Sunday, 7 June 2015

Cycling - Squirrel Criterium at Dunfermline

A bit of a diversion from the normal content, but I had a very smooth journey back from Hamilton racecourse on Thursday June 4th in time to catch the Women's and Men's races around the Dunfermline circuit.

The exacting circuit started in Pittencrieff Park with the start/fiinsh straight being one of the few level parts of the track. The riders then went up through the park past the Glen Pavilion, turned right up to Dufnermlnie Abbey then down the paved section to St Margaret Street and up the steep climb. There was then a left turn onto the cobbled Abbey Street, Maygate and Kirkgate, left turn into Bridge Street before a very swift section down through the park, then the haul uphill to the finishing straight. The course took about 4 and a half minutes for the quickest men and 5 and a quarter minutes for the faster women racers.


This was a showdown between two talented cyclists hailing from Fife, Charline Joiner and Eileen Roe. Joiner came hot from a win in the Tour Series and Roe has also been in good form.

A group of seven riders quickly broke clear in the 40 minutes plus two laps contest and stayed together for around 6 laps before Joiner and Roe made the break. It was nip and tuck from then on with Joiner proving stronger in a sprint finish.

The rump of the leading group fought out third place with promising youngster Erika Allen recording the fastest lap of the race to burst clear in the closing stages.


This turned into a one man race with Scottish Road Race, Hill Climb and Criterium champion Steven Lawley attacking on the first lap and then pulling steadily away throughout the race to win by over three minutes, lapping all bar seven of his opponents. I walked round the course during the first laps and Lawley came tanking past me on both laps and kept up the pressure throughout.

Lawley has had a cracking season, showing up well in the An Post Ras stage race in Ireland where he finished 21st in the overall classification.

Moda Anon rider Phil Trodden called out vainly to the other riders "Come on, help me!" as the chasers came up St Margaret Street on the second lap, but nobody amongst the chasers was strong enough. Trodden faded in the latter stages to finish seventh.

The original chasing group of eight was whittled down to three with Fraser Martin of Spokes, the Scottish yopungsters project, taking second from Lawley's Neon Velo team mate Peter Murdoch and another Spokes rider Ruari Yeoman in fourth.

Kinross Cycling Club's Calum Sharpe put in a fine ride to take the Cat3 prize, matching better rated riders throughout the race.

A very entertaining event, but just a pity that there wasn't better publicity as I am quite sure there would be bigger crowds. I am told that the local tourist office knew very little about the event. Keep an eye out for this event next year!

Hamilton - early June meeting

HAMILTON – Thursday June 4th

Going – Good To Soft, Soft in places on the loop though drying during the meeting

2.00 5f Lockton Maiden Auction Stakes 2yo (Class 5)

RISK ADJUSTED had gone close on three occasions and took this contest with authority, taking charge over a furlong out to win with little fuss.  Ann Duffield is generally smart with placement of her two-year-olds and should place this one to advantage again, be it in a novice stakes or a nursery.
COMPARINKA impressed most in the paddock. She was turned out looking fit and well and ready for her debut and made the right impression. She was a bit at sea going down the hill, but picked up encouragingly when hitting the incline and stayed on well to take second place. She may find a minor maiden race and certainly has what it takes to win races.
There’s often value to be had from paddock inspection in these races and I couldn’t believe it when I saw this one at 40/1 in a small field. She was always held by the winner, and my minor win bet never quite looked like being landed, but I got a sound enough run for my money at the odds.
IRISH CAILIN improved on her debut, just shaded for second on the run to the line. She’s done enough in two runs to suggest she will be competitive in nurseries.
COTTON CAMERA was never travelling and may well need quicker ground, or perhaps a level track.
FIRST BOMBARDMENT is a stocky but small sort. The impression is that he’s not got much growing to do and it’s not encouraging that his form is already regressive.
CANDY HILL was withdrawn on vet’s advice at the start, but no Stewards Report was returned so I’ve no idea what the problem was. That aside, she was the most backward of the six that went to start and looks to need a bit of time assuming there’s no major physical problem.

2.30 5f Winning Groundstaff Team Apprentice Handicap (51-64)

A race run to mark the RCA Groundstaff award to the Hamilton Park team. The course and surrounds were presented in their customary fine condition, a fact that makes the course such a pleasure to visit for racegoers and racing professionals alike.

INSOLENCEOFFICE transferred all-weather form to the turf, making steady headway from two out and getting his head in front in the closing stages. For all that he has run well on the artificial surfaces, his recent runs on turf have been and rather belied his 33/1 price. I wouldn’t write him off as merely a ‘sand boy’ and he’s a decent animal at Class 6 level on his day.
CHOOKIE’S LASS looked very well and put up a sound performance in second. She’s lower than her previous winning mark and is worth bearing in mind for upcoming engagements. She uphill finish here and at Carlisle seems to suit her.
ELAND ALLY has only won once in 37 attempts and, though having ability, isn’t one to trust with your money. Gemma Tutty complained that she was ‘caught in a pocket’, but I reckon that probably helped as her mount stayed on through the field for third. His best chance will come in a speed packed contest where the rest come back to him.
I’LL BE GOOD seemed found out by the 6lb penalty, running creditably but held once passed in the final furlong.
SARTORI struggled to go the pace though kept on in the closing stages. He’s between two stools at the moment, not seeing out six furlongs but caught for speed over five.
PULL THE PIN is on a long losing run, often running well but finding one or two too good. Made favourite here he was held from two out. He may well win a race in the near future, but guessing when it will be is no easy task.

3.00 6f Watt Fences and Watt Plastics Maiden Stakes (Class 5)

UNDER SEIGE showed good pace and stayed on well to take the contest with a bit to spare. By my reckoning he recorded a rating around the 66 mark, so it’s no lower than Class 5 handicaps next up.
SECOND CUT is a nice type who placed a respectable third in a big field handicap  at Thirsk, kept on in the final furlong and should be capable of landing a handicap off current mark. He could be one to progress somewhat as he becomes race hardened.
EUXTON is a rather light filly who may develop with time. On that basis her form to date is respectable. She got tapped for speed down the hill but kept on up the slope to finish third.
ELEUTEHRA is a strong sort with scope and made a fair impression on debut, showing good speed, if held in the final furlong.
ALPHA DELPHINI was prominent in the market but a shade disappointing and never threatened the leaders. She is worth another chance on quicker ground.
JESSIE ALLAN was making a debut at the age of four. While held in seventh after missing the break, she wasn’t totally disgraced and may reward connections’ patience in time.

The stewards deemed Under Seige’s improvement worthy of an enquiry. It’s a maiden and lightly raced horses improve, are we going to have enquiries any time anything wins such a race at a double figure price? Pity they couldn’t let us know what happened to Candy Hill earlier on…

3.30 1m 65yds Alex Fergusson Memorial Handicap (52-65)

DAY OF THE EAGLE has no more than a stub of a tail since he got an infection and had to have the majority of his tail removed. It doesn’t stop him racing well though and he came back from a three month break to win a trifle cosily, making smooth headway from two out to take it up at the one pole. He has a good record coming off a break and these days that might be the time to catch him.
PADDY’S ROCK stayed on and finished a never nearer second. This was a step up on his efforts this season and he is now back on his previous winning mark.
RIOJA DAY disputed the lead and stuck on well once passed. He’s only had one win in 29 goes, but has recorded a number of creditable efforts in recent times.
LENDAL BRIDGE hasn’t got a bad record for a horse rated 56 and isn’t often beaten too far.
INDIAN GIVER won over a longer trip last time and kept on here for fifth.
ROCKWOOD was blinkered for the first time and led round in a headcollar and looks headstrong. He is not straight forward, came to have every chance two out before weakening from the furlong pole. He has ability but there could be too much going on in between his ears.

4.00 1m 1f 36yds Weatherbys Private Banking Hamiltonian Handicap (60-85)

FIRST SITTING showed promise last year for Dermot Weld and won this in the style of an upwardly mobile handicapper. Racing in touch, he made steady progress from two out, led one out and soon had the race comfortably won. This was only his fifth race he looks potentially a bit better than this class and is one to follow. Another furlong shouldn’t prove a problem.
The current form of those behind looks the lynch pin as far as the merit of the winner. SAKHAKLIN STAR is running well without getting his head in front, finished well but just ran into one too good. He’s not been far away on any run this season and must surely find a similar race.
TIN PAN ALLEY led and stuck at it once passed. A cracking effort from 3lbs out of the handicap. Lightly raced for a seven-year-old, but still a maiden, he seems honest enough and should find a race dropped back in class.
ARCHIE’S ADVICE couldn’t hold his position early on, and was stopped in his run two out, but kept on well enough in the closing stages.
TECTONIC was held approaching the final furlong and from past experience is one to be wary off.
EUTROPIUS needs quicker ground.

4.30 6f 5yds Weathersby Private Banking Handicap (53-70)

Most of the field here were hold up horses so I’m not sure of the value of the form, and most are well exposed anyway. I spotted two that might be able to run within themselves and not be inconvenienced by the way the race panned out. It was rather galling to have the Exacta foiled by a fast finisher as a 6 furlongs and 4 yards race would have seen a decent payout!

MUNJALLY went into this as a 14 run maiden, but he race handily and dug in well from the furlong pole. Bear in mind though that things fell right.
ROCK CANYON finished with a rattle to deny the North betting bank a significant boost. He was raised for a double win at Ayr but remains competitive off his current mark.
Lightly raced ORIENT SKY picked up nicely up the hill, looked the likely winner one out but then wandered around under a drive and was denied second close home. There should be a moderate sprint for him, though he may not be totally straight forward. There was a hint in the unsaddling area that blinkers or a visor may be applied.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE stayed on from the rear for fourth place.
SEWN UP made up some ground he lost down the hill, but his run petered out in the final furlong.
MINISTER OF FUN went down to start the best part of 20 minutes before off time. He was the least exposed of these, but is presumably a fizzy sort and faded after showing early pace.

5.00 1m 5f Ladies In Business Lunch Handicap (45-64)

VIEW FROM ABOVE was turned out looking very fit and scored for the first time since the same event last year. All her best from has come at tracks with a stiff finish, a record 1U256121, against a mere one place in 26 goes at sharp or flat tracks.
SCHMOOZE stayed on from the rear for second. She needs things to fall right.
EILEAN MOR chased the leader from three out but could make no impression. On his mark but running reasonably well.
HENPECKED kept on for fourth without remotely threatening those up front and the rest were well beaten.