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 totepoolliveinfo.com 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.
ONE TO NOTE:
FOREST DES AIGLES should win a chase.
ONE FROM LEFT FIELD:
MOON INDIGO might be worth a punt at fancy odds if given a chance on good to soft or good ground.