Thankfully some decent enough ground to welcome a competitive card although an early brush with the honourable Mr H Smith (I know Harvey's probably not reading, but you never know) was enlightening, in many trainers' view there wasn't much 'soft' in the good to soft places.
The opening novices hurdle was decent and saw a rather weak favourite in bumper winner One For Rosie, however Twiston-Davies' gelding looked a well made sort that wasn't far off full fitness.
I thought he galloped to the line with purpose and is one to defy a penalty, having seen off market springer Glen Forsa, a tall strong six-year-old that will improve again.
Hill Sixteen was a costly purchase and he looks a serious prospect for fences in due course, and his third place was a very pleasing start considering his size and inexperience.
Disappointment of race was Storm Control, a lengthy well-bred sort that looked fit, but ran a stinker. The Jefferson pair Shepherd's Bight and Northern Soul were weak in the market and like her father, Ruth doesn't appear to be rushing her string this autumn.
Carrying loads of condition, Shepherd's Bight shaped with promise and will come into his own when the emphasis is on stamina. The Hollow Chap faded right out of things late on, and this rangy unfurnished youngster looks like he'll need plenty of time.
Early season novice handicaps at Carlisle are worth watching over a few times and the next was another of those, taken by one of the more nimble types in Count Meribel, a dual course winner at this time last year.
Tactical speed is vital round this turning track and the top weight was always in the right place, having it sewn up a long way out. Stablemate Scotchtown is all stamina and should do better in different circumstances.
Jammin Masters stayed on nicely for second under the queerest of rides from Johnson, who, like McCoy before him, has earned the right to be beyond critical analysis. However, he could not have sat quieter for most of the race if he tried and only got the squeeze on after belting two out, and aggrieved punters had a case.
The smallest in the field, Jammin Masters is a 3m, soft ground horse with more experience than most, and shouldn't be missed next time as his jumping was sound in the main.
Coningsby is a sturdy animal with plenty of ability, but it was noted beforehand that he didn't appear straight forward and sure enough he took a hard left when everything else went right at the top of the hill mid-race.
If his head can be kept right, he could prove useful, but I have some doubts on that score regarding Donna's Delight, a great big tall individual who was on his toes beforehand requiring plenty of attention.
By Portrait Gallery, he deserves a chance but is one to have reservations over for the time being, a similar sentiment that applies to warm order Al Shahir, who once again proved himself utterly one-paced.
He must show plenty at home as he went off favourite for the EBF final, but he hasn't done it on the track and looks one to oppose considering he was primed for this, for all that 3m will surely see him in better light.
The handicap hurdle looked a minefield, with the staying-on Bahama Moon one of few to be of interest going forward as he was weak in the market and looked to be carrying condition.
The result of the handicap chase made plenty of sense with Looksnowtlikebrian once again putting errors behind him to back up his win here a fortnight ago. He's not very big, but clearly improving however this is the easiest jumping course in the land and it may be no coincidence they brought him here the last twice.
He'll find things harder from now on and I wouldn't be expecting him to get round somewhere like Ffos Las in the mud without making notable mistakes.
Bako De La Saulaie was primed to run a big race returning to a stamina test, and ran his usual race in second without threatening to win.
He looks to have just the one pace so it continues to frustrate that they keep riding him for a turn of foot. He's a very sound jumper, and looks the type to leave his mark behind when given a more positive ride.
Cooking Fat continues to look a quirky individual and probably doesn't want a stamina test while Blakemount is steadily working his way to fitness. I didn't realise Yanmare was so big, and he'll come on for it.
Aspen Colorado was strong in the market ahead of the Class 2 handicap hurdle and he was another to back up a recent win here, relishing the stiff test at the trip.
The form looks solid enough, with Captain Redbeard yet again proving himself a fine yardstick with an honest run that sets him up nicely for the Becher Chase.
Petticoat Tails probably isn't the most straight forward, but she's likely to be straighter next time where 3m ought to stand her in much better stead.
Crixus's Escape is a really nice looking youngster but remains very immature mentally, and was in too deep on this third start over timber. His mark gives connections a few options, and when the penny does finally drop he could be one to stay the right side of.
Dubai Angel was badly in need of the outing, while Blunder Buss is a stocky individual that could prove hard to place this term; he's more of one to put by for next season.
Cyrname was all the rage for the Colin Parker Memorial and this big strapping animal looked straight enough although he could be the type to come on for a pipe-opener.
He was readily brushed aside but back-of-the-fag-packet numbers suggest he's run to his handicap mark of 150 with the ultra consistent Happy Diva finishing just ahead receiving plenty of weight, meaning impressive winner Mister Whitaker has improved another half a stone in landing the prize.
While a different sort entirely to last year's winner Waiting Patiently, there's no reason to think Mick Channon's youngster can't follow a similar path as his future appears to have unlimited potential.
There is simply nothing not to like about the two-time Cheltenham winner, who should relish 3m this season, and the three in behind will continue to pay their way.
The well-backed favourite Alright Sunshine had a touch of quality about him ahead of the junior bumper and he duly routed the field, upholding K Dalgleish's record in such races. As the saying goes, the young Scot seems to 'know the time of day'.