Officially on the soft side for a difficult card, starting with a couple of really uncompetitive hurdle races.
A maiden juvenile opened proceedings and it looked a match, with M Keighley's Pirate Look going off marginal favourite over Cosy Club from the Skelton yard.
The latter is only small but was very fit off a break, while the former was much the best of the pair on the level. It came down to a sprint, with the gun-barrel straight Cosy Club getting the verdict.
The seller saw Away For Slates go off a very short price considering how quickly he dropped the lot last time out, and his attitude has got progressively worse.
He wasn't for me at such odds, but you could hardly back anything else with only Rock Of Leon having nearly similar ability, and he rarely consents to show that these days.
Sure enough the jolly turned it in again, and couldn't even beat the 69-rated Bygones For Coins.
The handicap chase over the minimum featured many usual suspects, although Glance Back offered something fresh and with a couple of solid efforts over fences behind him he looked a decent bet, having looked really well in the prelims and something better than a 100-rated animal.
Having barely touched a twig in a couple of spins round Leicester, he didn't lift a leg from the outset this time and was the first beaten. This can't be his running.
M Hammond saddled three and they came home in front. Caraline and Roxyfet typically threatened without quite going through with it, but the third member of the trio Applaus put his quirks behind him to power home under a strong S Quinlan.
Lake Field hasn't looked the same since ploughing through the Haydock mire and may do better after a summer break, while the others ran pretty much to type.
A decent looking handicap hurdle followed but it was all about one horse and that was Isle Of Ewe, a lovely strong mare that looked in good order after shaking off the rust last time out.
She was strong in the market and had loads in hand if returning to the form of her win a couple of years back, and sure enough she tanked through the race and had it in the bag going to the last.
Quite what a jockey of Johnson's experience was doing increasing the revs going into the obstacle I've no idea, but a moment of madness cost punters a small fortune, but far more sadly the life of a gorgeous mare that might have gone on to much better things.
I was dead against Bob Mahler at Newcastle last time out and the maiden finally notched his first win but not before almost grinding to a halt between the last two flights, and he'll remain one to be against in future.
Rhaegar was deeply disappointing, failing to put a similar effort last time behind him, and this good looking son of Milan now has questions to answer, and already aged seven he's in danger of falling by the wayside.
Rowdy Robin and Brascoe look like they will make decent chasers but will be starting out from a modest level on this evidence.
Gonalston Cloud can do little wrong in my eyes but it was difficult to foresee a return to form in the 3m handicap chase, a trip he's struggled over all his career.
And yet he was up there from the off and only briefly came under pressure on the home turn, before asserting and seeing off the well-backed Wings Attract. He was never going to be passed up the straight and what a horse he's turned out to be. This puts him bang in line for the Scottish National, a similar sentiment for Blakemount, who didn't look straight and never does off a break.
Wings Attract was predictably overbet on his first start for Skelton considering all his form had been on good ground, indeed he had flopped badly a couple of times on soft. He jumped a travelled well enough, but was legless in the end and he may prove better over shorter granted much firmer terrain.
Ganbei is a laid back old timer and he'll come on for this, while Goodtoknow looked in great order and may still find a race.
Border Victor was by some way the paddock pick in the open-looking finale and very nearly got us all out of jail, if only for that pesky M Hammond!
There's only so many chances you can give a horse but Witness finally finished a race off over a trip that seemed beyond him on breeding, coming over the top after the big rangy Border Victor had seen them all off.
He didn't quite get home, but will surely win races over fences, while Floramoss certainly didn't stay once again; she's a bit fizzy and a drop in trip may suit, although she's becoming difficult to trust.