It was a tricky punting card with some well-backed, short-priced favourites - but there was plenty of interest with the future in mind.
Great Fighter came up from the Ferguson yard in the opener and although confidence didn't seem high in this nice big horse, he hacked up at a surprising odds-against under a cool ride from the kid.
It was hard to put up anything seriously in opposition. Long-time leader Hitman Hearns is an unfurnished sort who will need a lot further in time, while the ex-Henderson Summer Storm looks a rather quirky sort with whom I would tread carefully with.
|Great Fighter won a very weak novice|
Of the others Lough Derg Cruise looked awful, still very unfurnished and sweating quite badly. She wasn't given a hard ride and at least she got home this time. She'll need time but may prove to be no good.
The handicap chase over 2m 4f was a six-runner conundrum with each backable on at least one piece of form. Except Forestside, who of course must never be backed.
The market forced our hand with the money coming for the Reveley horse French Seventyfive, a thick-set individual who had done okay pointing but had been very poor in two tries over regulation fences.
At around 9/4 it made no appeal, unlike veteran Local Present, who was big at 11/2 after an acceptable return to action while you knew he would go well from the front with stamina assured. Looking fit and well into the bargain he was a solid bet.
Watching the replay it's still hard to watch Brother Scott go past in the final 100 yards. The Smith horse has passed up numerous opportunities to get his head in front over the past 12 months but this time consented to go past our fella, who in fairness looked awkward under the gun.
It's worth noting that Areyouwitmenow was fit for his return from a long break but wasn't moving easily in the prelims and remains one to avoid.
Another novice hurdle saw Number One London drift in the face of a lively punt on the Reveley's Samedi Soir, who had been as big as 6/1 in the morning before going off at 9/4.
This is a project that got away. I'd marked the mare as one to follow closely after her bumper run at Donny last year, as this is a horse that wants a trip. Six weeks after backing her at Sedge in the spring she dotted up here unsupported.
Today they had chosen to take on a horse rated 19lb superior, in receipt of just the filly's allowance. And they punted it off the boards.
|Samedi Soir landed a big touch for the Reveleys|
She looked fantastic in the paddock, really strengthened out, healthy and well in herself. All the ducks were lined up when Reveley poached a few lengths at the start and set off at a good clip.
Number One London briefly threatened down the back but this stayer on the Flat looks quirky to say the least and that hurdles rating flatters him greatly. It will be interesting to see what the assessor makes of this but the winner looks set for a major hike.
Cloudy Joker looked as though the run would do him good although he looked pretty fit. It was a shame he came down and it's hoped that all the old ability is still there.
The stayers chase was one to be careful with. Longueville Flier was back in action a fortnight after Sedgefield, but this was a much tougher race and although the galloping track would suit I wasn't sure he was ready for this type of test. They backed it but I didn't.
Instead I went for stablemate George Fernbeck, who looked in fabulous shape on his first start for M Hammond. He's a quirky sort but wasn't right last term and I was expecting a big run. It didn't materialise and I don't know where they go from here as he was in top form.
Chicago Outfit has done incredible things since leaving John Wade. This was a career best by far and another hike is assured, but who would bet against him here at Hex? The ground looks important so we'll see if he's kept on the go.
Settledoutofcourt looked as though he would come on for the run, while Moyode Wood is not a horse I would back on looks and he needs more cut in the ground.
|Chicago Outfit transformed by the Bewley stable|
Honourable Gent was a tentative pick but it was the confounded Barnes yak who put his best foot forward under the improved Tommy Dowson, winning by 11 lengths. He's going to be hard to win with for a while after this.
Lord Usher wasn't fit, Burnt Sienna certainly was but is clearly moderate and not straightforward. The interesting one here was Mac N Cheese, a full brother to Eider winner Milborough and another decent stayer.
This backward sort was never going to win here, despite being backed into 7/1. Spotted going to post with a round action, he is almost certainly in need of soft ground and a trip to be seen in good light.
Outpaced at halfway, he was staying on quite nicely in the final quarter mile indicating a decent quota of the family ability.
This is a project worth following. His illustrious brothers were pretty forward and this quite likeable sort will surely be found a good opening this winter off what is going to be a workable mark.
The closing handicap was another difficult race to solve, save from the well-backed favourite Solway Trigger being one to take on. He has looked extremely one-paced thus far and surely didn't warrant his 2/1 SP.
The winner Bescot Springs did not look fully wound up but pops up occasionally and outbattled Koultas King, who came second for a ninth time in his career. The headgear clearly having little effect.
This was not form to get enthused about.