Bright sunshine after 24 hours of heavy rain, the ground was soft after they had declared on good so there were a few nons throughout the card, but that didn't detract from an informative afternoon.
There was plenty to take from the opening novice hurdle won by the bang in-form Fergal O'Brien via Imperial Alcazar, who came with a bit of a reputation and was well-backed to get off the mark.
A big scopey horse, he needed all of the 2m4f to get to the year-younger Coconut Splash but he nailed him on the line and the pair look useful prospects...the runner-up a far more compact individual with plenty of filling out to do.
Big Bad Bob was carrying condition but rallied well after some sketchy jumping to take third - this was a decent effort - while Lossiemouth was an eye-catcher having been held up well in rear off steady fractions, he's a big unit who will benefit from the experience.
Green Dolphin looked a nice horse but was keen and dropped right away as if amiss, but Copper Coin was one of the fitter ones and this nice handicap prospect led them quite deep into it and he's one to keep onside.
Corrany got a bit warm and looked burly once they took off the rug, while Grey Getaway is a nice sort and will build on this as the season progresses.
Mr Muldoon was all the rage again in the staying hurdle for conditionals but the dual winner may just be held by the handicapper at the current time, unable go with the rag Same Circus and Smackwater Jack after the last.
The winner has a good strike rate in both spheres and was on a fair mark, but she was well rugged up and it was hard to know whether she was straight.
The runner-up was interesting though as he looks to have strengthened markedly in the last 12 months and he could pick up a decent prize this term granted a softer winter, while his trainer is starting to knock on the door.
The veterans' chase looked wide open but it was very clear that Burtons Well was 'good to go' despite a lengthy absence and Venetia is a dab hand at bringing them back in fine order.
His form as a novice was solid and trying a new trip that should suit, it wasn't surprising that money came for him and despite a few untidy leaps he won with a bit in hand.
Killaro Boy ran a mighty race in second after going keenly early on, jumping notably soundly this big rangy animal is not flattered by his rating despite that near miss during the early part of summer.
On Tour was disappointing but the run may have come soon enough, while Captain Redbeard isn't at his best here but would be of interest if they go to Haydock next as this should sharpen him up.
Stoney Mountain is a very likeable individual and his good attitude and tenacity were once again to the fore as he won the next from a peg of 134 - there's more to come from his this season and he could be one for the Pertemps granted some soft ground.
Garrettstown is every inch a chaser and it's hoped they go down that route now, he settled nicely this time in behind before laying down the final challenge and I'm thinking Close Brothers for him although he may turn out better than that.
Howling Milan is still weak and leggy and probably needs another season of hurdling, while Hear No Evil looked burly as some of the Skeltons have done this week and the race will not be lost on this nice strong horse.
The big race was next up and naturally the low sun spoiled the race as a spectacle...but not if you'd backed Forest Bihan in midweek and in hindsight the set-up was perfect for a horse that has found winning difficult.
The move up to 2m4f appeared to suit and he settled surprisingly well, but with Kalashnikov not asked a question until too late his basic speed was always going to be too much for the stayers.
The runner-up lost nothing in defeat and he looked in similar form to when he won here in April. He's a proper horse and this is now the bare minimum for him, he looks a soft ground stayer and I'd like to see him move up to 3m.
Frodon looked fit enough but he faced an awesome task at the weights and the lack of fences was hardly a help, while Flying Angel looked sullen beforehand and despite being backed looks like he's gone.
The novice handicap chase threw up countless winners 12 months ago and another good field assembled in the next, Irish raider Plan Of Attack landing the spoils with a strong staying performance.
Only four of nine looked fit however, the first three among them, with the winner quite light framed and athletic, not your average staying chaser.
However, Court Cave's progeny come in all shapes and sizes but what they do seem to have is bundles of stamina and determination, borne out here as he repelled The Hollow Ginge on the run-in.
I didn't think the runner-up would make a chaser last year but I have to revise that view as he seems a bit bigger and stronger now, he loves the mud and staying test although it's worth bearing in mind I didn't think he handled the undulations at Hexham last term.
Shannon Bridge is a big strong individual but looked pretty straight although he's likely to prove a bit sharper next time, while the other fit one Django Django ran no sort of race and it's back to the drawing board for him.
Deise Aba ranged up three out despite a few dodgy jumps but I thought he looked really burly and he stopped quickly thereafter, the others that failed to finish also needed it pretty badly.
One of those was trained by Harry Fry and a lot of his have looked quite heavy in the last week or two, but that didn't stop Winningiseverything in midweek and it didn't stop White Hart Lady in the closing mares bumper.
A big imposing five-year-old with tons of scope, the daughter of Doyen is clearly very useful as she trounced a decent field headed by a couple with decent form from last season.
I backed both Roseisaroseisarose and Lugg River as they set a fair standard and looked among the fittest, but ran into something here given a very positive ride by one of the best around.
The placed horses should now go and win their novice hurdles while the fourth Notawordofalie gives the form further substance having already won one of these.
Cill Anna had a reputation from pointing and she's a nice horse, but like many trained by PFN she didn't looked fully wound up and will do much better, while Wheesht was surprisingly prominent in the market despite rocking up carrying loads of overweight.
There will be winners emanating from this race including many of those in the ruck.