February 19 – Ascot – Does He Know – 72

Due to the adverse weather during majority of last week, it’s no great surprise to see nothing clocked anything special until the better racing took place at the weekend. The first to post a decent number was Kim Bailey’s improving novice in this Grade 2 and although the result often has little bearing on the outcome of the Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival, the seven-year-old is still a chaser to note. Very strong in the latter stages of a well-run three miles, the son of Alkaased dispelled any pre-race concerns regarding the rain-softened ground and he has to be of some interest for the Ultima Handicap, given how well he has run at Cheltenham in the past.

February 19 – Gowran – Teahupoo – 69

Not since 2005 has the winner of the Red Mills Trial gone on to land the Champion Hurdle, but in a pretty ordinary-looking season – even including Honeysuckle – Gordon Elliott’s inmate has to come into the conversation at the very least. The way he quickened from two out, leaving behind him several useful performers, strongly suggested he is a horse right on top of his game at present and if some of the main players fail to bring their A-game to the party at Cheltenham, the five-year-old will be best placed to take advantage. Although ultimately beaten some way back in fourth, The Tide Turns did his Boodles prospects no harm and connections will be delighted if the UK handicapper keeps him around the 135 mark.

February 19 – Haydock – Hillcrest – 71

On a bit of a retrieval mission after being unseated at Cheltenham previously, Henry Daly’s gelding answered every call in what turned out to be a brutal test for a young novice and this victory should mean all roads now lead back to Prestbury Park. Given his stamina and appetite for a fight, the obvious target looks to be the Albert Bartlett and based on his figures, this giant of a horse is very much in poll position in our eyes.

February 19 – Wincanton – Goshen – 76

Gary Moore’s gelding has been called a few rude names in the past, but he is making a few judges eat their words at present, putting together a series of fine performances both visually and on the clock. Posting another big number at the West Country venue, he had to be at his gamest to withstand the persistent challenge of the smart five-year-old, Adagio, and there isn’t too many better than him going right handed over two miles on soft ground. Likely to be sent up in trip in due course, this likable character can continue to thrive. The runner-up also deserves a special mention as he was having his first run for some time and was entitled to have a good blow mixing it against such a tenacious character. Sure to strip a good deal fitter next time, David Pipe’s gelding is not without hope in the Champion Hurdle on this showing.

February 19 – Lingfield – Tadreeb – 100

There were several well-fancied runners who went to post for this competitive handicap, but it went the way of one of the outsiders, who turned around previous form with Shoot To Kill. Not as though there was any fluke about the result with the winner having to show a smart turn of foot to come from some way off the pace to oblige and it could well be that the chestnut is just beginning to thrive since switching from Mark Johnston’s stable at the turn of the year.