A pleasant few days in Scotland has served as a reminder how much racing in the UK and Ireland benefits from the variety of tracks.
After the bedlam of the Ayr Gold and Silver Cups it was good to spend a couple of days at Hamilton, where the characteristic loop and roller coaster home straight give the course a unique flavour.
The descent from the 6f start is second only to Epsom in its rapid drop falling around 14 metres or 45 feet to the base of the dip before climbing back up to only 5m short of its start point.
Compare this to the standard layouts in other countries and it is easy to take such idiosyncrasies for granted.
An overnight stop at Hamilton also provided an excellent opportunity to relive the ghosts of the past with a walk round the now defunct Lanark race course, home to the Silver Bell reportedly the oldest race of all.
Gordon Brown was telling me the last race day was on the 18 October 1977 with the final race being won by 15-2 chance Bird Of Fortune, ridden by John Lowe and trained by Bill Elsey. Typical that Broony also knew how much the feature race was worth that day - a princely £950.
Harness racing and Point to Pointing survived into the 80s but the stands are now long gone with only the racecourse stables and a forlorn looking numbers board, which despite Listed status is in a poor state of repair remaining.
Thankfully, the old stables are still used by a riding school and there are plenty of horses dotted around the infield with the track itself easy to identify as it is still well maintained in its original configuration.
As you walk round the sharp home turn one can only imagine the skulduggery with few safety limits, no stewards’ footage and concrete posts with wooden rails.
It is well worth a visit if you are ever in the area and serves as another reminder that racing needs to be proud of, and maintain its variety, in both the racecourses and the Programme Book itself if it wishes to avoid the anodyne sameness that can plague some cards.
Tuesday’s selections start with:
Has taken his form to a new level since a wind operation and the way he travelled through the race at Kempton last time suggests a 5lb rise for that win may not be enough to stop him.
The main concern would be if he pulled too hard so hopefully Arctic Sea who made all to win over course and distance last time will ensure it is not a crawl.
Was in the process of running a decent race on his debut when clipping heels and nearly being brought down. His finishing position bears little relation to his actual potential which he can hopefully prove here.
Has a reasonable record when backed up quickly and was never able to get involved at Pontefract five days ago. A strong pace looks far more likely here with Keepup Kevin and Kupa River likely to press on up front and that, coupled with a proven ability to handle cut in the ground, makes him appeal at decent odds.
Has run consistently in all four starts but just isn’t good enough to win a maiden or a novice so looks likely to be much more at home in this nursery. Her stable have had a frustrating period of near misses so are in better heart than the bare numbers suggest.
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