After the deluge of Friday night it was amazing that there was barely any 'soft' in the ground at all, but when top-of-the-ground performer Black Jack Rover whizzed in it was clear the description was pretty close.
I had been against Lawless Island in a bumper early doors, a workmanlike chasing type, and he looking pretty much the same here and fairly plodded to post. While McCain's winner is all stamina, this thing looked slow.
It was a dark start to the card though after Lucy Milan sadly perished after a fall at the second last. Commiserations to connections who had quite a nice mare on their hands who was running a nice race. It's a hard, hard game at times.
|Scorpions Sting - check out the stare|
We slipped behind in the next though. Having backed Bob's Legend in the morning with Reveley up for the first time I was disappointed to find two scratched meaning a sizeable R4. I couldn't have anything in the race bar Scorpions Sting but I haven't got a single one of J Ewart's right this term - and this was no different.
The horse looked the bollocks first time up at Carlisle, running a stormer at something like 66/1, but had failed to build on it, proving hard to restrain and clearly mentally immature. Sensibly they brought it in very late and he looked a picture again - surely it would run its race.
But I was stuck with the Bob's Legend bet and refused to budge, especially when JR went to the front, but the Corbett rogue clearly has nothing left to give and Scorpions Sting won decisively - even though he downed tools significantly on the run-in. He'll jump a fence alright and maybe that'll be the making of him.
The three market leaders looked well in the novice chase with Enchanted Garden especially so. Mason Hindmarsh was just the smallest and may struggle over bigger obstacles, but he's agile enough and jumped best of the three with Master Dee proving a disappointment.
With all three close up at the last it's hard what to make of the form with King Of The Dark exiting with a heavy fall at the last when staying on in second. Clearly better over this trip and fences, he still hadn't run anywhere near his 100 rating under rules yet must have clocked close to 110 with this effort. The handicapper will have his say.
I liked Gingili's athleticism when first seen at Carlisle but he looked rather quirky in winning there and once again was arguably fortunate to maintain his unbeaten record here. Racing as if in need of further, the strong sort ran on well to beat Never Up with both wandering around plenty up the straight.
G Moore's horse might have been a decent bet at bigger odds as he looked a nice sort beforehand and plenty fit enough following his break and a switch from the O'Meara yard. There's no reason to under-estimate the form based on his running the winner so close, while Larmor once again found zip off the bridle.
|Sharp Rise - A fair tool|
Reveley took the jolly to the front where it jumped fast and low on numerous occasions, and he could win a decent contest this summer if staying in this sort of form. JR told connections afterwards you can't go long on this horse, just let him do his thing, so in similar conditions he will be one to watch.
Roseville Cottage looked fit after a break and this better ground definitely suits. He bumped into one here so this looks a decent effort and he can win soon - note he won at Cartmel at their meeting in 10 days' time last year. I just don't care much for Degooch and he took another pearler here which is likely to set him back a ton as it's taken him ages to get over a previous spill.
The 2m handicap chase was chock full of rogues and you couldn't back a single one of them. Sure enough the likes of Gin Cobbler and Some Lad went there with winning chances as did veteran Carters Rest, who was run out of it by the well-backed Odds On Dan.
They had punted this thing off the boards several times this term and did so again here, but this was by no means a step up in form as the ones in front pretty much gifted him the win. He'll be one to take on in the future.
Chris Grant's Allycat looked a fantastic each-way bet in the last. I'm not much of an E/W punter but sometimes the shape of the race makes it the perfect punt and at least you can get on at the track. The beast was 1.6 on Betfair to place but here I've got 9-10, although obviously I've had to bet the win as well. That said, I was happy as Pipey's hotpot had been fairly weak in the market and didn't really take the eye being pretty small and weak.
She may have had an engine but having been beaten in three points was worth taking on and I felt the 97 RPR that Allycat got last time might be good enough. I felt at the time that those two Hexham bumpers were worth marking up a little and both races are working out splendidly.
Of course, the result was favourable as the backward-looking Dubai Shen decamped C Nichol with the race at his mercy close home. We got very lucky this time but it was pleasing to have placed the right bet in the circumstances. The eventual second, Burtredgripandgump didn't take the eye particularly while the well-backed Pikarnia is a big slow chaser - typical of one of Wadey's. The fact they backed it suggests it has shown some ability, which augurs well.