Times and the way they finished suggested genuine good jumping ground. Arrived too late to see them in the opening novice hurdle but condolences to connections of Storm Forecast who perished after jumping two from the finish.
The winner, Applaus, is a horse I've watched closely all his career and he will continue to be of interest went sent over fences next term.
He had nothing to beat here in the end but has now won a bumper and two novice hurdles without being a very good jumper and being a stayer in the making. He has grown though and fences will almost certainly be the making of him.
There was plenty of 'dead wood' on show throughout the afternoon, none more so than in the second, a handicap chase over 2m.
The couple I was interested in were Have You Had Yours and Miss Conway, the latter having come on plenty for her run at Southwell last time and having run her best on a couple of occasions at this track.
She's obviously not that talented but at six she ought to be able to win a couple more and should rate higher if she is campaigned at this course through the summer.
Have You Had Yours has done me a favour a couple of times down the years and maintains an exceptional 20% strike rate over fences for the grade.
The 11-year-old looked in good order on his second run back off a break and although the trip is too short nowadays, he was sure to go well.
Alas, the place money went down when he was run out of it by 80/1 poke Warksburn Boy, but he's on a very winnable mark if they can find a suitable race over an extra half mile.
Warksburn Boy has often caught the eye in the paddock in the early days but went through a period of getting very worked up and sweaty. After showing nothing for over a year he's now on a basement mark and showed much more, rallying when appearing to drop away.
He's bred to want further, and he shouldn't be overlooked in similarly awful races as this is unlikely to have been a fluke. It's worth noting that the trainer did well with Native Optimist last season.
Helmsley Lad hasn't looked straight forward in the past and upped to 3m he was a vulnerable favourite in a maiden hurdle, even though it looked as though Victoria Says was his only viable opponent.
However, Classical Milano, who I missed in the prelims, stepped up on previous efforts to outstay the Irish raider and put another feather in the cap of trainer G Bewley.
The win has rather shown his hand to the assessor however, and it could be next season and fences before we see the best of him.
A tricky handicap hurdle was dominated once again by Beyondtemptation, the darling of back-to-lay traders. She won this off the same mark last season and did it again beating a better field.
Heist was weak in the betting but looked well and was the only one to come from off the pace to get anywhere near the front, and he looks poised to strike off this lower hurdles mark this spring where quick ground is important.
The staying handicap chase hosted some of the greatest rogues in racing, so it was quite amusing to see them all bunching up as they headed to three out with few of the riders wanting to go on.
They pretty much performed to par exepct the winner Apache Pilot, who appeared to put it all in for once although it could just have been that his mark of 72 was plenty low enough.
He and stablemate No Such Number were fit from absences but I plumped for the latter at double the odds hoping a change of yard might spark a revival. He showed up for a while before dodgy jumping took him out of it.
Ardea took the hunter as expected, although he's looking quite lean and he is clearly a bit quirky, finding himself in front way earlier than usual; he's better than this.
The bumper was hard to call as Big Bad Dream appeared to be in need of the run after a three month hiatus, while eventual winner Schiaparannie has done some growing and filling out since her debut for M Walford so did well to win after an absence, albeit with a disconcerting head carriage.
There was a hint of support for French Ticket who traded odds on climbing the hill for a yard that does well with what they have, and this one looked a fair sort beforehand so this was no fluke.
Wig Wam Wiggle was punted but looks a big raw chaser in the making, while Silk Or Scarlet ooks weak and backward for the time being.