The ground had opened up and it looked like hard work for some, very much on the dead side particularly on the chase course.
The feature of Boxing Day was the lack of success for the Skelton yard and it continued in the opening novice hurdle when Betameche was gambled-on but found the resurgent Northern Soul too good after the last.
I wasn't keen on the light framed grey in the prelims and he hasn't done much growing since his early days. Having had plenty of time off through injury, he may not amount to a great deal and may have hung fire in the closing stages.
That's to take nothing away from the winner, who looked most out of sorts on his seasonal debut at Carlisle and ran as poorly as expected, but with time to recover he was a different specimen here and being well related was likely to hit back at some point.
Enfin Phil had come on a bundle for his first outing for the Hammond yard at Hexham last time and is quite an athletic type, and he ran a mighty race under his French penalty and looks up to the rating achieved in winning across the pond.
The disappointment of the race was last-time-out winner Imperial Acolyte, a medium-built athletic sort who looked a likely improver, but never picked up in the straight and could want further already, looking really one paced.
In an interesting race, Captain Moirette showed he retains much of his ability after exactly 1000 days off. He's an enormous grey that looked quite fit considering the absence, but really won't come into his own until facing a fence. He's about to turn seven so there's still time.
Eclat De Star doesn't look much and flopped again after drifting in the market.
There were some nice 140-types on show in the staying novice chase despite the dismal prize money, but it turned into a procession with Wetherby expert P Kirby providing another winner in Top Ville Ben, who barely put a foot wrong and hacked up.
Again they came for Skelton's Red Rising and he's a lovely staying chase type, but didn't look happy from an early stage and made several minor errors. Uppertown Prince is a lovely rangy youngster but he too was outjumped by the winner and was held when capsizing three out. He should do better.
Coole Hall continued a poor campaign for R Dobbin, a nice big sort but failing to travel at any stage and carrying his head awkwardly, while Kilfilum Cross has the size to make a decent chaser but only got round in his own time.
The Skelton faithful finally got some back when the good looking Flegmatik dotted up in the juvenile, much the best in the paddock and much the best in the race, despite looking green in front.
Travel Lightly never looked like winning but looks the type to do well in handicaps, particularly over a little further.
The Castleford lost a little lustre with the absence of Lady Buttons (hopefully we'll see her at Doncaster on Saturday) but served up a fantastic finish with the doughty Cracking Find fending off another Skelton jolly in Marracudja.
I've always been a fan of the winner but considered this grade to be an issue, and have been dying to see him over further. However, the trainer clearly knows best with S Quinlan as good a sub for D Cook as you can find.
Forest Bihan is handicapped to win again but appeared to have every chance and this talented horse once again looked to shirk the issue when push came to shove.
Duke Of Navan didn't look on great terms with himself and ran a bit flat, while Saint Leo is a decent sort who will pick up races but may need more time to acclimatise.
The staying mares chase looked a minefield and you could have given all seven a chance, with bits of cash around for eventual winner Pretty Miss Mahler off a break.
She has done well physically as this half sister to the useful Monbeg River was a very lightly framed youngster, and under a cool ride from R Day got up close home to deny the dour stayer Socksy.
Longhousesignora looked well and could be ready to strike, appearing unfortunate to crumple on landing early on the second circuit, having jumped right throughout.
That just left a poor staying hurdle in which the ultra consistent Border Victor was just denied by a back to form Discay, who had shown little since winning after a lengthy break.
Chocolat Noir was backed at long odds to emulate stable companion Pretty Miss Mahler and continues to show improved form; she's not very big but quite well put together and ought to be able to pick up one of these.
Rocku was a weak market leader from the Skelton barn but looks to have his quirks and isn't one to get excited about. Wig Wam Wiggle is a decent looking sort but again made mistakes and was never sighted.