Looking at the times it was 'safe jumping ground' on the soft side of good, certainly nothing like what we come to expect of 'Haydock in mid-winter', but some decent action to enjoy.
The opening Victor Ludorum was a match on paper but there was no contest in the paddock beforehand and that proved an ideal pointer to the race as the good looking Quel Destin laughed at his rivals.
Allowed to take over with a circuit to run, the outstanding S Bowen dictated as he wished and powered home after the last; the Cheltenham hill should prove no problem next month.
Torpilo has a similar physical profile but is much weaker at this stage of development, lacking a little in front, and the die was cast for him with a mid-race blunder. Capone got quite a bit worked up but this tall, unfurnished youngster came through well for second.
An intriguing Listed mares hurdle followed and I wanted to get against novicey juvenile Laskadine, a fair type but weak on the front end, and the market drift called it.
If You Say Run is a decent mover and looked in great health, but hasn't proven straight forward and didn't appeal at an ever-shortening price...in the end he didn't need any excuses.
Jester Jet has been an admirable mare for connections and she deserved a big one, getting on top after the last and she has just enough size to be as successful back over fences.
The interesting one was Mega Yeats and she probably ran as well as could be expected in the circumstances, probably lacking the pace on this ground, track and trip. Still very novicey, she has loads of size and scope and there's plenty more to come from her.
I've never got a handle on Yanworth and he was sent off 11/8 for the Rendlesham following a late drift. He looked fit and well, but was never really tanking as he often did and tended to balloon the hurdles. I thought he'd duff up a load of soft ground stayers but he clearly wasn't right.
Shades Of Midnight came in for support despite much of his form coming on deep terrain, but his form behind Paisley Park doesn't look too shabby and a really positive ride from H Brooke meant nothing else could keep with him up the straight.
Kilcooley had clearly done plenty of work while still carrying some condition, while Clyne and Petticoat Tails couldn't go with the pace on this quicker ground, the latter looking well in her coat.
Heavy ground lover Scorpion Sid was a warm order for a decent novices handicap and was worth taking on with the ground far too lively, he's a sturdy horse and possibly not entirely straight forward, needing two handlers and then blowing the start.
Luckofthedraw has never appealed, he too is far from all the ticket and lacks scope for fences, his two decent runs coming at Carlisle one of the fairest jumping tests in the land.
Sunset Showdown came in for support but hadn't really done anything to warrant it, a decent looking Flemensfirth surely wanting softer ground in any case.
It's not often I'm keen on Sedgefield form but the race The Paddy Pie won there last time looked solid and with the step up in trip sure to suit the progressive Smith-trained youngster ticked all the right boxes.
You can set your clock by the yard at this time of year and the winner will be hard for the assessor to get hold of, once again he idled in front and remains one to keep on side.
Wilde Blue Yonder barely has the size for fences but rallied well without fully getting to grip with the winner, while Slanelough had gone into the race over-priced after looking set to finish not far behind Scorpion Sid last time.
Different tactics saw him in better light and although he was probably beaten when crashing out at the last, this admirably consistent sort will hopefully bounce back in due course.
Silva Eclipse is firmly in the 'frustrating' category after going down narrowly for a third successive time over C&D, again the Smith-trained youngster appeared to do little wrong, coming up against a renowned battler in Sykes, who rallied after the last to land the Pertemps qualifier.
It looked competitive numbers-wise but couldn't fancy many, Down The Highway a big strapping chase type that surely wants softer, Shoal Bay a market springer but he still looks unfurnished and needs another summer behind him.
Similar sentiments apply to Darlac, while Champers On Ice looks a chaser and this was probably sharp enough in the conditions.
I wrote here that Robinsfirth would be suited by a stronger stamina test such as the Grand National Trial and so it was pleasing to see the wonderful, big rangy 10-year-old turn up for the big race in good order.
With 15 going to post it wasn't an easy puzzle to unravel but plenty of soft ground types wouldn't be able to live with the pace and so it proved, Bishops Road leading them a merry dance into the straight.
The Two Amigos is a bonny horse, full of enthusiasm and he was still tanking along when capsizing at the first down the far side, it's hard to believe he wouldn't have been involved in the finish and he's worth another chance from his revised mark.
Ramses De Teillee is another consistent stayer who proved that heavy ground isn't essential by going close, he did nothing wrong and neither did another that loves the heavy in Chef D'Oeuvre, who possibly just paid for being a couple of pounds wrong at the weights.
It was a majestic winning ride from the Bowen kid though and for me he's right at the top of the tree. He was brilliant in holding the big horse together and only went for the stick after jumping upsides at the last. I thought it was pure magic.
There weren't too many negatives beforehand, Red Infantry expended plenty of energy beforehand in the new blinkers though and he can be forgiven this effort.
The Prestige novices hurdle for stayers was a very strong contest both on form and paddock, not reflected by the market with Kateson going off surprisingly short.
Loads of these have potential to be very good, winner Lisnagar Oscar not over-big but starting to look like living up to his six-figure price tag, and he must be one to beat if heading to Cheltenham.
He came right away from the good looking chase type Ask Ben who lost little after setting the pace, while Stoney Mountain stayed on for third after getting outpaced and he will relish a return to a stiffer test on soft ground.
I liked Rockpoint, Truckin Away is a lovely big chase type, while Highland Hunter didn't look out of place and he'll be one to look out for again if we ever get some rain.
Kateson is quite rangy and has some quality but may just be struggling to retain condition and he might be more interesting next season, he's obviously better than this.
Road To Rome has taken the hunter chase season by storm and he made it 4/4 under rules in addition to the three points he won before Christmas. You'd have to wonder how long he can keep this up - while looking fine he didn't have a great deal of condition about him.
Ballotin didn't look straight when he was jocked up, Pacha De Polder looked in good heart and fitter than expected, as such his effort was particularly poor, while the rest didn't have any excuses and were simply put in their place by a very progressive animal.