AYR – Saturday November 1st
Going – Good to Soft, Soft in places
Ayr welcomed in November with a card which served the role of ‘under-card’ to some decent racing at Ascot and Wetherby as the National Hunt season kicks into gear. Nevertheless there are a few pointers going forward, including an encouraging run from Outlaw Tom.
1.05 2m - John Smith’s Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)
Not an inspiring event to commence the programme.
ARDNAHOE showed promise in bumpers and started nicely over hurdles here. Travelling prominently, she led two out and was driven out to score. Only a four-year-old, she should be able to build on this.
BOBS LADY TAMURE has had more experience than the others here and sets the mark with her 95 rating. She had every chance two out but found the winner too good in the latter stages. She’s nothing special but does see her races out and should find a little handicap or weak mares’ maiden hurdle somewhere along the line.
KNOCKLAYDE SNO CAT had every chance down the straight and wasn’t good enough from before the last.
JENNY’S MELODY struggled to go the pace two out but picked up late on under a vigorous ride from Paul Moloney. The jockey reported his mount as still raw and likely to come on for the experience.
LUCKY BUTTONS had her chance and could only find one pace from before the last.
THIS THYNE JUDE is a strongly built chasing sort who has needed time. She’s still a bit keen but should make her mark at a lowly level in time.
1.40 2m 4½f Lomond Plant Handicap Chase (97-115)
There seems to have been a re-arrangement of starting positions as there used to be 2m 4f and 2m 5f starts here but this one between the two gave a shortish run to the first.
Five out of six of these had a tongue-tie which suggests a lot of breathing difficulties in the past. REDPENDER sported the mouth apparatus for the first time, and it appeared to bring about some improvement. Chased the clear leader for some way, he was outpaced a mile out but picked up in the latter stages to win a shade cosily. Whether he can progress from this is a moot point.
CARLOS FANDANGO didn’t convince with his jumping but kept on for second place. He looked very fit for this and would need to brush up his fencing to achieve more.
HARRYS WHIM set off in front as is her way. She plugged on after being headed three out but probably raced too freely early on.
SUBLIME TALENT was always towards the rear and never got seriously involved, and BALLYCOOL was another never seen with a serious chance. He’s capable of better and his winning form is around two miles.
RED TANBER looked a shadow of his 2011/12 self returning after a season off. After hitting the ninth hard he soon lost touch and was pulled before four out.
2.15 3m ½f Plumbstone Handicap Hurdle (95-115)
Not the strongest event of its type, and one that turned into a penalty kick for the in-form TOP BILLING. Nicky Richards charge comfortably slotted it ‘into the corner of the net’ asserting from three out and clear at the last. He’s gone up 23lbs this autumn and continues on an upward curve, though will probably be forced into more competitive contests now.
QUEL ELITE has often threatened to be a bit better than he has actually produced. Held up here, he stayed on up the straight without threatening the winner. He often runs passably but is 1 from 20 over hurdles.
WELLFORTH set the pace or disputed until headed by the winner three out and was passed by the second at the last hurdle. He essentially a staying chaser, his last run was when falling in the Haydock Grand National Trial, so new connections will presumably be happy with this effort.
ISAACSTOWN LAD hasn’t made too much of a mark under Rules to date and never got close enough to get in a blow here.
BESCOT SPRINGS was held from three out and below par.
MAKHZOON raced prominently early but lost his place down the far side for the final time and nick alexander reported him as having knocked a leg. He was dismounted but reported as fine the next morning.
2.50 3m 1f John Smith’s Handicap Chase (107-109)
I had to watch the replay of this one to get a reasonable idea of how things panned out. When I have an ownership interest then I only have eyes for one horse though Outlaw Tom really pleased us with his effort here.
The winner PRESENTING JUNIOR is a progressive seven-year-old who has moved from a rating of 74 up to the 108 he ran off here. Second to Always Right on Monday, he came here looking fresh and well. Tracking the pace set by Outlaw Tom he quickened between the last two and had the race won from there, staying no strongly to the line. Much depends on how the handicapper measures this form, but Martin Todhunter and connections have a cracking improving stayer on their hands, surely capable of winning again.
OUTLAW TOM set the pace, Peter Buchanan’s intention being to try to burn the finish out of the winner. It’s a balancing act which didn’t come off but the gelding jumped well enough in the main and saw his race out strongly to the line and had the other two well beaten. He pecked a bit at the fourth last and didn’t meet the third last quite last, but on balance he was beaten by a better animal on the day. All systems go now for the 4 mile Northumberland County Chase at Hexham on November 19th.
Given that my record as ‘owner on course’ is abysmal, I reckon I can be excused for being first into the unsaddling enclosure and making the most of the placing! My best placing when presen on course had been a sixth, and bear in mind that I started with a tailed off in a six furlong seller at Windsor! It could only get better from that point.
STRIKE FAST is lightly raced under Rules though did win a point. He was beaten once Outlaw Tom upped the pace from four out, but has shown a glimmer of ability and there is probably hope for this one.
BERTIE MILAN looked in need of this race, confirmed in Nick Alexander’s blog, and couldn’t go the pace from four out. He thumped three out and Kit Alexander did well to sit tight, needing most of the run to two out to organise his feet in the irons. This one is best with more cut and essentially an out and out stayer that we might run into again this season.
3.25 2m ½f John Smith’s No Nonsense Handicap Chase (108-135)
Two mile races normally start in the chute before the third last, but this was half a furlong longer and started at the exit to the back straight.
I missed the preliminaries due to pre-occupation with the previous race.
Welsh challenger DEFINITE DREAM prevailed in a close fought contest that saw four in with a chance at the last. He ran on well to land the race, coming off the back of a 172-day layoff. Not over-raced for a seven-year-old this one is going the right way and there looks to be more to come. He seems to run best when fresh.
TOO COOL TO FOOL saves his best for Ayr. He led from four out until the last and kept on well enough to the line. He’s versatile as far as distance is concerned and has kept his form very well at the age of 11.
AUTHINGER came to Barry Murtagh from Ireland having started his racing career in France. He was found wanting from the last but not totally disgraced. On balance of form he needs further than this.
MASTER OF THE GAME was well there until the last but found no more on the run-in. A decent enough effort suggesting that James Ewart can have a pot at the better 2m to 2m 4f chases in the North.
KUMBESHWAR didn’t jump fluently and was behind from three out. His trainer feels his lost his confidence over fences and she states that will take time with him at home.
4.00 2m John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle (110-133)
Class told in this decent little handicap hurdle, with top weight FISHER wearing down the long-time leader to take it up on the run-in. He’s three from 7 over hurdles and likely to remain on a workable mark after a three-length victory.
CIRCUS STAR set off at a fair lick and was soon 25 lengths clear. I did wonder if John Dixon had misjudged things, but to the amateur pilot’s credit his mount was only caught at the last and only gave way after dogged resistance. A very good effort and connections have done well to channel tearaway tendencies in the right direction.
VOYAGE A NEW YORK chased the leader from three out but was held approaching the last. He will turn into a chaser eventually but his trainer is likely to resist the temptation to go over the big obstacles until next season. In the meantime he is likely to be upped in trip which should help over hurdles.
LORD WISHES ran creditably enough on his return to the track following a lay-off since April 2013. Once the rust is knocked off he has plenty enough talent to win decent handicap hurdles.
The tactics have been changed with CAPTAIN BROWN, hold up being the order of the day now, but I feel he’s better setting or up with the pace.
COOL BARANCA looked a bit dull in her coat and this might just have been one race too much. She never got involved seriously.
4.30 1m 6f BetVictor.com Newcomers NH Flat Race (Class 6)
The rain swept in from the Irish Sea before this event, causing many to depart the course. Anyone who knows my racing preferences will be well aware that these events are the ones I wait for. I’ve been tweeting some lousy paddock picks recently, but I kept my powder dry until the last here and came up with the winner.
ANOTHER BILL was a typical Nicky Richards ‘bumper job’, hard fit, relaxed in the paddock and schooled to do his job. He stood out in the paddock and was a no-brainer selection. He travelled smoothly into contention early in the straight and sprinted clear once the button was pressed. He’s a half-brother to Dark Glacier so will likely progress when going over obstacles.
VERONA OPERA is half-sister to flat, hurdles and chase winner Eye Candy. She challenged two out but was held by the winner once he increased the pace. Clear of the remainder she was unlucky to run into such a sharp sort.
VERNI is a decent looking gelding who has plenty of decent jumping blood on his dam’s side. Green in the preliminaries, as were a few here, he was outpaced in the final two furlongs but did enough to suggest he can make a mark in time.
MASTER MOON, another green in the paddock, is a half-brother to a seven furlong winner. He was left behind from two out. His dam was a 10-furlong flat winner rated 78 so two mile hurdles probably wouldn’t be stretching his stamina too much.
Greenest of the lot in the paddock, and starting the others off, CA LE FERRA led from a mile out but gave way over two furlongs out. He’s a half-brother to multiple pointing/Rules winner Saveiro and also to hurdles winner Plus Jamais. One to keep an eye on.
COOKING FAT raced prominently for a long way. Her dam stayed well and was multiple winner over hurdles and on the flat. Rather lumbered with his racing name, but showed enough to suggest that a serious racehorse may surface in time.
DIMPLE is a strong looking jumping sort but was seriously wayward here. Refusing to corner turning for home he careered through the rails, dislodged his jockey and, by means unseen, ended up running up and down the car park to the left of the stands. Your correspondent, looking to make a sharp exit, was rather alarmed to see Dimple cantering across in front of him. Thankfully after some scares the gelding was caught and seemed none the worse. Looks like equine psychologist territory though!