I had only intended to hit the local track late in the day in order to check on the wellbeing of Secrete Stream before confirming my strong bet on M Jefferson's chestnut, however after a late change of plan I got there well in advance of the opener.
That gave me chance to have a good look at the novices and there were some nice sorts in there, especially those coming off the flat.
It was quickly apparent that McCain's Gabrial The Great had/has a major issue with his front legs, bandaged and walking rather gingerly as he felt his way round the paddock. It had massive blowout potential and I was looking for a big lay in the place market.
Things went pear-shaped from there though as I was unable to access the exchange on the old smartphone. So I had to watch through gritted teeth as the poor beast folded like a deckchair in the straight and could barely lift a leg at the third last. I hope they find out what the problem is before too long.
The eventual winner The Grey Taylor had plenty of size and his trainer does really well here with his hurdlers, this one wearing a hood in the prelims but not in the race itself. Pipe's Taj Badalandabad was reportedly well-fancied and looks a handy type with little scope, but found little when push came to shove.
Chieftain's Choice is a nice sort and one that Quinn should do well with this season, while other flat types to take the eye were Dr Irv, Ardmay and Attention Seeker, all of whom can win later this term.
Anyway that was it for me, I couldn't be doing without the 'machine' all day so we hot-footed it back to nerve centre, where Mrs Notebook politely inquired if I had tried turning the damned device off-and-on, to which I had to confess I hadn't. Maybe I could have avoided all the drama with some clear-thinking, but the red mist can descend when you just can't get on.....
Back at the office news filtered through that Secrete Stream had got warm again, although not as bad as on his return when he apparently was the subject of a rare bet by the trainer. It may have only been a contributing factor in that defeat as it looks clear now that the 2m that day was wholly inadequate, as he came home strongly here to deliver the goods.
I thought he had them covered on the home turn although he was briefly threatened by Shimla Dawn, the apple of his trainer's eye. Walford is eyeing a chasing campaign with that one although this run may persuade them to gain compensation over timber first. The one problem with that one is that he'll do well to stay ahead of the handicapper, such is his consistency.
The other reason I wanted to get to the track was to check on the fitness of Blakemount in the finale. Regular readers may have got the message by now that Sue Smith's horses have been left with plenty to work on by-and-large, and they are now 37 without a winner.
I had to take a leap of faith and lay the novice but was impressed with the way he safely navigated his way round, only hitting two out when getting tired behind the race fit and most likeable Kaysersberg. This was a nice opener from Blakemount who can land a big staying handicap next spring provided we get some really soft ground.
Well, I can't get to Carlisle on Sunday which is disappointing as there are two very strong bets on the card.
I've seen Spanish Fleet run with promise on three occasions now and have been waiting for the right race for it to run in, and I believe this is it. B Hughes taking the mount is worth 10lbs and he won't allow the six-year-old to get outpaced as is his wont.
There are three big unknowns in Mr Steel, Obistar and Scimon Templar, and it would have been nice to have been able to check their credentials in the flesh. However, I believe Spanish Fleet has enough in hand and he rates a strong bet.
The other with obvious claims is Eduard although the market has it about right. Holywell was campaigned with one day in mind last season and it could be the same story again. 2m4f will be inadequate today and Eduard is expected to continue his upward curve. N Richards has his string in great heart and had another winner at Ayr yesterday.
The blog will be updated after racing at Hexham on Friday. Good luck.