The track had once again produced safe jumping ground and there was plenty of intrigue despite the lack of numbers.
|You can't beat Hexy on a warm, sunny day|
Spirits were further lifted after we got things right in the opening handicap chase.
I wasn't quite as enamoured by the appearance of Heist as at Sedgefield, looking to only just have enough size for the big fences, and arguably lacking a little in scope. His fencing at Sedge was novicey and that run only served to enhance the view that an extra half mile is required.
The money came for him but again he was rushed off his feet and forced into numerous minor errors. Perhaps the slower pace of the longer trip will help as he looks to build on a solid enough start.
Kitchapoly made no appeal at all, being a moderate looking animal who is unlikely to progress physically and has an attitude problem as well. It's only a matter of time before they reach for some headgear.
With that pair taking a large chunk out of the market there was value around. Ballycool is a nice strong sort who looked fit enough for his return and with a good record fresh had to enter calculations.
The other of interest was Harrys Whim, who was markedly down in trip. I felt the race would be run to suit this free-going mare and her victory was a feather in the cap of Daragh Bourke, who rode his own race as the badly-handicapped Gin Cobbler went off in front.
The seller was not a betting race but the novice hurdle was very interesting as once again McCain had a horse that was taking a good chunk out of the market in Sacred Square, who was very disappointing here last time.
|Harrys Whim got us off to a grand start|
This horse has not progressed one iota physically or form-wise in the last 12 months and does not have a bright future. At 5/2 he was a great lay with the solid Quick Brew and upstart Nuts Well appearing to have the race between them.
The latter, a half-brother to Runswick Royal, was backward on his debut in a bumper but has thickened out nicely over the summer. He's a nice sort albeit not the finished article, and while fit enough they had left something to work with.
It was a shade disappointing the well-backed four-year-old could not live with Quick Brew in the latter stages, although time may tell a longer trip could be needed.
What a great day for the Maurice Barnes yard though with two winning mares and a belated victory for the previously unfortunate Quick Brew. Bourke again rode with confidence and has made great strides in the last year.
The handicap chase was interesting and you had to fancy Pipey's Skylander by process of elimination. I couldn't have Brother Scott at any price from 6lb wrong, while chase debutant Drop A Gear is very small and had no business jumping fences at this stage of his career. It came as no surprise then, when he buried the unfortunate P Buchanan after rapping the guard rail at the ditch.
I was interested in Bonzo Bing but he wasn't fit for this introduction from an absence, and although he didn't show much immediate encouragement he could be one to watch. Three miles may suit as well.
Mr Burgees continues to disappoint and there was little positive to say about this effort. He looks every inch a three miler but should have shown more.
Skylander is only just big enough for fences but the yard does very well with similar types and there's no reason why he won't be paying his way.
|Well-backed Skylander was the obvious choice|
The handicap hurdle was not a betting heat as it looked competitive and with no obvious pace in the race. That suited those that sat near front end, with Miss Macnamara running out a worthy winner.
For those sat back it was hardly worth turning up although the race won't be lost on Lucinda's Tantamount, on whom D Fox overdid the waiting tactics, as is his wont. Soft ground will see him in better light.
A poor turn out for the other handicap chase meant another no-bet race and while Mias Anthem lacks plenty in size he looked in great order and merely had to put in a clear round to see off three moderate foes. Life will be a lot harder after this, however.
I was particularly keen on Another Bygones in the closing stayers hurdle, which shaped up like a very weak event. The McLintock yard know the time of day and after three 'educational' spins yielded a stone's worth of slippage, it looked like today was the day.
Therefore it was of great disappointment that this big chasing type came down at the fourth, particularly as the race fell apart as expected. This was one that got away but he will remain of interest.
Old nemesis Native Optimist was the only solid option despite appearing in the clutches of the handicapper, but he duly ran his usual solid race and bagged the spoils without too much fuss. However, he would not have improved in winning here and his future now lies with the assessor.
Runner-up Distant Sound was well-backed but has a very poor action and his finishing effort suggests the problem that kept him off the track for two years has left its mark either mentally or physically. They will drop him in trip but he is one to be wary of.
The remainder are, I'm afraid, of very little account.
This blog was started for a whole host of reasons, primary among them being the desire to continue writing and an effort to add a little value for punters who are unable to get to the track on a regular basis.
I know there are dozens of you reading regularly and I appreciate the positive feedback on Twitter.
However, when the season gets busy it's going to be difficult to write daily blogs as well as keeping up with the form for my own benefit. Therefore it is likely that the blog may take the form of a weekly round-up, with lists of horses to follow and ones to steer clear of.
Whichever form it takes I hope the blog continues to assist everyone with their punting and bring a few smiles along the way.
Good luck for the new jumps season - it's finally here!