The long Autumn continues but those who can are producing decent racing surfaces and there was no jar in this good ground for a six-race card.
The opening novices handicap chase was one of the better 0-105 events paddock-wise and several of them are worth following, not least the pair that were clear throughout.
Chozen was a massive eye-catcher at Haydock when last seen over timber and having been entered up a few times of late it came as little surprise to see him looking fit and well.
He's a big strong chasing type and a half brother to none other than the 140-rated Mount Mews, only with a lot more size and scope, and with positive tactics in place for the first time he was going to take some stopping.
All credit must go to the runner-up Cybalko, quite a nice well-made sort without the size of the winner, and despite being even keener than Chozen he did not lie down and when the winner had appeared to put it to bed he still came back for more.
Considering their inexperience I thought they were exceptional at the obstacles (Cybalko hit the first ditch hard) and although they will be hiked 8-10lb in the ratings, both must be followed very closely in the coming months, with softer ground and further unlikely to be a problem.
In contrast to his stablemate, Cap St Vincent did not look fully wound up and yet ran a race full of promise, emerging from the pack to take third.
Related to a bundle of classy individuals, and costing a fortune in earlier days, he's likely to find this sort of trip far enough for now and he could make a mockery of his mark in the weeks to come.
Chatelier was back on track to an extent and this leggy animal can improve further however All Is Good once again found little when asked for a serious effort and was one of three from the Dickin yard to run poorly on the day.
Another novice handicap, this time a 0-120, came up next and was interesting because the morning line favourite Agamemmon has never looked straight forward and was up against a couple with real potential in this field.
Early Retirement had caught the eye on at least two previous occasions as one to follow when sent over fences and he was fit enough while looking like he could tighten up a bit.
Kim Bailey's Rhaegar had regressed last term but had looked a raw future chaser and much lower in the handicap starting out over the larger obstacles as a result, and this active seven-year-old was definitely fit enough if his problems had been ironed out.
Probably not easy to train, he's not certain to build on this win and arguably the runner-up could be a shade unfortunate in having to do the donkey work, while he didn't quite see out 3m over hurdles and I wonder if an intermediate trip would suit for now.
Burst Ya Bubble may have needed the run but was in the process of running okay, while Billy Hicks is an okay sort and should be able to find a race - he got very tired after ploughing through the fourth last. The jolly was no good and looks one to be wary of.
It was a three-way go in the novice hurdle and not an easy call to make with each being strong in the betting. Vinnie Lewis certainly couldn't have been fitter and it's been quite noticeable this Autumn that the Whittington horses have been needing their first run quite badly.
Predictably, he was asked to wind things up over a bare minimum trip for him and it proved too much for the penalised Trixster, who nonetheless stuck on well and may prove well up to his current mark on a softer surface.
Captain Cargo is a typically strong sort from the Caroline Bailey yard and showed real progress on his Irish Point form, and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand next time.
The next handicap hurdle held little interest either now or for the future, save to say that Minella Fiveo looked a poor favourite with his best days firmly behind him.
Royal Ruby went off a very short favourite in the next but this unreliable gelding made no appeal up 7lb for dominating a weak field from the front, and Barbrook Star looked more than capable of ruffling some feathers being a lengthy chasing prospect.
The Hobbs youngster proved far too keen early on though, and is clearly not straight forward. He's one to bear in mind, but the form of this race does not look strong. Reckless Bahaviour was fit enough but probably only modest, however The Go Tou Man has something about him and he belied market weakness to go well and hopefully he can now build on this.
The bumper saw the F O'Brien-trained Liosduin Bhearna a well-backed favourite and he looked ready to do a job for all that he moved like a stayer.
Market rival Larkbarrow Lad is big and lengthy with very solid bumper form in the book, however he had looked wayward under pressure and again only got going when the race was over. He may require stronger handling but won't be one to trust as he goes over timber.
I saw Prophets Prayer run in just a fair bumper at Market Rasen and he looked a bit stronger here for all that he's just a big baby. However, he improved markedly on that opening effort to beat the favourite quite comfortably in the end, and could well be one to progress further.
The jolly lugged in up the straight and will know more next time, as will Mystic Court who tanked throughout but still stayed on well in the manner of a typical son of Court Cave.
One that really caught the eye beforehand was the M Scudamore trained Voila Eric, a lovely rangy chasing type who was actually pretty fit following a lengthy absence.
He looks ready to jump obstacles and his proximity to the front two was no fluke - he's one to keep a close eye on.
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