in waiting. He really made a mark here, brought steadily into the contest toward the end of the first full circuit jumping efficiently he joined issued from the turn into the straight, just prevailing following a prolonged duel with a determined opponent. I suspect the form of the first two here is into the 140s and I’d expect further improvement with experience. A cracking debut by Green Flag who has an exciting campaign ahead with the Paris Pike Chase over this course and distance in December the first target.
IMPERIAL VIC has proved a revelation to his owners since being bought at the start of last jumps season. He has a nice easy going style, able to lead at a sensible pace or to follow a leader when required. He kicked on from the eleventh and had most on the stretch by the home turn. Taken on by Green Flag approaching the omitted two out (damaged on the previous circuit), he stuck grittily to his task and on the run-in kept battling away before being held in the last 50 yards. This was decent effort giving 7lbs to a talented opponent. I am told that his long term target is the Rehearsal Chase.
FULL JACK, a Grade 3 winner in France, made a satisfactory debut in the UK chasing sphere. Theoretically he had an advantage at the weights with the second, but it’s difficult to judge form between France and the UK but he wasn’t disgraced against two very good animals. His French form was all on very soft or heavy ground and a true stamina test may suit.
BALDING BANKER had a good deal to find at the weights but ran well until outpaced from three out.
FOUNDRY SQUARE tried hard to match the first two and looked booked for a decent third place when crashing out at the last. On form to date he’s not that far behind the first two and, assuming there aren’t lasting effects from the fall, should win a staying novice chase.
SHOW PUBLIC unseated at the eighth before the race commenced in earnest. This one was an easy winner of the Heart Of All England Hunter Chase at Hexham in May and will find much easier opportunities than this race.
WITNESS IN COURT set the pace until the eleventh but was stretched from four out and pulled up before two out. He will have chances in softer races with an easier lead.
NETMINDER, winner of a decent novices’ handicap at Ayr in April, was struggling before the two mile mark and pulled up after the twelfth. Sandy Thomson’s runners normally take a race or two to tune up and this form should be left behind.
Inexperienced BIG GEORGE went very well for a couple of miles and was then pulled up as he faded. He’s a big chasing sort and a pointing winner and he showed enough here to suggest there will be opportunities once he finds his level.
SAGLIERE had shown little previously and was totally outclassed here, left behind from before halfway and pulled up with a circuit to go.
2.45 2m ½f Dalkeith Bowling Club NH Maiden Hurdle – Division 2 (Class 5)
VINNY GAMBINI ran in a couple of Irish points back in 2011 but this was his first run since. He looked well enough on his return and was driven out to win this contest. I suspect the break has allowed him to develop as he is quite a muscular sort who should make a chaser in time.
UEUETEOTL has ability and should really have added to a debut bumper success by now. He led three out here and still had an advantage at the last, but he hit the flight and that cost him momentum. He stuck to his task but couldn’t foil the winner’s challenge. He’s talked of as a novice chaser and I’m sure there are races to be won with him.
ORCHARD ROAD stepped up on his previous run for his yard. He challenged going to two out but was held on the flat.
GOLD FUTURES looked plenty fit enough on his hurdling debut. He made progress to have every chance at the second last but couldn’t raise his game from the last.
3.20 2m 7½f EDF-ER Fallago Rig Handicap Chase (113-139)
Jan Faltejsek made his return to the UK after a second successive Velka Pardubice success the previous Sunday. He resumed a successful partnership with KNOCKARA BEAU who won this race for the second year in succession. He travelled well throughout and had the contest in safe keeping before the last and was eased on the run-in. He has an excellent record at Kelso but future opportunities are dependent on the handicapper’s reaction to this comfortable win as any significant rise will mean there will be very few contests here for which he is eligible. The Kelso Premier Chase over a slightly shorter trip here in March would be an obvious target.
BESCOT SPRINGS put in a creditable effort in second, arguably his best for a while, staying on from two out but not threatening the winner.
MORE EQUITY, running off 113 from 5lbs wrong in the weights, ran what might arguably be seen as a career best. She struggled last season but has blossomed in recent months. She chased the leader on the final circuit, was outpaced going to two out but then stuck to her guns up the final hill. She’s not a prolific winner, 6 from 61 runs, but she is in good heart and may find a contest at a slightly lower level in the coming weeks.
PETTIFOUR is not the greatest jumper and was driven going on top the last lap. He stuck on up the run-in but was never closer than his final fourth place.
RAPIDOLYTE DE LADALKA, considered good enough to have a tilt at last season’s Irish National, had every chance on the home turn but weakened in the straight. This should go some way to setting him right and I’d expect a better showing next time.
GARLETON set a decent pace jumping as well as ever. He weakened before two out and was well held but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
WICKLOW LAD made no real impact on first outing for Nick Alexander and was pulled up before the last. His chase wins have all been in soft and heavy and presumably he needs that ground to slow the others down.
MICRO MISSION, looking fit enough on seasonal debut, fell at the sixth.
3.55 2m ½f Peter Doyle Handicap Hurdle (90-115)
In the main the field here were exposed and the race was ripe for taking by something that hadn’t got many miles on the clock. TURTLE WATCH obliged for Jim Goldie, staying on from two out and leading on the flat. This was significantly better than previous efforts and it could be a little cut in the ground helped.
CAPTAIN BROWN, beaten a long way on the flat at Hamilton last month, led for most of the way only to be headed on the run-in. He was by no means a tear away leader and had all bar the winner beaten before the last. The tactics worked well enough and he may find a similar contest.
BOGSIDE chased the leaders two out but made no impact. He has ability but is normally opposable.
HALLMARK STAR came to dispute second two out but couldn’t get any closer. He’s got a good record in testing ground and may need genuinely soft or heavy ground to break his duck.
SEATTLE DRIVE, claimed at Musselburgh recently, was well backed but faded tamely from three out. He has run well enough with cut in the ground before, was brought to this contest hard fit and there doesn’t seem much excuse for a very poor effort. He was pulled up before the last; all but taking out the tail ender STANLEY BRIDGE on which horse Brian Harding could really have called it day at that point.
PUSH ME won well against weak opposition here last time but was never in the race on this occasion. I suspect she’s not at her best when asked to hurdle in softish ground and I’d be willing to give her another chance on a better surface. Free draining Musselburgh would be the obvious place for such a chance.
4.35 2m 6½f Royal Smithfield Club Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
I got a heads up on this one that KILGEFIN STAR works well at home and there aren’t many in the stable that can keep up with him. Bear in mind this is a stable that houses decent animals in Imperial Vic and Orsippus. A winner of a point in Ireland after a fair tries, this one’s strong suit is clearly stamina and he made it pay here. He took up the lead four out and gradually stretched the chasing group from that point. The second made little impact and he stayed on well for victory.
Looked on as a potential chaser, this one doesn’t look dissimilar to Imperial Vic in terms of profile and is worth keeping an eye on.
MYSTEREE wasn’t disgraced in second, even though clearly held approaching the last. He was well clear of the remainder and can add to his Hexham win before long.
SHANEN was sweating here and will probably benefit from the outing. He chased looking dangerous two out but there was no more to give.
MISTER D led until four out and at least stuck to his task afterwards. He looks a chaser in waiting and connections will surely have been encouraged by this effort.
MO ROUGE showed just a glimmer of encouragement but was well held from three out. This one was sent from a stable in Inverurie, the farthest north by a fair way of any yard in the UK, it would be nice to see trainer Jacqui Stephen strike a blow for her outpost somewhere along the line. This gelding probably has ability but may need a little time.
5.10 2m 1f Sir Maxwell Harper Gow Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase (89-105)
This wasn’t a great event but taken by the in-form SENDIYM who won at Sedgefield earlier in the month. He led at the sixth and stayed on under pressure to take the contest. He’s three from 7 in chases and has the right attitude for contests at this end of the spectrum.
ROYAL RIVIERA put up a fair effort on chase debut. He disputed two out and stayed on up the hill.
MY IDEA had every chance at the last but was tapped for pace in the final half furlong.
PEAKS OF FIRE needed some encouragement at the start and lost six or seven lengths. He then rushed up to join the leaders, and was up there until weakening two out. He’s got the ability to win a race like this, but if there’s a problem it’s balanced between his ears. Both his jumps wins have come in heavy ground.
BEN AKRAM didn’t jump well and was never in the race.
TAKAATUF sprawled on landing at the third and was quickly pulled up. Assuming he’s Ok he can be forgiven this.
CAVITE ETA was in touch when unseating at the seventh and earning Henry Brooke a trip to hospital.
5.40 2m 6½f Maxwell Celebration Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle (77-100)
This contest was delayed for some ten minutes awaiting the returning ambulance and took place in the gathering gloom.
Not a contest that will live long in the memory, but a return to form for CAPITAL VENTURE who had promised much in the past but had only one win before this in a stop-start career. He led two out and was all out to hold on after the last.
TOP BILLING showed a bit more than on previous outings in making the winner work for victory. He hasn’t shown a huge amount since his three-year-old days, and has yet to wins in 11 outings flat and jumps, but his best efforts have been with cut in the ground.
TEXAS ROSE travelled well in the most part but didn’t find an awful lot approaching the last and there was not a huge amount of encouragement from the remainder of a moderate collection.