Plenty of runners at Sedgefield for a change where the ground was riding on the soft side but not as bad as the past few weeks.
The entire card was full of rogues but trainers M Hammond and K Slack farmed five of the six races between them on what was a great day of sport, even if we somehow ended up slightly in the red.
Flemensfirthleader looked short enough in the opening novice hurdle but it transpired that only General Mahler was fancied to beat it and when that one was withdrawn after a minor bleed on the way to post she was merely faced with a penalty kick.
An ex-pointer, she races with so much zest that it's hard to believe she would properly stay beyond 2m4f. She made mincemeat of these but hopefully her rating won't be hurt too much as the second Samtu (116) was giving up 13lb. She could be alright.
The second race was the first of three cracking chases that between them brought together most of the dodgepots/twicers/hounds - you name them - in the north.
However, two of the aforementioned, namely Oscar O'Scar and Discoverie, were fancied to have the race between them only because the others were even worse rogues than they are.
It was simple - Discoverie would bid to make all the running while Oscar x2 would sit off the pace and cruise through, the pair battling it out on the run to the last.
It didn't quite work out like that but it wasn't far off. Discoverie's chance was hindered by being taken on for the lead by Court Of Law, the duo setting the race up for Oscar x2 who came through and won on the bridle.
It was the perfect scenario for Oscar x2, and he clearly loves jumping fences. Things won't be nearly so easy in the future, however.
Jokers And Rogues has been mentioned more times on this blog than any other horse. However, despite knowing that the drop in trip would be ideal, I had given him all the chances a horse could want prior to the third.
I was instead taken by the charms of Karisma King, even though I had considered him a very difficult ride and not one for a claimer. He looked to have benefited mentally and physically from his runs before the turn of the year but my worst fears were realised when young McCarthy was all at seas on the beast early doors.
And while Jokers never looked like being reeled in this time despite taking most of the hurdles with him, Karisma King ran on a little to finish mid div. Hopefully he'll come down in the weights for this, and he'll have his day. As for Jokers, I can only congratulate connections on a job well done.
Verko stood out in the five runner handicap chase over 2m5f and I was surprised by his market weakness and his chance looked very clear.
I left it late to back Chanceofalifetime instead though. I've been dying for this free-going stayer to be allowed to stride on and with new face Miss P Fuller in the plate it looked as though that would be the case as they lined up.
It's a shame the chase debutant Ashbrittle acted as spoiler as the punt wasted too much energy on the opening lap being taken on for the lead. But I was quite impressed with Miss Fuller and the pair were still pitching going to the last.
But Verko was delivered with a perfectly timed run and picked up a fourth win in six. They've found the key to him and the money duly came late on. He shouldn't go up much for this and may yet score again. The second Finea, did nothing wrong, jumping well, while Chanceofalifetime will continue to pay his way. As form goes this looked ok.
Having missed Slacky's first winner I didn't want to miss what I thought was the trainer's best chance of the day in Almost Gemini. This was another race that was easily whittled down to the market leaders, although runner-up Charlie Wingnut for me was up against it after finishing second in a very poor contest last time.
Things worked out perfectly and I know the trainer thinks the world of the winner, whom he bought for a song. Catterick winner Sign Manual reverted to type and I still can't believe he won last time out.
Some days at the track are all about gathering information for the future, and keeping the betting almost as a sideshow. But this was one of those days where you just had to get stuck in as there was little to be gleaned from paddock watching moderate horses.
Roxyfet was solid in the finale and actually looked really well, but somebody had decided the horse couldn't win, hitting around 13 on Betfair at the off when I made him a 4/1 poke at best! I was happy to take the match against perennial disappointment Bennylicious, however, the Dobbin horse once again showing very little after being backed at all rates from about 10s into 11/4.
I wanted to get with some outsiders and on a line through Roxyfet felt Duhallowcountry was a massive price. I couldn't have Ascuncion at any price, nor Seventeen Black or Captain Sharpe. A rogues gallery indeed!
But I gave Odds On Dan a squeak on a mark lower than he won off here last spring - who'd have thought he would have rewarded each-way support with a circuit to go.
And so it was that I found myself cheering on Amy Waugh as they approach the last, where I knew I'd done my dough, at least in the win market. It's a shame she took on stablemate Gin Cobbler so early in proceedings although I doubt the result would have been any different in fairness.
So that's four wins for Verko and three for Roxyfet this season. Now who'd a thunk it.