The circus rolled into Doncaster for a decent card on ground that was just on the soft side of good although probably riding a little dead, with a strong headwind in the straight.
There was plenty of deadwood in an opening handicap hurdle and it wasn't hard to see the trio that eventually fought out the finish doing just that before the race, as the market suggested.
Certainly, in a field of rather small individuals, winner Flash The Steel and progressive runner-up Ey Up Rocky had more about them than most, with the winner doing well to overcome a blunder two out.
Third home Speed Company lacks any size but he travelled up best before failing to go with the front two. Any form of speed test would suit him better but the front two are improving and capable of going on.
The novice hurdle drew a small but select field with the four at the head of the market really taking the eye in the paddock...however it wasn't going to play out that way in the race.
It turned into a sprint and that didn't suit some, which may have resulted in a false result, however nothing should be taken away from the winner Hold The Note, who emerged from one of the finest bumpers you're likely to see to win stylishly returned to better ground.
Seven De Baune headed the market and is a fine looking horse, but backed out of things pretty quickly and may not have been right for all that a stiffer test probably suits.
Senior Citizen was more compact than some and he did look up against it with a penalty, but Strong Glance took the eye once more and jumped much better this time...he too probably wants a sterner test.
The two 'rags' that filled the places hold the form down to an extent, runner-up Ivilnoble a particular surprise having looked unfurnished and not especially straight, however My Story is a decent looking chase type who could be half decent having had 18 months off.
T Lacey is renowned for producing his young horses looking ready for their job and Via Delle Volte was no different ahead of the juvenile hurdle, head and shoulders ahead of her opponents prior to the race and well supported in the market too.
It was something of a surprise to see her struggle to put the race to bed after the hitherto free-going Gemologist had led them up the straight, but was strong at the line and looks sure to do better.
Queen Adelaide is only modest so it was good to see her well beaten, meaning the form has some substance, the winner's stablemate Lady Cylla lacking Flat experience and showing plenty in the process of coming third.
I couldn't see Valadom being beaten in the big handicap of the day, looking well handicapped in new headgear for an in-form trainer/jockey combo, against a field with plenty to prove.
Having mulled this one over through the night (yes, that's what happens when you back one to win a large amount and it goes 20 clear for most of the race) I can only think that rousting him into the lead early on put the frighteners on the horse, and he got too lit up.
I expected him to lead but not by such a wide margin...even so he went odds on at the top of the stretch and it looked as though he'd stolen it. But a tired leap two out spelled the end and the likeable mare Treackle Tart stayed on best to pick up the pieces.
Militarian looked really big and well beforehand but appeared to make many mistakes at the head of the chasing pack, while the well-backed jolly Station Master didn't show, but this was probably one of those races that you can put a line through from a form perspective.
There was more than 70 grand on the table for a five runner Listed mares chase and with only three getting round connections of Drinks Interval picking up nearly 10k for a tailed-off last.
The big bunce went the way of the 'Queen of the North' Lady Buttons, who is starting to make a name for herself over fences with a fourth win in five starts over the black ones, her only defeat coming in Grade 1 company.
Settling better now in middle age, the Beneficial mare jumped and cruised her way to the front two out and was probably just idling on the run in against a decent mare in Rene's Girl who was there only on sufferance.
Who knows where they will take the winner now but with her size and scope she could take on the boys and only a fool would bet against her.
The finale was competitive but there was an avalanche of support for the novice Commodore Barry who looked in good order back on this better ground and he duly made all despite an all-out attack from Blue Rambler.
The runner-up's defeat at 1/16 here two years ago is still fresh in the memory but this was much better although I can't say I'm a huge fan of his, being light framed and hard fit.
Enniscoffey Oscar was an impressive novice hurdler but has gone the wrong way this term and may not be straight forward, a similar comment probably applying to market drifter Tara View.