WHEN Niche Market went by the post in front at the end of the Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday you could literally hear a pin drop.
You simply could not make a case for the eight-year-old and, with all due respect to them, Bob Buckler and Harry Skelton were hardly the most fashionable combination going into the contest.
The son of Presenting was previously tailed off in the four miler at Cheltenham and had only won once in 12 outings over fences.
He was followed by two 50-1 shots and was the type of result which convinces bookmakers that, if they keep at the game long enough, there will come a day when all the graft is truly worthwhile.
Church Island and A New Story ran crackers for Michael Hourigan to fill the minor placings, but they are hardly the future and of more interest were the fourth and fifth repectively, Rare Bob and Pomme Tiepy.
They ran similar types of races, jumping and travelling beautifully and then, apparently, failing to get home over this extreme distance of three miles and five.
Having gone for a bit of touch on Pomme Tiepy, I will be watching her from now on like the proverbial hawk.
For in excess of three miles on Monday, I could not have been happier with the mare. She absolutely winged fences and, entering the final mile, the temptation to begin calculating the substantial profit was almost overwhelming.
But she found the last three or four furlongs real hard work and was only moving on instinct in the closing stages.
Pomme Tiepy is, however, just six and, essentially, emerged from this very stern test with great credit.
One of the most alarming aspects of Monday was the savage decline in bookmakers’ turnover. The official figures told us the attendance was in excess of 15,000, only marginally below, 700 or so, last year.
The layers held more than e1.5m twelve months ago, but were down some e600,000 this time round.
That’s a very worrying trend and shows the recession is biting and that more and more punters are now doing their business on the exchanges.
Elsewhere on Monday you could not fail to be impressed by Willie Mullins’ Taipan’s Way in a novice handicap chase.
He won in a canter and afterwards Mullins appeared almost bemused by the performance. He is regarded by his trainer as a future Aintree Grand National candidate, so to see him win over two miles and a furlong was something.
Taipan’s Way is going to get a major hike in the weights, but could still be worth having on one’s side at Punchestown!
And while on the subject of Mullins wasn’t that some display by his Uimhiraceathair at Fairyhouse on Sunday?
He had carried the hard-earned from this quarter in a maiden at Gowran Park and you could only watch in silent bewilderment as Lenabane proved too good for him.
Mullins then clearly reasoned that three miles and a handicap, off a tasty 114, was the way to go with him.
And Uimhiraceathair proceeded to show his true colours by finally getting off the mark over flights in a race worth more e40,000 plus to the winner.
LATE on Saturday night got a wrinkle that a Tommy Stack newcomer, Cambiaso, might be a bit special at Cork the following day.
It didn’t look the worst maiden in the world and, with the betting shops closed on Sunday, there was surely a chance he could go unbacked until those in the know arrived at the track.
But when punters have an edge they can be hugely inventive and it was fascinating to see Cambiaso shorten with all the firms throughout the morning.
If you managed to snaffle some of the 4-1 then more power to you. Returned at 6-4, it was almost embarrassing to see him score by 15 lengths!
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