KELSO – Sunday October 5th
Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places) drying to Good To Soft
Kelso’s season kicked into gear in front of a healthy 3,600 attendance. The rain on Friday into Saturday caused a significant number of non-runners but the racing was competitive with a few pointers going forward.
The opening two mile handicap hurdle was won by in-form SLEEP IN FIRST who stayed on well having led all the way, and thus recording a hat-trick.
Returning to jumping after a spell flat racing, MASON HINDMARSH ran an encouraging second place, though some in behind didn’t run their race.
Enigmatic ENDEAVOR came there with every chance two out but gave the impression that he held a little back.
The Lucinda Russell pair of Rhymers Ha’ and Pulpitarian were disappointing and their form has not given enough encouragement in recent runs.
MOST HONOURABLE was plenty fit enough after a break but faded disappointingly before two out.
MR GALLIVANTER made a procession of the four runner juvenile hurdle, coming clear with any amount in hand. Even at this stage he looks a talented recruit in this category. The second Al Musheer couldn’t match the winner and his handicap mark of 108 could prove harsh.
Cape Arrow jumped round neatly enough in his own time and might make up into a handicap hurdler at a modest level in time.
Two finished in the staying novices’ handicap chase (2m 7½f – horses rated 83-103). BIG SOUND set the pace and stayed on determinedly when challenged to win in decent style. He’s consistent, determined and stays well.
WAKHAN wasn’t good enough but has encouraged on both runs for Sue smith and she should coax a basement handicap chase out of this one.
DOTTIES DILEMA had every chance when belting three out. He stopped pretty quickly after that and I suspect he was winded or otherwise hurt himself a bit in that incident. Capable at this level if he gets his jumping up to scratch.
VENITZIA looked to need the race after a long lay-off. He lost touch on the last circuit and was well behind when pulled up two out, but this race will have been of great benefit. The fact that he has been persevered with after a 925 days break suggests his stable have faith in his ability.
The 2m 6½f Intermediate Hurdle has thrown up decent sorts in the past. On this occasion LANDECKER was held up by Lucy Alexander produced approaching the last to take the prize. The winner is not entirely straight forward but he seems to get better the farther he goes. I believe he may rate into the 140s in time and I wonder if he might be one for the Alexanders to take to Cheltenham?
GOLD CHAIN has been running well over the summer and performed up his best in taking second place.
SPIRIT OSCAR is quite highly regarded but was allowed to go off at a fair lick by Derek Fox. In retrospect he probably used up too much energy and was found wanting from before the last. Better to come if ridden with a little more restraint.
SIMPLY NED has been one of my favourites in recent seasons and was impressive off 157 in winning the feature 2m 1f handicap chase, looking at absolute picture. Second in the Grade 1 Maghull Chase at Aintree last season and this latest success likely takes him out of handicaps, though he should be competitive in pattern races. It’s always worth looking out for Nicky Richards runners aimed at the decent prizes that Kelso put up for their better races.
SCOTCH WARRIOR is a real credit to his trainer Mike Smith, that’s one based in Ayrshire. Running at a distance short of his best he was outpaced two out but stayed on well to take second place. There’s no suggestion that he is harshly treated on his mark of 132 and, upped in distance you have to fancy this one to take a decent handicap this autumn. He has won seven and been placed in six out of 23 races contested.
SWIFT ARROW can be difficult to catch right, but was not disgraced in third place. Though is on a high enough mark.
JET MASTER was held up and made a number of jumping errors, particularly at three out which cost a number of lengths. Driven back to challenge for second, Lucy Alexander asked for a long one, but Jet Master begged to differ and a short stride resulted in a heavy fall. The horse has come out OK but Lucy is once again on the sidelines nursing a broken collar bone.
KUMBESHWAR, up to this level at best but regressive in the last year, showed no immediate signs of a revival on first outing since pitching up at Arlary. He looked plenty fit enough but lost touch approaching two out.
The penultimate contest was a pretty dire 2m 7½f handicap chase contested by four horses rated 67-90. It was won by LOCAL PRESENT who is at least reasonably consistent and showed plenty of determination to hold a persistent challenge from the last having set the pace. Not one that I would particularly expect to follow up.
SENDIYM really should have won this but a number of less than accurate jumps put him on the backfoot. His ‘class’ compared with the other three kept him in the contest but he found the winner just too determined.
RUNSWICK RELAX normally looks a picture but can’t match that look in ability. He had every chance before the last but won’t find many softer events.
BALLYCOLIN is a slow old boat these days and not threatening to add to his one win in a Musselburgh novice event in 2011. He had Maggio in second that day, but is a shadow of the horse he suggested he might be then.
The card close with a basement level 2m 2f novices’ handicap hurdle. BURNT SIENNA built on a degree of promise shown in novice events and stayed on well to win here. She is more than a forlorn hope to progress from this. She did make one serious error down the far side, but that seemed to be more due to being restrained.
ONE FOR HOCKY was made favourite here, but often has excuses and is not one I’d be diving in for at short odds. He had every chance but was held by a less exposed winner.
CATCHTHEMOONLIGHT was flagged up by her trainer as one who needs to be held up and allowed to stay on through the field. She was finishing best of all, but the first two were not in range. Her best bet for a win will almost certainly be in bigger fields where there’s a bit of pace on.
BRUNELLO had apparently been working very well for his new trainer and was quietly fancied. However, he really doesn’t seem madly keen on this game and faded tamely from two out.
Just a note that I am really struggling to keep up with as much racing as I would like at the moment. I will keep an eye out for significant performances but notes will mainly concern those meetings visited. The autumn plan is currently:
Saturday October 18 – Kelso
Saturday November 1 – Ayr (Hopefully to watch Outlaw Tom who is tentatively aimed here)
Thursday November 6 – Musselburgh
Saturday November 8 – Kelso
Friday November 28 – Musselburgh (part of the Saltire Festival in East Lothian)
Sunday December 6 – Kelso
Monday December 29 – Kelso
I might manage Newcastle on December 20th but that depends on Chrimbo Shopping commitments!
All the above weather permitting of course…