Certification took on Rayak in the opener in a repeat of their Newbury run, but this time the former finished in front in a sprint up the straight after they went a dawdle. The winner is quirky...he wore two bits and even in the paddock was looking all around, but he's a big scopey sort that should do alright in this sphere. Rayak is just okay looking and may not prove a great deal better than a 125 horse. Of the others, Investment Expert is not very big and on his toes for the debut, will surely be seen in better light when handicapping on better ground.
A decent 2m4f chase saw Sharney Sike follow up his Newcastle win on much softer ground that the jockey said he was hating. He should stay further and is a rangy type whose jumping will hopefully continue to improve. He was a late drifter in the market which was little baffling as I got it down to he and Little Glenshee, with the latter coming down three out when in command. It was a shame - he'd jumped well to that point and can gain compensation as he rarely runs a bad race. Kykate has something about him and and sure enough he was running a good race when brought down in the melee - he might be worth keeping an eye over the coming weeks. Harris Hawk's trainer J Wade is not known for getting them ready first time and this one will be interesting next time over further.
The staying hurdle was a poor one and once more the best looking horse in the race took the honours, this time D McCain's Rocky Stone, who stepped up markedly up in trip and it was surprising he went off a week 6/1 chance in such a poor affair. Runner-up Big Sound is only small it's to his credit that he ran such a grand race off top weight, less his rider's claim. The only other of interest was Native Optimist, sent off at 50/1. He's a decent stamp of a horse and despite clattering several hurdles ran okay - giving more experience he can poor another of these.
In the feature race Rose Of The Moon drew the eye with McCoy riding for D O'Meara. The grey was down in class after being dropped in the weights and it was my view his form was far ahead of the others - he'd been in with some big names including Bobs Worth as a hurdler. The yard is shrewd and this race was perfect - after some scratchy leaps he warmed up and outstayed the rest who were well strung out. They came for McCain's Real Milan and he lost nothing in defeat as he was up against it here. He can go in next time granted a break as they finished very tired.
The novice hurdle saw Tiqris get off the mark as he saw off the very likeable Secrete Stream, who was penalised. The latter has fences all over him and as he didn't hurdle particularly fluently M Jefferson will surely send him over the big ones next winter. Already rated 125, he'll be better than that over the big ones.
I wasn't keen on the third, Stonebrook, who lacks any size but was surprisingly well-backed, particularly given the kind ride he was given by McCoy.
The 0-110 staying chase was weak with Towcester second Mighty Mobb a warm order - mainly in the absence of credible opposition. The only one I could make a case for was Ayr winner Arc Warrior, a big rangy chaser who for some reason was ignored in the betting. I didn't really understand that as he'd clearly turned the corner and cruised through the race before winning easily. The favourite still looks a little unfurnished at seven, but is a good mover and it wouldn't surprise me to see him jump and stay better on a sounder surface this spring. He looks good enough in the flesh to win off a mark of 109.