Firstly the missus gets a flat tyre on the school run, meaning our hero must abandon thoughts of prep for today's meeting and in favour of some roadside assistance (keeping her company while we wait for the AA, in other words).
With half the morning wasted we make to the track in the nick of time, only to be greeted by winds that would make an eskimo shiver. Just after the first what notes I did have took flight, to be lodged in some fencing 100 yards down the track. What a lark.
It was in this state of discombobulation that we attempted to get to grips with a trappy card, raced on soft ground with the aforementioned wind fiercely in their faces up the straight. Short runners and dodgepots need not apply.
The horses in the opening 2m 6f novice were a poor lot, the market headed by McCain's Jonny Eager, who galloped them into the ground. Toola Boola is a scopey type who should do better with time although the move from Kirby to Moore is not one that catches the eye. Born To Succeed was among the favourites but looked backward and not very fit.
|Three Kingdoms has thrived over the past 12 months|
Three Kingdoms has come a long way physically since I first saw him just over a year ago and looked a quality animal ahead of his second novice chase, really well in his coat and very fit. In this race Dark Dune once again caught the eye and his turn will come in handicaps, and probably on better ground that will help his jumping - he's not over-big.
There wasn't much to be made of the 2m handicap hurdle with the recalcitrant pair Mad For Road and Dilstontosiloth not the types to go forward under these conditions. De Chissler, Ceilidh and Some Lad were fine and although I wasn't keen on the latter's demeanour he may just be of a laid-back nature. The eventual winner Captain Sharpe has plenty of experience and he put it to good use to get up close home. He looked as though he just needed the run although that is typical of the R Johnson yard.
I'd yet to get involved by this time but Trust Thomas made plenty of appeal to back up his win at the last meeting. I couldn't have Categorical back at the minimum trip which essentially left Pamak D'Airy as the only danger (Kai Broon by no means fit).
Pamak D'Airy is a thick set sort who would come on for the run even though I was told he had done plenty of work prior to this. Hogarth's horses have looked pretty healthy thus far though and he looked in fair form although I couldn't get away from the more progressive youngster. It was therefore disheartening that the favourite seemed to be out-fought on the run-in after Hughes took a pull on jumping two out. It was a rare foray into short odds for this column and it won't be happening again for some time.
The next was a 2m 4f handicap hurdle that was turned into a procession by our old friend Jukebox Melody, who hacked up at Sedgefield a while back. With conditions bordering on brutal the horses were barely doing a lap of the paddock and it was regretful that I didn't get to see Jukebox Melody, who is clearly thriving now wearing a hood. He wasn't in my head as I pondered a bet but one horse I couldn't get away from was Deportation, who looked really fit and well after a lay-off.
At around 30 I had to have a dabble in the win and place markets on this confirmed stayer, who duly did all his best work up the unforgiving straight to fill second spot ahead of Whichwaytobougie, who had clearly been let down by his trainer and was a springer in the market.
A young horse with plenty still to offer, 'bougie' should continue to improve and is another for whom better ground would suit. Grey Area is slowly working his way into form and fitness and this was still needed judging by his under-carriage. Lilly's Legend looked fit and well but this proved to much for the four-year-old.
The handicap chase featured something of a gamble on Sue Smith's Wakhan, of whom I wrote following his latest outing at Hexham; "Contrary to the write-up in the Post, I believe neither the second nor the third Wakhan will find a race anytime soon. They are dreadful rogues."
Clearly not enough people are reading the blog (calm down - Ed) as there was clearly plenty of cash around for Wakhan, who headed the market along with stablemate Be A Dreamer. Now I know the yard is in better form but they can't win everything. Be A Dreamer had previously been noted as unfurnished and weak behind and although he's starting to fill out there's still not a great deal of him and I was happy to oppose him this time.
There wasn't much left in the race after four came out and the form of Aye Well's second last time was the best on show, while he was given an unneccesarily aggressive ride that day. I felt he he may be given an easier time of it here in light of that, but I was once told that hope is a very dangerous emotion when it comes to affairs of the wallet.
So it was disappointing that Aye Well was asked to take on Be A Dreamer from an early stage, with the frail nine-year-old stopping to nothing on the home turn after the latter had crashed out at the first down the back.
Thus it turned into a duel between Wakhan and Scimon Templar, backers of whom must truly have the patience of a Saint. Both maidens heading into this, it was very much a case of 'after you sir' as old Wakhan ushered his foe past at the final fence. After getting stuck into the Smith pig at the top of the straight they were anxious times to see whether old Scimon had anything left in the locker. I needn't have worried.
Marlee Mourinho looked fit and well for this by the way but the Alexander team are not in the best of form for whatever reason and this big scopey sort should be able to make his mark when things turn.
The bumper held little interest as ever with the Richards youngster Western Rules a worthy favourite. He had to dig deep however in order to defy the penalty as Showboater made a bold bid for glory. B Pauling's five-year-old looked in need of the run and he can strip much fitter than this. Third-placed Starplex looked fit on his first start for M Smith and he should be good for a novice hurdle or two. The Reveley horse Midnight Monty is a lovely big chasing type but was green and backward and ultimately needs plenty of time before fulfilling his great potential.
Looks like Donny has cut up tomorrow but it looks interesting and hopefully the 'weather bomb' will have buggered off by then.