Really attritional stuff and they went a decent pace in most of the races, so some of the form could be quite decent for the time of year.
Pinkie Brown is very strong and robust for a juvenile and while not the prettiest was the most forward of these. Baraymi is a really nice type and almost warranted a bet at big odds. They had backed it strongly on its debut in a hot race where it was never sighted. For Goodness Sake lacked a bit of size while Kisumu really is one to avoid, again finding little.
This was all about Transient Bay, who is such a huge animal you’d expect it to have some mileage in a mark of 85. He’s obviously just a slow galloper but this was a very weak affair and it looked his for the taking. Oscar O’Scar simply doesn’t find off the bridle for whatever reason but in-running layers are wise to him. Naburn ran on well and should find one of these, perhaps up in trip. Wayward Sun showed little again but is rather unfurnished still and will need more time. He'll look well-handicapped one day.
The staying chase looked difficult with Tutchec a seemingly reluctant market leader. He didn’t look great at all last season but appeared really well in himself. As ever with these greys it was hard to know if he was cherry ripe, but I took that chance. Sadly he seemed to lose confidence after belting the first down the back. He has it all to prove now. I couldn’t have the winner Armedanddangerous up in the weights, but the other two I was interested in ran okay.
Leanna Ban bounced back well from a heavy fall and looks sure to go in again on better ground – there were times here when he appeared to not be travelling, but he came home well. I like him. I had a saver on Pay The King even though he will also be much better on a sound surface. He jumped great here but didn’t get home at all. Back in trip and on better ground he’s one to have on side – he’s very well handicapped now. Take The Mick lacks size for me and remains one to take on.
The staying hurdle was poor and not one to dwell on. They all looked okay but are what they are. Prairie Lad was the least exposed and looked really fit, but looked reluctant off the bridle and didn’t respond. Rocky Stone is another who doesn’t do anything off the bridle.
The feature handicap chase over 2m 4f was frustrating as I wanted to have the hold-up horses on my side, Azert De Coeur and Cultram Abbey. I backed Cultram last time and thought he got a poor ride. With loads of potential pace on I thought this could fall into his lap. But he’s a funny horse and has looked brilliant in the paddock on a few occasions. However, that was not the case here, he was very warm and not moving great. Having been solid in the morning he drifted on the show and I went right off him.
The race couldn’t really have worked out better for the Greystoke horse. Ballyadeen went a bit freely for the conditions and set the race up before Dartford Warbler was sent on early by the ever positive D Cook. As a result they all seemed to fall in a bit of hole and Cultram, after going knowhere on the turn, suddenly looked the winner from two out. To be fair Harding hadn’t panicked and the whip didn’t come up until late on. He knew the horse would stay best.
Throthethatch is a nice strong horse and I’ve no doubt he is up to winning off this mark, but although he’s a stayer he’s just a tad keen at the moment, and the trainer is bang out of form for now. Ballybolley was another to catch the eye travelling far too keenly on this ground. He fell in a heap as well but with his form on better ground he is a sure fire winner this spring, well handicapped. I liked Ballyadeen as a horse and he went with loads of enthusiasm. I think they could bring him back to 2m, even though he’s a point winner. The extra weight may have stopped him in this company, but I wouldn’t give up on him yet.
The finale looked a three runner affair as the betting suggested. The Hobbs youngster No Comment looked a nice horse but this was no penalty kick with both Fionn Mac Cul and The Dutchman having recorded pretty decent figures on their previous outings.
Although the former is the nicer looking horse worthy of his lofty price tag, he’s very much an embryonic chaser and defying a penalty in this company looked a big task. The Dutchman by contrast looked a really strong, forward type with the air of a street fighter about him. And with Cook in the saddle, and down in trip, he was sure to get a positive ride. You just didn’t know how good the favourite would be but it was worth taking the chance at the odds.
Cook’s race-riding skills are just phenomenal and his awareness of what’s happening around him second to none. He was seen at his best here lifting the Scottish raider home, although the stewards are likely to have had a quiet word in his ‘shell-like’.