Bedale Lane was the nominal favourite of a typically weak-looking mares race to open proceedings but she didn't look much more than moderate and the word on the street was that she wasn't all that.
Well-backed near the off, there simply had to be something to take it on with and the only one you could have had was the lovely grey mare Actinpieces from the super P Sly yard.
This big scopey filly is from a nice family, with the dam already having thrown a winner in the shape of stayer Bonnet's Vino.
She looked in great heart for this seasonal debut on ground she hadn't encountered before but could have been named the winner some way out under the excellent Gina Andrews. Very green once in front, she will surely improve and can win another small race.
The novice chase saw the return of Vodka Wells, who I felt was a little flattered by his proximity to the principals a fortnight ago. He finished weakly that day and had a question to answer.
Boru's Brook was interesting with good form over timber on heavy ground, but after some to-ing and fro-ing the market could make up its mind and the pair went off joint favourites.
However, backers of the latter really had few worries as it jumped really well under a positive ride from T Cannon on his only outing of the day. Not over-big, trainer J Best told me afterwards that the horse had done a lot of work with Yogi Breisner so they had few worries on that score.
The way Mr Best was shouting the winner home suggests they had a few quid on, too. Vodka Wells was ridden as if it has a hole in it and once again faded to lose second on the run-in to the big chaser Dig Deeper, who looked slow but ran on to pretty good effect. Take note, as he will have needed this.
The staying hurdle was tres dificile although it's easy to say now that the triple flat winner Call It On was sent off a surprising 7/1 for this after an early show of around 3s. With acres of soft ground form at staying trips you had to think he'd go close.
There were few clues from the prelims although Harry Hunt and Gilzean looked big, strong and healthy for this race and you wouldn't expect them to improve on their efforts. Who You For didn't impress in condition and ran a queer race, staying on well late. He'll likely improve for experience.
The big handicap chase of the day saw a dramatic conclusion when Elenika came down when tired at the last having traded very short at the top of the straight.
Hassled early for the lead, he just did too much too soon but although he looked fit enough to run his race after a long break he always found a way to get beaten and I wouldn't treat this as an unlucky loser. He'll be one to take on next time.
De Vous A Moi picked up the pieces but he's a lovely honest horse who just keeps jumping and galloping. The handicapper clearly can't get a hold of him and you wouldn't bet against further success this term.
Voyage A New York was a bitter disappointment as I thought he was the one to be on. He has run terribly on very soft ground before and although he looks a big strong animal it could be that he's best served on good to soft. He probably wants a trip already, too,
Indian Temple, the eventual runner-up, isn't a bad sort and could do alright for the new yard, although he's got quirks and was swerving all over the shop on the run-in. I didn't like Supreme Asset beforehand - he moves as though something is amiss.
The novices hurdle looked a weak affair and an each-way chance was taken on Agentleman, the Easterby second string. On the small side, but quite nice, there's a race or two in him as he was very keen early on here but jumped super.
Bollin Ace was a big market drifter after his run here two weeks ago but that surely flattered him and Bowdler's Magic is as consistent as you like. The former had improved in condition but found the veteran hard to pass.
I have mentioned Kayf Blanco at length three times on this blog and after much deliberation I decided he would take the beating in the 2m handicap hurdle. Here's what I said after he ran here the other day:
I thought Kayf Blanco ran a huge race in the handicap hurdle over what may now prove to be an inadequate test. Too free at times last term, this stoutly bred horse settled well off a sedate pace and was left with too much to do when a couple of Flat types sprinted clear after the last.
He looked to have done really well physically over the summer and was pretty straight here, and I suspect he is one that can ‘grow’ into a higher handicap mark.
Personally I have a poor record in such races but I know this horse really well and he was out his ground over C&D last time with K Woods in the plate for the first time. I was confident this nice strong horse would get a better ride on this occasion and as it happened things panned out to perfection. The trip was the worry but he travels so well that in this ground he was fine.
It looked a fair race for the grade and the next two are worth following. Vendor had winning form over further for A King and was rallying to good effect at the finish. He was less fizzy than at Carlisle and looks a winner in waiting as does the third Sir Safir, a lovely big chasing type who has done really well over the summer.
He appeared to make a great shape and I'd have no hesitation in supporting him if they decided to go straight over fences. He looked in great heart and was perhaps too keen in the race, but he'll be winning before too long.
Another of note was Hollywoodien, who looks a very nice prospect indeed. He was badly in need of this and probably needs to come down in the weights, but this four-year-old could be alright.
The handicap chases are my bread and butter but the finale was a tricky puzzle and not surprisingly we handed some back.
All I did know was that I had to take on the well-backed Itstimeforapint, who I punted last time out but was disappointed with its jumping and stated there and then it had not progressed for the summer break.
He ran a dismal race here, dropping out before rallying to look like the winner until backing out of it again. He needs to be treated with a fair measure of caution.
If you fancied Itstimeforapint on form then surely you would have had a bet on the winner Longueville Flyer as well, a horse I had lost faith in of late for no firm reason. He's a slow old boat but looks honest enough and got there in the end for trainer M Hammond, who bought it back at the sales the other day I noticed.
Oil Burner and Silver Dragon showed up well for horses that arguably needed the outing, particularly the former, while Brave Buck looked in good order and appeared to have few excuses in conditions that should have suited.
Sgt Bull Berry may yet have another race in it but he's a good moving animal and this ground was never going to play to his strengths.