KELSO – Wednesday September 16th
Going – Good To Firm
Kelso commenced their autumn campaign in very pleasant weather, Scotland having missed the heavy rain that had affected much of the south. The turf looked in magnificent condition when I walked the course beforehand, plenty of good grass cover and no jar in the watered ground. The distances are given very precisely, having been re-measured following ‘Wetherby Distance-gate’. They will of course vary with movement of the rails over the season, and it’s worth noting that the distances were at their shortest for this meeting.
I dropped into the House Of Soutra coffee shop on the A68 between Pathhead and Lauder on my way down to the course. Well worth a visit if you are looking for a lunch on the way from Edinburgh.
For those travelling by public transport Kelso Racecourse laid on transport from Tweedbank station, the southern terminus of the newly opened Borders Railway. While the course is still a bit of a trek by public transport this new route is to be welcomed by non-drivers and makes the course a degree more accessible.
The equine action began in early afternoon with a jockeys show jumping competition held opposite the stands, featuring a mix of jump jockeys and pointing riders. The competition resulted in a tie between a team featuring female amateurs Rachael MacDonald, Rhona Pinder and Louise Clark, and a team of amateur jockeys, Will Easterby, Tom Hamilton and Jamie Hamilton.
4.40 2m 4f 189yd Barbara MacLeod Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
The card opened with a maiden hurdle in memory of Kelso regular Babs MacLeod who died recently at the fine age of 104.
Certainly not the strongest maiden hurdle we will see in Scotland this year. Two came well clear of the remainder who were toiling from the original two out, actually the last as a stricken jockey was being treated.
WATERCLOCK has knocked on the door a few times and stayed on relentless in the closing stages to get on top towards the line. A rating of 115 looks pretty much his mark and on this evidence a step up in trip wouldn’t be a hindrance.
FINGERONTHESWITCH, winner of an Irish point and then a bumper, looked just in need of this race after a lay-off. He set the pace and was just run out of it close home, but will come on for the run and I would expect better next time.
PROFESSOR PLUM was outpaced from what became the last but kept on to the line for a clear third. He looks a stayer and further step up in trip will be likely to help.
ST QUINTIN led early on but was outpaced in the straight. His future will lie in handicap company as he’s likely to run into a few too good in non-handicaps.
THEATRICAL STYLE did not look nearly as fit as many runners from the McCain yard. He was outpaced from two out though the race will have done him good after a long break. He won a couple of bumpers but has presumably had his problems.
BEECHWOOD ALLY looked very fit, as she had done on hurdling debut back in May, but was well beaten.
LOULOUMILLS blundered badly at the sixth, depositing Tom Dowson who was then trodden on by another runner. The screens went up and Dowson was removed by ambulance, missing his subsequent ride.
CASH IS KING and THE HOODLUM appear very slow.
5.10 2m 5f 133yds Farne Salmon and Trout Handicap Chase (87-109)
Surprisingly Gordon Elliott had never recorded a Kelso winner before this, but put that right as former George Bewley charge ROMANY RYME stayed on from two out to take what looked a moderate contest. Never the most consistent, Romany Ryme didn’t jump all that well, but was produced looking very fit and that told from two out. Probably opposable under a rise in ratings, but Elliott does know how to place his animals.
SOLWAY BAY ran his usual honest race and stayed on for second without threatening the winner. A fair effort at a trip short of his best. The horse was immaculately turned out as was trainer Lisa Harrison on lead up duty, much work went into hair platting for both horse and groom.
ISTHEREADIFFERENCE got into contention down the far side for the last time. He saw out his race but was denied second on the line. Making the trip from near Bath, his trainer was clearly after the ground as this one’s wins have come on good or faster surfaces.
EVERYLASTING, not the most attractive animal but effective nevertheless on his day, led until two out but had nothing extra to offer from that point. He looked well enough off a break, so fitness not an excuse.
SENDIYM never got in a serious blow and was outpaced form the home turn.
JEWELLERY struggled from halfway and was well adrift when pulled up before the last. He’s been struggling of late and Katie Scott has work to do to get him back to his best.
5.40 2m 4f 189yds Principal & Prosper Handicap Hurdle (70-100)
A moderate handicap hurdle with a very open reflecting the lack of solid form to rely on.
TOUCH OF STEEL had been well beaten previously, but a step up in trip and blinkers seems to have wrought some improvement. Racing prominently, he challenged from two out, led at the last and stayed on for victory. It depends whether the blinkers continue to work on this one, who seemed a revved up sort in the preliminaries, but it’s not unknown for James Ewart horses to run up a sequence.
ROLL OF THUNDER bowled along nicely in front, led until the last but couldn’t find extra to respond when passed. He saw out his race well enough , seems a relatively uncomplicated sort and worth consideration in similar events on good ground.
SNOWED IN stayed on from well back for third. He has a couple of hurdle wins to his credit on softer ground but is not a prolific winner.
NABURN closed to two out but found no extra from there. Not totally disgraced, he has less mileage than most of these over hurdles and there may be a small contest for him.
ATTENTION PLEASE race prominently but couldn’t raise his game from two out.
SAINT BREUIC made his effort before two out but couldn’t see his race out. His trainer was discussing fairly precise requirements after the race which seemed to centre on races at Sedgefield.
6.10 2m 1f Straightline Construction Handicap Chase (108-132)
This is ROBIN’S COMMAND’s ground and time of year. He followed up a decent Perth win an equally impressive effort under a penalty here. He went down early and one spectator commented that he had ‘torn down to the start’, but that isn’t a bad thing with this one, more a sign of well-being. He led at the sixth, made the rest of the running and pulled clear from two out. In this from don’t count out another win soon.
MUWALLA chased the leader from two out but made no impression. He only wins in his turn but has run two decent races off a long break.
David Pipe doesn’t have a great record with handicappers here and PURPLE ‘N GOLD didn’t threaten to improve things, though not totally disgraced in third in his second chase.
JACK THE GENT lost touch from three out and would have been disadvantaged by not being able to dominate.
TOLEDO GOLD hurtled off in front, but Robin’s Command cruised past down the far side and Maurice Barnes’ charge was spent force after the eighth fence.
FANTASY KING never got into the race and was well held when falling two out.
SWIFT ARROW has two ways of running and this was off day, pulling up before two out.
SWALEDALE LAD hit the fifth hard and was pulled up and dismounted soon after.
6.40 2m 51yds Bruce Farms Supporting World Horse Welfare (107-130)
Two non-runners reduced the field, a disappointing turn out for fair prize money. It was advertised as a 0-150, but presumably there aren’t that many 130+ rated hurdlers on the go right now in the North.
MAKETHEDIFFERENCE is progressing and stayed on from the last to win this nicely. His trainer will want to strike again while this one is in such good form.
CAPTAIN BROWN ran a decent race in second, gave himself every chance and was beaten by a better handicapped horse. He goes well around here and has responded well since hold up tactics were adopted.
CHANGING THE GUARD led until before the last, at which the winner jumped across him, and kept on for third. He’s rated 140 now over fences, he ran in the Grand Annual Chase last year, and his trainer seems to be trying to take advantage of this lower hurdles mark of 115. He certainly looked very fit here.
LISBON doesn’t seem particularly well handicapped, but had every chance approaching the last before being run out of it. He’s potentially better as a chaser.
OLIVER’S GOLD had his chance but was outpaced on the urn to the last.
FRANCISCAN has clearly had problems and was well beaten from two out.
7.10 2m 51yds Racing UK Maiden Open NH Flat (Class 6)
Not quite the cornucopia of potential talent that some Kelso bumpers yield, but the winner looks useful and the second can progress.
SILVA SAMOURAI provided pre-race entertainment, tearing off around the track out of control before being withdrawn. No shortage of speed on the distaff side, her dam has bred three flat winners, but this gelding looks out of control right now.
MEET THE LEGEND looked the one ‘most likely to win a flat race’ in the paddock and duly obliged in decent style. Looking keen, he led after three furlongs and pulled clear down the straight. Although clearly set up for this one, he has the build to make a jumper and is a nice prospect for a Dalgleish stable that is setting the racing world alight right now.
DUBAI ANGEL didn’t look quite as ready as perhaps he could be, but he’s a nice sort and race a sound enough race to hold the rest, including an experienced third. A prospect for jumping in the long term.
MARDALE had placed three times previously, but didn’t look as ‘on the money’ as some of Nicky Richards’s bumper runners do here. She was held from two out, but even though she lacks the scope of some, she would be worth an interest in mares maiden/novice hurdles as such events seldom take much winning up here.
JETHRO showed some speed and might show up over fences in time having jumped round in an Irish maiden juveniles point.
BARNEY DWAN lacks the look of many McCain runners. Small and angular, he doesn’t cut a handsome figure. He did run with credit in an Irish point though and may make a jumper given time.
THROCKLEY showed up well in a moderate contest at Southwell but was well beaten here.