From a National Hunt perspective we're in the 'off' season as far as I'm concerned so it was more of a scouting mission to the Lincolnshire venue, where the ground appeared to be just on the soft side of good.
The paddock separated the top two in the betting for the juvenile contest with Milrow a warm order on his debut for Dr Newland having left M Meade with some decent form on the flat.
He was extremely fit and appeared well schooled in a race in which the majority of them were very leery at the obstacles.
Johnson sought to obtain cover on Itsamysterytome who looked well forward for his racecourse debut, and he was knowhere near as streetwise as his market rival and the writing was on the wall from some way out.
While it's far too early to get carried away, Milrow ought to be able to win a couple more of these races this summer. Stone Quercus improved on his Hexham run but may want some cover as he was very green in front at the hurdles, while Skylark Lady - who had won at Hexham - probably had a very hard race there and she looked a bit warm and fizzy here. She could bounce back off a break.
I had no interest whatsoever in the handicap hurdle but again the favourite Il Presidente looked a worthy market leader. They've persevered with this nine-year-old and hopefully connections will be rewarded with more victories - he looks far better than a 100-rated animal and he can surely build on this over further if he comes out of it in one piece.
Overtheedge looked a vulnerable jolly in the next. A bit edgy and leery, it looked a quite competitive affair however Mr Snoozy turned it into a procession. M Walford's horse had not won for an age but nothing could go with him returned to timber. They didn't look a great lot and Down Time turned it in again.
The novice chase was a decent race with Golden Doyen a warm order. He hasn't won since early in his juvenile days and he was sent over fences early in his career.
He looked fantastic off a break and you knew before the race there could be no excuses this time. He jumped well for a circuit but when put under pressure his fencing didn't come up to scratch, and it's a sure sign of a horse that's going to continue to struggle unless they can build his confidence against inferiors in novice races.
Party Rock has just about enough size for a fence but is late to the chasing game. You wouldn't expect him to improve at this stage and this is probably as good as he is, but you never know.
Box Office was well backed as he has some decent hurdles form on the CV, but there's no doubt he's regressed in the last six months. A big chasing sort, he looks very immature mentally and never had a cut at his fences.
It will be interesting to see if connections persist with him, as he looks the type to thrive in a smaller yard. Some of Jonjos do improve elsewhere so I'll be keeping an eye on him, and he's still only five.
Of the others, Boss Des Mottes is quite plain and lean, Cusheen Bridge looked burly even by the yard's standards, and Manhattan Swing doesn't have the size for fences.
I gave Indian Stream a good write-up here after she won at Southwell in September and she's gone in again from an 11lb higher mark in great style.
You could have made a case for some of the others but although she wasn't screaming value at around 5/2 she was a solid bet for anyone who fancied her to win. I backed her last time when she ran into a sound jumping sort who just outstayed her.
Here she looked a bit on edge beforehand and you could see in the race she has her quirks. But she's got loads of ability and Hutch had to take a pull turning in as he was all over the long time leader Art Of Logistics.
The Hobbs horse has some real quality about him but the yard hasn't managed to turn his fortunes around and I thought his finishing effort was pretty weak even allowing for the fact that the winner is very strong at the trip.
Minella Forfitness always gets stirred up but he was awash with sweat today. They win occasionally but when they're like that it's not a good sign, and it's a shame as the beast has talent.
A weak four-runner staying chase was next up and it was surprising to see She's Late being backed into 5/2 as she's essentially shown nothing for over a year. A slipping mark isn't helping and this flat bred horse doesn't look in love with the game.
Grand Gigolo was popular and was in great order but again the price wasn't shouting value considering he'd been pulled up in a Hereford point not long ago. His jumping was novicey and he was beaten when coming down two out as the lengthy For N Against won well enough.
Four out the six favourites had gone in and Mr Monochrome was hot favourite for the bumper despite shouldering a penalty. As you will have read many times, it takes a good one to defy a penalty in NH flat races.
Mr Monochrome may well turn out to be good, as this tall, good looking and well related animal has a frame to fill. But he's just a bit immature and this run probably came soon enough just a fortnight on from Hexham.
I fancied him to get turned over as there were a few likely sorts, none more so than Seniergues, a 50k buy last year who is a strong looking four year old. He posted a tame effort though, never really travelling and perhaps this was too sharp a test. His granddam is none other than wonder mare Lady Rebecca, while the dam was largely useless although did win over 3m on heavy.
C Mann's Pickamix went down as a fair sort with some size although a little unfurnished. He's clearly a decent animal as he motored clear in the straight leaving the jolly in his wake. High Wheeler ran another solid race and this unfurnished sort can build on his two runs when switched to timber.