Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Kelso closes the Scottish programme for 2015

KELSO – Tuesday December 29th

Going – Heavy

A few factors have kept me off the course for a while, a combination of foul weather and the Forth Bridge closure meaning I missed the Borders National meeting. However, the weather relented enough to allow this meeting to go ahead, and travel wasn’t too bad though M90 was down to one lane north of the bridge. Why couldn’t they sort that when the bridge was closed?

The course drained really well, a pre-meeting walk revealed a good covering of grass and very few soggy patches bar a short ‘swampy bit’ in the dip on the chase course near the 2m 2f hurdles start. The conditions were testing but in most races finishers were not bottoming out.

12.05 2m 6½f McGrath 1000 Bags Of Carrots NH Maiden Hurdle (Class 5)

A race sponsored by Colin and Ruth McGrath as a mark of their regular ‘prize to the horse’ presentation for each race at Kelso.

FLEMENSFIRTHLEADER, a keen going mare, ran an absolute cracker here and was unlucky not to win after coming down at the last. Her jumping can be sharpened but she clearly stays well. She was down for 15 minutes or so but rose to cheers and applause from the decent sized holiday crowd. She looked none the worse and should pick up a staying hurdle, particularly if her trainer can find a mares’ only event.

TAKINGRISKS was three lengths down and being worked on when left well clear at the last. He is progressing nicely, stays well and this looks solid form.

SEVENBALLS OF FIRE was outpaced from two out but kept on for second. He’s a big chasing type, this was only his second racecourse appearance coming off a 14 month break, and there is likely to be better to come. I suspect a patient approach may pay dividends.

DAKOTA GREY chased the leaders before giving way from two out. He may have found the going at this trip a shade too taxing.

EGRET was on the heels of the leaders when he all but came down when slipping on landing at the ninth, Derek Fox’s self-preservation instincts kicking in big time. He had no chance afterwards, but he can be forgiven this one.

ASHES CORNER was a long way behind in the final ¾ mile. He was very tired when clambering over the last and walking in. His jockey made his excuses to the stewards, but in my opinion common sense should have prevailed and the gelding should have been pulled up.

MAHLER LAD was beaten a long way out and pulled up. He didn’t handle the ground.

12.40 3m 2f Joe Sullivan Memorial Handicap Chase (103-120)

TOTAL ASSETS had run decent races in his two chases and built nicely on that. HE forged clear nicely to prove that he sees out this longer trip. He had hinted that this sort of stamina test would suit and can kick on from here.

PRESENT FLIGHT was not disgraced in second but this slog probably stretched his stamina to the limit. A sound enough effort and he can win again on slightly better ground.

CHAVOY was outpaced going to two out and stuck on again up the hill. He doesn’t look especially well treated right now but gave this his best.

CHANCEOFA LIFETIME was another keeping on to the line. He probably needs a little easing in the handicap to give him a live chance.

MORE MADNESS never got into the race and was well beaten from three out.

TIPSY DARA gave encouragement on return after a long break. She bowled along in front or disputing for a long way before weakening from four out. She was soon pulled up but this run suggests she is no back number as she approaches 12.

I heard encouraging reports pre-race regarding DREAM FLYER, but to me he looked short of a gallop or two. He was struggling from the fourteenth, soon pulled up and reported as having a breathing problem. A watching brief is advised right now.

1.15 2m G Marshall Tractors Case IH Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

This isn’t the strongest division and this race looked a moderate contest the two with official ratings being on 106 and 109.

PRESENTING ROSE showed a good attitude to triumph here, despite a few less than accurate leaps. She battled gamely to hold all-comers from two out. Stephen Mulqueen got in a bit of a pickle with his whip hands on the run-in, but his mount was always best and not in any danger in the stewards’ room, though her rider picked up a 2-day ban.

BERKSHIRE DOWNS had her chance, saw her race, but wasn’t quite good enough. She didn’t do too much wrong and there should be a small contest for her.

ATTENTION SEAKER had every chance until giving way from the last. On looks it appeared that the race would do her some good and she wandered under pressure up the hill.

RIVABODIVA came to have her chance two out but weakened before the last. She won a mares’ maiden point at Lisronagh and will likely need further.

1.50 2m 1f Monteith Memorial Handicap Chase (89-112)

This race was won by an exciting young filly CARALINE who won by 15 lengths but could have doubled that and more. It’s rare that we see a four-year-old filly winning chases, and this was her third including one in France.
Joe Colliver reported that the winner jumps so well the more jumps there are the better, and she will have no trouble with further. She went into this race rated 97 which seems significantly below what she is capable of reaching. It’s worth noting she is rated only 91 over hurdles.  One way or another put this one in the notebook.

TRUST THOMAS ran a decent race and was the only one to stick anywhere near the winner from two out. He’s in good heart and there should be a race for him soon.

RUPERT BEAR raced prominently, was still there turning for home but weakened in the latter stages. He’s taken time to get going this season but this was a bit more encouraging.

Apart from the winner note VINNY GAMBINI who looked in need of this race. He was outpaced from two out but will come on significantly for this and is worth keeping in mind going forward.

RETRIEVE THE STICK was well beaten and had an off day.

AMETHYST ROCK disputed to four out but was very tired and well beaten at the finish.

CASTLELAWN was up with the pace early but faded and was pulled up before two out. He won twice at Hexham in 2013 but has had a mixed record on occasional appearances since.

FORMIDABLEOPPONENT has regressed from his Irish form, never figured and was pulled up before two out. His yard is basically a pointing yard and doesn’t have many Rules winners.

ENDEAVOR won in heavy way back, but I don’t think he relishes these conditions. Keep him in mind though if the ground dries as he does have a good wins to runs record for one at this level.

2.25 2m 6½f SPG Fire and Security Ltd Handicap Hurdle (89-115)

There were two non-runners here, both due to the going. Now given that the going on declaration was ‘Heavy, waterlogged in places’ then their only excuse would surely be that they were expecting a swimming event?

Nick Alexander has been collecting doubles recently and ANOTHER MATTIE provided the second half of his brace here. The gelding loves the mud and relished these conditions. Lucy Alexander clearly did here course work, plotting a wide coursed for the better ground.

BESCOT SPRINGS has plenty of miles on the clock but is running as well as ever. He made the pace, rallied once passed and saw his race out to the line for the syndicate of Kelso members in whose colours he runs.

KIND OF EASY disputed three out but was found wanting in the closing stages. This was step up on his debut for the stable after long time off the course and gives encouragement going forward.

ALMOST GEMINI was there until weakening two out and may have found the conditions just a little testing.

BORUMA found the conditions too taxing and can be given another chance if conditions dry out.

3.00 2m 5½f Children’s Immunology Trust Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (95-120)

I watched this contest from the in-field and was very impressed with the jumping of LORD WISHES. He had struggled over fences prior to this, but jumped his field into submission on this occasion including a stupendous leap at the last when he might had the excuse of being tired. A decent handicap hurdler at best, he can move up a class if able to reproduce his jumping effort.

KILBREE CHIEF was held up and stayed on for second place. A most encouraging effort after a prolonged period of the track.

WHAT A DREAM was outpaced down the side of the track, rallied again but had nothing left before the last. He had a tough task from out of the weights and wasn’t disgraced.

GLACIAL ROCK had his chance but was beaten before the last.

VAYLAND was very tired when walking through the last and with hindsight may have been pulled up. He’s not been totally convincing over fences and could do with jumping out of better ground.

FRANKIE’S PROMISE was not the greatest jumper of hurdles and gave Lucy Alexander some hairy moments. All credit to the rider for her stickability, but she understandably called it a day when her mount was well beaten approaching the last.

AGENTLEMAN didn’t handle the ground on chasing debut.

3.30 2m 2f Take It Easy Tiger Handicap Hurdle ( 98-119)

MAXIE T was well held by Alizee De Janeiro in similar conditions last time. He turned the form round in convincing fashion on 7lbs better terms, forging clear from two out to win easily. He needed cut on the flat and would appear progressive over hurdles.

ALIZEE DE JANEIRO was beaten by a progressing opponent and lost little in defeat as he was well clear of the remainder.

RENOYR had his chance two out but was beaten before the last.

HUNTERS BELT wasn’t totally disgraced in fourth. He has won three times here, but generally beatable these days.

PISTOL was outpaced from two out. He won at Sandown and Newbury back in the day but doesn’t give the impression he’s in love with the game.

BENNY’S SECRET chased the leaders but was beaten when falling at the last. I suspect a longer distance and better ground would do no harm.

BOP ALONG needs further, but was soon off the bridle and this run was disappointing.

Musselburgh New Year meeting approaching followed by Ayr on Saturday but, due to other commitments, my next on course report will be from Musselburgh on January 4th. Hopefully I can put up a summary for the intervening meetings.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Musselburgh then Kelso

I've been a bit busy, so a slightly more abbreviated report than I would like from a couple of consecutive early November days at the races. There have been a few meetings in quick succession and I hope to flag up a few to note from the likes of Carlisle and Ayr in the next few days.

MUSSELBURGH - Friday November 6th

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

The going eased a shade from the previous day following overnight rain, but it takes a lot of rain to make much difference at Musselburgh.

VILMAN was made favourite for the opening juvenile hurdle, but was by no means the fittest of the bunch and was bad value. He was already under the cosh when hitting three out and was soon pulled up.
SIR CHAUVELIN hurdled neatly enough a newcomer, took it up two out and ran on well to take the spoils. He was nice and fit for this debut, but this division can be uncompetitive in this area and Jim Goldie should place him to win under a penalty.
Jersey champion jockey Mattie Batchelor made a now rare UK appearance on BIG McINTOSH. Ability wise he’s probably best of these, but his hurdling was abysmal, he hardly met one flight correctly, and having set the pace he had to give way from before the last. Others will catch up and he has to improve his jumping.

The mares’ novice hurdling division is another weak sector in the north. Philip Hobbs must have thought he had found a good opportunity with BRISE VENDEENNE but she had to give best to Nicky Richards’s CARINENA who came through two out to take the race nicely. She can be placed to win a mares’ novice under a penalty.
BLAYNEY QUEEN was held in third and the rest weren’t remotely good enough.

Take notice when the name Don Cantillon appears alongside any runner as the man is a wizard of a trainer. He bred, trained and owned WESTERN WAY who stayed on nicely to win a 2m 3f Class 3 handicap hurdle. HE has really clicked in recent months and continues on an upward curve.
The obvious danger was SERENITY NOW who wasn’t disgraced in second, while the oft raced COOL BARANCA stayed on from the rear for third place.
SLEEP IN FIRST couldn’t dominate here and was well behind in the latter stages.

PRESENT FLIGHT is a progressive staying novice chaser and his task was made easy in a four runner when trail-blazing THE BACKUP PLAN hit the thirteenth and came down. The winner jumps really well and shouldn’t be difficult to place again.
TO BEGIN closed on sufferance as the winner was eased.
MO ROUGE jumped sketchily, having got a way behind, stayed n to some effect late on.

ARISTO DU PLESSIS was the most impressive winner of the day. He jumps superbly, skimming over the hurdles, won with any amount in hand giving the suggestion that James Ewart has an animal to take to some top venues.
SPACE SHIP ran creditably on his second go in handicaps. His rider Andrew Lynch then had to miss his other two rides as he was feeling ill.
MEADOWCROFT BOY looked as if the race would still do no harm, keeping on well enough from two out. I do feel that he is capable of running to a greater rating than his current mark of 132. Time will tell.

Philip Hobbs picked a good race for VILLAGE VIC who jumped nicely and asserted up the straight in the 2m 4f handicap chase. His solid jumping sets him in good stead even if rising significantly in the ratings.
QUITO DU TRESOR put up a solid effort for the locals. He’s finding winning difficult these days but retains a fair amount of ability and may be placed to win, though bear in mind that he doesn’t want soft ground.
EMPRESRIO led for much of the way and stuck to his guns once passed. He won at Galway in July and this six-year-old should have more chases in him.

MOONSHINE RIDGE didn’t immediately catch the eye in the paddock, but Alan Swinbank know the time of day in these events and his charge just saw off a more jumping oriented type in a duel.
Make a note of SAND BLAST who should come into his own when going jumping, particularly in the long term when going chasing. He’s a solidly built type, and this race will have done him no harm.
HANDITTOLEWI is coming along steadily and ran passably well to secure third place in this six runner event. He will probably need a stiffer test and Dianne Sayer should be able to make a racehorse of him.

KELSO – Saturday November 7th

Going – Soft

A soggy day at Kelso and those of us brave enough to watch from the top of the old stand were rather wet by the end of the afternoon. Still it sorts out the keen ones from the part-timers…

A weakly contested staying novices’ hurdle came down a duel won in fetching style by JONNIESOFA. Building on a promising debut at Carlisle he saw off his one serious rival in pleasing style.
WESTERN RULES looked As if the race wouldn’t go amiss and was getting the worst of the argument before the last. He can strip a bit fitter and will step up on this form in time.
JACKOFHEARTS ran up to his mark in third, not given a hard time once beaten and can stay competitive back in low level handicaps.

THROTHEHATCH won the minimum distance novices’ handicap chase in impressive style. He jumped superbly in front and had his race in the bad from two out. He’s a progressive chaser.
TOMORROW’s LEGEND ran a sound race in second, clear of the remainder and should pick up a run-of-the-mill chase assuming he avoids anything like the winner. He certainly gave plenty of cause for optimism on chase debut.

ISAACSTOWN LAD travelled well throughout in the staying handicap hurdle over 3m 2f. Plenty fit enough off a break he came clear and won with a bit to spare.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER led until headed by the winner and saw out his race for second. Not easy to catch right but in this form he might pick up an extended distance handicap chase.
DONNA’S DIAMOND will benefit from the race after a break. He weakened approaching the last but held on for third place. He’s not been heavily raced and there may be a little improvement to be eked out with this race behind him.
RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL plugged on in fourth place and this may be a warm up for efforts in staying chases. I wonder if his trainer might be eyeing up the Borders National back here in early December.

KILGEFIN STAR recorded a first win over fences, seeing off Present Lodger. The winner probably has improvement in him as his jumping can be improved a bit, while PRESENT LODGER looked dangerous when hitting three out, after which the winner had his measure.
GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS is consistent but vulnerable to improvers and was held from two out to finish third of three finishers.
CREEPY was never travelling and is more miss than hit, though capable if putting his mind to it.
I NEED GOLD disputed for a long way but tired in the ground after a mistake three out.

INDIAN VOYAGE won the 2m 1f Class 3 Mayfield Restaurant Chase, which has been a higher rated event in previous years. The winner hadn’t shown much of late, but it’s worth noting that his best form is on soft or heavy ground and he came clear from two out.
VENGEUR DE GUYE kept on from two out but could make no impression on the winner. He’s on his mark right now.
QUICK DECISSON ran creditably off a break for third place, admittedly beaten a way. There’s scope for a slight ease in class and he can build on this.
Don’t write off WOODPOLE ACADEMY, despite the fact that he recorded a fifth consecutive non-finish. He jumped very well up with the pace before weakening for three out and being pulled up. The handicapper has dropped him another four pounds and he may pop up at a fancy price sooner rather than later.
ROCKAWANGO ran well but was held in third when taking a tired fall at the last. He was down for an age, and some of his connections looked rather worried in front of me, but one of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for his appearance form behind the screens. He didn’t look to be suffering too badly as he walked back to generous applause.

Nick alexander was quick to deny he had a bet on CLAN LEGEND but serious money reduced the gelding form a morning 25/1 to an SP of 4/1. In a weak race he showed admirable determination to break his maiden in seeing off ALIZEE DE JANEIRO. The pair were well clear and the form looks solid enough going forward. The handicapper has raised both, but they are going in the right direction.

BAMBYS BOY was produced nice and fit for his debut in the bumper. He wandered all over the place in the last two furlongs, but seemed happier once he found the rail in the final furlong and was eased considerably yet still had plenty in hand. He has the build of a jumper.
CAPTAIN  MOWBRAY led and then suffered even more serious steering problems than the winner from two out. He totally lost his momentum in the final two furlongs and was denied second place. Hopefully he can learn from this and showed enough to suggest he can win a minor bumper at least.
BLACK INK, a well proportioned gelding who should make up into a jumper, and BEEN DECIDED, who looks to need a bit of time, were well backed but held in the straight.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Kelso late October - and a few to keep an eye on

KELSO – Saturday October 24th

Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)

A little rain during the morning meant the ground eased slightly, though a walk of the course suggested there weren’t that many ‘patches’. On the whole I can’t imagine good ground horses would have excuses.

1.55 2m Carnacrack NH Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

The pace wasn’t particularly strong here so some finished closer than might have been expected.

BIG RIVER won what looked a decent enough bumper here in March. Looking fit enough for his hurdling debut, Big River asserted from the last to win in workmanlike fashion. I would expect there to be better to come in time.
JUST GEORGIE looks chaser in waiting, so a close second here was most encouraging. Leading after the fifth he was headed before the last but didn’t go down without a struggle. He should find a hurdle before long, but I will look forward to seeing him take on the larger obstacles. I understand that jockey Danny Cook felt this one was a little in need of the race.
PETAPENKO didn’t look straight forward at Perth but ran a sound enough race here, not far off the pace to two out and keeping on up the hill.
CHAIN OF BEACONS will be better off when handicapped. He was another plugging on at the business end, suggesting a step up in distance will do no harm.
HERECOMESNELSON showed apparently improved form and may have been flattered by the slow pace.
COSMIC TIGRESS looked fit enough but was outpaced mid-race before keeping on up the hill. A females’ race might be an idea.

2.30 2m 7½f Clifford and Martin Frith Memorial Novices’ Chase (Class 4)

Strong novices’ chases are a rarity in this area these days, but this contest normally throws up some horses with prospects going forward, and I have no reason to doubt that this time around.

ONE FOR ARTHUR jumped well, challenged the leader two out and was soon going away. He stayed on well to win impressively and could turn out to be a decent staying chaser. We need one up here right now as decent Northern chasers are few and far between!
SELDOM INN showed promise last season in hurdles before his jumping went a bit awry. Nothing wrong with his leaps here and he saw out his race well, if not quite as good as the winner. Nevertheless a promising chase debut and he can go on from here.
BLAKEMOUNT, off the track for nearly a year, jumped very well in front but lacked the pace of the first two from two out. The race will have brought him on a bit and there’s probably better to come.
SHUBAAT has yet achieved his hurdling level over the larger obstacles. He was beaten two out here.
RACING EUROPE, looking in need of the race on chasing bow, didn’t jump well and was struggling after belting the tenth fence.
LANDECKER has ability but is apt to sulk and was never really touch. He did rally briefly to three out but faded and was walked in from the half furlong pole.
COOTE STREET was well outclassed on stable debut, tailed off four out and pulled up.
U NAME IT unseated at the sixth fence.

3.05 3m 2f EDF-ER Handicap Chase (120-138)

Question marks against many of these, but GOLD FUTURES is as consistent as any. He was eased into the race down the far side for the last time, led two out and won a shade comfortably. He is well suited by this extended trip.
STRAIDNAHANNA ran a sound enough race on return. He kept on well enough to line and can step up from this.
BALLYBEN wasn’t disgraced in this class, though outpaced from the second last. He’s probably best on this sort of ground.
VALLEYOFMILAN never got into the race seriously. He’s on his last winning mark and, though he has won over three miles, is probably better around the two and a half mark.
CHICAGO OUTFIT won four races at Hexham earlier in the year but is now some 41lb higher than when the urn started. Unfortunately his Hexham options are limited off his current mark.
WILLIAM MONEY, white and black colours looking more grey and black (through the hot wash maybe?), was well held from four out. He is better than this on his day.
HARRY THE VIKING ran well enough up with the pace, but totally misjudged the fifteenth then guessed at the next two, capsizing three out.

3.40 2m Sir Maxwell Harper Gow Handicap Hurdle (90-115)

Largely exposed types contested this and at this level it’s difficult to run up a sequence.

ALIZEE DE JANEIRO made it three on the day for Lucinda Russell and I understand gave Peter Buchanan a first ever treble. He challenged two out, led before the last and stayed on well to show better form than he had last season.
CLAUDE CARTER often runs passably without winning, and kept on through the field to take second place.
BARABOY led briefly two out until headed by the winner before the last after which he weakened into third. This wasn’t a bad effort off a break.
MIGHTY WHITEY set a strong early pace and paid for it in the latter stages.
BEECHWOOD ALLY ran prominently for a long way, was outpaced before two out and then stayed on again. She’s lightly raced, this wasn’t a bad effort and she can get competitive at this level.

4.15 2m 6½f Eric Gillie Transporting Horses 40 years Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

What looked a two horse race turned into quite a decent contest. The winner OSCAR BLUE set the pace and gradually stepped up the pace from a mile out. Having been headed at the last he rallied well to lead near the line. He lacks nothing in stamina and his attitude is good.
SUNNY WEST looks a staying chaser in the making, but made a favourable impression on the second Rules effort. Challenging two out, he led at the last but was just held near the line. A fine first jumping effort and word is the race will have done him some good, so worth noting for a similar contest in the near future.
MAJOR IVAN may not have been suited by the steady early pace, was under the pump before two out but saw his race out well enough if held from before the last. An even tougher stamina test looks likely to suit.
HA’PENNY WOODS ran soundly enough in fourth place, though held from two out.
Better was expected of JOHN WILLIAMS who weakened rapidly from before two out and was treading water afterwards. The suspicion is a possible physical problem during the race, as he has strengthened through the summer.
LUCYDOLI had proven a poor performer in bumpers and points. She didn’t look particularly fir and was predictably beaten a long way.

4.50 2m 6½f BARK Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle (74-100)

A poor contest, but a good opportunity for Nick Alexander’s ANDHAAR who saw off inferiors in encouraging style, staying on much the best from two out. He proved this was no fluke with a creditable effort against better company at Ayr two days later.
WILLIE HALL has ability, but has generally been difficult to win with. Not bad this level on his day he had his chance but was held by the winner on the flat.
MARRAKECH TRADER needed the race after a long lay-off. He threatened two out but could only muster the one pace after that. He has clearly had his problems but he is no lost cause.
WINTER ALCHEMY is a moody sort. He ran well up front for a fair way, dropped back through the field only to stay on again for fourth

AINTREE – Sunday October 25th

KALANITI was flagged up as a potential prospect in a decent looking bumper at Kelso last season. She confirmed the impression with a creditable second behind the well touted La Bague Au Roi in the mares bumper. She won’t meet one that good very often in mares’ races and must be a prospect going forward, particularly when taking on fellow females.

AYR – Monday October 26th

A Kelso bumper won by Big River back in March is looking a strong contest and IMADA franked the form with an eye-catching win in the two mile novices’ hurdle. He idled near the finish but still held Double W’s who was considered good enough to contest a Grade 2 bumper last season.
Meanwhile back in fourth BENNY’S SECRET was held but is well regarded by his trainer, will likely come on for the race and needs more of a test than two miles on good ground. Keep this one in the notebook as I believe he will reward the patience.

Martin Todhunter’s MONBEG RIVER won the two mile handicap chase and his early chasing efforts smack of those of the same trainer’s Presenting Junior last season.

The bumper looked a decent contest. MEET THE LEGEND created a favourable impression but was just held by Gordon Elliott’s Fagan with the rest a long way back. The former has plenty of pace and some reckon could make a Flat horse, while I can’t wait to see FAGAN go over hurdles and the sky could be the limit for this one. He’s won three points, so jumping isn’t likely to be a problem.
Back in third SPIRIT OF KAYF created a sound impression and can go close in the near future if he avoids anything of the quality of the first two.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Carlisle open their autumn jumps programme

CARLISLE - Thursday October 15th

Going - Good (Good to Firm in places)

A re-visit to Carlisle after a gap of a few years revealed a number of significant developments which have moved an already decent course up a notch or two. There are a few different viewing places almost give a view of the whole course, though the reservoir just stops us getting a 100 per cent view. It’s worth taking a stroll down past the main stand, a rooftop and rooftop terrace give an excellent view of the action.

The course makes a play of having a ‘full colour race programme’, but the downside is that it costs £3 and Musselburgh(£2.50) and Kelso(£2) both manage the same for less. The Trendsetters Guide is of limited use at best. That aside course facilities and surroundings are fine and it's a good afternoon out for jumping fans.

A decent autumn continued, giving a warm afternoon with very little breeze. The going was on the fast side but there’s a good covering of grass. Fields sizes reflected the fast ground, but racing was competitive.

2.10 2m 1f Apollo In Play Betting Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (69-108)

Top prize for value spotting goes to my wife who landed a winner with Endeavor. Third behind Dynamic Drive and now 7lbs better off and in front of Push Me last time, yet both of these were up vying for favouritism yet we secured 14/1 in the ring about Endeavor who started at 12/1. He can be cussed soul, but boasted a record of 13 wins from 84 over jumps before the race, pretty decent for a horse never rated higher than 110 and he ran off 95 here! My wife asked why he was that price, to which my answer was ‘good question’!
Emma Sayer is as good a rider to have on your side as any in these contests, and knows ENDEAVOR inside out. Always handy, he moved up to the leader on the final climb and hit the front after the last, winning with a bit to spare.

DYNAMIC DRIVE took up the running two out but was overtaken after the last. He saw his race out well enough and was not disgraced under the penalty. He remains in the good heart that gave him a nice win at Kelso.
URBAN KODE isn’t bad at this level but generally runs into one or two too good. He led to two out and plugged on into third.
NAFAATH had his chance but couldn’t match the principals from before two out, though keeping on for fourth.
TRIPLE EIGHT didn’t see out his race over this stiff track. His recent decent efforts have come at Stratford and Bangor.
PUSH ME raced keenly early and once her saddle slipped Blair Campbell’s main concern was trying to pull her up.

2.40 2m 1f Download Your Racing UK App Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

The winner here, FREDERIC CHOPIN looked fittest of the bunch and stayed on nicely from two out to take the main prize. Decent on the flat, he’s going the right way over hurdles and it will be interesting to see him take on tougher company.
DON’TDROPMEIN wasn’t disgraced on hurdles debut, but he pulled hard and having taken up the running four out had nothing left to resist the winner from two out. He should be capable fo stepping up on this effort.
After a miserable week when he lost the patronage of the Paul and Clare Rooney, Donald McCain need a fillip. Sadly SIGN MANUAL was not able to provide a win. A rather stocky sort not typical of McCain’s normal charges, this one has gone backward from a promising start. He was sweating freely and beaten before two out.
QUESTION OF FAITH was clueless in her jumping on hurdles debut and well behind when pulled up after walking through three out.

3.15 2m Book Your Christmas Party Here Novices’ Handicap Chase (119-134)

GERMANY CALLING, a tall strong looking gelding looking very fit, had the best form of these and duly recorded a second chase win. However, he mixed good jumps with a few hairy efforts and might find his jumping under pressure if upped in class.
The one to take out of this is RELIC ROCK who placed a creditable second having looked as if the race would bring him on. Bandages in front were a little off putting, but he made an encouraging chasing debut, jumping very nicely and seeing his race out well if unable to match a more experienced winner. His hurdling wasn’t as good as it might have been, but Brian Ellison has clearly done some good work with this one over the chase fences.
FANTASY KING was working himself into a challenging position at the last, but walked through it and couldn’t recover. Encouraging, though he is apt to throw in the odd duff jump or two.
COURT DISMISSED was outpaced approaching three out but kept on again in the latter stages. He would be helped by a slight drop in class.
VODKA WELLS looked fir enough on his return, but was left behind from three out.
LUCKY BRIDLE tripped over his feet in the paddock, which wasn’t encouraging, and then walked through the first giving Brian Hughes no chance.

3.50 2m 4f Racing UK Anywhere NH Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

In a race with a hot favourite I spotted glaring value in the Tote place market. The second favourite Lincoln County looked vulnerable after a moderate hurdles debut, whilst third favourite Delusionsofgrandeur hailed from an in-form stable and was a pointing winner. The latter duly obliged for second at a rewarding £3.40 place dividend. The Tote place pool is generally not for place but big bets, but this one paid for our food!

SHANTOU VILLAGE is a nice sort who had an easy hurdling introduction, going clear from two out. Winner of a point, bumper and hurdle, he is a fine prospect for Neil Mulholland.
DELUSIONSOFGRANDEUR created a decent enough impression on his hurdling debut. He couldn’t match the winner but kept on well enough and should win a hurdle.
LINCOLN COUNTY was under the pump three out and couldn’t match the runner-up.
LANDMEAFORTUNE was outpaced from the eighth as was MISTER HENDRE.
KICKING LILY was a nervous looking sort in the paddock. She dropped out quickly after the eighth and was pulled up before two out and walked home.

4.25 3m 110yds Racing UK Handicap Chase (115-135)

There was a strong entry at the five day stage, but this cut up to four by the start.

The field was soon reduced to three as GEORGE FERNBECK blundered at the first was slow at the second, and then hit the third giving Fin O’Toole no chance.

ENCHANTED GARDEN jumped well enough, challenged the long time leader at the last and asserted on the run to the finish.
LOOSE CHIPS made the pace and kept on once headed at the last. A sound enough effort and presumably the Military races at Sandown will be a target.
BY THE BOARDWALK didn’t jump fluently, losing a length at some fences, and was outpaced two out and soon beaten.

5.00 3m 123yds Watch Racing UK Anywhere Handicap Hurdle (84-120)

With the more lightly raced performers not coming up to scratch it was the in and out performer MAGGIE BLUE who secured a comfortable win from the front. Leading at the fifth she tested the field and was clear by two out. She’s capable on her day but can’t be relied upon to reproduce this form next time.
OMID stays well and kept on to the finish. He’s a not a prolific winner but does put up some passable efforts in this company.
SIMARTHUR was badly injured at Hexham last season and I understand his survival was touch and go for a while. He chased the leader three out but could only keep on at the one pace. Given the circumstances connections must be more than happy with this effort.
PRESENTED, a chasing winner at Perth last month, was outpaced from three out.
The lightly raced but well backed COOPER’S FRIEND was well beaten and very tired when walking through the last. HORSTED VALLEY was another well backed but ran no sort of race and was pulled up.

5.30 2m 1f Weddings at Carlisle Racecourse Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 6)

Bumpers at Carlisle aren’t far behind those at Kelso in my realm of interest.

Previous winner CLOUDY DREAM used his experience to good effect, wearing down the newcomer second in a duel from three out. He should turn into a hurdler.
GROUNDUNDERREPAIR, a gelding whose breeding suggests he will make a jumper, made a decent race of it on debut. Given the way the race panned out he will be a short price for upcoming engagements, but looks a winner in waiting.
FINAL FLING looked far from the finished article but pulled clear of the remainder in the final furlong. He will come on for this outing and is worth entering in the notebook.
KALONDRA was a bit keen and held from the bottom of the hill. A promising sort in Irish points, he should make up into a jumper in time.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Notes from Hexham - October 10th

Other commitments kept me away from this meeting, but there were some competitive races on the card yielding decent pointers.

As I have said often enough on this blog, Kelso bumpers are a great source of future winners. I noted MARDALE when third at the Borders venue in September to Meet The Legend, commenting that ‘she would be worth an interest in mares maiden/novice hurdles as such events seldom take much winning up here.’ She scooted up at 7/1 in the Hexham mares’ hurdle today on her jumping debut, and it was a fair bit more competitive than some of these events. She hurdled soundly enough and may turn out to be one of the better novice mares in the north over the coming months. I hope some readers were on today.
MEET THE LEGEND set a hot standard at Kelso, so I eagerly await the reappearance of DUBAI ANGEL, a decent second that day when not looking fully tuned up.
Keep an eye on Sue Smith runners in the coming weeks, particularly those returning after their summer break. The stable is one of the best around for getting horses ready after a break. FRIENDLY ROYAL won yesterday at Hexham and Smith runners have generally been there or thereabouts of late.
The only serious challenger to Friendly Royal was SOLWAY LEGEND who fell at the last when in touch with the winner. The third won well last week so the form has a strong look about it. Lisa Harrison’s runners are generally quite consistent and have a good ratio of places to runs, her other two runners at Hexham finished close up. JOHNNY GO ran a cracker in a very competitive staying handicap hurdle, arguably one of the best races held at Hexham in recent years.
Lucinda Russell’s CELTIC FLAMES was just run out of it in the closing stages of the opening novices hurdle. There was nothing wrong with this effort and he will probably win a hurdle. However, he was a convincing winner of a point at Ballyarthur in April and his serious future lies as a chaser.
From the same race, FAIRY THEATRE made a very encouraging hurdling debut in second place for Iain Jardine. This capable trainer has cranked up his operation in recent times, now operating from Len Lungo’s old yard at Carrutherstown, and don’t be at all surprised if Jardine makes his mark in decent jumps races before long. The likes of Nakeeta and Wor Lass have advertised his talents on the Flat in recent weeks. He also managed to win with Ya Boy Sir after the latter had five years off the track.

I will be at Carlisle on Thursday for what hints at being a cracker of a card to open their autumn jumps campaign. Kelso then pick up the baton again in a fortnight’s time. In depth analysis of these two meetings will be posted after the events. Keep an eye out on the Scotracing twitter account for on the day snippets.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Simply Ned stars at Kelso

KELSO – Sunday October 4th

Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)

A competitive card and a well attended meeting as Kelso’s autumn campaign cranked up a notch. The ground was on the quick side, but pre-meeting course walk revealed a beautiful covering of grass and certainly no jar in the ground.

The first race of the afternoon was the Border Principals Race held over two furlongs. The start of the ‘Common Riding Championship’ is often a shambles but the starter was on his job today and got them away to a level break. A close race resulted with the Fraser Hastie keeping the spoils at home, winning for Kelso but just under a length from the Lockerbie rider Ian Miller.

2.05 2m Newcastle Arms Handicp Hurdle (90-115)

A tight looking contest to open the card, but two pulled clear in the closing stages.

Maurice Barnes generally has his string pretty well forward at this stage of the season. His DYNAMIC DRIVE went down a bit freely, but settled nicely, made headway from two out and took control on the run-in. A rise of 11lbs didn’t stop him after a Hexham win and he looks in really good fettle. With a rise he can remain in this class which might allow a treble.

Noel Kelly campaigned MIGHTY WHITEY in some competitive looking contests in Ireland with no success. He looks more at home in softer races in the UK and set a nice pace here, having all bar the second beaten by the last but unable to hold that one’s challenge. A sound effort and he’s worth noting if returning here for a similar contest.
ENDEAVOR had his chance but was held before the last. Often thereabouts he will probably pop up again this season if things go his way.
PUSH ME had conditions to suit, but raced in rear as is her proven way and stayed on for a never nearer fourth.
ROCKABILLY RIOT has his chance two out but faded on the run to the last.
LOVE MARMALADE was made favourite on the basis of solid flat form, but he isn’t as good over the sticks and was beaten not far after halfway.

2.35 2m Edinburgh’s Mathers Bar Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

No strength in depth in this event.

SINDARBAN doesn’t look particularly good in his slower paces and I marked him down on paddock inspection. His handicap mark of 104 doesn’t all that far off and he clearly has some ability. Taking closer order three out, he led at the last and stayed on well enough.

BOWDLER’s MAGIC general profile wasn’t encouraging, but he ran a decent enough race. He led or disputed for much of the way, but gave two out a serious belt and that may have made the difference as he took a few strides to get back on an even keel.
SUMMER STROM came into this top rated of those with an official mark, but faded on the run-in after looking dangerous two out.
BEECHWOOD ALLY had hood added to tongue tie and returned to something like the form that gave her on third place on hurdling debut. She had a chance approaching the last but was worried out of it.
The only encouragement from the remainder was for PARLOUR OF DREAMS. A winning pointer, he looks more of a chaser and ran well for a long way before fading quickly in the straight. He has possibilities in weak steeplechases over the minimum trip.

3.15 2m 7½f Geoff & Elspeth Celebration Novices’ Handicap Chase (80-108)

PRESENT FLIGHT was fittest looking of these off a break. His jumping was sticky early, but he stretched on encouragingly in the latter stages and was clear before the last. A nice effort and he has the look of a potentially fair staying handicapper.

DERRYFADDA jumped very well in front, but thumping three out proved to be crucial as the winner came swinging alongside him on the run to the next. He kept on well if held by the winner, and this double point win shouldn’t have to wait too long to break his steeplechasing duck.
LONGUEVILLE FLYER has huge feet which look just the business for ploughing through the mud. None of that here, so third place doesn’t seem a bad effort even though outpaced before the home turn. A pointing winner, he is worth keeping an eye on.
SGT BULL BERRY couldn’t continue his improvement and was struggling before the home turn.
BAYFIRTH is basically a fairly slow hunter chaser. Mike Smith got a handicap win out of him at Cartmel, but he’s moved to his owner’s Carluke yard since and he hasn’t gone on.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY was off the bridle early and behind from four out.
EMKAE, nervous sort in the preliminaries, whacked the fourth fence and came down.

3.50 2m 5f Borders Employment Law Intermediate Hurdle (Class 4)

This contest has thrown up fair performers in the past and the winner looks a decent sort.

HELLO GEORGE, looking as if he can still be made a little fitter, led and dictated a pace as his jockey chose. Kicked on after two out he was clear at the last and won in pleasing fashion.

COOKING FAT looks a chaser in waiting, even at the age of four, but is doing nicely for Dianne Sayer over hurdles. He closed three out but was held after two out, though keeping on well enough for a sound second place. I shall be keeping an eye on how this one is campaigned.
WELCOME BEN ran up to his best and was driven to win a private battle for third place. A decent effort and his trainer should be able to place him to win again. In general the stable favour the good ground for their horses.
THORPE runs some decent races but is difficult to win with, his Listed race fell for him last season. He driven and outpaced before two out though did keep on to the line.
WATERCLOCK raced prominently but gave way from two out. This was more competitive than the race he won here last time.
SLANEY STAR was up against it at these weights and outpaced from three out, while RAIFTIERI is slow and was presumably sent for the appearance money and the hope one or two might dip out. The fact that BENVARDIN couldn’t even keep up with Raifteiri tells a tale.

4.20 2m 1f NSPCC School Service Handicap Chase (131-157)

SIMPLY NED is a class act and has been a favourite of mine ever since his appearances here in bumpers. He’s just below top class, but hasn’t been totally disgraced in Grade 1s. He had too much in this company, once again well prepared for the early opportunity, staying on well from two out and in charge on the run-in. Full marks to Kelso for putting on an event which attracts decent rated animals, making my course membership more than worthwhile.

ROBIN’S COMMAND has progressed over the last two summers and arguably produced a personal best running a stormer in this company. He raced prominently, and led briefly before two out. The winner was too good but Robin’s Command did well to hold a talented third. He is an exciting animal in quick conditions.
CROCO BAY, third in the Grand Annual last year, made a respectable return to the track. He will likely come on for this and will be sniffing after the top two mile handicaps this season.
DUNRAVEN STORM jumped extravagantly early, and rather to the right. He disputed or led until fading away from two out. His jumping went to pot last season and he doesn’t look completely straightforward.
LISBON hit the fifth fence and never got in a blow. He looks high in the weights over fences.
FAIR DILEMMA was behind from three out. He looks on a high mark.

4.55 2m 7½f Walking The Courses Handicap Chase (71-97)

Richard Farquhar completed the Kelso leg of his 13 month UK wide tour in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK and Racing Welfare. Good luck to Richard going forward.

I’m pretty much on speaking terms with most of these six horses! However, it was a comparative newcomer, recent Rose Dobbin acquisition DONAPOLLA who did the business. He raced close up, led two out and had the race won at the last. He looks better than basement level.

SOLWAY BAY was on the stretch quite a way out, but he stays all day and kept on determinedly from two out to take second. He’s proving difficult to win with but regularly runs his race and is a credit to the Harrisons.
GENEROUS CHIEF as out the back for most of the way but did best work in the last half mile to take third. He has ability but is not reliable.
REVERSE THE CHARGE led on the final circuit, but faded when headed two out.
WINTER ALCHEMY often goes well around here, but he’s a moody sort and faded having led to the thirteenth.
BESCOT SPRINGS is capable on his day but has two ways of running. He was in negative mode on this occasion and beaten three out.

5.30 2m 6½f Radio Borders Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (78-92)

James Ewart found a weak race for TOUCH OF STEEL last time, and presumably couldn’t believe his luck to find this dire event. He set the pace and stayed on well up the straight. A good stayer and currently taking some passing at this level.

Minor entertainment was provided by MARLEE MASSIE who decanted Lucy Alexander at the third. He raced around the outside of the track loose, turned round at the second last and then raced up and down the far end of the track with his trainer following progress through binoculars. Luckily he stayed clear of the remaining runners.
DESTINY AWAITS was the one who put it to the winner in the straight, but he was held from the last.
MISS JOEKING hasn’t shown an awful lot to date and a third place in this company probably isn’t worth too much.
WARKSBURN BOY was outpaced from two out on handicap debut.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Kelso begin their autumn programme

KELSO – Wednesday September 16th

Going – Good To Firm

Kelso commenced their autumn campaign in very pleasant weather, Scotland having missed the heavy rain that had affected much of the south. The turf looked in magnificent condition when I walked the course beforehand, plenty of good grass cover and no jar in the watered ground. The distances are given very precisely, having been re-measured following ‘Wetherby Distance-gate’. They will of course vary with movement of the rails over the season, and it’s worth noting that the distances were at their shortest for this meeting.

I dropped into the House Of Soutra coffee shop on the A68 between Pathhead and Lauder on my way down to the course. Well worth a visit if you are looking for a lunch on the way from Edinburgh. 

For those travelling by public transport Kelso Racecourse laid on transport from Tweedbank station, the southern terminus of the newly opened Borders Railway. While the course is still a bit of a trek by public transport this new route is to be welcomed by non-drivers and makes the course a degree more accessible.

The equine action began in early afternoon with a jockeys show jumping competition held opposite the stands, featuring a mix of jump jockeys and pointing riders. The competition resulted in a tie between a team featuring female amateurs Rachael MacDonald, Rhona Pinder and Louise Clark, and a team of amateur jockeys, Will Easterby, Tom Hamilton and Jamie Hamilton.

4.40 2m 4f 189yd Barbara MacLeod Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)

The card opened with a maiden hurdle in memory of Kelso regular Babs MacLeod who died recently at the fine age of 104.

Certainly not the strongest maiden hurdle we will see in Scotland this year. Two came well clear of the remainder who were toiling from the original two out, actually the last as a stricken jockey was being treated.

WATERCLOCK has knocked on the door a few times and stayed on relentless in the closing stages to get on top towards the line. A rating of 115 looks pretty much his mark and on this evidence a step up in trip wouldn’t be a hindrance.
FINGERONTHESWITCH, winner of an Irish point and then a bumper, looked just in need of this race after a lay-off. He set the pace and was just run out of it close home, but will come on for the run and I would expect better next time.
PROFESSOR PLUM was outpaced from what became the last but kept on to the line for a clear third. He looks a stayer and further step up in trip will be likely to help.
ST QUINTIN led early on but was outpaced in the straight. His future will lie in handicap company as he’s likely to run into a few too good in non-handicaps.
THEATRICAL STYLE did not look nearly as fit as many runners from the McCain yard. He was outpaced from two out though the race will have done him good after a long break. He won a couple of bumpers but has presumably had his problems.
BEECHWOOD ALLY looked very fit, as she had done on hurdling debut back in May, but was well beaten.
LOULOUMILLS blundered badly at the sixth, depositing Tom Dowson who was then trodden on by another runner. The screens went up and Dowson was removed by ambulance, missing his subsequent ride.
CASH IS KING and THE HOODLUM appear very slow.

5.10 2m 5f 133yds Farne Salmon and Trout Handicap Chase (87-109)

Surprisingly Gordon Elliott had never recorded a Kelso winner before this, but put that right as former George Bewley charge ROMANY RYME stayed on from two out to take what looked a moderate contest. Never the most consistent, Romany Ryme didn’t jump all that well, but was produced looking very fit and that told from two out. Probably opposable under a rise in ratings, but Elliott does know how to place his animals.
SOLWAY BAY ran his usual honest race and stayed on for second without threatening the winner. A fair effort at a trip short of his best. The horse was immaculately turned out as was trainer Lisa Harrison on lead up duty, much work went into hair platting for both horse and groom.
ISTHEREADIFFERENCE got into contention down the far side for the last time. He saw out his race but was denied second on the line. Making the trip from near Bath, his trainer was clearly after the ground as this one’s wins have come on good or faster surfaces.
EVERYLASTING, not the most attractive animal but effective nevertheless on his day, led until two out but had nothing extra to offer from that point. He looked well enough off a break, so fitness not an excuse.
SENDIYM never got in a serious blow and was outpaced form the home turn.
JEWELLERY struggled from halfway and was well adrift when pulled up before the last. He’s been struggling of late and Katie Scott has work to do to get him back to his best.

5.40 2m 4f 189yds Principal & Prosper Handicap Hurdle (70-100)
A moderate handicap hurdle with a very open reflecting the lack of solid form to rely on.

TOUCH OF STEEL had been well beaten previously, but a step up in trip and blinkers seems to have wrought some improvement. Racing prominently, he challenged from two out, led at the last and stayed on for victory. It depends whether the blinkers continue to work on this one, who seemed a revved up sort in the preliminaries, but it’s not unknown for James Ewart horses to run up a sequence.
ROLL OF THUNDER bowled along nicely in front, led until the last but couldn’t find extra to respond when passed. He saw out his race well enough , seems a relatively uncomplicated sort and worth consideration in similar events on good ground.
SNOWED IN stayed on from well back for third. He has a couple of hurdle wins to his credit on softer ground but is not a prolific winner.
NABURN closed to two out but found no extra from there. Not totally disgraced, he has less mileage than most of these over hurdles and there may be a small contest for him.
ATTENTION PLEASE race prominently but couldn’t raise his game from two out.
SAINT BREUIC made his effort before two out but couldn’t see his race out. His trainer was discussing fairly precise requirements after the race which seemed to centre on races at Sedgefield.

6.10 2m 1f Straightline Construction Handicap Chase (108-132)

This is ROBIN’S COMMAND’s ground and time of year. He followed up a decent Perth win an equally impressive effort under a penalty here. He went down early and one spectator commented that he had ‘torn down to the start’, but that isn’t a bad thing with this one, more a sign of well-being. He led at the sixth, made the rest of the running and pulled clear from two out. In this from don’t count out another win soon.
MUWALLA chased the leader from two out but made no impression. He only wins in his turn but has run two decent races off a long break.
David Pipe doesn’t have a great record with handicappers here and PURPLE ‘N GOLD didn’t threaten to improve things, though not totally disgraced in third in his second chase.
JACK THE GENT lost touch from three out and would have been disadvantaged by not being able to dominate.
TOLEDO GOLD hurtled off in front, but Robin’s Command cruised past down the far side and Maurice Barnes’ charge was spent force after the eighth fence.
FANTASY KING never got into the race and was well held when falling two out.
SWIFT ARROW has two ways of running and this was off day, pulling up before two out.
SWALEDALE LAD hit the fifth hard and was pulled up and dismounted soon after.

6.40 2m 51yds Bruce Farms Supporting World Horse Welfare (107-130)

Two non-runners reduced the field, a disappointing turn out for fair prize money. It was advertised as a 0-150, but presumably there aren’t that many 130+ rated hurdlers on the go right now in the North.
MAKETHEDIFFERENCE is progressing and stayed on from the last to win this nicely. His trainer will want to strike again while this one is in such good form.
CAPTAIN BROWN ran a decent race in second, gave himself every chance and was beaten by a better handicapped horse. He goes well around here and has responded well since hold up tactics were adopted.
CHANGING THE GUARD led until before the last, at which the winner jumped across him, and kept on for third. He’s rated 140 now over fences, he ran in the Grand Annual Chase last year, and his trainer seems to be trying to take advantage of this lower hurdles mark of 115. He certainly looked very fit here.
LISBON doesn’t seem particularly well handicapped, but had every chance approaching the last before being run out of it. He’s potentially better as a chaser.
OLIVER’S GOLD had his chance but was outpaced on the urn to the last.
FRANCISCAN has clearly had problems and was well beaten from two out.

7.10 2m 51yds Racing UK Maiden Open NH Flat (Class 6)

Not quite the cornucopia of potential talent that some Kelso bumpers yield, but the winner looks useful and the second can progress.
SILVA SAMOURAI provided pre-race entertainment, tearing off around the track out of control before being withdrawn. No shortage of speed on the distaff side, her dam has bred three flat winners, but this gelding looks out of control right now.

MEET THE LEGEND looked the one ‘most likely to win a flat race’ in the paddock and duly obliged in decent style. Looking keen, he led after three furlongs and pulled clear down the straight. Although clearly set up for this one, he has the build to make a jumper and is a nice prospect for a Dalgleish stable that is setting the racing world alight right now.
DUBAI ANGEL didn’t look quite as ready as perhaps he could be, but he’s a nice sort and race a sound enough race to hold the rest, including an experienced third. A prospect for jumping in the long term.
MARDALE had placed three times previously, but didn’t look as ‘on the money’ as some of Nicky Richards’s bumper runners do here. She was held from two out, but even though she lacks the scope of some, she would be worth an interest in mares maiden/novice hurdles as such events seldom take much winning up here.
JETHRO showed some speed and might show up over fences in time having jumped round in an Irish maiden juveniles point.
BARNEY DWAN lacks the look of many McCain runners. Small and angular, he doesn’t cut a handsome figure. He did run with credit in an Irish point though and may make a jumper given time.
THROCKLEY showed up well in a moderate contest at Southwell but was well beaten here.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Musselburgh - Early September Evening meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Friday September 4th

My time has been limited of late, but a few highlights from the evening meeting at Musselburgh.

DALEELAK won the juvenile 7 furlong maiden. The best on form of those that had run, he led but then looked pressed when hanging across to the stands’ rail a furlong out. Once he got there though he saw out his race very well. SENSES OF DUBAI ran a satisfactory second and should win a race but isn’t likely to be much of a price in upcoming outings.
SHE’S ELECTRIC ran a decent third and can make a mark once handicapped.

Apprentice Rachael Grant rode a double, taking her career tally to three winners. The first was a hold up ride on GO GO GREEN in a race which favoured the hold up horses. Green waited and then pounced to get her mount ahead near the finish. COSMIC CHATTER was similarly favoured by hold up tactics.
IRISH GIRL’S SPIRIT had her conditions and raced up with the pace, but was run out of it in the final half furlong. She is still quick when the ground is quick, but probably needs a few pounds easing in the weights.

The filly PHYLLIS MAUD continues on an upward curve and just held off an improving SISYPHUS in the 12 furlong three-year-old handicap. The latter lost nothing in defeat and ought to win a similar contest.

Keith Dalgleish’s INVOKE continues on an upward curve and won the feature three-year-old fillies’ seven furlong handicap. She had a bit in hand on second placed PRETTY BUBBLES and can win again soon.
AZAGAL looks well weighted but blew her chance at the start. She did well to raise a challenge over a furlong but burst herself getting there.

Rachael Grant rode the veteran DHAULAR DHAR to his fourth win of the year. He looked an absolute picture and stormed ahead from two out to win impressively. This was his first win over distance and this thirteen-year-old is having a marvellous year.

FINE ‘N DANDY has dropped 26lbs in the handicap and won the closing five furlong handicap in decent style. Two came clear here and I suspect the winner may have enough in hand to run up a sequence as he’s much better than this level at his best.
LORIMER’S LOT ran a sound race in second place.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

A visit to Les Landes in Jersey

LES LANDES (Jersey) – Monday August 31st

Going – Good To Soft, changed to Soft after Race 3, but there was no rain during the meeting so assume Soft throughout

A course that has been ‘on the list’ has finally been ticked off, my wife treating me to the full Members’ Marquee package as a birthday treat.

The Jersey Race club run a programme of nine meetings from Easter through to the August Bank Holiday, with an additional meeting run by the Guernsey Race Club at their L’Ancresse circuit on May Bank Holiday. Although the pool of horses on the island is not huge the sport is well supported and the racing competitive, with a number of mainland trainers supporting the Les Landes events. Six bookmakers were present and, though the SP margin is large, there is enough competition to make a competitive market. The JRC runs their own Tote including a Jackpot on races 2 to 5 of the five race card. Each Les Landes meeting opens with a hurdle race then followed by four flat races. Results are covered on the Racing Post website and comprehensive stats are available on the Jersey Race Club website . For those wanting a taste of the action race replays are posted on Jersey Race Club’s Youtube channel.

The course is a mile round and sharp, but with a stiff uphill run-in of two furlongs, the turf being very well cared for. There is a specially constructed area of grass banking which allows a good view of the course, with officials and jockeys facilities plus public toilets located underneath. Admission is £10 for the public enclosure and £20 for the Members’ enclosure, the latter giving access to the Members’ Marquee. Tickets can be booked in advance on line at and I received two days members’ tickets within a couple of days of order. Race programmes are available on course for £1.50, giving a fair guide to the event though lacking some of the detail provided in the UK, notably headgear details.

The course is located in the north west corner of the island, about 25 minutes drive from St Helier. A bus service is laid on from Liberation Bus Station for racing and tickets are £9 bookable on the JRC website.

The weather was rather grey and dreary, which probably kept the attendance down a bit. However, it didn’t rain and was certainly a bit brighter by the end of the afternoon when we had a clear view across to Guernsey, Sark and Herm.

2.30 2m Hennessy Hurdle (Handicap) 77-103

The pool of hurdlers is small, only around 15 including mainland challengers, but the one hurdle race per card continues despite a threat to go all flat some years back. The hurdles are brush hurdles similar to those used at the likes of Southwell and Worcester. The highlight of the Jersey hurdling season is the Champion Hurdle won this year by the Aly Malzard trained novice hurdler Rossetti.

Three pitched up for the final hurdle. FOURNI, ridden by Les Landes regular and clear winner of the Channel Islands jockeys’ title Mattie Batchelor, turned round a 5 length defeat by Dalmo on revised terms. In truth the weights made little difference as the mare had this race won from the home turn and was considerably eased after the last. She was recording a first win since a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in May 2014 and looks to be going the right way now. I would presume connections will be looking to the Champion Hurdle here next year.
DALMO beat Fourni over half a mile further here last time, but was niggled along before the end of the first circuit and then outpaced before staying on late for second. He looks to need a longer distance but only has a couple of opportunities during the season.
GRANIT MAN is a nine-year-old maiden and very moderate, but if you have a jumper here it’s worth keeping it in training since there was £315 available for third place. He was outpaced down the far side for the second time and out on his feet turned for home as the gluey ground took its toll.

3.05 5f 110yds Liberation Brewery Handicap (39-65)

A closely contested sprint event.

There are no stalls used at Les Landes and being alert and ready at the start can make a big difference. Mattie Batchelor had COUNTRY BLUE away well and always near the pace. Taking it up two out and grabbing the ‘golden highway’ firmer ground up the near rail, he was stretched to hold on but saw his race out to the line for a fourth win this season.
PURLEY QUEEN was rather tardy from the start and had to be rousted along early. She picked up well under driving in the closing stages but the line came a bit too soon. A four time winner here, she looks set to continue close battles with the winner.
MOVEMENTNEVERLIES raced with the pace but was held from the furlong pole. She’s probably better over the seven furlong trip she won at last time, but was by no means disgraced on this occasion.
PAS D’ACTION has done almost all his winning over seven furlongs and has never won at the minimum Les Landes distance. He took the inside route after the final turn, which probably didn’t help and though not beaten too far was held from over a furlong out.
I remember CHESTER’SLITTLEGEM from her days with Lisa Williamson and saw her at Hamilton on one occasion. She needs quicker ground and could never get on terms.

3.40 1m 4f Ross-Gower Associates Clarendon Trophy Handicap (22-80)

One of the sought after prizes of the Channel Islands racing season and this renewal billed as one of the most competitive contests of recent times by course commentator Mark Johnson.

In the event we were treated to an impressive performance by AUSSIE LYRICS who pulled clear in impressive style up the straight, being given the office over one by Phil Collington and sprinting clear. He has gone from strength to strength since moving from France and will rate high 80s after this. There will likely be some lop-sided handicaps over this trip next term, so it will be interesting to see if trainer Christa Gilbert contemplates a tilt at a prize or two in the south of England.
WICKED TARA raced from 23lbs out of the handicap but at this time of the season, with runners having appeared regularly, condition can make all the difference and she looked a picture in the paddock. While never getting near the winner Wicked Tara stayed on honestly to take second spot. While lowly rated, she is 3 from 8 in the Channel Islands and there are plenty more forlorn hopes contesting these races. Bookies here are stingy on outsiders and 11/1 looked very short, but maybe someone knew something?
HERBALIST, taken down early as is normal, kept on up the home straight for a creditable third. He is probably best at ten furlongs.
Veteran KING KENNY, who looked a bit dull in his coat, made his move to have a chance entering the straight. He saw his race out to the line and keeps his enthusiasm.
STEELY is a big animal and looks and out and out stayer, though he did win a four runner ten furlong race last time. He set a decent pace but could not match the principals once turned for home.
MAJOR MAXIMUS, a multiple winner in previous seasons, has made only intermittent appearances of late and looked as if he probably wasn’t at peak fitness. That said he was by no means disgraced in this company though not able to make an impression in the straight.
ROSSETTI is at his best when able to dictate and Steely got away from him early on. He faded badly from the home turn and is much better than this form suggests.
RIVER DU NORD has won over this trip but found this way too competitive.

4.15 1m 2f Jersey’s Finest Establishments ‘Glory Bee’ Handicap (12-53)

A contest for Channel Islands trained horses that haven’t won in the current year.

LADY PETRUS came into this race rated only 12 and 6lbs wrong, but won with just a little spare and presumably will now find herself on a lofty mark near on 20! No fluke though as she did this nicely, putting daylight between herself and the rest from over a furlong out. She doesn’t win all that often but goes close regularly enough to keep connections interested.
CARRERA never looked like winning but stayed on for second place. He often starts at a short price but has a high tally of second places to his name and only one win.
The nine-year-olds BECK’S BOLERO and REBEL WOMAN*, looking as fit as any, had their chances but were held from the furlong pole. (*Racing Post results for the race confused Rebel Woman (9 b m)  with a similarly named USA bred three-year-old)
ALBECQ was generally well beaten in the UK and cut no ice on Channel Islands debut, beaten two out.
RAINBOW CHARLIE was soon detached and looks slow even in this company. The fact that he was mounted on the track wasn’t a good sign either.

4.50 1m 100yds HSBC Handicap (11-56)

Not highly rated animals in the main, but they provided a cracking contest to close out the Les Landes 2015 programme.

Any number were in with a chance two furlongs out and it was the filly LARCH, racing for the Jersey branch of Highclere Thoroughbreds, who prevailed in a tight finish. Previously trained by Richard Hannon, Larch has adjusted nicely to this circuit and stayed on well up the near rail to lead close to the post. She is going the right way and may well pay her way in future at Les Landes.
Consistent LUCIFERS SHADOW did nothing wrong and was just denied a fourth win of the season. He’s a consistent sort at this trip.
One eyed FIRST CAT wandered about a bit under pressure and couldn’t summon an extra effort in the closing stages having had every chance.
Veteran FAST FREDDIE, notching up a century of appearances, disputed the lead and stuck to his task to finish a close fourth.
CAPTAIN JAMES was held from two out as was ROLY TRICKS who has yet to make an impact in Jersey.
FRANKKIE M flies the flag for Jersey breds but was dismissed as ‘useless’ in the race programme. He was outpaced early but closed to two furlongs then finding no extra under pressure.
SPEEDY WRITER and OCEAN CRYSTAL disputed the lead but weakened once headed turning for home.

And so ended the 2015 programme in the Channel Islands. Mattie Batchelor took the Champion Jockey prize, Jemma Marshall was leading female jockey, Aly Malzard took the trainer’s prize, Sheikh A’Leg Racing the leading owner title and Country Blue nabbed enough points to overtake Rossetti as Champion Horse. I think Aussie Lyrics won the competition for Jersey Trained Champion Horse, as the point system is different from Champion Horse, but I can’t confirm as the programme kept the points scoring system a secret!

A thoroughly enjoyable trip and I’d recommend Les Landes to anyone who gets the chance.