Back in action after an illness-induced hiatus over the festive period, but a low-key return as the temperatures on Town Moor failed to lift throughout the day, leaving many trainers unhappy with the ground.
Us non-racing folk can't really understand this sort of thing - but surely the ground is either raceable or it ain't? The spate of non-runners made for rather tepid action.
The opening four-runner novice handicap chase saw Clic Work tower above his rivals in the paddock and the Nicholls youngster, who was plenty forward enough, looked sure to improve on his hurdles form.
His fencing was very impressive indeed, using all his scope to take yards out of his rivals at the obstacles. Softer ground should hold no fears and he's worth following.
Midtech Valentine was the smallest of the quartet and she struggled with these fences on debut.
Hestina stood out in the juvenile, a very strong filly who looked really well. She bombed big time on her hurdles debut and once again looked a very hard ride early on.
It's a testament to her ability that she came there with every chance two out before Giveaway Glance asserted to win with authority. The winner has enough about her to do alright, while Chandos Belle and Graceful Lady were the only others to note. Pipe's horse Work is an athletic sort but this was a step backwards.
Loads of nons in the NH novices left Gustave Mahler as the jolly but he looked slow last time out. That said these were largely embryonic chasers and the winner Just Milly was one of many that looked backward. I wouldn't be expected much from any of these until next term at the earliest.
I was looking forward to taking on Briery Belle at the odds with Kalane in the next, but the former was taken out leaving our heroine an odds on shot.
Kalane is a very smart mare but can throw in the odd howler and J Quinlan did well to sit tight at the final fence first time round. It's almost as if the quicker they go the better she jumps.
She looked beaten as Colla Pier swept past two out but Quinlan hadn't been doing much in front and she really dug in and stayed on very strongly to assert on the run-in. I realy like this mare and she'll stay further on soft ground.
French import Viky Du Reponet looked headstrong in the paddock and she blew out, apparently bleeding. She could prove an expensive mistake.
Ten Sixty interested me up in trip in the next but he's really a chaser in waiting and a dawdle round Town Moor wasn't going to suit with the field reduced to four.
Aspell rode them to sleep on Parish Business but woe if you were on Oh Land Abloom, Coleman allowing the winner to steal a march at the top of the straight. There's no excuse for that although he'd never ridden the horse before and was probably told to come late.
Eight stood their ground in the handicap chase and I very much thought that the outsider Wings Attract was the one to beat with question marks over the rest of the field.
Wings Attract won here at 33/1 last season in a similar race and with blinkers back on another shock looked possible. I didn't like any of the others and it was a cracking bet, which may have paid off had he not been hassled for most of the trip by the loose Valleyofmilan, who unshipped J Cowley at the second.
It still wasn't certain whether La Vaticane would deliver after the last having deceived on several occasions, but she's a strong mare that has plenty of class and that got her through in the end.
The finale was another mare's contest with Miss Mash a warm order considering her win last week came on very different terrain. They had to come here though but she looked a bit on her toes and ran no race. It was hard to split the other four however and wasn't a betting race.