Still, as always there's a silver lining and some performances didn't go unnoticed, most obviously in the opener when newcomer Lil Rockerfeller ran on into third behind the long odds-on Devilment.
Clearly the paddock pick, Lil Rockerfeller has plenty of size about him and although not straightforward on the flat looks to have a future in this game.
Novicey early on, he moved into the race well before being outpaced by the winner, jumping better as it progressed. I thought he'd come on for the run fitness-wise and he'll be a good thing for a juvenile event.
|Lil Rockerfeller: Straight into the notebook|
They were quite a small bunch in actual fact, runner-up Lucky Jim, In Vino Veritas and Scoppio Del Carro all lacking size, while Grand Meister and Chivers would be more my idea of ones to follow in the coming months.
I had to have a crack in the second as Purple Harry had taken the eye in a quiet way a couple of times and he really looked primed to run a big race in a very weak contest.
Casual Cavalier was a solid market leader but has yet to deliver and once again he let a winning opportunity slip, ground down by the dogged stayer Billy Two Tongues.
Purple Harry, a big lengthy grey, meanwhile jumped the hurdles big and ought to be over fences before too long, while three miles ought not to be a problem. His mark won't suffer for his staying on fourth (each-way blowout of course) and his turn may come.
Politbureau looked well once again and this looked a race in which he could get involved, with the Hammond yard firing on all cylinders. Thus, with the second, third and fourth in exactas I came up dry.
I had backed Rowdy Rocher last time out when finishing behind Bennys Well and Little Glenshee when there appeared to be few excuses bar the ground.
It was better here than that day but still it was a tad galling to see this rather scrawny gelding win a similar race as it liked - a tricky affair in which you could have given most a chance.
Crescent Beach looked fabulous but he'd been in similar form at Leicester when it ran poorly earlier in the season and I wasn't going to be fooled once more - he's clearly very moderate - while Bennys Well has shown no spark either in the prelims or on the track since that Carlisle win.
Classinaglass was the mover and he's a fairly nice sort who looked fit after an absence but the trip was a worry and at quite a short price was not one to go in on. Free World ran his usual game race but was run out of it again.
The staying handicap hurdle was a very weak affair in which I liked Gwladys Street, who looked fit and well and on a good mark. But he's become a moody customer, was a shade recalcitrant beforehand and is not one to rely on.
Minella Bliss looked really well and was a sound jolly despite a poor win/run ratio - it was difficult to find one to beat it. In the end it was Stickleback who got on top close home to break her maiden tag at the 21st attempt, giving the race a very weak look.
Nalim is a fair sort who ought to rate higher and clearly needs blinkers, while Mannered was very fit for his return but is not about to change his one-paced ways. McCain's Abricot De L'Oasis looked okay enough in the grade and may not have got home in first-time blinds, while Flemi Two Shoes is on the small side and didn't appeal as the type to defy a sliding mark.
|Beauboreen: Looked well again but failed to deliver|
He looked on good terms with himself and although this was a better race he looked the one to be on, however he was once again slightly laboured and may just not quiet be firing, while he also could need proper soft, loose ground. I was on each-way this time so no harm done, but I'm not sure my patient will last much longer.
I saved on Swing Hard, who ran a shocker last time but would be more suited by this staying test. He was given a good ride by Cook but better ground would suit and he was put in his place by Clondaw Knight, who finally produced a performance he had been promising upped to 3m for the first time.
The 10/1 was a big price in hindsight on a horse of obvious ability and clearly the trip unlocked that potential. It was a bit of a miss but I'm not going to be too hard on myself, especially as Buchanan was on board and he's out of chances.
Fill The Power didn't particularly impress in appearance and neither did Tutchec, who looked surprisingly burly for this time of year although that didn't account for such a lacklustre showing. Catching On is not over-big and will surely be seen to better effect in the spring.
The novice hurdle looked a two-horse race between Jonjo's Beg To Differ and H Oliver's Ozzy Thomas, however I much preferred the former on looks, quite an imposing individual who must go on to bigger things granted a proper test.
This developed into a sprint and the second and third, Masirann and Monbeg River, nice horses as they are, were flattered by their proximity, while staying types Jack Steel and Billy Buff really are of little interest at this stage of their careers.
Ozzy Thomas was taken out by an early faller which took away some interest. On looks he's a speedier sort who doesn't have a great deal of size.
The finale was another difficult affair with Frank N Fair backed to the exclusion of everything else. She was a fair lay at around 3 and it was Rayadour who returned to form to give the bang in-form M Hammond a double on the day. Mighty Cliche was by far the most scopey horse in the race but is rather one-paced and probably quirky too.