KELSO – Thursday February 12th
Going – Good to Soft
A decent crowd attended one of Kelso’s best meetings of the season and the Kelso leg of the ‘AP McCoy Farewell Tour’.
The going estimate of good to soft seemed spot on to my judgement as I walked the chase course before the meeting. I reckon 18 minutes for an undulating 1m 3f isn’t bad for unfit and mid-50s, though I definitely needed the outing and should come on a bit for it!
2.00 2m ½f Kelso Annual Members Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
This may prove to be a pretty decent novice hurdle. The penalised second is a decent marker and likely ran near to his best. The winner ENDLESS CREDIT was a bit novice in his jumping at times, but had the race under control from two out. He wasn’t a bad performer on the flat and he can progress from a performance here which would rate low 120s at worst.
THORPE has had a tendency to find one or two too good under a penalty in these events. He ran a sound enough race.
IM TOO GENEROUS looked an awkward soul in the paddock, but was better behaved on course. He seemed to progress marginally on his debut Catterick form and kept on for third place.
HA’PENNY WOODS looks a chasing type and anything he does over hurdles would seem to be a bonus. On that basis a keeping on fourth place was very promising and he’s one to make a note of for the future.
JACK STEEL was under the shove from a long way out, but kept at it to finish fifth. AP commented post-race that ‘he was keen early on and needs a trip’ so he can move forward from this.
FREDERIC was disappointing, running prominently but fading in the straight.
DUTCH CANYON was making some progress when unseating three out.
Jimmy Moffatt reported that the well beaten TOKYO BROWN bled from the nose.
2.30 2m 7½f Monteith Memorial Handicap Chase (105-130)
A competitive contest and three were in a line fifty yards from the post.
WILLIAM MONEY has presumably been difficult to train since winning over fences at Carlisle in 2013. He raced in rear for much of the race, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere much on the home turn, but he picked up well up the Kelso slope and stuck his head in front close home. The impression is that there may have been a little more in the tank and he could win again.
VELATOR was up with the pace, got outpaced to two out but then battled back to have very chance on the flat. He does have to caught on a going day.
WHATS UP WOODY ran an admirable race, setting the pace and only getting worn down on the flat. He hasn’t won since November 2012, but isn’t doing much wrong this season.
BLUE KASCADE was outpaced four out and looked beaten but stayed on well up the hill though never quite getting to the first three.
EDMUND was outpaced after the home turn and there are probably better handicapped horses.
ISLA PEARL FISHER weakened from two out and came home in his own time. Peter Buchanan’s opinion was that the ground was a bit tacky for him and he ‘just needs the ground to come right’. He needs genuine good ground to produce his best.
THE LAST SAMURI came to challenge two out and looked the likely winner. He hit the fence and unshipped Jason Maguire who missed the remainder of his rides. His mount is inexperienced but is probably on a generous mark and worth another chance, particularly if facing fellow novices in a handicap.
BALLYBEN who took a heavy fall at Newcastle last time dropped away from four out and was pulled up before two out.
3.00 2m 2f Timeform Morebattle Hurdle (Class 2)
A decent event often used as a warm up for championship events later on.
The winner GLINGERBURN is a progressive novice and was impressive in seeing off last year’s Fred Winter winner. He is entered in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but may find a few too good in that. The Kelso Premier Hurdle here at the end of the month over this distance would be a possible if he comes out of this OK, and I wonder if Nicky Richards might target Aintree or Ayr in April.
HAWK HIGH ran an honest race and found a progressive sort too good for him.
Keen going sort MEADOWCROFT BOY set a decent pace and kept on after being headed two out. He was held by better opponents at these weights and this was encouraging for when he returns to handicaps..
TANERKO EMERY faded from the home turn and doesn’t look as good as he was for David Pipe. A heavy fall over fences last term may have dented his confidence.
COOL BARANCA had a tough task at the weights and gave way from before three out.
3.30 3m 2f Ivan Straker Memorial Chase (Class 2)
HOLYWELL, re-fitted with blinkers, saw off inferior rivals comfortably in his warm up for a tilt at the Cheltenham gold Cup. His jumping was sticky at the slow early pace, but much better once McCoy upped the tempo in the last two miles. He stays well and isn’t without a chance at Cheltenham. FENTARA stuck to her task well to take second place. She’s been off her game a bit of late but this looked better.
DIOCLES jumped a bit big and, having looked the likely second he ran out of puff on the run-in.
ROSE OF THE MOON was the first to crack as they went away from the stands for the final time. He’s not running well enough to make a mark off 130 at the moment.
4.00 Kelso Annual Members Handicap Hurdle (105-125)
Most of these were well exposed but the race was won by the one progressive animal. Lightly raced WARRIOR’S TALE eased up to the leaders three out and was in no trouble once leading two out. He gave the impression that a mark of 110 seriously under-rates his ability.
TANTAMOUNT was held up in rear and made eye-catching progress down the far side. He seemed likely to challenge the winner two out but could make no impression despite seeing out his race honestly. He was tired afterwards and connections felt that the race was needed after a break. On that basis this was a decent effort and there should be more to come this spring.
DUN TO PERFECTION raced close up and led three out but gave way from two out. A decent effort off a break and he remains competitive off this mark since the remainder were strung out around the Borders countryside.
ROCK RELIEF laboured into a well beaten fourth having been off the bridle for much of the way. He seemed a keen sort in the preliminaries but is hard work in the race.
GOLD CHAIN hasn’t looked keen on occasions and jacked it in going away from the stands for the last time.
4.30 2m 7½f Linglie Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 6)
There’s nothing progressive or exciting as yet from local hunters and the finish here was fought out by three campaigners who have been around the block.
DOUGLAS JULIAN was in the process of running a decent race when coming down here last time. He raced prominently and showed plenty of resolution to hold off two challengers. He’s in good heart and may squeak another win on the Scottish or Northern England circuit.
RAILWAY DILLON didn’t exactly strike me as the ideal sort to be ridden by a relatively inexperienced rider. However, Emma Todd clearly knows what she is doing and got a good tune out this enigmatic staying chaser, bringing him into the race from three out and he stayed on to the line. On a going day he has ability to win a similar race and a stiffer test would help.
MONOGRAM is another who wouldn’t be the most reliable, but Kit Alexander coaxed a decent charge out of him from two out. He briefly threatened at the last, but hung towards the stands rail and couldn’t get to the winner.
HIDDEN FUTURE got to the front four out but was held before the last and weakened on the flat. His best chances may be in minor points.
SIR DU BEARN dropped away approaching four out but it turned out he finished lame behind. Assuming the injury is not too bad he can prove he is capable at this level.
WAR ON raced prominently early but felt the pinch from before four out. Simply case of being up against better opponents.
BARACHOIS SILVER didn’t look particularly keen with a circuit to go and finished well beaten.
BAYFIRTH raced prominently for a way but was struggling with four to go and was pulled up alongside former Willie Mullins trained SOME TARGET two out, the latter looking to be a back number now.
AYR 10th Feb and MUSSELBURGH 11th Feb
WE had a burst of three meetings in three days. I haven’t had a chance to look in depth at the Ayr and Musselburgh meetings but there are some useful pointers.
GILNOCKIE ran into a decent improver in One for Arthur but ran a creditable second in the three mile novices handicap hurdle at Ayr. He was hampered by a faller and would have been a bit closer, but he’s up at the sort of trip he needs and should find a staying hurdle before long.
YES TOM was ridden prominently by AP in a way that suits him and won well. He will go up a bit for this, but he seems to sulk if things don’t go his way so can pop up out of the blue, being particularly favoured by a smallish field.
BENNY’S SECRET ran sixth in the bumper that closed the Ayr card. He is well regarded at Kinneston and didn’t look at all suited by the sprint that this race turned into. He did however keep on to the line and will leave the form well behind in time.
Difficult to find too much to take forward from a low key card at Mussleburgh. However, the previously mentioned Emma Todd showed up well to pick up a second Rules win on DROM who just held off previous winner Nowurhurlin. Good pace judgement from Miss Todd and there might well be value in keeping an eye on anything she rides in future, particularly outside the Drury yard.
The bumper only had five runners but it looked a decent contest. The winner GINGILI has looked decent previously and is worth noting for hurdling in future.
The second IS IT I is trained by that equine magician Don Cantillon. Anything this man runs is worth a second glance and I am sure it well within his powers to find a race or two for this one.
CROCKETT rattled home in the manner of one who would appreciate a stiffer test. He won at Wetherby and then ran third to another decent looking McCain animal DUKE ARCADIA at Ayr 24 hours previously. Noel Wilson can find races going forward with the four-year-old Crockett.
*** Look out for LIE FORRIT in today's GRand National Trial. He won well at Kelso back in January in a Veterans Chase, had plenty in hand that day and is in as good nick as he ever has been. His end of seasona target remains the Scottish National.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT has had minor setbacks but I understand that he is in decent nick and today's Rendlesham Hurdle has been the principal target for his return for a while. I am on at 85 for the World Hurdle, and for that to be a goer I would want to see him put away his Haydock opponents in an event he won last year.