I toyed with taking on both Strumble Head and Dunowen Point, who were both well-backed, against the solid Sudski Star and in-form Tregaro.
It didn't quite work out that way, and it just goes to show that pre-race sprightliness doesn't always convert into a winning performance.
Sudski Star essentially carried the bulk of the cash after looking a picture of health beforehand but he was not travelling with any fluency from the get-go and ran no sort of race - perhaps a busy campaign has taken its toll, although that certainly wasn't evident in the prelims.
Quite why Dunowen Point has gone sour cannot be judged on his appearance as he looked perfectly okay, and although he ran his best race for a while he found little once challenged and also hung. He remains one to oppose, as does the one-paced Strumble Head, who was very late into the paddock, while it's not clear what Tregaro achieved in winning here and he will be racing from a career-high mark next time.
The big, robust chaser Everylasting was a very worthy favourite of the 2m6f novices handicap after jumping and travelling well in two races at Hexham of late. This drop in trip was ideal and he got a nice lead into the race before asserting. Unfortunately the handicapper will have his say now and this race took little winning, but a further drop in trip would hold no terrors.
|Sparely made maiden Gwili Spar remains one to oppose|
P Bowen's Gwili Spar is rather sparely made and was very much one to take on on his chasing debut, and he predictably jumped rather stickily. The money for him was a little baffling but it made it that bit easier for the layers to get stuck in. Be prepared to oppose this one in similar races.
Johnnys Legacy made it 2/47 under rules last time but had little response once passed and gave in tamely on this occasion.
Pindar produced a 20/1 shock later on the card where the market was dominated by Travis County, Muwalla and Mac's Grey, who was punted for a third successive race.
The latter was crowded out and put on the floor turning in just as the race was unfolding, and surely compensation awaits as he jumped much better here up with the pace and appears to have filled out since last year.
Neither Travis County nor Muwalla delivered when it mattered in a race both were entitled to win on the book, and with racing about to become a lot more competitive their time may have passed for now. Both have the size for the job but appear to lack the heart. I must also add a brief RIP for Turf Trivia, who crashed out early. He wasn't fit for this but that's not the point.
Chaser-cum-hurdler Sleep In First is making the most of a lower mark over timber and defied favouritism ahead of the grey Snowed In, who was fit and well for a break, and the fancied Good Of Luck.
The latter does not have a great build to lug top weight around and may be better lower down the weights against better opposition, that said the assessor may have him about right now. The winner may not find an easier opportunity for a while, nice tall sort that he is, and as such may prove better still over fences.
Oscars Way is a nice mover but was never going today, while Dr Dalwhinny is a very robust type who could do with some help from the handicapper, while the leery, unfurnished Nautical Twilight should continue to be opposed for now.
Bowen had a great chance to head back to Pembrokeshire with a winner in the shape of Mister Bricolage, who looked on great terms with himself prior to the staying hurdle. Whether he was outstayed or outfought by Moon Melody is a moot point, but it surely saw B Hughes at his strongest on the veteran stayer, giving trainer M Sowersby a rare double.
High Kite is a really lengthy, rangy sort who would surely be better over fences but still gives his obstacles little respect, while Solway Dornal threw in a rare poor effort. Luctor Emergo did not look tuned up for this but he stopped very quickly all the same.
Big-field handicap hurdles are not really my bag and while I thought it may be D-Day for D Cantillon's This Is Me the money was for Sendiym, from double figures in the morning to 9/2. He looked in good heart after an eight week absence (had run on the flat) and Hughes had him in the right place all the way, up with the pace in a steadily run race.
|Today was not the day for the imposing This Is Me|
The scopey This Is Me is surely better than this. He'll jump a fence in time, but connections are seemingly not yet happy with his handicap mark as the big money didn't arrive on the exchange. He'll come down for this apparently laboured effort, and there must be a race on the horizon for a horse that may still be on the immature side.
Brother Scott got warm but ran a better race this time while Verko ran no sort of race again but mark these words - his day will come.