Friday, 4 October 2013

Royal Scots Day at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH - Sunday September 29th 2013

Going – Good to Firm

The glorious stretched into autumn, providing fine weather for the well attended Royal Scots Race Day. The going was on the fast side but, as Clerk of the Course Harriet Graham observed, there’s no need to water as the heavy autumn dews take any edge out of the surface.

I was treated to a belated birthday celebration afternoon in the Epperston Restaurant by my wife. A very good afternoon we had, with decent food an attentive staff, the latter happy to keep us filled up with iced water even though we weren’t drinking otherwise. The food is excellent and a dessert of ‘Candied pear and nougatine parfait, burnt sugar caramel and Cox’s orange pippin compote’ was right up there with any I’ve had. For obvious reasons my paddock coverage wasn’t quite as serious as it might have been on other afternoons, though I did join the masses on a few occasions!

News of next year’s Musselburgh programme is that the Scottish County Hurdle, held on Cheltenham Trials Day in February, has Listed status for its next renewal. The course have worked hard to promote this meeting over recent years, last year’s renewal of the meeting producing Cheltenham runners from all 8 contests. The course may not be similar to Cheltenham, but the consistently decent ground at this Linksland course does provide a warm up opportunity for good ground horses at a time when many courses are running soft or heavy ground.

Thommo was in ‘good voice’ as ever, though we were spared an enclosure otur as the travelling mike wasn’t available.

2.00 5f Royal Scots Club Nursery Handicap (50-70)

Those with form were handicapped right up to it, the top-weight Tinsill running of a 17lbs higher mark for a Beverley win. Hence the race was ripe to be taken by something unexposed and the duty was carried up by three-raced GULLAND ROCK from David O’Meara’s stable. Well bred and steadily improving to a fair sixth at Wolverhampton last time, this one took advantage of a 58 rating, disputing the lead and asserting form the furlong pole. He’s a strong sort, did this well and I suggest is capable of going on from here.
BALTIC SPIRIT was reportedly unsuited by the sticky ground at Hamilton last time. He was tapped for speed early on but picked up nicely  in the latter stages to land second place. Time might be running out this season, but I suspect this one will prove good enough to win on similar ground at a stiffer five furlongs or if moved up to six.
SAFFIRE SONG was dropped back a trip, a move I didn’t completely understand, but showed decent speed on kept on for third place having been near the pace all the way.
PRINCESS MYLA made an effort over one out but couldn’t get to the leaders.
TINSILL a strong, close-coupled out and out sprinting sort, was held up and made a little late progress. He wasn’t beaten that far and at a stiffer track should still be competitive off this higher mark.
I noted BOUNTIFUL FOREST as ‘on toes’ in the paddock and she added to a rapidly growing losing run for those I have noted as such. These geed up sorts just don’t seem to make an impact once on the course and look to be ones to oppose, particularly if starting at short odds.
WHITE FLAG was always out at the back and reported as not suited by the quick ground.

2.30 7f 30yds British Stallion Studs EBF 2yo Maiden (Class 4)

I missed a trick here as I couldn’t find a great physical advantage amongst the four that had raced, and form of all was promising to a small degree. In the event the two outsiders filled the first two places and I wish I’d kept more of an eye on the market.

NEUF DES COUERS built on a couple of moderately promising runs, staying on best of four who were pretty much in line over a furlong out. She stayed on determinedly to hold off here stable companion. She will stay further and is going the right way.
PORTHOS DU VALLON set a fair pace and responded gamely once headed at the furlong pole. He settled nicely, looks a straight forward sort and there should be a small contest for him, possibly in a handicap as a current mark of 67 looks workable on this evidence.
WEALTH looked well enough, had every chance and kept on in the closing stages if held.
MAJOR SURPRISE looked the likely winner from my vantage point at the furlong pole*, but was run out of it in the closing stages. He will likely need a stiffer test.
MARACUJA was green and wayward in the preliminaries. And looked as if there was still a bit to work on fitness wise. She was outpaced over two furlongs out but should come on for the experience and the gallop.

*’Er indoors decided she wanted a shoes change and yours truly was sent to do the task. One perk I get for writing this drivel is a parking space in the Owners & Trainers car park , so at least I remained trackside for the race!

3.00 7f 30yds rsp Consulting Handicap (67-85)

The most competitive race aon the card with a number that are progressing or have progressed.
JUST PAUL, a winner over course and distance in August, has made steady progress over the season. He has never won by a huge amount, and gives the impression he doesn’t do too much once in front. Putting in a sustained challenge from the two furlong marker, he led inside the final furlong and was ridden out. He has run well on good to soft, but is probably best on slightly faster ground.
MISHAAL wasn’t far away from breaking the ‘on toes’ hoodoo. He was very awkward and sweating in the paddock before being taken to start early. Restrained in rear, he picked his way through on the inside rail to finish strongest of anything to take second close home. He’s a fizzy sort but has been running well of late and, provided his energies can be channelled in the right direction, can win a race or two.
FUTURE REFERENCE sat down in the stalls and lost some ground at the start. Ridden to go prominent, he kicked on four out and though passed at the furlong pole stuck to his task well enough. He has done well on Polytrack and there should be further opportunities off a mark of 85.
LAZARUS BELL raced keenly for much of the way, but put in a persistent challenge from two out only to be held in the latter stages. A better effort than his last two outings.
CAPO ROSSO plugged on for fifth, suggesting an easing in the handicap is needed, while FUNDING DEFICIT came from well off the pace for a never nearer sixth and needs a drop in class.
SOMEONE’s DARLIN stumbled at the start and was up against it from that point. She was then forced wide on the bend and had no chance from that point. She’s normally a consistent sort and may be a backable price next time given that her last two runs have been down the field.

3.35 1m EBF Fillies’ Handicap (72-87)

A largely exposed bunch of fillies contested this feature race of the afternoon. The race was won by a filly in COINCIDENTLY who seems to be an autumn sort given that she won at Kempton around about this time last year. Dropped back in distance after a fair effort at Redcar, she was kicked clear by Silvestre De Sousa at the two furlong pole and wasn’t in much danger from that point. She had to be kept up to her work, and drifted causing minor interference to the eventual second for which De souse got a day’s unpaid holiday. She looked worth more than the winning margin and there may be better to come.
LIGHT ROSE had less mileage on the clock than some and ran a sound race in second place. She kpt on to the line having raced prominently and would have chances on the All-Weather in the coming months.
ELLE WOODS is a largely consistent sort setting the standard in third place,.
HOW’S LIFE impressed with her action on the way to start. She set the pace and kept to her task once overtaken two furlongs out. This was her first race out of pattern class since winning her first two races and there must surely be a race for her at this level, perhaps at 7 furlongs given that she was able to lead Goodwood’s Oak Tree Stakes until a furlong from home.

4.10 1m 5f Thomson Holidays Handicap (73-86)

A progressive animal beat a number of well exposed opponents. Sir Mark Prescott’s ALCAEUS, disappointing in an all-weather Listed company in Sweden last time, put things to rights here with a convincing effort back in a handicap. He made smooth progress to lead two out and was driven out in the closing stages. An example of Sir Mark Prescott’s ability to improve a horse from a lowly mark, Alcaeus’s record stands at an impressive 6 wins from 10 attempts.
COSMIC SUN is well exposed but ran to his mark here, staying on from two out but never closing quick enough to threaten to pass the winner.
HAWDYERWHEESHT was behind early but stayed on for a never nearer third place.
SCATTER DICE made an effort three out but though keeping on was held in the final furlong.
MUNTASIR, second in a weak event last time, was easily put in his place here, while MERCHANT OF DUBAI put up a third consecutive disappointing effort and faded from four out.

4.45 1m 1f Steadfast Scotland Handicap (59-70)

BERLUSCA’s best form had been on the Wolverhampton Polytrack but he came clear from over a furlong out to win very comfortably. Yorksters Prince had set a decent pace and Berlusca looked to be favoured by that.
TECTONIC led two out, but he’s not the most resolute in front that early and was overhauled and easily outpaced soon after. Keith Dalgleish has done well with this one over the summer.
ROYAL STRAIGHT had conditions to suit but was outpaced having threatened two furlongs out and there was precious little encouragement from anything else in the race.

5.15 5f Royal Scots Apprentice Handicap (Division 1) (45-59)

Bottom end handicap sprints wouldn’t normally be my ideal betting medium, but produced the bet of the day here in IRISH GIRL’S SPIRIT. She is suited by the quick ground, had gone well previously here and was in good enough form against a very moderate bunch of opponents. The only slight hitch was a wide draw, but I reasoned that sharp start would overcome that. Shirley Teasdale got her out quickly, tacked over to the rail and led after a furlong. Job pretty much done and this willing filly kept up the gallop to win with a bit to spare. I reckon she’s a 60 class filly given fast ground and a sharp five furlongs  and she ran off 52 here.
COMPTON HEIGHTS stayed on under driving to take second place. He went one better at Ayr a couple of days later, thus gaining saome reward for some fair efforts of late.
WICKED WILMA ran her best for a while, sticking to her task for third, but those behind were very moderate.
FOL HOLLOW ran down the field here but managed a win at Hamilton the next day on a ocurse that suits him better than this. Although he’s on a low mark now he did at least manage to propve he’s not a back number.
TRUE THAT was made favourite following moderate form over 6 and 7 furlongs. He was never going and was reported as having a breathing problem. One positive from my point of view on this occasion was that he made the market as Irish Girls Spirit’s price was 4/1 rather than the 2/1 I had expected.

5.45 5f Royal Scots Apprentice Handicap (Division 1) (40-58)

Episode Two of this contest was no better than Episode One, though the first three had all shown a glimmer of form lately.
BEAUTY PAGEANT’s record of 4 from 30 going into this is moderately respectable for the class. She broke well to lead and responded to riding in the latter stages to hold off her main challenger. She can remain competitive in all-weather contests.
CHEYENNE RED offers up the occasional decent effort in amongst a load of tat these days. He was always chasing the leader and kept on to the line.
HERE NOW AND WHY has performed consistently here of late though but hasn’t won very often in recent times and regularly finds one or two too good. He closed to the line for a never nearer third.
TADLAVIL, lightly raced of late, ran respectably in fourth without ever threatening, while the rest were well beaten.

THE KICKING LORD proved very mulish at the start and was withdrawn. He’s on a last warning now as another indiscretion would result in not being able to take stalls test for six months. This particular ‘on toes’ didn’t even get out of the gate!

Advance news that Musselburgh's jumps meetings on November 8th is free entry. It's Saints and Sinners day which is a charity day so racegoers might like to donate some of their saved admission money to charity.

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