After an early start it was nice to address the racing with a pretty open mind having not followed the markets so closely in the morning - a habit that is probably not helping the punting.
We came into the opener with the view that Frederic should probably have been the favourite over Thorpe on the evidence of his impressive Catterick win, but just as on that debut he strikes as quite an odd looking horse, quite tall and gangly and a little close coupled.
Although he looked well I didn't really fancy him and the market drift, as at Catterick, was something of a giveaway. I still wanted to be against Thorpe despite his superior form, he's a touch on the slow side and this was liveliest ground he had encountered.
M Hammond has enjoyed a good season and his Endless Credit had gone with plenty of promise on his own Catterick debut and the market spoke in his favour. He's nice horse, really well put together, and a decent run looked assured.
|Endless Credit did us a favour in the opener|
It had looked beforehand as though only two races were 'playable', the stayers handicap being one of them. It was a tricky puzzle to solve however, particularly as the most solid option Whats Up Woody had become a rather skinny price by show time.
The Last Samuri was favourite but was surprisingly small and that may check his progress somewhat, while Blue Kascade is a nicer looking sort with more scope but was up in grade and worth opposing at the odds.
Edmund is a nice big chaser who hasn't really gone on since last season but at double figure prices it was worth paying to find out if a step up in trip would help - it did not.
Ballyben did not look right in his coat while William Money didn't look much beforehand, but all credit to connections for landing this decent prize from an uncompromising position. What's Up Woody had the race at his mercy but it's a long time since he has won now and probably isn't one to have much faith in.
The Morebattle Hurdle looked a match despite the market showing good support for Tanerko Emery and Meadowcroft Boy, both of whom had plenty on in this company. The former is a strong sort who looked fit but the latter wasn't that appealing and had tons to find on the book with favourite Hawk High.
The Cheltenham winner was a worthy jolly but the progressive charms of Glingerburn were hard to ignore and he's come on for each run back from injury. Hes a lovely horse with a bit of scope while not necessarily being an obvious chaser, and his two Doncaster wins clearly hadn't got to the bottom of him.
Hawk High looked fine although he doesn't have a great deal of presence and I thought the market principals should have been closer together - thus a bit on Glingerburn had to be the call.
It couldn't be argued that Glingerburn got the better ride but he probably would have proven good enough on a more level playing field anyway and no doubt connections may now be tempted into a festival tilt of their own.
You'll be able to read far more about the Gold Cup prospects of Holywell elsewhere, so it's not worth wasting column inches on his facile win here. My odyssey with the horse last season was well documented here and he goes to the festival again with bright prospects, particularly if McCoy can get clearance for the ride.
|Lovely prospect Warriors Tale|
Now I wouldn't know much about form in the south but on looks the long distance raider was streets ahead of this lot, not just in terms of quality but also well-being. The money for him wasn't surprising and I decided to split stakes between the two with little else really of note to take from the prelims.
I've had worse bets but it was a tad galling to see the Richards horse saunter clear on the run-in like the promising horse he is. Big and tall, every inch a chaser, this was impressive stuff considering he has clearly taken time to find his feet. The handicapper will not take kindly to being laughed at in such a manner but hopefully connections will keep it low key before a chasing campaign next term.
That was pretty much it for the day with a hunter chase to end proceedings. Odds on shot Sir Du Bearn looked extremely hard fit and on the lean side and looked a short price against several that looked really well, not least runner-up Railway Dillon. The favourite's demise ended the day on poor note for the Bowen family, whose ride home would have been distinctly longer than our own.