November 28 – Fairyhouse – Beacon Edge – 73

As expected, Honeysuckle topped the charts on a stellar card with a 75, but there is not a lot to be said about her that has already been written, so it is best to concentrate on the young chasers coming through and the Drinmore delivered a race to stir the soul. Gabynako made sure it was run at a true clip for the start and it looked like he would win for nine tenths of the journey until a slow jump at the last handed the advantage to Noel Meade’s gelding. In the end, stamina gained the day for the son of Doyen and he looks more of a Festival Novices Chase sort based on the evidence of this display.

November 29 – Ayr – Famous Bridge – 62

The aggressively ridden High Stakes made sure there was no hiding place in this maiden hurdle and as such, the form should pay to follow. Indeed, although the winner had to dig hard to win and must be very useful, the runner-up also deserves a good amount of praise for sticking to the task as manfully as he did and it would come as no surprise to find if both ended up in graded races further down the line. High Stakes is considered an ideal type for the Challow Hurdle by connections.

December 2 – Wincanton – The Widdow Maker – 63

A dual winner from last season when making all the running, Colin Tizzard’s gelding used similar tactics to good effect on his opening bow of the campaign and if anything, it was his most dominant display. Having his first run since a wind op, the chestnut never looked as though he was going to relinquish the lead he established early on and the fact he had the well-fancied pair, Tulin and On To Victory on their knees at the finish, points to a performance of some repute. Clearly a sharp right-handed track suits, so places like Taunton and Kempton might hove into view during the campaign.

December 4 – Navan – Riviere D’Etel – 80

Impressive on her first two starts, Gordon Elliott’s filly went to even greater heights at the Co Meath venue and her time figure is by far and away the fastest from any novice chaser either side of the Irish Sea. Indeed, her number would have won every running of the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham festival for the last decade, so for our money, she sets the standard whatever any other pundit will want to tell you. If you want to be critical, her tendency to edge to her right over her fences suggests she might have some difficulty when it comes to Cheltenham in March – if that is where connections would like her to go – but either way, there are plenty of big races to be won with her at the likes of Punchestown and Fairyhouse, so she has loads of options later in the season.

December 4 – Sandown – Constitution Hill – 72

Well touted beforehand and despite facing the previously impressive Might I, Nicky Henderson’s gelding produced the real ‘wow’ factor on his rules debut and he looks to be a novice right out of the top drawer. The way he pulled clear in the closing stages suggests he has both speed and stamina in equal measures and those are just the sort of traits that often win a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Therefore, it is hard to argue about his subsequent ante-post quotes now resting around the 4-1 mark.

December 4 – Sandown – Edwardstone – 76

As anticipated, Third Time Lucki made this a true test and Alan King’s inmate answered every call. Jumping well throughout despite being put under the the severest of pressure, the son of Kayf Tara was also incredibly strong in the latter stages and that blend of pace and stamina are likely to stand him in good stead for his ultimate target – The Arkle – later in the season. Going back to Third Time Lucki, and even at this early stage he looks like places such as Kempton and Aintree will suit him better than tracks where his suspect stamina are laid bare.