The going was good, with good to soft patches on the chase course. The two days of last meeting were abandoned and I suspect there were a few false patches of gorund, as the flight on the far side was omitted in the hurdles.
A crowd in the region of 10,000 witnessed a competitive card on that rarity this summer, a warm and sunny day!
2.10 16.5f Maiden Hurdle
Irish import HARCAS raced prominently, led 3 out and stayed on up the straight. He held off FIT TO FLY , the latter just pipping JIM THE GENT for second. All three look reasonable prospects. JORDANS ELECT was close up in fourth looks a big strong type and I'm sure will learn from the experience here. The one fly in the ointment could be the proximity of the exposed GAPPERSONNELDOTCOM in fifth.
JIM THE GENT was in my list of horses to follow. He's coming along nicely and the way he stayed suggests a longer distance will do him no harm. He won a couple of bumpers on good to firm last year, so slightly faster ground wouldn't be a hindrance.
Graham Lee , rider of Jordan's Elect, reported the ground as "very patchy".
2.40 2m 4.5f Novices' Chase
CAIPIROSKA led at a decent pace, but ran of puff when headed 4 out and was last of the four to finish. He's likely to have better opportunities agianst lesser opposition in handicaps.
COMMERCIAL EXPRESS is in a decent vein of form. He looked very fit in the parade ring. looked destined to take the race comfortably unitl making a hash of two out. Timmy Murphy pulled him back together to overtake CONTACT DANCER on the run-in.
TICKATEAL took over 4 out, but didn't find a lot between the last two. He could be one who needs the race to fall his way, and quicker ground may be a help.
The remainder struggled to get into the race and all pulled up.
3.10 2m 4.5f Novices' Hurdle
MIDDLETON DENE caught my eye back in October at Kelso and hasn't disappointed. Moved up a mile out, took over at the last and stayed on.
PIGEON ISLAND in blinkers and a tongue strap, led 3 out, but was held when eased and losing third on the line. David England received '21 days' for his misdemeanour. That aside I'm not sure Pigeon Island is particularly straightforward and I'd rather oppose than support him.
PANTHERS RUN had some bits and pieces of decent form to show, but has been a bit in and out. He finished fast to benefit from England's error and would be interesting in a minor staying maiden event.
Irish trained DABLUFFER set a strong pace but fell away in the straight. BEAU SADDLER stepped up on previous form to finish fourth. BEGGAR'S CAP, stepped up in trip, ran out of petrol in the last half mile.
3.40 3m 0.5f Handicap Hurdle
CATCH THE PERK made it 1n impressive 12 wins from 50 attempts with a win for local trainer Lucinda Russell. His last run was pulled up in the Veteran's Chase at Cartmel. If he can stick to this sort of form, then he's worth considering over hurdles or fences in the future. He showed admirable determination to hold off HARRY FLASHMAN, who's running well at present. HE'S A HOTSHOT now seems to have found some form and couldn't hold the first two but finished quite close, with the remainder 24 lengths and more adrift. I believe KID'Z'PLAY, the fourth placed horse, now goes to Hamilton on the flat on Thursday.
4.10 2m Handicap Chase
LUTEA is coming on in leaps and boundas, making it 4 in a row. He led jumping well and kept on in the straight.
SEEYAAJ hasn't been seen out often recently, but may be on the way back as he stayed on determinedly in second.
YANKEE HOLIDAY had two handlers in the paddock, pulled hard going down and tried to go with the leader but weakened in the straight. He won't always come up against an opponent like Lutea and I wouldn't write him off yet.
LOFTY LEADER often stays on late, but just didn't get a blow in here.
SOUTH BRONX looked a picture in the paddock, jumped very well, but could only find one pace from 4 out.
ARRESTING was most uncooperative and was pulled up after just 6 obstacles.
4.40 2m 0.5f Ladies' Handicap Hurdle
A very poor event fought out by the two competitors possessing from bordering on respectable. COMPTON EAGLE and TARKESAR went clear up the straight, the latter keeping on the stronger to get up close home. They were clear of the rest who really aren't performing well at the moment.
GUERILLA, as I had noted previously, is led around on the grass in the parade ring. I wonder if he has bad feet?
5.10 2m 0.5f NH Flat
An 18-strong field turned out for the closing bumper. The event was won with consummate ease by POUILLY, his jockey taking a good look round in the final furlong. He's run creditably in Irish points and is half-brother to winning stayers Jurancon III and Red Echo. The obvious conclusion is that given time he'll been a good deal better when faced with obstacles and a distance of ground. Certainly one to watch out for over obstacles in Ireland.
SIMONSIDER loked very well and put up a creditable debut performance, staying on for second. STILL AT LUNCH held up the form from the last meeting here and will probably find a race.
FUNNY THING didn't threaten the leaders, but kept on well for fourth. Half-sister to am iddle distance hurdle/chase winner Hailstorm, so presumably is one for the future over obstacles.
THAT'LL DO NICELY looked very fit, and was well backed, but was found out when push came to shove. BAGUENAUD was another well backed, moved up promisingly 4 furlongs out, but went out like a light in the last two furlongs. COCKATHEWALK came from well back to threaten on the home turn, but faded in the straight. MACROGER looked a decent jumping type to me, but never got any farther forward than mid division.