Officially heavy ground after recent rain and snow but it's a sign of the time of year and the strength of the wind that the ground is drying out fast and although it was soft, it looked pretty dead and they finished well all afternoon, probably helped by the absence of three fences down the back and also a hurdle.
Little Bruce landed something of a punt in the opening seller, a weak affair in which he had little to beat in the end, Saucysioux not really running up to previous form. The winner had looked like needing blinkers for a while and he seems to run all his best races here.
Sainte Ladylime was backed into narrow favouritism in the novice chase to beat sole rival Progress Drive and the absence of fences was a definite bonus for her, although she was much more on the ball in this tiny field.
It worked in the opposite way for the hitherto improving Progress Drive, who pretty much messed about the entire time and was reported by Hughes to behaving like a 'playboy'. He's better than this, but may require cheekpieces or a bigger field to prove it.
A trappy handicap hurdle went to Final Choice, who was on a going day and looked in good heart beforehand. In fact they all did, although Bonne Question was still woolly in her coat and she'll come on again.
Quest For Life got outpaced at the wrong time again and he's frustrating, but looks the type to keep progressing and better ground may suit.
Dedigout was a surprise favourite for the next after failing to see out his races the last twice, and those hard races were bound to take their toll. Asked to make all, he couldn't get away from this better field and it looks like he'll miss the boat now aged 12.
Eminent Poet and Isaacstown Lad had decent, solid form in better races and the former showed the most tactical speed to win this, suddenly finding himself two lengths clear going to two out as the race unfolded.
Warthog, a tall lengthy grey who can only get better in time, cruised through and for once saw the race out, but the winner got first run. He's one to keep an eye on though.
Roycano was weak in the on-course market after appearing to be carrying condition pre-race, but under tender handling came right through for third and will have gone into countless notebooks with this effort. He likes better ground, and will jump a fence.
The handicap chase was down to four and saw another poor favourite in Bandon Roc, a moody type who chased home Just Georgie here last time in what amounted to just weak form in my book.
With the small Square Viviani unbackable after last time, it looked a two-horse race and the likeable Allmyown finally came good after slowly maturing all winter. He looked better in his coat and jumped super - as I've noted before he's not a hurdler and his form was bound to take off at some time.
He'd looked a plodder though, and Newberry New had form in the book, but the winner showed more speed than before to win unchallenged, and it would be no surprise to see him out again soon.
D Sayer ended a barren spell with Main Fact in a weak novices handicap hurdle, the horse didn't look great in his coat and this came as a surprise, although I wasn't keen on any of the market leaders - Log On having shown precious little while Instingtive and Christmas In Usa had to improve on previous form.
Gogo Baloo wasn't given a hard time and she is sure to do better with this behind her, having recently undergone a wind op. Lastin Memories was only small looking, but clearly has one of these in him. Honeychile Ryder didn't show enough.
Good Boy Bobby was long odds on to defy a double penalty in the bumper, and this really well made son of Flemensfirth went a good gallop to split the field apart. He's quite heavy in front, and soft ground could be imperative to him.
Up To No Good disappointed again, but this lengthy youngster could want better ground. The rest looked pretty backward, none more so than Tiger Time, but the Smith horse Lough Legend is nicely put together and should make his mark at a fair level in time.