It usually takes only one trip to dreary old Sedgefield to remind myself not to come back for another 12 months and this year will be no different, the question is did we glean anything from this particular rain swept visit?
The opener was a dismal 0-100 won by the mercurial Hey Bob, who appeared to relish underfoot conditions and consented to run on after hitting the front two out.
Jaxlight once again traveled like the winner only to flatten out and the fact remains she doesn't find anywhere near as much as you'd expect off the bridle. On balance she remains disappointing and doesn't have the scope to improve much.
There was nothing to get excited about behind the front three, who pulled clear.
Jatiluwih was sent up from the P Hobbs yard to complete a facile win under the guidance of 'Dave', this strong and useful looking sort the best horse on show during the afternoon. Lord Roccoco was fit enough but was put firmly in his place.
The four-runner novices chase saw Nietzsche and Tonto's Spirit re-oppose after matching strides at Perth and the placings were reversed in similarly dramatic circumstances, with the latter fighting back after Nietzsche looked to idle going to the last.
The pair were much the best in the paddock with the quirky Saint Freule not fully wound up at all - the money that arrived for him in the betting somewhat baffling. He's not that big either but a return to Hexham next time may prove suitable.
River Frost was a big drifter and once again showed little aptitude for the job.
Summer form took on winter promise in the next and it was the improving and consistent Snookered who ran out a convincing winner of the handicap hurdle, more or less repeating the all-the-way win here 26 days ago.
Brushing aside this much softer ground, the Ellison-trained youngster may find another rise halting his momentum although he does seem to have found a new level of form.
I'm To Blame is a nice big chasing type but still looked a bit awkward and immature beforehand, and carried that into the race landing with legs of jelly over two out.
B Hughes reported he was flat out over this 2m and we can expect more back up in trip, however this is not the first time he's looked uncomfortable off the bridle and for all that he has ability, I have a question mark over him just now.
The rest were a mile back, this 'puddingy' terrain likely doing for Prancing Oscar and possibly Rukwa who was off the bridle a mile out.
Ringaringarosie shows remarkable enthusiasm for the game with this being her 20th outing in 12 months and she saw out the longer 2m3f trip well enough to see off Instant Replay and Murphy's Law who were giving lumps of weight away.
The mare typically shot off in the front but fenced notably well throughout unlike the other pair who were a bit scratchy and quite possibly a little out of their comfort zone.
Instant Replay has done the bulk of his winning in deep midwinter but looked in pretty good shape for this return, while Murphy's Law couldn't back up his facile win at Perth and now faces even stiffer tasks than this, for all that he looks a decent enough type.
Inca Gold looked a small, poorly made animal with little scope for a fence, while big old Maxed Out King will need a few runs to shake off the rust.
I rather fancied Squouateur on this softer ground but they surprisingly pulled him out, leaving jolly Chanceiton to grind out victory in the marathon hurdle, doing what Murphy's Law was unable to do in making it two wins in a week. He's not as good over timber, but you can't fault his consistency. This may not have taken much winning with the opposition looking out of sorts.
It was slightly surprising that Dalkingstown was backed into 11/8 for the bumper bearing in mind his penalty and the doubts about the softer ground.
Nothing stood out on paper beforehand with the Irish raiders Danny Archer and Bold Pearl having shown little on the track, and neither looked especially forward in the prelims.
Faruzi was one of the nicer types on show but didn't run any sort of race on ground that may have gone too soft, but Order Of Thistle appeared to be some way short of peak fitness and overcame that to win quite comfortably.
Admittedly getting tired late on, the winner was giving Lucinda Russell a first bumper success since January 2018 and should build on this, although will struggle to defy a penalty as so many do.
Master Newton looked a decent enough type beforehand and shaped well at long odds for a new yard capable of readying a bumper winner or two.