With the ground drying out under a warm sun and an increasingly strong wind the ground was described as patchy and very much on the fast side for quite a trappy card.
Who's My Jockey was backed into favouritism in an opening staying handicap hurdle but he's not the most fetching son of Yeats, still a little unfurnished and on the weak side.
However, he got the job done easily enough after travelling the best, however this wouldn't have taken a great deal of winning with few coming into the race with obvious chances.
Faithful Mount was brushed aside in the straight and this Flat-looking sort will always struggle against a proper NH type, however his basic speed was enough to carry him clear of the others, Three Ways looking likely to need the run off a lengthy absence.
The Class two handicap chase was a real cracker and not easy to solve, the big, scopey Copain De Classe again appealing as one ahead of his mark should he put his best foot forward.
However, he's clean out of excuses at this point even allowing for an aggressive ride that probably didn't suit...taking on the teak tough Cracking Find from a mile out never a great idea.
That duel did however set it up for the closers and suited none more than Movie Legend, who looked big and well beforehand and has clearly benefited from a wind op having seen his race out really well again.
I had Theo down as the value at the prices as he looked primed for a massive run, but he didn't travel as well as he often does and may just need further these days, closing all the way without ever looking like reeling in the winner.
Nuts Well again ran to his mark and lost little in defeat but he just doesn't possess the physical scope to improve further over larger obstacles.
I rate form behind Queenofhearts the best of the mares this season and Danse Idol and Papagana reopposed for a third time after finding the Edmunds mare too good at both Haydock and Sandown.
The feature of those races were the staying-on efforts by Papagana and this longer trip was much more likely to suit her than the Nicholls filly, and it worked out to perfection as once again the daughter of Martaline was first off the bridle, but came home much the strongest.
Danse Idol is a big likeable mare who will benefit from a switch to fences next year and I can see her proving hard to beat in that sphere. The form stood up well with the duo pulling away from Bonza Girl, who doesn't require excuses.
The Grimthorpe wasn't the double-figure field we usually get owing to the ground but I loved the shape of the race with market leaders Rocky's Treasure and Dingo Dollar very opposable; the former duffing up small fields while the latter lacks any size and scope for these tough races.
They were always likely to take each other on as well and it was all coming together nicely for Looking Well to land that deserved big race win, only for stablemate and perennial bridesmaid Chidswell to cruise past at the third last.
I've never been a fan of this 'twicer' but clearly something has changed as he danced clear at Kelso last time and was sticking on doggedly when Looking Well crashed out at the final fence.
I didn't take to Barney Dwan physically, he's become one of the more disappointing horses in training and he lacks the quality of many at this level, as such I only see him regressing further.
There followed a five runner novice hurdle where we were dead against De Forgotten One, who bashed up a weak field here in January and, having looked a stayer that day, was now dropping in trip.
Brex Drago had gone backwards of late and the Irish raider looked on edge and quirky in the prelims, carrying his head a touch high, and there were nicer sorts around.
Boomerang caught the eye, a big rangy chaser in the making but he was playing around enough and was pretty fresh, clearly he has some growing up to do but I can see him building on this.
Eventual winner Manning Estate had some similar form in the south, albeit on softer ground, but he's a nice strong individual who looked really well, and he deservedly got off the mark with a solid effort.
I quite liked the complete rag Cotswold Prince, who exhibited plenty of size, and he out-ran his odds in no uncertain fashion to chase home the winner. A juvenile, he can surely find a race.
A rather weak handicap hurdle went the way of the lovely rangy French import Empire De Maulde, who bolted up at Newcastle and brushed aside an 11lb rise to double up; he's clearly become acclimatised and finding his feet, although this was pretty weak.
Zig Zag provided market opposition but didn't run his race, while Criq Sun made little appeal physically being a bit compact and close coupled.
The closing bumper wasn't a great affair although the market wasn't far off with weakish favourite Eyren having things sewn up a long way out; she's not very big but looked forward enough beforehand.
Well related Iona Lad was preferred in the market late on but this nice big sort showed signs of greenness and looked pretty clueless in the race, being the first off the bridle and not really showing a great deal.
Heavenly Secret lacked any sort of size and scope and made no appeal despite going off at 11/4, the bottom line being this was pretty much a race to forget.