A lay of Zermatt in the opener set the tone for the day as he was a short price considering his diabolical effort at Hexham three weeks ago.
He doesn't seem to be moving very freely at the moment and generally looked flat beforehand. In a race where there were a few runners I couldn't see him lifting the prize.
Master Dee was a worthy favourite and he looked on better terms with himself than he did at Carlisle two runs ago. Although it's early days McCain's horses are looking brighter in themselves.
I thought Quest Magic might have a say but he looked burly on his second run back and should come on again, although whether he's up to much is a moot point. Always Tipsy did not impress as the type to progress at Hexham and it was a similar story here.
The maiden hurdle saw Mount Haven put in a short price on the back of a run at Stratford that has has seen the winner come out and win well on Saturday. However, he did not take the eye before this, not particularly big and quite unfurnished and plain.
|Serenity Now looked in great heart but found one too good|
The winner Dibdabs looks a proper jump horse though and has been crying out for a trip. He was unbackable on form to be fair although I was always confident he'd outstay the runner-up, who was legless on the run-in.
The four-runner handicap chase didn't raise much interest with Ballydague Lady looking a good thing. As regular sufferers will know I can't get enough Wadey's horses right now but Roseville Cottage is not great to look at, and is so lazy they probably can't get it fit at home. I also think he's better on good ground, so I was a shade disappointed they didn't wait for Catterick tomorrow.
Prince Blackthorn was the other with a chance and although he again looked well he's one to oppose with jumping and attitude concerns.
Serenity Now was a very well-backed favourite in the competitive handicap hurdle and he looked really well ahead of his handicap debut. Todd was also in good spirits although it was the progressive Nautical Twilight who ran them ragged on this terrible ground.
I didn't think she would amount to much but the headgear has worked wonders and she was very game in front. Serenity Now kept on well for second but didn't appear too keen and may need some headgear himself, while Silver Shuffle again made the frame without improving.
McCain's Benzanno looked really fit and well and he ran a fine race on his comeback before getting tired - I wouldn't give up on him.
I had big opinions on the four-runner novice handicap chase but didn't really carry them through. Silver Dragon is a horse I know really well by now and although he looked as fresh as paint beforehand, I felt a four-mile slog round Hexham 12 days ago would take the edge off him. He also jumped badly right there, almost putting Dougie over the fence.
With no rail to save him this time I couldn't have him at any price while we seem to have reached 'peak' Apache Pilot. He looked massively over-bet after last week's void race, where he was just touched off, and was running off the same mark here.
However, that was the second time he had been touched off and he may turn out to be a bit of a rogue, plus the fact that he's not the greatest looking thing in the world. I thought he may go low in running so I held off playing but alas he unshipped the hapless McAllister early doors so we had to change tack.
The one I really should have played straight was Generous Chief, who had shown bits and bobs in the past and was equipped, not before time, with a visor. With the excellent Hughes on board it should have been a good play and we only picked up some scraps in running.
|Baraboy should have been the subject of a decent bet|
He seemed to get home better that day and with a tongue tie added for the first time here it might be his day - he looked in good heart, however my enthusiasm was tempered by the cloying ground.
The race panned out as expected with plenty of pace early on playing right into his hands. Beyondtemptation kept going the longest but his early battle for the lead may have cost him dear as Harding threw everything at Baraboy on the climb to the post, just lasting out.
Few of the others had made much appeal although Zero Visibility looked fine a fortnight on from his fortunate win, however he was well beaten halfway down the back and must have gone amiss.
The bumper was difficult to call with each of the principals opposable in one way or another. McCain's Plum Tree looked a real 3m slowcoach beforehand and will need plenty of time, while the favourite Skylander has plenty of filling out to do although he has clearly benefitted from a wind op.
Cloudy Dream was fancied by the stable and is a typical Cloudings in being quite neat, and he looked really well if a little green. I thought he could be too sharp for these but his inexperience showed and he found little on the ground.
Captain Redbeard and Dark Caviar are nice sorts and should win races in the future.
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