Saturday, 30 November 2013

Musselburgh St Andrew's Day Meeting

Yeah OK, I know, it was day early, but I'm not the marketing man!

MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 29th

Going – Good (Goof to Firm in places), though the jockeys reported it was cutting up on the grass bends and that it was probably on the dead side of good.

A bright and breezy day in East Lothian, a bit chilly but nice enough weather to be welcome at this time of year when conditions can turn very cold, the corresponding meeting last year having been lost to frost.

12.10 3m ½f Saltire Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (69-99)

A case of where did that one come from as former maiden point winner STITCHED IN TIME poped in at 33/1 and stepped up significantly on previous hurdles form. Setting or sharing the pace all the way, he stayed on well up the home straight and, though having to be ridden out on the flat, was clear from three out and not in any danger. He gave a glimmer of encouragement last season, but ran poorly on seasonal debut, a change of tactics seemingly helpful here and the near good ground probably didn’t do any harm either. He has the look of a chaser and I suspect is one who has needed time to grow up.
Emma Sayer rode AUBERGE into second having recently turned conditional and back after a lay off following a fall which damaged two vertebrae. Her mount hasn’t got a turn of foot, but does keep staying on and kept on into second. He regularly runs his race and goes well enough here though not yet a course winner.
PUDSEY HOUSE tried to match the winner up front but gave way from three out, being relegated to third on the run-in. He made all on his one win and looks to need things his way.
VALLANI often gets stretched for speed early on and came from the rear to claim fourth place. She does on this ground but probably needs it a bit softer to slow down the others.
TEARS FROM HEAVEN plugged on into third coming off a long lay-off. He has won over fences and hurdles, including over the latter obstacles round here, and looked as the race would bring him on.
The previously in-form BURNS NIGHT found himself stretched at Stitched In time set the pace. He never got into the race and was well beaten in seventh.
FLYING DOCTOR fell at the sixth and was straight up, but appeared to have gone seriously wrong on his off fore. However it could be that he just got his legs caught in the reins, and perhaps was not life threatening, as there were no screens put up and he was led into the horse ambulance.

12.40 2m BAM Construction Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

The two juvenile hurdles at Musselburgh this term have had a total of seven runners, one of those running in both contests. This must surely be a consequence of the plethora of all-weather racing that takes place in the winter. I’ve nothing against all-weather racing, and would go if we had a track locally, but there’s so much that you do wonder if anyone has considered consequences for the novice end of the winter sport.  It looks a question of the sport acquiring a third arm, but the outcome is that it uses that extra arm to shoot itself in the foot.

DISPOUR made the pace and quickened up well enough to see off his only serious rival. He jumped left at times, including forcing the runner-up against the rail on the run-in, but saw out his race well enough. He may have tough tasks under a double penalty in no-handicaps. Jason Maguire was given two days for forcing Thorpe into the rail, a decision I felt was a bit harsh given that his mount suffered from wonky steering over the last two flights.
THORPE ran a decent enough race but was well held even allowing for his contretemps with the running rail. The division is not strong on evidence presented to date and there should be a minor event to be won with him soon.
SEASIDE ROCK was last of four at the opening meeting here earlier in the month and was readily outpaced from three out. He needs to be handicapped and placed in the bottom grade.

 1.10 2m 4f Semichem Novices’ Handicap Chase (85-108)

MY IDEA travelled well throughout the race, challenged four out, led two out and went clear on the run-in. This wasn’t a strong event and this is only his second win in 31 races.
TEO VIVO didn’t jump particularly well but at least got round this time and had every chance two out. He could only muster one pace from that point and is capable of improvement if and when he gets his jumping together.
AGRICULTURAL set the pace but was found out once turned for home. He basically a modest performer.
MUWALLA won at Sedgefield in September, but failed off a higher mark last time and was first beaten of the four still standing turning for home.
BEN AKRAM seemed distracted by Teo Vivo and unseated at the second.
KING’S CHORISTER had made some headway to close when not getting high enough at the eleventh and unseating Tony Kelly. That’s three times in a row he’s failed to complete over fences.

1.45 2m 4f Cornhill Building Services Ltd Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

A weakly contested event though the first two had given encouragement previously.
MANDARIN SUNSET was placed twice at Perth in spring/summer and built on that, running on determinedly to see off a single serious challenge.
BELLGROVE had every chance and may just have been outstayed by the winner. A Perth bumper winner in August, a win which I’m told took a significant five figure sum out of the ring, he’s a keen sort and may be better dropped back in trip.
YOURHOLIDAYISOVER kept on in third but was well held from two out. This was a respectable effort from this half-brother to several winners including decent hurdler Copeland. His best chance in future is likely to lie in handicaps once he has three hurdles runs on his record.
BIGGAR was disappointing in a well beaten fourth place considering his fair effort last time.
Nothing else was remotely competitive in the final record.
ASKALOTT was outpaced and pulled up before the seventh having burst a blood vessel. Bar a win in a dreadful point at Friar’s Haugh in 2012 he’s not looked like racehorse and must surely move on to something less strenuous.

2.20 2m Weatherbys Printing Handicap Chase (107-132)

Irish import CLARAGH NATIVE made an impressive winning debut for Martin Todhunter. He travelled well and jumped neatly throughout the race and took charge approaching the last. He has handled soft ground in the past, but his two Irish wins were on fast ground and good ground so his trainer will be looking out for further opportunities at Musselburgh if the rains stay away. He’s won over nineteen furlongs so a try at two and half miles might not be out of the question.
ENDEAVOR , a winner of four races around this time last year, put up a sterling effort in this company. He led four out but was headed after two out and didn’t have anything else left to respond to the winner.
QUITO DU TRESOR won a race here last time in which he jumped a good deal better than the remainder. He led from the sixth until four out and could muster only one pace from two out.
NINE STORIES was struggling by the seventh, soon pulled up and didn’t look particularly happy on chasing return.
SWIFT ARROW has two ways of running and was never going here, detached by the eighth fence and pulled up before the next. He normally saves these runs for when the North money is on but I have to plead ‘not guilty’ on this occasion!
SLEEP IN FIRST fell at the fifth.

2.55 Border Safeguard Handicap Hurdle (71-100)

PASS MUSTER showed only a glimmer of hurdling ability oh handicap debut in March but, off a break since then he led three out and quickened, winning very comfortably despite being clumsy over the last flight. The opposition was moderate but he couldn’t have won this in much easier fashion. Philip Kirby reported that he had a lot of niggling problems but a break seems to have sweetened him. He may well be pulled out to run under a penalty next week.
CADORE ran best of the more exposed bunch staying on from the rear for a clear second place and confirming the form of a decent effort behind Civil Unrest here last time.
VITTACHI plugged on into third without threatening, while PUSH ME made a little headway in the straight but is looking held after being put up significantly for winning a very soft contest at Kelso.
LYSINO is a four-year-old but he looks a chasing type and of the also rans he would be one to keep in mind. He didn’t get into this race and was outpaced in the straight on this occasion.
PALUS SAN MARCO was well backed on debut for Charlie Longsdon, but ran a tame race and was beaten a long way out before being pulled up.

3.25 2m Maiden Open NH Flat (class 5)

On paddock inspection only one of these looked likely to be a flat race winner and WILCOS MO CHARA quickened nicely two out to put the race to bed in emphatic fashion after setting the pace. He’s not huge but looks a hurdler in the making and should quickly follow up with another win.
OLLIE G has the stamp of a chaser about him, so it’s encouraging that he followed a promising debut with a determined staying on second here. He is likely to step up once encountering obstacles and a distance of ground.
Placed in two provincial maiden bumpers in France, VAUREN DE VAUZELLE chased the leader down the straight but couldn’t find any significant acceleration. He’s half-brother to a winning chaser and is likely to benefit from going hurdling.
CALTON ENTRY stuck his guns quite well having been outpaced early in the straight, but will likely need further experience.
TRACKANAIS was outpaced in the final two furlongs but went about his business well enough to suggest shrewd handler Simon Shirley-Beavan can point him in the right direction. His dam was a maiden chaser but has bred a useful chaser that won up to 21 furlongs.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Kelso November Meeting

KELSO – Saturday November 9th

Going – Good to Soft

12.30 2m 6 ½ f Jane Medd NH Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

A novice event where the first three were well clear and the form is probably decent.
Debutant THE LAST SAMURI looked very fit for hurdling debut , travelled well and stayed on after leading two out. He should win over hurdles again and will make a chaser in time.
MYSTEREE turned round form with conqueror here at the last meeting Kilgefin Star on 7lbs better terms, keeping on under pressure from two out after tracking the leader. A decent effort and he hasn’t done an awful wrong over hurdles to date.
KILGEFIN STAR set the pace, a tactic designed to keep him out of the way of the deadwood in this fourteen runner field. He was headed two out and stuck to his job if held on the flat, his form working out pretty much to the pound with Mysteree. Connections seemed satisfied enough with this effort.
HEART DANCER, 27 lengths back in fourth, was closely followed by MAGIC PRESENT and VOLO MIO. All three are bred to be chasers and are likely to be more prominent in that sphere.

1.05 2m 1f Ship Inn, Dalkeith Novices Handicap Chase (84-110)

CLONDAW KnIGHT, well touted beforehand, impressed me at the recent Arlary Open Day. He looked to have strengthened and schooled impressively. Always travelling well here he pulled away from his field from two out and looks the type to move on from here to further victories. He will stay further once he has strengthened up a bit more but showed speed enough at this level. One to keep on the right side as it’s likely he will rate significantly higher than this level.
SURPRISE VENDOR raced prominently and stuck on well enough from two out. He ran into a good one here and had the remainder beaten off.
SWING HARD was in rear early and made a few mistakes. He picked up well enough over the last four fences but could never get to the leaders. He won a point and seems likely to stay further than this under Rules.
COAX disputed for much of the way but looked beaten three out. He rallied in the closing stages and this was a better effort than when last seen over jumps. He’s 1 from 29 in all disciplines though and it remains to see if he can be competitive next time.
ROBIN’S DIAMOND was a fit too fizzy in the paddock. He made an effort three out but could make no further impact over the last two.
MY IDEA didn’t jump well enough to get competitive, BRIERYHILL BOY, two handlers and taken down early, looks too headstrong at the moment and JIMMIE BROWN was never going.
ALFRED OATS slipped and fell on the bend into the back straight. He hampered TEO VIVO who nearly came down and struggled afterwards, not looking entirely sound behind when unsaddled. LEROY PARKER was also hampered at this point and couldn’t get into the race.

1.40 3m 3f Graeme Todd Haulage and Friends Handicap Hurdle (109-135)

There aren’t many hurdles of this distance and this would be one of the better ones in the north over the course of the season. TALKIN SENCE really goes well here and stays all day. He’s the size of tuppence ha’penny compared to some of others but he was always going well and held the second in the latter stages. He could well follow up while in such good heart.
BISHOPS HEIR made a very encouraging comeback after a season off the track. He closed to three out and kept on under pressure to the line. He’s a chase winner and his trainer should have options under both disciplines in the coming weeks. All his wins have come on soft or heavy ground.
KARINGA DANDY was arguably best looking of these pre-race.  He was outpaced three out but kept on up the final hill. This lightly raced gelding looks a chasing type and clearly stays very well.
ALPHA VICTOR led until two out but was readily put in his place from that point. He’s on a plenty stiff enough mark at this time.
DEVOTION TO DUTY remains in the same ownership as before but recently moved from Lucinda Russell to Philip Kirby. He was driven at the tenth flight and made no impression from that point.  He has been placed over three miles but I suspect is better around 2m 4f.
 MICRO MISSION, a faller here over fences a few weeks back, was well held by three out.

2.15 2m 7½f Flannigan Skip Hire Handicap Chase (125-138)

KRUZHLININ raced comfortably most of the way, survived a serious error four out and showed fair speed from two out to hold on form a single serious challenger. This looked a decent from one who could be capable of making a mark in better company over fences.
MAGGIO ran to his best, keeping on determinedly after the winner up the straight, if always held. Only up a pound for this, he will have opportunities and goes well at Kelso.
ANEYEFORANEYE was held from two out. All her winning form is at shorter distances and she wouldn’t want the going any softer than this. She is on a reasonable mark given the right circumstances.
I understood that SA SUFFIT had been retired due to leg problems, but he pitched up here now running out of the stable of Jim Goldie. He plugged on having been outpaced on the run to two out and given the near two year lay-off this was a reasonable enough effort.
ROLECARR was never travelling comfortably and needs softer ground, his best chase form being around here in soft or heavy going.
GARLETON set a good pace to two out and then weakened.
BLENHEIM BROOK was never travelling with any ease and was behind three out then pulled up before the last. He’s decent at his best but recent form has not been good.

2.50 2m 1f Mayfield Restaurant Handicap Chase (117-136)

This race has dropped a grade from what it was but is still a fair contest for short distance chasers.
SWIFT ARROW was a winner here last season during a purple patch. Probably benefitting form a first outing of the season he led at the last and stayed on well to the line. He’s now 3 from 3 at Kelso.
JET MASTER had failed to complete in three chases prior to this, but he jumped well in the main. A mistake at the last may didn’t help as he led into the fence, but he rallied on the run-in and if he can repeat this he will win chases.
UPSILON BLEU, accompanied by two handlers in the paddock, raced in behind the leaders then led from four out until two out. He kept on well enough on the run-in, is a decent chasing sort and looks capable of landing a race before long.
RHYMERS HA’ ran a creditable race against more gifted opponents. He was held form the last but this offered sufficient encouragement should be dropped in class.
MR MOONSHINE was dropped down significantly in distance for one who has competed strongly over three miles. He was left behind from two out and it may well be that he hasn’t got the speed at shorter distances.
WILDE PASTURES disputed the lead early but was left behind from three out. His wins have all come on genuinely soft ground and this run will have done him no harm.

3.25 2m 2f David McLean (DM27) 7/7 Memorial Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (74-100)

The curse of the low sun struck for this race with the second last flight bypassed and the last omitted which meant the run-in was at least four and half furlongs.
CIVIL UNREST followed up a convincing Musselburgh win on the Thursday with a more hard fought victory here. He set the pace, stretched things when required and found enough under driving in the final furlong. He’s been moved up 14lbs for his Musselburgh win and it could be back to chasing again.
TRUST THOMAS ran a sound race, pushing the winner hard no the long run-in. His best efforts have been with cut in the ground.
RHYMERS STONE is probably a chaser in waiting, but put up his best effort over hurdles here staying on to the line.
BLUE SEA OF IBROX ran a respectable race from a lowly 74 rating. He was outpaced ni the final two furlongs has hinted at ability on both outings this term.
VODKA RED made progress down the far side but weakened once turned for home and though having a glimmer of ability is basically beatable.

4.00 George Harrow Memorial Handicap Chase (79-96)

A distinctly moderate contest where few offered much encouragement pre-race.
JIM TASNGO hinted a revival on a recent Hexham effort and was good enough to hold these. He was always on the premises and responded wel l enough when driven out to the line. He did rate 115 at one time and is at the right end of the scale if he retains enthusiasm. He’s a good ground performer and will presumably put his hooves up for a while if serious rains arrive.
BEN AKRAM jumped significantly better than on his last effort here. He made headway to two out, kept on to the line and is plenty capable of winning a similar contest if his jumping holds up.
BOB’S DREAM put in his best effort for sometime in finishing a close second.  He’s probably decent material for an equine shrink to practice on, but capable when in the mood and healthy.
BALLYCOOL made mistakes at the rear of the field. He stayed on up the straight to take fourth palce which was the best he was placed at any time.
OVERLAW went well to two out and then quickly dropped away. Word was that he was fit enough and expected to run a big race so the performance was a disappointment.
SENDIYM threw away his chance with errors in the second half of the race, but may atone as he is more committed to the job than many at this level.
BREEZE WITH EASE made errors and was beaten half a mile from home.
Long standing  maiden LAYBACH unseated at the second.

CARLISLE – Monday November 11th

Just to prove that every dog has his day, DICKIE HENDERHOOP won a woeful novices’ handicap hurdle. He was 3/1 which didn’t go much of the way to recovering losses from being regularly backed to shortish prices in the past. You never know, he may have turned over a new leaf…

SNUKER earned a place on a my horses to follow list on the basis that he’s a chasing type a long way down the handicap ratings who is probably better than his form suggests. He was given a real stamina test here over 3m 2f in the heavy and he stayed on strongly up the hill.
SHOAL BAY DREAMER put in a creditable effort in finishing second at his second attempt over this trip.

The feature Graduation Chase normally proves to be a decent contest and was close fought on this occasion. Sue Smith’s VINTAGE STAR battled well to hold off two talented challenger. He was outclassed at Cheltenham in March but should prove a decent handicapper.
BUDDY BOLERO stuck on well and is essentially an out-and-out stayer. He’s not been heavily raced to date, revels in the mud and is one to look out for in real stamina tests over the winter.
IMPERIAL VIC was pointed at this contest as the race conditions favoured a novice.  He set the pace until coming out of the far side for the last time. He was then outpaced going to three out and looked beaten before staying on very well in the closing stages. He was first in the queue when guts and determination were handed out and hasn’t run a bad race under Rules, and I suspect this form is better than it looks given that he would probably not be at his absolute best in extreme mud. The Rehearsal Chase is his target but he could win a staying novice chase under a penalty for his Perth win.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Musselburgh - Jumps opener

MUSSELBURGH – Thursday November 7th

Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

While McCoy was busy making history at Towcester there was slightly more mundane fare at Musselburgh as the latter opened their winter season.

1.0      2m Northern Hotel Brechin Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle(78-100)

CIVIL UNREST found things hard work over fences last season after a good start here. He’s been in pretty decent form in recent months though, winning over fences at Sedgefield last time and then following up in convincing fashion here. He set out in front and gradually wound up the pace in the final mile, pulling clear down the straight. He’ll go up a significant amount for this win, but he looks well suited by the sharp track and decent ground.
CADORE, held up out the back, was never in a position to challenge the winner but stayed on through the field for second. He’s the type to remain competitive in similar events at this track.
SHAN VALLEY, coming off a lay-off since March 2012, closed encouragingly after the sixth to chase the winner but couldn’t muster enough pace down the straight. She won a similar event at Wetherby in January 2012 over half a mile further and on the evidence of this run Stuart Coltherd has the mare in good heart.
TWEEDO PARADISO won at Carlisle last time but isn’t an easy ride. He was on his toes when entering the paddock and bit grinding all the way through the preliminaries. He moved into contention down the back straight but made no impression once turned for home.
Nothing else got into the race seriously.
The jockeys reported the ground as genuinely good ground.

1.30 2m Archerfield Juvenile Hurdle (Class 4)

Not a strong event, but a good measure was hard pressed by a hurdling newcomer so there may be some value in the form.
AKDAM set the pace and was pressed all the way from the home turn but prevailed with his will ni the last 50 yards. He’s well exposed, possibly the most raced juvenile hurdler this season, but is very consistent and gave of his best.
GOLD CHAIN, a winner of a Lingfield maiden a couple of months back, challenged from three out and pushed the winner all the way. She hurdled nicely enough and looks capable of picking up a small race on decent ground.
SEASIDE ROCK made an effort two out but was well held by the first two.
WILD DIAMOND is exposed and was beaten two out and isn’t offering encouragement at this time.

2.00 2m 4f William Hill Novices’ Handicap Chase (86-107)

We lost two at the first in this contest, Chase newcomer TEO VIVO fell and BEN AKRAM fell, the latter having put in a poor round at Kelso last time. TEO VIVO was quickly caught so took little out of himself and goes against at Kelso on Saturday 9th as does BEN AKRAM who had a little more of a gallop.
GET THE PAPERS, a fine big individual who will surely make up into competent chaser in time, was well backed throughout the day and bowled along in front until the home straight. There wasn’t much in the tank once turned for home and he faded to last of five finishers. Although he looks the basic raw material it was a little disconcerting to note that he wore a tongue-tie. I’d like this gelding see out a race before risking too much.
  CLOUDY JOKER, a point winner with some fair novice hurdle form, scored for the first time under Rules. He led three out and stayed on under driving to prevail. Given his point win you would expect some improvement over further.
BALLYMOAT has the build of a chaser and may well improve with time and experience. He chased the leader from two out and kept on under driving without getting to the winner.
FORESTSIDE arguably improved on recent form and kept on for third without being over punished once held by the first two.  His best hurdles form was at stiff tracks or in testing going.
CLONDAW FLICKA still oks rather raw. He never got into the race but plodded on for fourth place. He looks likely to need more of a test before he shows his best.
AGRICULTURAL took a heavy fall four out having chased the leaders to that point.

2.30 2m Don King and Neville Porter Bookmaker Mares’ Maiden Hurdle

This division isn’t strong in this part of the world, but the first two here may prove a bit better than the norm.

I was half of a mind to put BRIJOMIQUEEN on my list of horses to follow but eventually decided against it. This double Kelso bumper winner quickened nicely passing the omitted second last hurdle. The race once over but she responded again to see off a persistent challenger. She should stay further than the minimum and there will probably be opportunities in mixed company.
RATHVAWN BELLE looked plenty fi enough here, kept on after the winner in the closing stages but was held. She won’t find many better novice mares against her than this winner.
RETRIEVE THE STICK chased the leaders down the straight. She was held but no=t disgraced on hurdling debut and gives hope of better on the back of three placed efforts in bumpers.
HELLESBELLES may a passable debut in fourth but couldn’t get to grips with the leaders. Tim Vaughan travelled from South Wales for this and will presumably comb the programme book for opportunities.
Not much encouragement from the other runners. JORDAN’S DAY fell at the second giving James Corbett a crunching fall from which he came back in the ambulance. He got out looking very pale and with his arm in a sling. His mount meanwhile hasn’t proven competitive at hurdling.

3.00 3m Lyn’s Sahara Walk: Responsible Gambling Trust Handicap Chase (82-108)

MORE EQUITY put up what was arguably a career best at Kelso and wasn’t moved up the ratings despite coming third there from 5lbs out of the weights. Racing off her proper mark here she stuck on determinedly down the straight to record a deserved win.  This track probably doesn’t play to her strengths so on that basis it was even more meritorious. Last season I did say she was regressing, but the mare has proved that to be totally wrong.
DUKEOFCHESTERWOOD  has been a frustrating sort who is a good deal better than his 2 win record suggests. However, Karen McLintock has him in good heart and he stuck to his guns having apparently been a bit outpaced after leading briefly early in the straight.
KNIGHT WOODSMAN is a fizzy sort who needs two handlers in the paddock. He ran a decent race here having every chance three out but just outpaced in the closing stages. He is a course and distance winner and needs good ground or faster.
FOOT THE BILL looked to need the race after a lay-off. He was in the rear by the thirteenth and had no chance afterwards.
QUINDER SPRING disputed for the first two miles but weakened from four out. He has hsown some form this year but is inconsistent.
JAN JANDURA ran only twice last season, falling in this event last year. He made some headway after the fourteenth but that run soon petered out and he lost touch and was pulled up before the second last.

3.30 2m 4f Loganbet Brechin Handicap Hurdle (102-116)

I missed out on seeing McCoy’s 400th winner, the Towcester race being shown on the big screen. I was too busy eyeing up the runners for the closing contest at Musselburgh.
I’m not sure I can add a huge amount to what’s been said about McCoy’s achievement other to say that as far as I can see it puts most sporting achievements well into the shade. Could you imagine a cyclist winning the Tour De France 20 years a row or maybe Wimbledon? No, well it must surely equate to the dedication commitment and nerve that AP has required to remain the clear top, and the stress is on the clear. There have been many seriously good riders in the past 20 years, but none can live with McCoy, and that’s at a time when it could be argued that the strength of the jumps brigade is as high as it has ever been.

Meanwhile, back with more mundane Musselburgh matters, UEUETEOTL made up for just missing out at Kelso, racing handily and taking the race by the scruff from two out. He’s now going the right way and it has been intimated that he may go novice chasing before long.
MERCHANT OF DUBAI put in a sound effort in second place on his first hurdles outing for a while. He’s lightly raced and has shown enough to suggest he can win a handicap.
Sandy Thomson’s stable ahs had a very slow start with most of his runners well beaten of late. ANY GIVEN MOMENT, a winner round here before, gave more encouragement. He led for much of the way but was held from two out though sticking to his job.  He’s not on too bad a mark and should win a race or two this term.
BOGSIDE did his usual job of running a fair race without ever threatening to win.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Start of Ayr's Jumps Season

AYR – Saturday November 2nd

Going – Soft (turning Heavy)

A miserable afternoon at Ayr as the weather took a turn for the worse.

12.55 2m John Smith’s Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

This was hard work for many in the latter stages. The favourite HALLMARK STAR dropped away in the straight in the rain softened ground and might be better in less exacting conditons.
The well backed REDPENDER raced prominently, took a definite lead three out and forged away from his pursuers. He showed fair form in Irish soft ground points and staying should prove his game in time.
SILVERTON put up a best effort to date, cutting out much of the pace and sticking to her guns once passed. Her best previous effort was third in a heavy ground bumper at Kelso, so these conditions appear right up her street.
FRANKIE’S PROMISE jumped better than at Kelso but was still very wayward when asked for an effort in the straight. He lost lengths at each of the last three flights and will win an event like this once his jumping problems are corrected.
FINAL ASSAULT made an encouraging hurdling debut. He chased the leaders up the straight but could never get seriously to grips with the winner.  He showed enough to suggest that there are races to be won with him in the not too distant future.

1.25 3m 110yds Plumbstore Handicap Hurdle (83-110)

AMORE MIO disputed or led for most of the way. He had a set to with the second from four out and was headed at the second. However, slightly behind at the last, he stuck his head down as was going away at the finish. This was his first win since 2009, during which time he’s dropped from 132 into the 90s. Clearly he’s better than that and testing conditions suit.
HARTFORTH looked the likely winner two out, but the tank registered on the run-in and could offer no more. He was well clear of the third though and this was a creditable effort.
Two regulars in these events up here, SOLWAY SAM and AUBERGE battled out third with the former just prevailing. SOLWAY SAM had a purple patch in 2010 but hasn’s looked much like winning since, while AUBERGE won a couple at Hexham in the summer but is essentially opposable.
DAASIJ was never going and well held from six furlongs out as was stablemate THE FLAMING MATRON.

2.00 Topstaff Employment Handicap Chase (74-92)

TRESOR DE L’ISLE travelled well throughout the race and steadily asserted from four out.  This was a fair bit better than anything he has shown before and the summer break seems to have been a benefit. These sort of contests are clearly his level, he’s lightly raced and a follow up would appear likely.
SHOAL BAY DREAMER won after a break at this time last year. Having raced prominently he lost his place going to four out before staying on late for second. He’s one win from 17 and the event he won at Hexham was weak.
MILAN ROYALE had every chance down the straight and was found wanting from two out. His win came in a moderate five-runner event at Sedgefield.
ALEXANDER OATS was beaten after three out.  He beat much better than these here back in February 2011, but has regressed steadily since then.
ACCORDINGSCRIPT flattered briefly going to three out but soon dropped away.
LAYBACH jumped quite nicely but was under the pump when falling four out. 29 races and no wins tells the story.
BALLYCOOL made headway three out but soon weakened and unseated when beaten at the last. He was keen early on which didn’t help his chances of seeing out the trip in these conditions.
SPITFIRE ACE thumped the first and gave Henry Brooke a taste of the Ayrshire turf.

2.35 3m 1f John Smith’s Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (114-136)

On a visit to Arlary, GREEN FLAG was signalled to me as one to follow this season and he made it two from two with a convincing performance in the rain and gloom. Held up initially, he was steadily put into the race on the second circuit, joined the leaders and steadily got on top from two out. He is a natural as a steeplechaser  and I suspect will prove better than handicap class before the season is out.
SCOTSWELL found one too good here, but put in a fine round of jumping himself. He’s an honest soul with a decent win to runs record over hurdles. On this evidence he should win races over fences as he won’t always run into one with the potential of the winner.
SIVOLA DE SIVOLA didn’t jump as well as the first two and was held from four out.
STREAMS OF WHISKEY didn’t jump fluently but did well to stay in contention though was held and  looking second best when falling at the last.
A Cheltenham Festival winner in the past, PAUSE AND CLAUSE was held and took a heavy fall at the twelfth.

3.10 2m John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle (110-126)

TRUCKINMG ALONG has generally run well on his trips to Ayr. Back to only 4lbs above his previous winning mark, his efforts up the straight were rewarded as his forced his head in front near the line.
MORNING ROYALTY made the running for all bar 50 yards of this contest. He relishes this testing ground and battled hard when challenged.
TITUS BOLT came to the last with every chance but gave way. If dropped in class he would appear to have every chance of winning a similar event, but he needs things his own way and better ground would help.
COOL BARANCA was stretched for pace most of the way but plugged on through the field for fourth.
SAPHIR RIVER disappointed after a decent chasing win last autumn. This return didn’t offer too much suggestion that a revival is imminent as he was never in threatening position and well beaten from three out.
CALL BOX raced prominently but was out on his feet from two out.
OUTRAGEOUS REQUEST couldn’t handle this ground and can be forgiven  this run.
UBALTIQUE has ability but has proved beatable when perhaps capable of better. He was never near the front and pulled up before two out.

3.45 2m John Smith’s No Nonsense Handicap Chase (109-130)

SIMPLY NED is a sort I have liked ever since he won a bumper at Kelso. He proved a decent hurdler, and made up for a first fence Carlisle fall with a convincing success in senior company. He travelled wel l throughout, jumped well and has the ability to go in better company.
STORMIN EXIT is a game sort who is fair measure at this level when on his game. He was not disgraced, beaten by a talented opponent but well clear of the third.
UN GUET APENS ran a decent enough race but was held form two out. He’s lightly raced and was given some tough tasks in novice chase company last season. A novice handicap will prove more his level and he will win chases.
CATCH TAMMY raced prominently and led at the eighth. However, he was held down the straight and is probably best when able to dictate affairs. A smaller field may be a help.
KEALIGOLANE went well enough to the eighth in front but was ridden on the final bend and not dangerous afterwards. He is another that needs to dictate affairs.

4.15 Odds and Evens Bookmakers Newcomers Standard Open NH Flat (Class 6)

A tough test for newcomers. Both FLY HOME HARRY and WARRIORS TALE showed signs of greenness up the straight, the former showing more tenacity in the closing stages. Difficult to gauge what the form is worth, but both should have learnt a bit from this.