The torrential rain of the previous day that rendered a trip down the A1 too unpalatable to contemplate meant the ground was riding soft for Grimthorpe Chase day.
The opener was a competitive staying hurdle in which they went 4/1 the field, with the outsider no bigger than 11s. That summed up the quandary although I was loathe to give up on Point The Way, who has failed to fire so far this term.
B Ellison's youngster still hasn't filled his frame but looked in better shape than last time when he was coming back off a break, and his strength in the market suggested he was back to his old form.
Why then would D Cook, the master of the front running ride, help set the modest of gallops that would certainly and duly did leave the horse outpaced when they finally quickened it up!
This game baffles me sometimes and the slowest relative time of the day confirms they went a crawl and that didn't suit a horse who has stamina in abundance. He's becoming expensive to follow, but I'm not giving up on Point The Way.
Bryden Boy was quite a surprise winner considering his rise in the weights but continued the stellar form of the Candlish yard, while runner-up Whataknight ran well on ground that would have been too soft and he remains a horse with loads of ability.
Red Infantry looked really well but didn't go through with his effort, while Markov remains quite unfurnished and should do much better with another summer behind him.
The 2m handicap chase can get a really good line-up but this was a weak affair that went to San Benedeto, who looked really well in his coat and once again went through with his effort to land the spoils on unfavourably soft ground. I may have to re-evaluate my view on him.
Katgary was fit for his return, but he too would want in better than this, while The Grey Taylor looked fit but again backed out of things and remains one to have reservations about. Theatre Flame made a bad error mid race and the switch from Scu to Hiskett (5) wasn't a good one.
Happy Diva was a well-backed favourite to land the Listed mares race but I really wanted to be against her as she'd had a busy time of things and I just feel 3m on soft ground stretches her.
In Lastbutnotleast she came up against a willing mare that will jump and stay all day long. The step up to 3m looked sure to suit and under a great ride from the in-form W Kennedy drew the sting from the jolly and won going away in the end.
The others couldn't seriously be fancied - Taws is very small indeed while Braventara may be ok in time but is lean and leggy at present.
The Grimthorpe didn't appeal much as a betting medium although I wasn't really into Yala Enki as a favourite, he got very warm again which doesn't usually affect him but the form of his Haydock win in the fog hasn't worked out and he has a bit to prove off his mark.
Definitly Red has always been a very likeable individual and continues to do very little wrong. I thought he ran up a little light at Haydock last time out but he looked better here, my only query being the extended trip. I needn't have worried, it was game over halfway up the straight.
The Last Samuri ran well in unsuitable conditions and I felt he was 95% fit, while Looking Well was definitely straighter fitness wise than for the Skybet Chase and on the face of it was disappointing, but he's very inexperienced and this possibly proved that he doesn't want ground this soft.
Boagrius looked a good thing in a very weak novice hurdle, but yet another Greatrex hotpot got turned over by the surly looking Thumb Stone Blues, who clearly has loads of ability although I'm still not 100% convinced.
Be Daring didn't look straight but ran poorly after pulling hard and jumping badly.
I had picked out Mustang On as one to keep on the right side and this decent looking sort had been found a weak race in the following handicap hurdle, where he was the outsider in a field of five.
The soft ground was a concern as was the market support for Today Please, a fair sort with substance who looked well following an absence.
It's to the credit of young T Dowling that he kept the tearaway Danceintothelight in his sights all the way, and it could have been those tactics that won the day.
Mustang On ran all the way to the line to only be beaten five lengths after spotting the winner a good deal more at various stages. As such, I'm happy to mark him up for this and on better ground he'll go one better next time all being well.
The bumper was decimated by non runners and the N Richards-trained Echo Express won in quite taking style. He's a nice sort for the future but just a baby at present and showed greenness in the prelims.
But he beat previous winner Midnight Shadow (quite strong) without much fuss and is one for the long-term notebook.