KELSO – Monday April 3rd
Going – Soft
We were part of a group sponsoring the Kelso Annual Members Novice Handicap chase, so for once I spent very little time paddock side. The food that we were served was excellent and the Kelso management do an excellent job in their hospitality areas.
A quick walk of the straight found the ground a bit better than at the last meeting though there were still some rather soggy patches. There was high percentage pulled up during the meeting, suggesting the ground was hard work.
The opening maiden hurdle was moderate contest. MIDNITE GRACE travelled well and gradually asserted from two out. She can improve and in the short term her best chance of defying a penalty is likely to be in a mares’ only race.
Eye catcher here was THE DELRAY MUNKY, a stoutly bred mare who will benefit from an extra circuit in time. She was outpaced from three out but kept on relentlessly up the hill to take second place. Her two runs today have been encouraging and she is worth noting stepped up in trip from this 18 furlongs, particularly against her own sex.
JARDIN DES PLANTES raced prominently but couldn’t raise his game from two out. He’d be one of the lesser lights in the McCain stable but might conceivably prove better over fences.
CHRISTMAS IN USA showed up rather better than on previous efforts. That said fourth place here wasn’t achieving too much, but he saw his race out and will probably benefit from better ground.
The staying novice chase sponsored by Kelso Members was an interesting contest won in decent style by a chase debutante. There had been money during the day for PURPLE HARRY who jumped proficiently and stayed on well to hold off a more experienced opponent. Assuming he can stay fit he can progress over fences.
MARLEE MASSIE came to have every chance at the last but was held no the run-in by a winner who was probably well treated. He’s normally thereabouts and remains on a workable mark when taking on exposed opposition.
SEVENBALLS OF FIRE jumped moderately and was well behind from four out. He doesn’t look a natural chaser.
FINAGHY AYR jumped as if remembering his Hexham fall. He was beaten before two out and tired when pulled up before the last and reported as having bled.
ASCOT DU BRUYERE led to the tenth, but seemed to resent being taken on at that point and was pulled up after walking through the second down the far side. His trainer reported that the race came too soon after his last outing.
BROAD SPECTRUM was pulled up and dismounted after a circuit. He may well have knocked himself at the fence before the stands.
The staying handicap hurdle was run at a moderate pace and TOTAL ASSETS found the best acceleration up the straight. This wasn’t a strong event and I’d advise caution if he gets a siginificant rating rise.
LOCHNELL had his chance but was found out from before the last and maybe found 3m 2f stretching his stamina.
In race conversation between the rooftop cognoscenti suggested BESCOT SPRINGS wasn’t suited by the slow pace and so it proved. He does keep galloping and having been outpaced stayed on to take third. He isn’t suited by a four furlong ‘burn up’.
TEDDY TEE offered some encouragement in leading to two out, but he clattered too many flights.
The Alexander pair of ANDHAAR and BERTALUS are not tearing up any tress at this time.
The feature Edinburgh Gin Handicap Chase was a fair event for a quiet Monday won by the Jimmy Moffatt trained MORNING ROYALTY. This one has been thereabouts recently and finally came good here. However it’s worth noting that the front three went a bit quick and the first two came from those held up off the pace.
VENGEUR DE GUYE came to have a chance at the last but was then held. A fair effort but he was suited by the way the race was run.
CHIDSWELL was one of the front three and had nothing left in the tank from two out.
NEXT SENSATION was another to pay for disputing the pace and was pulled up having weakened from three out.
MR FITZROY had a big ask against experienced opponents on only his second chase run. He made blunders and, combined with racing freely, struggled from halfway.
UBALTIQUE and UNO VALOROSO never got in a serious blow. The former seems high in the weights and the latter is unpredictable.
The mares novices division is weak in the north and even more so at longer distances, so the female staying contest was lacking depth. GRACE TARA stayed on too well for her only serious rival from two out.
FLORAMOSS had every chance but was outpointed in the latter stages. She looks about a 90s level performer who may pick up a handicap hurdle in time. She’s on 107 currently though and needs to be lower.
CLOVELLY inherited third place at the last when well behind and a flail of the whip on the run-in by Adam Nicol was totally unnecessary.
TOPHAM BAY had given best when taking a tired fall at the last.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH raced keenly early on but quickly dropped away on the final circuit. She was second in a maiden point in Ireland but the winner has done nothing to advertise the form since.
TRUSTAN TIMES finished third in the Scottish National in 2014, but recorded his first win since 2012 in the closing 2m 5f hurdle. He struggled in his latter runs for Tim Easterby but Mark Walford seems to have rekindled some enthusiasm and he stayed on strongly to win with a bit in hand.
RHYMERS STONE performed creditably after a rise in the weights and kept on for second place.
TANTAMOUNT was not disgraced in third, keeping on in his own time, and this will presumably act as a nice pipe opener for a spring/summer campaign in staying hurdles.
BENNY’S KING disputed the pace but weakened from two out and remainder were well held.