The opener was a weak mares hurdle in which only four of the nine could be given any chance whatsoever. May Hay was put in a short price and to be fair she hasn't done much wrong in her short career and looked the best quality animal on show.
However, she was up against a very solid yardstick in Bob's Lady Tamure, who always runs to her mark and it turned out to be more than good enough on this occasion. There was a discrepancy in the odds owing to the winner's 'exposed' look, but she would have landed some good each-way bets here.
I wasn't very taken by Kashtaree, who was moderate on the flat and won a pretty poor race last time, while the Hammond import Caraline looked fine but her form was poor too and she faded from the turn. Bertha Burnett is tiny and unlikely to amount to much over timber.
The very likeable Kylemore Lough had an exercise canter against three opponents where the surprise was that McCain's Jonny Eager couldn't take second place, and it just shows how bad those were behind him at Newcastle.
|Kylemore Lough: A nice spin round|
The two-and-a-half miler looked very tight but it looked as though there was plenty of early pace in the race and thus might fall into the hands of Granville Island, who tends to take quite a pull. He looked on fantastic terms with himself and a big run looked assured.
Pepite Rose and Midnight Belle looked best of the rest and it was the latter who came to outstay the selection after a very muddling race in which they didn't really go the pace I was expecting.
Mwaleshi was ridden with restraint allowing Alderbrook Lad the lead, while Granville Island was given plenty of daylight all the way and went in snatches after missing one out quite badly down the back.
It still looked as though Granville might win up the straight but Midnight Belle is very strong at the trip and rallied well to get up by a head - she would probably have got in the stewards room anyway after being carried across the track by the runner-up.
With that near-miss behind us it was on to the handicap hurdle over three miles where the pick of the day Lewis was heading the market at a tight 3/1.
I was glad to be on at much bigger prices having felt this first attempt at the trip would be right up his street, but this great looking horse once again proved rather one-paced. It's too early to crab his attitude and I wouldn't want to see cheekpieces on yet, but this was bitterly disappointing as a rating of 115 seriously underestimates his natural ability. For sure he'll improve for time and will surely go chasing in the fall.
I was lucky enough to save on Join The Clan after seeing him being well-backed to follow up his Warwick in which he appeared to have far more in hand than the winning margin. He's potentially quite smart as physically he has a lot of improving to do, and should continue to get better. The Pertemps Final should be right up his street.
|Join The Clan: Starting to fulfill potential|
The Towton novices chase brought together some decent chasers, of whom I liked the strong Kaki De La Pree, the sturdy Straidnahanna and the fit and well Top Totti, who is nevertheless just on the small side.
Ned Stark is a lovely stamp of a horse but only now fulfilling his potential and you can see why - he's a tall animal, a bit on the leg who will just keep on improving as he strengthens. As such I thought he may struggle to get home in the ground but he saw it out well and it's to his great credit. He's certainly not one to oppose lightly.
All that was left was a three-runner hunter chase, featuring two-time winner of the race Palypso De Creek, and a bumper. He was opposed in the ring by the moody Junior and Twirling Magnet, whose form has all come on ground much better than this.
They all looked fit but the veteran ran out an easy winner as Junior once again found little off the bridle and his best days are very much behind him.
The bumper saw the favourites flip-flop and the well-backed Vintage Clouds looked by far the most forward of the group, improving for the two outings before the turn of the year. A stayer, the excellent Danny Cook gave him a sound ride from the front, winding up the pace before winning by some margin.
They weren't a great lot, the Pipe drifter Rinnca Fada once again looking very immature while McCain's Uncle Monty looked very backward and slow beforehand, proving just that in the race. Runner-up Bollin Ace was very green in the prelims and can only improve on this effort.