Much colder today, busy times after four runners today and ten intended runners at Ayr tomorrow, frost covers have been down which means no inspection planned but ground likely to be a tacky version of good to soft. So we start off with Massini’s Lady making her seasonal debut in the 12.40, she disappointed latterly last season but has strengthened up nicely and should improve this time round, Brian Harding rides and 9 run. We have three runners in the 2nd division of this race – Dutch Canyon (Brian Hughes), Heilan Rebel (Kit) and McGinty’s Dream (Grant Cockburn) – DC reverts to hurdling after throwing in the towel a couple of times over fences, he’s well-handicapped if he chooses to apply himself, HR appears to have been gradually improving and hopefully a return to a more galloping track should continue that process, McGinty settled better last time and starts handicapping off a rock bottom mark, 10 run.
In the 1.45 Gold Opera attempts to put a disappointing trip to Uttoxeter behind him back at a track we know he likes, this trip is likely to be on the sharp side on this sort of ground but after last time we just want him to give us something to build on, Blair Campbell rides and 8 run. Then in the 2.20 we run recent course and distance winner Titian Boy, he’s a stone higher now but won well last time and will take all the beating if he turns up in the same form, far from guaranteed mind you but I hope he is progressive, Brian Hughes rides and 11 run.
It is very frustrating to have to run three horses in the 2.50 but opportunities for novice chasers are very limited and this is much the best racing coming up in the next few weeks for all three so off we go, Calivigny (Stephen Mulqueen) carries top weight but I was delighted with his first start over fences a month ago at Carlisle and he should progress from that, he’s on a very feasible mark and won twice here over hurdles this time last year, my reservations would be that this trip could be sharp enough on this sort of ground. Buffalo Ballet (Brian Harding) and Marlee Massie (Brian Hughes) are both making their chasing debuts and as ever first time over fences is primarily about ensuring they have a good confidence boosting experience, BB will only line up if I am 100% happy with the ground but he ran a cracking race on his comeback over hurdles a month ago and could go very well if he takes to fences, his schooling has been good, if perhaps a little bit careful.
MM has been a real star over hurdles for the last year and ran an excellent race over the smaller obstacles to be second last time, we are taking a bit of a gamble switching him to fences at this stage but are keen to do so whilst I still regard him to be well handicapped, this trip could prove a bit sharp though and 3 miles on softer will hopefully bring out the best in him in due course, 7 run. Finally we run Off the Hook in the bumper at 3.20, she’s been in grand form since her racecourse debut but will learn more tomorrow, Blair Campbell rides and 15 run. At Kelso today Jet Master ran to his very best to finish 3rd, Road to Gold jumped better and should now have the experience to go handicap chasing, Been Decided doesn’t really seem up to the job and Dance of Fire ran inexplicably poorly, nothing came to light after the race and hopefully he will be out again soon – replays and headscratching this evening!