Four chase races once again as racing returns to the Lincolnshire venue, rails are out so we are looking at almost a furlong extra for some races, at least half that for all.
The going is once again described as good, good to soft in places with 24mm of rain having fallen this week alone, this coming on top of 10mm of watering applied on Monday and Tuesday.
The recent meeting at Stratford became a farce for betting purposes with a small amount of overnight rain having a huge impact on over-watered turf. That track has suffered greatly from irrigation in the last few years although that begs the question, How many tracks have you looked after?
We all have our own view on watering and are entitled to them. And while the proper judges in the racing will tell you the going is the most over-used metric in the game, personally I like to know what type of ground we are going to be racing on before placing a bet.
As if there aren't enough variables already.
Southwell is another place that gets plenty of irrigation and with the chases at the front end of their cards, I'm always more tentative when I bet there in case the going has turned to sponge.
Thankfully we have a couple of novice hurdles early on today's card although the chase track can ride a good bit softer...it certainly did last season.
I've only taken an interest in the first race over larger obstacles (1.00), which I priced up because I suspected the front end of the market would be underpriced, and so it has proved.
Envoy Special has been chalked up as 3/1 favourite purely on the fact he's trained by P Nicholls, which, okay, is fair enough. I called it wrong with Captain Buck's at Stratford and Envoy Special is another that hasn't found winning under rules easy.
Placed three times and bombed on three other occasions, he's never looking like winning in any of them, albeit in decent handicap company. The hood/tongue tie combination remains and while the great trainer can of course turn it around, he's one to oppose in a tidy little novice chase.
What he does have is experience over much of the field, and those that have already had a go haven't looked that great, while others are coming to it a bit late in the day.
Notnow Seamus didn't get it together for D Skelton last season after going through the handicap over hurdles, he's a big horse although Flat bred, and needs good ground.
Ballyhome likes it at Market Rasen with two wins and second over timber, however his latest win came off a mark of 121 and the age of nine may have reached his peak. Not that big, he failed to cope with bad ground here over fences after sprawling on landing in a two horse race. Better is expected now but he's another I made a bigger price.
Forecast is 3/17 over hurdles and made an okay debut over fences last season behind the really promising Schiehallion Munro, but that was a way below his best over timber and he is a very sturdy individual that lacks scope for fences.
He makes his debut for Dr Newland, who isn't quite firing just yet. Likes to come from behind, which may not be easy here.
That essentially leaves three of the more interesting ones.
Henrietta Bell gets the mares allowance and had plenty of experience in the last calendar year, winning three times including off 120 in a handicap.
She's a game staying type that can front run, but she may lack the basic ability of some of these, so will need to jump very well to land this on her chase debut. Not implausable, of course.
The Sweeney will be popular with the Lavelle yard in flying form, with this one having won twice here last summer latterly off 128.
The nagging question in my mind is why they haven't sent him over fences before now, having had a total of 16 runs over timber and already going on nine years of age.
His form flattened out last autumn and while we can expect his best effort today, running to 130 may not be good enough.
One I expect is capable of a personal best in this race is No Hidden Charges, trained by Neil Mulholland who went close to winning at Stratford with a decent novice chaser in Scardura.
The seven-year-old took an age to get his act together in Irish Points two years ago prior to winning twice, before picking up a trio of novice hurdles last spring for current connections.
He then spent the serious part of the season in much higher grade, acquitting himself well at big odds in Class 2 events, looking every inch a chasing type.
With stamina proven and all that experience between the flags behind him, I'm expecting T Scu to play catch me if you can on the son of Scorpion, for whom the ground should be okay so long as it's not proper soft.
In a 101% book I made him the marginal favourite at 9/2 so at general price of 5/1 he rates a decent enough bet as there are too many question marks about all the others. Henrietta Ball and The Sweeney are the others that look a bit bigger odds than they should be.
The 1.30 is interesting in that there could be plenty of pace on with two or three that like to press from the front, and in a race where few appealed I thought old Dandridge might fall in on another drop in grade.
This is trainer Charlie Longsdon's time of year and Dandridge has yet to face C4 opposition. With that fast pace virtually assured, an each-way investment might be a bit of fun.
The other two chase races made little appeal.