The meeting was notable for the powerful stables of D McCain and Lucinda Russell who were both well represented, yet went their separate ways empty handed.
Both went into the day on lengthening losing runs with Russell's horses very much racing as if in need of their seasonal reappearances, while McCain's for some reason are just not firing.
And it was a similar story at the Cumbrian venue despite an avalanche of cash for some of the their representatives.
The tale of woe began with Voyage A New York, hammered into favouritism in the 2m1f novice hurdle only to stop to nothing at the bottom of the hill, as Knight's Parade swooped late to land the spoils under a well-judged Scudamore ride.
|Robin's Command upheld the Perth form in style|
The winner was quite solid in the face of cash for the other two despite concerns about the ground and they just about got away with it this time. The other penalised horse Heist ought to be better back on a sound surface, while a mention must be made for Astaroland, who looks decent enough to take a handicap or two later on.
C Longsdon's Drop Out Joe looked incredibly fit for his chasing debut and he duly despatched McCain's Keeneland, who was a bit free and lost second to Water Garden, who fairly hobbled round the paddock prior to running a surprising race full of promise.
Longsdon would have had high hopes of a couple more winners on the card but it wasn't to be as Dark Glacier ran down Orange Nassau in the closing stages of the staying chase. Orange Nassau has gone well when fresh but as with so many greys he looked like he would be better for it. The front two appeared poorly handicapped and so the money came for Dreams Of Milan (looked alright, not over-big), but McCain's charge barely lifted a leg and was tailed off, while Russell's returning pair ran okay under the circumstances.
|Dreams Of Milan advertised McCain's poor form in the staying chase|
K Renwick rode his from the front as though defeat was out of the question but, like Voyage A New York before him, stopped as if shot before the race began in earnest. The jockey clearly mis-judged it but Back To Bracka did not run his race for whatever reason and looks like he could be useful.
The 2m chase saw Robin's Command renew rivalry with Russell's Final Assault two weeks on from Perth while all the money was for McCain's free-going sort Classic Move on his chase debut.
The latter, who looked on the lean side, kept putting down on Maguire while eventual winner Robin's Command popped away in his shadow. The grey has been a tribute to the Dobbins, who have placed him to great effect this summer, while his sound jumping will always be an asset.
Final Assault was fancied to reverse Perth placings on this very different ground and track but the big chasing type didn't appear to have learned a great deal from his debut, jumping very novicey out to his left while not showing his claiming jockey in great light either. That said with more experience and a return to Ayr he is a sure-fire winner, especially as he moves up in trip.
The opening conditional jockeys' hurdle was wide open but the money for Nalim was baffling as he turned out to be the least-fit looking horse of the whole card, while there were positives for the winner, Acordingtoscript, in a second time hood, and the second Nafaath of McCain's who was very fit from the flat.
Dalstontosiloth was the paddock pick, being on great terms with himself, only to fade into fourth place, while the third Spanish Fleet has been mentioned here before and will surely win a race soon back over an extra half a mile. His Trainer J Wade appears to have his horses in good heart at this early stage and I'll be expecting a few of his to start winning with a run safely tucked away.
In the bumper finale, Longsdon's Deadly Move stood out from the rest although two handlers were a cautionary note and those who bet the odds-on shot were left ruing the fact he tanked through the race like the good horse he surely is, only to flatten out late on.
Of the others Russell's £100k purchase Kingswell Theatre was arguably the least attractive on show although he ran ok and clearly has an engine in a race that may turn out alright.
So what to make of it? I think Russell's horses are definitely in need of their first run despite what the markets are telling us, while McCain's as so often are being overbet and while there is probably nothing ailing the yard, for whatever reason they are just not firing. It may just be circumstance, but we'll find out more tomorrow at Hexham where both trainers have some interesting runners, and where I'll be headed.