What turned out to be another fruitless journey up the A19 for some pretty tepid action, made all the more miserable by the Arctic conditions that rendered the going good to soft, rather than the good, good to firm in places that was the official description prior to the first.
With the vast majority of horses entered in expectation of such quick terrain it required a bit of guesswork as to what would go on it and what wouldn't.
Two that certainly had form on soft in the opener happened to fight out the finish in Astrum and Air Glider. I use the term 'fight' very loosely in this instance, as neither has much of it in them.
The latter, who has stopped as if shot over a variety of trips since joining Skelton, was down to the minimum here and Bridget was clearly under orders to make it a test.
I'm quite a fan of young Bridge (who wouldn't be) but she's not got the fractions right a couple of times I've seen her this term. She was very aggressive from the third last here although backers would have been in clover with the beast touching shorter than 1.1 in the run.
To be fair to the lass they were still nicely in front at the last but the writing was on the wall and the previously reluctant Astrum had little opportunity to shirk the issue this time with the front runner once again tying up dramatically.
Flat stayer and two-time winner Dark Diamond came through for second and may have been entitled to outrun his 125/1 odds despite having recently joined M Chapman, so the form may not be entirely desperate.
Layers of hot favourite Carthage would have been on great terms with themselves from the get-go as this shocking rogue dropped it from the gun. With three dodgepots in the line-up Furiously Fast came into the equation, and he looked fit and strong, but perhaps the ground turned against him. He was 0-9 on the level though.
The second was a decent handicap chase and the rain certainly helped Edmund, who was well-handicapped on his old form if the blinkers revitalised him...and they did. It was too much of along shot for me but it's easy to see why there was solid support for him.
The market held up as Runswick Relax had his ground again and looked fantastic despite a very busy campaign. It was a funny sort of race with the pair jostling for the lead alongside King Of The Dark, who also came in for support.
The latter has shown enough on a few occasions to suggest he can win a race but was badly outpaced here before staying on again to pip RR for second. After not staying at Hexham over 3m, it looks obvious that somewhere in between should suit.
The ground would not have suited Claragh Native but he showed enough to suggest he can win again this spring and he should come down a pound or two - a return to Cartmel looks ideal. The rest were very disappointing.
I didn't have many views on the handicap hurdle after three were scratched because of the ground, but Sendiym coped with it well enough back on a very low mark at a course he loves to run out a good winner, confirming the return to form of Dianne Sayer. This is the furthest he's won over as well and was going away at the line.
Sibling Mr K Slack esq. registered yet another winner with Discoverie, who has now won races off 80, 90 and 96. Once again the quirky beast was in the best of moods as he was unable to get onto the lead early on, but travelled well before sweeping through to take the initiative four out.
Money came once more for Stilo Blue Native, who once again proved himself to be useless, while Discay looked a short price as he just isn't a natural jumper of fences.
Gin Cobbler and Teenage Dream would have loved the faster ground, and both appeal as well handicapped horses going into the next couple of months.
Teenage Dream is primarily a flat horse but has loads of size and can win again when the emphasis is not on jumping. He too will enjoy a return to Cartmel on fast ground - he made countless errors here but ran on well.
I'll bypass another handicap hurdle as I had no view; just another collection of rogues and dodgers. The novice hunter looked between three - the eventual winner Play The Ace, Oaklands Bobby and Forge Valley.
The former finally got on top after a sympathetic ride from his jockey, who took the outside line in search of better ground. He was a bit short in the market for me but he's a nice sort who should improve again for another summer. The runner-up looked magnificent and was a tad unlucky.
The bumper was a match as the well-related Bah Lamb looked like a speedy type for the flat. Royal Supremo and Helmsley Lad had shown fair form in their bumpers and both would probably want better ground.
Kim Bailey's horse looked more forward beforehand and defied late support with ease. The Jefferson horse is a nice stamp of animal but is big and gawky and got unbalanced again here. Next year he can win his novice without much fuss I would have thought.