Quite a bitter afternoon at the Bridge but thankfully it was dry for much of the time and there was some decent action to get stuck into. The ground was very soft as you would expect.
The North Yorkshire National was the feature and it saw the H Hogarth-trained Alto Des Mottes robbed of a victory that was surely deserved.
Raised 13lb after winning at Newcastle (the second, Askamore Darsi franked the form at Donny) this improving chaser did nothing wrong and looked all over the winner until landing with legs of jelly over the last.
Jockey Hughes had yet to go for the light-framed six-year-old but an anxious look round on the run-in meant that the staying-on Lackamon was a real threat and after being hard at it for much of the trip, D Cook actually dropped his hands and nudged the latter home for a cheeky win.
It was daylight robbery and massive symathy if you backed the second, although in fairness you had the length of the straight to bail out. He'll get whacked again by the assessor but surely there's more to come as fences appear to have been the making of him.
You'd have to say the winner deserved to pick up another decent pot after a similar thing happened to him at Sedgefield earlier in the season, when Royale Knight nabbed him close him.
They all looked well enough for the big race. Delgany Demon is a big strong horse who is clearly out of sorts, but his time will come again. Barton Gift and Gorgehous Lliege looked well but this was not one for paddock judges.
Gully's Edge had been all the rage for the earlier staying hurdle but I had warned before that he was one to be wary of at this stage of his career, and once again he looked extremely immature against some moderate opposition.
Much fitter than at Carlisle, he clearly needs a trip but until he goes over fences I'd be looking to oppose him. Quinto doesn't have a great deal of size but the market picked him out as the main danger ahead of Bryden Boy, who should be up to winning something providing the handicapper relents.
The 2m handicap chase looked tricky but I took a strong view that not only should southern sharks Mr Burbidge and Crafty Roberto be taken on, but that the Cloudy Joker form from the last meeting here was worthy of following.
Readers will remember that Uno Valoroso should probably have won that race with more inspired tactics, and I was happy to have a second dig knowing that connections would be more positive this time.
I don't mind J Hamilton with a 5lb claim but I do wonder if the stronger T Kelly would have been a better fit for this race. I don't want to take anything away from the winner, who was a huge price to follow up and didn't have things his own way this time.
But the runner-up once again signalled a return to further should suit after getting outpaced by the fluent winner. Catterick probably doesn't suit Hexham winner Uno Valoroso but you can keep making excuses for some horses. He was second on merit this time but it was frustrating nonetheless, especially with the market leaders blundering their chances away, when looking beaten.
To make matters just a little worse I thought Always Resolute was the proverbial good thing to back up his impressive win last time out and he would have won by a street but for crumpling on landing at the last.
D Cook doesn't do much wrong but there seemed little point in being so aggressive at the final obstacle with the rest well beaten off. I'm all for keeping the revs up but this was a bit extreme. Serves me right for not bailing as I'm sure he was done at less than 1.05.
I couldn't have the market rival Satellite. Having seen him in the summer he wasn't one I was very fond of and the switch to the out of form T Vaughan from W Haggas is hardly the move of the century.
He looked a proper flat horse against these national hunt types and it is likely that the winter game is not for him, Time will tell.
William Of Orange will need a trip to be seen at his best over timber and he was one-paced and tired after chasing the winner from the middle of the far side.
More interestingly Venetia's French import Un Prophete took a step back in the right direction, travelling like a decent horse until tiring in the straight. He's a tall, strong horse who will pay his way in time.
One to keep an eye on here is the N Richards-trained Ping. He's grown up a great deal since his debut and is likely to be on a tasty-looking perch after another run or two. He's not that well related but is better looking than his multiple winning sibling.
I was quite keen on Sandford Castle in the handicap hurdle at 7/2 or better and there were some juicy prices about this Southern raider early doors. I wasn't mad, mad keen but he looks the part and was happy with the bet, although some dark ones lurked lower down.
Jenny Candlish's Tanarpino was among a handful worth a second look but the trainer had been without a winner since the summer. That hadn't stopped them backing this expensive purchase on a couple of earlier occasions and there was another nibble at decent odds here.
Up in trip, the horse travelled really well and won as he liked. The yard's horses have looked really well all season and it must be a source of great frustration to the yard for the horses to have been so out of form. This may see them turn the corner.
I didn't think the jolly acted too well on the track, while Lord Ballim and Fair To Middling both look like they can rate much higher in time but have shown hardly anything so far, while Attention Seaker's day will come although I'm convinced she will be better over 3m on some decent ground.
Tomngerry looked a good thing in the bumper after impressing at Sedgefield and he was a standout in the paddock beforehand. They weren't a bad bunch all told but none was anywhere near forward enough to trouble the jolly.