To look at the TV pictures the ground appeared a bit rough on the bends, but down by the rails it sounded like there was plenty of cushion as they thundered past.
You could have given some sort of chance to six of the seven that went to post in the C3 staying hurdle, a difficult looking contest.
Here the betting really helped form the thoughts, with Luccombe Down and Omid short enough, particularly the latter. Luccombe Down was seeking a four-timer but that's very hard to do and I had stamina doubts over this extra trip, where he travelled better than the rest.
Omid looked fantastic and has grown and filled out in the past 12 months, but these were the deepest waters in which he'd swam. I really don't know what would have happened if he hadn't come down three out and taken the other with him.
I thought the in-form Skylander a genuine 7/2 shot and Optimistic Bias no bigger than 9/2. The latter had been made jolly in a couple of very competitive contests last term but I suspect he needs genuine good ground. This thorough stayer simply had to be in the mix, while Skylander just went off too big a price although I'm not a huge fan.
McLernon was in the right place on the winner and although the handicapper appears to be in charge he did appear to be idling at the end.
I bypassed a poor mares novice hurdle, although winner Lucy MC appears to have some scope but has yet to fill out. She shouldn't have won this though as the jolly dogged it.
Anti Cool's form after completing a hat-trick in the next doesn't look great, but he'll surely be better served by going right handed. He shortened into the last but fortunately had a couple of professional chasers in behind. At least the handicapper can't be too harsh.
A class 3 handicap hurdle over the minimum followed and Jacks Last Hope was a well backed FAV. They were always going to go off like stink so B Hughes won't take any plaudits for an exaggerated hold-up ride that came up short of expectations. The horse looked well and can win again.
Jokers And Rogues again caught the eye in the prelims and was 95 percent ready. He's a big sort who will surely be jumping a fence the other side of Christmas. He jumped fluently but did what he so often does and tied up badly on the run to the last. The fractions have to be precise with him and it looked like he went a tad too fast.
Gabrial The Great looked seriously crocked with D McCain a while back and his finishing effort once again suggested that an old injury may still be afflicting him. Venue picked up the pieces but this fell into his lap somewhat. He's not one to have great faith in.
The Backup Plan was a ghastly favourite in a four runner chase and a well-backed one too. He's had plenty of chances with excuses coming thick and fast. He must have decent ground but his jumping remains far too scratchy.
With Dursey Sound so doggy as to be unbackable and Rough Justice having no form it left Degooch as an obvious choice. Fit and well, he ran perfectly well up and grade and trip last time and with course form a big run was assured.
He probably wasn't doing a lot in front and his mark should remain a fair one. Rough Justice finally showed some form and this big strong sort looks a durable type who may be able to back this up in similar or slightly lesser grade.
Last week's winner Vic Last Stand looked in tremendous fettle and it came as no surprise to see her strongly supported. 'Sticks' Dawson was always in the right place for this drop in trip and he even got a cheeky breather in on the home turn. When mares like this suddenly find their form it's folly to take them on.
Pixiepot lost little in defeat but sadly this was her fifth runner-up finish and she came back sore, Roll Of Thunder was notably held up way out the back and this normal front runner finished quite well. A return to Hexham in the coming weeks may see him in better light.
Our Reward looked a shoo-in for the finale and was fully revved up after a three month hiatus. He looks well worth his 115 rating and the jockey W Featherstone is as good a claimer as you could wish to see. Crakehall Lad looked really well but his 114 perch is a false one based on victory in a wretched Cartmel novice.