Quite a warm day for the track and drying ground, looking nearer good to soft than soft the way they were finishing.
The opener saw a well-backed favourite in Le Grand Fromage, the first of four raiders from the T Lacey yard with N De Boinville up, however there were definite fitness concerns on paddock appraisal on this first racecourse visit.
There were a couple of nice types in opposition and both came in for support in their own way, The Ferry Master having a bit of size about him and a good moving horse looking one to mark down for the future.
Eventual fourth Teescomponentstrig was given a good mention by trainer Gillian Boanas in our recent stable tour and the striking chestnut looked in good order, having strengthened up while still on the leggy side.
He was very novicey throughout, jumping big on occasions, and should come on a bundle for the experience, showing plenty of stamina in coming from further back after jumping the second last.
Eventual winner Darry Desbois was the fittest and more forward of them all in the paddock, despite looking rather unfurnished and lacking the quality of those previously mentioned. He made his experience and fitness count.
Phil Kirby's horses are yet to fire but Sometimes A Fox should be placed to advantage in handicaps, he's quite a nice type but isn't bred to stay this far. Whateva Next looks an expensive buy, lacking much physical scope, but shaped with some promise.
The first chase of the day was an intriguing contest of its type (0-120) with Dorking Cock being asked a lot to concede weight all round on his chasing debut. It took a while for the penny to drop over hurdles and it could be the same this time around, he has his quirks too.
Ain't My Fault is a big, strong staying handicapper in the making but looks to have a touch of the slows. In common with the Russell horses he looked fit for this seasonal debut and got them all at it from the front, unable to deal with the classier Weakfield from the last.
Brian Ellison's son of Court Cave was well backed and travelled sweatly throughout considering his winning over hurdles came at 3m. He looked to carry some baggage but that's not uncommon of the yard's horses and he was clearly ready to do the job.
I was most keen on Stoney Rover at surprisingly big odds, but although his price collapsed late on the cash went west as the scopey son of Scorpion was novicey throughout and got too far behind as a result.
The fact he was able to come home so strongly is to his credit, and he should be well up to winning from this sort of mark with more practice as his best form over timber suggests.
Honourmission shaped nicely on his first start for Sam England, appearing to have physical quality beyond his current rating. Lacking somewhat in size and fitness, he should be able to find races at the smaller tracks.
The staying hurdle didn't look like it would take much winning but Ryedale Racer looked on particularly good terms with himself, very fit and on his toes. With loads of course form behind him he had to be a player and being allowed his head with over a circuit to run proved a masterstroke.
The plunge on Kings Eclipse was mystifying. Once a plot horse always a plot horse the saying goes but this robust chase type doesn't have much toe and tends to require much softer ground than this.
Eureu Du Boulay looked in good heart but was quite edgy and nothing about him suggests he will stay this sort of distance, while Irish raider Military Hill is probably quite well handicapped the way he went through the race, simply not seeing it out as well as the winner.
The seven-runner handicap chase was a weak affair and was fought out by a couple with course form in Classical Milano, who was on a going day this time, and Misfits, who looks a tad high in the weights but would surely have won if he winged the last, which he looked on a good stride to do so.
Just Georgie was solid in the betting for one very much in need of the run, and he got extremely warm as well. Misdflight must have traded low the way he went through the race but his strike rate says it all.
Lacey's bumper winner Floating Rock and the H Whittington-trained Lantiern dominated the betting in a fair looking novice hurdle, the former looking a nice sort and preferred getting the weight from a penalised Lantiern, who hasn't looked straight forward in the past.
However, neither looked like winning at any stage with Miah Grace travelling like a dream throughout and having it won a long way out. Running well in a good bumper at the track last term, the Malinas filly should be up to defying a penalty against her own sex.
Fyfin Patsy was another on the day to make fitness count by staying on for second ahead of Get Help, who is sure to come on for the run and stay further, sentiments that apply to fourth placed Milvale, who wasn't knocked about and looks one to keep onside with softer ground likely to suit.
Some of the usual suspects rocked up for a 0-100 handicap chase with Roll Of Thunder running his solid race despite the handicapper's reassessment, this time giving best to Casimir Du Clos who was nicely backed despite looking as if the run would do him good.
The Blue Bresil gelding won at Sedgefield on chase debut last term but handn't backed it up, however he was by far the least exposed here and could well have more to offer as he goes back up in trip.
Bocasien Desbois landed a bit of a punt at the last meeting but this inconsistent sort threw in a shocker with the run coming too soon, although even with more time between his races you wouldn't trust him to back up last week's effort.
There were some nice types for the future in the closing bumper but the warm favourite Dakota Beat was an entirely different proposition, quite a small Flat type with plenty of experience and winning form over further.
He was simply much more forward than the rest and put that experience to good use, comfortably beating chief market rival Neville's Cross, a horse with plenty of size who may just lack the pace to win one of these.
Again, Flutter Down out-ran his odds due to superior fitness on a frustrating day for the yard, Grumpy McGrumpface the next best with Kearney Hill carrying plenty of condition on this occasion.