An 8am inspection was passed with two fences and a hurdle down the far side omitted, it was heavy but not too bad according to one or two that had walked it.
Accordingtogino was a very warm order to pick up a weak novice hurdle for the Skeltons, and Harry got to dictate the race from the front, kicking on the home turn and putting enough daylight between himself and two rivals.
Le Cheval Noir may have been flattered to get so close at the line, but this rather weak horse may have just blown up when the pace quickened three out where he was untidy, essentially ending the race as a contest.
The winner may not be the most straight forward and on another day I could see the placings being reversed, as the second has plenty of physical improvement to come.
The Crazed Moon was the only one to bring recent form to the table in a novices handicap chase, and was priced accordingly, but even allowing for the fact she lacks a bit of scope for fences she turned in a shocker, her number was up before they turned for home.
That should not detract from the efforts of the first two home, Snougar and Going Mobile both having their first outings over fences on the back of breathing operations.
The former has always looked like a chaser in the making, and had been running into a bit of form over timber, and he jumped and travelled like a horse with plenty to give from a low mark.
On the subject of handicap marks, how the assessor came to number 92 for Going Mobile is a mystery, the gelding having shown precisely zero in three hurdle starts, for all that he had looked extremely burly on the first of them. Held together until after jumping the final fence, it looks like the Englands have another horse to go to war with this spring.
Carlingford Prince wasn't moving well in the paddock and shouldn't have been second fav, while Angel's Envy is an interesting mare, with all her form being on good ground over 3m at Perth.
She lacks the substance for fences, and she was awkward over the final three fences, going to her right, but will probably be persevered with over fences in the short term. However, shrewd trainer Laura Morgan can be trusted to get the best out of her in the coming months.
Another favourite that looked ripe for the taking was Young Lieutenant, who found himself at the head of the market for a novices hurdle despite coming into the race on the back of three disappointing efforts.
Thor De Cerisy is a nicer physical specimen who got off the mark in taking fashion at Newcastle before blowing out at Ffos Las, inclined to hang up the straight. Hopes of a revival were pinned on a 10-weak break and a breathing op, and he duly returned to his best, only to find Diodorus too good getting 10lbs.
The six-year-old had gone winless on the Flat for K McLintock, but trainer Tristan Davidson told me the horse's head was 'in a better place now' and, under a confident hold-up ride, came through to land the spoils in a the manner of a useful recruit.
Davidson has a fine strike rate, and does extremely well with other trainer's cast-offs.
The gamble of the day went west when the absurdly short Envol De La Cour ejected B Powell at the sixth having gone of at 6/4 from double figures prices the night before. The C Dyson > M Scudamore angle has been a profitable one of late but this was a bit far-fetched, the six-year-old having little form to speak of on these shores.
It was hard to find the winner though, Mortens Leam in the end travelling all over the rest before tying up late on, it emerged afterwards that the trainer felt he wasn't fully fit after picking up a knock last time out. This isn't strong form.
A really strong handicap hurdle followed next though, and the bang in-form Main Fact made it four on the trot for David Pipe, once again proving very strong in the final third of the race and winning with any amount in hand.
McGowan's Pass confirmed himself in top form by chasing home in second, but the third-placed Flegmatik troubled me with his finishing effort, finding little off the bridle and wandering all over the place in the straight. He's a good looking horse who may require quicker ground, but I have serious reservations after this.
The closing staying chase was desperate enough, with the well-backed The Dawn Man providing M Scu/B Powell Jr with some consolation for their earlier disappointments. The gelding had plenty to prove, not least stamina and jumping, but was simply too well handicapped to be troubled by these plodders.
Smuggler's Stash stayed on for second, supporting the view that the Dobbin horses are back in form after a quiet few weeks, and his turn may be next from a reduced mark. There was very little else to shout about, though.