The final day of the meeting was quickly upon us and although yesterday was an improvement on day one, we needed to get things right this time to get back in front.
It wasn't an easy punting card especially when a handful of non-runners reduced field sizes, probably on account of the ground which was apparently a bit patchy but generally still good.
The opening mares novice event featured four 'fancied' runners and four rags, with the market headed by Irish raider Mystique. She had been pulled up in better company last time but the Elliott horses had not fired here this week and I was quite happy to oppose another short one.
Fellow raider Danielle's Journey had won a weak affair on very soft ground at Ayr and with this a likely to be different proposition was also worth getting against.
It left the two 'locals' Mardale and Ethelwyn as likely candidates - they had clashed at Haydock last time but with B Hughes seeming to give the latter a kind reintroduction I really fancied the Jefferson mare to come out on top.
A quite big drift on the machine was ominous but we've learned to stomach such things this season and frankly I thought 6/1 was about the right price considering she did have to improve on her bare form.
It's hard to know what would have happened had she not stumbled two out, causing her jockey to lose an iron, but I doubt if she would have won. I think she wants a faster pace over this minimum trip and they probably would have got away from her anyway. But I do like her and a handicap should be a gimme this spring.
Two came out of the 2m handicap chase and it left a really hard puzzle that I opted to sit out. Owen Na View hasn't looked at all straight forward of late but was well backed, as was Monbeg River who I fancied the least of them. I like the horse but not the yard and this stoutly bred sort will want an extra half mile next season.
Raven's Tower was strongly considered but he's just a little lacking in size and scope and this is likely to hold him back over fences. He wasn't beaten far in the end but nothing has come from behind all week and he may need a little further if he's to be kept on the go this spring.
We stepped it up a gear in the next, a weak looking handicap hurdle, and Gold Chain delivered the goods under a fine ride from a very solid citizen in H Challoner (3).
The mare caught the eye on Tuesday - before the race she looked bigger than I remembered her to be - and in the event she came home really well in a better grade of race than this.
With D Sayer's horses coming back to life she looked a cracking bet even though her odds shrank throughout the day and it wasn't easy to get on. Prior to the race the beast was being a right madam, proving very awkward in the parade ring and kept separate for much of the time by the trainer.
They were worrying moments for punters as she's looked recalcitrant in the past but Challoner coaxed her along and after getting outpaced on the turn in, came home best of all under canny handling. Bravo everyone!
We nearly copped in the next when the rag Uhlan Bute threatened to jump them silly on the front end. It was one of the easier races of the week to predict with the only issue being whether Mullins raider Rolly Baby would go on the ground and be good enough at the age of 11.
All things considered it was worth taking on even though Pair Of Jacks looked in need of the run (which the market foresaw) and The Cobbler Swayne was massively overbet probably on account of punters thinking the race would be set up for the outgoing jock P Buchanan to wrap his underwhelming career on a winner.
Predictably it wasn't to be - I've thought for some time this attractive animal could do with 3m, and he's one to watch next season. So the coin flip landed on the outsider and thankfully we were able to trade in the run as it looked increasingly likely that the struggle would become an unequal one.
Nine lined up for the Highland National and although few could be strongly fancied it felt like one slipped through the fingers as Double Whammy gagged up for the Jardine/Shortall combo, the latter surely one of the finds of the season.
The horse sluiced up in the Wetherby mud three weeks ago but having won on better ground and over 3m in the past connections had every right to take shot at this marathon test, a view proffered by 'roomie' for the week A Sheret of Ruk/RP/Timeform 'fame'.
Even with a juicy trade-out likely I didn't take up the bet, instead getting against slowcoach Itstimeforapint in the place market - the Russell stayer unlikely to appreciate the ground, albeit in the event running far better than imagined.
Mo Rouge was well-touted in this and although not quite as small as I imagined, the horse doesn't have masses of scope and the anticipated mistakes came to fruition quite early on and as previously mentioned a run from off the pace this week was not likely to come off. He came home with a rattle, but won't be easy to win with.
The staying hurdle looked fiendishly hard with chances given to most, and although we managed to get some green on the board it was a blow to see Iora Glas go in so convincingly after following the small grey for some time.
He doesn't have the size for fences but back over timber showed a bit more behind Gully's Edge last time and this perfect blend of speed and stamina looked sure to suit. A punt from 8s into 5s seemed to pass me by - again down to focusing on a decision to lay both Seldom Inn and Landecker in the win market.
The former has looked for some time to have serious issues, be them mental or physical, and is very much one to avoid, while Landecker looked a short price based on his general overall profile. Maraweh and Johnny Go looked fit enough on their returns but perhaps they will come on for the run as both looked ring-rusty in the race.
Unfortunately there didn't look to be much of a 'getting out' angle in the bumper after the good-looking Mr Monochrome was very well bet and not surprisingly so. However he tanked to post and you can't afford to do that in the race.
As it happenes he settled fairly well behind solid fractions set by recent point runner-up Tyrrell's Succes (sic), who is a well-made type and was very tight in the market considering the support for the Jefferson youngster.
One of the truest of racing maxims is that it's very hard to defy a penalty in bumpers - especially for a four year old. Imperial Eloquence did his best, and should make up into a decent hurdler, but the impost was too great. As for Mr Monochrome, he was plenty green enough and I rather think he'll prove to be quite decent.