January 4 – Hereford – Red Rookie – 73

Having featured heavily in one of the best and strongest run novice handicaps so far this season, Emma Lavelle’s was better prepared than most for the onslaught that ensued at the Midland venue. Held up way off the pace, the son of Black Sam Bellamy crept into contention down the side of the track and from that point onwards, there was an air of inevitability about the result. Although he should easily stay further, he is clearly fully effective over a well-run two miles and even his revised rating of 138 probably still underestimates his true worth.

January 5 – Kempton – La Tihaty – 100

As ever, we always look to provide updates on the very best all-weather action throughout the winter when appropriate and this contest from the Sunbury venue last week is well worth a mention. Looking a strong race on paper beforehand with several well-fancied and in-form runners sent to post, the pace was strong from the outset and that gallop played into the hands of Roger Varian’s colt who was held up off the speed. Staying on too strongly for Hafeet Alain late on, in turn, the pair pulled well clear of the rest and they both look worth following accordingly in the next few months.

January 6 – Clonmel – Dinoblue – 71

Well-supported beforehand, clearly big things were expected of Willie Mullins’ mare on her racecourse debut, and she did not disappoint. Always travelling well throughout, the half-sister to the useful Blue Sari quickened up smartly in the closing stages to pull well clear of her stable mate La Prima Donna, and with the time figure backing up the view that we had witnessed something special, graded races surely beckon this very smart recruit.

January 6 – Chepstow – Le Ligerien – 64

A breakneck pace was set from the start and it resulted in the well-fancied Galop De Chasse raising the white flag at an early stage. That appeared to leave the door wide open for second favourite Can You Call to walk through, but even he failed to stay on as well as anticipated and it was left for Philip Hobbs’ gelding to bounce back to something like his very best form. On this evidence, clearly a recent wind-op has served the nine-year-old well and he is still way below his highest winning mark which gives him plenty of scope to go in again granted similar conditions.

January 7 – Lingfield – Strong Power – 98

A seemingly audacious gamble running the son of Kodiac out of the handicap by over a stone paid off handsomely and based on the clock, this in-form sprinter is by no means finished just yet. Indeed, his final three furlong split of 31.9 is the quickest seen there for many years and it came as no surprise to find Alice Haynes’ gelding had broken the track record. Clearly benefitting from the change of scenery having left George Scott, the five-year-old will take plenty of stopping in the next few months if he can be kept sweet by his in-form handler.

January 8 – Sandown – Moulins Clermont – 66

Having already lauded Constitution Hill on these pages, it seems pointless undated what we knew already, so instead, we will point you in the direction of a useful juvenile who opened the card. Disappointing at Fontwell on his UK debut, Gary Moore’s gelding proved a totally different proposition on much softer ground and his winning time is right up there with some of the best juveniles we have seen so far this season. Said to be Cheltenham-bound for trails day, the son of Free Port Lux has to come into the conversation for the Triumph if he were to figure prominently.