Sunday, 9 February 2014

Musselburgh - Cheltenham Trials Day

Apologies for no updates of late. I’ve been very busy at work and just haven’t had enough time to concentrate properly on racing analysis.

MUSSELBURGH – Sunday February 2nd
Going – Soft, Good To Soft in places
A cracking card, in terms of official ratings the best that Musselburgh has presented over jumps. We’ve had less rain in Scotland and the going was a good deal better than most other courses, though there has been some concern that the grass sections of the bends are a bit worn and in need of attention.

1.00 3m 110yds Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (114-147)
A competitive contest and the form looks strong.
WYSE HILL TEABAGS Benefitted from the step up in trip and landed the race for the ‘home contingent’. He led, jumped well and stayed on in impressive style up the straight. A good effort and it would be worth having a crack at the Series Final in March.
MISTER DILLON looked by far the fittest of the of the Henderson duo. He chased the leader from three out but was held after the last. A sound effort off a raised mark.
CROWNING JEWEL was never far away in the final mile and stuck on for third. He’s not been heavily raced for an eight-year-old and Keith Reveley may eke out a little more improvement.
ANY GIVEN MOMENT ran a cracker from out of the weights. Sandy Thomson’s stable is buzzing right now, and this turned out to be a decent starter before the ‘main course’ half an hour later. Racing in touch Any Given Moment stuck to his task down the straight to run right up to his best. If eased in class he can win again.
ATTAGLANCE has been a little disappointing over fences, but gave encouragement with a solid fifth, finishing on the tails of the leaders. I would assume he will be aimed at the final of this and perhaps at Aintree.

1.30 3m 110yds Albert Bartlett Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Class 2)        

Sandy Thomson has upped the quality of his string in recent times and may just have found the best of the lot in SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT. This one beat a Cheltenham prospect over an inadequate trip at Hexham and emphatically proved that was no fluke with a convincing win.
Rated 144 RACING PULSE set the standard and was beaten on merit. There’s a possibility that the course wasn’t ideal but his previous efforts suggests the winner’s effort was pretty decent.
MEDIEVAL CHAPEL looked a bit stiff in his hind quarters when entering the paddock. He loosened up after a while though and didn’t look inconvenienced. He was outpaced from three out but ran a sound enough race and there should be a staying contest for him against less exacting opposition.

CLONDAW HERO dropped away quickly from three out and was disappointing, while POWERSTOWN DREAM was always on the stretch and found this company a bit tough.

2.00 2m John Smith’s Scottish Champion Chase (Handicap) (117-140)

SWIFT ARROW is a bit of an enigma, mixing wins with disappointing efforts. He was no his game here at a rather surprisingly high price for one who can do it on his day of 22/1. He was pushed along at the end of the back straight, but responded well from three out and driven out when idling on the flat. I noted that he wore ear plugs. His target is likely to be the Topham Trophy at Aintree.

HIS EXCELLENCY had ever chance at the last but a less than fluent leap cost him the race. This was a best effort for a while and he ran creditably off 8lbs higher last spring.

KIE set the pace and put in his normal honest effort. The handicapper has him covered and what you see is what you get.

STORMIN EXIT showed last time he is no back number when winning a selling hurdle here. Over a trip short of his best again he stayed on past rivals for a never nearer fourth place. He retains ability and would benefit from a step back up in trip. I would imagine his trainer will be another eyeing the Topham Trophy.
QUTIO DU TRESOR put up a fair effort, in the firing line until two out but held from that point.

UPEPITO was a shade disappointing on second effort in the UK, making no impression from two out and CLARAGH NATIVE was always feeling the pinch and remained last of the seven runners.

2.30 2m Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial (Listed) 4yo

A race upped in class this year and it might just have produced its best ever winner in the shape of BROUGHTON. A useful flat performer for Mark Johnston, John Ferguson came clear of his field in impressive style from two out. This had the makings of a Triumph Hurdle contender’s performance.

CLARCAM set the standard with decent form from Graded events in Ireland. He led until two out and kept on well enough though held by a superior opponent. There should be options at Cheltenham, maybe in the Fred Winter, as a mark of 133 doesn’t seem unfair.

THORPE put in another solid effort to see off Space Ship in the battle for third. He’s run into three decent animals and has run creditably on each occasion.

SPACE SHIP was just outbattled for third, but stuck to his guns well enough. He started with a decent run at Leopardstown and was not disgraced here, so there should be a lesser contest within his compass.

Sadly AUDEUPAS D’YCY was fatally injured early in the straight and INVESTMENT EXPERT was also reported as a fatality.

MOST HONOURABLE was well held in this better company having got stuck in the mud at Catterick. He needs sights lowered a bit.

3.00 2m 4f John Smith’s Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase (Class 3)

Nicky Henderson’s well regarded TOP OF THE RANGE departed at the first, but the trainer landed a comfortable victory with ERICHT. Travelling well all the way, the eight-year-old pulled clear in the straight. His trainer said his target is probably the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, though I do wonder if his jumping is quite sharp enough for the top level.

BAR DE LIGNE, placed in a decent handicap here on New Year’s Day, ran a sound race in second place giving 8lbs to the winner.   

FUNNY STAR was held from two out. He is a decent enough sort and should prove capable in the better novice handicap company.

WITNESS IN COURT set the pace but dropped away after being headed three out. He probably ran a trifle too freely in this company.

Neither MY IDEA nor REAPING THE REWARD proved good enough against decent animals here. Both are capable but need to be aimed against lesser opponents.

3.30 2m John Smith’s  Scottish County Hurdle (Handicap) (121-150)

Well established in the Scottish calendar these days and a decent competition.

Progressive CLEVER COOKIE sluiced up here to follow up a course and distance handicap debut win last time. His trainer seemed pretty chuffed because he doesn’t think Musselburgh particularly suits this animal, though he has won three here. He will be entered for the County Hurdle but is more likely to run in the Imperial Cup and could still prove to have a bit in hand of the handicapper.

LOCAL HERO confirmed that he’s back in form with a solid second place which is as good as he has produced in recent times. He will presumably keep pitching away at similar contests.

PAS TROP TARD put up and excellent performance in leading the field to before the last and keeping on for third.

LYVIUS made no impression from two out and was not helped by a 5lb rise for an all out Kempton success.

YORKIST proved a fizzy sort in the preliminaries. Given that wasted energy, fifth place was no disgrace.

SAMETEGAL found this a tough task off top weight. He had every chance and was held from two out. Given his previous efforts, it may be that this track is a bit sharp.

FRANCISCAN, conqueror of Clever Cookie here earlier in the season, held every chance when coming down three out.

4.00 3m 3f CGA Scottish Foxhunters’ Chase (Class 3)

This was a competitive event run over the rarely used Musselburgh 3m 3f chase trip. It turned into a battle of attrition.

Veteran THAT’S RHYTHM has gone really well for Newbury based amateur Page Fuller. The long trip from my old stamping ground proved well worthwhile for the talented young jockey. Racing prominently throughout, That’s Rhythm responded well to a generally sympathetic ride in the closing stages.

The runner-up WALDEN may have well have more scope when it comes to the championship hunter events. He stayed on well in the losing stages but couldn’t master the winner. He looks all over one that will be favoured by a stiffer track. He’s trained in Northern Ireland but is qualified with my local hunt in Fife.

BRASSICK is a consistent sort that made a decent fist of a comeback after a four month rest. He was held from the last but not disgraced and should find a hunter chase for his Droitwich Spa based connections.

PENMORE MILL led at the fifteenth but was headed three out and held from that point, but not disgraced on official figures. He travelled from Wellesbourne near Stratford-up-Avon, proving that decent animals will be aimed where there is decent prize money.

SPECIAL PORTRAIT felt the pinch in the final three quarters of a mile. He looks to need an out-and-out test these days.

THEMILANHORSE took a heavy at the twelfth and James Ferguson copped a clout from another competitor. He was taken away by ambulance but reported as no more than a bit battered and bruised.

4.30 2m 4f Conditional Jockeys’ Festival Trial Handicap Hurdle (116-122)

A slightly disappointing turn out for this event.

RUMBLE OF THUNDER was presented with his easiest opportunity for some while. He took advantage in nice style, staying on from the last.

SUD PACIFIQUE ran a fair race in second but isn’t an easy sort to win with.  He saw out the trip well enough.

SCOTS GAELIC filled third without suggesting a win is imminent.

GOLDEN SPARKLE didn’t threaten and isn’t showing quite up to her best.

LOS NADIS had a good opportunity here but fluffed his lines, while TOM WADE made no impact returning after a break.                                       

*******  Assuming the weather co-operates, adn it's not been too wet of late, then I shall be at Kelso on February 13th for what is potentially a decent card, a number of Cheltenham contenders being aimed at Borders track for their warm up races. In addition I'm hoping that Milnathort Racing Club's THE VILLAGE will make his hurdling debut at the meeting.