It was soft ground but they weren't finishing exhausted; the second last hurdle was omitted again which meant one hurdle jumped in the last six furlongs.
Bulkov had the highest rating of 129 by some way and although nobody believes he's up to that standard he should have been favourite; even if you took a stone off it the 2/1 jolly Tetraites Style still had a stone to find himself on previous form to be competitive. The latter pulled pretty hard early on which didn't help his chance and they'll probably drop him in next time. He's not that big and may need some time as stamina should eventually be his forte.
Bulkov came to win the race but was picked off after the last by Go Go Lucas, who was making his hurdles debut. He's quite small but looked fit and well; there was each-way support at big odds and this looked a weak race. The runner-up was fit and there's a question mark over his resolution.
Grand Morning is a big chaser of the future so to run into a place here does him some credit, although Ouro Branco has lost the plot and is a keen sort and also backward physically. No doubt he can gallop and once his exuberance is harnessed he'll be back on the up.
Another weak looking favourite here in Handy Hollow, who is very much on the small side and had a question mark over whether he'd handle the ground. He was really well supported but this looked a better race than the opener with nice nicer sorts on show.
Black Art is a strong son of Black Sam Bellamy and he looked forward enough to be backed against the jolly, and there was quite a bit of late support. He appeared to have done enough taking over going to the last but Crixus's Escape, a really nice looking horse albeit just an unfurnished youngster, showed a decent turn of foot to come from some way back to win. This was quite a taking performance and both the front two are worth keeping an eye on.
Silk Or Scarlet looked strong and quite fit so better was expected, although he was a bit too keen.
It looked a match but Baracalu looked really burly and that was reflected in the market as he was pretty friendless. He's a nice strong chasing type and has a decent future, while the winner Niceandeasy is a very different type; not much to look at and really weak. He must have some engine because he messed about for most of the race before being coaxed to the front by the excellent C Nichol. They'll have to mind him, both mentally and physically, but he could be very useful in time.
It's worth mentioning Millrose Bell in third. V Thompson's horse didn't look anywhere near fit but the Flemensfirth mare ran on well. She may hold down the level of form, but I take the view that she may have some ability, while the young jockey didn't look a hopeless case either.
The feature race was the staying handicap chase and the early money for Iskabeg Lane had gone up in smoke by the off; he'd doubled in price probably owing to the fact that he didn't look fit and his jumping turned out to be pretty useless. I had a feeling this might be too much too soon and it's back to the drawing board for the time being. He'll come good at some stage and he's loads of size and scope.
Western Jo was ridden with confidence from the front by J England and this formerly useful tool has really got his act together again. He stayed this trip earlier in his career and stayed on well enough to hang on by a neck in the end from debutante Ronn The Conn.
The runner-up has shown loads of ability in his short career and this debut for the Menzies yard bodes well for the future. Like all of hers he looked like the race would do him good so to go so close is to his credit, and while his jumping was novicey he'll relish the stamina tests to come this winter.
Teddy Tee looked fit and well and this lightly raced horse shaped with some promise, although quite how much ability he retains is open to question. Jump For Dough wasn't put into the race at any stage and this chasing debutante can do better than this for all that he's not very big.
On A Promise was back in action off the same mark as when winning comfortably at Wetherby last week, and he looked the proverbial good thing to double up being 11lb well-in. He's a lovely well-made grey with a good nature, and does everything easily enough, jumping fluently and staying on to assert under pressure. Rivabodiva came here in form and clearly stays well, but was never likely top get past the winner even if she wanted to. Poetic Presence ran another sound race in third and she can surely pick up a mares handicap in due course.
A typical handicap chase for the track in which both picks Corner Creek and Flying Jack hit the deck. The latter looked really well again and it was good of the handicapper to leave him on a mark of 90 after running above himself in a Sedgefield novice. Whether the assessor will give him another chance is unlikely after his spill two out when he appeared to be the one to beat. However his stamina is not fully tested at 3m and it's not certain whether he'd have won, however with Frank The Slink taking the honours you'd like to think he would! They all just seemed to chase the winner up the straight at their own pace, and none of them are worth even mentioning in dispatches.