Kylemore Lough stalked the pace in a lively opening novices hurdle and won decisively, landing a punt from 5s into 7/2 that was not just each-way money. This was a nice big horse who was ready to supplement his fortunate Warwick win last time, and looks a decent tool.
Runner-up Nightline also looked really well but wouldn't have the size or scope of the winner, while favourite Aniknam was a jolly worth opposing in this sort of grade under a penalty, lacking any size at all.
|The very likeable Kylemore Lough takes the first|
Of interest for the future is Allbarnone, who was noted as a type to follow last season. He was fit for his return but this was another likeable effort and he'll be interesting sent into handicaps.
Horizontal Speed unsurprisingly landed the odds in the novice chase, beating market rival Red Devil Boys. Both are likeable, the winner being a good moving horse with a nice way of going while Ferguson's is a nice big chaser who had come on for his Doncaster return and who can improve with a better round of jumping.
Kayf Blanco was one of several fancied rides for McCoy and I was very confident he had the beating of a moderate bunch on his handicap debut. However, when money started coming for H Oliver's Beatabout The Bush mid-morning the alarm bells started ringing.
I was quite happy with the well-backed favourite's appearance, he's a nice medium sized animal who walks well, but the well-being of the morning gamble was a sight to behold and he looked raring to go. The money didn't follow through on the show though and I sat tight with the McCoy bet.
Pertuis attracted all the support and he looked very well - however this is often the case and I wasn't concerned by the punt one bit. Wordy's Boy looked to be carrying plenty of condition and really I coudn't make a case for the remainder.
Of course the race panned out like a slow-motion nightmare, with Oliver's juvenile stalking McCoy up the straight before pouncing at the last with the remainder well beaten off. A small saver would have saved the day but I had to kiss goodbye to a good lump.
The handicap case was double-tricky with the favourite Gardefort hard to oppose after his Ludlow romp, and he looks a horse with plenty of potential being tall and full of scope. There could be a decent staying chase in him as he couldn't quite go with these up the straight, and like many ex-French chasers he got a bit low at times. I don't think the weight stopped him here.
|McCoy and Bourke - clearly not the best of friends|
Firth Of The Cyde picked up the pieces but he seems to be handicapped to the hilt, while Creepy didn't make any appeal being a little on the small side and quite a nervous looking type.
Attwaal was another favourite ridden by McCoy that I thought would win as he was another to come out of the good Haydock race won by Sleepy Haven (who won again today). My concern was the way the race would be run on the horse's first effort at 2m 4f and it didn't pan out well for jolly backers.
I think a fast-run 2m could be more suitable while fences will hold no terrors for the likeable six-year-old, however it was another defeat for McCoy as Smooth Stepper moved on again from his Sedgefield win.
I've seen the horse a couple of times and it's remarkable how much he is improving despite being very much an embryo chaser. This was his first handicap and first attempt at 2m 4f, and I felt the grade may find him out but he's run on well for a horse on the weak side. He'll be another lovely chaser for the Smiths next term.
Mr Grey ran a mighty race from the front although it may have been run to suit him, allowing for the conditions. He's really improved from his last couple of runs and the assessor looks right to have given him a quite lofty perch.
Centasia lacks a little in size and wasn't really backable material, while Nexius is a big long horse for whom good ground is an imperative. Feast Of Fire couldn't get into it but he's alright and can win again back over further.
On a quiet punting day I was grateful for a handicap chase to get me out the hole and thankfully the horses spoke to me, with Arctic Ben really champing at the bit in the prelims.
|Arctic Call: Made everything ok for McCoy and me|
Ballybogey, a big leggy horse who lacks condition, chased him home while Vinny Gambini was an eye-catcher in third on only his second start over fences. I just felt this run would put him spot on and he was taken off his feet early, before staying on nicely late on.
This race was not run to suit such an inexperienced horse and he'll be worth a second look next time out; he remains unexposed. The rest made little appeal beforehand, particularly Smadynium who lacks any size for fences and can continue to opposed with confidence.
The fillies' bumper had some nice types among them and M Hammond produced another nice looking horse in the mould of his Sedgefield winner earlier in the week in Sherry. Like Libby Mae, Sherry was well prepared and new her job.
Cosmic Tigress was a warm favourite but lacked the size of most of them, while runner-up Tara The Tiger is a fair sort entitled to improve quite a bit. Pink Tara was very appealing in third while the Swinbank filly Miss Burnett looked a big, rugged horse and very green beforehand.