Friday, March 01, 2024

The 2024 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso

We've had some rain this winter and it looks like there's still more to come but that hasn't stopped the manager of our local Asda piling up disposable barbecues in the entrance to his store. Just looked a tad previous to me.

Anyway, Turftrax describes the going up in the Scottish Borders at Kelso as good to soft with frost sheets to be deployed on all take offs, landings and crossovers. 

Eighteen are set to face the starter in the Morebattle Hurdle (2.50); the winner can claim a £100,000 bonus by collecting the spoils in any race at the Cheltenham Festival - The Shunter completed the double by winning the Paddy Power Plate in 2021.

The well-being of Constitution Hill has been a topic of some discussion this week; stablemate Under Control heads the market here. 

The mare beat stablemate Iberico Lord in the Novices' Championship Final at Sandown in April; that form looks good with Iberico Lord going on to win the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November and the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. (Her Cheltenham entries are: the Champion Hurdle; the Mares' Hurdle; and the County Hurdle. Iberico Lord is entered in the County Hurdle).

Under Control appeared anything but when beaten out of sight on seasonal debut in the Gerry Feilden; following wind surgery she split the Willie Mullins trained pair Ashore Diamond and Gala Marceau in the Yorkshire Rose Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster at the end of January. 

She's not the biggest of individuals; the handler has indicated better ground will help her cause.

The current form of the Henderson stable has to be a concern. In the past fortnight six of the yard's 11 runners have pulled up with Kado De Joie the most recent winner on 20th February at Market Rasen.

Black Hawk Eagle was rated 81 on the Flat in Ireland before notching two wins from three runs at right-handed tracks in this country.

Both Skycutter and Salsada appear well handicapped in relation to former Flat ratings.

Skycutter goes off 121 having been rated 98 on the Flat - and Tristan Durrell claims three - while Salsada goes off 126 having been rated 91 on the Flat. 

When last seen the mare Salsada finished fifth in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, just under 10 lengths behind Rubaud, with the likes of Milkwood, Soaring Glory and First Street in arrears. She catches the eye on debut in handicap company.

Bingoo's number went in a few notebooks when winning over two and a half miles at Aintree on Boxing Day; handler Jimmy Moffatt has indicated his charge is best fresh with cut in the ground but also said in a recent 'Straight from the Stable' article [RP Weekender 14-18.02.24]:

"He's versatile tripwise, he's so genuine and he's improving. We're likely to enter him at the Cheltenham Festival [entries in the County and Martin Pipe].

"I'd like to see him carrying a low weight as he's not the biggest. We'll keep his options open but soft ground is a must and we'll be influenced by that."

Top weight Benson won this race last year off 134, making good late headway to snatch the lead from Colonel Mustard after the last; he holds place prospects this year while stablemate Bass Rock, better known as a chaser, races off a mark five pounds below his chase rating and Lewis Dobb claims seven.

Course and distance winner Ballygeary was in with every chance coming to the last in the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh four weeks ago; he eventually finished fifth, beaten under five lengths (Benson one and a half lengths ahead in fourth, Caithness behind in tenth). He sports first-time cheekpieces here and has been supported in the market.

If he had kept to a straight line Anyharminasking would have beaten Nemean Lion in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las in October. Jonjo O'Neill's charge subsequently finished well behind that rival in the Greatwood and steps back in trip here after two runs over two and a half miles.

Cracking Rhaposdy held the tune, just beating the Donald McCain trained Jungle Jack over course and distance 15 days ago, with Ginger Mail, another course and distance winner, two and a quarter lengths adrift in third. Jungle Jack held an entry at the five day stage but connections have declared Ballygeary and Geromino so you'd imagine they know where they stand in relation to Ewan Whillans' charge.

Geromino's lower hurdle mark has been exploited on his last two runs, both at Doncaster; First Edition, Rare Edition, Soaring Glory, Tommy's Oscar and Langer Dan were all behind on his penultimate start but he's now rated 136.

Irish raider Little Mixup doesn't appear too mixed up after his move to Denis Hogan's yard. Winning at Thurles on the second start for new connections, the gelding was raised nine pounds to a career-high mark of 127 - and then the British handicapper added a further five, just for good measure; Mark McDonagh helps the cause by claiming three.

Rewired was rated 78 on the Flat and has been placed in 12 of his 14 hurdle starts to date; this represents a step up in class.

Course and distance winner Caithness finished third behind Impose Toi in a novice handicap at Cheltenham in November- that winner is now rated 134. 

Next time he didn't hurdle too fluently at Kempton and then faded out of contention before the last in the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh, eventually beaten less than 10 lengths. 

This track is likely to suit better; he was six lengths or so adrift of Benson in fourth at Musselburgh but, taking into account jockey allowances, he's entitled to finish much closer to that opponent, a fact that isn't reflected in market prices.

The Churchill Lad looked too keen for his own good when finishing behind Ginger Mail and Cracking Rhapsody over course and distance in January; on balance he has something to find with a few of these while this represents Ganapathi's first run over hurdles in five starts this term.

N'golo makes his first appearance since finishing down the field in the 2022 Greatwood Hurdle won by I Like To Move It.

A hugely competitive affair and three have been under consideration: Ballygeary and Salsada, with Caithness looking overpriced at 33/1.

I've missed the bigger prices about Ballygeary so I'm going to take an interest in Salsada. She could be well treated off 126 in her first handicap; Daryl Jacob provides assistance in the saddle.

Salsada is the each-way suggestion, 12/1 generally with bet365 and William Hill paying six places.


TW said...

N'GOLO (IRE),158

N’Golo [50/1] tops the system ratings courtesy of his facile win in the 2022 Swinton Hurdle off a mark of 129 [runs of 131 today]. He needs to overcome a 475 day absence but did win on his first start for Willie Mullins after a 714 day break. An inconsistent sort, 2 miles on this going appear his optimum conditions, the yard are said to excited about his return to the track.

Blog selection Salsada [14/1] is next up, makes seasonal debut but easy to believe Brian Ellison’s plan was to have a go for that £100,000 bonus by winning this and the County Hurdle.

40/1 about Ginger Mail also looked big.

Mad, but I cannot let N’Golo go off unbacked at 50/1 EW 6 places in the hope that he’s fit, well and has a going day.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

Good luck!

TW said...

I liked Salsada but thought the 12/1, 14/1 prices about right. Not sure why but she's out to 22/1 with Ladbrokes [only 5 places] so I've now taken an ew interest her....hope I've not jinxed your bet!


GeeDee said...

Noticed the drift, TW.
22s with Paddy Power/Betfair too.
Sky 18s with 6 places.


TW said...


Or an opportunity :-)

GeeDee said...

Selection Salsada eventually went off a 14/1 chance but it became clear from an early stage that the mare was struggling and wouldn't be troubling the judge on this occasion. She raced in last spot for much of the two mile trip and on several occasions looked in danger of becoming detached from the main body of the field; she finished fourteenth, over 55 lengths behind the winner.

The spoils went to the Ewan Whillans trained novice Cracking Rhapsody (9/1) who raced prominently throughout and put a very competitive handicap to bed in a matter of strides, coming home four and a half lengths ahead of Ginger Mail (16/1).

With Under Control declared a non-runner following the long arduous journey north, Skycutter went off 7/2 favourite and claimed third place, with The Churchill Lad (25/1) fourth and Anyharminasking (12/1) fifth.

Anyharminasking was the only runner in the first eight to pass the post carry more than 11.00.