November 14 – Cheltenham – West Cork – 72

A viciously competitive renewal of this sought-after prize and it went the way of a horse who had not run for 631 days. In what turned out to be a well-run affair, Dan Skelton’s gelding was noted going well after jumping the second and he stayed on strongly up the hill to repel the late challenge of Adagio. Raised to 141 subsequently, no doubt connections will have something like the County Hurdle at the back of their minds given the record his trainer has in that particular race and he may take in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury along the way. The runner-up also deserves the utmost praise for his excellent effort on his return after wind surgery and he should continue to pay his way in some of the better two mile events throughout the season.

November 17 – Ffos Las – Transfer Friendly – 65

Having run well behind Lebowski in a fast time over the same course previously, it was no surprise to see Harry Whittington’s gelding go two places better on his return to the Welsh venue and he looks a novice worth keeping on side. Given a cute ride by Daryl Jacob out wide of the swamp around the inside, the son of Mahler stayed on extremely well from three out and even though his main rival, Moonlight Flit, made life easier by falling at the last, there is little doubt he would have won anyway. A proper three-mile chaser in the making, something like the EBF Final would seem an appropriate target for this five-year-old, so look out for him in one of the qualifiers in the near future (there is one at Newbury on December 15 which would suit).

November 20 – Ascot – Buzz – 73

Having already flagged up Nicky Henderson’s grey as a potential star in the staying division this season, the pressure was on him to a degree to deliver the goods against the kind of opponents he really ought to have been beating, so it was good to see him oblige. Finding the tempo coming pretty easy to him considering how fast he had gone previously in the Cesarewitch, the son of Motivator cruised into the lead just after two out and from that juncture, he steadily drew clear without being resorted to anything like a hard ride. Likely to come back to the Berkshire venue to contest the Long Walk Hurdle, he will probably have to face Thyme Hill in his quest to reach the summit of the UK stayer’s, but on the evidence of what we have seen of him of late, he should not have nothing to fear.

November 20 – Gowran – Bob Olinger – 70

Making his eagerly-awaited chase debut in a big-field beginners’ event at the Co Kenny track, anything other than a smooth victory would have satisfied his legion of supporters and Henry De Bromhead’s gelding did not disappoint. Jumping soundly from the start, his technique held up throughout a hectically run affair and his performance has to go down as the perfect start. Set to have his sights raised in the near future, Leopardstown at Christmas seems the next logical step and it would take something catastrophic for him not to maintain his unbeaten record.

November 20 – Haydock – A Plus Tard – 78

Targeted at this race ever since finishing runner-up in the Gold Cup, the son of Kapgarde produced a career-high performance at the expense of some of the best stayers the UK had to offer. Seemingly always travelling in a lower gear than the rest and jumping superbly throughout, the seven-year-old never came off the bridle in posting a big speed figure and he thoroughly deserves his position as market leader for the blue riband in March.