The Plan is to pick a race each day and give it a fairly detailed preview - hopefully picking up a worthwhile punt, but not scrabbling around for one. In reality, the "every jumps day" might prove impractical. For instance, you have been to Plumpton, had a couple of pints, get the train back, go to the pub. There might well be time to go through a race and publish, but no-one wants the unintelligible guff. So The Plan and The Harsh Reality may not always coincide.

The verdict is simple for each horse: The more Axes the better, but lay, or at least avoid, the Stalins. Keep a wary eye on the Mysterons
In order to handle changeable ground, a preference table has been added - the key is:
Y+ = Strong preference      Y = OK      Y? = Probably OK      ?Y = Maybe OK      ? = insufficient evidence
?x = Maybe a problem      x? = probably a problem      x = definite problem      blank = no evidence to judge
20th September, Kelso 4.30, Edinburgh Gin Novices Hurdle (class 4)

Layout: left-handed, sharp, level

Distance: 2 miles 5 furlongs

Going: Good

Stables in strong form: Donald McCain, Maurice Barnes, Susan Corbett

Stables in below par form: Patrick Holmes

Claiming jockey watch: Fergus Gregory (Mizen Master) claims 7 lb, 5/37. Callum Bewley (Arizona Bound) claims 3 lb, 59/761. Ryan Day (Blakerigg) claims 3 lb, 43/410. Dale Irving (Louloumills) claims 3 lb, 44/345. Jamie Hamilton (Sweet Holly) claims 3 lb, 65/641. James Corbett (Shesthebusiness) claims 5 lb, 20/363.
The line up of jockeys is designed to make Will Kennedy feel 200 years old. The horses are also emphasing youthful promise. The selection has to be Mizen Master, but bear in mind that his rating is based on a spell of red hot form which will break at some stage, so let us not dive in at a daftly short price. With all the unknowns, 3/1 is the minimum. If able to see Celtic Flames before the race and happy that he is fit to go, he would be worth an each-way in the hope that past talents have not be drained away.
HorseGoing DistanceCourse Comments
HeavySoft Gd-SoftGoodGd-Fm2m 5fLHSharpLevel
------------------------ -------- -------------------------------------------
Mizen MasterYYYYYY
Man Look??YYYY1st run beyond 2m 1f
Arizona BoundYYYnew trainer, hurdles debut
Celtic FlamesYYY
Luso Benny?YYYY??
Sweet Holly??Y?YYYYY
Shesthebusiness???x??hurdles debut
Nuova Scola??
MIZEN MASTER (Olly Murphy), 11-11, official rating 130, tongue tie

Got himself quietly handicapped when trained by the current handler’s mum, but a close third on hurdles debut in Ireland had shown that he was possessed of the adequate skills to do some form of job. He breezed home in front on handicap debut in a first time tongue tie, and the next also looked to be up for grabs, but he was not quite zippy enough over just two miles. Since then he has won a novice hurdle at slightly further than this and been beaten a nose by a capable but win-averse opponent at Cartmel. Winning again here is a viable scenario.

MAN LOOK (Donald McCain), 11-5, or 116

Came into jumping as an 88-rated middle distance handicapper on the flat and initially made something of a fool of himself. A short break got him sorted out and he won a maiden hurdles in May and then a novice at Perth three months later. That was followed with a close second and a disappointing second, possibly hinting that three months between races is a concept that he is a fan of and three races in 31 days is a taboo. So it is a bit dubious that another spin within three weeks is a plus, and an increased stamina test can expose that issue.

ARIZONA BOUND (Jim Goldie), 10-12

Failed to impress in a couple of Irish pointing runs but did much, much better in bumpers. He was twice runner-up at Perth, once by a neck, before heading off to Uttoxeter and demolishing a small line-up of motley enemies. He has since moved yard from Gordon Elliott, and for his first taste of hurdles, the standard of opponent has been raised. He might be able to deal with it, but it is not guaranteed.

BLAKERIGG (Nicky Richards), 10-12

His role today may be to act as a salutary warning to people rushing to support Arizona Bound. He debuted in a bumper and Newcastle, ending up an honourable second even though being a beaten favourite. After nine months off, he returned in hurdles mode, being well beaten at Ayr on debut and pulling up at Kelso. This is the comeback after another eight months plus absent, and whilst he has shown some ability, it is probably best to be cautious when judging how ready he is to deploy it.

CELTIC FLAMES (Lucinda Russell), 10-12

An Irish point winner back in spring 2015, he was debuting that day and an outsider in the betting, but polished off the others like a horse with a future. Later that year he appeared for his current yard and was second in a bumper at Perth, doing so in the style of a handicap chaser in the making, just like 90% of his stablemates. The hurdle debut soon after was a close third at Hexham, over 2m 4f, but he has not raced in the twenty-three months since. A similar situation applies with Blakerigg – does the potential shown remain and is he ready to use it? He would look to be the better horse on history, but his crash and burn has endured longer.

LOULOUMILLS (Maurice Barnes), 10-12, or 87, tongue tie

As a general rule, when a horse is still in a novice hurdle after twenty-one races, it is not a good thing. This mare did actually win one, at Sedgefield in April, nabbing a very weak mares only race after proving her ability to not win in class 5 handicap company. Since then, normal service has resumed, and whilst she showed that this track can suit by losing over further by only a length, this company should be too tough.

LUSO BENNY (Patrick Holmes), 10-12, or 101

Started life trained in Ireland, and he after a very modest opening shot he mixed safely uninvolved defeat with finishing ahead of plenty of opponents in a bumper at Punchestown and a hurdle at Tramore. As regular readers may recall, Bloodaxe likes this clue to potential handicap success, and it is surprising that after two efforts since moving stable, a poor one to start followed by a decent spin in a Hexham stayers race, connections are sticking with non-handicaps. Perhaps it is a ploy to get the rating under 100 and qualify for 0-100s without risking a hefty weight to carry.

SWEET HOLLY (Malcolm Jefferson), 10-12, or 108

After a couple of experience gaining runs, she showed a tendency to consider finishing third sufficiently competitive, even when there were only four runners. Handicaps did not produce instant improvement, and she changed stables. Since then she has included in her results two close losses and a couple of battling victories. That form gives her something to find with the top couple here, but she does now look like the sort of scrapper that can raise her game when better horse give her a window of opportunity. She will also relish a good chance of finishing third yet again.

SHESTHEBUSINESS (Susan Corbett), 10-5, hood & tongue tie

So far she has only contested bumpers, using a tongue tie from the start. After a midfield-but-tailed-off debut, the hood was added, and some slight progress has been witnessed. She reduced the margin of loss by a third on her second run, and then roughly halved it in her next two. Nothing amongst that form, which includes being 25 lengths behind Arizona Bound, suggests this is ripe for the taking.

NUOVA SCOLA (Jim Goldie), 10-4,

A nondescript flat career, in which she lost by less than ten lengths only once in six tries (and that was only a whisker below double figures), did not mark her down as an exciting jumps prospect. On her first try, presented with a chance to ripen as racehorse, she jumped badly and poodled home well in arrears. Something may have been learned there, or connections are saving her for handicaps, guessing on a mere nine days between runs. But she is not of interest yet.
Points of Order
Working... Please wait