The official ground was on the soft side of good but the times suggested it was riding on the dead side, and they finished quiet tired generally.
The opening handicap chase was significant in that there were four horses that need holding up and anything that led into the straight was going to have to face down the snipers late on.
The money for Global Domination was a queer one as he'd been off for a very long time and I thought he would need the run for all that they must have got a load of work into him.
As a winner over 3m he looked the one that was going to make the pace and looked extremely vulnerable even before he started jumping right and was essentially beaten turning in.
Chasma and Manwell came through from the back and the pair rose as one three out, but two better leaps from the former essentially sealed the deal here, which was more than a shame for your correspondent, who was all over the runner-up after his sighter here last time. The England yard is not having the best of luck, it must be said.
Chasma has improved for fences which is surprising bearing in mind her physique, and winning first time out from a much higher mark is some feat of training, so hats off to her handler who also sent out Rear Admiral first time last week.
Pretty Reckless wasn't able to pick up from a 5lb higher perch while Captain Mowbray again went in snatches and punters surely can't keep giving him the benefit of what has become a huge pile of doubt.
The novice chase was a peach of a race especially if you fancied the winner Fountains Windfall, who should have been a short price favourite on his progressive hurdles form, while the trainer had been clear about the regard in which he is held.
In Stowaway Magic he had a fit opponent with loads of ability, but the Henderson inmate needed to improve a chunk to stare the winner in the face and having done so two out was readily brushed aside by a horse with RSA Chase aspirations. He's got loads of scope and I liked him.
The next was a messy affair before during and after, H Bannister doubling up aboard Hoke Colburn. Nothing much appealed, Suggestion still looking narrow and weak and this flat bred appeared not to get home, while Scooby looked well and having strengthened up could progress this year, but he really needs further and maybe fences will be on the agenda. Good ground suits, too.
A staying hurdle for novices came up next and it was match featuring Another Stowaway, who chased home subsequent Cheltenham winner On The Blind Side last time out.
If that run was to be taken on trust, he was a shoo-in but this was a longer trip and he hasn't looked straight forward in the prelims and again was on his toes - there was something, maybe a slightly high head carriage, that didn't make him a good odds-on shot.
In Equus Secretus he faced a previous winner and one who has stamina to burn, a good strong animal who can only improve.
With B Pauling's star in the ascendancy we just had to side with the youngster despite having to shoulder the penalty and he gutsed it out from the last with a performance to be proud of.
I had been keen all day on the chance of Banjo Girl in the mares novice hurdle on the back of a promising outing at the track last term, mentioned in dispatches here.
The soft ground did for her on that occasion but the form of that run was still better than anything the hot favourite Passing Call had achieved on her return to action last time.
The King horse was heavily supported but I'd seen her a couple of times and wasn't that impressed with her small frame or the way she travelled in a race.
I didn't think the market was right here off level weights and although I wasn't bowled over by Banjo Girl beforehand, she looked just about straight enough to get the job done, and so it proved.
I think she got tired after the last but stuck on well and she gained lengths at each obstacle which may have been the difference. She's not entirely straight forward, but likeable and can go on from this albeit at a sensible level.
I don't 'do' handicap hurdles very well but even the most myopic could see that Vado Forte was the one to be on in the next, in the absence of anything much else to get excited about.
The T Lacey inmate has enough size about him to think he'll be half decent in time, and with the drop in trip to suit it was his for the taking.
Unfortunately, the race was shot to pieces by the mid-race move of perennial shithouse Hey Bob and the much-improved C Bewley, who stole 10 lengths and more on the field when the pace dropped to a crawl.
The hard-pulling maiden seemed to enjoy the freedom out front, to the extent that he actually dug in for pressure when Vado Forte loomed upside after jumping two-out. Not an easy reverse to swallow, and there was nothing to take from the race.
The mares bumper wasn't too exciting, with Wetherby duo Jane Lamb and Tierra Verde reopposing. The former was backed on the switch from O'Keefe to Skelton but there was a bogey lurking in the shape of the nicely bred Everglades, who duly rattled home under Coleman to get off the mark at the first time of asking.
There's not much of her but she was well prepared, while the third placed Quine Des Champs has enough about her to suggest she can win races over the sticks. Shoreline looked quite weak and may require some time to progress.