Kelso Race Preview, 06/03/2021

Kelso, Saturday March 6th

Kelso 2.05
bet365 Handicap Hurdle Class 2
2m4f189y – Going: Good to Soft – 10 runners

Best effort last season when taking 2020 Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh, reminder after 5th, pushed along after 6th, struggling with 6 lengths to find turning out of back straight, closed on leading group approaching home turn, hard ridden and stayed on approaching 3 out, tracked leaders under a ride approaching 2 out, 1st 3 pulled clear, challenged leader between last 2, led last, driven out to beat Ashington – taken off his feet throughout. This season, ran okay to a point when 6th to Floressa at Newbury but was 2nd with two to jump then weakened after the last, then only 5th to Navajo Pass over 2m4f at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day last time, niggled along 8th, hard ridden home turn, a little ground under a ride and closing in 4th 3 out, no impression under a ride 2 out, kept on approaching last, faded run-in and was overtaken by the 4th last 50 yards, beaten 18 lengths. Dropped a little in the weights, on first run after a wind op and on better ground, no forlorn hope
Sail Away
Only win in his five runs – all between 1m7f and 2m1f110y – for Guillaume Macaire at Compiegne in May 2019, prominent 6th, moved comfortably home turn, 2 lengths down 2 out, pushed along, stayed on between last 2, drew upsides by last, led on landing, driven out, stayed on well and pulled clear last 150 yards. Last seen out in October 2019 at Auteuil and didn’t do so well, pushed along after 9th and 10th, dropped rear when reminders after 11th and going worst of the field, eased down and tailed off when pulled up before 2 out in race won by Dream Wish (subsequent winner of that year’s Group 2 Prix Congress). A half-brother to the useful Willie Mullins-trained mare Let’s Dance (winner over 2m4f) and having his first run for Dan Skelton, this one should stay this trip, but on my reading of his French form, he has a lot to find
War Lord
Good win at Haydock in November at the expense of Umbrigado,  passed several to go 2nd 3 out, mistake 2 out, hard ridden, led last, ridden clear last 250 yards. Good 3rd at the same track next time, but well below his best at Ascot last time in January behind Craigneiche,  in close to 7th, vigorously pushed along after, no headway before in close to 3 out, hard ridden, reminders approaching home turn, no impression and left alone approaching 2 out, allowed to complete in own time and dropped away between last 2, well tailed off. Not sure what we’ll get from him now; going will be less testing than he usually races on and he often finds little
Flash Collonges*
Looks an above-average novice, best to date when winning at Wincanton last time, drew upsides leaders 9th, half a length down 10th and going comfortably, nudged along turning out of back straight, chased leader approaching home turn, niggled along turning in, more firmly pushed along and led approaching 2 out, put under pressure between last 2, stayed on to pull clear approaching last, ridden out, hung left and idled markedly inside last 150 yards but never in danger. Got it done between the last 2 then it was only greenness in the closing stages when he went left, beating Malinello 8 lengths; likely to run close
Weather Front
Been running well this season, but gave the impression he barely stayed 3m when fading into 5th behind On The Blind Side at Cheltenham in October, and did so again when 4th to Get Out The Gate at Musselburgh next time, midfield 9th, moved comfortably enough 11th, ridden into 3 out, niggled along and edged closer approaching 2 out, hard ridden between last 2, no extra approaching last, faded under pressure last 150 yards. Last time in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle was held up rear and edged closer inside the last five furlongs, hard ridden and keeping on at the same pace in the last furlong behind Wise Eagle. His best run so far this season was his 2nd to Chapmanshype over this c/d in September – stayed on well between the last two hurdles – and it’ll suit him to drop in trip
Torn And Frayed*
Best to date, and only hurdles win so far, when going in at Hereford on February 8th, led, headed approaching 2nd, tracked leaders after, moved largely comfortably as drew upsides before 2 out, travelled best approaching home turn and soon led, clear when pushed along turning in, stayed on well and clear last, ridden out, sustained effort run-in to go further clear, looked strong at the end, beat Mr Jack 10 lengths. That was easily his best form to date and he could well build on it here
Stepped up in trip to 3m2f, got his first win since December 2019 – which was over 3m1f – when taking a Pertemps Qualifier at Musselburgh on February 7th, still last when niggled along approaching turn out of back straight, ridden into 3 out, switched inner, hard ridden, picked up and was closing on those ahead 2 out, midfield and continued to close under pressure between last 2, took 3rd last, hard driven run-in, stayed on well, gradually reeled in Kaizer under strong pressure, got up post. Well below form on the Flat (that’s proper-Flat, not a jumpers’ bumper) at Newcastle last time, ridden and weakened two furlongs out and eased/tailed off last 300 yards behind Caribeno. He’s been either tailed off or beaten double digits on all jumps runs over 2m6f or less since October 2019 and looks unlikely to be suited by this shorter trip than the Musselburgh race
Mayo Star*
Best effort in novice hurdles when winning at Newcastle in March 2020, tracked leaders approaching 6th, chased leader approaching home turn, travelled best as led 2f out, pushed along passing omitted 2 out, stayed on, went clear by last, pushed out, stayed on well, decisive by 4 lengths from Slainte Mhor. Reappearance and chasing debut, shaped very well till failing to get the trip over 3m behind Hear No Evil at Ayr on November 30th, held up last, good ground after 13th and tracked leaders passing omitted 5 out, moved comfortably home turn, niggled along from 4 out, faded a little going to 3 out and lost further ground going to 2 out, mistake, kept on in battle for 3rd under a hand ride, stuck to task, just lost the place post. Chasing put on hold and dropped to his best trip, he’s shown enough to suggest he can be competitive in this
Mega Yeats
Arguably best run of 2019/20, when still with Ruth Jefferson, when 7th to Stoney Mountain in Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Haydock in November 2019,  tracked leaders from 7th, in close to 8th, pushed along turning out of back straight, ridden and couldn’t go with leaders approaching 2 out, well held last, kept on a little run-in but no further impression. First run for Mark Walford and also first since December 2019, chased Tomorrow Mystery home in a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton in February, prominent 6f out, tracked leaders home turn, pushed along 3f out, stayed on 2f out, put under pressure, effort and led 300 yards out, was closed on, headed 150 yards out, no extra, stuck to task,beaten 2 1/2 lengths.  Jumpers’ bumpers are worthless as form guides, but she’ll be fitter for it and previous hurdles form gives her a chance (she’s down 7 lbs from when she last ran over hurdles)
Battle Of Wills
Mostly double digit defeats since joining Alistair Whillans – only run so far that wasn’t was in a Newcastle jumpers’ bumper when 7th to Proschema, edged closer on the bit 2 1/2 f out, niggled along 2f out, soon firmly pushed along, hard driven entering final furlong, no extra, just kept on and finished 6 lengths 6th. More typical of what he’s been doing for his new yard was last time at Kelso behind stablemate Corrieben Reiver, dropped out last, not fluent 4th, started a move approaching 6th racing wide, pushed along after it and dropped off those ahead, pushed along and couldn’t make ground home turn, well back 2 out, dropped further away between last 2, slowed up to a virtual walk approaching last, tailed off. Best watched

Shortlist: Flash Collonges, Torn And Frayed, Mayo Star

Kelso 2.40
bet365 Premier Chase Class 1 Listed
2m7f96y – Going: Good to Soft – 6 runners

It wouldn’t be the first time that the Grand National winner dropped in here on the way should one of these go on to take the ultimate prize in April – Ballabriggs was 2nd in this race in 2011 before conquering Aintree – and the logical place to start is Cloth Cap, who simply looked like a different animal when pretty well smashing it in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury with, among others, the reopposing Two For Gold behind. With the cheekpieces on again, at first glance it’s hard to see anything other than a Cloth Cap-win, but we know that Aintree is the target not this, and he has to concede weight to some high-rated rivals. Two For Gold looked like he’d be a three-miler this season but that hasn’t happened – he was pulled up in the Ladbrokes Trophy after a couple of errors, and last time at Warwick on February 15th, he was over 2m4f when making most and staying on well for his first win of the season; unless you think you know better he doesn’t have an end-of-season target, so comes here with nothing to lose. The same for the horse he beat at Warwick, the resurgent Aso**, who made Two For Gold pull out all the stops and went down by only a neck. Withdrawn from the Close Brothers Chase at Kempton last week, he comes here unproven at the trip but with placed form at 3m, so wherever Two For Gold ends up, Aso should be thereabouts. There’s been nothing from Definitly Red this season although, to be fair, he was doing all right when falling at the 11th in the Rehearsal at Newcastle when last seen; however, his only completion of the campaign is a 79-lengths 8th to Cyrname in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby. Lake View Lad* quite possibly took advantage of nothing else turning up in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree when slaloming the omitted fences in the home straight to beat Santini, leaving it all on the track – at Sandown last time in the rescheduled Cotswold Chase, on a rare outing down South, he was all done and tailed off turning out of the back straight after the Railway fences on the final circuit as the back-to-form Native River, who’d been only 3rd in the Many Clouds, turned the screw after the Pond Fence. Cool Mix is better over 2m4f and has a job on here against this opposition anyway, so what wins? I’m chancing Aso here – I thought he might have sneaked a place at Kempton last week, and this is shy of three miles.

Selection: ASO – Alternative: Lake View Lad

Kelso 3.15
bet365 Morebattle Handicap Hurdle Class 2
2m51y – Going: Good to Soft – 14 runners

Christopher Wood
In good form the last twice, 2nd at Kempton over Christmas, led nearing 2 out, pushed along, didn’t assert and was soon challenged, headed when mistake last, hard ridden, no impression as Cadzand drew clear last 150 yards, stuck to task – with challengers all over between the last 2, did well to beat everything else. Went one better in Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh last time out, disputed lead turning out of back straight, niggled along off home turn, hard driven and reminders approaching 2 out, better jump and made ground on leader, hard ridden and led approaching last, driven clear of Voix Du Reve run-in. Another good run likely
Voix Du Reve
Appeared flattered by his run in the Fighting Fifth when 12 lengths 4th to Epatante but has backed it up with two good runs at Musselburgh, rallying after a mistake at the last and closing on Blakeney Point last strides in Hogmaneigh Hurdle on New Year’s Day then running close in Scottish County last time,  led approaching 6th, disputed lead turning out of back straight, seemed to be going the better when led 3 out, niggled along, pushed along and was staying on for a hand ride when mistake 2 out, was closed on, hard ridden, headed approaching last, driven and no extra run-in, stuck to task. Likely to go well again
Has won three out of five so far over hurdles, with best to date last time in Grade 2 Rossington Main at Haydock in January, headway on the bit home turn, chased winner 3 out, travelled much the better as 1st 2 pulled clear, a length and a half down 2 out and effort delayed, looked the winner and about the same distance down last, finally shaken up, hung left and not stay on early on run-in, not finding anything and looked the less likely winner 100 yards out, finally picked up under pressure, gradually reeled in leader, led last strides. Very much had a think about it and needs more in this handicap, particularly as the BHA assessor raised him 12 lbs to 143 after the Haydock race, which the way I read it gives him a stone to find
Arguably hasn’t yet backed up his British debut-win in Adonis at Kempton last season, beaten by increasingly long double-digit distances all three runs this season, with the best of those in Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November, not settling, headway and disputed 3rd only a length and a bit down approaching home turn, pushed along approaching 2 out, no extra and well held jumping, pushed along and dropped further back between last 2, mistake last, 4th to Sceau Royal. Sending him up in distance predictably didn’t work in Lanzarote at Kempton last time,  travelled comfortably but had made no ground bend before 7th, had a lot to do approaching home turn, pushed along and couldn’t make ground turning in, well held approaching 2 out, went right and mistake, pushed along between last 2, well back last, weakened and tired run-in, tailed off behind Boreham Bill. Back over his best trip here but the the way he’s been checking out tamely, not for me
Hunters Call*
Consistent despite advancing years (now 11) and another belter last time in Lanzarote at Kempton when 3rd to Boreham Bill, held up rear, niggled along after 1st, raced inner, headway and midfield 3rd, closer order going largely comfortably from 7th, ridden into 3 out, headway on the bit home turn, looked to be moving best when briefly pushed along approaching 2 out, every chance no more than a length down jumping, soon put under pressure, chased winner approaching last, steadied into it and mistake, hard driven, faded run-in,  stuck to task but lost ground on 1st 2 final strides. Looked the most likely winner turning for home, but didn’t quite see it out – this time the shorter trip will help, as he’s got plenty of pace
The Shunter*
Best to date over hurdles when winning Greatwood at Cheltenham in November,  nudged along at the top of the hill with 6 to 8 lengths to make on leaders, a bit to do and a few going better when not clear run approaching 2 out (was angled left to get a sight of the hurdle but 3 others in front of him did the same), hard ridden disputing 7th home turn with 6 lengths to find, put under pressure straightening, effort and ran on approaching last, at most a length and a half behind jumping, led 175 yards out, hard driven, stayed on strongly, pulled clear of Ballyandy. Mixes hurdling with chasing and ran another good one behind A Wave Of The Sea in Grade B handicap chase at Leopardstown last month, led, slight peck on landing 1st, in close to 6th, headed 7th but stayed close up and still moved comfortably, niggled along after 3 out, pushed along approaching 2 out, hard ridden approaching home turn, hard driven amd couldn’t go with leaders turning in, kept on approacinhg last, hard driven, stuck to task, saddle appeared to be slipping back, found reserves and moved into 3rd 100 yards out, no chance with 1st 2. Probably not suited by making the running (not usually the way to go about winning a good big-field jumps handicap regardless of the obstacles), as he slipped back going to the second last, then he picked up from the last and made ground and places. Likely to be dropped in this time you’d think, seems sure to run well again
Tommy’s Oscar
Is three from four over hurdles, completing the hattrick in a 0-130 handicap at Musselburgh in January, covered move when Goobinator went for home off the home turn, chased leader on the bridle going to 2 out, drew upsides going the stronger jumping, shaken up and led, carried head high, was at most a head up when left clear by his challenger’s fall last, at most pushed out, shaped to idle and hang but unchallenged. First defeat over hurdles when 2nd to Bareback Jack in Scottish Supreme Novices’ at Musselburgh last month, hard ridden as pace quickened, carried head a little high and to one side, outpaced as 1st 2 moved clear nearing 2 out, hard ridden and no impression between last 2, stuck to task, driven and stayed on well last 150 yards, closed on those ahead, re-took 2nd close home, no impression on winner. Unexposed and could be better than I’ve rated him
Locker Room Talk 
Formerly a useful two-mile chaser for Nigel Twiston-Davies, winning on last start for that stable at Kempton in October. On first start for Stuart Coltherd, did too much up front in Scottish County at Musselburgh last month, led, raced freely, headed approaching 6th, lost ground quickly, niggled along, dropped right away and soon last under a push turning out of back straight, weakened further from 3 out, hopelessly tailed off behind Christopher Wood. Best watched until showing more for new yard
Best effort over hurdles when winning an ordinary novice at Taunton in October 2019, drew clear of runner up on the bit from home turn, some 10 to 12 lengths clear and not hard ridden when mistake last, not asked for maximum effort at any point. Been chasing of late, and only chase win when going in at Newton Abbot in September, made ground and jumped 3 out nearly upsides, led home turn and moved best, shaken up after 2 out, stayed on in front, went a length and a half up before last, driven out, ran on well run-in to pull clear of Monsieur D’Arque. Two failures to complete around halfway next two runs – an unseat and a fall – before running down the field at Newbury last time, tracked leaders approaching 3rd, lost further ground though still largely prominent when ridden into 5th, jumped right 7th, shuffled back to midfield by 8th and further back still to be in last pair 9th, niggled along and a little ground home turn, midfield when a bit slow 4 out and lost ground on those ahead, went through 3 out, looked held approaching 2 out, 6th beaten 21 lengths behind Elusive Belle. Chance on best form, but hasn’t been operating at his best of late
Night Edition*
Stand-out run on this one’s record is his 2nd in the 2020 Boodles (Fred Winter) at the Cheltenham Festival, had passed a couple when mistake 5th, niggled along after, midfield when mistake 3 out, niggled along, made ground and was at most 3 lengths down 2 out, pushed along, good ground and prominent towards outer home turn, pulled wide approaching last, stayed on well and at most half a length down jumping, hard driven, nearly drew upsides Aramax then no extra as winner found more, 1st 2 clear last 100 yards, stuck to task. Not near that both starts in good handicaps this season, last time in Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 21st was 15th behind Soaring Glory, rear when mistake 5th and niggled along, pushed along with a lot to do 3 out, closed on those ahead approaching 2 out, changed legs a few strides after it, kept on till no extra approaching last, mistake, no more run-in, closed on a couple of tiring ones last 50 yards. Taken off his hooves from the start, there was a bit of work going to the second last before his effort petered out going to the last, beaten 18 lengths. Signs of getting there in the Betfair and might find this easier, particularly with a rather tasty 4-lb drop in the weights (the BHA handicapper must have been in a good mood when making the reassessment)
Newtown Boy
Largely consistent and was a creditable 2nd to Navajo Pass over 2m4f at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, was 4 lengths down 3 out, put under pressure approaching 2 out, drew clear of the others but no impression on winner under pressure approaching last, faded last 150 yards; beat Swaffham Bulbeck in jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle next time, led half a mile out, hard driven 300 yards out, stayed on entering final furlong, ridden out and drew clear final 150 yards, prior to running below form over 2m in Scottish County at Musselburgh behind Christopher Wood, prominent when mistake 4th, also mistake 5th, tracked leaders 6th, niggled along turning out of back straight, hard ridden home turn, couldn’t go with 1st 2 when mistake 3 out, no more under strong pressure and disputed 3rd when mistake 2 out, dropped away between last 2, well held disputing 4th last, weakened and dropped to poor 6th last 150 yards. Not sure what to expect but his form over 2m over hurdles since November 2019 reads 546, beaten 10 lengths or more
Blakeney Point
Second win in six runs over hurdles when taking Hogmaneigh Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, made ground and tracked 1st 2 turning out of back straight, pushed along off home turn, 2 lengths to find 3 out, stayed on and a length down 2 out, stuck to task under a hand ride amd came to challenge last, soon led, put under pressure, stayed on till closed on last strides, only just held on from Voix Du Reve. Was a long way off that in Scottish County over the same c/d next time, lost place and became detached last some 15 lengths off leader by 3rd, had made little ground when mistake 6th, no impression on those ahead 3 out, kept on between last 2, well back last, just kept on run-in, made no contribution. A stunning transformation from New Year’s Day, a good early gallop taking him out of his comfort zone very early on and his chance effectively over as early as the 3rd as he finished 5th beaten 17 lengths behind Christopher Wood. Now blinkered for the first time over hurdles and first time since September 2019 (blinkered record is 5150406); often found little on the Flat and now not sure what to expect
Playa Blanca
Had looked modest but reeled off a long-range four timer with three wins in March 2020 and one in October on first run back after a break, winning a 0-120 at Kelso, edged closer bend before 3 out, tracked leaders approaching home turn, further ground to chase leader 2 out, led last, driven out, edged left and across runner-up’s path but going clear at the time, stayed on well to beat Iolani. Last run over hurdles was at Cheltenham in November, had 6 lengths to find at the top of the hill, pushed along and looked to be going worst of the field, held place from 3 out under a push, steadied into 2 out, hard ridden in 6 lengths 7th home turn, no impression before mistake last, well held in 10th behind Castle Robin, and made little impression on chasing debut at Southwell in December when last out, going worst of the field 8th, hard driven home turn with 8 lengths to find on leader and struggling, lost ground on those ahead approaching 2 out, well back between last 2, well held in 6th behind Glajou. Up considerably in grade here, little expected
Second win in a row, and third overall over hurdles, when taking a 0-120 handicap at Warwick on February 15th, led a length 4th, niggled along from 3 out, more firmly niggled starting home turn, pushed along straightening, found extra approaching 2 out, led 4 lengths jumping, pushed along and went 6 to 8 lengths clear by last, one reminder early on run-in otherwise at most pushed out, not hard ridden last 100 yards, decisive. Looked a little ahead of his mark there having put it to bed by the second last, then gone further in front of Song Of The Hunter by the last; still has a great deal to do though, taking a drastic step up in grade from Class 4 to Class 2, and 2 lbs out of the weights to boot

Shortlist: Hunters Call, The Shunter, Night Edition