There was some overnight rain and it was a dank enough day but you’d hardly call it much worse than good to soft ground.
They went steady enough in the opening mares novice hurdle which was taken in good style by the talented and much touted La Bague Au Roi. She’s a classy mare with plenty of size and ought to keep getting better with time and, eventually, fences.
Skelton’s Uttoxeter winner Whatduhavtoget chased her willingly but didn’t have acceleration after they pretty steady early on, and she too has enough about her to do well. Groovejet wasn’t that far behind but was suited by the way the race was run, and may have been flattered, as she lacks the scope of the front pair.
Back in fourth Fille Des Champs finished with plenty of running and she could do well in time, certainly over further.
The novice chase was an interesting heat and looked a three runner affair, but I took a pop at the rag Vendor, who wasn’t too far behind on hurdles form against some inexperienced types.
He nearly pulled it off too, albeit only handed an opening thanks to The Dutchman blundering at the final two, having jumped well to that point. The Dutchman was pretty fit, and is quite athletic without perhaps having a great deal of scope.
Ma Du Fou looked a bit laboured. He’s a big strong gelding who probably needs further, but they need to work on her jumping technique. Blue Heron drifted all day and then came in for late support.
But his finishing effort was tame last time and I’ve said many times on this blog that they rarely come back of serious tendon injuries. He may prove me wrong, but he looks like he’s not letting himself down under pressure.
Barramundi was popular in the stayers hurdle on the back of a quiet outing at Sedgefield, but the handicapper had taken evasive action. He looks a big, plain staying chaser but didn’t appear to see this out, or maybe he’s a bit slow.
Lough Salt showed signs of ability last season but the Walford yard has had a quiet spell with the horses apparently under a cloud. They have been looking well of late though, and this one appeared straight enough on his seasonal return, winning with loads in hand after fluffing the last two flights.
Rocklim looked awful, very fit and lean, dry in his coat. The Ewart yard is not one I’m a fan of and this one hasn’t done much physically in the last 12 months. Benenden and Patsys Castle were opposable on the ground, so it probably wasn’t a great race.
The feature handicap chase would make or break the day as Indian Voyage was down to a great mark, albeit over a trip that stretches him. It was disappointing that he didn’t travel into the race better, as I was hoping he’d get to the front before two out.
But Aerlite Supreme, well backed beforehand and looking fit, travelled all over them and really should have won but for throwing it away on the run-in. He had looked hard to win with before and now we know why.
Wells De Lune was a shock winner, especially as this tearaway fought back after looking beaten when clouting the last two. He lives on his nerves and hasn’t much condition on him, but you can’t fault his tenacity. That said, they were going knowhere in front and if he runs again before Christmas I’ll looking to take him on.
They were strung out behind with Blandfords Gunner a disappointment. He’s quite nice albeit rather leggy and may want another year. His jumping was patchy and he hasn’t gone on from his Leicester win…but time is on his side.
Monbeg Charmer was on his toes before the novice hurdle and carried that freshness into the race, going very freely out in front. They were exacting fractions, and he didn’t have enough left in reserve to fend off the green Some Invitation, a nice strong youngster who will do well in time. It was surprising he was able to serve it up to the hot favourite, and will get further.
Robinauthelad was disappointing again. He’s a very nice chaser in the making but clearly wants more time, a sentiment that applies to Nomoreblackjack who is very unfurnished at present.
The handicap hurdle looked difficult but I was against the quite small Taper Tantrum, who may need better ground, and Applesandpierres, who is quite small and wasn’t walking great. Like Blue Heron, he may never get over his earlier problems.
Plenty looked fit – Lightening Rod, Isaac Bell, Our Thomas and Cornborough looked ready to go, while Eyes Of The Tiger appeared to be carrying condition. Ellison is a canny handler and I’ve put away several times before as quite a few of his are able to carry excess around their belly. I must say the horse has flown under my radar, but he was very well backed and this was one for the boy Moscrop, who is not normally associated with such plots.
The closing staying handicap chase was a torrid affair as I couldn’t have the hot favourite West Of The Edge, who lacks size and scope for fences and is only 4/34 under rules. However, the good Dr Newland has done ok with all sorts of animals in the past and he’s worked the oracle again.
You couldn’t confidently put anything up against it though. Doubledisdoubledat looked fit but the Coltherd horses have been needing a run, while Nortonthorpelegend was definitely straight even though the Menzies horses have all been short of fitness.
Urban Gale and Benefit In Kind were fit but they couldn’t even get the jolly off the snaff. Runswick Days had been pummelled 16lb for winning a bad race and the weight anchored him.