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.