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North On The Level

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    MUSSELBURGH – Saturday June 6th

    Going – Good to Firm

    Ladies’ Day at Musselburgh, a meeting which sold out months in advance, and 9,000 packed into the links venue for one of the better quality Scottish flat cards outside Ayr.

    2.20 5f Class 2 2yo Stakes

    A decent two-year-old event with over £15,000 win prize money up for grabs.

    CAPERCAILLIE made it two out of two and I would expect her to go on to Royal Ascot now, though the Johnston stable had yet to make a firm decision. Racing prominently, she was pushed clear in the final furlong and gives the impression there is more in the tank. I would have thought she would handle a sixth furlong.
    REIGNIER, a winner here last time, is progressing nicely and there should be another race in him shortly.
    DANCING FREDDY found things happening a bit quickly early on but picked up nicely toward the finish. He had made the pace in his previous races, but it’s a good sign that being out speeded didn’t faze him.
    DISPOL KEASHA is an early speed merchant who has found the company a bit too strong in the latter stages of her last two races. She looks material for five furlong nurseries.
    ARCHERS ROAD, the most raced two-year-old on the circuit, couldn’t make an impact in the closing stages and 9-9 is a big burden at this stage of his career. His trainer may have to trawl the conditions of races to find easier opportunities.

    2.50 1m 4 ½ f 0-90 3yo Handicap

    The form of this race proved strong last year and there is no reason to suggest it won’t work out well this time.

    Mark Johnston is not frightened to teach his horses to settle in front and on that subject he may have something to teach a Mr O’Brien whose own tactics seemed a bit astray in the Derby. Often Johnston front-runners will find something more when challenged and this was the case with QUAI D’ORSAY.
    The secret with a good front-runner is to set the pace well enough to leave something for the final two furlongs. Joe Fanning did this to perfection here and nothing was getting to QUAI D’ORSAY in the final furlong. His previous effort on heavy can be ignores and his Chester run looks strong. He will have to be placed above this class next time but is progressing.
    KINGS DESTINY suffered interference when the winner crossed him around the furlong pole, but it made not a jot of difference to the result. He was clear of the remainder and looks steadily progressive.
    NON DOM stayed on from the back and, off a mark of 75, will find easier opportunities.
    CITIZENSHIP was given every chance and seemed to run to his mark and his level is probably run-of-the-mill 0-80 or 0-85s.

    3.20 5f 0-105 Handicap

    As usual this event provided a competitive field, but it was won by an outsider trying the trip for the first time.
    Although PAVERSHOOZ had never raced over the minimum before, he went the pace comfortably and then picked up from 300 yards out. There didn’t seem too much of a fluke about it and his trainer now has further options.
    RIVER FALCON finished fast to head the pack. He runs honest races regularly but only has one win in his last 43 races.
    There was very little to choose between MASTA PLASTA, HAMISH MACGONAGALL, CITY DANCER and ISHETOO behind the front two and all can be taken as ‘in form’.

    3.50 5f 0-82 Handicap

    This was a consolation race for the previous event. Normally such events might be expected to fill, but this one didn’t and ended up a run-of-the-mill contest.
    BLUE TOMATO quickened nicely to take this and is on a roll at the moment. He has a good record of 3 out of 9 at Musselburgh, but is strongest at Wolverhampton where he has only been out of the first three once from 8 attempts. Keep an eye out in the better sprint handicaps at the Midlands Polytrack venue.
    TITUS ANDRONICUS led and looked the winner a furlong out only to be collared close home. He is a three-year-old going forward and shouldn’t be unduly punished for this close up run.
    SILVANUS stayed on for third. He’s dropped to a mark of 67, which is as low as he has ever been, so would be very interesting dropped down to a 0-70 or 0-75 where he may have the ‘class edge’. His form pattern tends to be in waves and I reckon a crest might be imminent.
    RESTLESS GENIUS was dropped back to five furlongs and ran as if the six would be more helpful.

    4.40 1m 1f Class 5 Selling Stakes

    Not a race to get too excited about. FLORES SEA looked best at the weights but was just held in second.
    SAN SILVESTRO won this and theoretically might be capable of winning a low grade handicap off a mark around 55. However, he has been well beaten in handicaps before so is not one to get carried away about.

    5.15 7f 30yds 0-70 3yo Handicap

    LEGAL LEGACY and NORTHERN FLYER came clear of their field here.

    LEGAL LEGACY didn’t really get warmed up until late on and looks one to improve again with a step up in trip.
    NORTHERN FLYER set the pace and almost pinched this race dropped back in trip. He is going the right way off a fairly lowly mark.

    5.45 1m 6f 0-85 Apprentice Handicap

    Appearing quickly after his Hamilton win, and stepped up in trip a furlong, BAIZICALLY was once again allowed to dictate the race. It was tougher here as he just held on and the impression is that the trip when he was pressed stretched his stamina to its limit. My impression is that a drop back to a mile and a half wouldn’t do any harm and I don’t think Baizically has stopped winning yet.

    The impression is that DOLLY PENROSE finds this trip a minimum to be effective. She tried hard but just failed and I’d be interested if she were moved up to two miles. It’s significant that the first two were well clear of their two opponents.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Wednesday June 10th

    Going – Good To Firm (Firm in places)

    Race distances in the longer races have been adjusted for ‘dolling out’.

    Continued dry weather saw the ground a little firmer than for the previous week’s meeting. ‘Cash For Kids Day’ saw the running of the Lanark Silver Bell, resurrected in recent years at Hamilton after years in ‘cold store’ after the demise of Lanark racecourse.

    6.40 6f 0-60 Handicap

    The fine start to John McShane’s training career continued as ARGENTINE completed a double within a week at Hamilton, recording his first win at 6 furlongs lugging 11-8 up the slope. (Since this meeting he has appeared again at Carlisle, back at 5 furlongs, making it three out of three.) He’s in fine heart with this win coming off an effect mark of 61, some 19lbs short of the 80 he ran off earlier in his career. While the going remains fast there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be competitive in slightly better company.
    BOTHAM was not disgraced in second place and his record in amateur events is now 112, so one could possibly conclude that he carries weight better than many others.
    FINSBURY put up a second consecutive creditable performance and seems to have reached a level at which he can make a mark.

    7.10 6f Class 4 2yo Maiden

    There was a small field, but possibly not a bad contest with the entries of the second suggesting high regard.
    LEVIATHAN made all and battled well to hold on over the final two furlongs. He’s a half-brother to a couple of multiple winners which augurs well.
    LOVEINTHESAND was distinctly green in the paddock and on the track. He battled well in the closing stages and there must surely be a fair bit to come.
    IRISH JUGGER was an expensive purchase. He didn’t have the pace to handle the first two over the last furlong but will improve for a step up in distance.
    YA BOY SIR and DAHES were up against it and well held from two out, but they will both learn from the experience and are worth bearing in mind against less exacting opposition.

    7.40 6f 0-90 Handicap

    Clearly the race planner was feeling considerate to the stalls’ team since this was the third consecutive six furlong contest on the card.
    FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS was rated 105 early in his two year old career and hinted at a return to near that level with a convincing three length victory. The chances are he’d be pulled out with a penalty if a race can be found since he will be bumped up significantly now. He has shown his absolute best form on this fast ground, but a close second at Doncaster last time proved soft is no outright hindrance.
    VHUJON didn’t get a clear run, and by the time he got going the winner had flown. He’s in good form and won’t always catch a flying opponent such as the winner.
    DAZZLING BAY was well held in third but sets a level for the form as he seems in reasonable nick at present.
    BLUE TOMATO was not unfancied dropped a bit in class but broke a blood vessel and finished last.

    8.10 1m 4f 42yds 0-90 Lanark Silver Bell Handicap

    This race was given Class 2 status, but the rating level suggests Class 3.
    In not untypical Mark Johnston style RECORD BREAKER was raced closed to the pace and forged clear from three furlongs out. Given that this was a competitive event for the level the form should prove strong.
    JUST LILLE had been placed in Listed company over a mile at Pontefract on Monday, so proved versatile with a decent effort stepped back up in trip. She is basically quite well exposed and isn’t going to get any immediate favours from the handicapper.
    LOCHIEL didn’t really get going until her early four-year-old days, breaking his maiden here in May of last year. Since then she has progressed steadily and stayed on from the back here for third. The race wasn’t run to suit here and it’s worth working on the basis that this was better than the bare form reading.
    The Johnston second string SOLAS ALAINN ran a decent race considering the rise in class. He’s best on this ground and would be a live contender back in easier company. He ran well enough over two miles at Beverley and something between the two trips might be best.

    8.40 1m 90yds Class 6 Seller

    To drag everyone back down to earth after the headline event a naff seller was chucked in straight after!
    FREMEN has run mainly in sellers and claimers recently and copes well enough to be regularly competitive. An odds-on chance, he saw off his one major opponent here. It might be worth bearing in mind that he doesn’t seem over harshly treated in handicaps off 83, and his record on good ground or faster is 7 from 23.
    MOODY TUNES didn’t do anything wrong in second on unfavourable terms. He seems much better off in claimers and sellers than in handicaps.
    HEUREUX ran a fair race in third given that he’s rated 22lbs worse than the winner but he has only 1 win in 23 efforts.

    9.10 1m 3f 41yds 0-70 Handicap

    A battle royal between IFATFIRST and WEE CHARLIE CASTLE.
    IFATFIRST is a lightly raced six-year-old who may just be moving in the right direction. He did well off a break here and won’t go up far so he should be capable of a follow up in similar company.
    WEE CHARLIE CASTLE made a satisfactory debut for his new yard and is one to consider in similar events. On the face of it he’s well exposed, but his fast ground record is very solid.
    APPLAUDE couldn’t hold the first two in the final two furlongs and seems to lack a bit of pace at the business end. He may win in his turn but may be consistently underpriced.
    PATAVIUM is out of sorts and TOMMY TOBOUGG, who has ability but doesn’t always demonstrate that, pulled too hard for his won good.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Wednesday 17th June 2009

    The opening two-year-old maiden was won in quite decent style by Mark Johnston’s AWZAAN. Johnston’s charges have a reputation for being tenacious in the latter stages and this one seems out of the usual mould. Of those behind, the fourth LAYLA’S BOY looks to need further and might offer the best value over seven furlongs or more.

    I’ve had an eye on JENNY POTTS since she showed a modicum of promise in bumpers. She won a hurdle at Wetherby, and was recording a first flat win at the fourth attempt here. A clear winner here, the evidence is that she is likely to be best at distances a bit shorter than the 12 furlongs she tried previously. Len Lungo has stated that he will be giving up his license. However, while he continues to train it’s likely he will get another win or two out of this progressive mare.

    BID FOR GOLD was a clear winner of the 0-75 handicap at 4.45. However, he rather had the run of the race, getting clear early, and will likely prove one to oppose with a double figure rating rise on the cards. The opposition was moderate.

    WHISPERING GALLERY doddled up in the 3-5yo maiden and I would trust Mark Johnston’s placement next time as he doesn’t seem short of ability. The first foal of a multiple winner up to 15f he could well go on to much better events than a lowly contest at Hamilton.

    MUSSELBURGH – Thursday 18th June 2009

    Small fields for this meeting and it’s not one I could take many pointers from for the future.

    BOULD MOVER took the opening two-year-old maiden nicely and is one who should be competitive in nursery company off a mark in the low 70s. PATCH PATCH will appreciate more of a test than the sharp five here, and ran well enough after a slow start to bag second.

    AMAZING TIGER provided another maiden winner for Mark Johnston. Much depends on how he’s handicapped, but given a mark of no worse than 80 he may be able to pick up a handicap if continuing progression.

    MUSSELBURGH – Friday 19th June 2009

    It’s a nonsense of the racing programme that sees Musselburgh operating on the same day as one of Ayr’s most popular meeting. However, such are the ‘benefits’ of the free market. There’s strong support for racing in Scotland, but diluting the fare by having two meetings on the same day does no good, and it’s not the first time in recent weeks.

    The first seven furlong two-year-old contest in the area saw PALLANTES CROSS victorious for Mark Johnston who pretty well has the maiden division in his keeping at the moment. Making all in typically tenacious style for a Johnston entry, he should stay one mile and clearly found the fast ground much better than the heavy he was disappointing on previously. Nurseries will presumably be the target now and he seems to have scope for development. MISTER ANGRY accompanied him well clear of the rest to make a stable one-two. He should pick up a maiden, and a stiff seven or a mile would do no harm.

    FORREST FLYER turned round previous form with BAIZICALLY on better terms. There were only four runners here which should be borne in mind, but he’s honest enough and should continue to be competitive in 0-70 contests. BAIZICALLY is as high as he would want to be on 70, and was slightly wayward on this occasion, pulling hard and apparently aiming for the course exit at the first bend.

    Keep an eye out for JANE OF ARC who was lat of four in Forrest Flyer’s race. She has shown a bit over hurdles and is a course and distance winner here. On this occasion she was out of the handicap but might be more at home in a 0-60 handicap or a lowly selling race.

    NORTHERN FLYER has taken time to get going but showed a turn of foot to win the 3yos only 0-65 handicap over seven furlongs. He seems to be improving and could be interesting when next appearing.

    MOUNTAIN CAT continued his good run for Alan Swinbank and there may still be a little more to come though he was made to work by course specialist GRAND DIAMOND.

    ROCKETBALL took advantage of a 17lb pull for two lengths on Hamilton form with ARGENTINE. ROCKETBALL is what the Americans describe as a ‘one dimensional speedball’ in that he goes from the start and is spent once passed. He grabbed the rail here and kept the run going to hold on. My gut instinct would be to favour him if he is drawn well enough to grab the rail position, but oppose on other occasions.

    ARGENTINE continues in good form, and this was another good effort under a double penalty. He came up against a winner suited by the way the race panned out and I wouldn’t be put off backing him next time to pick up the winning thread once again.

    AYR – Friday June 19th

    This was the ‘Saints And Sinners Meeting’ acquired by Ayr as a Hamilton ‘payment’ to hold on the ‘Glasgow Fair Friday Meeting’. Would that somebody down south would take time out to understand the Scottish Holidays and Festival meetings. Considering I only moved north myself in 2006, I’ve soon become rather protective of ‘our’ local racing! It must be said that this part of the world easily gets into the psyche.

    For all that this is a popular meeting the standard of racing is very moderate, with a couple of Class 4 events the best quality on offer.

    The meeting opened with a poor mile apprentice handicap full of non-achievers. Following that, Mark Johnston continued his domination of the Scottish maiden scene, with CRIME WRITER landing the odds in comfortable fashion. A handicap mark of around low to mid 80s would seem likely given the runner-ups 72 rating. Anything around the 80 mark would make him distinctly interesting, particularly if moved up in trip.

    Alistair Whillans wouldn’t readily strike me as a Flat trainer. However his Borders yard has scored a few winners on the level in recent seasons and a rejuvenated TOM TOWER won here at 20/1. He came back after a break and won this very easily. The stable will presumably be tempted to run under a penalty. It is worth noting that the stable have a decent record from a few runners when venturing south.

    In Racing Forum chat recently I lamented the fact that Scottish racing was short of a trainer or two. However, it should be noted that Tom Tower’s event consisted of five Scottish based trainers taking on an Irish raider. Proven dual purpose trainer Jim Goldie provided two runners, Whillans’ Borders stable the winner, Jean McGregor sent a runner from Milnathort(just across the motorway from Lucinda Russell’s yard) and Linda Perratt, a welcome returner to the training ranks, made up the quintet of runners.

    Five Scottish runners out of six in the next event with Ian Semple providing the winner in CHOOKIE HAMILTON. Lucinda Russell and Len Lungo provided two of the ‘local squad’ on this occasion. The winner was clear with COTE D’ARGENT and bear in mind that the third SUMMER SOUL is probably a fair marker. Take a note of the fourth IFATFIRST who pulled too hard early on and would be better suited by a decent gallop.

    GRISSOM and DAMETIME were clear of the remainder in the six furlong 0-80 contest. Their amended ratings should allow them to remain in the 0-80 class and this may prove crucial in the short term. It’s worth bearing in mind too that GRISSOM is possibly more effective at five furlongs.

    IBROX won the last which will have pleased some and annoyed other patrons in equal measures. It would be rather ‘interesting’ if ever Ibrox came up against a horse called Parkhead…… From a form point of view, what you see is what you get, a group of tightly handicapped horses finishing a slowly run race in a bunch.

    • Total Posts 6341

    AYR – Saturday June 20th

    Going – Good To Firm

    Race distances on the round course were increased by 10 yards due to rail movement.

    There was a very decent card for Land Of Burns Stakes Day. The type of race for the Land Of Burns Stakes has changed over the years, the most recent renewal a five furlong race for fillies.

    2.25 1m 81-100 3yo Handicap

    A very competitive contest to open the card where none of the nine runners could be counted out on initial analysis. In the event the race was won very cosily but a very interesting prospect in FIREBET. Ridden to join issue at the two furlong pole, FIREBET only needed to be nudged out once he led before the furlong marker and won readily. He looks plenty good enough to make an impact at Listed level or higher, and will not be inconvenienced by a step up in distance.
    TIGER REIGNS kept on after the winner to take second and is another progressive sort. There was a suggestion he didn’t see out the extra quarter mile at Redcar last time, but he must surely pick up a handicap at a mile on this evidence.
    PEKING PRINCE was held up and didn’t figure significantly until picking up late on for third. He was moving up from 0-75 which is a big ask and just found it beyond him. However, there’s plenty of scope for a drop back to a lower level off a current mark of 78, and the way he finished suggests a longer trip would prove no problem.
    BIG APPLE BOY set a decent pace but couldn’t offer any more once passed two out. Form so far suggests he is held on a mark of 84.

    2.55 5f Listed Fillies’ Stakes

    This race was one by Tommy Stack’s SUGAR FREE who looks a really nice filly and is capable of mixing it at Group 3 level. She led a furlong out and ran on for victory.
    Stack’s options at home in five furlong contests are rather limited since there are only two five furlong Pattern races run in Ireland, and neither are fillies’ only. Her target may be a 6f Group 3 event at York, though my impression is that Stack may be better seeking opportunities at the minimum trip.
    CITY DANCER ran a creditable race in second, keeping on but not getting to the winner. She should find handicap opportunities at the minimum trip off 95, and can cut it at Listed level.
    ROTHESAY DANCER isn’t good enough to win an event like this, but a canny ride by Kelly Harrison ensured a third place finish. She couldn’t go the early pace but Harrison was patient and allowed the filly to pick her way through late on. Harrison gets on really well with Rothesay Dancer and she’s one to look out for back in handicaps provided the handicapper doesn’t take this form literally.
    JARGELLE couldn’t dominate like she had done when second at Sandown. She was a spent force a furlong from home.

    3.25 1m 4f 76-95 Handicap

    I’ve praised the tactical nous of Danny Tudhope before and he once again showed his ability to create opportunities ‘on the hoof’ by quick thinking. He settled GORDONSVILLE at the rear, but with no great pace on Tudhope encouraged his mount forward to lead after five furlongs. He didn’t relinquish the lead after that and battled determinedly to see off a persistent runner-up.
    GORDONSVILLE has not been a prolific winner despite consistency over his career, but he’s decent when things fall for him. I reckon these days this trip is about his minimum.
    DOLLY PENROSE didn’t do much wrong in second. She has only won one race to date but her trainer sends horses north on a regular basis and should find an opportunity.
    MASTER AT ARMS looks handicapped to his level. His best opportunities will come when conditions suit and MASTER AT ARMS seems best recently over longer trips on Polytrack.
    ALEATRICIS has been a steady improver but may have found this class off 83 a little tough being held from two out.

    4.00 6f Class 5 2yo Maiden

    Not a great maiden but GHOSTWING could do no more than win with a great deal to spare. Richard Fahey knows the time of day with his youngsters and this one should be placed to advantage in stronger company.
    BENRISH looked very green and was flat-footed from the gate. He picked up late on as he got the hang of things and should learn from the experience. A step up in trip would do no harm.

    4.35 6f 51-70 Handicap

    These sorts are regularly seen racing against each other in Scotland and the North of England.
    MAISON DIEU is a frustrating soul and needs things to fall right. The impression I get is that he is suited by challenging late between horses. His run was blocked recently at Hamilton, but on this occasion things opened up a he led half a furlong out. He’s ‘Placepot material’ but one I’d tend to oppose in the win market.
    HANSOMIS continued in good form being run out of it inside the final furlong. She remains in good form and doesn’t look weighted out of contention yet.
    GLASSHOUGHTON picked up late to finish third. He’s not a prolific winner, but has won off much higher than his current mark and he goes better on easier ground.
    JUST FOR MARY put up his best performance for a while, running on in fourth place and running to his level.

    5.10 5f 66-85 Handicap

    The tongue-tie was reapplied on LE TOREADOR, perhaps indicating a breathing problem when down the field at York. He led or disputed all the way and held on close home. He won’t go up much for this and may be capable of scoring again, particularly while the ground remains fast.
    ARTSU was held up in the rear and picked up late, though not quick enough to get up. He’s best when held up, but by the nature of these races needs things to fall for him and backers need to ensure the price gives enough leeway.
    NICKEL SILVER was up with the pace from the start but just run out of it late on. This is probably about as good as he is on turf, and he may be worth a go back on the Polytrack if a suitable 0-90 could be found.
    STEELCUT looks held off a mark of 79.
    STOLT ducked down as the stalls opened and was left seven or eight lengths. In the event he did very well to come through the field to take fifth. He’s capable of taking a race in this class if behaving himself.

    5.45 1m 2f 56-75 Handicap

    SHY GLANCE was settled following a decent pace. He led two out and held on, but wouldn’t want to be too much higher in the handicap.
    RED SKIPPER has dropped back to his winning mark after a number of below-par runs. His strike rate is 1 from 20, his win being over 7 furlongs, though he saw out this trip well and might just be suited by this distance.
    WEE CHARLIE CASTLE went close first time and picked up late form the rear here, getting there just too late. A trip to the winner’s spot seems only delayed.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Thursday 25th June

    Going – Good To Firm

    With the rail moved in, the round course distances were 30 yards shorter than advertised.

    7.00 1m 4f 200yds 0-65 Lady Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    A run-of-the-mill event of its type won in decent fashion by HI DANCER. A versatile sort who ran with credit over fences in the spring, Hi Dancer took up the running three out and kept up the gallop from that point. It may be that this is one performer suited by the weights in this type of event. A lifetime record in all racing of 9 out of 39 is quite impressive and under the right circumstances another flat win might be possible even with a rise in the ratings. That being said, with fair hurdle and chase form, and decent performances in soft and on fast ground there should be a few directions to go in.
    BORDER TALE stuck on for second without getting to the winner. He’s well exposed now, this being his 90th race, but in moderate staying handicaps he should often make it on to the short list. Chances are he might do duty over hurdles at the likes of Perth and Cartmel.
    EDAS chased from three out but the weight told close home. Another that has been hurdling, he sticks on well and normally sees his races out.
    JANE OF ARC plugged on for fifth and I reckon Jim Goldie might be looking for a 0-60 or 0-55 staying event if possible.

    7.30 6f Class 2yo Maiden Auction Stakes

    COLONEL MAK has progressed nicely this month and quickened well to take this event. I’m not sure the opposition will prove to be up a huge amount in the long run, but it was difficult to fault the way the Makbul did his job. The future depends on how the handicapper sees this effort for nurseries, though a run under a penalty in a novice event would catch the eye.
    LIVING IT LARGE kept on well for second on his debut and gave encouragement for the future.
    SWEET MIRASOL briefly threatened to take the race one out only to be swamped by the winner’s speed. The fast ground here suited much better than the heavy encountered at Haydock on debut.
    Mark Johnston has been dominating the Scottish maiden races but was foiled on this occasion; though it seems likely his FANTASTIC STRIKE will need farther to be seen to best advantage. He lost some ground at the start, but then picked up to be in touch before being held up the hill.

    8.00 1m 35yds Class fillies’ Stakes

    A small field but three very closely matched fillies plus one turning out for pocket money.
    JUST LILLE put up a decent looking performance to win here. She forged clear from two out and is clearly in good heart. The second is a good measure and this looks decent form.
    SILVER GAMES has been running well recently but found one too good here, though she stuck on well enough for second.
    FEELING FAB was held from two out. The small field probably didn’t play to her strengths and more pace on would be better.
    CASINO NIGHT, rated 21/22lbs behind the others performed creditably to at least challenge two out before being well held.

    8.30 1m 1f 6yds Maiden

    Normal service resumed in this event as Mark Johnston’s odds-on chance HAJAR took the event with a bit to spare. Those he beat aspire to being no more than moderate handicappers though, and Johnston’s future placement of this will reflect in what regard he is held.
    RED DESIRE started slowly and was tapped for pace coming down the hill to three out. He stuck on really well from that point, passing two close home for second, and will benefit from now being eligible for handicaps. He may need further, but I’d trust his able trainer’s placement as regards distance.
    KING’S COUNSEL’s handicap mark of 55 is probably a fair guide to the quality and he could only keep on at one pace alongside BLACK RIVER FALLS who now qualifies for handicaps, presumably off about the same 55 mark.
    Bumper winner BORN TOPERFORM doesn’t seem to possess the speed for this sort of distance on the flat, and PICCOLO PRIDE just looks very slow.

    9.00 5f 0-80 Handicap

    There was a small field for this event, but it looked a decent contest with all runners showing decent form of late.
    ROTHESAY DANCER recorded a lifetime best at Ayr last Saturday and, back in handicap, produced the goods once again. Kelly Harrison knows this one inside out and once again came up with the goods, settling the mare at the rear, pulling her out before the furlong marker and setting her alight. Rothesay Dancer produced a turn of foot that suggests there is still more in the locker and she seems to be getting better with age. She goes up only five pounds for her Ayr performance and I don’t think that will stop her winning, though she does need to come from the rear off a decent pace.
    SPEEDY SENORITA lived up to her name and looked likely to hold on before been collared in the last 50 yards. She didn’t do much wrong and may well gain consolation off her current mark.
    ARGENTINE battled hard but just couldn’t muster the extra needed here. He lost nothing in defeat here and is still one for the short list in these events.
    SILVANUS pulled hard early on and this probably cost him in closely matched company. A sharper five furlongs would play to his strengths as the uphill finish here just sapped his reserves.
    BO McGINTY had every chance a furlong and a half out and was held. He runs honest races but gets passed by improvers.

    9.30 6f 0-65 Handicap

    TANGERINE TREES repeated his previous course and distance win, forging ahead in the final furlong. He doesn’t do anything in a hurry so needs to be kept up with the pace, but seems at his best conceding weight against inferiors. He is suited by a stiff finish and fast ground.
    MAGICAL SONG led until headed inside the final furlong. This looked a sound effort and he may win a race, but his strike rate is not great.
    INGLEBY PRINCESS picked up well toward the finish, but was held close home. This was her best effort for a while and she may take an opportunity in a similar event.
    ROYAL ACCLAMATION was held from over a furlong out and is now 1 from 24 which doesn’t make him sound betting material. HOWARD’S TIPPLE is another who is a bit frustrating, and on this occasion he flattered to deceive to a furlong out.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Monday June 29th

    Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

    With most of the country bathed in sunshine in recent days the east coast of Scotland has struggled a bit to shift the mist and low cloud. There was a hint of mist on Musselburgh Links for this evening meeting, but with very little serious rain about the ground remained on the fast side.

    6.55 2m 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    A race run at a decent pace and, though the winner dictated, the form looks quite solid.

    MONTE PATTINO made most of the running. His rider kicked him on entering the straight and that probably made the difference. Coming up the centre of the track he did hang a bit, but kept on gamely and deserved the win. He’ll go up a pound or two for this, but it won’t take him out of this class so another win is possible.
    MYSTIFIED plugged on after the winner without quite getting to him up the straight. He’s another in good form and should continue to run well in this class off his lowly mark.
    SIR SANDICLIFFE stayed on late under top weight. However, he has done that before and isn’t a prolific winner.
    KYBER was given too much to do but he gives the impression of being a bit of a moody character, plenty capable of winning a similar event on his day but needs to be caught right.

    7.25 5f 0-65 Handicap

    An event where the serious contenders were in the top half of the handicap.

    I thought ROCKETBALL might find it tough to dominate form an outside draw. However, he got across toward the stands’ side early on and was always up with the pace. He was under pressure a furlong out but kept on well enough and is in his element on fast ground over this quick five furlongs.
    WICKED WILMA is capable on her day and ran a sound race in second. She led or disputed for much of the way but was run out of it in the final half furlong.
    THUNDER BAY was denied room when trying to make a run a furlong out. The visor was used for the first time here, but I get the impression it’s the track here that does the trick rather than any headgear. Consistency isn’t this one’s strong point but he now has a win and two places from five efforts over the five furlongs here.
    INGLEBY STAR kept on for fourth and is finding his form. It’s significant that he’s dropped a bit in the handicap and is worth noting in similar company.
    SPIRIT OF CONISTON runs often and wins occasionally; keeping on for fifth, while TWOSHEETSTOTHE WIND must be covered up and has only one run and it petered on this occasion. Probably one to oppose when at the sharp end of the market.

    7.55 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden Auction

    Not a great event and the best previous form was enough here with MAL AND DAVE forging ahead close home having twice been a runner-up previously. His attitude can’t be faulted and he will presumably head for early nurseries.
    MERCERS ROW looked the winner but was just pipped late on. There should be a similar event on the northern circuit s consolation.
    IGNATIEFF has had a few chances but hasn’t got his head in front. He may pick up a small race but needs things to fall his way.
    Mark Johnston newcomer LICENCE TO KILL lost his chance through greenness and has much to learn. He was left flat-footed early on and couldn’t get into the race, but his breeding suggests better to come over sprint distances and hopefully he will learn.

    8.25 1m 4f 100yds 0-70 Handicap

    MOOTED led two out and kept on well enough. This wasn’t a particularly competitive event and it will be tougher next time.
    THORNY MANDATE challenged form a furlong out and showed more than in previous efforts which at least confirms well being. He’s won four times in Class 6 and now he has hit form that could be the key.
    PIPER’S SONG finished fast but his overall record is not over-inspiring of late.
    SOLAS ALAINN seems pretty much ‘tripless’ and having set the pace gave way two out. Hurdling might be a better option in the long term.

    8.55 1m 0-65 Handicap

    A run-of-the-mill mile event won by SAN SILVESTRO who seems very happy at this track. He won over nine furlongs here the time before last, but then didn’t see out the ten furlongs at Ayr. Not over-raced for a four-year-old, aimed at a mile or a mile and one around here he may well have another race in him.
    Irish-trained FORBIDDEN was just held and both he and the third BOLD INDIAN are basically ‘journeymen’ in these events.

    9.25 7f 0-55 3yo Handicap

    At this level qualification comes by virtue of having run three moderate or poor races and there’s precious little to take forward.
    DARK MOMENT was held up from his widest draw and came through to lead close home. He won’t go up much for this and does at least seem to be going the right way.
    NATIVE DAME has taken a while to settle since moving from Ireland. Dire opposition and a drop to a mark of 49 helped and she looked the winner until a few yards out.
    TRADE PRICE and JOIN UP both recorded personal bests, but ratings of 51 and 49 respectively sum up their respective ‘talents’.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Tuesday June 30th

    Going – Good To Firm

    Rail movement reduced round course distances by 30 yards and this is allowed for in quoted race distances.

    I had been asked on the Racing Forum about the watering at Hamilton. Although I haven’t seen them watering the growth pattern suggests they use a boom, and coverage would seem to be quite even up the straight. However, the loop seems to have had less water and I would imagine it would be a bit firmer than the rest.

    An eight race, though quite run of the mill fare. However, there may be one or two significant pointers to carry forward.

    2.15 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

    EXGRAY built on a promising debut to win here. It was hard work but she did well enough to hold off her nearest challenger close home. The form is no better than average for this level but she shouldn’t be over penalised for handicaps and nurseries would seem her target.
    MELODY OF THE MIST stepped on debut form to push the winner all the way. There’s nothing wrong with her attitude and she should pick up a similar event.
    YESNABAY, from a stable not renowned for sharp two-year-olds, put up a creditable debut performance in third. He made some progress to the furlong pole but couldn’t raise his game from that point.
    Mark Johnston has been very strong in Scottish maidens recently, but WAVEBAND might need a little time to get her act together. She was slow away and used her energy to get into contention two out before being held.

    2.45 5f Claimer

    This was not a particularly strong claimer and the presence of a 40-rated performer in fourth doesn’t inspire.

    GAP PRINCESS is essentially a six and seven furlong performer, but the pace was strong here and the leader came back to her up the hill. She was entitled to have every chance here at the weights but it does at least confirm her well being. I’d want to see her upped in trip in more competitive company.
    CAYMAN FOX blitzed out of the gate and was clear after two furlongs. She was caught in the final furlong but had seen off the remainder. She won a weaker claimer here last time, but I’d be looking for a sharper track in handicaps.
    SILVANUS kept on without threatening the first two and continues in fair form.
    RIGHTCAR LEWIS apparently performed well above herself in fourth. I suspect the way the race was run helped her get close and I’d take the form with a pinch of salt.

    3.15 1m 35yds 51-70 3yo Handicap

    ALDAADO looks progressive at this modest level and landed the odds against moderate opposition here. He picked up nicely once the runners hit the hill and it appears he relishes the stiff finish since his previous win was at Beverley. Carefully placed he should pick up another race even with a forced rise in class.
    PETSAS PLEASURE picked up late and looks to need further. He did come last over ten furlongs earlier in the season, but that was on seasonal debut and another try may be worthwhile.
    LIBERTY TRAIL kept on once passed having set the early pace but has to find more to win a race, and GREEN DYNASTY pulled much too hard in first time blinkers and doesn’t look encouraging.

    3.45 1m 1f 35yds 56-75 Handicap

    STATESIDE stayed on up the hill, just holding on from the fast finishing Talk Of Saafend. That said she wasn’t stopping a step back up in trip may eke out a little more improvement. She certainly saw of all bar the runner-up comfortably and her attitude looks sound.
    TALK OF SAAFEND blitzed up the hill and would have won in another ten yards. His overall win/place record is very good, and now he’s hit form he’s worth putting in the notebook as he has plummeted in the ratings and is probably a good deal better than his current 60.
    DOON HAYMER was always thereabouts on seasonal debut and kept on to take third. It would be hoped that this pipe-opener would do some good.
    REGENT’S SECRET stayed on from well back, but ‘what you see is what you get’ with this one and he needs a fast pace and the rest to come back to him. His best chance would be if there were a number of keen types to take each other on, and race shape analysis seems a key

    4.15 1m 3f 197yds 46-65 3yo Handicap

    This was a poor looking event won by a sprint bred performer in SUITABLY ACCOUTRED who had not shown much previously. He did at least show plenty of commitment at this lowly level, seeing off a previous winner. My tendency would be to oppose next time.
    OUTLAND kept on for second. His win came off 46 at 50/1 which I suspect tells us all we need to know about this contest.
    TILLIETUDLEM built on the spark of promise shown here previously. He stayed on from the back. He definitely needs further as he does nothing in a hurry.

    4.45 5f 56-75 Handicap

    ARGENTINE has done Dalkeith based ‘fresher’ John McShane proud in the first half of the season and produced another determined performance here to catch the front-running Raccoon. He picked up from two furlongs out and stayed on up the hill. He will eventually be forced to take on stiffer company, but should get a chance to pick up another race in 0-80 company. Given his attitude I wouldn’t be frightened in higher class than that. He’ll be kept on the go as his trainer reports that he would be knocking the box door down if he had a break.
    The veteran RACCOON has produced a succession of honest performance this season. He just fails to see out the race up the hill here and I’d be watching for opportunities at sharper tracks, Musselburgh in particular.
    JOYEAUX stayed on well for third, a season’s best, and is probably somewhere near a winning mark again.
    SIR NOD was denied a run and would have been in the mix with a clear passage.
    MANDALAY KING was taken off his feet early on and his late effort only caught up the backmarkers.

    5.15 6f 46-65 Handicap

    OPTICAL ILLUSION won this event last year off a rating a pound higher and had to work hard for this one. I wouldn’t want to see him go up too much for this win.
    HANSOMIS continues in good form for Bruce MacTaggart and was unlucky not to win as this as she was blocked in her run two out, then got to the front only to be ‘done’ in the shadow of the post. She has a more progressive profile than the winner and would be the one I’d take as more likely to win up in the weights.
    The rest are pretty much a ‘win occasionally’ bunch and much of a muchness, headed on this occasion by ELKHORN and SUNLEY SOVEREIGN. The latter finished well but it’s not an unusual occurrence.

    5.45 1m 35yds Class 5 Maiden

    DRUM DRAGON is rated 73 which sets the level for this contest. He worked hard from two out to take this event and is well exposed now.
    JEUNOPSE kept on although held by the winner. She would be an interesting prospect in a low class fillies’ maiden or handicap.
    ACQUAVELLA kept on from the rear for third on debut and showed there is a bit to work with.
    If you are going to name horses after international sports stars it does help if they have a fair bit of ability. FERNANDO TORRES definitely doesn’t look as talented as his Liverpool FC namesake and will now settle into handicaps, probably off a mark in the low sixties. He led until one out but could not offer any more once headed.

    • Total Posts 6341

    AYR – Sunday July 5th

    I struggled to take much from what was a low quality card choc full of Class 5 and Class 6 ‘whose turn is it today?’ handicaps.

    The delightfully named TUKITINYASOK won the two-year-old maiden and is clearly one who has benefitted from the start of the juvenile seven furlong races. He will be nursery material with maybe a little more to come.

    FORREST FLYER scored for the third time this season in the 1m 5f handicap. He’s sneaking up the weights, but since he won by two necks he might stay low enough to take another similar event.

    The best event of the day, a 0-85 mile handicap, was won by Jeremy Noseda’s ROYAL DESTINATION who may be one to take from the card. Having won a maiden on his previous outing he has a progressive profile and might be capable of stepping up a class on this effort. The second COBO BAY, blinkered for the first time here, is probably a good marker now he’s dropped to 85 and looks interesting in the near future. The remainder, headed by recent winner WHITE DEER, were well beaten off

    MUSSELBURGH – Monday July 5th

    Going- Good

    2.15 5f Class 6 Seller

    A moderate event won by a 6-year-old maiden mare. PRINCESS CHARLMANE showed good speed from the gate and ran on well enough at the business end. She at least will have a win on her record to carry to the paddocks, but I’d not want to rely on a repeat. There was no interest at the auction.
    BLUE TOMATO should have been good enough to win this given that he’s rated 30lbs higher than the winner. A bigger field may have helped so that he could be covered up.
    GRUDGE went the pace until the final furlong and should come on for the seasonal debut.

    2.45 1m 6f 56-75 Handicap

    A deserved win for WEE CHARLIE CASTLE who had done nothing wrong in his first two races of the season. The big question is which horse the handicapper uses as the ‘measure’. If he goes up 6lbs, and could since the third was 8 lengths back, then he can’t run in 0-80 class and life is much tougher in a 10lb higher grade.
    PIPER’S SONG stayed on from the back for second, seeing off the rest comfortably. He hasn’t won for a while, but it may be significant that all three wins have come on courses with an uphill finish.

    3.15 1m 1f 3-5yo Maiden

    A very moderate contest won by turf debutant GASELEE. She came into this off the back of a fair handicapping debut on the Polytrack at Lingfield and was dropped back from a mile and a half. She made all and went clear from four furlongs out. She’s rated 55 which sums up the level here.
    MOON MONEY had no chance with the winner but needs to be stepped back up in distance.
    HELIORBEA didn’t seem to benefit from the move up from seven furlongs.

    3.45 5f 61-80 Handicap

    An interesting sprint contest with a few coming into the race in decent form, and form lines from elsewhere carried to this ‘flying five’. With showers about the ground softened a bit on the day which wouldn’t have suited all contestants.

    SECRET VENUE has now won three on the trot over this Course and Distance, stretching out well to hold on close home on this occasion. The neck margin here was the farthest he’s won by and that may help since he can’t be shunted up too far, and the evidence is that he has plenty of commitment at the ‘sharp end’.
    SANDWITH was always prominent and just held close home. He’s not a prolific winner, but his record at Musselburgh is reasonable, 9142272 in recent times.
    HOTHAM returned to form with a sound effort in third. He has benefitted from a steady drop in the weights which saw him on 69 for this race. This should give a few interesting opportunities since he won off 81 last autumn.
    RACCOON led or disputed before being run out of it in the final furlong. He continues to put it in, but is probably as high as he would want to be in the ratings.
    ARGENTINE carried 10-4 here and given that, along with a softening of the ground and the fact that the five furlongs here would not be ideal, I think he can be excused his last place. I’d give him a chance in similar company back on fast ground at Hamilton or a similar course.

    4.15 5f 0-74 2yo Handicap

    ETERNAL INSTINCT led two out and kept on well enough to take this. The form has to be taken in context of the small field, though the second VILNIUS has shown fair form to date and ran on once headed. The latter showed decent early pace.
    GOODBYE EARL hung badly right in the final three furlongs. He has ability but it seems he also has a wayward tendency and this isn’t the first time he has displayed it. Maybe there is a physical reason for the problem?
    PARADISE DREAM disputed early but was well held in the final furlong. On current evidence he struggles to stay the minimum trip at this level.

    4.45 7f 46-60 Handicap

    The ground was taking a fair cut by this time suiting front runners.

    NUFOUDH and ONLY A SPLASH were both long term maidens and ran the whole race in first and second. The race fell into the lap of a winner but it’s noticeable that NUFOUDH has gone well in three efforts for Kelly Harrison who regular readers will know is one apprentice I have a lot of time for.
    ONLY A SPLASH had seldom got near the front previously and I wouldn’t expect a follow-up.
    MOROCHIUS chased in vain from three furlongs out and he’s another maiden and only rated 50.
    SANDS OF BARRA has been out of from recently, but did hint that he’s on the way back. He threatened to challenge on the outside in the straight and kept on for fourth. The going is no problem but he never got close enough to the pace.

    5.15 1m 46-65 3yo Handicap

    ISLAND CHIEF hit the front soon after the start and dictated from there. He veered violently right over a furlong out, but once Amy Ryan had him going again he ran away from his field up the stands’ side. Ryan may well have lost an iron in the incident. He won by 11 lengths and you would hope that the handicapper would bear in mind that this wasn’t a good contest. It would have been nice to analyse the ‘veer’ but the Racing UK cameraman lost the plot! Amy Ryan lost her irons on this one at Thirsk and still managed to win so she must be getting used to calamitous happenings!
    HAWKEYETHENOO and AMAZING BLUE SKY chased in vain in the straight and don’t look like winners in the near future.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Thursday July 30th

    Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

    Despite some rain in Scotland in the preceding days, the ground remained just on the firm side at the free draining Lothians track.

    6.10 1m 5f 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    This was probably not a great event and the standard of jockeyship varied enormously.

    HURRICANE THOMAS was settled prominently, led at the two furlong marker and kept on for victory beating two higher weighted opponents. He’s generally proved one paced in his races and the likelihood is that the higher weights slowed the opposition sufficiently. I’d take him on outside this company.
    MYSTIFIED has been in solid form recently and I’d seen him run a decent second in a handicap hurdle at Cartmel. He’s now managed five consecutive seconds but it’s hard to carp at his attitude which is better than many at this level. However, his overall record shows he only wins in his turn.
    TOSHI has been shrewdly campaigned by Jim Goldie over hurdles and on the flat. He was held up here and his run was too late to trouble the first two. He’s more of a winner than the first two and I’d be more likely to take this one from the race than anything else.
    CALL OF DUTY had every chance two out but his rider was comprehensively out ridden in the final two furlongs. There is some evidence than he can see out the extended trip and with more experienced handling would be interesting around the 1m 4f-1m 6f distances.

    6.45 5f Class 5 2yo Maiden

    The second and third here are exposed as moderate. IVING IT LARGE was able to hold on off a prominent position and will presumably go on to nurseries where he shouldn’t be over-burdened.
    PINK LEMONADE has been exposed as moderate in Ireland, so his proximity doesn’t help the form. Similarly DOWER GLEN is well exposed in moderate Northern maiden company.
    Mark Johnston’s BAHRAJ proved nothing special and couldn’t hold the principals from two out. A stiffer test might not go amiss.

    7.15 5f 0-80 Handicap

    There wasn’t a huge amount to choose between these a furlong out and the impression is that they are pretty accurately handicapped. It was probably the extra class of top-weight EFISTORM that told close home. Dropped back to 80 he was able to get a run in this class but a rise will make things a little tougher. He may cope with a 0-85, but generally top-weight in this class is his level.
    MISS DAAWE put up a season’s best to push the winner and is a bit lower than her winning mark of last year. She might be worth noting in the near future.
    REQUISITE kept on for third and ran to his level.
    BLUE TOMATO has run solidly all season but just found they went a little quick. He picked his way through late on for fourth.

    7.45 1m 1f Class 6 Selling Stakes

    MASTEROFCEREMONIES was slowly away and still adrift of the field four furlongs out. However, P J Macdonald clearly knew what he had underneath him and his patience was rewarded as the gelding picked up nicely in the straight and won a little cosily under driving. He was bought by Paul Murphy for £11,000, so how he will be campaigned is anyone’s guess. He is two from two at Musselburgh.
    RED SKIPPER kept on for second if held in the final furlong and PAPA’S PRINCESS raced prominently but was held from two out. Both are 1 from 22 which sums up their credentials.
    KEISHA KAYLEIGH had an advantage on the official ratings, but at this level life isn’t always that simple. Her better performances recently have come over a longer trip or with a stiff finish and I’d bear that in mind in future.

    8.20 7f 0-70 Handicap

    MORROCHIUS has a little more ability than a mark of 51 might suggest. The problem has been prising it out, and he’s fallen from a mark of 70 early last year. He ran on well enough and might be capable of progressing from here now he has got his head in front.
    ZABEEL TOWER is now back around the mark from which he won last year and he didn’t do much wrong on this occasion. He was in a rich vein of form last summer and it’s worth bearing in mind that his Course and Distance record is 11132.
    KARGAN closed in the latter stages without threatening a win. It’s not untypical of how he has performed in the past. He’s consistent, but that generally leads to him being underpriced.
    An 11lb rise for NUFOUDH has probably done for his chances in the near future. He won a poor event last time out, and this tougher class proved a little beyond him.
    SANDS OF BARRA is a shadow of the performer he was in 2007. He ran passably well here but didn’t threaten the leaders.
    LIBERTY TRAIL was too keen in first time blinkers and though battling hard had given his all by the final furlong. I wouldn’t write him off as he has enough ability if he settles.

    8.50 5f 0-65 Handicap

    This was a lowly event in terms of ratings, but one or two have been in decent form.
    INGLEBY STAR in particular has been running admirably through the summer and he led one out and ran on for victory. With a penalty he ran off 71 here, so it’s likely he’ll be shifted up to 73-74. Sprinters can often continue to improve though, and I wouldn’t count out another win, though he will be taking on stiffer company.
    ANGELOFTHENORTH did nothing wrong and pushed the winner all the way. At the lowest handicap level, say 0-55 or 0-60 it might be possible to find a race for her.
    PRINCESS CHARLMANE has proved that her pillar to post win in a seller here was no fluke as she has run creditably twice since. She couldn’t hold the front two from one out, but given a free lead has chances in lowly company.
    ROCKETBALL needs to be out at the front and couldn’t quite get to Princess Charlmane. His current mark is probably stretching his ability to its limit.
    BARLEY BREE hinted at a little ability of her first attempt at handicapping. She wasn’t given a hard time once held but isn’t a total lost cause yet.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON PARK – Saturday August 1st

    Going – Good To Soft (Soft after Race 3)

    Ladies’ Night at Hamilton saw a very healthy attendance despite some indifferent weather. Despite the ‘distractions’ of the non-racing events going on there’s always a decent interest in the racing at Hamilton, and the atmosphere was good during the racing with a crescendo for each finish.

    I’d driven across after watching a non-league football game at Troon in the afternoon. I hit rain soon after leaving the west coast and it stayed with me all the way to the course. It was clear to me that the ground was likely to be well on the soft side. However, the going wasn’t changed until after the third race, although given that most of the rain fell before the meeting I’m sure it was soft from the start.

    A pattern was soon set that front-runners were favoured. The first five races were won by those that disputed or led all the way. In the last the jockeys seemed keener to get to the front, but maybe predictably they went too fast allowing those from behind to get involved.

    6.40 1m 65yds Class 4 2yo Novice Stakes

    This was non-event for the first two-year-old mile race of the season. Two turned up, and Mark Johnston’s MISTER ANGRY strolled to victory from the vastly inferior KEROLAD. No conclusions can be drawn from this race though the connections of the second must have been grateful that their distinctly slow colt could pick up over £1000.

    7.10 1m 65yds Class 6 Selling Stakes

    Little to choose between four of these on adjusted official ratings. In such cases the tendency is to favour those with the placed or winning form in handicaps, so ASK DAN was perhaps a longer price in comparison to the others than he should have been. He strikes me as rather sparely-made, but he impressed going down and led all the way coming back.
    Ask Dan’s jockey Phillip Makin and trainer Michael Dods had flown up from Southampton to Carlisle, thence travelled by car to Hamilton after they were involved in the Stewards’ Cup. The trip was well worthwhile since this was the first of two winners on the card. Word from Dods is that ASK DAN needs to dominate and doesn’t put it in if he gets in behind. Clearly favoured by the small field he was jumped off in front and held off Hettie Hubble in the final two furlongs. The shape of the race is key to this one’s chances. There was no bid.
    SAN SILVESTRO didn’t strike me as favoured by the course here. He was behind early and got going late but was never going to catch Ask Dan. He’s better on easier tracks and his wins have been at Musselburgh (2) and Catterick.
    HETTIE HUBBLE was worst off at the weights as she is only rated 46, but she performed creditably enough here though one paced from the two furlong pole after having every chance.
    Evens favourite CASTLEBURY never got in a blow and looked to be struggling in the ground.
    DARK VELVET was outpaced three out. She had every chance on official ratings but she has made little mark to date.

    7.40 1m 3f 46-60 Handicap

    SHIFTING GOLD led from the start and held off challenges in the final furlong. The cut in the ground was no problem since he was winner on heavy going previously, and he showed plenty of determination.
    I thought it unlikely that AMAZING KING would be particularly suited by the stiff track, so the fact that he pushed the winner to the line means he comes out with great credit. Given that the going wouldn’t have been ideal and he was burdened with just shy of 10 stone this was a fine effort. He’s worth looking out for back on an easier track on faster ground.
    DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN kept up his record of places without mustering the pace to trouble the leader in the latter stages. This is a theme of his flat form and his successes over hurdles perhaps indicate that his hurdling makes up for his lack of finishing pace.
    Nothing else got in a blow to the leader. HAWKIT briefly flattered two out but couldn’t raise his game. TILLIETUDLEM is established as one who picks up late and having been outpaced four out, as seems his way, couldn’t muster an effort.

    8.10 5f 66-85 Fillies’ Handicap

    Not a bad little fillies’ event won in convincing style by IMPRESSIBLE. Eric Alston charge has been in excellent form this year and is making strides forward. She led and then accelerated off the front to quickly put daylight between herself and her rivals. The handicapper won’t forgive her this one in a hurry, and her mark of 80 will disappear into the distance, but it would seem likely Alston will move her up to Listed company where her turn of pace will set her in good stead.
    REQUISITE ran well in a similar standard event at Musselburgh a couple of days earlier. She matched the winner until the furlong pole and kept on for second.
    EVNA ran creditably on her handicap debut. She picked up late to take third and this should have taught her plenty. Her trainer will have a few options off a mark of 67 and I’d put her in the notebook for a sprint handicap.
    RED KYTE was under the drive after two furlongs. She picked up on the climb to finish fourth.
    JOYEAUX started slowly and with hindsight that finished any chance. She stayed on late but this was a tough ask and there will be easier opportunities in lower class.
    ROTHESAY DANCER needs holding up and given conditions that favoured front runners the odds were against her here and she was reported as unsuited by the going. It might work in her favour since three unplaced runs might encourage a drop in the ratings.

    8.40 6f Class 5 Maiden

    Three came clear of the remainder here and these would be the ones to concentrate on.
    Michael Dods talked up the chances of CHEYENNE RED in an interview following Ask Dan’s success in the seller. He felt the Jeremy Noseda trained favourite was not as good as her rating. Given that a 51 performer he was probably right and Dods’ gelding made it five ‘lead all the ways’ though the second was gaining at the line. He seems a pretty straightforward type and has already run creditably in handicaps.
    HIGHTIME HEROINE was gaining on the winner close home but struggled to justify the official view which sees her at 75. I couldn’t see her winning a handicap off that mark and a fillies’ maiden is probably the best bet if Jeremy Noseda can find one.
    QUICK GOURMET rating of 51 drags the form down a bit as she wasn’t far away and another gaining close home. However this was a drop in distance which seemed to suit and she was not disgraced over a mile on soft last year. It’s reasonable to assume a combination of going and distance brought about a little improvement. (She has been moved up to a mark of 59 since this run, which seems fair enough.)
    THERE WE GO was outpaced before staying on late. This would suggest a longer trip would be better, but two races over further hadn’t been encouraging.

    9.10 1m 1f 56-75 Handicap

    Having seen front-runners winning all evening there was an eagerness to pick up the pace here. They seemed to go too fast so the run of leader SHY GLANCE, who weakened two out, can probably be set aside.
    CASINO NIGHT was slowly away but ridden patiently came through to lead in the final furlong holding off his challenger. He’ll go up for this and it’s worth bearing in mind that the race was run to suit him.
    HIPPOLYTUS pushed the winner all the way to the line. He was another to come from off the pace and may pay the penalty for a race run to suit.
    PRIMO WAY threatened briefly to end Donal Nolan’s 480+ runner winless spell when leading at the two furlong pole. However, he gave way one out and was firmly put in his place. If dropped to a lower level he would have a chance of a win and I hope that Nolan uses his noddle as Primo Way looks good enough to pick up that elusive victory.
    DOON HAYMER kept on at one pace having raced prominently. This probably wasn’t a bad effort given the way the race panned out and I might favour him if the race were run again on good ground particularly on revised terms with the first two.
    GOODBYE MR BOND had a chance two out but couldn’t raise his game and is plummeting down the ratings without immediate sign of a winning chance.
    RESOUNDING GLORY as well backed despite the best part of a year off. He looked straight enough after his break but his best form is on a faster surface.

    • Total Posts 6341

    Here’s round up of the early August action in Scotland.

    MUSSELBURGH – Friday August 7th
    Going – Good To Firm

    FREMEN won the opening 7 furlong seller as easily as odds of 1/12 would suggest he should have. JAMIESON GOLD wasn’t totally disgraced bearing in mind he’s rated 22lbs worse and was staying on in second. The remainder looked about as good as you would expect for runners rated 47, 43 and 39.

    ROOKWITH mugged GRAND DIAMOND on the line in the mile handicap. The best I can say about the winner is that he wins occasionally (6 from 96) and he’s one to oppose if at short odds. GRAND DIAMOND almost pinched the race under a front-running ride by Danny Tudhope. He battled back well when headed but was just behind at the line. However, he’s only 2 from 34.

    SINGEUR won what looked a decent two-year-old novice stakes over the sprint course and continues to progress, though may now be pushed into the upper reaches of the nursery sphere. RADDY ‘ELL PAULINE ran respectably in Group 2 company at Newmarket and this is more her level. She lost nothing in defeat to a slightly better performer. MONALINI was taken off his feet early on and may benefit from a step up in trip or a stiffer five.

    The admirable performer RACCOON held off allcomers in the 0-85 handicap sprint and is reliable enough to set your clock by. He is gradually easing up the ratings but continues to give it the works. The rest finished in a heap. ROTHESAY DANCER didn’t have the pace to get to the leaders but I’d not discount her in similar company at Hamilton or Ayr on decent ground.

    There was just a thought that PRINCESS CHARLMANE’s selling victory here was a bit of a fluke. She has proved on more than one occasion that was not the case, and she takes some catching once she gets in front here. She only beat five exposed opponents rated 57 downwards, but she does give her running over five at Musselburgh.

    MISTER FIZZBOMB led racing keenly in the 1m 4f handicap that closed the meeting. Graham Gibbons wound up the pace in the straight and nothing got to him. AMAZING KING chased in second and is fair form. BED FELLOW has been proven moderate on the flat and over hurdles and was well held in third, while the remainder never threatened.

    AYR – Saturday August 8th
    Going – Good To Firm (Good in places)

    This was an all sprint card following the ‘incident on the bend’ in July. The course authorities tried their best to convince everyone that the falls occurred in the straight, but that wasn’t true. That being said in a dry spell the course gets caught between ‘a rock and hard place’ regarding watering. If they water to ease the ground they risk a loose surface if there’s rain, whereas not watering risks firm ground and small fields.

    A few years ago my cricket club were advised on watering our square and told that to promote grass growth we need to soak to at least 6 inches depth. Any less wouldn’t help and could be detrimental. Grass on racecourses will have longer roots so I presume even deeper soaking is required. Regular sprinkling of a little on top can’t help.

    I must confess a card full of sprints is not my cup of tea. The card opened with a moderate six furlong apprentice handicap won by IMPERIAL SWORD whose victory owed as much to a tidy ride by Jan Wilson as anything. LIBERTY TRAIL was a close second is running well enough to suggest he should pick up a handicap and FEELING FRESH finished with a rattle in third and seems in good heart.

    MELODY IN THE MIST justified favouritism in a five runner two-year-old claimer. SANDS OF DEE was second and did enough to suggest he may be capable of picking up a nursery off a mark in the mid-60s.

    SUNNANDAEG stretched away from his field in the two-year-old maiden to win nicely. I would imagine Ian Semple would aim at a nursery first and then assess his options.
    HAPPY DUBAI kept on once passed and made an acceptable debut with the rest well beaten off. KAI BROON, a rare two-year-old runner for Lucinda Russell, stayed on late to take third and looks to seven furlongs or a mile.

    TURNKEY won a six furlong claimer fro the master of the sprint division David Nicholls. He has now dropped to a mark of 80 in handicaps which would put him in with chances in that sphere. MUTAMARED was a close second, but all his recent wins have come on Polytrack. This run does at least signal his well being.

    BLOWN IT recorded a second winner on the day for Ian Semple. He was aimed high as a youngster but has dropped in the handicap and found his level. He won’t go up much for this.
    LUCKY NUMBERS put up a decent performance and if the rains come it is worth bearing in mind that his record on soft or heavy is 1132. Put this one in the autumn section of the notebook.
    MISTER TINKTASTIC was held in the final furlong after setting the pace. He may pay the penalty for a six length Pontefract win, though it’s worth noting his wins have been at courses featuring uphill finishes.

    IGOYOUGO kept on well and won with a bit to spare in the 5 furlong 0-65, the penultimate race on the card. He has been progressive on fast ground recently.
    ARRIVA LA DIVA is another clearly suited by fast ground if held on this occasion. She would have every chance in the bottom grade.
    CHEYENNE RED ran passably well on returning to handicapping and would be better suited by six furlongs and/or a stiff finish.

    The closing 0-65 five furlong handicap was a messy event won by the competitor with the clearest run. ANDRASTA got the run of the race and ran on for victory. The remainder spent much of the previous two furlongs bumping into each other. You could run this race ten times and get ten completely different results.

    MUSSELBURGH – Tuesday August 11th
    Going – Good (Good To Soft)

    DRAMATIC SOLO was given an excellent ride by Martin Lane in the staying apprentices’ handicap (1m 6f 0-65) and pretty much stole the race. That being said Dramatic Solo is an honest front runner who can keep up the gallop at this level. This ground was arguably a little bit softer than he would like so giving a little more merit to the win. ZEFOOHA kept up the gallop in second and is still competitive off his current mark, possibly more so on fast ground. A rare flat runner for Lucy Normile, ENGLISH CITY ran creditably in third and signalling his well being is one to watch out for back over hurdles.

    BIRKSIDE was well favoured at the weights and duly delivered in the claimer to end a desperate run for Linda Perratt since she moved to her parents’ place at East Kilbride. Whether there’s been a problem in her string or Perratt is just not getting the best out of them previous results had been dire. She managed a couple of other close up finishes on this card which may be significant.
    REGENT’S SECRET stayed on late for second as is his way and RUN FREE was held once headed two out stepped back up in trip. The latter won twice over seven furlongs at Southwell and it could be that his one pace is sufficient and more appropriate at the Nottinghamshire ‘sandpit’.

    IGNATIEFF was always prominent and kept up the gallop in the nursery over five furlongs. He’s in good heart and looks tough given that he has been out nine times.
    STAR PROMISE and MERCER’S ROW both kept on without getting to the winner.

    On his seasonal debut Alistair Whillans’ SOCIAL RHYTHM led one out and stayed on to win an ordinary mile handicap. With horses of average ability Whillans has a decent record and is adept at getting his charges fit after a break. The downside is that Social Rhythm may not have the improvement in him for this run that others might.
    JAMIESON GOLD stayed on for second. His first three runs showed common form to that of the Perratt stable early in the season when their runners performed like carthorses. A few are now getting competitive, though some of the stable’s supposedly more talented individuals have suffered some thumpings.
    GRAND DIAMOND had every chance two out but along with the fourth SAN SILVESTRO was found wanting in the final furlong. Both seem handicapped to their mark.

    The five furlong seller, though only having four runners, was a competitive affair that would not have been out of place as a 0-75 handicap. Alright, I know one was rated 76 but give me a bit of latitude! The admirably consistent RACCOON got his head in front for the thirteenth time in a 71 race career, looking in trouble two out but digging deep when asked. FIVEFOOTNUMBERONE was out battled close home but is better than selling class. On the face of it 55-rated BLAZING HEIGHTS drags the form down in third, but he has been competitive off much higher marks not too far back and the small field might have offered him some encouragement. INGLEBY STAR was found out in the final furlong but I don’t think he was far below form.

    The next event was a seven furlong 0-75 handicap won in decent style by top-weight SUMMER DANCER, bursting through in the final furlong to win cosily. He will be forced back up in class now though. STELLITE stayed on for second gives his running more often than not and is a good measure in second. OPTICAL ILLUSION finished well for third, but his two wins have been over six furlongs at Hamilton. SHUNKAWAKHAN was a third Linda Perratt runner to finish close up, fading in the final furlong to fourth. ZABEEL TOWER had every chance at the furlong pole but was then held and that’s as much as he’s producing off his current mark of 68.

    The meeting finished with a Class 6 three-year-old handicap over seven furlongs. The form of the first three here looks progressive. DARK MOMENT saw off two maiden winners to follow up his own handicap win. He has now won three races by a total of less than ¾ of a length, and that’s a real ‘skill’ to perfect if you want to keep right in the weights.
    MS SOPHIE ELEANOR set the pace and didn’t give way easily on her handicap debut. Even rising a pound or two she should be capable of picking up a handicap and the same goes for the third CILS BLANC who couldn’t match the pace of the first two but can be considered unlucky to run into two progressive sorts at 0-65 level.

    HAMILTON – Wednesday August 12th
    Going – Good To Soft

    BOTHAM’s Hamilton tally now reads 4 from 8 after winning the opening six furlong handicap. Even money chance in a handicap, now there’s something! The problem might be that this was his highest winning mark (60) and any rise will make things difficult. He may just get away with it yet as 5lbs or less would keep him in 0-65s.
    HETTIE HUBBLE is steadily getting closer. She wouldn’t be the most talented performer ever but she has run three honest races in succession, and was only headed close home here. She looks good enough to win something similar.
    QUICK GOURMET proved her run behind Cheyenne Red was no fluke, and is at least competitive off 59, keeping on in the final furlong. STRATHMORE runs some fair races but at 2 from 41 is not one you would want to back at 7/2.

    BLUIE hosed up in the six furlong nursery and looks to have a jump on the handicapper for now having won just as nicely in a better event at Goodwood. DIAMOND LAURA performed admirably in second under a penalty, given that she followed a progressive winner. Her stable is steaming along at the moment. The third CHERRY BEE may be a case of ‘what you see is what you get’ since many Johnston two-year-olds have been quite well forward and a few lack the scope of their opponents.

    The 1m 65yds 0-95 handicap looked a competitive affair and the ultra-game JUST LILLE did her level best to hold off allcomers. She succumbed near the line, but you do know that this mare will give it ‘the works’ when asked.
    MEDICI PEARL finished with a rattle and might now be set up for a campaign on favoured soft ground in the next couple of months. 6 out of her 7 wins have been on ground with cut and she is still on a workable mark.
    TALK OF SAAFEND kept on for third, a creditable effort from a mark 7lbs ‘wrong’. She clicked last autumn and is lower in the weights now. HONIMIERE’s run suggested cut in the ground wasn’t ideal.

    FREMEN followed up his Musselburgh seller victory with a comfortable win against more able opposition. He seems up against it in handicaps at the moment so David Nicholls may seek another claimer.
    BOLD INDIAN flatters often and wins seldom. He stayed on for second here, but may be handy to oppose when short priced. I can’t imagine the handicapper will take kindly to a 52 performer splitting an 81 and a 70… TIGER DREAM was held from two out and ran more or less to his level in third.

    JORDAN’S LIGHT has been campaigned over hurdles, fences and on the flat in recent times. He only had an ‘egg and spoon’ class selling hurdle at Kelso to show in the way of wins, but on this occasion snuck up the rail late to pinch this race. He has given me the impression that the minimum trip over jumps stretches his stamina, so I wouldn’t imagine he would want to go further than the mile and a half contested here.
    CALL OF DUTY looked likely to win before being headed in the last 100 yards. His best form was on Polytrack as a two-year-old.
    HAWKIT is well exposed and runs often, mainly at Ayr and Hamilton, but hasn’t won for two years.
    SHIFTING GOLD had the run of the race at the previous meeting but couldn’t hold on to the lead on this occasion though plugging on once headed two out. He’s now on a mark of 62, and though you wouldn’t think a few pounds would make that much difference his winning marks have been 57, 58 and 57

    THE BEAR continued the revival in the Linda Perratt camp, just holding SUNLEY SOVEREIGN in the closing five furlong handicap. Both are capable on their day but it’s not always easy to predict when that day has come. The two headed a bunch of ‘win in their turn’ sprinters.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Wednesday August 19th

    Going – Soft (Good To Soft in places) (rain from 11 a.m.)

    1.55 6f 5 2yo Maiden
    Mark Johnston introduced an interesting prospect in COLEPEPER. Johnston’s youngsters have generally improved for the run, and on this occasion was found wanting in the final half furlong. He’s a likeable colt who seems to have a decent attitude and appears a winner in the making.
    GILLBURG was the one to catch the Johnston colt. He’s well exposed and doesn’t look 100 per cent straightforward but did enough here.

    2.30 6 0-65 3yo Handicap
    The improving DARK MOMENT saw off moderate opposition under a double penalty in the second race. He’s only just nosed home in three consecutive races, and will have much tougher tasks on a revised mark. TWOTURTLEDOVES had a decent go, leading two out, but wandering around in the final furlong probably didn’t help and he was caught in the closing stages. H’s also run well at Beverley, so a stiff finish seems helpful.

    3.05 5f Seller
    The seller run at 3.05 was arguably the worst race of the season at Hamilton with a top rating of 55. The race was notable for victory on his hundredth appearance for STEEL BLUE who has won in his turn throughout his career. RIGHTCAR LEWIS ran a fair race in third but must find a poor race to have a chance off 45.

    3.40 1m 1f 36yds Class 3 (0-77) Handicap
    The Scottish Trophy Final was a closed matched event won by MARVO who had conditions just right for him. He ran on well in the final furlong and is worth keeping in the notebook for autumn races with give in the ground. MOUNTAIN CAT probably wasn’t as well suited by the conditions, so the fact that he stayed on for second augurs well.
    STATESIDE performed well in this company and would be interesting back in 0-60 or 0-65 events as he only gave best in the final furlong.
    CASINO NIGHT may have found a rise in the weights just holding him.
    TANFORAN has a moderate record on tracks with an uphill finish, so his fifth seems creditable and I’d keep an eye on him back on a level track.

    4.15 1m 3f Class 6 Claimer
    GRACEFUL DESCENT saw off three inferiors in the 11 furlong claimer. This one was claimed for £12,000 and will lodge with Jim Goldie. CECINA MARINA tried hard enough but is only rated 34 and Alan Berry’s dismal training record of 4% winners over five seasons would be enough to put me off TERMINATE who was found wanting from two out.

    4.50 1m 4f 0-70 Handicap
    HERRERA stayed on well to lead close home from an exposed bunch. He has been found wanting a couple of times in better events and this is his level.
    SHIFTING GOLD tried hard to repeat his front-running win here at the start of the month but was foiled close home. He’s performing well and prevailing conditions suit.
    JORDAN’S LIGHT kept on from the rear as did REGENT’S SECRET performing to type.

    5.25 6f Class 5 Maiden
    Evens favourite HELIORBEA looked in trouble two out but picked up well up the slope to win tidily. This stiff six looks a minimum test on evidence to date.
    SILK GALLERY ran well in second at a 20lb disadvantage and YES PLEASE though a one paced third, showed a little more than he had previously.

    MUSSELBURGH – Sunday August 23rd

    Going – Good To Soft (changed to Soft after Race 3)

    It takes lot of rain to get Musselburgh reporting soft ground and we have had a very wet August in Scotland.

    2.20 1m 46-60 Apprentice Handicap
    MOROCCHIUS came clear comfortably to win this event and looks progressive at the moment. He has been rated quite a bit higher so there might still be something in the tank.
    ZAPLAMATION stayed on from the rear for second. He won easily in a soft event at Newcastle, but today’s run seems typical of his profile.
    KING OF THE MOORS had conditions to suit and led as he normally does, but he pulled too hard early and the effort told from two out. He’s capable of winning a similar contest, but is difficult to catch right and much has to taken on trust.

    2.50 7f Class 6 2yo Maiden
    RALEIGH QUAY just saw off Jozafeen after a battle from three out. This wasn’t the strongest contest even at its level, but he showed a good attitude is going the right way and cut in the ground appears to suit.
    JOZAFEEN has now gone close twice, didn’t lose anything in defeat and a win in a lowly contest seems only delayed.
    The remainder were well seen off but GOLDEN EMPEROR improved for a step up to seven furlongs, staying on late, and should benefit from a move up to a mile.

    3.20 1m 6f 56-75 Handicap
    PUY D’ARNAC doddled up here, cruising into the lead after two out and easing clear. He has been rated in the mid-70s (off 60 here) so assuming Alan Swinbank keeps him sweet then he really ought to follow up. His wins have been on good or softer, so continuing damp weather won’t harm his prospects.
    INTERDIAMONDS led until two out and kept on once headed if well held. He’s finished first two in six out of seven races, stays well and gives his running.
    SUMMER SOUL has been moved back and forth between flat and hurdling, with a sound win and place record on the level. He could never quite get to grips with the leaders but stayed on well.
    CLASSIC CONTOURS plugged on in fourth and it’s worth noting that his record on courses with a stiff finish is 75112, which might suggest there’s some value to be had at the likes of Beverley, Hamilton or Pontefract.

    3.50 5f Class 6 2yo Seller
    MELODY IN THE MIST only just scraped home here from a long-shot, but she didn’t seem at ease on the ground and deserves some credit for winning on the surface. The likelihood is that she would see these off comfortably on a fast surface.
    MICKY’S KNOCK OFF improved greatly on his two July runs, leading one out and just held. It’s difficult to downgrade the form too much though since the third and fourth have both established their level.
    MASKED DANCE is consistent enough if apparently lacking anything extra close home, and FINAL OVATION was below form in fourth though the going would seem a reasonable excuse.

    4.20 5f 76-95 Handicap
    Three non-runners reduced the competitiveness a little but this still wasn’t a bad event.
    THE NIFTY FOX led one out and produced a burst of speed to go clear. It’s quite impressive to get away like that over this sharp five furlongs having gone with the pace, and this augurs well for an autumn campaign.
    TORNADODANCER and LA ZAMORA both picked up in the later stages to reach places. Of the two the three-year-old LA ZAMORA seems to have a little more scope going forward.
    RACCOON found a combination of the ground and higher class against him and recorded a rare blob.
    ROTHESAY DANCER has never recorded two wins in a row and was always in the rear. She ran off a mark 6lbs higher than her best winning mark here and currently has a tough job.

    4.50 1m 4f 100yds 46-65 Handicap
    ODDSMAKER pinched this when pushed on from four out. The field never got to him after that. Whether he can reproduce this form is a moot point, but it’s worth noting his pilot Andrew Heffernan who seems to have a sharp riding brain for a 7lb claimer.
    GRANDAD BILL stayed on but the winner had flown and he never got in touch. He’s consistent and on a workable mark but he frequently gets chopped for pace at crucial times.
    DONTPAYTHEFERRYMAN stayed on to place, but in his standard style didn’t ever look like winning. As previously stated I fancy hurdling offers his best chance of victory.
    WHIPMA WHOPMA GATE plugged on for fourth and nothing seems to happen too fast for him. He might be worth a try steeped up in trip again.
    BED FELLOW pulled hard and paid the penalty late on, losing two places close home. He’s a plodder.

    5.20 1m 51-70 3yo Handicap

    LAKEMAN, clearly relishing the conditions, stayed on from two out. His wins have come on soft and heavy and he looks at his best with significant cut. He will go up in the handicap but has been much higher before without encountering the right conditions.
    NORTHERN FLYER stayed on for second, by no means the only horse on the afternoon picking up too late. He’s consistent and may be slightly better on a faster surface.
    CAPTAIN FLASHEART had every chance approaching the furlong pole but then gave way and POKFULHAM was much the same, both being handicapped to their level.

    HAMILTON – Monday August 24th

    Going – Heavy (Soft in places)

    The rain continued to fall in large amounts. There was a time when this meeting would have been away ‘down the Swanee’ by Sunday, but recent drainage work at Hamilton has ensured a much better draining track. The runners came near side in the races run on the loop, suggesting better ground against the stands’ rail.

    2.20 6f 2yo Class 6 Claimer

    MASKED DANCE represented the seller form from Musselburgh the previous day, and the second place here indicated precious little difference between sellers and claimers at this level. He led but hung right in the final furlong and was caught close home. His current Official Rating of 63 looks accurate and he has been reasonably consistent if lacking the extra to finish in front.
    SANDS OF DEE was second to Melody In The Mist at Ayr, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see this one just ahead of Masked Dance. It seems that heavy or fast ground come more or less alike to this one and he is progressing at a lowly level.
    SAINT SEBASTIAN was evenly matched on the figures with the first two but held in the final furlong. PURE NOSTALGIA dead-heated at Ripon last time and stayed on here but never threatened and looks best on a flat track.

    2.50 6f 3-4yo Class 6 Maiden

    You start to wonder about sprinters who haven’t made a mark by this time, though some do improve with age. LIBERTY TRAIL has been a moderate handicapper without getting his head in front. He saw off three others here. It was hard work and he didn’t seem to handle the ground all that well.
    CARNIVAL DREAM notched up a 23rd run without success, not matching the winner, while CATCHPENNY showed a little speed on debut though must progress to win a race.
    OUR GIRL ALLY was struggling early and looks slow and clueless.

    3.20 1m 1f 36yds Class 4 Claimer

    Please forgive me cynicism, but a race named the ‘National Hunt Prospects’ Claimer could be code for ‘not very fast on the flat so maybe we can try hurdles’!
    SUNNYSIDE TOM has shown enough to win 6 from 28 on the level, four of them handicaps and his rating is now a bit high at 84. He idled once in front and gave the impression of having a bit more in hand than the margin suggested over his higher-rated stable mate FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS. The latter has shown more form on soft than the former, so FISHFORCOMPLIMENTS may be on the downgrade.
    FIRST BAY took time to get himself organised and couldn’t get to the the first two. This run at least hinted at ability and he might conceivably be added to the Johnson/Wylie jumping band.
    JIM MARTIN won in these conditions last year but had a tough task with the first two at the weights and was beaten from two out.

    3.50 1m 65yds 0-60 3yo Handicap

    When you get to this level a minimum requirement is three moderate runs, so it’s pretty slow stuff.
    ASK DAN was rushed up to lead as suits him. He was headed two out and one paced from there.
    MOHAWK RIDGE took over from Ask Dan and forged clear up the hill, though this will take him out of this class and my gut instinct would be to oppose next time.
    HETTIE HUBBLE kept on for second and is running honestly enough at six furlongs and a mile if lacking finishing pace.
    LADY NORLELA stayed on for third past beaten rivals, many of whom were off the bridle from the bottom of the hill. She hasn’t set the world alight, but her best form to date has been with cut and the uphill finish probably helped a little.

    4.20 1m 5f 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    From 4lbs out of the handicap TERENZIUM stayed on under Simon Walker to take an event full of exposed performers. JOHN FORBES and FRONT RANK showed their form to place, but given their ‘win occasionally’ records there’s nothing to get excited about.

    4.50 1m 3f 0-75 Handicap

    BAJAN PARKES’ rider was hard at work from a long way out, but his mount kept responding even though he hung across to the far rail. Being able to drop to a 0-75 must have helped but this win will take him back to a level he has been struggling in.
    MASLAK stayed on for second, a good effort since he’s not won on anything softer than good. SHADY GLOOM was one paced in third and looks to be regressing.

    5.20 5f 0-60 Handicap

    Linda Perratt’s stable has emerged from the gloom that engulfed them in the first half of the season. THE BEAR goes well here and having gone clear a furlong out stayed on for victory. He once one off 93 and though that level is a distant memory his rejuvenation suggests there may be some more to come in the near future.
    SUNLEY SOVEREIGN stayed on and continues to run passably well in this class.
    LAKE CHINI was slowly away and picked up late on. This one might be worth another chance as the prevailing going suits, though he needs to ‘hit the boxes’.
    HOWARDS TIPPLE was a never dangerous fourth and is not a prolific winner.
    ANDRASTA has reverted to mediocrity after getting lucky at Ayr.

    • Total Posts 6341

    AYR – Wednesday August 26th + Thursday August 27th

    Going – Soft (Wednesday), Soft, Good To Soft in places (Thursday)

    Time constraints meant that I couldn’t manage a full review of this meeting, but I hope to have captured a few key performances over the two days.

    The round course was back in action following July’s problems and things went smoothly.

    Godolphin’s GOLDEN SHAHEEN lost out to the once raced Tut in the opening maiden but there was plenty of promise in the performance. He looked very green early on and took an age to get the hang of the job. However he picked up nicely towards the finish and will benefit from the outing.

    As is his day Sir Mark Prescott has VALID POINT on a nice low mark and this one should be capable of running up a sequence after winning the 2.40, a 46-65 Handicap over 1m 2f. HE needed a bit of urging after being headed three out, but responded well and comfortably held the upper hand in the final furlong.

    COLLATERAL DAMAGE was an impressive winner of the 61-80 mile handicap. On the face of it his record of 4 from 47 is nothing to shout about, but he hasn’t encountered soft ground much in recent times and his four wins have come with cut. If he’s kept on the go now the ground is soft there’s every chance he’ll win again. His career record on ground listed as ‘Soft’ or ‘Heavy’ is 21513231 and even the 5th was in a field of 21. That tells a story. He’ll be bumped up plenty for a 6 length win but that might not stop him.
    TOM TOWER set a decent pace but had no response to Collateral Damage. However, he kept on determinedly enough to battle for second if just losing out and looks placed to pick up a lower class event in these conditions, maybe 0-70 or 0-75.

    HOLLOW GREEN has been in rattling good form all season and picked up a sixth win when holding off a competitive 66-85 field over 1m 2f. She’s often just done enough to win and there may still be a little more in the tank. She has run mainly on fast ground but her record on Soft/Heavy is 121 and she’s worth keeping in mind in the coming weeks.
    SHALOO DIAMOND ran to form in second though is probably as high as he would want to be now.
    RED JADE has been lightly raced and his second here may presage a winning performance in the autumn since he’s now 8lbs lower than early in the season. He is a winner in soft ground.

    AGENT BOO put up a decent performance to win the six furlong nursery which opened the Thursday card. Going with a strong pace from the start he had enough in hand to run on for victory. This was his first time in soft ground.
    CHARITY FAIR was slow away and feeling the pinch after two furlongs. She stayed on well in the latter stages and probably has enough about her to pick up a race at the lowest level.
    COOLELLA struggled with the pace and looks to need farther than six furlongs.

    JOHN FORBES galloped on well to land the 1m 5f 46-65 handicap from BAAHER, the pair clear of the remainder. JOHN FORBES doesn’t do things in hurry but gallops on determinedly, generally giving his running, and this may tune him up for a hurdling campaign. BAAHER is lightly raced on the flat and might be placed to pick up a similar event in the coming weeks. He has some fair maiden hurdling form and Jim Goldie might place him to pick up a handicap in that sphere.

    HOLD ON TIGER won the two-year-old maiden auction on the nod from much improved LILYANNABANANA, the latter not sighted in two previous efforts.
    The one that may be of interest in time is SUMAY BUOY from the Milnathort yard of Jean McGregor. He was green and struggled early on, but picked up a bit for encouragement in the latter stages. This one may be worth keeping tabs on.

    The remainder of the card was contested by mainly exposed handicappers and I can’t be confident of picking out anything which could get a jump on the official ratings.

    • Total Posts 6341

    NEWCASTLE – Monday August 31st

    Going – Good To Firm

    While Cartmel had to protect against the rain Newcastle were watering the day before racing to ensure good to firm ground for this fixture. The weather was generally overcast, but there was only a brief light sprinkling of rain in mid-afternoon as 5.600 attended the course’s Family Day.

    All races were run on the straight course due to planned drainage work on the round course. As far as I can understand the latter was either finished or didn’t take palce, but since the races were set in the Racing Calendar the programme was run as originally set. As far as watching the racing is concerned the only view to be had of the length of the straight course is from the stand farthest down the track, and even then the silver birches by the football centre are starting to block a little of the view. However, mixing viewing with the big screen provides a decent enough view of races. Essentially I had half of the stand to myself, so if you spotted a lonely chap with binoculars and a notebook then it was probably me.

    2.15 7f Class 4 2yo Maiden

    Mark Johnston has a sound record in this event and produced newcomer CONO ZUR to take this year’s renewal. He looked straight enough for this first outing but it’s worth noting that Johnston two-year-olds generally gain some benefit from a run. Half-brother to a NH Flat and hurdles winner, with a dam half-sister to Arcangues, it’s likely that this one will benefit from a longer distance in time. There was plenty to like about the way he ran on to see off his two chief rivals.
    UNSHAKABLE WILL caught my eye at Hamilton in June if only for the fact that he proved very green in the preliminaries. He ran passably well that day and would appear to have benefitted from the experience. He’s strengthened a bit over the intervening two and a half months and put up a decent performance on this occasion. Up with the pace early he was briefly outpaced three out but was staying on after the winner in the final furlong. He should win a race and will stay further.
    MR CORBY was the most exposed of this field with two decent runs in the bag. Having been up with the pace all the way he was held in the final furlongs. The chances are others might improve past him in these events so it is likely that Mick Channon will aim at nurseries.
    STARRY MOUNT ran passably well in fourth, pulling clear of the remainder and stepping up on his Chepstow debut form.
    Of the rest only CALDERCRUIX caught the eye though only for showing how green he was. Skittish in the paddock and taken to start early he started slowly, was then rushed up into contention but fell away in the final three furlongs. He’s half brother to a couple of multiple winners but seems to need a bit of time.

    2.50 1m Class 6 Claimer

    As is often the case with such events the action involved those at the top of the weights with the more lowly valued competitors making up the numbers.
    FORTUNATE BID took them along at a decent clip but paid the penalty for his exertions, fading from a furlong and a half out. He is more than capable of winning a similar event but just needs to restrained slightly.
    Battle hardened WOVOKA, with eight wins behind him, looked well favoured as the top rated animal in this event. He was taken down early and tucked away for the first half of the race. Making progress three out he took it up before the furlong pole and ran on to win with a little in hand if perhaps drifting to hinder the second a little close home. He has been struggling off marks in the 80s in handicaps but is now down to 77, 3lbs below his most recent winning mark.
    TOP TRIBUTE has placed twice in seven runs previous to this and showed much promise in second. He looked well in the paddock and confirmed his well being with an excellent second place. He kept on though slightly squeezed for room near the finish. If remaining on or near a mark of 61 he should win a handicap.
    ROWAN LODGE ran a creditable race in third given that he is rated 13lbs worse than the winner. He had every chance and wasn’t quite good enough.
    IGNEOUS appeared to run well above previous form in fifth if lacking the pace to stick with four better horses in the final two furlongs. The big question is whether this was just a flash in the pan.

    3.25 7f 56-75 Fillies’ Handicap
    Not a bad little contest with a few in-form fillies in the field.
    POPPET’S LOVEIN looks a progressive performer. Although misbehaving at the start, she followed up her Chepstow maiden win with a convincing performance, showing a decent turn of foot in the final furlong. I’d be surprised if she didn’t win again soon at 7 furlongs or a mile.
    LEONID GLOW is probably as high in the handicap as she would want to be. She kept on after the winner but never threatened to get her head in front.
    SANVEAN picked up in the final two furlongs but arrived too late to trouble the first two. She has won over a mile on the all-weather and either a step up to that trip or a return to Polytrack might help.
    DANCE CLUB was always prominent but held from the furlong pole. A slight ease in class, maybe a 0-70 might give her the chance to get her head in front again.
    Tony Hamilton will probably admit that his ride on SHE’S IN THE MONEY was not his finest hour. In a small field he managed to find trouble more than once and the filly finished with a rattle from the rear but way too late. She won in a slightly higher grade than this at Catterick and has enough ability to win off her new mark of 74.

    It’s a bit of a hobby horse of mine, but TINA’S BEST and HANSOMIS both entered the paddock just before the signal to mount was given and only did a circuit of the paddock. This isn’t good enough and the authorities should be looking to clamp down on those trainers who are not properly prepared for the preliminaries. Trainers do get fined on occasion, but since the BHA has been tardy with recording their Stewards’ Enquiry notices I don’t know whether action has been taken on this occasion. Before somebody tells me that my report isn’t up very fast, I can say that they get paid for the service and I’m doing this as a hobby.

    4.00 1m Class 2 2yo Handicap

    Mark Johnston must have blinked a few times when he saw that his convincing Doncaster winner LAYALI AL ANDALUS had got in on a mark of 88. That looked promising, a view backed up by a paddock view of this big strong colt who looked in fine fettle. There are occasions when just looking at a Johnston competitor against the remainder makes them a bet. Your correspondent seldom bets at short odds, least of all in handicaps, but I couldn’t resist having a go here.
    LAYALI AL ANDALUS didn’t disappoint in the race. Clearly well drilled from the stalls, a positive normally associated with Johnston youngsters, he raced up with the pace and was pushed out from the two furlong pole to win with a fair bit in hand. The time was 1.2 seconds quicker than 77 rated Wovoka in the claimer, and allowing for weight-for-age makes this a significant performance possibly near 110. Sights are justifiably raised with the Royal Lodge Stakes as the provisional target.
    BONFIRE KNIGHT could almost be treated as a winner since he saw off the remainder comfortably. He should be worth an interest in coming races.
    AQUARIAN SPIRIT ran to previous form in third. He has form with cut in the ground and might just be favoured by the rain that is about at the moment.
    TRES CORONAS put a moderate Goodwood effort behind him by finishing fourth, seeing out the trip nicely.
    JEHU stayed on from the rear but doesn’t seem especially well treated at the moment.
    LETHAL COMBINATION was less than perfectly behaved in the preliminaries and went too quick for his own good early on, weakening from two out.

    Paddock Gripe Number Two – Bonfire Knight’s lad had no number card on his sleeve. Just to make things even more difficult the number cloth had flipped back and when I asked the lad what number he was I got no reply.

    4.35 6f 0-80 Handicap

    A well exposed bunch of four-year-olds and upwards.

    AVONTUUR hit the boxes, led until the furlong pole and then fought back determinedly after being headed. He could pick up another race now he has hit form and his All-weather record of 4 from 19 might make him an interesting prospect at Wolverhampton.
    INCOMPARABLE looked likely to take the race when leading one out but gave way from there. He regularly performs decently without winning all that often and pays the penalty as he seems a little high in the ratings.
    JOHN KEATS is another exposed performer who wins in his turn. He was stretched for pace three out but stayed on again in the closing stages.
    BRAVELY is a keen type who probably doesn’t help himself. He finished a fair fourth, but his UK win was over 5 furlongs and the impression is that he’s better off at that trip.

    5.10 5f 56-75 3yo Handicap

    This race was marred by an early race fall for All Spin and jockey Paul Mulrennan. Mazzola’s rider Tony Culhane got a 14-day ban which saw him veer across Dispol Grand and thus squeeze up All Spin who took a fearful tumble against the rails. Mulrennan was lucky to get away with only a broken collarbone but All Spin sadly broke a leg and was put down. It was a crass piece of riding by Culhane who in my opinion was darned lucky to get only 14 days. His excuse that he thought there was only one horse inside him doesn’t wash. When you make a manoeuvre to rail you have to ‘know’ what is inside you, otherwise you should stay straight.
    NOODLES BLUE BOY made progress two out, took over at the furlong pole and kept on well when pressed in the final furlong. He’s been consistent in the summer, and won’t go up a huge amount so there may still be scope for another first prize.
    FASLIYANNE led until the furlong pole and then battled back once her blinkers allowed sight of his opponent. She’s another who has been consistent but may have to produce a personal best to win a race.
    MAZZOLA finished third but was disqualified for the previously mentioned incident. He didn’t seem over keen to go through a gap approaching the final furlong. He’s now 21 runs since his last win.
    PISTE stayed on having failed to go the early pace. Her win at Windsor came off a similar mark but in a slightly lower class.
    IGOYOUGO, on a hat-trick, was held in the final furlong and the mark of 71 might just be above his limit.
    DISPOL GRAND was effectively taken out of the contest after a furlong and not pressed afterwards. This run can be set aside.

    5.45 5f 64-60 Handicap

    A ‘whose turn is today’ sprint handicap run at a furious pace.

    NOMOREBLONDES won on this card two years ago and a decent run in a seller signalled a return to form. This was nominally a step down up in class, but the seller winner was rated 72 so it could be argued Nomoreblondes was well placed here. She stormed clear in the final furlong to win by 2 ¼ lengths which won’t be easily forgiven. Her paddocks value might have gained a few bob.
    KING OF SWORDS, twice a winner recently, kept on well enough to suggest his chance of winning in the near future hasn’t gone out of the window.
    MILTON OF CAMPSIE, wearing light front leg bandages, appears rejuvenated by a change of stable and he kept on for third.
    JOYEAUX kept on to be thereabouts as is often the case.
    CAYMAN FOX showed zip down the centre but paid the price in the final furlong.
    TOY TOP raced on apparently slower ground on the stands’ rail and may be forgiven this effort.
    GARSTANG, generally a consistent performer, missed the break allowing the principals to get away. He had no chance after but picked up ground nicely late on and is normally in the mix in similar contests.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Monday September 14th

    Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

    2.20 7f 0-65 Handicap

    CLUMBER PLACE won a maiden at Pontefract in April of last year but was not sighted again until March 2009. Her form has been dire since that point and she has dropped from 83 to 53. Perhaps proving the old adage that fillies hit form in the autumn she revealed that her ability has not deserted her. She raced prominently and a sustained challenge was enough to pick off the leader close home. Clumber Place won’t go up too far for this win and there must be hope of a follow up win.
    With the three that followed home the winner it’s a case of what you see is what you get. NUFOUDH looked as if he had done enough only to be pipped close home. He has only won twice in 38 efforts, but both wins were this season and he has a respectable record at Musselburgh.
    GRAND DIAMOND looked to have every chance at the furlong pole and didn’t seem over keen to go through what seemed a big enough gap on the inside.
    OPTICAL ILLUSION two wins have been over 6 furlongs at Hamilton though he has run a few good races over this course and distance. He kept on but was held from the furlong pole.

    2.50 7f 2yo 6 Seller

    A lousy looking seller won comfortably by the well exposed DURHAM RELECTION. He’s run respectably in maiden company so might reasonably have been expected to take this contest, leading and pulling clear in the final two furlongs.
    ORPEN ARMS and YA BOY SIR ran more or less to their respective ratings of 62 and 54 whilst GENTLE BEAT was well held in fourth and is not progressing.

    3.20 1m 6f 0-71 Handicap

    ITATFIRST was in good from early in the season, but had run below par of late. Returning to form here, he pushed after leading two out and kept up the gallop. It might be worth noting that he recorded two wins on Polytrack last winter and is slightly lower in the All-Weather ratings.
    GRAND ART rattled home in second, too late to mount a serious challenge. He was well clear of the remainder and that may cost him a few pounds on the official scale. If still in this class he’s capable of picking up a race over a stiffer track.
    DRAMATIC SOLO and BIRKSIDE were well held from two furlongs out. DRAMATIC SOLO did lead to that point but couldn’t respond from there. While this wasn’t her best, she has a record of 1313 around here.

    3.50 1m 1f 5 Claimer

    KING OF THE MOORS can be quite useful at this level when given his own way. He does win occasionally but is difficult to pin down to a particular race though his previous run here had been respectable. If he’s in the mood next time his handicap mark of 56 does seem lenient. The problem is that he had horses rated 82 and 83 behind him on this occasion so much depends on how the official rater sees things.
    BED FELLOW chased from three out but is essentially one paced and a rating of 41 says much.
    FREMEN and KINGS POINT ran well below form. The latter was particularly disappointing since he’s not been totally disgraced in Class 2 and 3 handicaps. However he doesn’t win all that often and it could be that he couldn’t be bothered.

    4.20 5f 0-88 2yo Handicap

    This was run at a fearsome pace from the start and it favoured those coming from off the pace.
    MICKY’S KNOCK OFF came through from 300 yards out and won with a bit to spare. He worked his way two lengths clear and it seemed a decent effort though the race was probably run to suit. This was a third win on the card for Franny Norton and Richard Guest but their other recent runners have been well off the mark.
    MISTER HUGHIE kept on for second passing tiring leaders in the closing stages.
    The most significant performance may well have come from the top weight HERE NOW AND WHY who went with the strong pace and stuck at it for third place. He has been aimed high, having contested the Weatherby’s Sales race at Newbury and then the Molecomb at Goodwood. Kept to this class he should have it in him to win a nursery.

    4.50 5f 0-70 Handicap

    This was not as strong as the ratings band suggests with only two rated above 70 and it was very much a win in turn bunch.

    WICKED WILMA provided a fourth winner of the afternoon for Franny Norton. She’s quite consistent around marks in the mid to high 50s, recording 14 places in 32 attempts, but only wins occasionally.
    DALAROSSIE ran on well in the latter stages for second but he’s only got 1 win in 25 runs.
    Top weight STEELCUT put in a good effort from a wide draw if held in the final furlong. He confirmed the promise of this run by picking up a claimer at Kempton two days later. If he doesn’t rise in the handicap for that he might have a chance of another win in 0-70 company.

    5.20 1m 4f 100yds 0-59 Handicap

    ODDSMAKER has plenty of miles on the clock, but isn’t bad at this level when putting his best hoof forward. His record at Musselburgh now reads 31011 so he’s always one to put on the shortlist when visiting East Lothian. He was enterprisingly ridden by young Andrew Heffernan and the ‘kick clear early in the straight’ tactics have worked on each of his wins here.
    Oddsmaker made it 2-1 in recent clashes with GRANDAD BILL who chased from two out but couldn’t get to the winner and the race was probably lost entering the straight. He’s been admirably consistent this season and might not be done for just yet. He’s been there or thereabouts on all runs at Musselburgh.
    The remainder were held from a fair way out.

    5.50 7f 0-65 Handicap

    Another very ordinary contest contested by a bunch of well exposed performers. ANCIENT CROSS has been running consistently and got off the mark at the twenty-first attempt. He was chased home by two win in turn performers in NO GROUSE (8 from 85) and SHUNKAWAKHAN (4 from 50).

    • Total Posts 6341

    AYR – Western Meeting 2009

    With time at a premium my report on Ayr’s big meeting of the season is a little more brief than I would prefer. However I’ll try to indicate a few pointers for the future.

    Thursday 17th September

    Going – Good

    The going was reported a good to soft for the early part of the day, but I suspect the description of ‘good’ was more accurate.

    JEANNIE GALLOWAY’s experience probably helped in the maiden that opened the card. She had put in a couple of decent performances previously which set the standard from her mark of 73. HORSERADISH made a decent debut, staying on to take second place. This one should benefit from a step up to seven furlongs. ANTIONOLA ran a sound race in a close third and should pick up a run-of-the-mill maiden.

    MEDICI TIME took the five furlong sprint in a race where the low draws seemed to have a marginal advantage. CHOSEN ONE took the ‘nearside race’ and would be worth noting for a handicap in the near future particularly with a little cut in the ground.

    The selling race on this card is probably one of the more competitive such events of the season. However, it has often been won at fancy odds and APPLAUDE threaded his way through the field to win at 22/1. He veered right in the closing stages but conjured a fair turn of foot and won with a little in hand. Sellers and claimers look his level as he has struggled in handicaps.
    BOUNDLESS PROSPECT has been consistent in claiming company in the last couple of years and went close here in a competitive contest. He’s got plenty of miles on the clock but is one to mark down on the short-list even in handicaps. He’s been particularly sharp on the All-Weather in recent times. KING OF THE MOORS almost pinched the race when going clear from two out but was caught in the closing stages, though he remains in decent form.

    The 1m 2f Handicap is normally a tough contest to win and DEMOLITION held on well after asserting two out. He’s had a fine season and continues to perform creditably. PLAISTERER flashed her tail when the whip was brandished by Jack Mitchell. However, she seemed to still be putting it in and a move up to a mark of 90 hasn’t stopped her chances of winning. There’s a possibility she hasn’t finished improving.
    HILLVIEW BOY has graduated successfully from bumpers to flat handicaps over the year. He ran a creditable third here, probably having reached his mark at 87, and goes on my list of potential novice hurdlers for the coming months.

    SHE’S IN THE MONEY made up for the traffic trouble she ran into at Newcastle to hold the consistent LEONID GLOW over seven furlongs. The former is entered over a mile at Musselburgh on Sunday 27th and the way she stayed on here suggests the easy mile there will be no problem. LEONID GLOW is consistent but just failing to get her head in front.

    I pointed out COLLATERAL DAMAGE as an interesting performer for the autumn after his win here recently though the soft ground qualification proved unnecessary. This was a third win in a row and he showed plenty of determination to hold on close home. There may still be a bit more to come, particularly if he encounters soft ground.

    Friday 18th September

    Going – Good

    Kevin Ryan’s HANSON’D doddled up in the opening seven furlong from an exposed 68 rated performer. I wonder if Ryan might aim much higher next time as he’s entered in the Dewhurst and the Racing Post Trophy. GREEN LIGHTNING looked too green to do himself justice and was outpaced but, from a decent stable, I’d expect better.

    UNSHAKABLE WILL continued the progress noted at Newcastle in the second division of the maiden. He was sharp away and made all on this occasion, showing plenty of resolution at the sharp end. He shouldn’t be too harshly treated in nurseries and might pick up such an event over seven furlongs or a mile.
    Michael Dods’ HUNTINGFORTREASURE made an encouraging debut in second, doing enough to keep the winner up to his game in the closing stages. This distance has been the limit for his family even though there have been 7 furlong two-year-old winners amongst his siblings. I’d not be put off if he dropped back to six furlongs.
    THISTLESTAR pulled hard and this probably cost him as he faded in the final furlong to finish third. Hopefully he will learn, but he needs to settle.

    The Rosebery Stakes was won in nice style by MISTER MANANNAN. The impression from connections’ comments is that he will now be kept for a go at Listed and better sprints next year. He’s only been raced on good or fast ground to date.
    PUFF was aimed at Group 2 company on his previous outing, but this looks more his level and he seemed to run pretty much to his 93 rating.

    It really was inevitable that a Bronze Cup would appear to accommodate the refugees for the Silver Cup, given the near 200 entry mark for the Ayr Gold Cup. One wonders how long it will be before we have an Egg Cup to be contested by those rated 0-50?
    Low numbers completely dominated this event with very little to choose between BALDEMAR, INGLEBY LADY and BURNWYND BOY at the finish. It probably makes sense to take some note of the result on the near side with FELDAY heading the group but only ninth overall. He’s a winner over seven furlongs and I’d be interested if he stepped back up in distance. His Newbury win came with cut in the ground. BOND CITY and RASAMAN followed on the stands’ side but are well exposed.

    GUTO won the five furlong 0-85 contest, once again the low draws having the call, but GRISSOM did well to get close racing stands’ side. Some drawn higher than him went left, but Billy Cray routed toward the stands’ side. On that basis the form may be even better than the result suggests. ROTHESAY DANCER finished second on the near side and this run suggests she is not finished for the season.

    James Lambe’s ECOLE D’ART was desperately disappointing over hurdles at Bangor but came back to form in the Eglinton Cup staying event. He’s difficult to pin down to a pattern though he has ability and might make his mark in handicap hurdle if brought back to Scotland.
    DANZATRICE ran a respectable second. She put in three fair hurdling performances and would not be without a chance in a novice handicap hurdle.
    PAGAN STARPRINCESS ran a fair race, beaten just over 7 lengths, in a race which might be considered a pipe-opener for a hurdles campaign. She’s a fair performer over hurdles and a mark of 126 gives a bit of scope for placement.

    Saturday 19th September

    Going – Good (Good To Firm in places)

    The expected rain didn’t materialise in any great amounts, hence there were a significant number of non-runners.

    The progressive looking CENTIGRADE picked up the mile nursery. The second AQUARIAN SPIRIT, third to a decent performer at Newcastle, is a fair measure so I would expect CENTIGRADE to pick up another nursery while on a roll.

    The Silver Cup continued the trend of low numbers dominating the sprints. The winner KALDOUN KINGDOM has performed creditably in the autumn in 2007 and 2008 but won’t be especially well handicapped after this, and the fact that the draw did him favours here might mean he’s under-priced subsequently.
    LOWTHER was equipped with combined eye-shield and blinkers, which seemed to do no harm. He was dropped in distance here and there might be a bit more to come kept to six furlongs.
    The first to finish on the near side was PROTECTOR who finished eleventh overall. He’s only had three runs this season of which this would be the most encouraging. He’s below his 2007 winning mark and looks progressive within his own limits.

    Well drawn DISTINCTIVE won the Firth of Clyde Stakes for two year old filles with a bit to spare from a good draw. BEYOND DESIRE and CONNIPTION kept tabs with most of the low drawn horses and are probably better than the bare result suggests.

    The pattern for sprints was well established by this time and the first five raced up the far rail. JIMMY STYLES just headed BARNEY McGREW and the two have been thereabouts regularly in similar events. Their presence in the final argument told us nothing we don’t know already. KNOT IN WOOD is a straightforward sort running as well as ever and ran his usual admirable race in third.
    Dandy Nicholls pair of EVENS AND ODDS and SONNY RED finished best of his runners in fourth and fifth. EVENS AND ODDS seems sharpest when given a month or so rest before his races. SONNY RED is arguably a shade better at five furlongs than six.
    TOMBI won the ‘high race’. He is favoured by fast ground and opportunities might be limited if the rains come, though he must have some chance of a race if the dry spell continues. REDFORD was third on the same side and ran in the style of one who needs a stiff six as a minimum, but probably a return to seven would be better. He handles fast and soft and there should still be chances this season.

    HARRISON GEORGE raced prominently and lifted his game to see off OSTEOPATHIC REMEDY in the seven furlong 0-95 handicap. Lightly raced PRIME EXHIBIT was third and may just have a little more to give than the more exposed leading pair. He handles cut in the ground and may pick up a race before the end of term.

    PRINCE SIEGFRIED won the Listed Doonside Cup and may be capable of picking up a Group 3 race. He should stay an extra two furlongs on evidence of last two runs. Autumn ground suits him since his legs are a little delicate and he might be a contender for the St Simon Stakes at Newbury in late October. He’s worth noting wherever he appears though as he’s in good heart.
    NANTON ran creditably in fourth, limbering up for a possible Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch double attempt. A win in either would be a tremendous boost to Scottish racing.

    EXTRATERRESTRIAL held off BILLY DANE in the mile handicap. Both are well exposed and the latter needs fast ground. TIGER REIGNS run of wins was halted, but he was blocked in his run and would probably have gone close. I don’t think he’s stopped winning and a bit of rain would play to his strengths.

    I’m not sure what to make of the result in the closing 1m 5f handicap as AMANDA CARTER, struggling to get near the front in recent months, sluiced up under Freddy Tylicki. Good or fast ground certain helps her.
    DEMOLITION followed up his win earlier in the meeting with a decent under a penalty. DAZZLING LIGHT put up a creditable effort but does have a habit of either being caught close home or arriving too late.

    • Total Posts 6341


    Sunday 20th September

    Going – Good (Good to Firm in places in the straight and Good To Soft in places on the loop)

    Richard Fahey’s stable in on fire at the moment and his EMERALD GIRL took the opening six furlong nursery. This one appears to relish a stiff finish as her other win was at Beverley and she ran too good races at Carlisle.

    BECKERMET provides a bit of a link to my home area since I saw him win the Hackwood Stakes at my previous ‘local’ Newbury back in 2005. He runs often and quite consistently, but he isn’t a prolific winner and was beaten in the Conditions Stakes here by the Howard Johnson trained ETON RIFLES. The latter was very well backed and justified the confidence. I’m not sure the form is worth a huge amount since the third MAJOR CADEAUX is rated 114, while the fourth SEA SALT is rated 70. MAJOR CADEAUX is presumably still capable of much better but has had a disjointed season.

    ADMIRAL DUNDAS has been held off marks from 85 to 76 in handicaps, having won off 75 last season. He found the less competitive nature of the claimer much more to his liking despite having a few slightly higher rated opponents. Presuming he stays on a mark of 75 he would have a decent shout off top-weight in a 0-75.
    FIRST BAY notched up a third consecutive third place and may have prospects now he’s qualified for handicaps.

    The next two handicaps were won by Sir Mark Prescott improvers. BRAVEHEART MOVE has won three handicaps this season, but none by very far and I get the impression he is still on a decent mark. He saw off some proven opposition here. Meanwhile VALID POINT doddled to a fourth win in four runs, having first won off a mark of 46 in August. He really didn’t spark in six attempts last autumn and winter, but he thrived for a break until August and has improved ever since. He was well placed here since he was an improver against a bunch going nowhere fast.

    The admirably consistent CHEYENNE RED notched a second course and distance win in the closing three-year-old handicap. He will remain in this class after re-assessment and may well pick up another race before the campaign is done. FUTURE GEM is another showing consistency of late and ran a decent race to take second. He’s another who will remain competitive at this level.

    Monday September 21st

    Going – Good, Good to Firm in places

    Rain was forecast but it turned out very little fell and the ground was a little faster than the previous day. There was a disappointing crowd for Hamilton seasonal finale, but the scheduling wouldn’t have helped, since I’m sure the course would have preferred to have raced on the 28th which is part of the Glasgow Holiday Weekend. It appears the BHA either cannot or will not appreciate the nuances of the local holidays in Scotland when allocating fixtures.

    SAND SKIER was an easy winner of the opening maiden and I would expect Mark Johnston to try to land a nursery with this one before the close of the season.

    The lack of rain may well have contributed to the fillies’ handicap cutting up. However VITORIA saw off five opponents in impressive style. She had performed creditably in a better event at Doncaster and I would imagine Bryan Smart would wish to exploit this filly’s run of form. She has improved for a drop back to 6 and 7 furlongs recently and the stiff 6 seemed to suit nicely.

    ARTY CRAFTY took the 1m 3f apprentices’ handicap for Sir Mark Prescott. A typical Prescott improver, the race really looked to have fallen into this one’s lap since it was difficult to make out a strong case for any of the others. Rosie Jessop had to be very persistent with this one but she stayed on well and should get further.
    ULYSEES ran a creditable race to keep the winner honest from three out. He’s running quite well right now but doesn’t win often.
    ODDSMAKER’s style isn’t as well suited to this track as it is by Musselburgh. He needs to dictate and then kick on, but it’s a long haul up the hill and he couldn’t hold the first two from three out. In 0-70 company on a sharper track he can dictate the race and Andrew Heffernan knows how to get the best from him.

    SHY GLANCE was suited by a drop back to 0-70 after three disappointing runs, wearing down two others in the final furlong. He’s best held up, one of his defeats came here on a front-runners day why they tried pace making.
    NISAAL has yet to win but didn’t do too much wrong and John Quinn might squeeze a small race out of him.
    A drop in the weights allowed SOCIETY VENUE back into this class and he only gave way inside the final furlong. All his best form is on tracks with uphill finishes.

    ONEOFAPEAR won a soft maiden form Mark Prescott’s PASSKEY who seemed to suffer a problem in the closing stages. PASSKEY may have knocked himself though he seemed healthy on pulling up. ONEOFAPEAR is rated 78 and life may be tough in handicaps. Those behind look moderate to poor.

    If you wished to show someone the advantage of a soft lead then MANDARIN SPIRIT’s win in the five furlong sprint would be an excellent example. Popped out of the stalls in front, he settled two lengths clear and was never challenged. It’s not often that a five furlong race falls like this and he may be underpriced next time out. There is just a hint that Linda Perratt is starting to get things together after a generally miserable campaign.

    The Hamilton year closed with two divisions of a 0-65 five furlong handicap. The first was won by MILTON OF CAMPSIE who is currently in very good heart. He hinted at a return to form when I saw him at Newcastle and he added to his recent Ffos Las success.
    He has not been over-raced for a four-year-old and there may be a little more in the tank.
    CAPTAIN ROYALE closed the Hamilton season by making it ‘his turn’ in the closer.

    I now wait for Keith, our Raceday Organiser, to collar me for first payment on our day out at Hamilton next spring! The course may go into hibernation but we are already preparing for the new campaign.

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