Tote Win: £9.00 Tote Place: £2.30,1.10,1.80
Straight Forecast: £17.32 Exacta: £17.80 Trifecta: £218.20 Swingers: 1&2:2.90 2&3:3.10 1&3:6.40
Placepot: £38.80, Pool: £57341.99, 1077.73 winning tickets
Quadpot: £39.10, Pool: £3293.31, 62.2 winning tickets
This looked an interesting renewal of this famous race with the promising Mr Moonshine, Hidden Keel and Surfing taking on more proven performers Somersby and The Nightingale but it proved to be rather a damp squib on a cold and blustery day as GAUVAIN made it two out of three for the season and gained a first success beyond two miles and a furlong. The nine year old is a useful but moody sort and Nick Williams and his team deserve credit for keeping him sweet as he lost his way after a promising start last term. This season began just as well although the form was questionable as the race rather fell apart and it seemed unlikely that he would play a hand in the finish of the Tingle Creek last Saturday when falling despite being in touch at the time. He showed no ill-effects of that fall, however, and produced a faultless display to win well enough although he did wander off a true line after the last which can be excused with the strong headwind. This was a nice prize for connections to pick up and they should be able to continue to pot-hunt for the rest of the season with the German bred who falls below top-class. There has long been a school of thought that Somersby wouldn't come into his own until stepped up to three miles but he has looked a little laboured on each of his last two starts and now has a few questions to answer. He wasn't ridden as positively as he had been at Ascot against Master Minded but ran a similar race in seemingly becoming outpaced before staying on again without threatening the winner. He appeared to be travelling strongly until flicking through the top of the last fence on the far side at which point he very quickly came under pressure; his tongue was lolling out to one side and it could be that something is troubling him as there's no sign of the speed that he showed when not far short of the best two milers over the past two seasons. However, the King George reportedly remains the plan and will provide him with his first chance to prove himself over three miles and it is possible that he just needs that trip nowadays. This looked to be a reasonable opportunity for The Nightingale to build on a promising reappearance and connections will have been disappointed to see him depart so early while Surfing's jumping gave cause for alarm and he was already beating a retreat before he departed but the highly-rated French import does have time on his side. Mr Moonshine had impressed on his first two chase starts but was found wanting on this significant step up in class. This was a perfectly creditable performance over a test that was probably on the sharp side for him at this course and he remains an interesting prospect but he may not be easy to place in the short term unless the handicapper revises his very high opinion of the seven year old. Hidden Keel is highly regarded by his trainer and finished closer to Mr Moonshine than he had at Carlisle with the slightly better ground in his favour and his ideal conditions would be quicker still. This was more encouraging but he's another that doesn't look to be obviously well treated for the inevitable switch to handicapping. Tartak won a modest rearranged renewal at Newbury last season but this quirky sort was never travelling in first time blinkers and tends to have more off-days than on.