A very competitive card for the track drew a decent crowd and the ground looked perfect for jump racing at this time of year.
Jimmy The Jetplane was a warm order in the opening staying chase despite looking irresolute over fences...punters clearly hoping the cheekpieces would do their job.
In opposition Tickenwolf looked most progressive but took a gigantic walk in the betting, going off a ludicrous 4/1. We're trying to overlook market gyrations unless they take on a sinister nature, and the grey looked fit and well and ready to deliver a PB effort.
This undoubtedly was, as the pair came clear of the well-backed but disappointing Court Dismissed, yet 'Jimmy' stuck his head down from the second last and Tickenwolf was unable to land a blow.
A nice little novice hurdle followed with Hexham winner Spirit of Kayf a very warm order to follow up under a penalty. He's surprisingly small, and was dwarfed by most of these. That's not to say one could forsee him crashing out early in the contest...
I hadn't been keen on the rather sparely made Newsworthy last season and he hasn't grown since then. Now with a new yard I didn't care for him much, preferring the physically imposing Ballycrystal, who has strengthened up nicely for the break.
He also took a big walk in the betting, out to 7s, and I didn't think he'd be able to deal with the favourite at this time. What he achieved in winning, I'm not sure, but he has a likeable attitude and will continue to improve.
Shanroe In Milan was you'd say a 'typical' Longsdon horse, well made, good shape, fit on debut, albeit a bit on the plain side. If he was any good he would have been second favourite, at least that was my take.
The two Smith horses, Barramundi and Dick Darsie, are worthy of a mention. The latter looked more forward physically, Barramundi more a 3m chaser in the making, and more in need of the run.
Neither was put in the race, having a nice canter round together, and will no doubt be placed to good effect this season. Edmund looked enormous, and ran as though badly in need of it.
The morning cash in the 'Brian Ellison' handicap chase was, funnily enough, for the Brian Ellison-trained Volvalien, who duly won all out under another P Brennan special.
There was also dough for Nine Altars, and the two horses went at it from the start. I thought they'd be held up, so what do I know? Both looked well, Volvalien arguably the more quality about him.
Nine Altars has never been asked to make the running before, so this was a strange tactical move. He checked out tamely but I'd prefer to see him settled off the pace, and I think he'll get further if he proves more tractable.
Late cash came for Wolf Sword back over 2m, but he too checked out tamely after cruising into it at the cross fence. I felt this gross horse would improve for the run, but he's not gone through with his effort several times before and this raises further questions about him.
Vital Evidence nearly won this, and it was a big improvement on his previous form. This ex-flat racer is a big unit but they've done well to shape him into a chaser. He may yet do ok in this sphere.
Ascot Du Bruyere is a bit on the small side but hopped round ok and briefly threatened before the last...I thought he'd tighten up for this.
I quite liked Bellaney Knight in a teasing stayers hurdle, a nice strong gelding who will stay all day. But he was a second bet to strike out big time, however apparently he was struck into and hopefully the injury is none too serious. He has a future at this game.
To add to the frustration, wherever the eventual winner Wyfield Rose finished, he ought to have finished, based on their form of three weeks ago.
I couldn't have Sun Cloud, who was sent off favourite. he's often shaped like a non stayer and again looked to stop quickly in the final two furlongs.
Doing Fine is a nice big chase type with a touch of class about him in this grade. He looked fit enough but I think he was just outbattled in the end.
Point The Way ran a delightful race in third considering I thought the run would do him good. This is a horse I really like and whether they stay over timber or go chasing with him, he'll win races.
Another of my horses to follow - Five In A Row - ran in the same colours in the Durham National and this time the money went on the Ellison beast despite another big drift. He looked big and well, and I was really confident he'd run a massive race.
Cooky was surprisingly positive on him but he had them all under the cosh from some way out apart from the winner Buachaill Alainn. They tell me the Bowen beast is usually under pressure miles from the finish, so it was disheartening to see him swinging away throughout the final mile. He was well found in the market, so someone knew something.
Jac The Legend was strong in the betting as well but I gave up on him some time ago - I think he's a bit of a pig. He carried a load of condition, but then did so when winning on his return here last season. He's always been held up in his races - perhaps they'll try him from the front one day.
I thought Jennys Surprise ran well, but she needs some respite from the assessor and some softer terrain. Not A Bother Boy never landed a blow and I suspect he was out his depth here - plus he's probably a mudlark.
A couple of weak looking handicap hurdles closed the show. G'Day Aussie made the most of his juvenile allowance to win well in the two miler - he has the physique to match any older horse.
The shock of the race came second, Captain Mowbray. He looked awful, overweight and sweaty, but has run a remarkable race. The Menzies horses have looked in need of the run so far, but they were clear of Hey Bob, who ran ok with a fairly clean round of jumping but again looked queer off the bridle and it was disappointing he didn't finish closer off a reduced mark.
Killiecrankie was well supported but looked to need the run, while modest flat horse Goodwood Moonlight didn't exactly thrill.
The finale looked a match, with Tuesday winner Earls Fort outbattling Vic's Last Stand from the last, who now looks weighted up to her best. Not many took the eye, My Little Cracker still hasn't settled down, while Groomed was unsurprisingly carrying some condition.