Sunday, 27 April 2014

Perth Festival - Day 3

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 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 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.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Scottish Flat opens at Musselburgh

MUSSELBURGH – Friday April 18th

A later start to the Scottish flat season with a late Easter, but Musselburgh helped serve up the first ever racing programme on Good Friday. There was a crowd of just less than 3,000 in attendance, not too bad given that Bank Holidays aren’t observed across the board in Scotland, with more observance of local holidays at varying times. The weather has been decent this spring and the ground was just on the fast side for the Friday and Sunday fixtures.

Musselburgh early season two-year-old races have served up a few decent performers in recent times. The winner here MUKHMAL is worth noting as he put up a reasonable time seeing off a previous winner in Cheerio Sweetie. This winner is capable of notching up another win or two before the others catch up and might conceivably be readied for a pot at Royal Ascot.

BORDERLESCOTT narrowly failed to win the race run in his honour, bursting through in the final furlong off a strong pace and foiled right on the line by SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL. The former might have missed his best chance of the season but still gives it the works, while the latter might be good enough to squeak a minor Listed contest.

JONNY DELTA won the staying handicap, working his way through the field form the home turn and this is how races need to work out for him.

Lightly raced BILIMBI won the Royal Mile Handicap in a race with plenty of pace early on. The race didn’t yield many winners last term though unplaced Top Notch Tonto did gain a second in a Group 1 contest. The Johnston pair of BOW CREEK and ALMARGO went a bit too fast for their own good up front.

SILVANUS, down to a mark of 74 from a 2012 high of 90, landed his first win since then getting the better of a final furlong duel. He goes well here and was recording a fourth win in 13 goes.
RED BARON led for much of the way and stuck to his task well once headed. He’s one to note if a race looks likely to give him an easy lead as he has early pace to burn.

ALEXANDRAKOLLONTAI was down the field and taken off her feet in the second division of the sprint handicap, but she needs races to get fit and will be a more realistic prospect in upcoming engagements.

MUUSELBURGH – April 20th

2.05 1m Handicap (44-60)

An exposed bunch with plenty of ‘previous offences’ between them and in the event it was the most lightly raced that came out on top. ECHO OF LIGHTNING picked up nicely off his own pace setting and was always holding his field in the final two furlongs. Paul Pickard rode a fine race here and is worth noting on pace setters at Musselburgh.
MOWHOOB had his chances last season and remains a maiden. He looks one to oppose.
CALL OF DUTY stayed no from well back for third but is a well exposed nine-year-old.

2.35 7f 30yds Maiden (Class 5)

LIBRAN picked up nicely in the final furlong to head the pacemaker. He is related to winners and should benefit from the experience.
INSAANY has strengthened since last year. He set a reasonable pace and stuck to his guns in closing stages. He will be better suited by a stiffer test than this.
Irish debutante MAID OF THE GLENS was green in the preliminaries. She kept in the final furlong to finish on the heels of the first two
COME ON LULU ran green, was outpaced early and never got on terms.

3.05 1m 1f totejackpot Handicap (79-66)

EUTROPIUS ran well last spring, winning a couple of times, and presumably benefitted from a recent pipe opener. He made good progress from two furlongs out and led inside the final furlong.
DANCING COSMOS has been running well on the all-weather at Dundalk. She made her effort two out and kept on after the winner. She will have other opportunities and it would nice if her trainer could find a fillies’ event for her.
KARAKA JACK has plenty of miles on the clock. He ran his race here but is a ‘win in turn’ performer.
RED CHARMER progressed nicely last summer, scoring twice over an extended mile at Hamilton. He led briefly three out but was held in the final furlong. He will be of interest back on a stiffer track.
SWEHAN looked to need the race. He faded from three out and was not given a hard time once beaten.

3.35 2m totepool Musselburgh Gold Cup Handicap (70-83)

PASS MUSTER ran a couple of decent races here over hurdles in the winter. A fair performer on the flat, he returned to land this decent prize. He led inside the final furlong and was driven out to win against a persistent second. This was significantly further than he had won over on the flat, but he did win a Kempton jumpers’ bumper at the trip and clearly stays well.
BRIGHT ABBEY has done well over jumps for Dianne Sayer and has 3 wins and this second from 10 runs on the flat. He should win a race even with a small rise in the ratings as his attitude is really good.
The pair were clear of HIGH OFFICE who could make no impression in the final two furlongs. He has a win record of 4 from 44 so normally opposable.
SIR FRANK MORGAN has a sound record in similar events on the all-weather. He raced prominently, but was held in the last furlong or so. A fair enough effort on a move to turf and there should be a minor handicap for him on the grass. He has a noticeable wall-eye but I understand it causes no problems and is merely due to lack of pigment in the eye.
CALEDONIA look very well, but looked very geed up and made no impact. He’s been disappointing on the flat to date.
KING OF THE PICTS has been doing well hurdling but was beaten before the final furlong here.
TWELVE STRINGS looked well, but was outpaced early and last entering the straight. Races are seldom won from so far back at Musselburgh.

4.05 1m 4f 100yds tote EBF Maiden (Class 4)

ALEX MY BOY is bred to be a Classic contender, being by Dalakhani out of double Oaks winner Alexandrova. He doesn’t seem entirely straightforward in character, a bit fizzy and accompanied by two handlers in the paddock.  In the race he was keen early on, always handy, took over four out and stayed on relentlessly up the straight. After the race Dierdre Johnston wouldn’t commit on plans for this one, but a return for the Edinburgh Gold Cup would surely be a possible, with the Queen’s Vase a follow up if he learns and progresses.
NEW TARABELA was progressive in all-weather maidens without winning and came up against a good one here. He stuck to his task very well and a start handicap mark of 77 does not seem unreasonable on this evidence.
Bumper winner MOLLY CAT, lightly bandaged in front, was held from two furlongs out.
PETITE MADAME is a nice looking filly who should offer better in time. She was weakened two out having been driven four out and was well held.
Seven-year-old newcomer HAAMES, bandaged on his hind legs, was well held as was cheap buy CLASSIC ORANGE. Both will need to gain a handicap mark before becoming competitive.

4.35 7f 30yds totepool Live Info App 3yo Handicap (55-75)

DESERT COLOURS has been in belting good form on artificial surfaces and carried that form through to the turf. He set the pace and, despite coming under pressure three out, kept finding more and was always holding on. His excellent attitude could carry him to further success.
SIR GUY PORTEOUS had shown a little promise in four runs and made a persistent challenge in the final two furlongs. He won’t always run into such a determined winner and should land a similar contest.
REGIMENT had every chance two out and kept on for third place. He had some tough tasks in sales races last year after a Catterick maiden win and should come on for this seasonal introduction.
TIFFANY BAY could make no impact in the final two furlongs. She may well learn from this handicapping debut.

5.05 5f Apprentice Handicap (59-45)

An exposed bunch of schoolmasters and mistresses for the young riders, but three consistent sorts at this level fought out a tight finish.
LITTLE ELI was on his toes and doing a bit of dressage training in the preliminaries . He broke well, took a length lead a furlong out and then hung on close home. He has a fair record to date and may well cut it in the next grade up.
ROY’S LEGACY be an owner’s delight with 9 wins and and 14 places from 59 attempts, yet racing here off 54. He broke well, briefly went a length or so down a furlong out but rallied to great effect and just failed. He’s best at five furlongs.
Where Roy’s Legacy is a small animal, GREENHEAD HIGH is much bigger and muscly. He raced prominently and was closing at the death. He’s another regularly competitive at this level and yet only racing off 54.
IGGY closed towards the line for fourth. A good effort from a lightly raced srot that may just need a stiffer test.
An import from Hong Kong, the 10-year-old COMMANDABLE showed good early pace but was held from over a furlong out.