MUSSELBURGH – Monday December 9th
Going - Good, Good To Soft in places
Musselburgh brought the pre-Christmas Scottish circuit to a close with a relatively low key card, though typically keeping the prize money to a fair level with two £10,000 pots on offer. Free mince pies were on offer and I lasted until just before race tow before succumbing to temptation. Anybody who knows how well I hoover up mince pies will tell you that’s quite a feat!
12.15 2m 4f 32Red Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (103-111)
Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore thought LORD OF DRUMS would need the run after a break, while your correspondent had it down as ‘looked fit’. I was right, though a very sound round of jumping made the difference in this contest, Lord Of Drums going nicely in front and outjumping his challenger at the last. I noted that the winner wore ear plugs, not an item that needs declaring but one that does help some animals.
ALPHA ONE came to challenge two out, held every chance at the last but got it wrong, sprawling on landing and unable to recover on the shortish run-in here. A sound enough effort, this looks his trip and he may squeak a similar contest.
MY IDEA, winner of a soft contest here last time, was outpaced from four out. He doesn’t have a good strike rate and is probably on a harsh mark now.
LOS NADIS has not looked a chaser on any attempt over fences. He jumped left and his technique just isn’t up to chasing and I’m surprised his trainer tried again. His speed between the jumps earned him fourth place here.
ENDEAVOR was comfortably held from four out, while MISTER WALL STREET, returning from a year off, was first beaten.
12.45 2m 4f 32Red.com Interactive Planning Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (79-105)
“What sort of race do you want they” asked the trainers? “A middle-distance novice handicap hurdle” came the reply…, presumably, and hence this contest.
JUST ALBERT jumped poorly for the first circuit but warmed to his task as the race went on. Outpaced on the final bend he stuck on up the straight and got on top after the last. The winner raced prominently and the pace was favoured.
BRUNELLO led or disputed most of the way, had every chance but was run out of it in the final half furlong. A fair enough effort on third hurdles race and he looks capable of taking a similar contest.
SOLIDAGO, presumably finding this a bit easier than similar contest in Ireland, was another holding every chance at the last but found no extra on the flat.
BLACKMORE looks harshly handicapped and was tapped for pace for much of the way. He stayed on into a remote fourth which he would have contested with HERON’S MILL had the latter not unseated at the last. Heron’s Mill needs a stiffer test.
MOMKINZAIN looked fit enough but ran no sort of race.
1.15 3m 110yd 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
Placed in decent handicaps, POPULATION had only to jump round to break his duck and did so in a canter.
MAY’S BOY stuck to his task in second and deserves credit, while GETABUZZ was stayer on the flat and kept on late, presumably needing farther over jumps. The rest will struggle to make a mark in the immediate future.
1.45 32RedPoker.com Handicap Hurdle (81-99)
LUCTOR EMERGO hinted at ability over hurdles back in April with a second at Carlisle. Apparently relishing the stamina test here he led two out and had asserted by the last.
TOTAL ASSETS put up his best performance in gaining second place having held every chance two out, but then held from before the last.
VALLANI struggled to keep up for quite a way, not untypical for her, but stayed on in her trademark head down style from three out to take third. A bit softer ground may give her a chance but, though she won twice in the summer of 2012, she’s not a prolific winner.
KING’S CHORISTER didn’t jump fluently enough on return to hurdling and was held from three out.
GOODACRES GARDEN was well backed but his jumping went to pieces after halfway and he was well beaten.
STITCHED IN TIME had things his own way here last time, but that was a soft contest and he was beaten once headed three out here.
RHYTON, coming back after 16-month layoff, went wrong coming out of the back straight. He was taken into the horse ambulance and is back home, but his racing career is over. Let’s hope he is found a good home.
JAWAAB was withdrawn from the race after entering the paddock, apparently because of the going. Quite why that decision was made so late in the day only Philip Kirby knows.
2.20 2m 4f 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle (112-125)
STRONGPOINT won here for Charlie Swan three years ago and retains his ability on the basis of this performance. Peter Buchanan set a decent pace, wound things up from the home turn and had the race won by the last. It may be worth bearing in mind that he had things his own way.
BIG WATER chased the winner from three out but made no significant impression.
SCOTS GAELIC stayed on through the field for third but was never near the leaders, and similarly MERCHANT OF DUBAI stayed on through rivals for fourth. In retrospect both were held up too far off the pace and Merchant Of Dubai in particular is capable of more if put properly into the race.
A Cheltenham Festival winner over fences in 2011, DIVERS chased the pace until weakening three out. He doesn’t look as good as he once was.
UEUETEOTL was never involved and a rise of 15lbs for an easy win here in November may have stymied him in the immediate future.
NINE STORIES manages a third place in a Leicester seller pretty much on sufferance recently and was the first beaten in this race.
2.50 3m eastlothian.gov.uk Handicap Chase (104-123)
A four-runner contest which was difficult to judge beforehand as there were question marks against each of the competitors.
KEALIGOLANE has always been best when allowed to dictate the race and was able to do just that here, despite some reservations about the distance. Unsurprisingly he looked a bit revved up in the preliminaries, but settled nicely in the lead, jumped well and stretched on from three out.
STORMING GALE is not the easiest to catch right. He stayed on into second but didn’t seriously threaten the winner.
BERTIE MILAN was held up in rear but never got in a blow, only inheriting third place at the last.
BLENHEIM BROOK chased the winner until weakening before two out and fading to last place. He looked plenty fit enough and in her subsequent blog his trainer pondered if something might be ailing him.
3.20 2m 32Red Casino Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 5)
IT’S HIGH TIME built on previous promising runs here, chasing the pacemaker and seeing off that one in a duel from two furlongs out. He’s an immature sort at this time and it’s not unreasonable to think he will be a decent hurdler in time.
GURKHA BRAVE is a typical forward bumper sort for Karen McLintock. He had promising outings eleven months a part previous to this. Setting the pace, Brian Hughes wound things up off the home bend and his charge had a battle with the winner from two out. Although outpaced close home he stuck to his task encouragingly, and there should be a race to be won with him.
All the first four looked more set up for a flat race than the others. Irish point winner KATACHENKO had shown promise in a Limerick bumper but was tapped for pace in the final two furlongs. A fair enough effort though and a stiffer test will be of benefit.
COINAGE looked best if you worked on the basis of a horse likely to win a flat race, but he was comfortably held. He did race keenly and showed signs of greenness when asked for his effort, so it’s likely there is better to come.
Back in the field NEVILLE WOODS and RANDALL’S MILL both look long term projects for chasing and it’s unsurprising they couldn’t make a mark around this sharp track.
We now wait until after Christmas for the next Scottish meeting with Kelso racing on December 29th. The fixtures then come in rat-a-tat-tat fashion as Musselburgh hold their competitive New Year’s Day meeting followed by Ayr on the 2nd, then back to Musselburgh on the 3rd January. Assuming weather doesn’t intervene I should get to three out of the four fixtures in that period.