The opener looked trappy but in spite of a typical non-runner to bring the number to 15 there were a couple of interest against a very opposable favourite in Amore Mio.
Russell's horse has a very poor win ratio and was grossly flattered by his win last time, which layers and punters seemed quite happy to focus on. Notonebuttwo has been sensibly campaigned and looked a big price to continue his winning run, while the other of interest was Purple Harry despite the very poor pilot.
Things didn't really pan out as expected though despite the early capitulation of the jolly, while the other well-backed horse Whichwaytobougie finished weakly again and for me is just a weak horse who will come into his own given more time.
Fair play to the eventual winner Newyearsresolution, who is actually not a bad looking sort considering his rating and does have snippets of form for the very able S Waugh.
He was away and gone by the time Purple Harry got his second wind under Ms Drake, after the pair lost a good pitch midway through the contest. Fences will see this likeable grey in better light while an extra couple of furlongs won't go amiss.
|Present Lodger jumped well again for P Buchanan|
The handicap chase over 2m 4f saw the Buchanan ridden Present Lodger head the market and at an early 5/2 was probably the right bet to supplement his Ayr gains. This was another assured round of jumping and this fairly light-framed horse will have no problems with better ground. He could be a real improver this spring and shouldn't be too harshly treated after this win.
Samson Collonges had come down to a winnable mark and this inconsistent sort was the only one to threaten the winner before finding only one pace in the straight. He looked really well but isn't straight forward and this was the kind of race to bet him, when he's a largely unconsidered rag.
Marlee Mourinho ran another sound race but travels so well you'd think he'd be better on decent ground, while Dingo Bay put in a second moody run in four starts and he could be one to avoid now as these were his conditions. The rest could not be considered at any price.
The NH maiden hurdle saw a one-horse book around Doctor Phoenix and he duly won as he liked in by far the best relative time of the day, but there were several in behind worthy of a mention.
Runner-up Make It Happen is rather weak in front and it will be interesting to see how he grows because he clearly has some ability, while Monbeg River ran another solid race for one so light-framed. Both will be of interest with another summer behind them.
Redkalani was delicately handled once more by Reveley and this effort should not go unnoticed - the seven-year-old can improve fitness-wise and he'll stay three miles without doubt.
Bobs Lord Tara was another who caught the eye beforehand, having quite a bit of presence, however Luccumbe Down is very much on the leggy/unfurnished side and it was predictable that he struggled on ground softer than previously encountered. He was probably well sold rather than well bought but he'll be okay in time - he's just turned five.
The staying chase should have got the juices flowing but I couldn't make head nor tail of it in the end. I had a tickle on Sharney Sike at Ayr last time but he backed out as if amiss there and he drifted quite badly today.
|Sharney Sike: Difficult to back after Ayr flop|
Well-backed favourite Beauboreen has been well discussed on this blog but after lodging a small bet at 9/2 early doors I certainly wasn't going to double down at much shorter odds after his two latest efforts that lacked any kind of finishing effort.
It was the same thing again today and his jumping just isn't up to the test while he doesn't seem to travel as well as he did over timber. Perhaps a return to the smaller obstacles will spark a revival.
The others looked fine - The Orange Rogue a big chasing type who surely has a race in him albeit at a modest level, while Chavoy ran another solid race without ever looking likely to win again.
Jennys Melody looked very enthusiastic prior to her effectual match with Whatdoesthefoxsay, so much so that her early exuberance must have worried her supporters. Nevertheless she galloped to the line as McCain's filly stopped at the top of the straight. She looks quite small and better ground is sure to suit.
The 2m handicap hurdle looked double tricky and the weight of money for Sam Lord added an extra angle - the veteran had shown nothing all season but was down to a very winnable mark and to be fair looked fitter than he'd been for a long time.
He stopped as if shot at the end of the back straight before running on again late, finishing just out of the money for those on at long odds. Politbureau has been knocking at the door of late but that's what he does and I thought he was just a reluctant type.
But he pressed home his advantage here and fair play to the Hammond team who continue in good heart. Sparkling Hand didn't look much beforehand but ran a cracker in second and trainer P Atkinson seems to know his job - to the best of my knowledge his only other horse was Croco Bay and he did a great job with him.
Deny was favourite after winning at Catterick but has never been very consistent and again the layers were happy to take him on. He wasn't on his toes like he was at the Bridge and he's not really one to be backing anytime soon.
The final horse to take from the day was Alizee De Janeiro from the Russell yard. This youngster was the best looking of the bunch albeit rather backward at this stage. I thought she shaped with a deal of promise before weakening right out and while this will look poor form she could come into her own at the likes of Perth later in the season.