Kelso – Sunday March 13th
Going – Soft
Uncharacteristic get up and go by the BHA resulted in Kelso being able to re-schedule their principal meeting of the season. We were treated to a fine performance by last year’s National winner and a decent contest for the Kelso Premier Hurdle.
The ground was quite testing and a course walk revealed rather tired winter ground just crying out for some spring growth. The hurdles course was generally pretty chewed up, but the chase course had some stretches of better ground, though the jockeys didn’t appear to make an effort to search it out.
The hurdles run-in was set at 140 yards, as short as I remember it since the finishing straight was re-arranged.
1.50 2m Terry Frame Joiners Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
Not a strong contest to pen the card and Oliver Sherwood picked up a bonus with his main runner’s box companion. THE FRESH PRINCE looks all over a chaser but saw off moderate opposition in nice style. He’s a point winner and will presumably go chasing sooner rather than later.
GREXIT, not having made an impact in Irish points, made a promising Rules debut here. Having got on to the tails of the leaders going to two out he saw out his race without seriously threatening the winner.
BERKSHIRE DOWNS brought fair form from mares’ company, but was put in her place well before the last having led much of the way. She has done well enough of late and connections are keen to have a go on faster ground.
ANGE DES MALBERAUX was well held from the home bend and has looked moderate to date. DUBAI CELEBRITY couldn’t back up moderate promise from debut.
COACHIE BEAR was on a ‘what have we got?’ discovery mission and connections were not downhearted by a sixth place finish. He was very novicey over his hurdles and looks just a galloper long term rather than a two miler.
2.20 2m 1f Cyril Alexander Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (106-125)
Lightly raced sort SUPERIOR COMMAND led two out and stayed on well enough from the last to break his maiden under Rules. His jumping wasn’t perfect on chasing debut so there should be improvement in him.
Point winner LOWANBEHOLD looked to have a tough task on chase debut after a lay-off. However, he acquitted himself very well, racing close out and sticking on to the line.
GOLD OPERA, making a quick return to the races after winning two days before, probably found this trip a little on the sharp side. He did make a pretty good fist of winning for the sponsoring family though, leading to four out and then battling back after being outpaced going to two out. His jumping has sharpened since his last run here.
MORNING ROYALTY took up the running four out and kept on after being headed two out. He wasn’t beaten far in fourth place.
QUICK BREW looked just held when blundering and unseating at the last.
2.55 2m 7½f totepoolliveinfo.com Premier Chase (Listed)
This was a strong a renewal of the race as I can remember, very much a justification of Listed status.
MANY CLOUDS made a second trip to Kelso having had a fruitless trip the week before. He jumped really well here, took up the running four out and comfortably came clear from two out. He looks in rude health and must have a decent chance of following up at Aintree. The encouraging point is that there still appeared to be a little to work on fitness wise.
UNIONISTE never got near to the winner but stayed on under pressure from two out to take second place. He stays well but to my mind doesn’t convince with his jumping enough to make a National contender.
CARRIGDHOUN ran a blinder to third. Having raced up with the pace he looked to be struggling four out, but stuck on gamely from two out and just held third place. Future prospects depend on what the handicapper makes of this, but connections can be proud of their grey gelding’s effort.
SAUSALITO SUNRISE, weighted to go close on the ratings, tried to match the winner but was struggling by the last and run out of a couple places up the final slope. This looked significantly below recent efforts.
CLOUDY TOO could make no impression from three out and probably found this soft gorund not quite testing enough.
GOLD FUTURES was always towards the rear along with MAGGIO who was reported as unsited by the ground.
3.30 2m 2f totescoop6 Premier Kelso (Novices’) Hurdle (Grade 2)
A strong renewal of this contest with six hurdles winners and none that could be completely ruled out.
LE PREZIEN is a genuine Grade 2 performer having gone close at Haydock. Going well turning for home, he stayed on under driving to hold a persistent second. I would imagine that there will be an Aintree target for him.
THE DUTCHMAN looks a very interesting prospect for Sandy Thomson, running a cracking race on his third hurdles outing. Having disputed the lead or led to after two out, he looked held once headed but battled back well on the run-in. He has been given time and that looks to be paying dividends.
LAKE VIEW LAD set the pace but was put in his place from the home turn.
OVERTOWN EXPRESS couldn’t match the principals from two out and needs sights lowered a little.
VIEUX LILLE made a hash of the seventh flight and couldn’t get back into contention afterwards. She’s better than this run suggests.
4.05 2m ½f Premier Traffic Management Handicap Chase (Hamilton Memorial Trophy) (83-109)
Three non-runners meant the field cut up to five but it gave a chance for VOYAGE A NEW YORK to show a class edge. Tongue-tied for the first time, and returning after a bout of colic, he came clear from two out for a comfortable win. This should boost his confidence.
SUZY’S MUSIC briefly looked a threat going to two out but couldn’t match the winner. A fair enough follow up to her chasing debut win.
Blinkered for the first time, OSCAR LATEEN led to two out and then weakened. He was a clear third on the run-in and a big slap from Steven Fox’s whip seemed totally out of order.
OIL BURNER struggled from four out and isn’t threatening a win despite racing off lower than his last winning mark.
PROUD GAMBLE didn’t impress with his jumping and weakened quickly down the far side. He was reported as having a breathing problem.
4.40 2m 6½f Rocky Lion’s Pride of Hazelrigg Handicap Hurdle (90-110)
MARLEE MASSIE has progressed throughout the season. Ridden confidently by Kit Alexander he took it up going to the last and saw out his race well. His rider has a nice way of getting his horses moving forward and comprehensive outrode the amateur aboard the second.
SEE DOUBLE YOU was turned out for the third day in a row and made it three places from those three runs. He looked well enough, despite some concern from the grandstand sages. He held every chance going to the last, but his trainer/rider starting flapping, his mount hit the last and on the short run-in he was held.
It didn’t inspire confidence when Ronana McNally suggested “ We should go around (the paddock) again as I don’t where I’m going!” There was a shade of concern when he was at the front of the bunch at the start!
HUNTERS BELT looked hard work in rear early on, but progressed on the final circuit to challenge two out. As is customary he found something too good but he wasn’t disgraced.
CRUACHAN was well backed but, on his toes in the paddock and not an easy ride, he was held from two out. There is ability there but it’s hard work.
LORD USHER is another tough ride and was never nearer than fifth place.
KILQUIGGAN looked plenty fit enough, is suited by a staying test but generally disappointing.
BOP ALONG needs better ground and connections are searching out a longer race with a contest at Carlisle over Easter a target. Nevertheless seventh here was below expectations.
I’m told SMUGGLER’S STASH was a struggle to saddle and is another less than straight forward character, being well beaten here.
SEE THE LEGEND is more of a summer type and was well beaten off a long break.
There, a whole report in March with no mention of the C place!