West pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the opening novice hurdle when his tall grey Maximizer shat all over the odds-on favourite Master Dee in good style. McCain's youngster didn't really deserve to be such a price but in truth it was hard to put up anything against it.
The winner is a lovely stamp of a horse but didn't look 100 percent revved up - that said the jolly made no appeal as he loped around the paddock without much interest in proceedings. It was yet another horse from that yard to not take the eye and more was to follow later on the card.
Of the others Clan Chief is a nice chasing type but as we'll see later his trainer N Alexander is in no sort of form and this one ran as if having a problem. Astaroland was back again after the last meeting and he once again showed inexperience with a few blunders...however it will all add up to a workable mark in the final analysis and with trainer Candlish not yet firing we can expect miles better from this one in due course. Poor old Mister Bishop looked more like War Horse but he ran a good race off a long absence and an opening can be found for him.
|Ueueteotl: One to follow over fences this season|
Given a proper ride by the increasingly likeable C Nichol this time, L Russell's good looking beast had me reaching for the paracetamol when he led two out having gone unbacked at around the 10/1 mark. Thankfully all suicidal thoughts can be postponed for another day, and while the ex-Irish horse will go up for this he's bound to figure again off higher marks.
The race was marred slightly by the exit of Emral Silk and Most Honourable at the first, hampering Just Cameron in the process. The latter looked really well on his return and probably did well to just about lead three out before the effort took its toll late, but the one to take out of this was surely Ueueteotl.
J Ewart's imposing grey was apparently fancied although I was sure the run would do him the power of good, while ground and trip also looked to be against him. His hurdling also looked rusty after a 10 month absence but this is a chaser in the making and coming home in third here was to his credit. He's a winner waiting to happen.
Tikkandemickey was all the rage but I didn't really take to him, being rather leggy and ungainly (although pretty fit) while I was massively against Frankies Promise, who got rather warm and edgy beforehand. He's not run a bad race in his life until today and was the second of three from the Alexander yard to run a stinker. He's a lovely little horse though who can win again once the stable is firing. I didn't think Emral Silk was fit but he's got some presence and is another to follow this season.
Sandwiched by the West brace came another double this time notched up by Montoya's Son, who backed up his Sedgefield win in style. I'd put up soft ground as a reason to oppose the horse at the tissue of 13/8 and opted for Purcell's Bridge who looked overpriced after a pleasing reappearance at Hexham.
They smashed into the latter all day but he didn't pick up at all and perhaps it is he who requires the better ground, not the winner who returned a very backable 5/2. Brother Scott ran another solid race and he was just outstayed after the last - I'd like to see him back at 2m and his accurate fencing will stand him in good stead.
The Magic Bishop is an old rogue who surely needs some headgear now, while Boric may be of interest next time after a sound race here - it was only his second decent piece of form and he will improve physically for the experience too.
|Shouldavboughtgold: What a letdown|
It's a shame they didn't go a bit quicker in front - the revitalised Whats Up Woody allowed to dictate matters - but it was Incentivise who showed the more gumption from the last to win for the first time in a couple of years. He's no oil painting but looked fit enough, however it was disappointing Shouldavboughtgold didn't go through with it again and in-running layers were no doubt all over it.
Lively Baron was pottery at the walk and was disappointing, while Oil Burner looked gross and will surely strip fitter while veteran Royal Mackintosh won the award for most overweight runner of the day - maybe a cash incentive will help him shed some timber by the time he runs again <no room for topical humour - Ed>.
N Richards' Cultram Abbey was the best looking horse in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle yet went unbacked by all. He was fully wound up for his first handicap run and one wonders why the locals weren't piling in despite a distinct lack of form in the book.
It wasn't a race that would take much winning, not being as competitive as the numbers suggested. The market was made by Mubrook, who never runs two races alike but was out under a penalty. I had to take him on with Langley House, who has looked better with each run this season was looked sure to run her race, which she surely did.
However, Cultram Abbey proved himself well treated off 100 and danced all over them up the straight despite looking green, and will still be competitive despite a re-rating. There was very little to shout about amongst the others although the likeable Jokers And Rogues not for the first time showed promise and is not the first of J Wade's horses to portend bigger things to come of late. A decent jockey in the plate wouldn't go amiss either. The cash for Highlander Ted was baffling as he looked in need of it and that was confirmed by the yard.
|Urban Hymn: Will come on a ton for chase debut|
It was to Urban Hymn's credit that he stayed on so well after the last and he will rate much higher over a trip, while Duke Of Navan fenced really well and looks a decent tool. The other three might as well have been 1000 and didn't want to be anywhere near their higher-rated foes - Morning Royalty and in particular Hit The Top nowhere near fit for this, but both jumping nicely and primed to win before too long.
That left the bumper which did not look the most competitive - V Williams' Becauseshesaidso entered the paddock late but immediately looked superior to the rest, a big, mature horse ready to go. By contrast, McCain's four-year-old Court Dismissed is quite sparely made and he ran really well to look the most likely winner, only for Treadwell's kitchen sink to get in the way late on and send us home happy.
Gold Opera is a big, tall, immature horse whose time will come while P Niven's North Country Boy has enough about him to make a name for himself although he's currently very unfurnished and will need time.