Plenty to get through so no messing around on this Sunday morning. The rain certainly arrived in Lancashire prior to racing on Friday, there were heavy showers during racing then loads more through the night into Saturday. However, it seemed to just ride very soft throughout, with loads of surface water.
Capitaine didn't look straight forward in the paddock, carrying his head a bit high. he carried that trait through to the race and didn't appear to want a battle from two out. One to be wary of. The winner, Tahira, was very fit and expertly ridden by H Skelton. Arguably the best around at present.
Cloudy Dream looked in great nick but would he go on the ground? Fortunately for him it was the first race of the season on the chase course and he made light of it, winning impressively. He was receiving 11lb, but it was a great performance. King's Odyssey and Hollywoodien looked as though the race would do them good.
Island Heights I thought was bomb proof each way here but he checked out tamely for a rare poor effort - the market spoke. Ami Desbois is a real progressive sort and is nice and compact - he may not make a chaser. For now, he's one to follow as he's strengthened up and stays really well. Courtown Oscar looked pretty straight and the Kirby horses are poised to start winning. Iiked the way he ran. Sharp Response looked a bit lean and I've said from the outset this horse needs another summer on his back. Then we'll see a racehorse.
Politologue is knowhere near the finished article physically and would definitely benefit from the outing, making his performance all the more remarkable. At a soft ground festival, he would take a world of beating, I was so impressed by this. Vintage Clouds ran his race and bumped into one. He's an unlucky horse and his time will come.Welsh Shadow was very keen beforehand and may have done too much, too soon. He was done after belting one down the back, but I fancy he'll bounce back. Aqua Dude and Delusionofgrandeur needed the run - the former looked knowhere near peak form.
An informative fixed brush race. The winner Constantine Bay looked to be carrying some timber, but outbattled Brio Conti who may turn out quite decent whe he learns to settle better. Billy Bronco looked in need of the run, and not great in his coat, while I was disappointed in Our Dancing Paddy, who looked strong and fit but very one-paced. He stayed on as if he already needs three miles. Stick To The Plan is weak and leggy and was tenderly handled. Patience will be rewarded.
A very good bumper I suspect. Claimantakinforgan was well touted but took a drift in the market, however he looked very well and this athletic sort is clearly useful. The one he beat, Global Stage, is a strong, sturdy powerhouse. I had a bit on Cadeyrn who is nicely made, but lost his pitch before staying on well. Ballynorth Benny is a nice big sort, Another Stowaway and Costly Dream (weak in front) are others worthy of a mention.
A difficult race. I liked Sleepy Haven and he looked in good order, and he'd probably have come second but for stumbling after the last. He's a very clumsy animal. Clyne is a nice big horse who should keep improving and I thought he'd come on for it. Baratineur looked really well and it's not the first time I've got a Henderson horse wrong - he ran no race.
French raider Fyrmyn looked a treat but his price had shrunk and couldn't be backed blind on form. Connetable should come on for the run while Great Fighter needs to find his level after leaving Godolphin. He's big enough to jump a fence.
I was all over Askamore DArsi but he got a strop on after failing to live with the early gallop and he put in one of his moody efforts. Mysteree is a horse I haven't forgiven for running weakly at Donny last year. Let's put that behind us now. He's strengthened up a tad for his new handler and although he'll never look the most robust he clearly jumps great and stays forever. If I was an owner with the former trainer I'd be having words with myself. Gonalston Cloud wasn't fit, while Rigadin De Beauchene looked really well, but was very much on his toes and may have burned too much energy early on. I liked Chase The Spud, and he looks to be progressing. He stayed all the way to the mile.
Melodic Rendezvous looked really well, but this was a non-event. Fair play to H Skelton, who again rode them to sleep by getting first run on them on Ch'Tibello.
The fixed brush hurdle. They went a good clip but very few good into it. Point The Way couldn't live with the pace and could only plug on into sixth. I was disappointed with that. There were some lovely strong types in the race, Yala Enki looked great, albeit a bit fizzy again. But he ran his race. Theo's Charm is a lovely horse and clearly has a touch of class - he's one to follow. Affaire D'Honneur is a lovely chaser in the making but he was very fizzy and I think they need to go back to the drawing board with him - it's been a curious campaign. Two Taffs is a big chaser. He may be a bit soft, and his run came to nothing. But he should be sent chasing sooner rather than later.
Seeyouatmidnight didn't measure up to the best physically and his odds looked ridiculous, even allowing for the fact he's run as if something was amiss. I think he's a second rung horse. Coneygree looked fit enough, but Cue Card had tightened up from Wetherby even though I thought he was fit there. He's best given a patient ride, and he keeps proving the doubters wrong. Vezelay has run a stormer for a horse lacking scope.
I've had my doubts about Three Faces West even before his sulky effort last time out. He looked different here in cheepices, buzzy beforehand. He still messed about going to the start, but got his own way in front and it was a one horse race. The Smith pair needed the run, but Midnight Prayer looked fit. Saroque was another Venetia horse to get a bit wound up beforehand and he was overbet with everybody telling me it was the one to be on. The E Williams horses were rugged up right to the track so it was hard to decipher whether Firebird Flyer needed it. He was given a tender ride and is one to note as he looks to be improving still.