Good ground prevailed once again although it seemed to cut up a bit later on as you would expect at this time of year.
The opening staying handicap was one of those where you'd get a different result on any given day, that said it fell to the best horse in Dotties Dilema who put a couple of moody efforts behind him.
It helped that he was being chased by Shaizar, who showed once again why he remains a maiden over fences after belting the last when appearing to claim the winner, who wasn't doing a great deal himself.
Clearly this is forgettable form and most of these will continue to be worth opposing, although Tommy The Rascal didn't look fit for his return. Galros Lady appears to have gone completely although might want really quick ground, while French Seventyfive looks the type to benefit from much stronger handling.
The next wasn't much better being a 0-105 and featured a very opposable favourite in Gorran Haven, who had shown precious little in his last three outings other than plenty of attitude.
With the readily opposable and disappointing Powerful Symbol also in the field, it looked a fairly straight forward task on paper for Brown Trix, who might have won last time out but for walking through the third last.
With cheekpieces added he looked a great bet from a derisory perch of 76, and things were going to plan until disaster struck a mile out, appearing to go wrong after a minor error. Quickly pulled up, he was then cantered back and I overheard connections bemoaning their ill fortunes as the horse appeared to be fine.
Watching the ghastly Powerful Symbol potter up to the line in front with the comedy head carriage would have been funny it wasn't so tragic.
Log On was desperate again here and appears to have problems.
Chirico Vallis was 1/10 to land the following novices chase and this big, sturdy animal put in a tidy round of jumping ahead of Manwell, whose own fencing improved as he went and could prove well handicapped back on soft ground after this pipe-opener.
The seller was a match on paper but Octagon, who had lots of potential at one time in the north, looked a mile better than Cliffside Park and I thought he'd win with more panache than he did. He was bought in, so perhaps there is more to come, but his mark of 125 looks high.
A cheeky little handicap hurdle followed and it had a nice shape to it as the piglet that is Master Of Finance headed the market for a good time, which was bananas considering he hasn't won in an age.
With huge stamina concerns over the ex-miler Hidden Oasis it looked a match between the well-backed Stepover and Generous Day.
The former has been a model of consistency and may have prevailed had she not been given so much to do in the first half of the race. By contrast, Generous Day was kept close to the pace and found plenty after the last under an excellent ride from J Davies.
The winner is a nice sort and is probably one to keep the right side of as he is stepped up in trip this season, while it's notable that the H Oliver inmates have been needing their first outing of the campaign.
I'd taken a liking to Marten on his debut in bumpers last term so was intrigued to see him again, up against the pricey Sky Pirate in what was effectively another match in the novices hurdle.
B Pauling really does have some fantastic looking animals under his care and Marten is no different, looking well-balanced and certain to jump a fence in time. He was a more complete article than the odds-on favourite, who is gigantic behind the saddle but still to grow into the rest of the frame.
Giving the penalty away wouldn't be easy and so it proved, the favourite's effort off the bridle proving disappointing bearing in mind his impressive debut win.
The bumper featured some really nice looking horses and was a well-run affair, so I'm expecting the form to stand the test of time.
Strong Glance proved weak in the market but the O'Brien yard is firing in the winners and this nicely-bred sort has the looks to suggest he has a very big future. The fact he was a bit of a handful in the prelims suggests he has a little bit of attitude you often associate with a quality animal.
It was no surprise to the see the market favour Doctor Rex though, a lovely athletic horse who looked more forward and speedy than most. He travelled like a good horse for a long way, and although he had no answer to the winner's burst I'm sure he's one to follow.
Commanche Red filled the places which was a sterling effort considering he looked seriously unfurnished, while the fourth home Dancing Doug was quite small and exceeded expectations.
Barley Hill is an extremely strongly made gelding from the Pauling kennel but he looked to be carrying plenty of condition and he can step up on this effort, while Mind Your Back is a nice strong son of Getaway but doesn't do anything in a hurry and will want a trip over timber sooner rather than later.