Sunday, 22 June 2014

Lands Of Burns Day at Ayr

Ayr - Saturday June 21st

Going – Good to Firm

A decent card as a support to the final day of Royal Ascot with fair weather and a decent turn out. The prize money for this meeting is very good, though field sizes were a little disappointing for such decent rewards.

1.50 6f Sunsport EBF 2yo Maiden (Class 4)

Two pulled clear here with the winner’s experience perhaps making the difference in a close contest.

SQUATS caught the eye most of these in the paddock, though he was a little fizzy pre-race. A fourth at Sandown on debut looked sound enough and he built on that to take this contest. Having raced prominently he led over a furlong out and was then challenged, but he showed plenty of resolution to rally and win perhaps slightly more comfortably than the head margin suggests. Last year’s winner was a Group performer, and though he doesn’t look in that class but he’s going the right way.
SUREWECAN looked fit enough on debut and came with a challenge to look the likely winner inside the final furlong. He couldn’t quite respond to the winner’s rally, but is plenty good enough to win a maiden.
SALATEEN was up with the pace most of the way but held from the furlong pole. His dam won from 1m 1f up to 1m 5f and a longer trip may not do any harm.
ZUZINIA was most exposed of these and her previous record didn’t look exciting enough to justify opening as favourite. She was weak in the market and found wanting form over a furlong out.
Newcomers SANDGATE and SPIRIT OF THE SEA both showed inexperience in the rear, but picked up a place or two late on and should come on for the experience.
CLASSIC FLYER showed early paced but was well spent before the furlong pole.
TECUMSEH was backed from 13/2 in to 100/30, but those backers didn’t see this one in the paddock. He was playing up and looked a bit headstrong to me. In the race he raced very keenly early on and had nothing left by the two furlong pole.
SIR ACCLAM was outpaced from two out. He’s a half-bother to stayer and hurdler Mamlook so may need a fair bit more ground to cover.

2.20 1m Scottish Sun on Sunday 3yo Handicap (76-95)

A nice looking bunch in the paddock and there’s probably more to come going forward from a number of these.

Lightly raced PRETZEL was impressive, taking it up shortly after the two furlong pole and quickly putting the race to bed. He’s clearly a good deal better than the 90 mark he ran off here, and will likely turn out to be better than a handicapper. He may have one more pot at a handicap before moving up in grade.
BRAIDLEY is a rangy sort who performed very creditably in second place. He chased the winner in the final two furlongs and stayed on honestly enough.
Under a 6lb penalty SIR GUY PORTEOUS performed soundly enough, outpointed for second in the closing stages. He like to lead but was perhaps a little keen early on.
MIME DANCE kept on for fourth without getting near the lead and ran a similar race to HOMESTRETCH who pretty much accompanied him through the final two furlongs.
ARAGAL looked very well but could offer disappointingly little when asked the question in the straight.
MR MATTHEWS was held up and could never match the others.

2.55 1m Slaters Handicap (85-97)

The winner TWO FOR TWO is quite well exposed, but was recording a highest winning mark and has been competitive in Class 2 events. Running off near top weight here probably gave him that class edge he needed. He’s pretty much forced now into running in the top handicaps around one mile.
DUBAI DYNAMO ran second in this contest last year and has been thereabouts on most of his outings this term. Moved up 4lbs after his win at Chester, he remains very much competitive.
TRAIL BLAZE pressed the leader and led two furlongs out before being passed inside the final furlong. This was a fair enough effort and he would be of interest if able to get a comfortable lead.
NORSE BLUES got a bit squeezed up two furlongs and couldn’t get to the leaders afterwards. He has won off similar marks.
BALTY BOYS was perhaps fortunate when winning at Nottingham and didn’t get into a position to seriously threaten in the straight.
CAPO ROSSO set the pace but was found wanting from two out, as was LAWMANS THUNDER who was a stand out on looks but found disappointingly little when ridden and is perhaps better on the all-weather.
STONEFIELD FLYER was going well two furlongs out but emptied rather quickly and didn’t see out the trip.

3.35 1m Arnold Clark Handicap (75-93)

STRICTLY SILVER raced prominently and built on the promise he had shown last time at Chester. He led three out, stretched the field form there and was driven out to hold the advantage. This was the first time he had raced below a Class 2 event for a couple of years and the easier task clearly suited.
ONE PEKAN went honestly after the winner from two out without looking like catching him. He’s relatively lightly raced and appears to be coming to hand.
ARGAKI put in an effort from three out but appeared to be hanging a bit from that point and third was always going to be as close as he would be from a furlong out. He handles quick ground, so that presumably wasn’t a problem, and I’m told connections were pleased enough with this run if adding a rider that it may have come a little soon, being only three days after a decent effort at Hamilton.
MUHARRER had every chance was held from the furlong marker. Conditions suited here and he couldn’t quite overcome the 7lb rise in the weights, though he didn’t actually weaken and might be better with a stiffer finish.
COSMIC HALO didn’t have an awful lot of room in the latter stages and was ridden with hands and heels once his chance had gone. This run did give a degree of encouragement. To show how hectic a life jockeys lead, no more than 5 minutes after dismounting Samantha Bell was off to the car park ready for the journey to Haydock for a single ride.
LOVE MARMALADE made moderate late progress from the rear but was never seriously competitive.
BEAUMONT’S PARTY had every chance three but wasn’t good enough from that point.
SAN CASSIANO led until three out and then steadily faded.

4.15 5f Scottish Sun Miss Scotland Handicap (74-93)

BURNING THREAD runs in some competitive sprints and is at his best on fast ground. This wouldn’t have been the toughest event he’s taken part in of late and he came with a late rattle to lead on the line.
BEAR BEHIND set the pace, was briefly headed by Alaskan Bullet and then rallied determinedly only to be done right in the shadow of the post. He won’t go up more than a pound or two for this, is in really good heart and capable at this level.
ALASKAN BULLET looks to be a tough ride. Missing the break, he worked his way into the race on the far rail, forced his way through a gap inside the final furlong but then lacked the resolution of the second and was headed in the last 50 yards. Capable but probably not easy to win with.
DOCTOR PARKES was a length and a half back and that was as good as he was on the day. Not bad but not quite good enough.
NEW FFOREST led briefly at the furlong pole but capitulated rather quickly.

4.50 5f Scottish Sun EBF Land O’ Burns Fillies’ Stakes (Listed)

This contest is a neat bit of planning that fills a niche in a week when most Pattern action is concentrated on Ascot. Once again it drew a competitive field but it’s a pity that Channel 4 couldn’t see fit to squeezing the race into their coverage.

SWAN SONG was made favourite and looked very calm in the preliminaries. However, she blotted her copybook at the start and was withdrawn, never looking remotely like consenting to entering the stalls.
HAY CHEWED went close in open listed company at Sandown last time and made no mistake against fellow fillies. One of a host of fillies on their toes in the preliminaries, she made smooth headway from two out , soon led and had the race in safe keeping inside the final furlong. The time of this race was a shade slower than the preceding handicap though suggesting it won’t be a given that the winner can step up to Group 3 level.
INYORDREAMS, one who looked a bit headstrong in the paddock, was always on the premises and stepped on previous performances which had merited a rating of 80. This was her first try back at this distance since fifth at York on her racecourse bow.
REROUTE was produced to have every chance over a furlong out but could make no further impression. She’s more lightly raced than some though has only once raced at a lower level than this.
SURVIVED, a bit revved up before the start, was outpaced mid-race but stayed on again to take fourth place.
VALONIA raced up with a strong pace but was held from the furlong pole.
RISKIT FOR A BISKIT set the pace but had nothing to repel challengers approaching the final furlong.

5.25 6f Leith 3yo Handicap (55-80)

A difficult race to assess since only two got competitive and one of those was out of the weights.

SPIRIT OF ALSACE chased the clear leader and closed approaching the final furlong. Leading inside the final furlong he had to hold off a challenge from the pacemaker. This one was really revved up before the start, which is unusual for a Jim Goldie animal, but did at least manage to channel his energies in the right direction. This race was run almost a second slower than the opening two-year-old event.
SIGNORE PICCOLO set a strong pace and was five lengths clear after two furlongs. Distress signals were showing approaching the furlong pole and he was passed, but rallied to good enough effect to make the winner pull out the stops. Blistering pace is this one’s style so a good draw on a sharp track will aid his chances.
HEROIQUE was never nearer than at the finish and she may be just a little better with cut in the ground.
SLEEPER CLASS was taken off her feet early on and couldn’t get in a challenge.
SANDRA’S DIAMOND went sharply right at the start and lost any chance at that point.
ASPIRANT looked very well but was well beaten and is off his game, the application of blinkers having no effect.

Friday, 20 June 2014

What a Wow at Ascot!

THE WOW SIGNAL duly obliged in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday in most convincing fashion, with JUNGLE CAT getting closer this time having won at Goodwood in the meantime in a race from which the second and fourth have already come out and won. The form is absolutely splitting at the seams with winners and DOC CHARM is now aimed at the July Stakes.

Diverting slightly from the Scottish scene, I note that CURSORY GLANCE won the opener at Ascot today after winning on debut in a Class 5 maiden at Kempton. Some useful animals appear in maidens on the all-weather, particularly at Kempton and to a lesser extent at Lingfield, and a number of decent animals have progressed to turf Group company after appearing on the all-weather. There's a bias in some quarters against the all-weather, damned monotonously as 'dross' by one particular regular on The Racing Forum, but top trainers now regularly use the Polytrack to introduce their animals to racing. I suspect the bias against 'the artificial' might be something that is prevalent enough to affect the market and it's worth looking for decent animals moving from artificial surface to turf.

I'll be tweeting brief reports form Ayr tomorrow via @Scotracing including paddock selections. It looks a pretty decent card as a support to Royal Ascot with very good prize money, the £40,000 Listed Land O' Burns Stakes being the feature, a race which may well be within the compass of the Andrew Balding trained SWAN SONG. Earlier on the card look out for ARGAKI who hit form at around this time last season, looks well enough weighted and hails from a stable doing 'very nicely, thank you' of late.

Report for that meeting should be up early next week. I shall then be venturing to totally different territory to take in a meeting at Lysa Nad Labem in the Czech Republic on Saturday July 5th, a meeting which as far as I can gather takes in  flat races, trotters, pony races, steeplechases and a race over 'wicker obstacles' which I presume are something like hurdles. Should be a very interesting place to visit and I looking forward  to posting a report on return from our jaunt taking in Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Slightly galling that the schedule just misses the Magyar Derby, but hopefully I can get a look at Budapest's Kincsem Park even though there's no meeting when we are in the city.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Follow The Ayr Maiden Form to Ascot

AYR – Monday 9th June

Going – Soft

Testing conditions after a wet weekend in Scotland.

The most significant result here was DOC CHARM winning the opening two-year-old maiden very comfortably. He was beaten nine lengths by THE WOW SIGNAL at the last meeting here and the latter now looks a live chance at Royal Ascot. Even the well beaten third on that occasion, JUNGLE CAT, won a maiden at Goodwood last Friday. Might be worth keeping an eye out for the fourth and fifth on that occasion, AL RAYYAN and POOLSTOCK should they appear in run of the mill maidens.
BLACKFOOT BRAVE was behind early but stayed on to good effect in the final two furlongs and should step up on this effort with the experience.

LYSINO was an easy winner of the Betfair Stayers Series Qualifier. He had some fair form on the flat in Germany and France in 2012, winning his maiden at Munich, and this was his first flat race in the UK. He strolled away with this and he looks a fair bit better than the handicapper rated him here.

THECORNISHCOWBOY won with a bit in hand over ten furlongs here though will move out of the basement grade after this. That said he is a bit better than Class 6 at his best and is in good heart.

GONINODAETHAT showed plenty of determination to win his leg of the Class 6 Handicap, having set a searching early pace. He has recorded all his wins at Ayr, but given that he’s only once raced away from the three Scottish flat courses that isn’t an earth shattering fact.

SAN CASSIANO won the Class 3 ten furlong event, but it was soft contest run three second slower than the time set by TheCornishCowboy’s. PULPITARIAN disappointed, but he hasn’t looked happy with cut in the ground on the flat or over hurdles here, and all his US winning form was on firm ground. He may be worth bearing in mind if the ground dries

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Perth Gold Cup Day

PERTH – Sunday June 8th

Going – Soft (Heavy in places)

2.10 2m 4f 110yds Land Rover Discovery Maiden Hurdle (Class 5) (for Provost’s Plate)

A successful debut for Stuart Crawford’s ROYAL DJANGO, a Kayf Tara gelding who is likely best suited by these conditions. Racing handily he challenged two out and having been led into the last he railed to good effect under driving to lead close home.
Favourite NINGBO EXPRESS looked the likely winner at the last only to be run out of it close home. She should be placed to win a race over hurdles before long.
TARLAN was coming back off a new three year lay-off having fractured his pelvis. This comeback was very promising since he came with every chance two out and was only outpaced from the last.
BADGED ran up to his form in fourth.
AMILLIONTIMES set the pace until two out but found the opposition too strong after that.

2.45 2m 4f 110yds Jaguar F-Type Handicap Chase (109-132)

The favourite here Gordon’s Elliott trained KILLEENMORE was walked up for the vet before the race. There was clearly some problem as he raced in rear, was under pressure with a mile to go and pulled up before four out. The horse was reported as lame behind.

CREEVYTENNANT was a useful hunter chaser two seasons ago, winning the hunter event at the 2013 Musselburgh Cheltenham Trials Meeting. Having missed last season he came back successfully here, making all the running and sticking on despite an unusual distraction on the run-in. The race was run during a thunderstorm and Creevytennant veered on the run-in as there was a flash of lightning. Nevertheless he had enough in hand to hold on.
CALL BOX travelled well, came to challenge at the last and kept on under driving if a clear second best. He goes well here and can find another opportunity.
SCOTCH WARRIOR may well have found these conditions a little testing. He chased the leaders from three out but couldn’t make an impression. A fair enough effort off a 5lbs higher mark than his recent win.
ALLOW ME was beaten two out, while veteran GARLETON is struggling now, was on and off the bridle, and beaten from three out.
STONETHROWER was beaten turning for home.

3.20 2m 110yds Stewart Milne Hunters Meadow Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (65-105)

 SNOQUALMIE CHIEF saw off a moderate field in comfortable style to land Gordon Elliott’s 100th winner at Perth. Held up, he came through the field from three out and won going away.
DISCOVERIE set the pace and kept on for second. Dianne Sayer should place this one to win a race this summer.
DEFINITELY BETTER travelled strongly but didn’t find a huge amount from two out.
There wasn’t an awful lot of encouragement from the remainder who were beaten off before the last.

3.50 2m Fugro Subsea Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Not a bad novices’ chase for this time of year won by FALCARRAGH, a decent novice hurdle last season and bouncing back from a disappointing chase debut at Worcester. He joined issue with the leaders three out and stayed on to win by a couple of lengths.
MIDNIGHT GAME chased the leaders from three out but was never quite near enough to get in a serious challenge though finishing best of all into second from the last. This looks a step up on his chasing debut at Killarney and there may be better to come in time over fences.
HOWWOULDUNO set the pace or disputed most of the way and stuck to his task once passed at the last.
ORSIPPUS, rather small for chasing, disputed the lead for much of the way, but was outpaced from three out only to run on again under pressure on the flat. He wasn’t going anywhere in particular over hurdles last term and my feeling is that his trainer maybe felt it was time to try something different. He might be worth a try over a longer distance.
AGRICULTURAL had much to find here and was left behind from four out.

4.25 3m Range Rover City Of Perth Gold Cup Handicap chase (139-119)

It was chucking it down with rain for one of Perth’s feature events of the season.

A battle of attrition won in brave style by GUESS AGAIN who pretty much made all. He was maybe briefly headed two out but dug deep and was asserting in the final furlong. A good effort, but he doesn’t get to the track that often and is likely to need a bit of a rest after these exertions.
LAMBORO LAD came there looking the likely winner two out but was outpointed from the last. A fair enough effort and Peter Bowen will presumably look to place him in similar events this summer.
RAAJIH travelled well into contention three out but couldn’t get to the leaders down the straight. He zoomed up the weights after doddling home at Kilbeggan and that may have stymied him here.
HOLD EM COWBOY was held up as usual but couldn’t get in a blow and probably found the class a bit beyond him.
FIDDLERS REEL raced prominently early but gradually lost touch from the fourteenth.
FIREBIRD FLYER chased the leaders for much of the way but was getting the worst of the argument when falling heavily three out. He did walk away looking a bit shaken but OK.
FENTARA was in rear when belting the thirteenth and was pulled up soon after.
WICKLOW LAD was outpaced after the twelfth and not good enough in this company. There may be a soft race or two for him however at some of Perth’s meetings this summer.

4.55 2m 4f 110yds Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Handicap Hurdle (90-118)

A decimated by non-runners with only seven of the 16 declared turning up for the race.

VASCO DU MEE registered a win for Gordon Elliott, cruising to the front three out and basically allowing AP McCoy to take the mickey out of the others from before the last. Not sure what she achieved here and Elliott may well try to pull the mare out before being re-assessed.
COOL BARANCA generally thrives at this time of the year and tried to throw down a challenge but simply wasn’t good enough.
MOLLY MILAN flattered three out but never got in a serious blow.
INDEPUB set the pace but couldn’t match the first two from two out. I remember seeing him race over 5 and 6 furlongs at the start of his career and it didn’t occur to that he would end up ploughing round Perth in the mud!

5.25 2m 110yds Range Rover Evoque Standard Open NH Flat (Class 6)

The hurdles weren’t removed due to the chewed up state of the course, so this was a bit of a slalom event around the hurdles.

GHOST RIVER pulled clear impressively in the final two furlongs was well held from then.
U NAME IT kept on promisingly for third, but the rest were well beaten.
THEREVEREND CLOVER took a false step and came down five furlongs out. Horse and rider got up OK.