Saturday, 24 May 2014

Musselburgh on a grey May evening

MUSSELBURGH – Friday May 23rd

Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

A busy Friday evening with a decent attendance. A bit chilly and some rain drifted in mid-evening, but the favourites were thereabouts in all races keeping many punters happy.

6.10 1m 5f McQuay High Efficiency Classic Amateur Riders’ Handicap (28-65)

 Two pulled clear and the better jockey in the finish was the one that prevailed. Philip Dennis, son of Inspector of Racecourses Chris Dennis, was shown to good effect in bringing ROCKY TWO to lead two out and pushing the gelding out to victory. Out of sorts last season, the winner slipped to a mark of 50 and Philip Kirby has got him right now. There should be chances in similar contests.
Hattie Heal got a bit tired on BALLYHEIGUE and towards the finish was just bouncing up and down in the saddle. This may well have made the difference to the result, but Miss Heal had done a good job up to then and the 16-year-old from Somerset can improve as a jockey. BALLYHEIGUE was just pipped in a race at the annual Guernsey meeting at L’Ancresse and was well clear of the third here. He is 212 in similar races of late and will have similar opportunities.
HUNTERS BELT was held up and never got near the front, keeping on for third place. He would be worth a pot at Southwell on the all-weather, even off an 11lbs higher mark, as he looks significantly better there.
Two veterans GRAND DIAMOND and GOLDEN FUTURE couldn’t make any impact on the first two.
RARE COINCIDENCE, now only rated 28 and probably a back number on the flat, tore off in front with his inexperienced rider struggling to hold him. He paid for the exertions in the last three furlongs.

6.40 5f Canaccord Genuity 2yo Maiden (Class 4)

ELUSIVE EPONA, made favourite on debut, made an effort two out and showed great determination to prevail in the last furlong. This was a very encouraging debut from the filly and a visit to Royal Ascot is a strong possibility. A stiffer five furlongs would help her.
The fillies had it to themselves here, LANAI cutting out much of the running before being headed half a furlong from home. There isn’t a huge amount of her but she has an engine. I note that she is entered in a DBS Sales race at York in August and I would imagine connections would consider a pot at that sort of contest.
DOMINIC CORK showed good speed but was held before the final furlong. He’s another with sales race entries but nurseries will likely be his level in time.
Newcomer CHARLES MESSIER veered right out of the stalls and was soon outpaced. He made up a little ground in the latter stages and should benefit from the experience.
BAHAMIAN ART has the right look but was once again put in his place, having been up with the pace early.

7.10  5f Nairns Oatcakes Handicap (47-63)

I don’t often get involved in betting on Class 6 handicaps, but this race looked set up for one horse. ROY’S LEGACY looked the only one with pace on the stands’ side and since he’s pretty decent at this level it looked a golden opportunity. He showed his normal early dash, had got a gap on his field two out and had enough to hold one serious challenge from the furlong pole. He goes very well over a sharp five, handles quick ground and Polytrack and regularly gives off his best. His recent runs in Class 6 have resulted in form 321231. This race suited him, but he’s decent ammunition in these events given the right draw and going.
The winner is an entire and, being a small animal, there is a suggestion he may well have future as a pony sire. As a five-year-old with 61 runs behind him breeders would certainly being using a tough sort.
SPRING BIRD was the one rival that I considered a danger but her draw in stall three didn’t help. She was soon prominent and challenged in the final furlong but was held. Decent effort though and she would have had every chance if drawn stands’ side.
SEE VERMONT was well enough drawn but was held by the winner from before the furlong pole. A fair effort but he’s had a fair few chances.
TADALAVIL kept on into fourth without getting a shot at the leaders.
BUSY BIMBO, one who had vaguely threatened to win and finely came good at the 57th attempt recently, probably needs a stiffer track to be seen at her best. She generally runs some sort of race and was not totally disgraced in fifth.
HERE NOW AND WHY was well touted pre-race but remains on a downward curve.

7.40 1m 6f Belmont Wallyford Handicap (58-73)

Given a peach of a ride, ALEKSANDAR scored a second career win, Graham Lee setting the pace and winding things up in the straight. To his credit the gelding found plenty when asked two furlongs out. All his best form has come when able to lead.
MERCHANT OF DUBAI landed the forecast for the stable of Jim Goldie. He ran in better company last season and the seasonal debut may have brought him on a bit. He stuck on after the winner from two out.
DISCOVERY BAY made an effort over two furlongs and looked the likely winner before running out of stamina inside the final furlong.
MEDIEVAL BISHOP needed some cajoling at times during the race, had his chance over two out but was held after that.
TRAVEL was close up until fading from three out. His all-weather form hasn’t translated to the turf, a fact that might be worth remembering should he return to the artificial with a string of high numbers against his name.

8.10 7f Central Taxis Maiden Stakes (Class 5)

Not a strong event, a fact which no doubt helped MOWHOOB who has found assorted ways of losing in a 20-race career. With Graham Lee producing another well judged ride, he set the pace and had more than enough in hand from two out. Beating higher rated opponents here won’t help his handicap mark, though his confidence should have got a boost.
PROTECTED plugged on for second without really threatening the winner. His head carriage wasn’t brilliant and he has something to prove.
HANDWOVEN has plenty of places to his credit, but didn’t seem at all enamoured with being asked for an extra effort. One to be wary of.
THORNTOUN CARE was never near the leaders but kept on to take fourth. He was placed in a mile maiden last year and must surely need a few furlongs further.

8.40 7f 30yds Turcan Connell 3yo Handicap (44-70)

TWIN APPEAL made an encouraging handicap debut at Doncaster and looked progressive in winning here. He kept on strongly in the final furlong to win a shade cosily and could well follow up.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER has been a consistent sort and kept on for second after racing prominently.
PROCLAMATIONOFWAR kept on late to take third place. He stepped up in trip here having previously competed over five furlongs and saw out the trip well enough.
LOMOND LASSIE stepped up on her seasonal debut in finishing a keeping on fourth. The step up from six furlongs did no harm.
CAHAL led or disputed for much of the way, but was headed over a furlong out and passed by a couple close home. Being taken on by Beautiful Stranger didn’t help.

9.10 1m Gordon and Halliday Flooring Handicap (47-64)

Contested by exposed runners and OUTLAW TORN came from off the pace to record his ninth win. He generally runs his race but needs things set up for him to win.
Wilf Storey sometimes turns around others’ cast-offs and NELSON’S BAY has prospects going forward. He kept on into second place and may be capable of picking up a similar event.
CAMEROONEY contested the pace with Cono Zur and came out best of that pair, being overtaken for second close home.
FUNDING DEFICIT had every chance two out and wasn’t good enough.
CONO ZUR contested the pace then faded from two out.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Kelso - First May Meeting

KELSO – Wednesday May 7th

Going – Good, Good To Soft in places, turning Good To Soft as it rained from Race 3 onwards

A damp afternoon and my paddock observations were limited in the middle of the card to the soggy conditions!

1.55 2m 1f Aver Chartered Accountants Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

This will likely prove to be quite a decent novices’ chase, the first two having shown decent form over hurdles and two Grade 1 winning hurdlers following them in.

MASTER OF THE GAME dwarfed everything else in the paddock and looks all over a chaser. He jumped well in the main either in front or disputing. He was momentarily caught flatfooted when hitting two out but worked back into it at the last and prevailed in a bobbing finish. Not the easiest ride by all accounts, but this double point winner should turn into a pretty decent chaser if carefully handled.
RUNSWICK ROYAL won the Morebattle Hurdle here in February and made a very encouraging chasing debut. He made headway to challenge two out, led before the last but was just headed close home. He lost nothing in defeat and there should be chases to be won with him.
ORSIPPUS hasn’t been able to match his best over hurdles in recent times. He doesn’t look quite the natural jumper but did well to remain in contention to the last before giving way.
RUACANA was put in his place from two out having raced prominently early.
BOZIC found this company too tough but wasn’t given a hard race once beaten.

2.25 2m 6f 110yds Hunter Real Estate Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (82-110)

SILVER GENT created a good impression when just holding on in what seems to have been a decent event at Perth. He s not a typical McCain type, rather angular and lacking the smooth lined strength. Handsome is and handsome does and he set a decent pace here and stayed on well from two out to hold challenges. Lightly raced to date, this one can step up a grade.
RISKIER is a slightly better chaser than hurdler, but chased the winner all the way up the straight and is an honest sort.
BOLLIN JULIE was not disgraced back in third from out of the handicap, though never seriously threatened to be much closer.
MARRAKECH TRADER was fizzy in the paddock and couldn’t make an impact from three out.
Connections were looking for a prominent display from NATIVE SPA but he faded in the final half mile and is now most likely to be re-homed.

2.55 2m 7f 110yds Christine Clow Celebration Selling Handicap Chase (64-100)

Selling handicap chases are pretty thin on the ground these days, but this event remains an annual fixture at Kelso.
WINTER ALCHEMY is probably better than he cares to let on, and strikes me as one that is more of a chaser than a hurdler. He set the pace and then toughed it out up the straight having been headed three out. A decent effort and he will remain in the ‘up to 100’ class even with a rise.
ALLANARD still has ability at this level, but was just worried out of it by a persistent winner having led two out.
OH RIGHT kept on from the rear for third but may need a rest or is perhaps held by the handicapper for now.
John Wade came into this race mob-handed, but the best he could manage was fourth place with CHICAGO OUTFIT who plugged on without ever threatening. RUNSWICK RELAX led three out and looked a possible winner but was out on his feet by the last and dropped back to fifth. IRISH BY NAME chased the leader to the thirteenth but quickly went backwards and was pulled up.
WESTERN BOUND was ten pounds out of the handicap and never dangerous. He’ll need a lousy event to have a serious chance.
FILBERT FOX was never going and pulled up after going a mile and the impression I got was that he wasn’t putting it all in. He did run one decent race at Hexham, but has been well below that otherwise. Connections tell me options going forward include cross-country events or a return to pointing.

3.25 3m 2f Bedmax Handicap Chase (Le Garcon D’or Trophy) (100-115)

The rain had set in seriously by this event and for once I forsook my rooftop viewing position to watch under cover. Viewing on the lower deck is OK but not as good as up top.

HARRIS HAWK took over at the twelfth and had his race won by two out having kicked on from four out. He won this comfortably and has ability to win off a higher mark if he can repeat this effort.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER jumped better here than he did at Perth. He was tapped for pace by the winner but plugged on and staying is his forte.
BADGER FOOT has been running quite well in recent times. He chased the leader three out but was beaten with two to jump and finished tired.
ROMANY RYME is a maiden and didn’t threaten that status in this contest.
PYJAMA GAME was well behind from the thirteenth and pulled up before two out. He won twice in the autumn and was coming off a long break so will presumably benefit from the outing.
AZERODEGREE struggled from halfway and was pulled up with a mile left.
PRESENT POTENTIAL went wrong when clouting the seventh and had to be put down. He had shown great promise in points and hunter chasing and is a sad loss for his stable.

4.00 2m 110yds NFU Mutual Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (102-120)

NEVILLE WOODS has struck me so far as a work in progress job with chasing his eventual aim. His trainer confirmed this so will be well pleased with a hurdling success, the gelding always going well and driven out to take the race. Neville Woods should be suited by a stiffer test and his chasing debut is eagerly awaited in this quarter.
CAPTAIN BROWN took an age to get up after a last hurdle fall here last time. Given time to recover, this free-going sort bowled along in front and responded gamely once challenged if just held. He looks to need this decent ground and I suspect Jimmy Moffatt will be eyeing contests at Cartmel, just around the corner from his stable.
COOL SKY stayed on to take third having raced in rear. He generally runs his race.
Kelso in the rain must be a culture shock for PULPITARIAN who was running and winning at Laurel Park 18 months ago. He’s tending to be found out for pace in the closing stages, but is dropping to a reasonable mark and there should be a race for him before long.
HUNTERS BELT was bandaged in front and faded from three out.

4.35 2m 5f 110yds Betfair Scottish Chase Series Final Handicap Chase (97-124)

A slightly disappointing turn out considering reasonable prize money, but there is a limitation with a single final after qualifiers at a range of distances.

BAILEYS CONCERTO was run off his feet at Perth but stayed on late. He found the course and distance here just up his street and had the race in safe keeping before the last. He’s on a roll and I would imagine Dianne Sayer will be mapping out a campaign for him in the coming months.
FIDDLERS REEL made a brave attempt to concede 16lbs to a well handicapped opponent. He saw his race out honestly enough after being headed two out.
PEACHEY MOMENT was right there two out but held after. He’s on a losing run and beatable.
GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS has the make of a chaser but is a weak finisher and I wonder if he has a wind problem.
THE FLAMING MATRON was not good enough in this class. She’s eligible for 0-100 and that would be the obvious level to aim at.
LADY OF VERONA was beaten well before the straight.
HARRY’S WHIM bowled along in front, but is too often let down by sloppy jumping and duly deposited Henry Brooke on the turf a fence seven. He demolished a rail or two when loose and was still buzzing when returning to the paddock.

5.10 2m 110yds Cheers Bar Standard Open NH Flat (Class 5)

Not a strong contest by Kelso standards, four stood out in the paddock and they occupied the first four places.
DOKTOR GLEZ showed promise at Wetherby in December and built on that to win here, staying on well having led two out. He’s a well grown sort that may not have the scope of some others in this race.
LEWIS is a fine chasing type who will come into his own once facing obstacles. He stayed on well to take second place and if I was taking one out of this contest it would have to be this one. If nothing he’s not trained by a ‘prominent stable’ so may sneak under the radar.
NICOLAS CHAUVIN challenged the winner from two out but was held in the last 100 yards. The feeling is that if he was a really sharp sort from the Henderson camp he wouldn’t be running at Kelso in May. He may be worth opposing as under-priced in upcoming engagements.
TOOLA BOOLA stayed on encouragingly in the closing stages.
ALWAYS TIPSY wasn’t disgrace in fifth, if held in the final furlong.
THE LAST LEG led for a good way but was beaten in the home straight. He probably needs some time which is unusual for McLintock runners in these contests.
SKI GUIDE didn’t show in the latter stages and the stable have decided he is not going to make it as racehorse. He is now available for re-homing/re-training and details of this one and others may be found at .