Friday 17 February 2017


It was good to be back on the road to Kelso for the annual pilgrimage, although it was a desperate looking card for punting with loads of short priced favourites.

But as we know they can't all win, and couple fell by the wayside.

Not so the opening well-backed jolly named Reivers Lad, a really nice solid looking chaser of the future with plenty of substance.

The feature of the race was that they went no gallop - not that they could go much faster if they wanted to as the ground looking pretty holding.

The favourite jumped really well on this occasion, and stepped up markedly on a poor debut effort. He had some sound bumper form and looks sure to serve the stable well in the coming years.

I don't think Lycidas did much wrong but the ground was surely too soft for him and it wouldn't be the greatest surprise to see him win again on a better surface.

It was a pretty weak race though, with the third home Paper Roses being very small. She does hame some ability though, and can pick up a small handicap in due course. The Skelton horse Al Reesha flopped for a second time and looks one to avoid.

The school of thought was that Takingrisks looked thrown in off 130 for a four-runner novice handicap over fences and he duly rewarded supporters, although he went big in running as the Nicholls raider Vicenzo Mio looked home and hosed two out.

The beast had jumped very neatly on this chase debut and his raw speed had the rest off the bridle some way out, but the petrol gauge began to flicker approaching the last and suddenly it was game over.

Stamina won the day for Takingrisks and he had looked very slow over timber last term. But granted some stiffer tests he will remain of interest and something like the Scottish National could interesting.

Spanish Fleet put up another doggish display and although he's worth a try over even further, one gets the impression he'll run the same sort of race. Blinkers may be worth a go - he's not badly handicapped.

The Morebattle also attracted just four and the Skelton's big chase type Born Survivor was all the rage down in trip.

He's found less than expected off the bridle on more than one occasion and things were in the balance as he and Cyrus Darius went on two out, where the favourite crashed out.

Opinion was divided as to who would have won - Harry Skelton's brilliant reaction suggested he thought he was on the winner - but Cyrus Darius did very little wrong and galloped all the way to the line.

Pleasingly, he had come on a bundle for his Haydock and run and looked more his old self beforehand. He has strengthened up and a return to chasing wouldn't faze him.

Saphir De Rheu did all that he had to do to land an uncompetitive conditions chase. Maggio and Firth Of The Clyde both looked fit enough and the latter ran well to pick up the pieces after Bernardelli had tried to serve it up to the winner.

I was against the Richards horse as his stamina isn't assured over this trip, and it has to be remembered he never runs the same race twice. He looks a right moody old bugger.

The stayers hurdle saw the infuriating Forty Crown win again. I thought he was a certainty off 100 in November but here he was triumphing for the second time at Kelso, this time off 113. 

I don't think this was a strong race but take nothing from the winner, who did look as well as I've seen him beforehand. I liked Maxie T a lot but he never jumped a hurdle and I suspect it was these new obstacles that did for him.

He's not very big, and the hurdles used here for the first time were the new, more upright type being implemented at various courses this season. There seems to be less give in them and Maxie T definitely seemed to struggle, losing lengths at most of them. It's worth noting next time he runs.

Black Thunder was backed from 2/7 into 1/8 in the hunter chase and got turned over. Premier Portrait has won something like 11 Points since departing the Rules scene so clearly is no slouch, although on ratings the jolly appears to have underperformed.

It probably wasn't the best ride by Waley-Cohen, who seems to get plenty wrong for all that he's been so successful. If you're on clearly the best horse there's no point just dawdling around and then give them all a chance in a two furlong sprint.

The fact he dropped his reins and got his whip in a brief tangle didn't help matters but probably wasn't the deciding factor. He should have put it to bed when he had the chance.

The bumper saw another remarkable punt when Better Getalong was sent off at 1/4 having traded 4/7 for much of the day. You'd have to hope some of the brave Black Thunder backers were trying to claw some back, although it was squeeky bum time again as another sprint finish ensued.

This time they got the right result, Ryan Day excelling once again as the Richards horse got on top of market rival Some Reign close home. They are nice horses and should be decent hurdlers.

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