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North On The Level

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    MUSSELBURGH – Sunday September 27th

    Going – Good To Firm (Firm in places)

    I took my wife and two friends to a hospitality event hosted by the Racegoers’ Club. Credit to Musselburgh for looking after us so well, and our friends who were attending racing for the first time are keen to come along again. Aside from the hospitality they were impressed by the surroundings and the whole event. They considered it much better value than paying a similar amount or more to watch Scottish football.

    The course was watered toward the end of the previous week but there’s been little rain in the east of Scotland for a while. The result was ground as quick as it’s been all season.

    1.55 5f 46-65 3yo Handicap

    In a race light on in-form horses two came clear.
    HAWKEYETHENOO has proved a versatile sort and, having won over a mile previously, he dropped to six furlongs last time then to a sharp five here. He showed plenty of pace in the final furlong to see off Lost In Paris with the rest well beaten. He swapped stable after a third over six furlongs at Hamilton and Jim Goldie has been quick to place him to advantage. Running off a mark of only 54 here, the suggestion is that there is a bit still to come at sprint distances.
    LOST IN PARIS showed good speed but was run out of it in the final furlong. He’s not won a race yet, but this was a first attempt at the minimum trip and will have been informative to his trainer. He must surely pick up a minor contest.
    ZELOS GIRL was well held, six lengths back in third, while CLANACHY showed a first glimmer of ability in fourth.
    FASLIYANNE was one of the fancied three in the market but was under pressure and going nowhere two out. Amy Ryan got a bit disorganised at that point but it made little difference. Conditions were right here so there didn’t seem to be much of an excuse.

    2.30 7f 30yds 0-80 Handicap

    MALCHEEK, back to his previous winning mark, cruised clear from two out here but won’t be forgiven by the handicapper and is likely to go up to around the 80 level which he has struggled off earlier in the year. All his wins have come on fast ground.
    SEA SALT wears an eye cover over his right eye and has no vision on that side. The impression is that this would make things tough around a right hand track. His wins have come on straight tracks or going left-handed. He stormed up the centre in the latter stages but was never near the winner. However, he remains in good form and is worth considering in the near future.
    JOHN KEATS often gives his running but it’s a good while since he last won. He kept on from the rear for third place. It’s some time since he was tried at seven furlongs, but he saw the trip out well enough.
    STELLITE never got in a blow but kept on for fourth. His recent wins have been off lower marks, though he has won in 0-85 class this year.
    MANDARIN SPIRIT was upped in distance and didn’t get the comfortable front run he was allowed at Hamilton.

    3.05 1m 4f 100yds Class 6 Selling Stakes

    Only three got competitive in the closing stages in this race and ANDORN proved more determined than his two rivals. Four times a winner in Germany this was his first victory in the UK. He’s nothing special on the flat but connections went to £8,500 to retain him in the auction. It might be worth noting that the form of the maiden hurdle at Sedgefield was enhanced twice at Perth, so he could be of interest in that sphere in the coming weeks.
    GRACEFUL DESCENT led briefly approaching the final furlong but was comfortably held once headed. This one struggled to see off a very moderate opponent at Hamilton last time and though she has ability I get the impression she saves a bit.
    BIRKSIDE never quite got near enough to challenge the leader. He’s generally not far away in these events.
    TESSARAE built on a second at Chepstow to run a creditably fourth at the weights here. She has run to a similar level twice and wouldn’t be a lost cause in a minor handicap.

    3.40 1m 71-90 Fillies’ Handicap

    The highlight of the card was a competitive fillies’ handicap and it gave us a thrilling finish with any one of five looking capable of winning a furlong out.

    FEELING FAB has run some fair races this season without getting here head in front. Take a keen pull she led until a furlong out, looked held in the final furlong only to poke her head through a gap near to the line. She seemed to carry head at an angle in the final furlong, but it could have been a reaction to the gap she was asked to go through. She showed the typical determination of a Johnston inmate, and with the ratings not likely to change hugely after this race she may score again before long. She has performed creditably at Kempton and Lingfield, so might find herself plying her trade on the Polytrack in the coming weeks.
    SHE’S IN THE MONEY is on a decent run of form and lost little credit in being pipped on the line in a finish of four bobbing heads. In fact she looked to have done enough before the winner came back at her near the finish. While the going remains decent Richard Fahey will presumably keep her on the go.
    BURGUNDY ICE looked briefly as if she might take the lead inside the final furlong but was just held. She won her maiden on soft ground last autumn but hasn’t encountered any cut this season.
    TO BE OR NOT TO BE mixed it with the leaders all the way and lacked nothing in determination in the final furlong. Off a mark of 74 there’s scope for a drop in class.
    POPPET’S LOVEIN, a good winner at Newcastle last time over seven furlongs, had every chance at the furlong pole but gave way when crowded in the final furlong. The trip didn’t seem to be the problem, but the competitive nature of the final battle did seem to faze her.
    JULY DAYS weakened from the furlong pole having been in contention. She probably needs to drop a few pounds in the ratings.
    FLAPPER found these too sharp for her and is paying the penalty for a comfortable win off a soft lead at Newmarket earlier in the season.
    LOCK ‘N LOAD, making a belated seasonal debut, found the quality here too much to deal with and was beaten with two furlongs left.

    4.15 1m 1f Class 4 Claiming Stakes

    In terms of ratings this was the best race of the day, but as with many such events questions could be asked about a few. My normal method for working through claimers is to start at the top as the best overall form normally lies there. That method wasn’t blown out of the water here but the winner did make a dent in the hull. The win may have owed something to the winning trainer’s assessment of claiming price.

    KING OF THE MOORS can be a frustrating soul at times, but he does put a few decent runs together. Coming off the back of two decent performances and perhaps entered for a more realistic price than some others in the list, he led for most of the way to break the course record. Admittedly the conditions suited, but this was still a damned good effort. When he’s on a going day he can be tough to pass.
    SUNNYSIDE TOM has been running consistently this season. He has won on heavy ground but that was a four runner race and he’s much better off on fast ground. He’s probably a little high in handicaps but remains competitive in claimers.
    ROYAL POWER has only won a couple of races and, though leading briefly two out, was found wanting approaching the furlong pole. He won a Group 2 in 2006 but his only win since was at currently closed Great Leighs.
    COURT MASTERPIECE would have carried these at his best. However he clearly isn’t the horse he once was and was left behind from two out.
    WOVOKA found this much tougher than when winning off top weight in a lesser claimer at Newcastle.
    Calling a horse FLAWED GENIUS is surely tempting fate, and sadly this one is starting to live up to the ‘flawed’ bit as he refused to race for the second consecutive time.

    4.50 1m 6f 0-77 Handicap

    This became a battle between progressive performers from handicap specialist stables.

    Sir Mark Prescott’s ASCENDANT made the running and battled on under pressure though the lighter raced SPIRIT IS NEEDED from Mark Johnston’s yard was hauling him back at the finish. Both are moving forward and worth keeping tabs on.
    The two were clear of IFATFIRST who ran a fair race in third but is vulnerable to improvers off his current mark. His best chance remains against exposed performers.
    WEE CHARLIE CASTLE has been kept on the go and might need a break now. He made no impact from being held up in the rear.

    5.20 5f 51-65 Handicap

    This event consisted of a field full of well exposed and moderate sprinters.
    This was the first time DISTANT SUN had been able to run in this class for a couple of years. The advantage could be seen as he came clear from 300 yards out to win a little bit cosily. He will be back up in the ratings now and hauling him out under penalty ridden by an apprentice looks the best course of action.
    WICKED WILMA was hindered by a poor draw at Ayr having won on her previous outing. She was well there from two out though couldn’t match the winner. She showed sufficient determination to hold on for second place and is in pretty decent nick at present.
    On paddock inspection the filly KILLER CLASS looked to have bloomed a fair bit since I saw her earlier in the season. She struggled on earlier outings but looking fit and well ran a creditable race in third place, joining issue two out and keeping on. Jim Goldie may be able to place her to advantage before the end of the season particularly if encountering some cut in the ground.
    ROCKETBALL was not particularly favoured by the outside draw, though he did manage to work his way across to the stands’ rail. In the final reckoning he couldn’t offer enough but kept on for fourth. Given a good draw and the chance to dominate he can pick up a sprint handicap.
    WINDJAMMER and MOLLY TWO showed pace to inside the final two furlongs but then faded.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Wednesday October 28th

    Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

    The rain has returned to the east of Scotland following a dry spell. Musselburgh’s ground had eased for the closing meeting of the season headlined by the two mile Class 2 Willie Park Handicap.

    1.00 1m 1f 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    EDAS has run some fair races this season on the flat though this was his first turf win of the year. He was brought through smoothly to record a win for the Cuthbert family. With a possible winter campaign in mind it’s worth noting that he is 5 places from 6 on the All-Weather and has shown up well at Southwell. In addition he’s 2 from 6 over hurdles.
    BED FELLOW isn’t endowed with a great turn of foot but is at least getting into the mix. He couldn’t match the winner in the final furlong.
    VERTIGO ON COURSE got hemmed in on the rails. He finished well but it seemed to me his rider didn’t have sufficient nous or possibly strength to extricate her mount from the pocket.

    1.30 7f 5 2yo Maiden Fillies’ Stakes

    Saeed bin Suroor introduced a newcomer here but INFANTA looked very green. She kept on late for third but there wasn’t a burst of pace and she looks a lesser light in the stable. Development over the winter may be the key.
    TATIANA ROMANOVA moved nicely clear in the final furlong. She will presumably move on to middling handicap company. Her one run on the All-Weather was below that of her turf form so the jury is out on that front.

    2.00 5f 0-85 2yo Handicap

    Five set off in a line up front at a decent pace and two burst clear from 300 yards out. BESTY ran on better of the two to hold DANCING FREDDY.
    BESTY looks a speed merchant better over five furlongs than six and this sharp five suited him.
    DANCING FREDDY took the lead over a furlong out but was then outspeeded. His did little wrong though and may now have a few goes on Polytrack.
    MICKY’S KNOCK OFF won here off 68 but looks held currently off 77.

    2.35 1m Class 5 2yo Maiden

    One or two here may benefit from a winter to strengthen and mature.
    JUPITER FIDIUS, out of a dam who won over 11 furlongs, clearly benefitted from the mile trip and stayed on well to hold some opponents who may have had ‘issues’.
    TASTE THE VICTORY pulled early and, though he kept on, may have used up too much energy. Possibly a shade disappointing after his York bow, but he should reward connections in time.
    PALAWI weaved about and still looked green on his second outing. He got into gear late on and finished well. A tougher test looks a must and there should be more to come as he learns.

    3.05 2m 0-100 Handicap ‘Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance The Willie Park Trophy’

    A fair field for the closing feature and one of Musselburgh’s top handicaps of the season.

    GORDONSVILLE won here in April and then in a Class 3 event at Ayr. He’s been consistent all season and followed up a sixth in Cesarewitch with a victory here. He forged clear from two out and kept up the gallop. Gordonsville has only been out of the first six once since June 2008.
    DAYIA chased the winner from two out and closed a little without threatening a victory. He’s another consistent type who has been there or thereabouts on most efforts this season. He started in bumpers and it might be interesting to see if he’s tried over hurdles, though he does have a sound record on Polytrack and rates lower on that surface than turf.
    ALANBROOKE showed the determination expected of a Johnston charge but couldn’t hold the first two from three out. He looks good enough to mix it in the better staying handicaps next term.

    3.40 1m 4f 100yds Class 6 Selling Stakes

    ODDSMAKER’s tactics around here are well established and a win here made it 4 from 6. Andrew Heffernan carried out the plan which has been successful previously, dictating and then kicking on turning for home. Heffernan lost his whip over two furlongs out, but his mount is game and kept on for ‘reins waving encouragement’ to hold on.
    LOST SOLDIER THREE picked up from three out to chase determinedly though not able to wear down the winner. Some questions have been asked about his attitude, but he’s 5 from 38 and Dandy Nicholls should place him to win a race next season.
    CAPABLE GUEST, a hardened campaigner and an occasional winner, plugged on for third and nothing else made an impact.

    4.10 5f 0-75 Handicap

    HAWKEYETHENOO was made an odds-on favourite to follow up his recent win. This was a tougher race though, and also a had harder task than his September win here. He was slow away and could never get to the leaders though staying on late. His new mark is 72 and given the right circumstances he might still be capable of winning a handicap off that level, though the five here is probably a little sharp in tougher company.
    As suits him, MANDARIN SPIRIT was able to dictate, but having looked the winner was just pipped on the line. Always worth a glance at a similar level if the draw or field make-up favours a chance to get to the front.
    IGOYOUGO rattled home to snatch this race on the line. This Geoff Harker three-year-old in progressing and might step up to better class next term.

    • Total Posts 6341

    …and back at the same venue five and a bit months later.

    MUSSELBURGH – Sunday April 4th

    Going – Good to Soft

    Musselburgh flies the flag for the Scottish flat scene until May. The season started with a competitive Easter Sunday card topped by the Musselburgh Gold Cup.

    It might be considered rather uninspiring that the card started with a seller, but the nine furlong event was very competitive at its level. FREMEN, consistent in sellers and claimers last season, picked up where he left off. He led two and a half furlongs out and ran on too strongly for the remainder. There was no bid for the winner so he should continue to make his mark at this level. WIND STAR chased the winner home but could make no impression in the last 300 yards. ISLAND CHIEF kept on well from the back having never achieved his favoured front running position.

    The sprint handicap was won by LUSCIVIOUS who has been running moderately well on the all-weather. He ran on well to win with a little in hand from the staying on HIGHLAND WARRIOR who was to follow up at the next meeting. The rest are pretty well exposed, RIVER FALCON (5th) picking up late ground, but then he wins seldom and often runs the same way.

    Mark Johnston’s runners usually come to Musselburgh with a decent chance and he landed the maiden with SKYFIRE, stepping up considerably on a disappointing Wolverhampton debut. CHUSHKA made the winner pull out the stops and appears to have trained on. She should win a maiden and would be a good bet in a fillies’ event.
    BAJAN FLASH is sprint bred but stayed on for third over this seven furlong trip.

    The Musselburgh Gold Cup was landed by MY ARCH last seen here winning a handicap chase in November. This one is versatile and could be aimed at flat, hurdles or chases, though I believe the target is a Ripon handicap. I’d have liked to have seen him aimed at Perth later in the month, but the trainer seems to think otherwise. He finished like a train down the centre to take the race having been well touted beforehand. VELOSO was caught on the line having looked to have done enough and carried forward his all-weather form with credit. BOGSIDE THEATRE impressed over hurdles at Ayr and made a brave attempt to make all the running, keeping on determinedly once headed two furlongs out. She should find a run-of-the-mill handicap off her mark of 75. DAZZLING LIGHT made some progress from the rear in the straight having been at the back for much of the way, whilst Jim Goldie’s other contestant GORDONSVILLE never got involved.

    SHE’S IN THE MONEY impressed me toward the end of last summer and looked the bet of the day in the all-age seven furlong handicap. She won with authority and remains progressive, with this trip suiting her best. TOLEDO GOLD ran well in second but he was best fresh last season after which his form tailed off. MOUNTAIN Cat was slightly hampered by the winner around the furlong marker and couldn’t get a challenge in afterwards. He should be close up in similar events. RA JUNIOR has slipped down the handicap and hinted that he might be returning to something like his best. He kept on at one pace and looks one to note in -85 or 0-90 company.

    The all age handicap was won by Pat Eddery’s GOODLUKIN LUCY confirming the promise of her Doncaster debut. DANCING DUDE made a sound debut, keeping on but not over-pressed by his rider once held. He should come on for this race and a maiden seems there for the taking. Six-year-old bumper winner HUNTERS BELT stayed on from the rear for third. He looks an out-and-out-stayer and would be one to keep in mind for handicaps now that he is qualified for a rating. MAJOR POP led and kept on once passed. He’s another now qualified for handicaps.

    ESUVIA, a winner of a maiden last season, has clearly progressed over the winter and won the closing three-year-old handicap with ease, coming clear in the final furlong. Her trainer will presumably try to strike while the iron is hot. DIMAN WATERS kept on for second and will be competitive in similar company. DAZEEN and DOWER GLEN both look handicapped to their mark, the former showing good speed while the latter stayed on late.

    MUSSELBURGH – Friday April 9th

    Going – Good To Soft (good in places)

    The opening two-year-old event of the Scottish season saw a disappointing turn out. The three runners went a slow pace for three furlongs led by LAS VERGLAS STAR, unplaced in the Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster, who quickened away from his two opponents. The winner’s stable-mate MICA MIKA stayed on late to go clear of GARTSHERRIE.

    The following seller was a two horse race from quite a way out. ODDSMAKER kicked on entering the straight in a tactic used successfully with him in the past. He saw off all but SUDDEN IMPULSE who wore him down from the two furlong pole. Both are suited by the 1m 4f trip around here. BIRKSIDE stayed on for third and recent selling hurdle winner ALONG THE NILE, outpaced as the early leaders took off, passed the remainder in the straight to take fourth.

    HIGHLAND WARRIOR confirmed promise of Sunday’s run to take the sprint handicap, pulling well clear in the final furlong. He needs to be brought out again under a penalty to exploit his current well being. INGLEBY STAR goes well here and was helped by the drying ground, just holding on for second. MANDARIN SPIRIT, best when able to dictate the pace, stayed on through one paced and weakening rivals for third. GRISSOM made a satisfactory return, keeping on for fourth. THE BEAR had a purple patch last summer and showed plenty of pace until weakening in the final furlong.

    Although the all-weather has diluted the effect somewhat, I always keep an eye on early season three-year-old handicaps to note any progressive types who have done well over the winter. The winter from two to three years can be the most significant part of a young horse’s maturation period. In the event the seven furlong contest here was won by an exposed type in ORPEN ARMS. However, Richard Fahey has his string buzzing and this one looked as if she had a bit more in the locker. COOLELLA was a bit keen in touch with the leaders but kept on well after the winner and looks to have progressed over the winter. SO BAZAAR made late progress and may benefit from a step up in trip. OCHILVIEW WARRIOR raced prominently, but he’s headstrong and difficult to steer. His energies need to be channelled in a better direction.

    Two pulled clear in the mile 0-85 handicap and both INTERNATIONALDEBUT and GOLIATHS BOY are significantly better than an exposed bunch. The former is versatile and seems in good nick for his new stable, though he will be forced into tougher company. The latter took some time to get the hang of things but progressed nicely last season.

    The nine furlong maiden was fought out between Richard Fahey’s HIGH OFFICE, notching the trainer’s fourth winner on the afternoon, and NISAAL. Both are well exposed and the latter has a rather off-putting head carriage. The one that caught my eye was the one that finished last BROOTOMMITTY. He looked very green on only his second visit to a racecourse, pulled hard early on and couldn’t make any impact on the others. However, he’s a pleasing sort to the eye and should be one who will find his level once handicapped.

    The card ended with a mile apprentice handicap full of well exposed runners. ZAPLAMATION was able to assert against animals of this class with second in the weights LAURELDEANS BEST following him home. This didn’t tell us much other than that you can drop some in the weights as much as you like but ultimately it doesn’t make a jot of difference to the outcome. ZAPLAMATION, ridden confidently by Ian Brennan is an uncomplicated sort who goes well for apprentices and amateurs.

    • Total Posts 6341

    A summary of May Bank Holiday weekend flat fixtures:

    MUSSELBURGH – Friday April 30th

    Going – Good / Good To Firm

    The opening three-year-old handicap looked an ordinary event. The winner LEES ANTHEM is well exposed as ordinary, though JIGAJIG has at least shown a little form of late and ran creditable under a penalty.
    The following two-year-old race was run only 0.36s slower which marks it as a fair early season race. DOLLY PARTON set the pace before being held in the final furlong. She’s clearly getting the hang of the game and has the pace to win a race, particularly if pitched against maiden fillies. MAJESTIC MYLES picked up nicely to take charge from the furlong pole. He has enough about him to progress form this and should pick up another race. KASSSAAB showed fair speed in third.
    FUJIN DANCER looked rather awkward early on in the nine furlong handicap but stayed on through the field in the straight. He arrived just too late to foil SAND TIGER who took over inside the final furlong and ran on for victory. This one has been lightly raced since leaving Andre Fabre and might just be quietly progressive.
    GRAND DIAMOND is consistent and underpins the form in third place. CHARLIE COOL led until the final furlong but looks to be sharp enough more Mrs Carr to place him off a low mark.
    The feature event, a Class 2 sprint, attracted five runners rated from 90 up to 98. The highest rated runner was the winner, MOORHOUSE LAD making the running and holding on under pressure. JARGELLE was theoretically best weighted but gave way tamely in the final furlong. REBEL DUKE, just pipped for second by STRIKING SPIRIT, will have tough tasks off 94 and may be better suited if Ollie Pears can seek out similar events just now.
    ODDSMAKER does well here, his tried and trusted ‘kick off the final bend’ tactics employed once again. He kept on under pressure from quite a way out, but couldn’t resist PARK’S PRODIGY who outstayed him and should be a factor in similar contests. The remainder were well held, the lowly rated PETELLA staying on for third.
    A mixture of exposed and progressive appeared for the 0-95 seven furlong handicap which was won by far from straight forward type EZDEYAAD. CAMEROONEY has continued solid all-weather form on to the turf and put up a decent effort in second, gaining at the line. Brian Ellison can place him to win again particularly in a lower class. BECKERMET isn’t the horse he was. I saw him win the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury back on a very warm day in 2005, but he has regressed steadily since although he ran a fair race for third here, dead-heating with generally consistent but exposed DUBAI DYNAMO.
    The card closed with a 0-65 handicap over the seven furlongs, won by NUFOODH who isn’t bad at this lowly level, particularly at Musselburgh. JONNY LESTERS HAIR chased him home but is frustrating, winless since 2008. MISTER JINGLES stayed to be a never nearer third with FINSBURY running a similar race in fourth.

    HAMILTON – Sunday May 2nd

    Going – Good

    Hamilton Park attracted a very healthy crowd for their first meeting of 2010. The cars itself was fairly average though and there will be better fayre to come in the next few weeks
    FUJIN DANCER found a softer event than at Musselburgh a couple of days earlier, staying on under pressure to win the Scottish Trophy Series handicap over the extended mile. His running style is probably a little better suited to Hamilton than Musselburgh, since the front runners stop up the hill at the Lanarkshire venue. The rest were much of a muchness, though lightly-raced GEORGE ADAMSON staying on for second offered prospects for the near future. Newcastle winner SAVING GRACE was held in the final furlong having led three furlongs out. BOTHAM kept on up the hill and should figure in similar races at this course.
    Progressive FIBS AND FLANNEL was pushed out to win the extended mile three-year-old handicap for those rated 0-85. He looked to have a bit more in hand than the ¾ length winning margin. He could well continue his winning run. The form looks rock solid with Thirsk winner DOLPHIN ROCK running on for second and double nursery winner WILLIAM MORGAN filling the third spot. Local runner SUNNANDDAEG ran passably back in fourth if held form the furlong pole.
    A number of familiar ‘old suspects’ lined up for the six furlong 0-70 event and they will no doubt clash a few times over the course. TOP BID came clear in the final furlong, but as a six-year-old with only one previous win I do wonder if things just came right on the day. WHERE’S REILEY carried forward Southwell form to finish best of the rest. MANDARIN SPIRIT needs to dictate and couldn’t get enough air between himself and the remainder, though he managed a respectable if one paced third.
    PRINCE PICASSO came clear to win the thirteen furlong handicap (0-89) getting the run of the race in front of GORDONSVILLE. The latter’s jockey, Danny Tudhope, appeared to exchange words with Andrew Heffernan on Valdan as the latter kept him pinned on the rail at the three furlong marker. Whether Tudhope liked it or not it’s a legitimate tactic, and Gordonsville got out too late to make up ground. Given the run of the race I would expect GORDONSVILLE to pick up a staying handicap soon as he seems in good heart. VALDAN put up a fair effort, keeping on for third off bottom weight and would offer hope lowered in class.
    RAWNAQ was comfortably winner of the eleven furlong maiden, pulling clear from three out. PALAWI chased the leader from the bottom of the hill but was well held, while I’M FRANK could make no impression kept on without making an impression and may benefit from a longer distance. The other two. LE VOLCAN D’OR and HAUNTING, are both well bred but have shown little to date.
    CAWDOR beat INGLEBY STAR as the two best rated field top spots in the claimer. Five-year-old mare DOLLY ROYAL, making only her third appearance, was slow away and struggled to go the pace in the six furlong contest, but she picked up nicely up the hill and stayed on for third. Given the ratings of those behind her she is no lost cause.
    The card finished with a very ordinary five furlong handicap, with inconsistent ACE OF SPIES emerging best on this occasion. WELCOME APPROACH, normally seen on the all-weather, is consistent at this level and finished well for second. MEGALO MANIAC stayed on late for third. TONGALOOMA showed good speed and kept going well enough for fourth. The latter is lightly raced and she would likely have more going for her than a few of the rest.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Friday 7th May

    Going – Good

    The card opened with a moderate five-runner two-year-old maiden won with come comfort by SAUCY BUCK, a raider from the West Ilsley yard of Mike Channon*. This one had the best form coming into the race and comfortably saw off ROODEE QUEEN who might find her level in nurseries.
    Channon missed out on the £13,000 added three-year-old sprint, his MISTER HUGHIE been seen off by less exposed northern trained BOW BEAVER. The latter has potential to make a mark in decent sprint handicaps since the second ahs won such an event. Mark Johnston’s BELOW ZERO was well outpaced after two furlongs out.
    MEETINGS MAN fulfilled the promise of a fair effort at Pontefract to win the three-year-old mile and a half handicap. He stayed on well to win with a bit to spare and should be capable of moving up a grade from this 0-65. IL PORTICO kept on for second if held.
    TAARESH has been running well on the all-weather and turf, and found the stiff finish to his liking here. He stayed on after leading two out in a nine furlong 0-78 contest. DANDAREK rallied two out but couldn’t make an impression in the final furlong and is probably pretty much on his mark now. ZAPLAMATION ran respectably in the company and has scope for a drop in class off a current mark of 67. ERGO stayed on at one pace for fourth and is gradually coming to hand.
    BEAT BABY did a sound job in the six furlong maiden, pulling clear inside the last two furlongs. His breeding suggests he might progress as a three-year-old and he made a decent start to the season. ANTARCTIC DESERT chased the winner home and suggested a move back up in trip would do no harm. Mark Johnston’s newcomer OPERA CAT was disappointing, outpaced early on and never in the race. PRINCE OF FIFE is well related but was left twenty lengths at the start, so ended up having no more than an exercise gallop.
    The card was compeled by a ‘whose turn is today?’ 0-75 handicap. It was TADALAVIL’s turn and he’s well exposed, while GUEST CONNECTIONS kept up a good record at Hamilton by finishing second. APACHE RIDGE and NORTHERN BOLT were both putting in good work at the finish.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Friday May 14th

    The Lanarkshire course served up a couple of Listed races for one of its big cards of the year. A couple of last year’s entries went on to the Queen’s Vase which be a consideration for CORSICA, the winner of a couple of mile and a half handicaps before this. Finding more in the final furlong, like so many of Mark Johnston’s runners, he showed that he isn’t lacking in stamina. ADMISSION pushed him all the way in second and is improving. The big disappointment was Layali Al Andalus, moved from the winner’s stable after last season, who faded badly in the final two furlongs.
    The preceding three-year-old sprint handicap saw 40/1 chance Ginger’s Lad just hold Flaneur, the second having picked up a race since then. On that basis I fancy the close third, maiden KELLY’S EYE, should be worth an interest in upcoming races. She stayed on well up the hill.
    HILLVIEW BOY continues to progress and was a decent winner of the Braveheart Listed Handicap over a mile and a half. He’ll go up around the 100 mark for this but may still have a bit in the tank, and although only seven ran here it was a select field.
    ORIENTAL CAT seems to have wintered well and was an impressive winner of the maiden. He didn’t beat a huge amount, the second looks about right on 77, but the winner should go on from here and contest decent handicaps in time. SMARTY SAM made good progress late on and will be interesting once handicapped.

    MUSSELBURGH – Tuesday May 18th

    FREMEN took advantage of yet another clear opportunity to make it five wins in a row this year, a phenomenal performance for a 10-year-old gelding. He was made to pull out all the stops in the nine furlong seller by the determined runner-up Liberty Trail. JOINEDUPWRITING ran respectably at the weights back in third, though well held.
    TIMELESS ELEGANCE doddled up in the three-year-old seven furlong handicap. She has clearly done well over the winter and is a filly going forward. Coolella’s run in second gives the form some support.
    Bryan Smart introduced a smart two-year-old in EXCEL BOLT. He’s well bred to go a bit as a youngster and Smart will presumably eye a target a Royal Ascot. CRIMSON KNOT offered promise in second, stepping up on her first effort.
    NUFOUDH was well suited by the sharp pace in the seven furlong 0-70 event, tracking the leaders and asserting in the final furlong. He corners very well, hugging the tight bottom bend, and that does make a difference in a truly run race. Moving forward to Friday you will see that he wasn’t as sharp in a muddling affair. MISTER JINGLES was just held in the final furlong and seems in good heart id an exposed type. JONNY LESTERS HAIR looked none to keen when asked for an effort, wandering around in the last two furlongs. He seems one to be wary of.
    FAIRY SHOES beat a moderate field in the maiden, but she did it well enough and will prove better over a stiffer track.

    MUSSELBURGH- Friday May 21st

    Going- Good to Firm

    It was glorious evening on ‘The Links’ with a decent crowd turning out to see some low class but nevertheless exciting racing. Many of the crowd seemed quite happy to stay on the lawns to the side of the stand, thus allowing those us around the paddock a little more elbow room than we might have expected. With the bars packed the alcohol free Rosebery Café was an oasis of calm, giving me a chance to grab a coffee and a snack in mid evening.

    Bereft of my own transport following a recent redundancy, I took the 26 bus from my new workplace all the way across to Musselburgh. It’s slow old journey in the rush hour, but at £1.20 single I’m really not complaining. The after meeting bus back to Edinburgh was a good deal quicker!

    I was accompanied at paddock side by David Cormack of the Racing Forum. David was providing paddock picks for Twitter watchers on what was the first meeting of a busy weekend for the Borders based correspondent. He travelled to Haydock on Saturday, but was still fresh enough to travel to Perth on Sunday.

    6.40 5f 0-65 3yo Handicap

    Generally an ordinary collection in the paddock though MONTE MAYOR ONE looked well and on his toes ready for the contest. He couldn’t carry forward looks to the contest and finished a well beaten last.
    JIGAJIG is in good form at the moment and was good enough to reverse form with Lees Anthem, his conqueror last time they met here. Jigajig is a thick set type who looks every inch a sprinter, was always prominent and driven clear in the final furlong.
    LEES ANTHEM proved his win here was no fluke and sets the standard at this level.
    NORTH CENTRAL, gelded since his last appearance, looked plenty fit enough for his return. He was tapped for pace in the final furlong but probably has enough pace to win a race somewhere along the line.
    DOWER GLEN, running respectably without really threatening, and KRISTEN JANE showing a glimmer of ability from the bottom of the weights, were clear of the other five.

    7.10 5f 2yo Class 4 Maiden

    This was not a great event. Two stood out in the paddock and they finished first and second.
    MOLLY MYLENIS has shown enough to suggest a race was within her compass. She looked well forward compared to others, making all and staying on well.
    KHEYA was reported as ‘backward’ on her first outing. She was fit enough to do herself justice on this occasion and bustled up the winner in the final furlong, coming clear of the other four. She was only beaten a neck and got the hang of things in the last two furlongs.
    ROODEE QUEEN ran to her previous level in third.
    FAST SHOT was well backed, but neither previous run nor paddock inspection really gave cause for optimism. He weakened in the final furlong.

    7.40 7f 30yds 0-70 Handicap

    I would be wary of the form of this race since CAMEROONEY stole the race under a shrewd ride from Barry McHugh. Setting a steady pace he quickened the tempo approaching three out and comfortably put the race to bed. I suspect Camerooney is capable of mixing it with better opposition, but he will have something to prove.
    HOSANNA was left flat-footed early in the straight but picked up late on to take second for one of my local trainers, Kinnesswood based John Barclay. The fact that this exposed filly was 11lbs out of the weights sums the race up.
    COLD QUEST is an imposing and if the saying went ‘handsome does as handsome is’ then he would win some decent race. Sadly it’s the other way around, though Linda Perratt’s gelding did hint that he still possesses some ability, just being held for second as he stayed on.
    NUFOUDH needs a stronger pace to make use of his nimbleness around the bend.
    MR LU pulled too hard and had run himself out with a furlong to go.

    8.10 5f Class 6 Selling Stakes

    A fascinating contest full of battled hardened ‘street fighters’.
    THE BEAR was difficult on the way to start, forcing Paul Mulrennan to kick his feet out of the irons. I did remark that he didn’t look “out of control”, though I wasn’t absolutely convinced! As it happened my judgement was right, The Bear contesting a hot pace with Stolt and then keeping up the gallop in the second half of the race. He was still throttle fully open passing the post and continued most of the way down the back straight before being pulled up. Not finished yet, Linda Perratt’s gelding hurtled back to the unsaddling enclosure at a fair lick!
    He’s subsequently been bumped up only 5lbs to 64 for this effort which isn’t too bad if he can produce a repeat. I guess you would have to get inside his head to see if that were likely to occur.
    STOLT hurtled off in front but couldn’t hold The Bear, though he kept on stoutly enough for second.
    MANDARIN SPIRIT performed very well, keeping on toward the finish. He does need things his own way if he is to win though.
    RACCOON needs to be up front and couldn’t get there from stall seven against a sharp front runner popping out of the number two box. He had burst himself by the furlong pole and faded into fourth.
    INGLEBY STAR had it all to do at the weights and couldn’t get into the race form the outside draw.

    8.40 1m 6f 0-73 Handicap

    A race full of exposed sorts was won by the consistent JACKDAY. Nicely set up his seasonal debut second, he took over two out and stayed on well for victory. He’s by no means a straight forward sort, but is normally thereabouts at this level.
    FORREST FLYER kept on for second and Jim Goldie should be able to coax a race out of him at this level or lower, particularly at this track.
    WICKED DAZE and DANISH REBEL were held from two out.
    ODDSMAKER seemed too keen in front and, though Cathy Gannon tried to kick clear from the home turn, there wasn’t enough in the tank.

    9.10 7f 30yds 0-70 Handicap

    This was an ordinary closing event with nothing looking obviously progressive. The first five finished in a heap, though it did mean a good percentage of punters were in with a shout, the crowd noise reflecting this. Your correspondent had a darned good go at calling the first five places with the naked eye, though I can surely be excused not identifying the second place dead-heat!
    DESERT FOREST showed the greater will close home having seemed in danger of being swamped in the final furlong. His determination might be worth noting for future races.
    KILLING MOON and LOCHANTANKS stayed on to tie for second.
    CHINESE DEMOCRACY seemed the most likely winner a furlong out, but to my eye he seemed to lack some of the heart of the first three.
    COULD IT BE MAGIC was picking up throughout the final furlong, but is a well exposed maiden.

    • Total Posts 6341

    Saturday June 5th


    Going – Good (Good to Firm in places)

    A large crowd turned up for a well endowed card at the East Lothian venue in glorious sunny weather.

    2.05 5f 0-81 Handicap

    LOST IN PARIS, generally progressive if setting aside a last run where she went off too quick, won the opening sprint very nicely. Having disputed all the way she asserted from the furlong pole and looks suited by the sharp five furlongs here.
    INGLEBY STAR, back to form after a couple of disappointing efforts, ran on for second and RIDLEY DIDLEY continued in decent form if held in the final furlong.

    2.35 5f Class 2 Stakes

    This looked a strong contest and the first two seem Ascot candidates. EXCEL BOLT rallied near to the line to get back up having been headed by COCKTAIL CHARLIE. The time was a shade quicker than that of the first race, and allowing for weight-for-age a rating of 100+ would be reasonable for both the first two. That puts them well into Pattern class. FIFTH AVENUE was back in third and this filly is worth noting for future runs, though she’s more exposed than the first two.

    3.10 1m 4f 100yds 0-104 3yo Handicap for the ‘Edinburgh Cup’

    The main event, run in a course record time, looked to throw up another Royal Ascot prospect in HARRIS TWEED. He led, was driven out to pull clear for what was eventually a comfortable win and is coming along in leaps and bounds.
    SING SWEETLY stayed on for second and is that the right end of the handicap. Given that this race was full of progressive types then a second place is of great merit and it will only be a matter of time before she picks up a race, perhaps suited by a stiffer track or slightly further.
    CORSICA was up with the leaders all the way but off top weight, 16lbs clear of the next best, couldn’t respond sufficiently in the final two furlongs. I did wonder after his Hamilton effort whether he might go for the Queen’s Vase, a target for staying types who are in the ‘twilight zone’ in handicaps.
    Behind those, OPERA GAL was always thereabouts but tapped for pace in the final two furlongs. She will finds easier opportunities, as will BOWDLER’S MAGIC and ROCK A DOODLE DOO, both putting in good work toward the end.
    3.40 5f 0-99 Handicap

    HAMISH MCGONAGALL has been in the mix in all his races this season. He was quickly prominent from a wide draw and led enough in hand to run on for victory in the final furlong. Given his draw position I suspect this form may be a few pounds better than it first appears.
    Dandy Nicholls is never far away in these events and his STRIKING SPIRIT ran on to take a close second.
    INGLEBY LADY stuck on for third, a good effort over what would be a sharp five furlongs for her. She looks well capable of recording another win stepped back up to six furlongs.
    MASAMAH showed a lot of early speed, but had to give way approaching the final furlong. That being said, he did stick on for fourth place which in itself was a decent effort.
    VALERY BORZOV was left flat-footed at the start, which was curtains in this sort of event, but he put in some good work late on. Better at six furlongs, he’s worth keeping on the right side when stepped back up in trip.

    4.15 1m 1f Class 4 Selling Stakes

    FREMEN made it six wins from six for the season with a typically determined effort in the seller. Judged on ratings he had it to do again nominally better opponents, but ultimately it was willingness that counted and he kept responding up the straight.
    MOUNT HADLEY found the winner had more resolution, while the third KING’S POINT probably performed best of the beaten horses given that he was lowest rated.
    LANG SHING is better than this level though doesn’t look particularly inclined to show it and was a disappointing fifth.

    4.50 1m 4f 100yds 0-80 Handicap

    JUST LILLE bounced back to form here in a first time visor, staying on under pressure. Time constraints meant I have been unable to write my reports as soon as I’d like, and so she followed up in the Lanark Bell at Hamilton before I could get this piece on line.
    ANTIGUA SUNRISE could make no impression from two out though performed soundly, while ANNIBALE CARO made progress up the straight to finish third but is essentially frustrating.

    5.25 7f 30yds 0-78 3yo Handicap

    JEANNIE GALLOWAY raced prominently and showed determination to hold on once hitting the front in the final furlong.
    ENGULF was well backed following a second in a Newbury maiden. He was going best two furlongs out but didn’t respond as expected, though he still looked a bit green to me and there may well be better to come in time. He kept on well enough close home.
    AMENABLE led until headed at the furlong pole and couldn’t raise his game from there.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Monday June 28th

    Going – Good to Firm (Firm in places) easing to Good (Good To Firm in places) by Race Three.

    The rain threatened during the afternoon and finally arrived before the start of the first race. It rained on and off through the evening, a particularly heavy burst half hour before the race sending me to refuge in the Rosebery Café.

    6.55 2m 0-65 Amateur Riders’ Handicap

    A low key card stared with one of the Bollinger Series of events for Gentleman Amateur Riders. Peter Montieth booked useful Simon Walker for LOS NADIS who would pick this lot up and carry them over hurdles. He showed that ability on the flat here, staying on relentlessly up the straight and winning with a large chunk to spare. He won’t often get it this easy, and will pay for the winning margin, but it was a decent effort from one who has rated much higher than the 55 he ran off here.
    ANDORN stayed on determinedly without threatening the winner and may not be finished winning if finding softish events.
    SUMMER SOUL is in decent form over hurdles and plugged on under pressure from three out, while KYBER could match the pace of the first three from two out and hasn’t been at his best recently.

    7.25 5f 0-65 Handicap

    This was low grade sprint handicap, but to their credit this bunch had managed 42 wins between them. SILVANUS was the one to make it 43 with what turned out to be a cosy win. His rider worked hard from two out to get him into contention, but once he got his head in front he had a bit to spare. He was eased off close home and in this form might pick up another race soon.
    SPEEDY SENORITA showed good pace from stall one, looked held approaching the furlong pole but stuck on well. This was a better effort and she has chances over a sharp five.
    SANDWITH ran a respectable race if held form the furlong pole, while the largely frustrating FASLIYANNE kept on late.
    RACCOON had a good draw in box two, he’d won 4 out of 6 from stalls 1 or 2 here before this, but he’s not hit peak form this season and weakened from the furlong pole.

    7.55 5f Class 5 2yo Stakes

    This was probably a decent contest for the level. The time was only 0.32 seconds slower than the handicappers, which is decent for two-year-olds, and the first three were clear.

    ALBEN STAR was ready to do his stuff as are so many of Richard Fahey’s youngsters. He led a furlong and a half out and showed a good attitude to run on well for victory. He’s sprint bred and should pick up another contest before long.
    Of the first three, EARL WILD looks the one to take forward. He gave me the impression that there’s a bit to work on and he was picking up nicely in the final furlong. I’d be surprised if he didn’t win a race or two soon.
    MISS MEDIATOR represented solid form from York and kept on if held in the last 100 yards. She will win a race and would be a fine prospect in a fillies only contest.
    FLEET CAPTAIN is a strong colt who seemed to find this sharp five too quick for him. He was eased after being hampered in some scrimmaging at the furlong pole and will produce better in time.

    8.25 1m 4f 100yds 0-70 Handicap

    Five finished in close proximity here which suggested they have pretty much established their level. Consistent PARK’S PRODIGY ran close up to a generous pace set by Balwearie, took over a furlong out and battled well to hold on. He lacks nothing in commitment.
    Held up off the pace set by his stable companion, ROYAL STRAIGHT stayed on from three out without quite getting close enough to threaten a win. His best chances will come held up off a strong pace as he’s not straightforward.
    HYDRANT and GRAND DIAMOND kept on for third and fourth respectively, neither beaten far.
    BALWEARIE has had an interrupted career, including a 27-month break followed by a broken jaw incurred when he slipped up last season, but retains some ability and enthusiasm. He went at a fair lick and kept battling once challenged; only giving way in the final furlong. He might have to be aimed very low but he does seem capable of a win.
    SAFEBREAKER was pushed along four out and lost touch, being eased down considerably once booked for sixth.

    8.55 1m 0-65 Handicap

    In-form Paul Hanagan scored a third victory of the evening as he found a gap in the final furlong to produce GLENLUJI to win here. This trip was more to the winner’s liking than the six furlongs he ran over last time. He probably needs covering up, he won in similar fashion over a mile at Ayr, and the gap appeared nicely inside the final furlong.
    SAN SILVESTRO is a fair performer at this level and stayed on for second.
    QUEEN’S SCHOLAR was making only her fourth appearance and kept on having been ridden up with the pace. Mark Johnston might squeeze a small race out of this one.
    ZABEEL TOWER challenged two out, leading briefly at the furlong pole, but was then held in the last 100 yards. He looks handicapped to his mark.

    9.25 7f 30yds 0-55 3yo Handicap

    The card closed with a weak looking three-year-old handicap.

    The first two showed more determination than the others and had a good set to from two out. CHOC’A’MOCA ran a good race at Catterick earlier and seems at his best round a sharp track. He just got the best of RESCENT in a finish of bobbing heads. Both are ordinary but at least show some willingness and you need that on your side at this level.
    MONSIEUR PONTAVEN kept on for third having been in the rear for the first half of the race. The step up from six furlongs seemed to suit and he looks likely to stay a mile. It should be noted that on my past performance on judging ideal distances on the flat you should lump on if he drops back to six furlongs!
    The fourth COOLELLA was held from two out.

    • Total Posts 6341

    CATTERICK – Wednesday July 7th

    Going – Good to Firm (Firm in places)

    We took in this Catterick meeting on the way down south to attend a wedding and visit family and friends. It’s a mark of how busy the flat schedule has become these days that a fair few runners from this meeting have appeared since, some within a couple of days of Catterick. Time available to concentrate on racing is not as plentiful as I’d like these days, hence I’m really finding it a struggle to keep up with the flat even just in my area.

    The viewing at Catterick is pretty good, though the trees in the middle of the course are starting to obscure bits and pieces of the back straight. Memo to course managers: if you are going to plant greenery make it stuff that grows outwards instead of upwards. Being only nine furlongs around it’s easy to follow the action from the steeply graded steps of the three stands, even more so on the jump course which runs up above the flat track on the far side. However Aileen’s standard complaint at many northern racecourses, to whit no seating, applies once again. The only seats available are benches at ground level.

    2.00 5f 2yo Class 6 Selling Stakes

    A very moderate contest to start the card and it’s difficult to see many of these winning in future.

    JOHNNY HANCOCKS showed more pace than the rest. He broke well and always led, coming clear from two furlongs out. He’ll find it tougher if moved up to nurseries and sellers or claimers will likely prove his level, particularly on sharp tracks where he use his early pace. There was no bid at the auction.
    CHESTER DEELYTE wandered about a bit under pressure form two out though kept on for second. Her form is moderate but does seem to be going the right way.
    FOREVER VIENNA hinted at ability in third. He looks to me to have some growing to do and might do better once he strengthens. BIGALO’S LAURA B looks well grown on the other hand and I wonder if there’s an awful lot more to come past a fourth here.

    2.50 7f 3yo 0-75 Handicap

    JUST THE TONIC looks well suited by this trip and going. Held up in rear she picked up from two out and came to pinch the race on the line. The manner of here win suggests she has a bit in hand if a race suits the hold up tactics.
    SKYFIRE comes out of this race with a fair deal of credit since he did best of the pace setters. Near the front all the way he seemed the likely winner at the furlong pole only to be cut down in the shadow of the post.
    MERCHANT OF MEDICI stayed on for third and probably stepped up a little on the form of his selling win. This was a better event.
    CHINESE DEMOCRACY once again failed to show enough commitment in the final furlong and was held in fourth. He was taken down to Warwick the next day and won a similar event there, showing he has ability if inclined to use it.
    KILMANSECK and DESERT FOREST set the pace and their efforts told from two furlongs out.

    3.20 1m 7f 177yds 0-77 Handicap

    The turn out here was very disappointing, particularly considering that £1,800 appearance money was available to split between the runners.
    BERGONZI tracked the leader and then just got the better of a battle with CLOUDY CITY in the straight, the pair pulling clear. The winner is probably at his level but the second would seem to have a bit more scope for improvement.
    ACT OF KALANISI was found out once headed in the straight and ARCHITRAVE was beaten by the home bend. BIJOU DAN ran a lifeless race not seeming that keen and losing touch down the far side for the final time.

    3.55 6f 3yo 0-75 Handicap

    THINKING broke his duck here, just wearing down a determined second on the line. The winner might just be positioned to take advantage of his handicap mark as he’s probably a bit better than bare recent form suggests and won’t go up much for this.
    THE HERMITAGE didn’t do too much wrong in second and, like so many of Mark Johnston’s charges, battled hard before being passed at the post. The Johnston yard suffered a frustrating meeting with three consecutive seconds all beaten on the nod.
    REACH FOR THE SKY looked very small compared with the colts and geldings but, given that she was 4lbs out of the handicap, put up a sterling effort to take third place. There will be easier races for her and it’s worth noting that she handled the sharp bends a fair bit better than a few.
    None of the others made an impact in the straight, RAVENSFIELD not handling the home bend well.

    4.30 7f 0-65 Handicap

    DHHAMAAN is not a bad performer at this level when allowed to dictate and was on his toes in the paddock. Nothing got to him on this occasion and he never looked like being caught from two out.
    CALL OF DUTY stayed on for second and has been thereabouts on a number of occasions recently.
    NEEDY McCREDIE looked very well and ran a personal best if held form two out.
    ARJEMIS, another on his toes in the parade ring, stayed on late without threatening.
    STRAIGHT FACE was left a few lengths at the start and had no chance after. This run can be ignored and he’s better than recent form figures suggest.

    5.05 7f 0-65 Handicap

    NUIT SOMBRE was well touted here but he’s better in less competitive claimers. He couldn’t raise his game once challenged two out.
    ELLIES IMAGE stayed on well from two out to take the prize from SAN SILVESTRO who ran on down the centre but never got to the winner. The latter is capable but a bit frustrating.
    URSUS stayed on for third but is basically moderate and BAYBSHAMBLES didn’t seem particularly inclined to go through a gap in the final furlong.
    IT’S BEYOND ME was equipped with a tongue tie, cheek pieces, a full cheek snaffle and a cross-noseband suggesting assorted physical and mental problems. He wasn’t quick enough to keep up and looks as if he should be doing something other than racing.

    5.40 1m 4f 3-4yo Maiden Stakes

    This race only concerned two from the turn for home. Sir Mark Prescott’s NEZHENKA had shown signs of temperament previously, but she has a fair bit of ability. She led after two furlongs out and came away nicely from that point.
    CEOIL AN AITH was outpointed from two out and became Mark Johnston’s fourth second place of the meeting. She flashed her tail when the whip was brandished, though she did run on for hands and heels.
    MISS MEFT finished a once paced third but her current mark of 67 might flatter here.
    SHEIKHTOTHEMUSIC was a never dangerous fourth and looks destined for low grade handicaps.

    We made our way down to Ripon for an overnight stay. Although our stay didn’t go quite to plan I can recommend the Royal Oak Hotel in the centre of Ripon. First off it’s a Timothy Taylor pub which means the ale is good. Secondly, the food is excellent, both a lovely dinner and breakfast next morning, with the majority of ingredients locally sourced. Unfortunately the plumbing failed and we had no water overnight after a pipe burst, but on the upside we were not charged for bed and breakfast. I’m sure this was just a temporary hiccup.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Friday July 16th

    Hamilton’s Glasgow Fair Friday meeting is headlined by the Scottish Stewards Cup over six furlongs. LOWDOWN took advantage of a favourable draw, had the run of the race and won quite nicely. A suggestion of how well favoured he was came in the sprint at York yesterday when HAWKEYETHENOO turned the form round with Lowdown struggling. Jim Goldie’s charge was badly drawn and finished lame at Hamilton but showed no ill effects on the Knavesmire. He will probably get into the Stewards Cup at Goodwood now and is in rattling good form.
    The first two to finish on the far side were ESPRIT DE MIDAS and BALDEMAR. Both have run creditably since, the former when a close third over seven furlongs at Newcastle, and the latter when not beaten a huge distance in ninth behind Hawkeyethenoo at York. Both are worth noting in upcoming engagements.
    The support card was of relatively low quality and I struggled to spot anything of immediate interest. However, HIGH RESOLUTION notched up a notable handicap double over the Thrusday and Friday of this meeting.

    AYR – Monday 19th July

    Ayr hold a Fair Meeting on the Monday afternoon, though the Glasgow holiday isn’t marked as consistently as it used to be and the crowd was around the 2,500 mark. The feature event, a Class 2 five furlong handicap was won by FAVOURITE GIRL who held on gamely in the final furlong. PAVERSHOOZ was a close second and has worked his way into form. He hit form at a similar time last year and seems primed for a win.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAM ILTON – Saturday July 31st

    Going – Good

    Apologies for a delay in posting this report, and you’ll note that a few mentioned have come out once or more since. I’m struggling to fit reporting around other commitments right now since my job changed, so there maybe a few catch-up articles spaced out a bit, unless someone sees fit to pay me for this drivel…

    Ladies’ Day at Hamilton saw a very healthy crowd in attendance, officially a shade under 7,000, despite some damp weather. Rain fell for about an hour leading up to racing, with a particular downpour arriving just before 6 o’clock. The going description remained ‘good’ though I suspect the downpour might have inconvenienced one or two needing a fast surface.

    I was attending along with my wife and a couple we are friends with. This does tend to cramp my style a bit, and for a rare event see race 2, but everybody enjoyed the evening and three of us managed to come away in front on the night.

    6.40 5f Champagne Cocktails at Hamilton Park 0-76 Nursery Handicap

    This was an average little nursery that offered a good opportunity to the dropped in class NASHARRA. He had run in Listed company and then finished in the ruck of the Weatherbys’ Sprint, though not disgraced on either occasion. This looked a much more reasonable target and Kevin Ryan’s colt proved equal to the task. Shaken up to lead a furlong and a half out, he ran on well up the hill to win with just a little in hand.
    INTRUSION was a rather spooked as she entered the paddock, needing a fair bit of encouragement to pass into the ‘arena’. She looked very well and ran to his form, chasing the leader in the final furlong without being able to make an impression. Previous evidence suggested a step up in trip will do no harm and she looks likely to benefit from a move up to seven furlongs.
    FAST SHOT was held in the final furlong but made a satisfactory handicap debut and doesn’t look over burdened on 59, a minor nursery win being a possibility.
    NOVABRIDGE looked best in the paddock but was held up the hill and has not moved forward an awful lot from two early season wins.
    CRIMSON KNOT was outpaced up the hill and a sharper track would appear to suit better.
    MEMORABILIA was prominent in the betting, but he looks to have some growing to do. He’s a sort who is bred to better in time, and leading this field for a way burst him inside the final two furlongs.

    7.10 1m ½f Avia Signs 3-4yo 0-65 Claiming Stakes

    The commitment to out party meant that I managed something I had seldom done in 30 odd years of regular race-going. I missed the race queuing for drinks! At such a meeting you can be sure there will be huge queues for over priced beverages. Out of sight of TV monitors, I caught snippets of the commentary over the PA and did at least have the consolation of backing the winner, as did my wife who managed to beat SP in the process. I caught up with the replay once I got home.

    I find claiming races straight forward contests to analyse as they can readily be reduced to no more than a handful of contenders. Often it’s just a question of listing previous winners, of which there were three in this race, and all qualifiers here finished in the first four.
    MIAMI GATOR generally runs fair races and had managed three wins before this. He was jumped out in front, kicked on from three out and held on well up the hill. He followed up in claiming company at Carlisle three days later, subsequently finishing third at Redcar where the track doesn’t play strengths so much.
    ISLAND CHIEF, a previous winner of two, chased the leader over the final two furlongs having been squeezed up as he came to challenge. He followed up with a double at Thirsk(claimer) and Ayr(selling handicap), suggesting that the form here was decent.
    NORTH CENTRAL stayed on for third, running a similar sort of race to those he had run at sprint distances.
    KING’S SABRE kept on in the closing stages to finish a never nearer fourth.

    Postscript to the drinks queuing was that I settled for a coffee. No queue at the coffee stall…

    7.40 1m 3f MacGregor Flooring 0-60 Handicap

    Paddock inspection here threw up a ‘stand out’ in SHORT SUPPLY who was produced in tip-top condition by Tim Walford. I informed our party that I thought Short Supply would show up well but sadly I couldn’t find enough in her form to justify even a small stake. Mixed feelings then as the Sheriff Hutton trained filly forged ahead from two out. She gave the impression of idling when in front and, while this event was no great shakes, she should prove a bit better than the 46 she ran off here.
    The stewards enquired into short supply’s improvement. The gist of the story was that the stable had previously been under a cloud and that the filly had been in good form of late. It’s not untypical for fillies to make forward progress at this time of year anyway.
    AMICAL RISKS kept on for second without threatening the winner. He has run some fair races but a tally of 1 from 26 runs sums up his level.
    SHARP SOVEREIGN led from three out until the winner took over, coming home at one pace in third.
    REGENT’S SECRET worked his way through the field late on in typical style. He needs a cut-throat pace up front in order to pick off weakening rivals.
    The remainder were seven lengths or more back and offered little immediate encouragement.

    8.10 5f European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ 0-82 Handicap Stakes

    MEY BLOSSOM was finding it hard work down the hill but picked up well up the slope, leading around the furlong pole and staying strongly. She has won on fast ground at Beverley since and wouldn’t want the ground any slower than it was here. Her two wins haven’t been by far, but she is tenacious and that could be useful while she is in good form.
    The form is working out well and the only one who hasn’t appeared since as I write is BRIERTY. She kept on under a pushed out ride, her jockey having lost his whip in the final furlong.
    WICKED WILMA has run a succession of decent races in the last couple of seasons. Leading until the final furlong, she kept on for third.
    GAP PRINCESS looked to be in trouble two out but kept on late. She wasn’t suited by the slightly softened ground and is better at six furlongs anyway, both proven by her Ripon win a couple of days later.
    BASLE couldn’t make an impression from two out. She has run well on the all-weather and may well take a chance or two on the sand in the coming months.

    8.40 6f The Kane Gang (Class 5) Maiden Stakes

    Sprint maidens for older horses are not typically well contested at this stage of the season. Anything with speed will have likely shown something earlier.
    HENRY MORGAN seems to have had his problems but followed up his promising debut with a win here. He has been tubed and I have not seen many such runners in recent times. He’s bred to be a bit better than this level, though it remains to be seen if his breathing problems ultimately hold him back.
    RED ROAR chased up the winner in the final furlong, showing more than she had in two previous efforts.
    KRISTEN JANE was a right pain at the stalls and was ordered to have to pass a stalls test before running again. She was in the firing line approaching the final furlong but couldn’t produce nay extra. She runs consistently but is only rated 47.
    BILLIONAIRE BOY briefly threatened two out but was one paced up the hill. He gave just a glimmer of hope.
    JEMIMA NICHOLAS disputed the pace, but gave way approaching the final furlong and was disappointing.

    9.10 1m 1f Dulciano Restaurant And Bar 0-74 Handicap Stakes

    The value of a sharp burst of pace in an improving handicapper was amply illustrated in this race. HIGH RESOLUTION, a double winner here recently, had to be rousted to challenge approaching the final furlong, but once he quickened the race was quickly in the bag. An improving three-year-old, he looks well capable of continuing his winning streak.
    STARRY MOUNT led after the two furlong pole but couldn’t respond to the winner’s acceleration. He won in heavy ground last autumn so could be one for the notebook in the next month or two.
    Top weight VEROON stayed on well but his recent runs suggest the handicapper has him at his level.
    CARACAL led briefly approaching the final furlong but was one paced once headed.
    TALK OF SAAFEND was held in the final furlong though she does at least get in the mix in the latter stages.
    ZAMBUKA couldn’t repeat her York win and was well held from two furlongs out.

    • Total Posts 6341

    Ganning down the East Coast Line… to see the Blaydon Races!

    NEWCASTLE – Monday August 30th

    Going – Good To Soft (Good in places)

    I made my annual August Bank Holiday pilgrimage down the east coast to Newcastle for a card featuring the Blaydon Race Nursery. Regrettably the meeting seems to be done on the cheap since the Class 2 feature race ‘rewarded’ the winner with only £5050 and the winning owner’s ‘take home pay’ for the Class 6 handicap was a mere £1107. It may be a case of ‘While you can get away with it’ I suppose, and the racing was well supported, but Northern Racing doesn’t seem inclined to dig too deep for what could be a showpiece card.

    Having lost the privilege of a company car on being made redundant earlier this year I had to be content with a journey by train. That being said, it wasn’t expensive booked in advance and the trip down the coast around Berwick is as scenic a section of railway as I’ve travelled on. The track is about a mile and a half from Regent Centre Metro station, 12 minutes journey from Newcastle Central, with a bus connection to the course. As it was I chose to walk which took about 25 minutes, on the return walk sharing the pavement with joggers and runners presumably limbering up for the Great North Run. The jogger who I could keep pace with while walking has a lot of work to do…

    The rail on the stands’ side was moved to allow 3 metres of fresh ground to come into play. The only one to try this ground was P J McDonald on Coole Dodger in the claimer. To my mind the gelding performed above himself at the weights, but no one else took the hint.

    2.15 7f European Breeders’ Fund 2yo Maiden (Division One)

    There are normally one or two of interest in the maiden on this card, and we had a bonus of two divisions this year. The first division appeared the weaker of the two heats, but the times were identical.

    LOUKOUMI stayed on under pressure from two out having been held up. She seems likely to see out a mile and that might bring about a little more improvement.
    The fly in the ointment here is the 100/1 second RUDEGIRL who had shown little on her first two outings. On the face of it there was no fluke since she came through to lead inside the final two furlongs only to be run out of it in the final 200 yards. She is entered in a Sales race at Fairyhouse in September and after this effort it wouldn’t be a total surprise if connections had a go there.
    IBSAAR didn’t particularly impress in the paddock and was keen going down. He competed for the pace until after two furlong pole, only raising one pace from that point.
    DEEP APPLAUSE never got into the contest seriously but stayed on to some effect in the final two furlongs. He’s from a middle distance family and should be seen to better effect when stepped up in trip next year.
    MAVERIK, equipped with a cross-noseband, was taken down early. He had every chance over a furlong out and wasn’t good enough. He does now qualify for nurseries.
    THE BELLS OF PEOVER raced prominently on the far rail but was one paced from two furlongs out.
    Newcomer PINK DIVA opened at 11/2 but eased to 7/1. She’s entered in the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot, but she was green in the paddock and struggled after a slow start. She has enough about her to suggest there’s better to come in time.

    2.50 7f European Breeders’ Fund 2yo Maiden (Division Two)

    The time was identical to the first heat but the first two here were both newcomers and caught eye in the latter stages.

    The winner SERGEANT ABLETT is far from the finished article. He’s a lengthy gelding who looks to have some filling out to do, and looks likely to benefit from a winter’s growth. As it was he led one and a half furlongs out and soon had the race safely secured. His half-brother Drill Sergeant is a three times middle distance winner and stays two miles, and Sergeant Ablett looks the same sort of material.
    SUD PACIFIQUE was held up by Daryll Holland and pretty much caught out by Sergeant Ablett’s burst. He would have won most similar contests as he quickly pulled clear of the remainder and his visit to the winner’s enclosure is only delayed. By Montjeu out of a sister to a Prix Marcel Boussac winner, Sud Pacifique has Group 1 entries and is clearly well regarded.
    INDIAN GIVER is a sound marker and probably ran to his 69 rating though totally outclassed by the first two from two furlongs out. There’s probably a minor fillies’ maiden for her, or she could be aimed at staying nurseries as her new mark is downgraded to 65.
    FACE THE FUTURE stayed on for fourth and improved on his Ayr debut effort.
    WHITE FUSION raced prominently but was held from two furlongs out.
    A few were headstrong on the way to post, particularly ADLINGTON who has regressed from his initial efforts.

    3.25 1m LA Taxis Claiming Stakes (maximum claiming price £10,000)

    I’m very comfortable assessing claimers and this race threw up the best bet on the card in MOODY TUNES who looked very well in himself. A fair enough handicapper, these races are much easier for him and he pulled clear from two furlongs out having raced prominently.
    JUST FIVE is rated a couple of pounds less than the winner, and is possibly a few pounds better on Southwell’s artificial surface than he is on turf. He kept on well for second and it’s worth bearing in mind that he has been eased from 80 down to 77 in the all-weather ratings.
    WIGWAM WILLIE plugged on a well held third. He won a handicap off 85 last year so even at the age of eight his trainer may have something to work with off 73.
    TEN TO THE DOZEN kept on after a sluggish start to pick up fourth place, but he’s only rated 40 and the position probably flatters him.
    COOLE DODGER ran better than his 50 rating suggested he might. He was brought up the stand rail, the only one to try it during the meeting.

    4.00 1m Blaydon Race 0-83 Nursery Handicap

    We were treated to Lindisfarne’s version of The Blaydon Races in full in the minutes leading up to the main race on the card, though I can’t help feeling that there was very little play on the theme during the afternoon.

    The time was 0.7 seconds greater than that of the claimer, but at the weights that’s at least respectable and would suggest the winner is capable of running to a good bit more than his mark here of 74. MY SINGLE MALT is a robust looking colt who needed the attentions of two handlers in the paddock. He went about his business well when asked for an effort two out, and held on well from the persistent second.
    Of the first two I’d probably give a little more weight to the performance of NEXT EDITION. He led until the furlong marker and was not brushed aside from that point. A good effort and he looks likely to step up a place soon.
    ARABIAN STAR stayed on for third and seemed happier here than he had at Epsom.
    The fourth REGIMENTAL should be worth keeping in mind for upcoming races. He came through to challenge with the winner but was held form the furlong pole. There’s a class difference between the two and this one would have a strong chance is a lesser contest.
    MY MATE JAKE struggled with pace form halfway but stayed on in the closing stages.
    Course winner CHIN ‘N TONIC had every chance but wasn’t good enough in the final two furlongs.

    4.35 7f Hanro 56-72 Fillies’ Handicap

    CLUMBER PLACE is an occasional winner who pulled clear with her nearest challenger ALWAYS DAZZLING, another near the bottom of the weights. It’s difficult to believe that the two have improved so much over third placed LEITZU, another exposed performer, and my gut reaction is to take the form with a pinch of salt. Cue wins for all three!
    LUV U NOO didn’t appear to run to her recent level in finishing fourth, she was held from two out but did at least keep on, and SILLY GILLY was below form in fifth.

    5.10 5f Alexandra Cars 46-65 Handicap

    Twelve turned up for the princely first prize of £1419 (oh yes, and 29 pence) and CAYMAN FOX was given an easy ride to the purse. Allowed a comfortable lead, she forged on from two out and was never in danger. She’s in good heart and might just have another race in her in the near future.
    DISPOL KYLIE chased the leader from two out without making an impression. She has been thereabouts at this level a few times, but hasn’t won for a couple of years.
    FUTURE GEM, who has struggled this term, hinted at a return to form in third. She appears to retain her ability and might just squeak a weak sprint handicap before the season is out.
    DIVINE SPIRIT kept on for fourth but is difficult to win with and on a long losing run.

    5.45 5f Happy 21st Birthday Laura Jane Fenwick 56-72 Handicap

    BRONZE BEAU was another leader able to dictate and took charge approaching the furlong pole. This was a pattern that had been repeated throughout the afternoon, late runners not getting near to the front. Linda Stubbs’ consistent gelding is noted as enigmatic but he’s not been out of the first three for some time.
    JIGAJIG added another place in what has been a successful season. A right ‘street fighter’ type, he’s probably as high as he needs to be in the handicap but continues to give his best.
    DANCING FREDDY made his effort approaching the furlong pole but was held.
    TEXAS QUEEN got tapped for pace two out and, though she picked up again, she could not make an impression on the leaders.
    AREEG was outpaced at halfway and isn’t good enough in this company.
    TILLYS TALE faded approaching the furlong pole and looks held by the handicapper at present.

    6.15 6f Waverley TBS 61-80 Handicap

    GINGER TED had the race set up for him here. He needs to come off a decent pace and was able to do so, taking the lead approaching the furlong pole and running on well.
    MANGO MUSIC was near the head of affairs most of the way. He kept on well enough in the final furlong. Given that he was coming off a break this run was very encouraging and, in the hands of a shrewd trainer in Richard Fahey, he can be placed to advantage soon.
    REVUE PRINCESS has been in good form and looks a sound marker with her third place finish.
    Three exposed sorts followed home the first three in AVONTUUR, BOND CITY and BAYBSHAMBLES, none having any discernable advantage over the assessor.

    • Total Posts 6341

    AYR – Western Meeting – Thursday September 16th to Saturday September 18th

    It’s normally safe to assume that the going will be on the soft side for showpiece of the Scottish flat season. This wasn’t the case though as the west of Scotland avoided any significant rain, the ground drying out from just softer than good on Thursday to touching fast on Saturday.

    The meeting opened with an ordinary maiden in which the favourite didn’t fire, Another Citizen passing Macho’s Magic in the final furlong. SHADOW CATCHER was outpaced in the first half of the race, but picked up nicely in the final two furlongs and looks to need a stiffer test than this six furlongs.

    NORTHSIDE PRINCE impressed me with his battling qualities in the feature event, the mile and a quarter Kilkerran Cup Handicap. He has progressed through the season but was just pipped by PENDRAGON, another who has come on in leaps and bounds in recent months.

    PUY D’ARNAC ran a decent race in Thursday’s closing 1m 5f Handicap. His best from has been on soft ground, and he’s not been over-raced this term, so there must be an opportunity or two in the closing weeks of the turf season.

    WELL SHARP quickened up nicely to win the seven furlong maiden on Friday’s card. His family improves with distance and he looks a handy prospect for next year.

    ALBEN STAR won a decent looking maiden on his debut at Musselburgh, the second, fourth and sixth having all won since. He had to work to hold off Drawing Board in the nursery here, but he looks to have a fair bit of scope and could make a mark in Pattern company in time.

    Exposed performer ARCTIC FEELING won the Listed Rosebery Stakes with a late burst. On the face of it we could have seen the best of him, but it’s worth considering that he comes from a family who have won races as three and four-year-olds.

    DESCARO has improved for being upped significantly in distance, and won the extended 17 furlong Eglinton Cup with ease. He showed some promise over hurdles last season and his trainer now has a choice of flat or hurdles for the coming weeks.

    Frankie Dettori weaved his way through on the stands’ side to win the Ayr Gold Cup on REDFORD. The winner has since followed up over a furlong more at Ascot and looks to have a little more in hand in current mood. This was a very high class renewal which would have made a strongly contested Listed contest. The popularity of the Ayr sprint event is emphasised by the fact that the course can fill both Silver Cup and Bronze Cup. HITCHENS won the race on the far side in finishing third, the stands’ side holding a two or three length advantage over most of the meeting.

    TIGER REIGNS took a strong renewal of the Ayrshire Handicap, but one I’d take from the race is OUR JOE MAC who rallied well in the closing stages for fourth after being caught for pace two. Off a mark of 94 there may be just a little scope for easing the latter in class, or perhaps a taking a three-year-old handicap if the opportunity arises.

    HAMILTON – Sunday 19th September and Monday September 20th

    STATE OPERA put up the most significant performance of Hamilton’s two day seasonal finale. A lengthy colt who looks to have some developing, in similar mould to the same stable’s Sergeant Ablett, Mark Johnston’s charge wound up the pace from four furlongs and came clear when asked. The third is on a solid looking 77 rating and that must put the winner up in then 90s. One for next season assuming he strengthens over the winter.

    MING MENG looks to be an improving sort and was a staying on third in the six furlong Flower Of Scotland Handicap.

    Mark Johnston has TOBERNEA at the right end of the handicap, Joe Fanning setting a typically well judged pace over the eleven furlong trip and his mount seeing off challengers up the hill. He should pick up another race this autumn.

    • Total Posts 6341

    MUSSELBURGH – Sunday September 26th 2010

    Going – Good (Round Course), Good To Soft (Good in places) (Straight)

    The afternoon opened with a couple of pony races in the Charles Owen Series. The 138cm and under class was won by Charlotte Greenway on Red Pepper, though the winning rider was tiring as Tom Hamilton closed on Simply Simon. Both riders showed they have the skills of a jockey. A few shrewdies were well aware of Henry Morshead’s ability and he took the 148cm and under one mile event, forging clear on Over To Kerry from Thomas Greenwood on Springs. The bad news for his opponents is that young Morshead is only twelve and has four more years at this level if he wishes!

    2.15 5f Royal Scots 3yo Handicap (0-65)

    Hawkeyethenoo took this race last year and has progressed a long way since. It’s difficult to see RED ROAR doing the same, though she has done quite well in recent weeks and followed up a Beverley maiden win. On her toes and looking very fit, Red Roar progressed two furlongs and ran on to lead in the final furlong.
    Favourite OONDIRI had every chance having raced prominently, and briefly looked the likely winner at the furlong pole, but was held close home.
    DRUMPELLIER race prominently but was one paced in the final furlong.

    2.50 1m 4f 100yds Racing UK Selling Stakes

    The runners in this race were noticeably bigger and stronger than the three-year-olds in the first event. It’s not until you get to the course and have a good look at different types of animal that the differences become clear.

    Though a seller this wasn’t a bad event with ratings ranging from 72 to 55. It was one of the lower rated runners, HONG KONG ISLAND running of 57, that took the contest in decent style. This was only his seventh race and Nicky Richards seems to have found the key to him. He was sold to local trainer George Foster for £11,000 and it wouldn’t be total surprise if this one is seen back here in juvenile hurdles.
    ROYAL STRAIGHT chased in vain form two out, though ran a sound race.
    ODDSMAKER was raced up to the lead and came past us tanking along. He went too quick for his own good and weakened once headed after three out, just holding third place.
    KAMES PARK made a little progress two out but never got to the leaders.
    NORTH CENTRAL didn’t see out the trip and EMIRATES ISLE, dire since returning after a lay-off, was well beaten in last.

    3.25 7f 30yds RSP Consulting Engineers Handicap (0-80)

    CARA’S REQUEST has benefitted from being ridden prominently and led all the way here. The pace was well judged by Michael O’Connell, pushing on four out and keeping sufficient in reserve for the winner to hold a steadily gaining second. Ridden prominently on a course favouring front runners he has a chance of repeating this success.
    GEORGE BENJAMIN ran a sound race but couldn’t get to the winner despite finishing well. He’s consistent and should add to his Catterick maiden win.
    From the bottom of the handicap, BERBICE and COMMANDO SCOTT kept on to fill the next two places without ever threatening the winner.
    REVUE PRINCESS was held in the final two furlongs, though may not have had this race run to suit and is not a type to desert just yet.
    NUFOUDH, who scoots around the tight bend here, chased the leader into the straight but was comfortably put in his place once challengers emerged from the pack.

    4.00 1m European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ Handicap (0-87)

    This was the feature event on the card and type to throw up an improving sort. This year’s candidate is HAMLOOLA, racing for only fifth time, who added to her earlier Yarmouth win. She didn’t have the run of the race at Kempton, but proved that she has continued to progress when driven out for victory. I’d be surprised if she didn’t add another win soon.
    PATH OF PEACE chased the winner in the final two furlongs to take second. She is another lightly raced sort and was clear of the third.
    Double winner SOCIAL RHYTHM made progress from three out but never got to the leaders. She’s in good form, ran soundly off a raised mark and looks a good measure.
    HARRIET’S GIRL looked very well, but was sweating in the paddock and rather keen going down. She was outpaced in the closing stages.
    At first glance CHERRY BEE looked fit, but fellow paddock watcher David Cormack felt she came up a bit light. His judgement was backed up in the race as she dropped away once headed after two out.

    4.35 1m 1f Scottish Racing Claiming Stakes

    The conditions set claiming prices form £24,000 downwards, but this was a weak contest and concerned only the top two.
    BENCOOLEN was best favoured at the weights, 8lbs best in on the ratings, and made the most of his advantage. He’s not the most consistent, but was well placed here and asserted in the final furlong.
    RED JADE challenged two furlongs out and led briefly before giving way.
    KING OF THE MOORS ran as well as could be expected against better opponents, challenging three out but held approaching the final furlong.
    RA JUNIOR ran a fair race in fourth and but is inconsistent and difficult to place effectively off 65.
    The other four were not remotely good enough.

    5.10 1m 6f Royal Scots Club Handicap (0-75)

    Val Donoghue has taken over the hot seat at Belstane, following Linda Perratt, Ian Semple and Noel Wilson, none of whom remained in situ for long. CHOOKIE HAMILTON recorded a winner for the stable, having notched up five for Semple in 2009. He looks an uncomplicated and honest sort who led two out and stayed on well for victory. This admirable performer now boasts 12 wins from 46 runs.
    BEAT THE SHOWER stayed on to take second place. This wasn’t a bad effort and he’s unexposed on the flat so might be worth keeping tucked away for reference.
    ACT OF KALANISI needs to dictate and have the run of the race. He was never allowed enough rope here and kept on at one pace from two furlongs out.
    LADY BLUSESKY might need a stiffer test to be seen at her best, despite the fact that she won over 12 furlongs last time. She was one paced in the last two furlongs.
    LA BACOUETTEUSE and CORKY DANCER, both graduates from bumpers, are struggling for basic pace on the flat and I’d look to jump races to bring out better in them.

    5.40 5f Royal Regiment Of Scotland Handicap (0-65)

    A smallish field of exposed performers contested the closing event. Class told as the top weight HIGHLAND WARRIOR challenged approaching the final furlong and led close home to win a little cosily. A veteran of 121 runs, he’s run well this season and retains his enthusiasm.
    SANDWITH raced prominently, looked briefly held a furlong out, but stayed on close home. Another with plenty of miles on the clock, he’s regularly been in the mix of late.
    WICKED WILMA ran a bit better than her recent efforts, racing prominently but held in the final furlong.
    SHARP BULLET showed speed but hadn’t enough in reserve once passed approaching the final furlong.

    That closes out my visits to Musselburgh this flat season, though the course stage two midweek meetings in October, closing on the 27th with the Willie Park Trophy. Jump racing starts in Musselburgh and the decent ground normally guarantees a few runners with potential appear.

    • Total Posts 6341

    With apologies for a belated start to my Flat notes this season…

    HAMILTON – Thursday June 2nd

    THE CLAN MACDONALD made a pleasing winning debut in the opening two-year-old maiden auction event, coming clear in the final furlong. Relations have progressed with time and this one should worry better company.

    From the six furlong claimer it might be worth keeping THE FIERY CROSS in the note book. He showed fair speed on a belated racecourse debut, has plenty of speedy relations and should benefit from the experience.

    COUNTRYWIDE FLAME made all and held off a very green looking FIRE FIGHTER in a 1m 3f three-year-old handicap. While this wasn’t a strong event, a few have progressed from similar events at Hamilton. The remaining five runners were well beaten and the first two might have more in the tank.

    POKFULHAM has been in good form over hurdles and took advantage of a cushy flat handicap mark to win the closing 1m 5f event. He turned in some determined performances over jumps and might come on a bit in flat races. He subsequently ran a fair third in a Class 4 event at York and will find easier tasks that that.

    MUSSELBURGH – Saturday 4th June

    My brother Andy chose Derby day to get married. There are three of us, two racing nuts and one other. Guess which one is ‘the other’! Seriously though, we had a great time down on the south coast at Christchurch and wish Andy and Jane all the best for the future.

    Meanwhile, back in Scotland, Musselburgh held their big race day of the year, with the Edinburgh Gold Cup as centrepiece.

    The two-year-old conditions’ event can throw up a decent animal and might just have shown an improving one in FREDERICK ENGELS. He was a ready winner here and has three entries at Royal Ascot. It’s taken three races to get going properly, but Frederick Engels might be no lost cause in the Windsor Castle or Norfolk Stakes, given that Es Que Love who finished six lengths adrift second has the same Ascot entries.

    Thirteen of 15 runners from last year’s Edinburgh Gold Cup have won races since. On that basis I’ll keep all nine runners from this year’s contest in mind for the future. The winner ETERNAL HEART was only rated 87 going into this race, but he’s progressing and this half-brother to Yavana’s Pace might be a good deal better than the bare figures. He’s entered in the King George V Handicap over 1m 4f at Royal Ascot but, given that he showed no signs of stopping over 14 furlongs at Sandown, I reckon he would be well in the mix for the Queen’s Vase.
    The second MICA MIKA is a nice sort from a family that progress as three and four-year-olds. He made the winner pull out the stops.
    NAMIBIAN, a stablemate of the winner, has been running creditably in Listed company. He stayed on late for third and is another well entered up at Ascot. Rated 103, he is another who might have the Queen’s Vase as an option, though he’s more exposed than the winner.
    SWIFT ALHAARTH made it three out of the first four for the Johnston stable. He was raised in class significantly here and off 83 there’s plenty of scope for setting his sights lower. I’d be surprised if he couldn’t win a 0-90 contest.
    The quiet one her might be the seventh to cross the line, LEXI’S BOY. Out of the handicap here, he wasn’t totally disgraced if unable to match better opponents. He’d done just enough to win in three all-weather handicaps and might still have a bit in hand if aimed at the opportunities his 76 turf rating might present. A 70 mark on the artificial surface looks very tasty!

    BURNING THREAD won the Scottish Sprint Cup on his first attempt in a handicap. He lost ground when rearing at the start, so beating a strong field over a sharp five furlongs was all the more worthy a performance.
    The stands’ rail holds an advantage over five furlongs here, so VERINCO did well to finish second from stall seven particularly so since he ran close to the pace.
    KALDOUN KINGDOM started slowly, but that gave him the chance to get to the stands’ rail and most of his best runs have come when picking his way through the field. He ran on well to take third.
    From stall five RACY was well clear of the remainder of the far side, getting into the race approaching the final furlong but unable to produce any extra. His win came over six furlongs at Pontefract and he may just be suited by a stiffer test.

    Given the class of the opening events, the last three races on the card were disappointing, particularly a two runner non-event to close proceedings. The course can and has produced better balanced cards.

    HAMILTON – Wednesday June 8th

    Generally big fields for a moderate midweek evening meeting.

    8 times a winner last season, and three times this season, FREMEN was beaten in the seller, but he’s not so well suited by stiff finishes as he is by sharper tracks. MOODY TUNES is better than selling class and has won a couple of claimers. He kept finding enough to hold Irish challenger BELLE NOVERRE who won over course and distance last term.

    Lightly raced four-year-old ZENNOR won the 1m 1f classified stakes from a closely matched bunch rated between 68 and 70. He had all bar KING KURT well beaten and is a progressive sort who should win handicaps.
    ZENNOR should continue to improve if upped in trip. KING KURT, who has clearly done well between two and three, won over 1m 4f last time so an increase trip would help him as well.

    • Total Posts 6341

    NEWCASTLE – Saturday 25th June 2011

    Along with David Cormack I popped down to Newcastle for the Northumberland Plate meeting. It’s a grand old social occasion for the locals and a large and well behaved crowd was in attendance. The price of £42 for the Premier Enclosure is a bit steep, but on the other hand there was no shortage of takers.

    Tominator benefitted from a step up in trip to take the feature to mile handicap. the noe I would take out of this contest is PETARA BAY, lightly raced in recent times but retaining a fair degree of ability. He had some traffic problems, but ran on well in the final quarter of a mile and looks capable of taking a staying handicap. MONTAFF came from the rear to take second place, but he’s not an easy ride and I’d be wary of getting involved at a short price.
    MY ARCH was drawn on the wide outside and never able to get into the race. He made an effort in the striaght, but couldn’t get on terms and was well beaten. This was a tough ask in the company, but he is well worth bearing in mind if dropped in class.

    In the opening Group 3 seven furlong event the one that caught my eye was ETON RIFLES. Rated 94, he was fair bit below most here on official figures, but showed good pace and kept on into fourth. He ran some decent races over seven furlongs last autmn and looks ready to take a race in a slightly lower class.

    KLYNCH ran a cracker to finish fourth in the 0-100 seven furlong handicap. This was a tougher ask than his previous runs but he was bang there most of the way and only gave way in the final furlong. He’s run a decent race since and is still weighted to win a race.

    The most experienced runner in the field, Kool Henry took the two-year-old maiden over five furlongs. The one that caught the eye on debut was SATANIC BEAT who couldn’t quite match the winner and Free Zone, but stayed on well to take third. He’s nicely bred, will benefit from a step up in distance and looks a winner in the making.

    The closing three-year-old handicap over the round mile might prove to be a decent contest. WEAPON OF CHOICE led all the way nad responded determinedly when challenged in the closing stages.
    MY FREEDOM was very green in the preliminaries, and proved so on the track. He would have won had he gone through a gap two out, but he baulked at it, then picked up once switched to take second. He appeared in a competitive at Newmarket this week, and was once again hampered by his greenness, being pipped on the line after hanging right and left in the last two furlongs. If he gets his act together he’ll be Listed class at worst and must surely win a handicap.
    YOJIMBO was clear of the rest in third and is another to note for future contests.

    • Total Posts 6341

    HAMILTON – Saturday July 9th

    A moderate card of Class 5 and 6 events.

    ELTHEEB burst clear of his opponents in the 1m 3f Class 5 event and should hold his own in better company next time.

    A maiden seller is hardly a rich source of potential winners, but the second here THE FIERY CROSS has at least shown he has a bit of speed and was gaining on 66/1 chance Weetentherty at the line. Now he’s qualified for handicaps Ian Semple might find a low level sprint event.

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