Genuine good ground for the final National Hunt meeting of the season and some quite interesting fields to get to grips with.
The opening handicap hurdle for conditionals could quite easily be narrowed down to the top few in the market, with Mortens Leam looking a worthy and well-backed favourite.
He's not over-big, but was still quite imposing against this opposition and had to go close despite not having seen his races out that well to date.
Down in trip was Dear Sire and he looked a real threat as he's quite a keen sort, and he proved the stronger of the two at the trip under what looked a decent ride from J Cowley. Mortens Leam didn't seem to do much wrong but was run out of it again.
Allfredandnobell looked as though he'd had enough for the time being, running up light, while Monfass was much calmer with the hood back on but made early errors and backed out of things quickly once more.
Honourable Gent was a really impressive winner here on his belated return last time and the way they bet you'd think the whole betting community thought he was bounce material.
At evens he was a fair enough lay but near enough 7/4 he was backable in the face of huge support for the hitherto 'doggy' Vodka Wells, who is not straight forward by any means and has looked regressive despite a brighter effort last time.
Honourable Gent again jumped with elan and Vodka Wells was beaten when blundering two out, and he will remain opposable after this. Jethro continues to lack confidence at his fences while Star Presenter wasn't straight for this return from an absence, a large scar on his quarters possibly the reason for the absence.
Sheneededtherun is unfortunately named but is the type his trainer does very well with and this chasing type will be one to follow when sent over 3m and fences after landing long odds in the mares hurdle.
Shimla Dawn was an interesting runner as four went to post for the 3m handicap chase, back from a break and looking very pleased to be back too
However, this big imposing animal was carrying plenty of condition and his natural exuberance over shorter trips meant his ability to see this out was by no means assured.
He traded very short in running after predictably jumping them to sleep for a circuit, but he's pretty quirky and went right at several fences. He may not be one to fully trust but at the same time is a lovely sort that deserves one more chance in the right circumstances.
The Clock Leary looked straighter than at Market Rasen for his debut in McCain colours as it were but he's looked poor under pressure several times and it didn't come as a great surprise that he found little once push came to shove.
Palm Grey will never win in the looks department but handsome is as handsome does and he recorded his sixth victory under a never-say-die Cook ride....the horse is bred to stay very well and this first win at 3m opens one or two more doors.
The novices hurdle was clearly a three-runner affair as the previously successful trio were way ahead on ratings. However, the market was very strong on Blue Hussar despite the respected RPRs suggesting Viserion had achieved just as much if not more to date.
The disparity in their prices effectively forced a bet and the three of them pretty much ran to their marks, Viserion rallying tenaciously to seal the victory from Blue Hussar who was outpaced at just the wrong time.
I was very keen indeed on the ultra consistent Leanna Ban in the handicap chase over 2m5f and with the usual forcing ride he simply had to go close in a winnable race, market rivals Dartford Warbler and Strongly Suggested looking vulnerable.
Imagine my horror, then, as connections chose this race to give Leanna Ban a waiting ride while the race developed all around him. A modest early pace didn't help and the horse was never going to win from the fall of the flag.
This sort of thing is agonising to watch and while the majority of the bet was offloaded safely it doesn't detract from the fact that this was a golden opportunity for a horse that deserves to win again. Hopefully, connections have learned their lesson for next time.
Up ahead, old monkey Rosquero got there far too soon again and was worried out of it by Strongly Suggested, for whom everything fell into place, while Crookstown looked really well beforehand and cruised into before finding nothing, and he is one to avoid.
The well-related Jane Lamb was all the rage in the closing bumper and she has plenty of size for a four-year-old, which usually means the weight for age allowance can be exploited.
She looked a good bet against some green looking horses beforehand but didn't seem to build on her opening effort and has to go down as a disappointment. Heartasia attracted support when running well in a better contest last time and, despite weak connections, was punted again and duly improved to win a moderate race.
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