by Dave Scott

Last week saw the inaugural meeting of the Eglinton, Lanarks and Renrews point to point at Ayr racecourse. The location of the meeting combined with an awful forecast kept the attendance below expectations, but those that did attend were treated to some good sport and weather. The ground was originally described as good to soft but was changed to soft after a couple of races and the way some finished it may have been sticky rather than soft. Times were generally around 7min 15 sec – 7 min 30 sec so this was a testing course.

Riding honours fell to Luke Morgan who rode a treble and two seconds. His treble came from three of the last four races with victories aboard Royal Reference in Division 2 of the short Maiden, Red Gauntlet in Division 2 of the 3 mile Maiden and Westie who landed the concluding Members Race. Of the three Royal Reference looks one with a future. Sent to the front from flag fall this one kept finding extra all the way up the straight when challenged by Jazz De Chalamont, a promising 5 year old, and Toft Hall which plugged on gamely but was a little one paced at the business end after looking a likely winner turning for home.

Red Gauntlet was another all the way winner when accounting for Commanche Spirit. The form really doesn’t look anything special and the winner may struggle to progress from this. Be A Better Boy, from the Walton stable, ran a decent race for a debutante and given normal progression may end up the best of the bunch from this race.

Westie in contrast to Luke’s other two winners was waited with until between the last two before being produced to outgun Tursal. The winner jumped poorly and in the circumstances did well under an excellent ride.

Earlier in the day we were treated to another fine display of front running from Forty Love with Tessa Clarke aboard. The pair had to overcome a major blunder on the second circuit but despite this neither Pharmistice or Riparius could land a serious blow at the winner. Many thought the winner required firm ground but dispelled this idea with another good display. Pharmistice gave the winner a fair start and in the circumstances ran really well to get as close it did.

Dere Street and Morag Neill won the opening Confined. Although the pair didn’t jump as well as they can they came with a well timed run to lead at the last and run away from Supreme Day and Dream Of My Life. A step up to Open company is probably well warranted for this combination. Favourite Sam Byrne looked to be going well on the turn for home but ran really wide and stopped alarmingly quickly. It will be interesting to see if there is any explanation for this run as he is a promising sort.

The Next Waltz and James Innes got the better of Icelandic Spring and Luke Morgan in the Mens Open. The pair were separated by only a head at the line and it really was a thrilling finish, however Castle Owen and Andrew Richardson were well clear of this pair when departing at the third last when still travelling strongly. This one should be noted in future events.

King Of The Forest and Clive Storey who won their Maiden when getting up in the shadow of the post at Alnwick repeated the feat when rallying strongly from the last to deny Si Celia which had looked the winner after going clear between the last two. The winner had made a mistake at the second last which handed the initiative to Si Celia but under a typical Clive Storey drive the combination gradually got the upper hand to score by three parts of a length.

Sandhills Boy was given a very positive and accomplished ride by Caroline Hall when the pair hacked up in Division 1 of the short Maiden. Leading a long way from home the pair never looked like being caught. Anbrooka was a respectable second while Incroyable Mais Vrai ran on from a different Parish to finish third and looks a one to follow in back end Maidens.

The other race on the card fell to Briar Rose under Laura Hislop. This dour stayer was sent on before the home straight and looked to have taken Faster Sweeps measure but the eventual runner up came with an effort to challenge again between three and two before stamina came into play and the mare ran on too strongly Faster Sweep who is only 5 and can win a short Maiden on this evidence.