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Musselburgh – Sat Dec 30

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    After a thirteen year gap I made a return visit to Musselburgh, a course which is now one of my ‘locals’.I was slightly taken aback at the £20 charged for admission to Saturdays, but this does include a complimentary racecard and a decent sized crowd  suggests it’s not a problem. The racing was of a varying standard from pretty decent to dire, but generally entertaining.

    Despite a pretty dire forecast from earlier in the week, the weather was fairly  pleasant staying sunny all afternoon and keeping the ground at good, though with good to soft patches on the chase course.

    12.25 2m 4f Maiden Hurdle

    An interesting contender from paddock inspection was SHADY HOLLOW who looked a handsome jumping type. However he didn’t live up to the image on the course, jumping in a very novicey fashion and being pulled up at halfway. I don’t think he’s a lost cause but there’s plenty of work to be done to turn Shady Hollow into a racehorse.

    MERRYMAKER was in touch for most of the way, moved up smoothly on the home turn and showed decent speed to move away on the flat. This was good progress after his initial fourth and a novice event should be found. AMHAIRGRIN raced prominently and kept on for second, while ACTION STRASSE once again lacked pace at the business end. My money was on the CELTIC CARISMA but she was never in touch with the leaders though plugging on in fifth. On previous form she should have been closer.

    12.55 2m 3yo Novice hurdle

    The two that impressed me in the paddock were AHMEDY and FOLK TUNE who duly filled the first two spots.AHMEDY jumped tidily in front and went away on the run-in. I think he can move up a grade or two. FOLK TUNE came from farther back and didn’t get a bite at the winner, but he kept on nicely for second and must surely pick up a similar event.  SCULATIC had every chance but lacked the pace to go with the first two. Previous winner STAINLEY wasn’t goopd enough in this company.

    1.25 3m Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

    This was a very poor handicap chase with a generous helping of letters in the runners’ form figures. Apart from fallers Irish Castle and Silver Chancellor the runners were in a bunch until the end of the back straight on the final circuit. LETHEM PRESENT forged clear up the home straight and she is only a 6 year old so a degree of improvement might be expected, though it would be needed to pick up another race. Credit to his rider Mr M Ellwood for keeping his mount clear of the two loose horses in the latter stages, he looks a decent amateur.<br>Lost In Normandy and Primitive Way plugged on for second and third, but the former has had stacks of chances and the latter is rising 15, so I can’t see we’ve learnt anything.

    1.55 3m Novices’ Handicap Chase

    An moderate contest that turned out fairly eventful.

    The winner BARRACAT jumped very big, ‘bunny-hopping’ more than one fence. He seemed to be holding Mr Twins and the favourite Russian Sky when the former fell taking out the latter 4 out, but even then Barracat tried hard to throw it away by jumping violently left over the last three. He only had to get over them as his sole remaining opponent, Named At Dinner, was cooked by the home turn and beaten a distance. Barracat finished well enough with a bit in the tank but his jumping may well prevent any further progress. His trainer commented that he had ‘been well schooled’ but ‘jumped very carefully’. RUSSIAN SKY looked a poor value favourite against a previous winner. MR TWINS had at least put himself in with a chance and may have a race in him in the future.

    2.25 2m Novices’ Hurdle (class 2)

    This was the classic choice between a proven winner(Leslingtaylor) and a potential winner and favourite in Crocodile Dundee. I couldn’t believe the 5/1 offered around Leslingtaylor, so I snapped that up, only to see the horse move out to 11/2. Still a good bet though. In these circumstances I side with the proven hurdle form, you can afford to be wrong a few times, and it proved right on this occasion.

    LESLINGTAYLOR jumped very well and this was the difference between the two. He’ll win again and is apparently being aimed at Cheltenham. CROCODILE DUNDEE couldn’t quite hold the winner but was clear of the rest and will win over hurdles. SAN DENG finished 14 lengths back in third having been in contention to 2 out. He’ll find an easier opportunity.

    2.55 2m 4f Handicap Chase

    A contestant I was interested in here was YVANOVITCH who had joined Richard Guest’s yard and was returning after a long lay-off. He looked fit enough to be competitive but was simply never put into the race, then was pushed out  rather exaggeratedly on the flat.

    SNOWY had a first time tongue strap and went nicely in front, winning with a bit to spare. MOMENT OF MADNESS looked well and stayed on for second without threatening the winner. None of the others suggested a win is imminent.

    3.25 2m Handicap Hurdle.

    Six came to the last with a chance in what proved to be an open event. DOUBLE VODKA burst clear to take the race cosily with CARAMAN staying on for second.<br>Millagros and Masafi  both looked to have chances but faded in the straight. MAJORCA finished third off 10-0 and would presumably benefit from a drop in class.<br>

    (Edited by robnorth at 9:06 pm on Dec. 30, 2006)

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    I would add that Crocodile Dundee wasn’t shown the whip until half a furlong from the finish in the 2.25, having simply been nudged for 350 yards.

    He may not have won, but it would have been nice to see some sort of determined effort being made.

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    Not every horse needs the whip. He seemed to be putting it all in but wasn’t quite as good as the winner on the day.


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    Agreed. I think CD was simply done by a horse in Leslingtaylor who had the match practice over hurdles and is going to prove better than he was on the level, where he was no mug all the same granted a bit of toe. That will, however, be dependent on him learnig to settle better.

    I wouldn’t have expected much from Yvanovitch on his first run for ages – whether race-fit or not, Guesty’s horses are as desperately out of form now as they were bang in it during October and November. I’ve heard nothing from up there, but a guess would be that the bad recent weather’s probably washed his gallops away again, a recurring problem up at Brancepeth.


    (Edited by graysonscolumn at 5:10 pm on Jan. 1, 2007)

    The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.

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    I note that Leslingtaylor is entered for the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.


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