MUSSELBURGH – Thursday November 6th
Going – Good
A damp and chilly day to pen the jumps season at Musselburgh, but the course avoided the worst of the wet weather that hit Scotland. The resulting ground was described by jockeys asked as ‘perfect’.
1:00 2m 100% Racing UK Profits Return to Racing Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (93-108)
A low key start to the season here, six Class 4 events, and the opener saw a bunch of largely exposed performers take each other on in a ‘whose turn is today?’ handicap hurdle.
CLAUDE CARTER is capable on his day, but I’m sure even his trainer can’t be sure when that day is going to be. He took up the running on the final bend and saw off all-comers up the straight. He’s by no means guaranteed to produce a similar effort next time and is now 4 from 52.
AMILLIONTIMES has been consistent for his Aberdeenshire trainer over the summer and put in another sound effort, always prominent and chipping away at the winner from two if unable to wear him down. He goes well on good ground and is most likely to be seen here again if the ground remains decent.
ENDEAVOR isn’t running badly at the moment and stayed on from two out for third place. He has fair wins to starts record, but can be difficult to catch just right.
SEPARATE SHADOWS was nicely fit after a break, came there with a chance three out but couldn’t make an impact from thereon. No real excuses as far as I could see, he just wasn’t good enough on the day.
URBAN KODE was up with the pace but faded from three out. The race will have done him no harm.
Three-year-old ISTIMRAAR was comfortably held from two out, but may well benefit from the handicapping debut against more seasoned opponents.
BEIDH TINE ANSEO disappointed, as did the veteran DHAULAR DHAR, consistent on the flat of late but perhaps not over enamoured with hurdling in the damp and chill.
Son of the winning trainer, Ewan Whillans has retired as a jockey and now taken to assisting his father with training. Don’t be surprised if the license passed to son in the near future.
1:30 2m Bespoke Event Management Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
The principals here all seemed fit enough to do themselves justice.
Coming into this race with the best Official Rating, ROSERROW made all and was comfortably in command up the straight. He took time to click over hurdles but is now going the right way.
RIDE THE RANGE followed up a win at Hexham over an extra four furlongs by staying on late take second place. This would be more than sharpish for him and a stiffer test would suit better. On the face of it a decent effort and it would be reasonable to expect a win under a penalty given the right circumstances.
NARCISSIST had every chance here and simply wasn’t good enough at the sharp end. I’m just wary of his commitment at the business end.
CRINKLE CRAG was held up and never got to grips with the leaders. He’s probably of stepping up on this.
WHY BUT WHY has plenty of jumping experience and won over fences in Ireland. He’s a two miler and it’s likely to be in handicap chases where he will show up best.
2:00 2m 4f Racing UK Available Anywhere Now Novices’ Handicap Chase (87-105)
An eventful race in which only one finished recording the first ‘finished alone’ that I can recall watching in over 40 years of watching live racing.
SHINE A DIAMOND had to survive a number of dicey jumps, including practically walking through the twelfth, before being left on his own three out. Even then he was getting the worst of the issue at that point. He doesn’t look reliable material against competent fencers at this point. All credit to the capable Graham Watters for a great ‘sit’ at fence 12.
BORUMA hadn’t been anywhere near foot perfect and along with the winner had to skip round a faller and an errant loose horse on the way round. There’s probably a chase in this one with experience and, at four-years-old, one would hope he will learn.
THE BACKUP PLAN had put in the odd sketchy jump before coming down at the eighth. I watched from side on to this fence and Jason Maguire was optimistic asking a novice to pick a stride. The writing was on the wall two strides out, two became three and the partnership slithered to the ground landing side. Maguire held on to the reins to make sure The Backup Plan didn’t go hurtling off and no damage done to either party. This one will win a chase in time.
TWEEDO PARADISO thumped the fourth and decanted Wilson Renwick, subsequently making a pest of himself to the two remaining runners down the far side for a second time.
2:30 3m ½f Bet With Your Racing UK App Handicap Hurdle (64-105)
ONE FOR HOCKY, a keen sort who was equipped with a hood in the paddock, has proven consistent and showed determination to get his head in front close home. I’m not sure he’s the easiest ride but Brian Hughes was on the money here, producing his mount on the spot. He saw out the trip well enough and there should be plenty of options even if he is moved up above the 100 level in the ratings.
DUN TO PERFECTION is a fair stayer at this level and led most of the way, kicking on with a circuit to go and only worn down close home. He rallied well and is one to keep on the right side in these lowly stamina tests.
ANOTHER DIMENSION chased the leader three out but weakened in the closing stages. A fair effort and he may find them getting away from him a bit around this quick circuit.
DRUMLISTER and FIGHT AWAY BOYS were held from three out, though the latter is less exposed and may do better in time over this sort of trip.
3:00 2m 4f Watch Racing UK Anywhere Handicap Hurdle (100-120)
Not a bad handicap hurdle for the level and won by a progressive type that may well step up in class.
NEXIUS finished last season in good form and picked up where he left off. Brought seriously into the race from three out, he asserted in the last half furlong as a pair pulled clear. This might prove a better effort than the winning distance suggests and he looks one to keep on the right side. There are some decently prized handicap hurdles he could be aimed at here in the coming months.
MERCHANT OF DUBAI is lightly raced over hurdles and arguably put up a personal best in finishing a close second. His sustained effort made a progressive opponent pull out all the stops from the last. He may run into the winner again, but I would imagine Jim Goldie will eye up similar opportunities here.
MO ROUGE has done sterling work alongside stable companion AMilliontimes this year, and ran another admirable race in finishing third. He was tapped for pace from before the last, but the slow early tempo wouldn’t have helped and he was not disgraced. He needs good ground so, like his stablemate, will likely be aimed here if kept on the go over the winter. Thumbs up to Inverurie based trainer Jackie Stephen who has done a fine job from her base two and half hours drive north of her nearest track.
TOTAL ASSETS set the pace and to his credit didn’t give up the ghost once passed. He summoned up sufficient stamina to keep on for fourth place. He probably needs a slightly stiffer test than this.
GURKHA BRAVE chased in vain from three out, while BOGSIDE was on the tails of the leaders early in the straight before giving way after two out.
3:30 3m Download RacingUK App Handicap Chase (75-105)
Unusual to finish with a staying chase, but the light is plenty good enough at half three on an afternoon in November.
The jumping was good deal better here than in the novice event earlier.
SHADY SADIE broke her maiden tag in convincing style, jumping soundly and going clear after leading two out. She needs decent ground and stays well.
FOOT THE BILL was on and off the bridle but put in some good work under pressure in the latter stages. He’s another unlikely to appear on ground too much softer than this and is regularly thereabouts in similar company.
LADY OF VERONA raced close up and stuck to her game under pressure up the straight before fading on the run-in.
The three were clear of GENEROUS CHIEF who remains a maiden and was held from two out.
ARMEDANDBEAUTIFUL travelled from Inkberrow in Worcestershire and was well fancied here. However, her jumping was sloppy and she was beaten before the final bend.
WINTER ALCHEMY won a selling handicap chase at Kelso in May, but generally finds a few too good in anything bar the weakest company. He set the pace for much of the way but gave way from three out.
MUSSELBURGH – Friday November 7th
The ground softened a shade overnight to Good to Soft, though the weather was much brighter at race time. I couldn’t make it for this card but there were some pointers worth noting.
The staying maiden hurdle was light on numbers, but the three finishers are well worth keeping in the notebook. MASTER DEE was hammered by a distinctly useful animal in Maximizer at Carlise, but stayed on well to land the spoils here. He’s not run a bad race to date and his trainer should be able to place him successfully in future.
TOMMY O’DWYER ran well to take second on hurdles debut and wouldn’t be hindered by a stiffer track.
FLY VINNIE, nibbled at fancy odds in the market, found the first two a bit too good, but wasn’t disgraced in third place and Sandy Thomson should be able to find a little staying contest for him near to home. He may have a fair purchase on his hands at £6,700.
The novices’ handicap chase was no more convincing for the future than the previous day’s effort. REAPING THE REWARD looked the likely winner until walking through five out and unseating. Left in front, WALTZ DARLING didn’t look overkeen when unaccompanied and odds-on favourite WELSH BARD didn’t look convincing at any point.
The two feature handicap hurdles had really decent prize money. FIRST FANDANGO, returning to hurdling, just held off CAPELLANUS in the three miler, the pair well clear of FULL JACK who has struggled off high marks since coming over from France.
In the two miler SMART RULER just held off in-form MASON HINDMARSH. However, the one I noted from this was YORKIST who wasn’t given an over-hard time once held and would relish softer ground (4 from 8 on soft or heavy). He has run well enough off his elevated mark to suggest he can pick up a stamina test in the mud.
BAILEYS CONCERTO continues in rattling good form for Dianne Sayer and ran up a seventh success in 8 attempts. He showed too much resolution close home for ROBBIE, though the latter was by no means disgraced. If we don’t get too much rain then there’s a decent two and a half mile chase here on New Year’s Day which might be a target.