KELSO – Sunday October 4th
Going – Good to Firm (Good in places)
A competitive card and a well attended meeting as Kelso’s autumn campaign cranked up a notch. The ground was on the quick side, but pre-meeting course walk revealed a beautiful covering of grass and certainly no jar in the ground.
The first race of the afternoon was the Border Principals Race held over two furlongs. The start of the ‘Common Riding Championship’ is often a shambles but the starter was on his job today and got them away to a level break. A close race resulted with the Fraser Hastie keeping the spoils at home, winning for Kelso but just under a length from the Lockerbie rider Ian Miller.
2.05 2m Newcastle Arms Handicp Hurdle (90-115)
A tight looking contest to open the card, but two pulled clear in the closing stages.
Maurice Barnes generally has his string pretty well forward at this stage of the season. His DYNAMIC DRIVE went down a bit freely, but settled nicely, made headway from two out and took control on the run-in. A rise of 11lbs didn’t stop him after a Hexham win and he looks in really good fettle. With a rise he can remain in this class which might allow a treble.
Noel Kelly campaigned MIGHTY WHITEY in some competitive looking contests in Ireland with no success. He looks more at home in softer races in the UK and set a nice pace here, having all bar the second beaten by the last but unable to hold that one’s challenge. A sound effort and he’s worth noting if returning here for a similar contest.
ENDEAVOR had his chance but was held before the last. Often thereabouts he will probably pop up again this season if things go his way.
PUSH ME had conditions to suit, but raced in rear as is her proven way and stayed on for a never nearer fourth.
ROCKABILLY RIOT has his chance two out but faded on the run to the last.
LOVE MARMALADE was made favourite on the basis of solid flat form, but he isn’t as good over the sticks and was beaten not far after halfway.
2.35 2m Edinburgh’s Mathers Bar Maiden Hurdle (Class 4)
No strength in depth in this event.
SINDARBAN doesn’t look particularly good in his slower paces and I marked him down on paddock inspection. His handicap mark of 104 doesn’t all that far off and he clearly has some ability. Taking closer order three out, he led at the last and stayed on well enough.
BOWDLER’s MAGIC general profile wasn’t encouraging, but he ran a decent enough race. He led or disputed for much of the way, but gave two out a serious belt and that may have made the difference as he took a few strides to get back on an even keel.
SUMMER STROM came into this top rated of those with an official mark, but faded on the run-in after looking dangerous two out.
BEECHWOOD ALLY had hood added to tongue tie and returned to something like the form that gave her on third place on hurdling debut. She had a chance approaching the last but was worried out of it.
The only encouragement from the remainder was for PARLOUR OF DREAMS. A winning pointer, he looks more of a chaser and ran well for a long way before fading quickly in the straight. He has possibilities in weak steeplechases over the minimum trip.
3.15 2m 7½f Geoff & Elspeth Celebration Novices’ Handicap Chase (80-108)
PRESENT FLIGHT was fittest looking of these off a break. His jumping was sticky early, but he stretched on encouragingly in the latter stages and was clear before the last. A nice effort and he has the look of a potentially fair staying handicapper.
DERRYFADDA jumped very well in front, but thumping three out proved to be crucial as the winner came swinging alongside him on the run to the next. He kept on well if held by the winner, and this double point win shouldn’t have to wait too long to break his steeplechasing duck.
LONGUEVILLE FLYER has huge feet which look just the business for ploughing through the mud. None of that here, so third place doesn’t seem a bad effort even though outpaced before the home turn. A pointing winner, he is worth keeping an eye on.
SGT BULL BERRY couldn’t continue his improvement and was struggling before the home turn.
BAYFIRTH is basically a fairly slow hunter chaser. Mike Smith got a handicap win out of him at Cartmel, but he’s moved to his owner’s Carluke yard since and he hasn’t gone on.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY was off the bridle early and behind from four out.
EMKAE, nervous sort in the preliminaries, whacked the fourth fence and came down.
3.50 2m 5f Borders Employment Law Intermediate Hurdle (Class 4)
This contest has thrown up fair performers in the past and the winner looks a decent sort.
HELLO GEORGE, looking as if he can still be made a little fitter, led and dictated a pace as his jockey chose. Kicked on after two out he was clear at the last and won in pleasing fashion.
COOKING FAT looks a chaser in waiting, even at the age of four, but is doing nicely for Dianne Sayer over hurdles. He closed three out but was held after two out, though keeping on well enough for a sound second place. I shall be keeping an eye on how this one is campaigned.
WELCOME BEN ran up to his best and was driven to win a private battle for third place. A decent effort and his trainer should be able to place him to win again. In general the stable favour the good ground for their horses.
THORPE runs some decent races but is difficult to win with, his Listed race fell for him last season. He driven and outpaced before two out though did keep on to the line.
WATERCLOCK raced prominently but gave way from two out. This was more competitive than the race he won here last time.
SLANEY STAR was up against it at these weights and outpaced from three out, while RAIFTIERI is slow and was presumably sent for the appearance money and the hope one or two might dip out. The fact that BENVARDIN couldn’t even keep up with Raifteiri tells a tale.
4.20 2m 1f NSPCC School Service Handicap Chase (131-157)
SIMPLY NED is a class act and has been a favourite of mine ever since his appearances here in bumpers. He’s just below top class, but hasn’t been totally disgraced in Grade 1s. He had too much in this company, once again well prepared for the early opportunity, staying on well from two out and in charge on the run-in. Full marks to Kelso for putting on an event which attracts decent rated animals, making my course membership more than worthwhile.
ROBIN’S COMMAND has progressed over the last two summers and arguably produced a personal best running a stormer in this company. He raced prominently, and led briefly before two out. The winner was too good but Robin’s Command did well to hold a talented third. He is an exciting animal in quick conditions.
CROCO BAY, third in the Grand Annual last year, made a respectable return to the track. He will likely come on for this and will be sniffing after the top two mile handicaps this season.
DUNRAVEN STORM jumped extravagantly early, and rather to the right. He disputed or led until fading away from two out. His jumping went to pot last season and he doesn’t look completely straightforward.
LISBON hit the fifth fence and never got in a blow. He looks high in the weights over fences.
FAIR DILEMMA was behind from three out. He looks on a high mark.
4.55 2m 7½f Walking The Courses Handicap Chase (71-97)
Richard Farquhar completed the Kelso leg of his 13 month UK wide tour in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK and Racing Welfare. Good luck to Richard going forward.
I’m pretty much on speaking terms with most of these six horses! However, it was a comparative newcomer, recent Rose Dobbin acquisition DONAPOLLA who did the business. He raced close up, led two out and had the race won at the last. He looks better than basement level.
SOLWAY BAY was on the stretch quite a way out, but he stays all day and kept on determinedly from two out to take second. He’s proving difficult to win with but regularly runs his race and is a credit to the Harrisons.
GENEROUS CHIEF as out the back for most of the way but did best work in the last half mile to take third. He has ability but is not reliable.
REVERSE THE CHARGE led on the final circuit, but faded when headed two out.
WINTER ALCHEMY often goes well around here, but he’s a moody sort and faded having led to the thirteenth.
BESCOT SPRINGS is capable on his day but has two ways of running. He was in negative mode on this occasion and beaten three out.
5.30 2m 6½f Radio Borders Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (78-92)
James Ewart found a weak race for TOUCH OF STEEL last time, and presumably couldn’t believe his luck to find this dire event. He set the pace and stayed on well up the straight. A good stayer and currently taking some passing at this level.
Minor entertainment was provided by MARLEE MASSIE who decanted Lucy Alexander at the third. He raced around the outside of the track loose, turned round at the second last and then raced up and down the far end of the track with his trainer following progress through binoculars. Luckily he stayed clear of the remaining runners.
DESTINY AWAITS was the one who put it to the winner in the straight, but he was held from the last.
MISS JOEKING hasn’t shown an awful lot to date and a third place in this company probably isn’t worth too much.
WARKSBURN BOY was outpaced from two out on handicap debut.