Friday 15 February 2019

Kelso - February 14

Well, the annual pilgrimage was always going to be on the damp squib side of things what with that there flu, the need for extra jabs and so forth, in addition to the fact that we still don't have much proper jumping ground.

Weak fields and unbackable jollys were the order of the day starting with a novice hurdler from Seven Barrows in Dream Du Grand Val, not the most fetching creature to hail from the Hendo academy but good enough in this context beforehand.

It didn't come as much of a surprise that he needed to come off the bridle to defy odds of 1/3, and although probably dossing in front doesn't look likely to make it to the higher grades.

Skiddaw Valleys came through to nab second from the weakening Point Blank, who threatened the favourite briefly two out but once again found little when push came to shove. He's just a baby, a nice horse for next season, while Skiddaw isn't straight forward, hooded in the prelims and only plugging on after getting badly outpaced.

The 'Timeform' novices handicap saw Wetherby winner My Old Gold sent off a warm order to confirm placings with Blue Flight, particularly with the latter expected (at least in these quarters) to struggle round these sharp turns, such a big unit is he.

However, the Southern raider went round like he was on tracks and, jumping proficiently, was never really under stress to win again after he 'fell-in' at Ascot following a pace collapse. Clearly, Blue Flight is improving at quite a rate and is surely the type to win again on a bigger track when he can really stretch out.

Tanarpino and Petiville were fit enough but may want more cut in the ground, while on reflection the favourite was the first of five from the N Richards camp to get beaten here and, looking to carry condition, I wonder if they were all short of a gallop.

We Have A Dream landed the Morebattle without getting out of second gear, a classy sort without having the size for fences. Cornerstone Lad has loads of size and definitely could take a larger obstacle, but he does need deep ground and he lacked the toe for this.

Outsider Get Out Of The Gate is a light framed sort that should do much better with another summer behind him, there looked to be no fluke about his effort and pays a fair compliment to Musselburgh conqueror Normal Norman.

The third 'unbackable' favourite of the day let the side down for acca backers when Definitly Red got turned over by the admirable Captain Redbeard in a match.

The simple math says that if the Redbeard ran to his best (RPR151) then Red performed to RPR159, 10lb below his best on lively enough ground at a sharp track. Only you will know if that was predictable enough to back the winner at 9/2 - I suspect some did.

For the record, I didn't think the favourite was short of fitness, both looked well beforehand and I personally wouldn't hold fitness up as an excuse.

Hopefully it was 'shrewd' money and not the acca bettors chasing their money down the windy street as Aye Right was battered into 4/6 for what was after all a handicap hurdle, and the assessor can take a bow as Bordeaux Bill edged out the gamble after the last.

The jolly is likeable and will surely prove better than this in time, but I marked him down as rather unfurnished beforehand and with a few novicey errors thrown in, I expect him to step up at some stage and his consistency is to his credit.

Mistermoonboy was fit but on the weak side and is another for whom time will serve well, the market being a pointer to his chance, while Something Brewing didn't look very fit even for a grey and could yet find a race this term.

A fascinating hunters chase came up next with 'Dave' riding Shantou Flyer - fit and strong - who had drifted all day before being smashed into an SP of 8/15.

That meant nothing in the run though as the old plodder appeared to lose his pitch three out, trading in triple digits as Mr Mercurial and Sir Jack Yeats swept past.

The former, looking on the burly side beforehand, was all over the winner going to the last but either fitness or fortitude proved his undoing as the jolly battled back to win under the Corinthian.

Sir Jack Yeats doesn't have the substance of the other two and as such looked most likely to be straight on this return, but went as though it was needed from the second last.

The concluding bumper interested me because of this Wetherby race last month in which Big Bad Bear finished second with Enlighten seven lengths behind. Now the former ran his race that day, with no excuses needed, however the latter had been well backed but was very free before and during the race, promising much better to come.

With that in mind the price disparity here was something that we try to highlight in these pages; Big Bad Bear a well backed Even money chance while his old foe was sent off at 7/1 having been even bigger all day.

So in effect the market gave us a point per length beaten; what's more, as was commented on at Wetherby, the Richards horse doesn't have much physical scope whereas Enlighten is a much bigger, sturdier animal, and was much calmer in the prelims.

The evidence was stacking up, and when B Hughes sent our hero of the tale on from the drop of the flag there was only likely to be one outcome.

It wasn't a bad looking field of horses for all that they came home in a bunch, Elf De Re, Claret Dabbler and Ferloch all noted as types to enjoy decent careers at the winter game having much size and scope.

I took a negative view of Ferry All on the day, a big weak four-year-old that drifted in the market and ran accordingly. He'll need time.

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