The big race winner may have been one of the rags but you could hear a pin drop as connections returned to unsaddle with just a handful of enthusiasts hanging around - obviously the vast majority of attendees were queueing up for their next vodka-red bull.
Anyway with that off the chest it wasn't a bad day's action or punting for that matter, although it could have been even better (of course.)
Cardinal Walter was a shoo-in for the opener after chief rival Fort Worth was scratched, one of a few on the card as the drying ground clearly made some connections think twice.
Henderson's charge is a free-going sort and you wouldn't pick him out in a beauty contest but he's clearly got an engine. You couldn't put one up against him and he duly dotted up - frankly the 1/2 returned was decent value.
Royalraise was backed into second fav and although he's a neat enough sort with some potential it was a huge stretch to think he could trouble the jolly, which he didn't. Eventual runner-up Tinos Tank is nothing to look at but he too must have plenty under the bonnet as it was the second time he's gone okay here and this was no fluke.
I was against Heated Debate, bandaged in front which is quite rare for one of Longsdon's, with two handlers and bit on edge he looked a bit of a nut-job. At around evens the place he looked a decent lay and he duly bled as he trailed home.
I missed a beat with Dresden in the next as I rather fancied he was an improver but when Festive Affair was taken out a large percentage went with him. Instead I saved on the nice looking youngster and had the rest on Kings Grey, who looked full of beans and rarely runs a bad race.
I know you'll tell me young Scu is in great form but the grey rarely makes a mistake so when he hit one and unshipped the jock I was on a bit of a downer. These things happen but we'll never know - it would have been nice to have seen the pair fighting it out from the last.
Ifandbutwhynot is probably handicapped up to his best now over the larger obstacles over which he is not a natural, while Robbie is also in the handicapper's grip.
|JR doffs his cap after guiding Balmusette home|
The latter clearly likes the track and I kept telling myself the longer trip would be in her favour with JR sure to deliver her as late as possible, It worked out sensationally well for a change and we had things covered from the second last.
For the record Golan Road was a bit on the lean side for me, while Princess Tara has the strong look of a soft ground horse and I'm sure she'll be back to her best on similar terrain. A Doll In Milan hung again and maybe has a problem, but looked really well here.
I didn't like the look of Call The Cops in the next, on the small side for my taste, and I took him on as there looked to be a few runners. Northern trained Seldom Inn looked great and primed for a big run but one wonders whether the Thompson yard is quite firing at the moment, while Waltz Darling looked sure to go well and she certainly did.
But Hendo racked up the double with some ease and we were forced to retreat with our tails thrust between the legs. We should have got stuck into Batavir of course but it's never a good idea to stand in front of a Pipe mover. It looked in good nick but didn't seem at ease on this ground.
I didn't get too involved in the big race although Super Duty looked ready to go well after his spin over timber last time, but was given a queer ride chasing a frenetic early pace and this effort may be best forgotten.
Theatre Queen would surely have pissed up if it hadn't given up 20 lengths at the tapes and ought to be a great in-running play next time - I don't think the handicapper can do anything about this run and she looks a stone well in.
Drop In Joe was the favourite and although cherry ripe is a bit short front-to-back and therefore lacks a touch of scope - it may be that the chestnut will always be prone to errors. Samingarry is another who may struggle in handicaps owing to its lack of size.
|Grimthorpe winner Wayward Prince|
He was given a soft lead as McCoy looked to exit on a winner but he made some errors and was beat at the top of the home run. This does not strike me as good form as winner Bobcatbilly was 10lb higher than his Boxing Day-winning mark while Shadrack has struck as one in the grips of the assessor all season.
Wings Of Smoke rallied for second but didn't look anywhere near ready while Distime was well but is a fragile old thing and this rutted terrain probably didn't suit at all.
The finale looked quite a mediocre bumper after looking at them beforehand but The Last Cavalier really looked much more forward than his rivals and plenty fit enough. Well-bred and from a good kennel I was surprised he wasn't shorter and in we went.
He was off the bridle on the turn but they weren't going anywhere up front and he came there with every chance and apparently had few excuses as he went down by a neck to the Daly-trained Score Card, who is a strong sort that looked as though the run would do him plenty of good.
However, it transpires young Bannister dropped his whip a furlong out and this surely made a difference to the result, and slightly soured the tone of the afternoon. This form probably won't amount to much in the long run either.
I hope readers were on Runswick Royal at Kelso today. I wrote after his last effort at Haydock that it was somewhat surprising they hadn't put him over a trip before now and that some extra yardage should suit down to the ground.
A distance just short of three miles looked perfect and after solid support all day long he duly went in under a good ride from Brian Hughes. The Topham would probably be a great target for him but hopefully today was the day for some of you.
I'm kind of thinking I should start flagging up some eye-catchers before they run rather than 'after-timing' as it were. Maybe I should read my own blog more as I know many do slip through the net. Anyway, something to ponder.