Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fife Hunt Point-to-Point

BALCORMO MAINS – Saturday April 25th

Going – Good

It’s taken me too long to finally get to the point-to-point meeting, but it won’t be my last following a visit to the Fife Hunt meeting at the delightfully situated Balcormo circuit.

Credit to Robert Hogarth, oft heard at Musselburgh and Kelso who kept the racegoers well informed throughout the afternoon. The number board is clear and accurate, and viewing of the course is excellent from the spectator areas. Credit is also due to the army of volunteers in high-vis jackets who did their job well but with a light touch.

The afternoon opened with two pony races, 138cm and under over five furlongs and the 148cm and under over six furlongs. The opening event was won by Annie, ridden stylishly by Nick Barratt-Atkin who took the chance to pose to the crowd in the closing stages. The six furlongs event was won by Pick Pocket ridden by 15-year-old Connor Murtagh, the latter looking all over a jockey and I would imagine likely to graduate to Rules racing in the next year or two.

All the point-to-point races took place over 3 miles and 19 fences, which equates to 2 and a half circuits and includes two open ditches.

2.00 Turcan Connell Fife Hunt Members, Subscribers and Farmers
Only three turned out for this one, as the Alexanders gave the contest a miss, though I presume they have at least a passing interest in the winner.
MILANO MAGIC was reasonable under Rules and proved clear best of the three here. Nick Orpwood sent Gemma Cochrane’s charge on from two out and he was in little danger from that point.
SIR WATTY, recently moved from the South West England circuit, raced keenly and jumped slowly and deliberately in front. Overtaken two out he plugged on and was booked for second when his other rival departed at the last.
The only way MOMKINZAIN will stay three miles is at a crawl or in a horsebox. He raced well enough for a long way, but was out on his feet when thumping the last and unseating. My wife was watching near the last and was not impressed by Harry Reed’s flailing of the whip before the last.

2.30 Subaru Restricted
More Ps than Bird’s Eye amongst the form of many of these. On the other hand, one who has been in the mix in races consistently is NELLY LA RUE who travelled nicely for Tom Hamilton, stretched on at the fifteenth and came home well clear to follow up a Tranwell win. The step up to Open company will be a bit tougher but she could be competitive in the weaker events at that level.
COBH NATIONAL has been struggling since a win at Alnwick back in January. He made something of a return to form here and kept on for second without ever threatening the winner.
RUNNING BROOK led or disputed for much of the way, but had given all when hitting two out and finished tired in third.
THE TOFT might be a prospect in the long term but didn’t really fire on this occasion. Never in the contest, he was behind from three out.
CALL THE DOCTOR, a maiden winner at Hackwood last year, hasn’t shown anything for his current stable and veered off the course at the bend after the fourth.
FLYING MASTER well beaten by the winner at Tranwell, was behind when pulled up at the fifteenth and would have been better off in the Maiden.
FLYING NATIVE was getting reminders at halfway and pulled up before the sixteenth.

3.00 Albert Bartlett Ladies Open
Only two pitched up out of an entry of five for this contest. The winner beat only two at Tranwell last time, so maybe it’s just the case there aren’t many to contest these races.
Amy Waugh is little more than four feet tall, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in ability. She presents her horse at a fence in fine style and dictated this from the start. Although the second closed from three out WHITEABBEY retained plenty enough to hold on with a little to spare.
DURBAN GOLD won a 3m 5f contest at Tranwell and is an out-and-out-stayer. She kept on but couldn’t close down the winner. She wouldn’t be a lost cause in long distance events under Rules.

3.30 Pentland Land Rover Mens Open
ROSSINI’S DANCER us decent at this level when he puts it all in and had conditions to suit here. It was by no means plain sailing but after racing prominently, Kit Alexander sent him on two out and he was driven out to hold on. Apt to disappoint on occasions, but there are more such cases to be won with this one.
SOME TARGET has been pretty decent, but isn’t as good as he was in Ireland. He disputed with the winner for much of the way and had every chance, but didn’t quite match the winner from the last. He needs a soft event or a long distance Open, or a combination of both(!), if he’s to score.
DUHALLOWCOUNTRY ran at least to his form level in third. He had every chance two out but gave way to better animals.
INDIAN PRINT was outpaced from four out and his Tranwell win was presumably in a weak event. He ran well in the Heart Of All England Chase last year, but general level of recent form is moderate.
RAIFTIERI won at Cartmel in August but that didn’t look a great event and he has struggled since. He was under the cosh with a circuit to go and was a remote last when pulled up before the last fence.

4.00 Lundin Links NPPA Club Members Race

The biggest entry of the meeting yielded the joint biggest field of seven.
The veteran BACK ON THE ROAD is a consistent sort and has a good attitude. The evergreen Jamie Alexander sent him third at the fifteenth and then into the lead three out. He had to dig deep to hold off a determined second from the last and held on by a short head.
GREAT GUSTO raced prominently, had every chance and gave it his best but was just held. He’s not quite up to Open standard, but these races offer his best chance as winners get a penalty.
SILK AND ROSES led for much of the way but is not quite at the level of the first two and was held from before two out.
HAVE ONE ON ME won a couple of minor events in 2014, but was put in his place from three out here.
OLDRIK was beaten a long way and is a non-stayer in points.
CILLISEAL lost his rider two out when well held. He was a slowish chaser under Rules and seems to have settled into life as an even slower pointer!
WEEUMA has struggled in recent times and had fallen well behind when pulled up with four to go.

4.30 Bruce Farms Open Maiden

The five runners brought forward a host of moderate form.
HAVNA JACK had hinted at ability if novice on previous runs. He was able to settle to his task in this moderate company. He disputed when blundering two out, but was left in front and dug deep to hold the second on the run to the line. He’s only five and should improve going forward.
SOUND BARRIER showed promise last time at Tranwell after a couple of pulled ups. Not rushed by Rachael MacDonald, he was produced to challenge the winner before the last and made that one pull out the stops. Some encouragement going forward.
LAY DE BROOK was handful in the paddock, keen on the track and novice in his jumping. Tired three out and behind, he offers little prospect of success even at this level.
POLL AN EASA disputed or led and held and advantage when blundering two out, at which point his rider either lost irons or reins and had to pull up. He looks to offer some hope and can probably pick up a weak maiden with better luck.
LUCYDOLI is a small mare who jumped slowly at many fences until unseating at the eleventh. She showed nothing in bumpers and hasn’t indicated that she is a racehorse so far. The course commentator often struggled with anything that stretched the basics and didn’t identify the missing competitor for a couple of fences.

Exit from the track was straight forward and it took us no more than 50 minutes to get back to Dunfermline. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and one I can recommend.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Musselburgh Easter Festival

Why does everything have to be a Festival these days?

Anyway...MUSSELBURGH – Sunday April 5th 2015

Going – Soft (Good to Soft in places)

I missed Good Friday’s meeting because of work as much of Scotland doesn’t seem to do public holidays, more a mish-mash of local holidays on which I also have to work! However I made my first outing of the turf flat season for the Easter Sunday meeting, a lower class card than the Friday but competitive nevertheless.
The day was billed a family day hence funfair and stalls and lots of stuff for the kids. It seemed to work as there was a decent crowd. As MC for the afternoon we were lumbered with Grant Stott, a DJ with Forth One Radio, who seemed to make a great play of knowing diddly squat about racing and offered nothing of note to the afternoon. Come back Thommo, all is forgiven!

The card was sponsored by totepool, so insert variations on their products in the race titles!

1.50 1m 35-58 Handicap

A dreadful contest to start the afternoon, full of professional losers.

Wilf Storey does at least do his best to conjure a tune out of moderate horses and his NELSON’S BAY showed way too much resolution for the remainder here. The winning way at Musselburgh is to get near the front early, particularly over distances between 7 and 9 furlongs. Most winners are prominent on the bend and Nelson’s Way was up there from the start. He led over one out and forged clear though it’s questionable if he achieved much in winning. Storey had been a little worried the ground might be a tad too soft, but Musselburgh seldom gets testing.
INDIAN GIVER, placed recently on Tapeta, gave chase but was always second best.
KEENE’S POINTE is a weak finisher and was held from the furlong pole.
RIOJA DAY is favoured by cut in the ground and ran passably well in fourth.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE was well backed and looked spot on for this. However, he gave way tamely from two out and remains a maiden as a five-year-old.

2.25 7f 38-60 Handicap

Down a furlong for a similar class race to the first, with another group of horses with plenty of miles on the clock but not a great win percentage.
NOVALIST was set into the lead and had pretty much put all in their place by the two furlong pole. He saw out his race with a bit to spare, though it may well be different if he’s pressured on another course. He won twice at Southwell last year, so can grind out his wins.
I reckoned SMALLJOHN might have a class edge, and he was well enough placed from the start, but he didn’t look that keen to go through with his challenge. He had enough left to hold second place and give the impression he saves a bit.
HELLBENDER has yet to win on turf and came off second best in the battle for the minor spots. He’s not betting material even at this level.
One glimmer of promise came from the lightly raced BLUE JACKET who kept on for fourth. She’s a nice enough looking filly who seems to have a little ability on this evidence and may pick up a lowly contest.
SEWN UP missed the break, and though putting in an effort up the straight, never troubled the leaders.
OPT OUT is a law unto himself and never showed, while JEBEL TARA looked cussed at the start and continues to regress.

2.55 1m 1f 67-78 Handicap

A better contest than the previous two which offered a number with a serious chance.
POLAR FOREST was progressive last year and continues on an upward curve as a five-year-old. Another one racing prominently, he led a furlong out and gradually asserted.  He never wins by far so can’t be hammered by the assessor, but his will to win is a potent weapon at this level.
MR RED CLUBS hit the front two out but couldn’t respond with any extra once passed at the furlong pole. He wasn’t disgraced and remains competitive on turf or all-weather. He hasn’t won on turf but did little wrong here.
ARGAKI ran his best race for some time. Having chased the leaders he looked to be feeling the pinch two out but stuck to his task in admirable fashion. Keith Dalgleish should be able to coax a race out of him, perhaps down a grade to Class 5.
The three were clear of SILVER DUKE who was outpaced in the final furlong having been a threat two out.
VALANTINO OYSTER led until two out and ideally needs an unpestered lead.
BAHAMIAN C looked race fit, but dropped out rapidly from two out.

3.25 2m 70-84 Musselburgh Gold Cup Handicap

LADY KASHAAN is a decent mare at this level and slipped back below her previous winning mark. She raced in midfield, made progress in the straight to lead two out and quickly put distance between herself and pursuers. So well did she come clear that it must be worth seeking out events in excess of two miles for her.
HANDIWORK is a lightly raced animal on the flat, but is moving in the right direction. He had the rest of the field spread-eagled, but just ‘ran into one’. A similar event seems his for the taking.
STREETS OF NEW YORK was not disgraced in third place and will find other opportunities as he saw out the trip well enough.
MR SNOOZY kept on for fourth, though well held by second and third.
MARAWEH was held up and stayed on to grab a remote fifth place on the line. Yet to win on the flat, but by no means a lost cause for his jumps orientated yard judged on this effort.
SCRAPPER SMITH ran an acceptable race in sixth for one off the course for a fair time.
ROYAL SIGNALLER dropped away tamely on the final bend and was reported as suffering from heat exhaustion. The form can be ignored.

3.55 5f Class 2yo Maiden Auction Stakes

POWERALLIED was fizzy in the paddock and keen going down, but had too much speed for the fillies here.
BABY BALLERINA, another a bit keen going down, missed the break. She picked up two out and stayed on well enough to snatch second close home.  Hopefully lessons will be learnt from her first outing.
AYRESOME ANGEL looks a rather leggy filly and may need a bit of time to show her best. However, she did show some speed and only lost second place near the line.
ARISE was always struggling to match the first two and held from the furlong pole.

4.30 7f 63-70 3yo Handicap

Another race won from the front with GABRIAL THE TIGER making all, sticking on well when asked for extra effort from two out. Exposed on the all-weather the hope would be that there is more to come on the turf, though he had the run of this race.
BEACH ACTION chased home the winner honestly enough and made a satisfactory handicap debut.
BILLY BOND was another making a handicap debut and showed signs of greenness when asked for an effort, squeezing up Salterello. He saw his race out to the line and has enough about him to take a similar race before long.
SALTERELLO looked to getting the worst of the argument even before running into trouble.
X RAISE didn’t look fully tuned up for her seasonal debut and was reported to have hung right throughout.
RIVER OF DREAMS wasted too much energy in the preliminaries.

5.50 5f 45-65 Apprentice Handicap

Seven of the ‘regular suspects ‘ pitched up for the closing sprint handicap.

WINDFORPOWER can be a bit hit or miss, but is useful on his day at this level. He got going from two out and stuck his head in front in the shadow of the post.
ROY’S LEGACY is pretty decent in these contests on turf as his regularly runs his race. Well drawn here, he led until near the post and would likely have won if the ground had been a shade quicker. Worth considering in similar events here if drawn near the rail.
LIZZY’S DREAM was off his game in an interrupted 2014 season. He is no back number judged on a fair third here and a fourth last time at Wolverhampton. Everything has be taken at its level, but he is at least competitive in basement contests.
LORD BUFFHEAD finds five furlongs here plenty sharp enough and was keeping on when the contest was done and dusted.
The Perratt pair of FINDOG and ROCK CANYON run often and win seldom, though the later did pick a ‘best turned out’ this time.
BRONZE BEAU was sweating and did not look at all well in his coat. He broke well from the outside and led for three furlongs but then faded.

 From Friday’s card make room in the notebook for:

SPRING OFFENSIVE a decent staying on second in the Royal Mile.  He was held up against a pace bias and the form is probably better than face value.
TOM HARK who missed the break in the same race and did well to come fourth. He was progressive last season and should leave this form behind.

Not really for the notebook but what a pleasure to see the battle of the veterans in the Borderlescott Trophy, with ten-year-old TANGERINE TREES winning from evergreen BORDERLESCOTT.