Thursday, 30 March 2017

Kelso - late March meeting

KELSO – Saturday March 25th

 Going – Heavy (soft in places)

The going wasn’t as testing as the previous meeting and the car park was a bit drier! So much on now that this report is a more brief summary than I would like.
Three valuable races to open the card but 20 runners really isn't good enough, and whining from trainers about lack of prize money must stick in their throats on occasions like this.

RUNSWICK ROYAL was impressive in winning the opening two mile hurdle and remains well handicapped on his best form, which this suggests he is near to.
SLEEPY HAVEN ran a creditable second place, setting a decent pace judged by final time and seeing his race out to the line. He’s in good form and ‘ran into one’ here.
Teo Vivo couldn’t match the first two. Conditions suited and it could be that the handicapper has his marked. Cup Final never got into the race, but needs further, while Meadowcroft Boy seems on the down grade.

BIG RIVER has given the impression of being a potentially very decent stayer and was impressive here. He came home well clear in impressive style. He’s a very interesting prospect if chasing next eyar and in the mean time I wonder if Punchestown might suit better than Aintree. He was rather overheating afterwards and it took plenty of water buckets to cool him down, but seemed none the worse when led to the stables.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT made a most encouraging return following a lay-off. The winner had too much speedy but Sandy Thomson’s star saw out his race well and goes into the Scottish National in good fettle.
Eminent Poet ran a creditable race in third, but Isaacstown Lad was well held in fourth.

Sadly multiple Grade 1 winner Reve De Sivola suffered a heart attack in the closing stages, collapsing and dying by the last hurdle. I commented to fellow watchers how well he had looked, and he raced with enthusiasm up with the pace until headed two out.

KNOCKARA BEAU bowed out in happier circumstances, though not relishing the conditions here. I was at Kelso when he created a great impression on debut in 2008 and have followed his career closely since, the Cleeve Hurdle win being a real thriller.  Here’s to a long and happy retirement for the old boy.

YALA ENKI made the pace in typical style in the feature 3m 2f handicap chase and kept finding extra up the straight, eventually having a bit to spare over some decent handicappers. He relishes cut in the ground but will be on a career high mark after this.
SELDOM INN was not disgraced in second, challenging at the last, but when it came to a battle of wills the odds were always on the winner. Nevertheless a 10lb rise after his fine effort here last time hasn’t kept him from a winning chance. I presume he will be the Thomson second string at Ayr, with maybe Harry The Viking making up a Thomson trio?
Silver Tassie kept on for third without threatening the winner. Baywing kept on late after getting outpaced from three out and he seems suited by a slog. Could be one for a ‘National’ of some description.

ASCOT DU BRUYERE outjumped his rivals in the novices handicap chase. He went long when asked and was able to shorten up on occasion, a handy quality for a novice. Stood by the final fence, I could see he was tired approaching it but, asked to go long, he responded once again when an opponent was unable to.
Hawkhurst has closed to a length and a half at the last, but couldn’t summon up a fluent leap, hit the fence and Richie McClernon came out the side as the horse veered right. He has ability and was perhaps unfortunate here, but jumping is the name of the game. Minella Suite had moved into contention two out and held a chance but blundered and dislodged his pilot.
Christmas Twenty and Buffalo Ballet blundered and unseated toward the end of the first circuit. The former doesn’t look a natural chaser and the latter has time against him after an interrupted career.

FOREST DES AIGLES confirmed the promise of his previous effort here and had no trouble seeing off four opponents in the 2m 1f 0-120 handicap chase. He looks potentially a bit better than this class and owner Ray Anderson Green intimated that a race may be found at Ayr’s forthcoming National meeting.
Nine Altars wasn’t totally disgraced in second but Casual Cavalier gave way in the straight and Craiganboy never looked to be travelling with fluency. Las Tunas is a weak finisher and having been given his chance up with the pace gave way tamely from three out before being pulled up.

The in-form runner RHYMERS STONE saw off an exposed bunch in the middle distance handicap hurdle. Nothing else particularly gave signs of imminent success.

The best ride of the afternoon was reserved for the closing hunter chase, reduced to a field of three when Green Flag got a kick at the start and was withdrawn.

The winner was MISS BISCOTTI given a front running ride by Emma Todd that got the absolute maximum out of the lowest rated runner in the race. She held on by only half a length, but stays well, relishes the conditions and is clearly willing.
The in form Carlton Ryan was closing at the line but it was always going to be Miss Biscotti who got to the line in front. Mister Marker is not the horse he was and gave way with half a mile to go.  The pointing scene looks more his level now.

We are joining a party of Kelso Members sponsoring a race on April 3rd so I can’t guarantee to give a particularly in depth report, though I will do what I can. We are then spending the following weekend in the Borders, taking in the Melrose Sevens on April 8th before Kelso’s racing on April 10th. Where else would you take your wife on your anniversary weekend?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Kelso Premier Hurdle Meeting

KELSO – Saturday March 4th
Going – Heavy

Overnight rain led to testing ground. Walking the course pre-racing it was as heavy as I can remember it, with a little surface water evident in places.

The car park was a mess. I was directed to a particularly boggy area, but could see the potential problems and parked in a firmer spot down the bottom end. The middle of the parking area was a complete mess by the end of the afternoon and a decent parking surface, hard core or mesh, must surely be a priority for the racecourse.

2.15 2m Terry Frame Joiners Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)

A weakly contested novice hurdle to open the card but some encouragement going forward.

REIVERS LAD travelled smoothly in front and had this comfortably won from two out. He’s donenicely over hurdles but he has the stamp of a chaser and I’d expect him to go over fences sooner rather than later.
SLANELOUGH’s trainer Rose Dobbin was called in over the running of this one. However, I think Tony Kelly got it sport on, achieving a decent place by holding his mount up and let him stay on from three out. Third was likely best and by conservative running he was able to take an encouraging second place. His second in an Athlacca point last year looks solid form and he will benefit from a step up in trip.
LASTIN MEMORIES is a nice sort who provided encouragement on hurdling debut, raced at the head of the main group for much of the race and plugging on for third. Sandy Forster isn’t one to hurry her charges and in time could have a chaser on her hands here.
MULTIPEDE is presumably passing time in these races awaiting a handicap mark. He was never in with a chance though fourth here looked a little better than previous efforts.
HENPECKED made her effort three out but didn’t get close and stamina gave out.
ASKGARMOR is a point winner but looks a long term project under Rules and was never in this contest.
VISERION, contesting favouritism with the winner, chased that one until the home straight but had nothing in the tank from two out. On the face of it this really test ground found the bottom of him.

2.50 2m 1f Cyril Alexander Memorial (Novices’ Handicap) Chase (109-130)

A great day for Nick Alexander as he landed his father’s memorial race with a gelding out of his own mare Harrietfield. Only piece missing from the family jigsaw was Lucy Alexander, still sidelined, but Brian Hughes is a pretty decent substitute.
CLAN LEGEND travelled nicely in front and responded gamely up the straight to repel two determined challengers. First time tongue tie appeared to do no harm.
MASTER JAKE is possibly not straight forward, but kept responding for pressure from the home bend if never quite getting to the winner.
The one to take from this may be FOREST DES AIGLES who stepped on his previous form for the Russell yard. Mixing it with Clan Legend, he held every chance approaching the last but was outpointed on the run-in. A decent effort and there’s scope for a drop in class off his mark of 109. He should pick up a chase.
ASH PARK didn’t jump well enough to get competitive on this occasion.
UN PROPHETE made mistakes and a bad blunder at the sixth saw his jockey call it a day.

2.50 2m 2f totescoop6 Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

This event normally throws up a decent winner and MOUNT MEWS looks no different, though the race fell apart for him. That said, he was galloping on strongly and there looks more to come. He travelled well throughout and left the second behind from two out. I believe he is now aimed at Aintree which might be the better target with everyone so obsessed with Cheltenham. If you can pick up 21 grand for winning this Grade 2 surely you have one jump on the Cheltenham mob?
CHALONNIAL looks work in progress but came into this off a respectable run last. He held every chance on the home bend but weakened from two out and was tired on the run-in. This one looks work in progress and is a tall gelding who will likely prove best over fences.
FAIRLEE GREY sent off in front at a fair rattle but came under pressure on the home bend and gave way. He may have passed Chalonnial but flopped over the last in tired fashion and took a while to get up, though he seemed none the worse on walking back.
CAPITAINE, a gelding who has been mixing it at the top level, weakened quickly coming to the seventh hurdle and was soon pulled up. The vet found nothing untoward so we can only assume that the going was just too testing.

3.25 2m 7½f Premier Chase (Listed)

SELDOM INN has always threatened to be a performer that could make a mark at this level. The front two in the market under performed by Sandy Thomson’s charge galloped clear from two out. His jumping is not as crisp as it might be and I fancy the intended target of Scottish National make put his fencing skills under pressure. A small field suits him well.
TENOR NIVERNAIS couldn’t dominate here as he had done at Ascot and struggled from two out.  He needs things to fall his way and doesn’t strike me as a Grand National type.
LE MERCUREY is another entered for Aintree but was found out from two out here. He may be better at shorter distances and, to put it bluntly, I don’t get the Grand National entry.
Well done to Sandy Forster picking up around £1500 for LOWANBEHOLD pootling round in his own time for fourth place. He’s sure footed and was sensibly ridden by Jamie Hamilton.
BERNADELLI was outpaced going on to the final circuit and a bad blunder at the first down the first side saw him quickly pulled up.

4.35 2m 5½f Premier Traffic Management Handicap Chase (94-112)

Brian Hughes made it a four-timer with a well judged front running ride on THE ORANGE ROGUE. That’s two wins in a row and this one fell just right so I suspect The Orange Rogue may be opposable off a higher mark in future.
ROSQUERO is one of the more under rated performers at this level. He often starts at a fancy price but gets involved regularly and gave each-way followers a nice return at 25/1. He was under pressure quite a way out, but kept in the picture until held from the last. He has won over a range of distances and has no problem with testing conditions.
ACHILL ROAD BOY kept on from two out without threatening the winner. His one win was in a Class 5 event.
SPOILS OF WAR was tried in blinkers here with no obvious improvement. He could make no serious impression from two out.
VERKO briefly threatened three out but didn’t get any closer. He won four times in small fields last season but hasn’t gone close this time around.
DANEHILLS WELL raced prominently until weakening three out and was pulled up before the last. His two wins have come in points.
DREAM FLYER won at Musselburgh in January on good ground and balance of form suggests he needs decent ground. He has won on soft but that was a weak 4-runner event. He weakened four out and was pulled up before the next.
MOON INDIGO is another whose form patterns suggests he needs much better ground than this. Pulled up here having been well beaten twice on heavy recently one wonders what his trainer’s thinking is. He may retain ability but I’d want ‘good’ in the ground description before it can be judged one way or another.

5.10 2m 6½f Carnacrack Handicap Hurdle (88-112)

Most of these had negatives against them and SAMMY B is at least one that seems to be going in the right direction. Always up with the pace he asserted from two out and pulled readily clear. He will go up significantly for this, but is going the right way and should jump a fence in time.
LATE DATE has hinted at being capable of winning a race but found one way too good. There should be a moderate staying event for him. He’s another that should make into a chaser at his own level.
COURT BALOO never got into the race and was well held in third.
ZARU led until two out and then weakened. He did at least get round but the form of this run is hardly more inspiring than recent efforts.
McGINTY’S DREAM was well backed, presumably off the back of the success of Messrs Hughes and Alexander during the day, but never got to the leaders. Class 5 events are his level.
The Sayer pair of GOLD CHAIN and RONALDINHO were pulled and not threatening success at this time.


FOREST DES AIGLES should win a chase.


MOON INDIGO might be worth a punt at fancy odds if given a chance on good to soft or good ground.