KELSO – Saturday March 22nd
Going – Good, Good to soft in places
A bit of a nip in the air, but plenty of sunshine and a pleasant enough day.
I had a brisk walk around the chase course and found the turf in pretty decent nick for this time of the season, the rails having been moved out on the bends to provide better ground. Down the far side of the chase track the better ground was middle to outside, and there was the usual patch of softer ground in the dip before the last. Hurdles run in was about as short as it is likely to be at around 170 yards.
1.30 2m ½f Abbey Tool and Gauge Handicap Hurdle (103-115)
A moderate contest to open the card with a number of exposed performers taking those with only a few middling runs on their record.
CAPTAIN BROWN set a decent pace here and Brian Hughes kicked on round the final bend. His mount was coming to the end of his tether by the last and took a tired fall, although he may still have held on if standing up. The screens went up and there was a ten minute wait before the winded Captain Brown recovered and appeared to a big cheer from the crowd. He was taken back in the horse ambulance but I suspect that was no more than a precaution.
KEENELAND had steadily made ground on the leader, though wasn’t assured of victory when left in the lead. This was a step up on his Sedgefield run which would have been needed after a 21-month lay-off and there’s a fair chance of a bit better to come. 12/1 price was a surprise in this company as he was turned out looking a picture and had proven in the past that he had ability to take this sort of contest.
OVERPRICED pushed the winner all the way, performing well off a break which she has done in the past. Previous pattern suggests a mare who is at her best in spring and summer.
SPITZ kept on but never looked any better than fourth best until the leader came down. The 2m 2f around here might suit as he kept on to the line.
DAMASCUS STEEL could make no impression from two out, but got nearer than in recent outings. He ran well in the spring last season and was a winner at Hexham.
RHYMERS Ha’ seems an awkward cuss and stayed on having been off the bridle for much of the race.
Ex-American flat race PULPITARIAN disappointed once again. Provided there’s nothing physically wrong it could be just time required to adjust to jumping.
2.00 3m 2f Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase (118-142) Handicap Chase
A decent contest with Channel 4 finally acknowledging that Kelso was worth an airing on terrestrial television.
SCOTSWELL has run some decent races this season against testing opposition and rewarded connections in determined style. Leading for much of the race and jumping well, he was hard pressed from two out but found more and was going clear again on the run-in. The Scottish National is a possible target, though the well endowed novices’ handicap chase on the same card.
FENTARA raced rear division for much of the race but stayed on from the final bend without ever quite getting to the game winner. She only has a single chase win to her name but she is game and generally gives her running.
GULLINBURSTI came with every chance two out and wasn’t far down at the last, but could offer no more on the flat. He has a good record coming off a break.
IMPERIAL VIC raced up with the pace, but was tapped for speed from four out. He showed his honesty in keeping on from that point but never threatened the first three. Feedback from connections is that he may just be best when settled in an uncontested lead. The target had been the Scottish National but that’s likely to be missed for this season, the novices’ handicap on the same card now a possible.
THE PANAMA KID chased the leaders and then weakened from two out. He won off 135 here in 2011, but a mark of 124 now seems a bit stiff.
NO PLANNING was well held from four out and is another that may well be held after a recent win.
SYDNEY PAGET was disappointing, dropping away from the fifteenth and soon pulled up. He jumps wins have all come on soft and heavy and it’s likely this ground was too quick.
ISLA PEARL FISHER was bumped up three pounds for trundling around in the wake of Long Run and Knockara Beau, but since the same handicapper saw fit to drop Green Flag a single pound for a decent fourth at the Cheltenham, then one does seriously wonder if the man is on the same planet as the rest of us. Nick alexander’s charge was never travelling on this occasion, but 129 looks more than high enough for an eleven-year-old.
SERGEANT PINK is decent on his day but quirky and decided enough was enough early on the final circuit. He refused at the thirteenth fence and deposited Tony Kelly on the turf.
2.30 3m 3f Bentley Homes Handicap Hurdle (118-142)
There aren’t many hurdle races over this sort of distance and this would be one of the better ones.
This was just up the street of a rejuvenated LIE FORRIT. He jumped superbly up front and kept on determined as the cavalry closed up the straight. A popular winner for local owners McNeill and Gillies, the latter mother of much missed Campbell Gillies. I would presume Aintree will be targeted, though a soft surface would be required.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER stays all day and did finish in Neptune Collonges’s National, though he has been better over hurdles of late. Having been held up he stayed on relentlessly up the straight and would not have need much further to prevail. A stiff test is essential.
LACKAMON is better handicapped over hurdles than fences and was another closing to the line. He needs this sort of test of which there are few at his level over hurdles.
QUEL ELITE runs some fair races without winning often. I assume he has not looked comfortable schooling over fences as he has not been tried in staying chases.
ARCTIC COURT was never in position to threaten. He has won here before but has two ways of running.
DROP OUT JOE attempted to match the winner but distress signals were evident with a mile to go and he lived up to his name. He’s better than this while another southern challenger WHO OWNS ME ran no sort of race. James Reveley was hard at work early on and gave up the struggle before three out.
3.05 2m 1f Ashleybank Investments Reg and Bettie Tweedie (118-134)
KIE barely took off at the third, demolishing a section of the fence and putting Wilson Renwick in hospital with back injuries. Kie gets away with the odd howler, but he walked through the fence on this occasion. The fence was omitted on the final circuit.
JET MASTER was given some hope as he was not hammered by the handicapper for his facile win here last time. Ridden with restraint once again he was brought through to challenge two out. He led before the last but seemingly idled a bit once in front and had to be rousted to maintain the advantage. Picking off the field from a strong pace seems best for him. The first pair were well clear and future prospects depend on his subsequent treatment in the ratings.
UN GUET APENS ran a decent race, leading briefly two out and making Jet Master pull out all the stops.
STORMIN EXIT made progress to lead three out but then weakened from two out.
IMJOEKING was outpaced to the eighth and an effort to two out was in vain.
STAGECOACH PEARL set off at a merry pace in front but was spent by three out and is regressing.
ROCKAWANGO, well below form of late, was never going.
3.40 2m 2f DG Pryde Limited Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
KILGEFIN STAR needs further than this, and will make up into a chaser in time, but Danny Cook made this a real test on the day of his comeback from a broken leg. His main pursuer looked up against it when coming down three out and the Michael Smith trained ex-Irish pointer saw the race out well.
ONE FOR ARTHUR kept on into second but never got to the winner. A decent effort on his hurdling and he looks a likely scorer in the near future as Lucinda Russell’s stable homes in on the Scottish record for the season.
JUST CHILLY plugged on into third place. She looks the time to benefit from another summer behind here do this place is a welcome bonus.
NEVILLE WOODS ran another fair race in fourth and once again it’s worth noting he is likely to be better over fences.
COUSIN GUILLAUME was sold out of Karen McLintock’s stable for £40,000 and that looks a good deal from McLintock’s point of view. Word has it that he’s a bit of a softie and race performances would tend to support that. He was hampered by the faller three out but wouldn’t have been any better than third.
DOUBLEDISDOUBLEDAT is a chasing type who was on and off the bridle here. He showed a modicum of promise and is likely to do better in time.
PLAN AGAIN ran a disappointing race and looked held when hampered three out.
TOUGH TRADE seemed just to be getting the worst of the argument when taking a tumbling fall three out. He looks like a chaser and that will be his game in time.
*** Other news from connections of the winner here concern two horses. The first is MASTERLEADERMAN who was given a ‘disappointing ride’ when fourth at Newcastle last weekend. He’s capable of a good deal better than this run apparently showed.
TIMOTHY T was bought out of a claimer at Kempton recently for £2,000. This one was third in the Acomb Stakes at York as a two-year-old, then spent three years in Hong Kong without visiting the track. Discussions centred on the fact that it was surprising he hadn’t ended up ‘in a tin’ but, dreadfully poor taste humour aside, he clearly retains some ability and will now be billeted with Nottinghamshire based Mick Appleby.
4.15 2m 4½f Jedforest Deer Park Handicap Hurdle (88-110)
I believe this is the first time this start has been used since the course layout was re-hashed in 2012.
Essentially the field consisted of a host of well exposed and some elderly performers. Judgement suggested it was worth looking at the younger horses with less ‘previous’ to their name. All very well but even the five-year-olds here were difficult to recommend though it was one of them, BELLOROPHON, that did the business in comfortable fashion. He eased clear of the field from two out to win by 23 lengths. I can’t imagine he will find it very easy next time off what is sure to be a significantly higher mark.
FUNKY MUNKY kept on for second and runs some fair races but doesn’t win very often.
Elizabeth Butterworth did quite well to coax a third place out of KNIGHT VALLIANT. He has ability but isn’t the easiest of rides and was patiently ridden to challenge for second at the last.
OUR BOY BEN plugged on for fourth place, a reasonable effort on handicapping debut, while NEWDANE DANCER, in decent heart of late, led to three out but faded into fifth place in the latter stages. A less stiff finish sees him to better advantage.
EVERDON BROOK pulled up and was removed from the course by horse ambulance and I understand was subsequently examined by the course vet, but further information has been difficult to obtain.
4.50 2m Kelso Races A Great Day Out Standard Open NH Flat Race (Class 6)
Half the crowd had disappeared before this contest but for those of use looking for future winners these contests are eagerly awaited.
Make note of any lightly raced horses or newcomers that Nicky Richards brings to Kelso. If you are at the track it’s worth checking out the fitness just ensure factors are in your favour, but Richards has a decent record in novice, maiden and bumper events around here. SIR VINSKI looked one of the more likely here and was forward enough in condition to suggest every chance if good enough. He came clear in the last two furlongs and has the mark of Simply Ned and Eduard, two decent performers that started in Kelso bumpers. Not sure that he will appear again this season but a definite for next season’s horses to follow.
MAJOR IVAN caught the eye as a nice sort. He was outpaced five furlongs out but stayed on well up the home straight to wrest second close home. He will benefit from the run and is a nice jumping type to remember for the future.
SHADES OF MIDNIGHT looked a mare that still has some developing to do, but she has the engine and raced prominently throughout to take third place.
WOLF SWORD, a nice deep chested chasing type, ran creditably under a penalty for a Sedgefield win on Boxing Day. He was presented looking nicely fit, had every chance but couldn’t up his game once the winner got away.
A few more will need a bit of time. FIGHT AWAY BOYS raced prominently to four out and then faded. He won an Irish point in five attempts and will likely show up better when presented with a set of obstacles in front of him.
TOUCH OF STEEL, a half-brother to a winning chaser, looked very green and will need time.