Good ground back at Town Moor for a decent looking card with angles aplenty again. Nice to have some decent sized fields at this time of year and remarkable that yet again the northern meeting went ahead while Ludlow fell to the frost.
Divine Spear, a nice big chase type for the future, was odds on to land the opener but again pulled too hard and didn't have the pace when it mattered. He's a big baby really and being looked after this term - he's a chaser for the future.
That said it wasn't easy to oppose him before the race as it didn't look a deep race, and I didn't much care for the eventual winner Chic Theatre who got a bit warm and is on the small side.
The Unit was just denied and I thought he ran a big race for a backward sort who will need much further in time. He's quite nice, as is Brian Boranha who was never put in the race, while Crockery is small and backward and just a moderate handicapper.
Peter The Mayo Man cost a bomb but he walked terribly behind, didn't have a great head carriage and made a few mistakes. I wouldn't be too pleased if I'd forked out 100 bags.
I've been keen on Our Thomas for some time but he's now been placed on all starts bar the time he won at Wetherby after finishing second in the juvenile. It's a worry, but perhaps he keeps bumping into decent horses. I still think he may be competitive in the Fred Winter where a faster pace is bound to suit.
Ardamir came out on top today - I quite liked this strong sort beforehand. I felt he might just improve for the run after an absence of two months, during which time he apparently had a wind op (which we only learned of afterwards of course.)
The pair came well clear but it's hard to evaluate the form with the Nicholls horse Lou Vert blowing out with a wind issue. He looked a nice big horse, if a little lean, but this does not bode well.
Fingerontheswitch had some super form on his CV from earlier in the season and in points and he looked very well handicapped if a return to good ground was the key to him. He looked in great heart in the prelims but the price had gone and we had to sit back and watch him win with more than a little in hand.
Fort Worth looked well, a laid back sort, but he went amiss here, while Nightline is worth following, a strong sort who gets a bit worked up. He wore earplugs in the paddock but settled ok in front, jumping noticably well. He didn't quite see it out but he can win off this sort of mark.
I sent a note to subscribers saying we should back Grandads Horse at 8/1 in the morning but the punt didn't quite come off in the veterans race.
His form figures from this sort of mark were outstanding and I couldn't see him being anything other than close up jumping the last. I did think Coleman allowed the winner Saint Are a bit too much rope on the home turn but there were no excuses. Saint Are winged the last four fences and said 'thou shalt not pass' as big Mark Johnson used to say.
I was quite deflated after this reverse as the promise of a nice winner had me all a quiver, having ruled out some of the fancied runners - Godsmejudge was well-backed but as he proved here a flat 3m is knowhere near far enough.
Never mind. A quick brew during a miserable hunter chase, in which they missed out the fences in the straight due to the low sun, set us back on the right path.
Ballycrystal was mighty hard to oppose in the first of two bumpers. I had backed him at Musselburgh where got a weak ride, rallying from off the pace in a slow run affair. There was no way D Cook would be in the wrong place despite another funereal pace, and there's plenty more to come from this staying type.
Vive Le Roi didn't appeal here, looking to carry condition and getting warm, while Man O'Words was all the rage. A nice looker, he's yet another son Scorpion to have his quirks. Clearly talented, he'll win races. Focaccia is a big embryo chaser who showed ability, while the well related Jack Lamb showed more on this better ground. He's light framed though and could have been a bit flattered here, he may not have the ability of his siblings.
The finale saw Rather Be pitted against Groundunderrepair. Neither appealed greatly in the prelims - the former only ok for a Henderson horse, while the latter looks to be struggling to hold condition and had not really improved from Carlisle. The absence may have been due to the ground but it was a bit of a negative.
All in all, a small wager on the C Longsdon filly Snow Leopardess was the order of the day. She looked very strong, and plenty forward for a juvenile, and was getting a ton of weight from Ludlow scorer Rather Be. It was one of those situations where looking back you really should have had more on. And how many times have we said that!