The ground looked like a carpet and the times suggested it was genuinely good even though they seemed to take their time in a few of the races.
A ghastly state of affairs opened proceedings when F O'Toole was allowed a big lead from flagfall on the rag Canford Thompson which he held to the line.
How this can be allowed to happen under guidelines brought in last year I'm not sure. The jockeys are not blameless but isn't it the starter's responsibility to ensure a fair start? Fair play to connections of the winner but everyone else on the racecourse felt short-changed, and the starter should be reprimanded.
Not a race to dwell on, but I thought Nucky Thompson too small to be a success over timber, while I was also against the runner-up Silver Streak, who looks a bit lairy, on his toes and a bit lean and leggy.
I mentioned Actinpieces here in glowing terms after she won at this track last season, and she looked the part on this chase debut. I felt she had filled out and was probably short of a gallop or two, and I suspect she may have blown up on the far side before throwing down a challenge.
I need to see it again but it seemed a novicey fall at the last and maybe she was a bit tired. She was up against the very experienced Ballybolley, who used his smarts to land short odds.
I thought he'd win this cosily, but after getting too tight to the last four he had to be ridden right out to beat Shear Rock. This was nothing the winner hadn't done already, and he may be one to take on in future.
Shear Rock is very strong and I thought he jumped well. He looked pretty straight here but ought to pay his way even though the handicapper will have to bump him up a notch.
Sue Smith rarely has winners this time of year but Sharp Response looked straighter than I was expecting for the novices hurdle, however this big boned chaser in the making was not thought likely to be ready to make a winning debut for connections.
The market disagreed with this particular 'judge' and sure enough the horse did all that was asked up the straight to win a shade cosily.
For all that I liked him physically he looks one for the long term and I fancy this form isn't great. Several of them failed to back up earlier runs and the presence of 83 rated Louloumills upsides at the last is a big red flag.
The fact that none of them really appealed beforehand makes the call on the winner doubly disappointing. Deise Diamond is quite light framed and looks a buzzy type, while Tell The Tale looks moderate. Improved wasn't fit here but he may have his day, especially as he is becoming well-handicapped.
The Bobby Renton was a terrific contest but not one for a faint-hearted punter. I questioned the validity of the gamble on The Grey Taylor before the race and I don't really understand why he's favoured by so many. With questions to answer over stamina and well-being in particular (he doesn't look at ease with himself physically) in a race of this depth I didn't give him a chance.
Not that I could find the winner, although Lord Wishes looked a picture beforehand and he continues to perform well despite looking moody at times, running in snatches again here.
This looked a slow-run affair but it isn't necessarily reflected in the time. I don't think it suited hold-up horses like Presenting Junior (looked fit) or Degooch, who ran a blinder but got there far too soon as there was no pace to shoot at.
They all looked fit enough in the next - Marquis Of Carabas ready first time out and strong in the market. I thought he might want further but he showed decent tactical speed to cover the mid-race move by Crookstown.
Nautical Nitwit is a model of consistency and he was also well found in the market.
Only three of the nine that lined up in the next had a chance in my book and Monbeg River was the choice to build on a very sound first season over fences.
The slight concern was that the horse wants further now so it was disappointing to see B Harding sit off the pace and refuse to make a move on the home bend to cover the leader, who had set an even tempo and was bound to kick again.
There's little more frustrating than seeing your horse finish with loads of running, but there's no use balling about it, you've got to get on with it. Backers of Owen Na View will be thankful of the ride P Brennan gave it, and they were the best partnership on the day.
He was one of only two dangers - Helium not giving his running. Domtaline looked in great order and it came as no surprise to see him run his usual honest race, albeit handicapped by the rider.
Trust Thomas and Indian Voyage weren't fit, neither was Attimo.
I always look to take on horses running under penalty but they tend to hose up 'as expected' when you lay them, but when you go looking to buy money you usually come unstuck.
These days I sit out such scenarios and I was between the proverbial stools here with Return Flight, who I saw win a poor contest at Southwell last time.
This was a very different race with the likes of Regulation, Nuts Well, Ifandbutwhynot and Jacks Last Hope nailing good and solid handicappers.
Nuts Well looked pretty straight which surprised me and he ran well, albeit confirming that the handicapper has him about right.
I did throw coppers at Ifandbutwhynot at a huge price even though he's hard to win with, but it was Jacks Last Hope who got a very different ride to the one at Sedgefield last time.
Maybe that track didn't suit (he's won there before though) so I hope backers that day kept the faith. Return Flight looked fabulous, but he didn't jump great and finished well beaten. Perhaps he's just not that good.