Friday, 24 July 2015

North goes South to Newbury

NEWBURY – Thursday July 23rd

Going – Good to Firm

A trip south to visit family in Berkshire gave me a chance to visit Newbury for the first time in 10 years. The course is no more than 15 minutes drive from Mum’s place.

My memories were of rowdy crowds at Saturday, but the evening meeting seems a much more civilised affair. Developments around the course in recent years have made it a pleasant venue, with good viewing and plentiful food and drinks outlets serving decent fare. I can recommend the Cornish pasty served from the bar at the top of the Grandstand.

The Newbury Weekly News reported fighting at the Weatherbys Sprint Meeting the previous Saturday, which suggests those who enjoy their horse racing are probably better off visiting the course midweek.

5.00 7f Arab Handicap (0-60)

The meeting opened with an Arab event over seven furlongs, an event advertising the decent Arab card coming up on Sunday 26th July. Admission is free so well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Paddock inspection found the winner in one of my two against the field. The veteran WHISPER took up the running two out and looked certain to be a clear winner, but ended up just hanging on as the chasers closed. She’s a versatile mare that has proved effective over distances between 6 and 14 furlongs.
CALLYMAY shrugged off an 8lb rise in the weights to just miss out in second and this may prove a useful warm up for a similar event that closes Sunday’s card.
The four year old filly SYNERGY showed promise on only her third run, another closing in at the finish.

5.30 1m 5f 61yds NSPCC Amateur Riders’ Handicap (51-70)

A game effort by MOOJANED to win this under a creditable first winning ride from Katherine Begley, the latter worth keeping an eye out for in these events. Miss Begley set the pace then kicked on seven furlongs out. Moojaned was briefly headed three out, but battled back, rallied well and just had enough in the tank to hold on. A very good effort and he looks a game sort.
COTTON CLUB looked well in the paddock and returned to near his best. He put in a sustained challenge from three out but was just held. He might now be on a reasonable mark.
THE DUCKING STOOL is a regular in amateur and apprentice races and put in a sound effort in third. He goes well at Yarmouth so stable are probably finding it galling that the Norfolk track’s return to action has been delayed.
DARK AMBER had every chance but was held from the furlong pole. This trip probably stretches his stamina a bit.
TAPIS LIBRE had a chance two out but then weakened. He won at Musselburgh in May and may have just needed this race on his return to the track.
BALLYHEIGUE was very awkward at the stalls. He is capable on his day and threatened three out, but one to be wary of.

6.00 Bathwick Tyres EBF Maiden 2yo (Class 4)

Runners from Newbury maidens are normally worth keeping an eye on. In this one Mark Johnston’s ADVENTUROUS proved that his first outing was of benefit, stepping up here and coming clear in the final furlong. This track probably suited better than Epsom’s downhill turning six furlongs. He can go on from here.
Much promise in second from newcomer MANSON. He made headway two out and saw his race out to the line to take second. There are plenty of winners in the family and it shouldn’t be too long before he joins them.
JACK NEVISON, a decent enough looker, chased the leader in the closing stages but made no impression in the latter stages. This was a creditable effort on debut from one who will benefit from an extra furlong.
EASTER MATE kept on in the latter stages without being close enough to threaten and is likely to be suited by contesting nurseries.
GEORGE WILLIAM looked plenty fired up in the preliminaries, had his chance but was held from the furlong pole.
FORCE looks an awkward sort. He was very fizzy in the preliminaries, way to keen in the race and beaten before the final furlong. Frankie Dettori didn’t seem over chuffed post-race.
SEA OF FLAMES looked reasonably fit for his debut but was keen early on and never got into the race. HE will find easier opportunities and has enough about him to make an impact in time, more than likely when stepped up in trip.

6.30 7f NSPCC Nursery Handicap (61-77)

We lost the likely strong favourite when Welford was pulled out. He was replaced as odds-on shot by AUXILIARY but this one made hard work of the task. He was keen early on and wayward when asked for an effort, but credit to Liam Jones for coaxing sufficient out of him. Auxiliary is not straightforward and I would oppose him at short odds off his new mark.
CLIVE CLIFTON showed up nicely here, finishing closer to the winner than at Chester. Settled in front, he saw his race out once headed, though may just benefit from returning to six furlongs.
INDIGO had her chance but was held from the furlong pole. She hints at some ability and might be one for a minor maiden at one of the flat ‘gaffs’.
BUKLE was a bit keen and had nothing in reserve from a furlong out. His form looks regressive at this stage.

7.05 1m 2f 6yds NSPCC Charity Race Evening 3yo Handicap (71-83)

This might prove a reasonable little contest with two progressive sorts fighting out the finish.

BISHOP’S LEAP was held up and made good progress from two out and just got the better of a duel to the line. This was only his third race, he’s learning and there is probably more to come.
ROYAL TOAST caught the eye in the paddock. I suspect he has needed time to come to himself, but he put in a decent effort here, just denied in a determined battle. The step up to this trip helped and there should be a race for him soon.
MYWAYALWAYS looks a fair measure and saw his race out having been passed at the furlong pole, though outpointed by the first two. He set the pace and will be suited by a sharper track where he can dictate.
MARCANO had his chance two out but was held. He won a maiden at Salisbury as a two-year-old, but hasn’t made much impact since and this was as close as he has been since then.
FIT THE BILL was fizzy in the paddock and taken down early. Beaten before the furlong pole, he uses up energy pre-race though all-weather record suggests he’s decent at this level.
JARGON has not recovered two-year-old form and was well held.

7.40 6f 8yds NSPCC Handicap (62-75)

Two stood out on looks in the paddock, Bush Warrior and HEAD SPACE and the latter provided this paddock watcher with a decent winner at 12/1. He has plenty of miles on the clock but fitness edge looked the key here. Sporting a natty pair of pink and black diamond patterned visors to match his jockey’s silks; he made headway two out and took control from the furlong pole. I think his trainer will need to strike quickly to take advantage of his peak fitness again.
GOLD CLUB challenged two out for couldn’t match the winner. He held the rest though and remains in good from.
BUSH WARRIOR was the second horse noted for fitness, but didn’t threaten the winner. He was driven at halfway but did at least see his race out for third. He needs encouraging but is regularly thereabouts in this company.
GROUNDWORKER race close up and had every chance to follow up his course and distance win, but was found wanting. This looked a slightly better contest.
PRCE REGAL led until past halfway but weakened from the furlong pole and is proving difficult to win with at this time.
FEVER FEW looked worked up in the preliminaries and at the start. She was keen in the race but had a chance before one out and it appeared that the race will have brought her on a bit.

8.10 1m Al Basti Equiworld Fillies’ Handicap (68-81)

Three non-runners left only three to contest this race. I’m indebted to Alan Potts for giving the background which suggests the three absentees were never likely to urn anyway. They were all declared after the race was re-opened with only the three eventual runners initially declaring. Not a good situation and one I would hope the BHA would attempt to address, though breath is not held.

NO DELUSION set in behind the leader and had the best acceleration when push came to shove.  She saw her race out nicely.
SHARQEYIH was the hare for the other two and just caught flat footed by the winner. She just held second place.
BRIDIE FFRENCH was the most exposed of the three. She threatened approaching the final furlong but couldn’t match the pace of the other two.

8.45 1m 4f 5yds NSPCC Fillies’ Handicap (72-92)

SPACELAB is a strong filly who was on her toes in the paddock. Fit enough after a break, she was held up and made rapid progress from over a furlong out to get in front in the shadow of the post. There may be a little more to come given that she shouldn’t be over punished by the handicapper for a narrow win.
MELODIOUS looked to have snatched the race when leading at the furlong pole but was caught close home. She saw out this trip well and can gain compensation in similar company.
SERENE BEAUTY was well touted beforehand, but couldn’t match the first two in the closing stages. Condition wise she didn’t look as well as the winner.
MOONRISE LANDING had her chance but was held from the furlong pole. She had tried two miles previously and might benefit from a step back up in trip.
NORFOLK SKY ran a creditable race off a long break. She led until two out and weakened in the final furlong but the race will have done her no harm.
NORTHERN MEETING was fit enough but not good enough and beaten two out.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Hamilton - July 11

HAMILTON – Saturday July 11th
Going – Good to soft (Soft in the loop)

A busy Saturday evening, proving that moderate racing and chilly, damp weather doesn’t stop the crowds coming along, and 4,200 were present. There was a concert afterwards by Sam Bailey and Jay James, who I must admit I had never heard of, though mention of the latter having worked with Booker T Jones did at least ring the right bells with me!

6.15 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

A moderate contest with MR CHUCKLES winning a duel against a persistent runner-up. Not a strong race but the pair were clear and the winner showed speed and determination.
CANDY HILL still doesn’t look fully wound up with a bit to work on. However, there were plenty of encouraging signs as she showed speed and plenty of determination once the winner headed her.
The favourite SEARANGER didn’t fire and was reported as unsuited by the ground.
GRIFFIN STREET looks too keen and will probably benefit from a return to a sharper track, having shown up well at Musselburgh on debut.

6.45 5f 38-60 3yo Handicap

A moderate race won with any amount in hand by ALASKAN WING. He was quick out of the stalls and effectively had a free run up front as Macarthurs Park, rated only 38 was flat out to match him. He had the race won with over a furlong to run. He was a close third at Hamilton in a contest which probably didn’t have the same make-up, again since but should have more races in him.
COMPTON RIVER ran up to his form to take second without threatening the winner.
MILADY EILEEN was outpaced in the early part of the race but kept on to take third.
PANCAKE DAY struggled off a career high mark, briefly threatening over a furlong out but not able to get in a blow.

7.15 6f 53-68 Handicap

The third of four sprints in a succession on a card which needed mixing up a bit.

OCEAN SHERIDAN was the three-year-old taking on a generally exposed bunch and won this cosily, taking command in the final furlong. There may be a bit more to come.
ORIENT SKY doesn’t look the most straightforward character, but he saw out his race well enough having been done for pace early on. He’s hinting that a try at seven furlongs might be worth a try, though I suspect eh will be difficult to win with.
INDEGO BLUES led until one out and kept on for third. As fair enough effort but he’s vulnerable to anything progressive or given a chance by the handicapper.
MUNJALLY had the race run to suit when winning here a while back and probably isn’t as good as that race suggested.
PABUSAR has never won on ground this slow and was held from two out.

7.45 6f 47-58 Handicap

AFFECTIONATE LADY was sweating and rather fizzy in the paddock, and not madly co-operative at the stalls, but managed to point her energies in the right direction when it counted. She was outpaced early and ridden after two furlongs, but responded well up the hill and led inside the final furlong. Given that there were so many negatives this was a fair effort and she may be able to move forward from here.
PULL THE PIN was made favourite, the cliff jumpers love this one, and once again managed to lose a race he looked likely to win. Generally thereabouts he does at least keep Placepot punters happy.
GRUMPY ANGEL performed well enough on handicap debut, following three anonymous runs on Tapeta. She had every chance one out but was just held. She’s on a low mark but hints at ability.
STRATEGIC ORDER kept on without threatening, and whenever he has seen out his race has suggested he needs a bit further.

8.15 1m 3f 51-72 Handicap

TRIPLE EIGHT was tapped for pace three out, but stayed on up the hill to take charge inside the final furlong. He saw out the trip well enough and has won off a significantly higher mark than this. The negative is that his overall win rate is not great.
The one to take out of this is DIDDY ERIC. He needs the cut in the ground and ran a cracker from out of the weights. He was travelling really well over two out and hit the front, but flattened out in the final furlong. Dropped in class on similar ground and maybe back to ten furlongs he may well be a good thing. His jockey said ‘he was travelling and I didn’t want to disappoint him, but probably hit the front too soon’.
NORTHSIDE PRINCE stayed on well in the latter stages to challenge for second. He’s well exposed but mixes it at this level.
PIXIE CUT had her chance but was held in the closing stages and is a tad frustrating.

8.45 1m 57-69 Handicap

SAKHALIN STAR finally ended a run of places, whizzing clear once hitting the front. Assuming he enjoyed the experience then a follow up would seem likely, but he does need to come through horses.
The handicapper keeps tabs on PADDY’S ROCK who is running well.
RIOJA DAY is consistent but frustrating, running a sound race but possibly a bit keen and, though leading three out, found wanting close home.
ECHO OF LIGHTNING has been in good form but didn’t find as much as may have been expected, while CADMIUM looks held by the handicapper after a decent burst of runs.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Musselburgh - Late June Evening Meeting

MUSSELBURGH – Monday Jun 29th

Going – Good

A run-of the-mill Monday meeting at Musselburgh with many of the regular equine performers pitching up. The £20 admission charge is excessive for moderate fare, particularly bearing in mind you now have to pay another £2.50 for the racecard. It’s not a cheap evening out and the racegoers are paying Premiership prices for lower Division fare.

Exit arrangements from the public car park were a shambles. Instead of being routed down past the stands, cars were sent down a potholed track behind the stable block and along an equally bumpy route down the back straight. The route was poorly signposted and may be fit for 4x4s but is no fun in your average car.

The bend past the stands is being re-cambered with work commencing the day after this meeting. The bend will be out of action until next year, so the inner all-weather surface jumps track bend will be in use for the rest of the flat season. This means races will finish up the jumps track, so I hope that the track measure and advertise their distances properly for the rest of the season. I will be on their case if they don’t.

6.15 2m Racing UK Apprentice Handicap (47-65)

A field full of exposed performers with COWSLIP backed to carry on from a successful jumps season running off a very low mark. It’s not always a case of simply transfer the form and Cowslip was well beaten here. He looked fit enough so condition was no excuse.
Versatile trainer Mike Smith won this with EILEAN MOR who forged clear from two out down the middle of the track and won with a bit in hand. Smith trains jumpers, pointers and showjumpers alongside flat racers and has shown he knows how to train on the level. The winner did well last year and may be worth looking out for now he has hit form.
JAN SMUTS runs an honest enough race but doesn’t have an extra gear in a finish. He stayed on in sound enough fashion to take second without ever threatening the winner. Wilf Storey does a sound job with a small string and his animals are often thereabouts in moderate contests.
WOR LASS raced a bit keenly in touch with the leaders. She kept on for third.
ALEKSANDAR set a reasonable pace but was held once overtaken two out. He did see out his race and would not be without a chance when able to dictate and this hints at a return to last year’s decent form.
PIXIE CUT was tapped for speed from three out. She’s probably better suited by Hamilton’s stiff uphill finish.
LA BACOUETTEUSE normally goes well here but never got in a blow.

6.45 7f 30yds British stallion Studs EBF 2yo Maiden (Class 5)

Mark Johnston’s WELFORD made short work of these after stretching on from two out. He showed the typical Johnston charge head down determined attitude and will presumably now go on to nurseries.
LIVELLA FELLA chased the leader from two out and finished a clear second. He clearly sees out the trip well enough and has not done too much wrong to date. There should be a minor maiden or a nursery for him over this trip.
NOVINAPHOBIA chased the leaders but was held from the furlong pole. A step up on his York debut and he seems to be going the right way.
GOODKNIGHT PERCY doesn’t look straight forward at the moment. He was rather fizzy in the preliminaries, still looks green and could only muster the one pace once the tempo increased.
HOLLYWOOD KEN is tall and leggy and looks to have some filling out to do. He made a promising effort three out but was beaten from the furlong pole. His breeding suggests time is required and he will need a stiffer test than this.
INVINCIBLE BOND and THE AULD KIRK, both from stables not renowned for producing two-year-olds, were well beaten. I did a double take when I saw Aimee Waugh leading round a two-year-old! She’s more likely to be seen at Kelso in winter than Musselburgh in summer.

7.15 1m 4f 100yds Eddie Kricak Memorial – The Rocks Handicap (45-65)

An exposed bunch but a clear winner as NEUF DES COUERS came clear from two out. Stepped up significantly in trip from 1m 1f, she won this with any amount in hand and her trainer will presumably try to strike before the handicapper catches up again.
Veteran DHAULAR DHAR looked an absolute picture and Jim Goldie certainly knows how to keep his horses sweet in the old age. He never looked like winning but saw out his race soundly enough to take second. He remains in good heart.
HARRISON’S CAVE, fizzy in the paddock, kept on if held from over a furlong out. He runs the occasional decent race but is normally one to oppose.
NEW COLOURS led two furlongs out but was soon headed and then held.
YOURHOLIDAYISOVER normally gets involved some how, but only has one jumps win to his credit. He was ridden hands and heels in the closing stages, just keeping on steadily, and this is presumably how he has to be ridden.
LACERTA is a big strong type who is lightly raced. He was held from two out and it looks as if his table are trying to find his trip. I wonder if he might be better with a stiffer finish, as it might happen a shade too quick for him around Musselburgh.

7.45 5f Ivestec June Selling Stakes (Class 5)

Down at the start for the previous race I heard the jockeys discussing this contest. Joe Doyle said that the favourite SMART MOVER ‘has not gone forward’ with racing but they thought she should win this. She was driven over one out and looked in trouble, but responded and just held on from a fast finished. Her connections went to £11,000 to retain her, but she is not going the right way and this looked a very ordinary contest.
TOTAL POWER, a stocky muscly colt, was outpaced early on but scythed through the field and was in front a stride past the line. E would seem to have better prospects going forward than the winner, particularly with a stiffer finish.
CANFORD KILBEY wasn’t disgraced dropped to selling company, though clearly has her limitations. She kept on for third place.
RIO DEVA set the pace and rallied once headed but held in a close fourth near the line. She has the basic pace to give her some hope in similar contests.
FRANK BRIDGE looks pony sized, probably less than 15 hands. He showed early pace but weakened from the furlong pole and prospects look limited in all but the most dire company.
Beverley claimer winner LOLAMOTION was another held from the furlong pole.

8.15 5f Racing UK Handicap (46-70)

THORNTOUN LADY is quite lightly raced for a five-year-old sprinter.  She closed steadily from two out and led on the line. She does have a tendency to race too freely, but settled better here.
GO GO GREEN looked the winner one out but was done on the line by his stablemate. He wins in his turn but does need things to fall right, though he does have chances if his mark allows him into this grade.
BUSY BIMBO showed decent speed and kept on for third. She races often but wins seldom.
TADALAVIL made an effort two out but was held and needs things to fall right.
JEBEDIAH SHINE looked the progressive three-year-old up against an exposed bunch. However, she was driven and outpaced over one out and under a 6lb rise couldn’t match her all the way Thirsk effort.

8.45 7f 30yds Edinburgh Gin Handicap (70-80)

Veteran RASAMAN forged clear in the latter stages. He’s been running soundly and is another to advertise Jim Goldie’s abilities with the more elderly contestants.
JUST PAUL came back to form with a prominent effort. He led briefly two out but was outpaced by the winner. Certainly worth an interest here if dropped a grade.
SILVER RIME kept on for third for a seasonal best.
RALPHY BOY had his chance but was held from the furlong pole, as did TRUE PLEASURE.

9.15 1m Edinburgh Gin Finest Quality Handicap (49-65)

HIDDEN REBEL led inside the final furlong, then pricked her ears and flashed her tail though saw her race out. She has worn a hood and doesn’t look straightforward, though plenty good enough at this level when in the right frame of mind.
BAHAMIAN DESERT saw his race out nicely. He was well held over 5 furlongs, but this trip seems much more suitable and it would not be unreasonable to expect a win before long.
LET RIGHT BE DONE set the pace and kicked on to three out, he was ridden and then headed inside the final furlong.  A fair enough effort on debut for the stable who bought him for £8,000 out of a Leicester claimer.
Irish challenger STARSHAPED kept on in the latter stages having been outpaced and seems certain to be better suited by a return to a stiffer track, his win having come at Newcastle. His trainer is not averse to crossing the Irish Sea on a regular basis.
Best of the remainder was SPIRIT OF THE SEA who made eye-catching progress to challenge for fifth. Worth keeping an eye on.

Next flat meeting on the radar is Hamilton on July 11th. I will then be back on my 'home territory' catching up with family and taking in Newbury's evening meeting on July 23rd. Looking further ahead we are visiting Jersey in late August, visiting the closing meeting of the Jersey Race Club season at Les Landes.