PERTH - Friday April 25th
Going - Soft
A decent crowd in for the final day of the Festival at around 4,000. Perth made it a 'Premier Raceday' which is stretching the limits of that description given that the best races were only Class 3. An admission price of £22 for Grandstand is on the pricey side and £17 for the Centre Course enclosure is bordering on taking the mickey for an enclosure with limited facilities. Although I don't have racecourse pass this year I was at least able to save myself £4 through the Racegoers' Club. I enjoy watching from centre course but allow myself paddock and grandstand access.
Gripes over and the racing was competitive enough though since the Festival was introduced in 1989 the meeting has become gradually more top heavy with handicaps, five out of seven on this card.
2.00 2m ½f Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer NH Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
FOND MEMORY made a decent impression on handicap debut at Newbury and made up for a subsequent disappointing effort at Exeter. Always travelling well he challenged two out and led before the last, a clumsy leap there not stopping him too much.
FINAL PASS created a sound enough impression on hurdling debut. Travelling prominent, he led three out was then passed two out but kept on to the line. He’s already won a point in Ireland and has a future over jumps.
VISION DE LA VIE, a lengthy gelding that should benefit from a stiffer test, kept on from two out without threatening the leaders.
THIS THYNE JUDE created a fair impression in bumpers last year here and at Kelso. She looked well enough off a break, and in the paddock was once again hinting at a dressage career if she doesn’t make it over jumps! Keen in the race, she was restrained in rear and outpaced after three out. She picked up nicely in that latter stages and looks sure to make her mark given a stiffer test. Her dam was a staying mare.
VAUREN DE VAUZELLE was on my list to follow this season, but like many on my damp squib of a 13/14 list hasn’t gone on through the season. He completed on this occasion, having been a first flight faller on hurdling debut, but was soundly put in his place from two out.
CEILIDH is a chasing type who hasn’t made a mark in bumpers and will need time.
2.30 2m Turning Out Quality Handicap Chase (104-125) (Betfair Series Qualifier)
The Scottish Series is approaching its climax, the final to take place over 2m 5 ½ f at Kelso on May 7th.
INOOGOO is consistent but had only recorded a single win here previously. There was a strong pace on early and he came from off that pace to take up the running two out. He was all out to hold on from the last suggesting he doesn’t have much in hand off his current mark.
COUER DE FOU looked as if the race would help, but I seem to remember making a similar remark previously so it may be that he carries some condition. He was sweating and on his toes in the paddock, but settled well in the race, made headway from three out to challenge at the last and pressed the winner to the line. His recent record suggests that he is difficult to keep fit.
Double winner BAILEYS CONCERTO could never get into the race. He won at Hexham and Carlisle and found things happening too quickly around here, though he did stay on from the last for third.
LORD OF DRUMS was up with the sharp early pace and faded from two out. He goes well enough around here and is on a decent mark.
WILDE PASTURES disputed or set the pace but weakened from three out and probably went too fast for his own good.
STROBE needs better ground than he encountered here and was beaten down the far side.
3.05 2m 4½f McBookie.com Handicap Hurdle (75-100)
KING’S CHORISTER is not the most reliable of characters but picked this race up for the second year off a 12lbs lower mark. Eased into the race on the home turn, he led before the last and stayed n for victory. He’s 6 wins from 65 races which tells its own story.
AMETHYST ROSE stayed on from two out to take second place. What form she has shown has been with a decent bit of cut in the ground.
INDIGO ISLAND kept on for third place and looks at his best on a sharpish track, though yet to record a win.
MASTER CYNK led three out and threatening to take the race but had come to the end of his tether approaching the last.
DE BEE KEEPER was well backed but didn’t show at the head of the race, making only moderate late progress. There’s probably a small race for him over the summer.
MARLEE MASSIE improved on handicap debut though making no impression form two out.
3.35 2m 4½f Out Of The Ordinary Investment Cup Novices’ Handicap Chase (123-133)
DARE TO ENDEAVOUR looked best of these in the paddock. He led for most of the way jumping well and stayed on well from two out. Faster ground may have been against him at Uttoxeter, but otherwise he has been progressive.
BAR DE LIGNE was below form at Kempton last time, but has been consistent otherwise and ran a creditable second without threatening the winner.
ROBBIE was held up and plugged on into third place without threatening to finish nearer.
UN GUET APENS appeared to find the track too sharp and was never travelling with any ease.
SURPRISE VENDOR won the Pontefract Marathon recently on the flat, but was held here after a couple of serious jumping errors.
4.10 3m 7f GA Engineering Highland National Handicap Chase (98-124)
A late decision by Nick Alexander to run BERTIE MILAN paid dividends as he became the first Scottish trainer to land this event. Racing in the first three all the way, Lucy Alexander kicked no from the seventh and had those remaining in contention on the stretch by the home turn. Despite not being fluent at the last two fences there was more than enough in the tank to be driven out for victory. The planned tilt at a 0-100 chase at the next meeting now goes out of the window!
HIDDEN HORIZONS travelled comfortably in midfield, he progressed to press the leader from the nineteenth fence. Chipping away at Bertie Milan from that point he had to give best on the run-in. A decent effort nevertheless and a respectable follow up to his Ulster Grand National win.
ROYALE KNIGHT ideally wants slightly better ground than this but ran a decent enough race, not able to match the first two from three out.
MISTER PHILSON was outpaced from three out and may not have seen out this trip.
INDIGO ROCK progressed to track the pace on the last circuit but was calling enough by four out. His current mark is reasonable if he drops in trip.
GOTOYOURPLAY was keen early and feeling the pinch when coming down five out.
HEEZ A STEEL was never any better than mid division and struggling when unseating at the eighteenth.
FIVE STAR WILSHAM race up front for two circuits but faded quickly after five out and was pulled up before two out. Some of his better efforts staying efforts have come at stiffer tracks and he may well have found the tempo here a little bit too quick. Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies spotted the loose Heez A Steel standing in front of three out, grabbed the reins and led the latter back as he cantered in, earning a generous round of applause from the crowd.
WILD GEESE was never entirely happy and struggling on the final circuit before being pulled up four out.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER hit the second hard and was off the bridle for much of the time after that. Ryan Mania kept working but had to admit defeat before four out.
TARRACO travelled prominently for a circuit, but lost his pitch after that and was well behind when pulled up before four out. He has shot up the handicap of late and may just be held now.
NODEBATEABOUTIT, unlucky here a couple of years back and ridiculously so when stopped by loose horse at Exeter this season, was never going and his jockey gave up the ghost with a mile left.
4.45 3m 3f Bet on All Non-League at McBookie.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (92-121)
I would normally have abbreviated the race title, but as a non-league football nut for thirty odd years I had to pay due respect to the sponsor!
SYBARITE got outpaced three out but stayed on well up the straight and had taken charge by the last. He’s not the easiest ride, even though having plenty of ability, and all credit to Ryan Hatch for getting a decent tune out of him.
Making it a Twiston-Davies one-two, JAUNTY JOURNEY filled second place in this contest for the third year in succession. He led until before the last and kept on once passed. He regularly runs his race in staying contests over hurdles and fences.
HELLORBOSTON made an effort to challenge two out but couldn’t make an impression on the first two. There are a few of these long distance hurdles in the north and he may well be targeted at the likes of here, Kelso and Sedgefield next term.
BOLLIN FIONA was never near the leaders and plugged on for fourth place, just holding PERFECT CANDIDATE who briefly threatened three out but was held after.
MAGIC PRESENT was fired up in the paddock, too keen on the track and beaten by three out.
LOS NADIS never got into the race and this trip may well have taxed his stamina in the conditions.
RYTON RUNNER isn’t up to this class and was well held.
BESCOT SPRINGS has been busy and this may have been one race too many.
5.20 2m ½f Go To Balcormo Races Tomorrow Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
A cracking finish to the last race of the meeting.
I watched this head on from by the winning post and LOOKING WELL showed plenty of determination to squeeze through a gap up the rail near the finish, getting his head in front right on the line. Unlike some of Nicky Richards’s newcomers there appeared to be a bit to work on, but this one clearly has an engine and a very good attitude. I would expect this one to progress.
MAJOR IVAN still looks a bit green, weaving around when asked for an effort from three furlongs out. He put in plenty of effort though and a visit to the winner’s spot is merely delayed.
THE WAY IT WORKS is a taking half-sister to bumper winner Balboni. Arguably best on looks, she stayed on well from off the pace and there should be more to come. A nice sort to remember for next season.
Irish raider MELBOURNE LADY wasn’t disgraced in fourth place, having hinted at ability at both Down Royal and Wexford.
WISH IN A WELL. Coming off a decent recent effort at Ayr, was outpaced from two out and appeared to find this a bit sharp.
CLAN CHIEF, a winner at Ayr but a big boat of an animal, was very fizzy and had two handlers in the paddock. He was uncooperative on the track and Kit Alexander did well to get him down to the start. Keen in the race, he probably did quite creditably to finish sixth after all the fuss. If he calms down he should turn into a chaser in time as he has the size and clearly has ability.