KELSO – Wednesday May 6th
Going – Good To Soft
A bit of rain about, but generally not too bad a day for Kelso’ penultimate meeting of the spring campaign. The ground was reported a shade on the dead side but generally riding quite well.
1.50 2m 1f Black Bull Inn Wooler Novices’ Chase
I worked the morning and then drove down to Kelso for the afternoon. I had expected the runners to be in the paddock when I arrived at 1.35, but none to be seen. They really ought to on view earlier and I do feel that racecourses should be making sure runners are on view as early as possible.
A close battle between two quite evenly matched animals, the fitness of PAIR OF JACKS possibly just making the difference in the closing stages against KATACHENKO coming off a break. Assuming they remain near to current marks, the winner may go up a pound or two, then both can be competitive in handicaps. Jumping from both was sound enough and Pair Of Jacks in particular seems an amenable animal.
The ten-year-old SILK HALL jumped the early fences well but wasn’t so sharp once the tempo increased. He’s rated 130 at the moment for handicaps and he doesn’t look that good as a chaser.
NEVILLE WOODS had much to find with the others but jumped around safely for fourth. He will be better off in handicaps having been given tough tasks, with our own enigmatic character The Village (rated 66) not too far behind in his race at Carlisle.
2.20 2m 6½f Hunter Real Estate Investment Managers Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (81-107)
ISAACSTOWN LAD has never really stepped up to the mark after showing a little promise early in his career, though described to me as ‘a plank’ by a previous owner. Nicky Richards has obviously done a bit of streamlining to the piece of wood, since he travelled well, led two out and had the race in safe-keeping at the last. Taken at face value this race suggests more to come.
HURRICANE RITA moved to chase the winner from two out but couldn’t get close enough to challenge. This was only her fourth race and she appeared well suited by the step up in trip. Stuart Coltherd is shrewd enough to place her to win a staying novices’ event.
IORA GLAS chased the leader swinging for home but was found wanting from two out. He has to find extra off his current mark.
LORD USHER, stood down for what was deemed ‘an easy’ here over two miles last time, set sail for home after three out but found disappointingly little when challenged.
DUTCH CANYON struggled to get into the race on the final circuit. He looks a stayer without a deal of tactical pace.
SPOILS OF WAR led early jumping well and set a decent pace. His jumping went to pieces on the final circuit, but it turned out he had been seriously struck into and was pulled up. Lucinda Russell told me that things were touch and go for a while, but thankfully he has been treated and is now on the mend.
2.50 2m 7½f Anne MacDonald Birthday Bash Selling Handicap Chase (73-99)
For this type of contest it really wasn’t all the bad a race.
The in-form MY FRIEND GEORGE travelled well until briefly outpaced going to the open ditch two out. Driven back up to the leader he challenged at the last and gave generously when asked. He was rated 84 going into this, so will remain firmly below the top mark for the class, which has to be an advantage with an animal on good terms with the world.
Last year’s winner WINTER ALCHEMY looked likely to make it a double when taking up the running going well two out. To my eye he didn’t stop but just found the winner a little too good. Winter Alchemy has generally gone well in the warmer weather and is not a lost cause for upcoming engagements.
CHICAGO OUTFIT jumped really well in front but was held once passed two out. He hit the last when held and is difficult to win with.
BROKETHEGATE has had a few problems but wasn’t disgraced here and connections must take some encouragement. He was well there until weakening from two out.
PISTOL BASC runs a lot of passable race without visiting the winner’s place more than in his turn. He was under the pump four out and beaten by two out.
SADDLE PACK is normally held up and was never remotely competitive on this occasion. He has yet to prove he stays this trip under Rules.
WEST SHIP MASTER has run creditably over fences a few times but has yet to break his maiden. He weakened from three out on this occasion and was rather disappointing given recent efforts.
OXALIDO ran well at Perth but was never seriously in the contest here.
WAR ON is not good enough in hunters and struggled in this company.
ULTIEP pulled up having struggled from a mile out and of no account these days.
3.20 3m 2f Bedmax Handicap Chase (88-115)
WINGED CRUSADER’s form has been bitty, but he was impressive here, jumping really well and ridden clear from two out. A good spot by the Twiston-Davies yard to pick off this contest.
VIKING REBEL ran a creditable race insecond. He’s running well enough at this time, but time is not on his side at the age of 13. Not inconceivable that he could pick up a Class 4 or 5 event before retirement beckons.
REVOCATION ran a passable race in third if never looking the winner from three out. He’s lightly raced and will not always run into one such as this winner.
GIBBSTOWN was held from three out. She goes well at Hexham but I don’t think she qualifies for any staying chases at that course in the remaining meetings this spring.
STONEY has won a trio of points, but has been found wanting in this company since moving from Ireland.
ACTION MASTER was ridden as if needing kidded home. He made stealthy headway to be going as well as any on the home turn, but hit two out and quickly dropped out. There was no report of a physical problem and it looked to me as if he ‘jacked it in’.
RESOLUTE PERFORMER flattered down the far side for the last time but dropped away from four out. This was a step up in class on his previous wins and he was found wanting.
ROMANY RYME wasn’t totally disgraced when last of five finishers in the Highland National. That race may have left its mark as he made no show here.
FARMER MATT raced prominently early but struggled on the last circuit and was pulled up. He was coming back from a long break and the outing looked needed.
JEWELLERY struggled from halfway and pulled up before four out.
3.55 2m ½f Principal & Prosper Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (100-118)
TURTLE WATCH was well touted by a few reliable sources. He had been expected to do the business at Ayr but opinion was that he wasn’t given the best ride. On this occasion he travelled well throughout in the hands of Graham Watters, eased up to the leader going well two out and won with any amount in hand.
PETERS GREY showed promise here a couple of runs ago and was not disgraced in a better event at Ayr last time. He ran into one here and looks the right material to win a similar contest. He’s certainly one I would take out this meeting.
SURPRISE VENDOR is a fair measure in this sort of company and ran a sound enough race in third place.
CADORE disputed two out but weakened before the last.
SHANROE SOCIETY came here off a long break and was never put in a competitive position.
STENTORIAN challenged going very well two out, but was tiring when falling at the last flight.
KEALIGOLANE, returning after a long break, was revved up as ever and led but was spent by three out.
4.30 2m 5½f Berwick Speedway Novices’ Hunters’ Chase (Class 5)
This didn’t look an over strong contest.
CHANCEOFALIFETIME was presented with just that being rated significantly higher under Rules than his opponents. In the event he had to work at it, driven out from the last having travelled well enough.
MISTER D gave the race his best shot in second. He led from three out until the last and saw out the contest well enough. This appeared a step up on recent point and hunter efforts.
DARSI DANCER, pulled up in The Heart at Hexham, was comfortably put in his place from two out.
DURBAN GOLD was made joint favourite here. Given that he was down in distance after a second of a two at Balcormo when looking an out-and-out stayer, the reasoning of those backing him is obscure. He never went the pace and would have been suited by another lap.
The remainer pulled up with MR SHAHADY well outpaced on the final circuit, AFTERCLASS never travelling for Kit Alexander and HECKLEY HERBERT looking plain slow.
5.05 2m ½f Cheers Bar Standard Open NH Flat – Division 1 (Class 5)
A double dose of bumpers and plenty to take out from the two contests.
My paddock inspection suggested the Alan Swinbank trained newcomer MICKLEGATE RUN looked the one primed to win a flat race. His trainer apparently would have been pleased with ‘first four’ but rumour has it he’s a pessimist! In the event the winner led two out but then ran green and had to work hard to hold a fair opponent in second. A good start and there looks a bit more to come.
GULLY’S EDGE followed up a sound second last time with another decent effort. He kept the winner honest and a visit to the winner’s spot looks no more than delayed. One slight worry is that he races in a tongue-tie.
CATCHING SHADOWS was not disgraced in third under a double penalty. He was reported as hanging right down the straight.
One to note long term here is KALANITI. Travelling well enough most of the way, he hung left over one furlong out but stayed on steadily under gentle encouragement. He will make up into a jumper and I’d be surprised if he can’t win races.
As one who will turn into a stayer, BENNY’S SECRET was sent on by Lucy Alexander. He was outpaced by more speedy horses from two out, but once presented with a trip over hurdles he will be a better animal. He’s well regarded at Kinneston and worth placing on the list as a novice hurdler for 2015/16.
SEVEN DEVILS ran second to a bumper winner in his Irish point. He was held from two out but should do better in time.
5.40 2m ½f Cheers Bar Standard Open NH Flat – Division 2 (Class 5)
DANTE’S WAY is a nice sort who should make up into a jumper before long. It is pleasing that he showed enough pace to win this and he’s in the right hands going forward.
NUTS WELL progressed nicely from his Hexham debut. He led two out and, though given it his best, just had to give way in the final yards. A decent effort and his stable should place this half-brother to Runswick Royal to advantage in future.
DANMURPHYSDOOR probably needs obstacles in front of him to show his best, so a third here is a bonus. He raced prominently but was held in the final furlong.
LIMOS performed better than on his Hexham debut, if held from two out.
Jim Goldie’s THISULLDAEUS has plenty going for him on breeding but looks to need time and was well beaten after racing prominently early on.
A non-runner here was McGINTY’S DREAM, but note this one for the long term as he’s another animal well regarded by trainer Nick Alexander.