KELSO – Sunday December 29th
Going – Soft
Kelso closed Scotland 2013 programme with some decent racing. The going was soft, but the ground was generally in pretty good nick judged by my pre-racing course walk. There was just one patch of rather gluey ground on the chase course in the dip before the final fence.
12.00 2m 6f 110yds Matt The Bookie Congratulates Kelso Ground Staff NH Novices’ Hurdle (Class 5)
Not a strong event in terms of depth of talent, but the winner has scope enough to go on from this.
Another shrewd purchase by fellow ‘top of the roofer’ Billy Muir*, MASTERLEADERMAN confirmed the impression that a stiffer test would suit him, staying on well to beat a less than willing favourite. Settled handily he took over approaching the last and was not in any trouble from the last.
HELLORBOSTON has ability but looks a devilishly difficult ride. He made the pace but was niggled along for much of the way and looks less than committed. He did keep on for pressure though and the impression is there’s more in the tank should he be inclined to use it.
BLUESIDE BOY has been off the track since sustaining an injury after finishing fourth in this race last year. He was held by the winner before the last but ran creditably in third and clearly has ability and will presumably benefit from this return.
LORD USHER made headway to track the leaders three out. He hit two out and couldn’t produce enough that, but this was a satisfactory return at the sort of trip which will suit. He will likely make up into a chaser in time.
THORLAK is well considered by his trainer but has taken time to come to himself. He was held from two out but not disgraced and is likely to improve with experience.
*A measure of Mr Muir’s shrewdness is that MONT ROYALE, bought by him for £1300, won a Kelso bumper and was recently sold to a Jonjo O’Neill owner for £60,000. A pretty decent piece of business I think and Mont Royale’s progress will be followed with interest.
12.30 Black Swan Lees Hotel Kelso Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
This isn’t a competitive division in the north and this contest was reduced to four with two non-runners.
RETRIEVE THE STICK took over before two out and forged clear from that point. It transpired her main rival went lame, but the winner has some ability and can take a similar contest under a penalty.
HOLD FAIR, a distant third in this event last year, kept on for second place though having no chance with the winner. She will need to be competing in basement level handicap hurdles to have any chance of winning a race.
TEXAS ROSE appeared to me to be backing off full effort in the closing stages, but it transpired that she had gone lame. She had fractured a knee, but she’s recovering and will now go to stud.
INNOCENT GIRL hinted at ability in a maiden at Musselburgh, but she was first beaten. Better ground may help but she looks to have only limited ability.
1.05 2m 7f 110yds Floors Castle Horse Trials Handicap Chase (95-112)
OR DE GRUGY looked as well as ever in the preliminaries and landed a sixth win from 19 efforts. He set the pace, kicked on from two out and was always holding the others from that point. I chatted to his owner later in the afternoon, and he’s clearly very proud of the old boy who could still be low enough in the weights to win again.
POLARBROOK didn’t jump well but was eased into the contest approaching two out. He looked the danger two out but didn’t look fully committed, hanging right on the run-in. He doesn’t look straightforward and is one to oppose at short odds.
FARM PIXIE couldn’t get to grips with the leader but kept on for third. He looks the type to come to himself over extreme distances and should break his chasing duck given a stiffer test.
I’m not totally convinced about FOG PATCHES’s commitment to the game. He had every chance here but was held from two out. He did win twice last season though, so he could be one whose confidence builds when on a roll.
MORE EQUITY drifted significantly in the betting. She might well have reached the limit of ability on her current mark. Having tracked the leader she gradually lost her place from two out.
1.35 2m 1f Monteith Memorial Handicap Chase (94-120) (Betfair Scottish Chase Series Qulaifier)
This Series culminates in a final over 2m 5½f here on May 7th.
The race lost two of the more likely chances when LITTLE GLENSHEE whacked a hole in the open ditch (fence 3) giving Kit Alexander a heavy fall and causing CLOVERHILL LAD to unseat. Jockeys and horses were all still in one piece and Little Glenshee was pictured by his trainer eating up on return home.
The open ditch was omitted on the second circuit due to the damage.
BALLYCOOL hadn’t totally convinced in previous chases, but took advantage here. He raced prominently and stayed on very well to the finish. This may well help his confidence and he could go on from here.
ROCKING BLUES looked held on the final bend but stayed on through the field to take second place.
ENDEAVOR, typically on his toes in the preliminaries, chased the leader and led three out, but didn’t offer an awful lot once passed two out. He can be moody though is decent if caught on the right day.
PROSECCO led until three out but then faded while PRINCE TAM needs things his own way and was never in a position to threaten.
2.10 2m 6f 110yds Peter and Gillian Allen Caterers Handicap Hurdle (87-113)
The low sun caused the two flights in the straight to be omitted, thus only six flights were jumped.
MR UTAH was always travelling well, led three furlongs out and stayed on for driving. He showed pleasing commitment here.
QUEL ELITE has had a stop-start career, but confirmed his well-being with a decent effort in second place. He harried the leader in the final two furlongs but couldn’t get closer than that one’s flank.
DICKIE HENDERHOOP seems to have turned over a new leaf and travelled really well into the lead two out. He looked to be going best when taking a heavy fall two out from which he got up OK. ROMANY RYME wasn’t out of the contest when brought down.
CAERLAVEROCK looked to need the race but stayed on into second place from the rear, despite being hampered in his run about a furlong out as the runners squeezed up to past the omitted final flight.
AMETHYST ROSE had every chance entering the straight but was outpaced by the first two. She won at Hexham and that could be the track that suits her best.
JACK ALBERT led to the fifth but was put in his place form the home turn.
BESCOT SPRINGS was well handicapped if in the mood but was beaten by the last hurdle.
2.45 2m 7f 110yds Children’s Immunology Trust Novices’ Limited Chase (110-120)
Scottish chases are struggling to fill at this time and three was a disappointing turn out for the biggest prize of the afternoon.
The two fences in the straight were omitted, the first because of the hole caused by Little Glenshee
SETTLEDOUTOFCOURT is a progressive sort, leading all the way here in decent style. He’s an impressive strong sort who can win again.
ABBEY STORM hit the fence away from the stands both times which didn’t help his cause. He disputed from two out but found the winner too strong in the final furlong.
INDIGO ROCK bled last time and there was a concern from connections that he may have remembered it. That being said he went well enough until held from two out and wasn’t given a hard time once third place was inevitable.
3.15 2m 2f Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Handicap Hurdle (102-120)
The ‘Elf and Safe Tea’ brigade were out in force here. Despite the sun being very low and the light hazy the two flights in the straight were omitted.
A master class in kidding home a horse that may not be that committed to the game. UBALTIQUE is talented enough but has been largely disappointing of late. Held up at the back, with some early encouragement needed, Jason Maguire brought him quietly into the race approaching the last, kidded him into the lead over a furlong out and his mount ran on to the finish.
ANOTHER MATTIE was fancied by connections but ran into a good one on the day., keeping on well enough in the straight if held in the final furlong.
TRUST THOMAS has been running consistently but generally running into one or two too good. He led two out but was overtaken by the winner and could offer no more. There didn’t look to be any lack of commitment and there should be a race for him.
DANTE’S FROLIC is considered to be potentially better than a mark of 105 by connections. She cashed the leaders but was outpaced in the final uphill run. This run was a bit of a fact finding mission to see what the mare is like this season, but there was enough encouragement going forward from a fair effort.