MUSSELBURGH – Sunday February 7th
Going – Soft (Good to Soft in places)
A rather wild day for Musselburgh’s biggest fixture of the jumps season, Cheltenham Trials Day, with rain in the early part of the afternoon accompanied by strong winds. The going turned officially soft, though soft here is like good to soft elsewhere and it wasn’t excessively testing.
Only three fences in the straight once again due to course alignment to save newly laid turf and a run-in of a furlong and a half.
1.00 1m 7½f Skybet Supreme Scottish Trail Novices’ Hurdle (Class 2)
CHARBEL was held by Yanworth at Ascot last time in a Grade 2, but found this contest easier and made all comfortably. He pulled clear from two out and merits a visit to Cheltenham where he should be capable of pitching for places.
BRAIN POWER was well fancied here after a win at Kempton first time up over hurdles. He chased the leader up the straight but couldn’t make any impression. He’s a nice enough sort and there should be further races to be won as experience is gained.
IMPULSIVE AMERICAN has yet to score over hurdles but kept on honestly enough for a decent third place. Handicaps may offer his best chances.
ALWAYS RESOLUTE was held from three out and found this a bit competitive.
AZZURRI wasn’t disgraced no hurdling debut in fifth, given that this was a tough race. He can make a mark if his sights are lowered.
SIMON SQUIRREL was disappointing and beaten quite a way out.
LAC LEMAN was getting the worst of the argument when slithering and almost coming down three out. He was quickly pulled up, but appeared none the worse.
ALTRUISM was never going and pulled up as Richard Johnson reported he had lost his action.
2.00 2m toteexacta Scottish Champion Chase (for the Bowes-Lyon Trophy) (115-136)
CHESTNUT BEN had a tough task at Doncaster last time, but eased in class a little back at the course he previously won at he stepped up to the plate. Jumping nicely, he was always in touch, came to challenge two out and took charge on the run-in.
Winning jockey Ryan winks did a flying dismount and then, encouraged by Derek Thompson, gave a rendition of ‘We Are The Champions’ for the throng! He does a tidy job as a jockey and there are plenty of worse 7lb claiming amateurs on the scene.
YORKIST has dropped to a workable mark and looked a possible winner two out before being run out of it. A sound enough effort.
QUITO DU TRESOR was never near the leaders, but stuck on well enough to take third place on the run-in. He’s running well enough but is difficult to win with these days.
THE GREY TAYLOR raced prominently for much of the way, and still held a chance at the last, but weakened quickly on the run-in.
AYE WELL finished a never dangerous fifth.
GOT THE NAC raced too freely in front and faded once headed three out.
IRISH THISTLE never got seriously into the race and nor did MY BROTHER SYLVEST, both well beaten.
FULL SHIFT was reported as not suited by the ground, but it isn’t very soft here and the excuse doesn’t really wash. Maybe he didn’t take the long trip well?
2.00 1m 7½f totetrifecta Scottish Triumph Hurdle (Listed)
A disappointing turn out, but juvenile hurdles have struggled for runners in recent times. There was a time when many horses would have tried hurdling off a three-year-old flat career, but these days the all-weather conveyor belt reduces the flow of hurdlers.
TOMMY SILVER wasn’t particularly convincing with his jumping but came clear from two out to win with a bit to spare. Talk of the Triumph Hurdle seem optimistic as this form probably doesn’t rate higher than 130 at best, given the third seemed below form. He should improve with time though.
ASHOKA put in a sound effort in second, the only one to seriously threaten the winner. He could make no impression from two out.
SIR CHAUVELIN was below his previous best, though stayiong on in the latter stages to take third.
SIKANDAR struggled from three out and a current rating of 114 looks his level. There will be easier opportunities.
2.30 2m 4f totepoollive.com Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase (Class 3)
Only two got seriously involved in this…, until the last 100 yards when FIVE IN A ROW stayed on from the clouds to mug the other two main contenders. He was struggling four out and looked well held, and even at the last looked comfortably held some 15 lengths down. However, he picked up in the final furlong and came steaming past Sametegal and Ittirad to win by half a length going away. What this form is worth is anyone’s idea, but the winner does stay further.
SAMETEGAL looked the likely winner at the last and was holding his main chaser until passed in the shadow of the post. Sam Twiston-Davies reproached himself afterwards, but would have won 99 times out of 100 from his position with 100 yards to go.
ITTIRAD appeared to find this trip just stretching his stamina. He didn’t help by belting three out and then clambering the last. Two miles on good or fast ground looks his bag and he may be worth holding back now for the spring.
OVERTHEEDGE fluffed his ‘pootle round for fourth prize’ opportunity, crashing out at the third, though he was apparently unscathed.
3.00 1m 7½f totepool Supporting Scottish Racing Scottish County Hurdle (Handicap) (121-150)
This is generally a competitive heat that takes some winning and it was pleasing the home brigade produced an impressive winner. Upwardly mobile Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine has some decent animals in his stable, and as progressive as any is SHREWD who came to challenge at the last and quickly put distance between himself and his rivals. Jardine has his eye on the consolation race at Kempton, a plan which involves not making the cut at Cheltenham. I don’t think Cheltenham will suit him so watch his trainer’s placing carefully.
VENDOR was thereabouts all the way and kept on well enough to hold second place. He’s probably pretty much on his mark at 138 and ran to it here.
CARDINAL WALTER is more lightly raced than the others and ran an encouraging third, having held every chance going to the last. He looks well capable of picking up a handicap off his current mark and is worth putting in the notebook going forward.
ZAIDITN held a chance going to the last but didn’t land running and that cost him a place or two. There should be handicap for him on good ground.
HAWK HIGH needs better ground and was outpaced before the home turn. He rallied to hold some chance but was held before the last.
ARISTO DU PLESSIS holds a Champion Hurdle entry, but he didn’t to win this comfortably to justify that and he wasn’t up to it. He raced keenly as ever, possibly doing a little too much in this company, and was found out before the last. He would probably be better suited by a quicker surface and his target is the Scottish Champion Hurdle.
3.30 2m 7½f Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Hurdle (Novices) (Class 2)
A small field but a decent contest run at a searching pace.
O O SEVEN strayed on gamely to hold two decent rivals. Cheltenham is a stiffer test, and whether he is quite Cheltenham Festival class is debatable but he is a decent performer.
FAGAN was on my list of horses to follow on the basis of a bumper win against decent performer Meet The Legend. This is his sort of trip, but I get the impression he needs quicker ground to show his best. I fancy he will improve over this sort of trip on better ground.
DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR caught my eye at Carlisle early season when second to impressive Shantou Village. He set an honest pace here and, having been caught for toe going to the last, fought back determinedly on the run-in. A genuine stamina test looks ideal.
CALIVGNY was outclassed here but brought home in his own time for fourth prize.
4.00 3m 2½f Northern Point-to-Point Scottish Foxhunter Chase (Class 3)
A battle of attrition with the cut in the ground, one that suits RAILWAY DILLON as much as any. He has never looked the most straightforward character to my mind, but talented Emma Todd has formed a decent relationship with him in recent times. Her mounting style in the paddock was rather ungainly, but all went swimmingly after that. Railway Dillon will now be aimed at Cheltenham, but I fancy targeting one or two other extreme tests might pay.
PENA DORADA made a most encouraging debut for his stable. He was just outbattled after the last, but lost little in defeat and looks nailed on for a Northern hunter chase before long.
NOWURHURLIN would have found this trip stretching his stamina and was held from three out. He’s one of the better Northern Area performers and should find a hunter chase before long over shorter trip. Watch out for him at Kelso.
The remainder were pulled up.
The ground was softer than ideal for ISLA PEARL FISHER and he never got competitive. On quicker ground he should go close at this level.
This trip is well beyond NEAREST THE PIN’s best and a significant drop in distance is required.
NO LOOSE CHANGE made some headway from the eleventh, but was struggling soon after and can blow hot and cold.
DAMIENS DILEMMA led but weakened quickly once headed with a mile to go.
PHARAWAYDANTE was way out of his depth on Rules debut.
LITTLE FRITZ skewed at the first and his jockey was jettisoned.
4.30 3m 2fPertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) (128-154)
Off a long break CUP FINAL was backed down to a very short price for what looked a competitive event. He held off a serious challenge from the last and now goes to the Final of this event, the paln top go chasing on hold for a while.
WARRIOR’s TALE pestered the winner up the run-in and lost little in defeat.
TAGLIATELLE was making eye-catching progress when blundering three out. Taking a little while to recover, he could never quite get to the leaders but stayed on well to take third place. Off a mark of 154 he won’t have many opportunities but is worth noting if contesting a handicap on good ground.
We had a chat with Sandy Thomson pre-race and he said that SELDOM INN has generally run decent race with excuses when he hasn’t fired. His jumping hasn’t been sharp enough over fences so he was tried back in a hurdle. He led three out and held a chance going to the last but was held on the run-in.
SY KHAN stayed on from the rear without threatening. He is another that would be ideally suited by slightly better ground.
CALL THE COPS who struggled with the cut. He’s better than his well held effort here and will have opportunities as the ground dries out.
MUSSELBURGH – Monday February 8th
ASCOT DE BRUYERE was an eye-catching winner of the opening novices hurdle and can win again under a penalty. DUBAI DEVILS kept on well enough for second, clear of a fair marker in third and should win a similar contest.
BOP ALONG has needed a trip and ran a promising third handicapped over a three mile trip here. He was off the track for a while but is gradually coming to himself and should be capable of taking a similar contest.
The bumper won by Atomix turned into a three furlong sprint. However, keep an eye out for MULTIPEDE, outpaced before two out, but picking up nicely to stay on to take fifth place.