MUSSELBURGH - Friday November 6th
Going – Good (Good to Soft in places)
The going eased a shade from the previous day following overnight rain, but it takes a lot of rain to make much difference at Musselburgh.
VILMAN was made favourite for the opening juvenile hurdle, but was by no means the fittest of the bunch and was bad value. He was already under the cosh when hitting three out and was soon pulled up.
SIR CHAUVELIN hurdled neatly enough a newcomer, took it up two out and ran on well to take the spoils. He was nice and fit for this debut, but this division can be uncompetitive in this area and Jim Goldie should place him to win under a penalty.
Jersey champion jockey Mattie Batchelor made a now rare UK appearance on BIG McINTOSH. Ability wise he’s probably best of these, but his hurdling was abysmal, he hardly met one flight correctly, and having set the pace he had to give way from before the last. Others will catch up and he has to improve his jumping.
The mares’ novice hurdling division is another weak sector in the north. Philip Hobbs must have thought he had found a good opportunity with BRISE VENDEENNE but she had to give best to Nicky Richards’s CARINENA who came through two out to take the race nicely. She can be placed to win a mares’ novice under a penalty.
BLAYNEY QUEEN was held in third and the rest weren’t remotely good enough.
Take notice when the name Don Cantillon appears alongside any runner as the man is a wizard of a trainer. He bred, trained and owned WESTERN WAY who stayed on nicely to win a 2m 3f Class 3 handicap hurdle. HE has really clicked in recent months and continues on an upward curve.
The obvious danger was SERENITY NOW who wasn’t disgraced in second, while the oft raced COOL BARANCA stayed on from the rear for third place.
SLEEP IN FIRST couldn’t dominate here and was well behind in the latter stages.
PRESENT FLIGHT is a progressive staying novice chaser and his task was made easy in a four runner when trail-blazing THE BACKUP PLAN hit the thirteenth and came down. The winner jumps really well and shouldn’t be difficult to place again.
TO BEGIN closed on sufferance as the winner was eased.
MO ROUGE jumped sketchily, having got a way behind, stayed n to some effect late on.
ARISTO DU PLESSIS was the most impressive winner of the day. He jumps superbly, skimming over the hurdles, won with any amount in hand giving the suggestion that James Ewart has an animal to take to some top venues.
SPACE SHIP ran creditably on his second go in handicaps. His rider Andrew Lynch then had to miss his other two rides as he was feeling ill.
MEADOWCROFT BOY looked as if the race would still do no harm, keeping on well enough from two out. I do feel that he is capable of running to a greater rating than his current mark of 132. Time will tell.
Philip Hobbs picked a good race for VILLAGE VIC who jumped nicely and asserted up the straight in the 2m 4f handicap chase. His solid jumping sets him in good stead even if rising significantly in the ratings.
QUITO DU TRESOR put up a solid effort for the locals. He’s finding winning difficult these days but retains a fair amount of ability and may be placed to win, though bear in mind that he doesn’t want soft ground.
EMPRESRIO led for much of the way and stuck to his guns once passed. He won at Galway in July and this six-year-old should have more chases in him.
MOONSHINE RIDGE didn’t immediately catch the eye in the paddock, but Alan Swinbank know the time of day in these events and his charge just saw off a more jumping oriented type in a duel.
Make a note of SAND BLAST who should come into his own when going jumping, particularly in the long term when going chasing. He’s a solidly built type, and this race will have done him no harm.
HANDITTOLEWI is coming along steadily and ran passably well to secure third place in this six runner event. He will probably need a stiffer test and Dianne Sayer should be able to make a racehorse of him.
KELSO – Saturday November 7th
Going – Soft
A soggy day at Kelso and those of us brave enough to watch from the top of the old stand were rather wet by the end of the afternoon. Still it sorts out the keen ones from the part-timers…
A weakly contested staying novices’ hurdle came down a duel won in fetching style by JONNIESOFA. Building on a promising debut at Carlisle he saw off his one serious rival in pleasing style.
WESTERN RULES looked As if the race wouldn’t go amiss and was getting the worst of the argument before the last. He can strip a bit fitter and will step up on this form in time.
JACKOFHEARTS ran up to his mark in third, not given a hard time once beaten and can stay competitive back in low level handicaps.
THROTHEHATCH won the minimum distance novices’ handicap chase in impressive style. He jumped superbly in front and had his race in the bad from two out. He’s a progressive chaser.
TOMORROW’s LEGEND ran a sound race in second, clear of the remainder and should pick up a run-of-the-mill chase assuming he avoids anything like the winner. He certainly gave plenty of cause for optimism on chase debut.
ISAACSTOWN LAD travelled well throughout in the staying handicap hurdle over 3m 2f. Plenty fit enough off a break he came clear and won with a bit to spare.
NEPTUNE EQUESTER led until headed by the winner and saw out his race for second. Not easy to catch right but in this form he might pick up an extended distance handicap chase.
DONNA’S DIAMOND will benefit from the race after a break. He weakened approaching the last but held on for third place. He’s not been heavily raced and there may be a little improvement to be eked out with this race behind him.
RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL plugged on in fourth place and this may be a warm up for efforts in staying chases. I wonder if his trainer might be eyeing up the Borders National back here in early December.
KILGEFIN STAR recorded a first win over fences, seeing off Present Lodger. The winner probably has improvement in him as his jumping can be improved a bit, while PRESENT LODGER looked dangerous when hitting three out, after which the winner had his measure.
GLEANN NA NDOCHAIS is consistent but vulnerable to improvers and was held from two out to finish third of three finishers.
CREEPY was never travelling and is more miss than hit, though capable if putting his mind to it.
I NEED GOLD disputed for a long way but tired in the ground after a mistake three out.
INDIAN VOYAGE won the 2m 1f Class 3 Mayfield Restaurant Chase, which has been a higher rated event in previous years. The winner hadn’t shown much of late, but it’s worth noting that his best form is on soft or heavy ground and he came clear from two out.
VENGEUR DE GUYE kept on from two out but could make no impression on the winner. He’s on his mark right now.
QUICK DECISSON ran creditably off a break for third place, admittedly beaten a way. There’s scope for a slight ease in class and he can build on this.
Don’t write off WOODPOLE ACADEMY, despite the fact that he recorded a fifth consecutive non-finish. He jumped very well up with the pace before weakening for three out and being pulled up. The handicapper has dropped him another four pounds and he may pop up at a fancy price sooner rather than later.
ROCKAWANGO ran well but was held in third when taking a tired fall at the last. He was down for an age, and some of his connections looked rather worried in front of me, but one of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for his appearance form behind the screens. He didn’t look to be suffering too badly as he walked back to generous applause.
Nick alexander was quick to deny he had a bet on CLAN LEGEND but serious money reduced the gelding form a morning 25/1 to an SP of 4/1. In a weak race he showed admirable determination to break his maiden in seeing off ALIZEE DE JANEIRO. The pair were well clear and the form looks solid enough going forward. The handicapper has raised both, but they are going in the right direction.
BAMBYS BOY was produced nice and fit for his debut in the bumper. He wandered all over the place in the last two furlongs, but seemed happier once he found the rail in the final furlong and was eased considerably yet still had plenty in hand. He has the build of a jumper.
CAPTAIN MOWBRAY led and then suffered even more serious steering problems than the winner from two out. He totally lost his momentum in the final two furlongs and was denied second place. Hopefully he can learn from this and showed enough to suggest he can win a minor bumper at least.
BLACK INK, a well proportioned gelding who should make up into a jumper, and BEEN DECIDED, who looks to need a bit of time, were well backed but held in the straight.