More sunny weather for the second day's play and at least it was nice to know for sure how the ground is going to ride for a change.
Townshend took on Buyer Beware in essentially a match in the opener and I couldn't have backed the former with anyone's cash after a dreadful effort at Kempton last time. I wasn't keen on him physically either, much preferring the Elliot horse who has a nice frame in which to fill.
However, Johnson couldn't settle the beast as Townend (jockey) set sensible fractions and it was over before the straight. R Mike Smith's two rags ran well and his yard seems to be on fire at present...
The next was a bad handicap and I was fully focused on the front two, with V Dartnall having his first runner of the meet in Abyaat, who went close to winning last year and had cheekies on for the first time.
But I did like the look of Twister's Bring Back Charlie who will surely prove better than this lowly mark. I had a bit on them both but more on Twister's, who shaped like he's in need of further now. At least we were in green numbers.
The next race was a biggie as I strongly believed Sharpasaknife would get beat. I can't wait to see him jump a fence but he's come a long way in a short space of time and the form of his last win didn't warrant odds of 7/4.
In addition he ran up a little light in the paddock for my eye, whereas Braavos had gone the other way. Big and light framed when spotted at Southwell some months back, he looked a good bit stronger here and the ground was apparently the key to him.
I had a bit on him but more on Florrie Boy who looked a real progressive sort albeit rather dwarfed in size by the other pair. It was a good result but not great. I gave Shear Rock a good mention at Carlisle in the autumn and this first run back was most encouraging. He's a lovely strong horse who will come on for this, and I wouldn't be surprised if they go chasing now where I expect him to do well from this higher mark.
Things turned sour when Ink Master, an astounding 13/8 chance, went in to give Hobbs/Johnson a brace. I couldn't have it at the price as he needs further than this ideally, but woe is me they gifted him a soft lead (Quick Decission, anyone???) and it was game over from flagfall despite some rather hairy leaps.
Tomorrow's Legend appears to have run to his new mark, merely finding this on the sharp side, but I wasn't struck on the T George horse Valseur Du Granval, who was bit leggy and lean and has it to prove now. I liked Rear Admiral each-way but he was rushed off his feet on this drop back in trip.
We had to dust ourselves off though because Sharp Rise was another skinny favourite as this horse is no natural over fences and the absence of Reveley in the plate was a vital one. Even if he got round this was no gimme and he looked one of the lays of the meeting.
Mullins' Tennis Cap made little appeal on this ground but unfortunately I wasn't quite on the money as I thought Just Cameron had a right chance up in trip for the first time in a while, and I opted for Shadows Lengthen (fit after a break) each-way instead of last year's winner Witness In Court, arguably the paddock pick.
He should definitely have been included in betting plans but I was probably too focused on getting the jolly beaten in the lay market. I'm not sure this conclusively proved Just Cameron doesn't stay, he looked a bit flat to me. Saints And Sinners was backed but he didn't look ready and he's a rotund horse who will come on, and he'll be ready to strike soon as the assessor should drop him another 2lb for this.
The hunter was a no play race with little value to be found, so we were left with finding one to beat the short priced Impulsive American in the finale. I tried to get it beat at Musselburgh before now, and didn't, and it was the same here.
Western Miller looks a horse ahead of his mark in a physical sense but he's a queer one as I remember vividly him walking round at Carlisle in October as laid-back as you like, but he had two handlers here and not for the first time ran far too free in the race.
For the second time on the day RJ was unable to get to grips with one carrying my dough and the beast was done for by the home turn. If they can harness his ability this horse is very much one to follow and I'll be keeping a close eye on him when he returns next season as I assume he'll be roughed off after this.