February 22 – Navan – Thedevilscoachman – 63

A decent renewal of this Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle and it went the way of a horse who has always threatened to land a big pot. After a brief dalliance over fences, connections decided to bring him bring over hurdles and given the way he went through the race, it’s fair to say he looked far more comfortable than in several previous starts. Showing a nice turn of foot to make up several lengths on Ashdale Bob on the run-in, Noel Meade’s gelding probably won with more in hand than the official margin suggested and he would be an interesting contender should he be asked to come over the water at some stage.

February 23 – Newcastle – Figures – 97

Granted, Greek Flame may have not run up to market expectations, but either way, this was still some effort on the figures by Ed and Simon Crisford’s filly. Picking up the running going well three out, the daughter of Fastnet Rock showed a bright turn of foot to pull well clear of her rivals and with her overall time figure working out way above average for the grade, she clearly is a filly of some note.

February 23 – Punchestown – Burning Victory – 71

Winless since capturing the 2020 Triumph Hurdle – albeit rather fortunately – Willie Mullins’ mare finally delivered the goods at Graded level and it was a performance that should set her up nicely for the Mares’ Hurdle back at the festival. Not the most fluent of hurdlers, the combination of making the running with the first-time pieces on seemingly made all the difference to her game and they may well be tactics worth reemploying in a few weeks’ time.

February 25 – Exeter – Altobelli – 56 

Not a spectacular overall time figure, but a solid one all the same, it was more the manner of victory by Harry Fry’s gelding that stood out in this bumper. The way he went through the race at the West Country venue suggested he has a fair engine and he has the size and scope to progress into a really nice prospect further down the line. One to follow.

February 25 – Lingfield – Hackbridge – 97

A low-grade handicap, but the speed figure points towards a race worth noting for the future. Eastern Star ensured the pace was strong from the start and it ended up playing into the hands of winner, who had plenty of solid form over further. The runner-up, Smart Connection, also deserves a special mention as he was coming back to the fray following a break and he can be placed to good effect next time.

February 26 – Lingfield – Alenquer – 105

We rarely award anything over 100 on the Flat, so when we do, the races in question are always worth marking up and this affair is no different. Al Zaraqaan made sure the pace was honest right from the start and when he faded approaching the home turn, it was left to William Haggas’ gelding to pick up the baton. Seeing the trip all the way to the line, the son of Adlerflug posted the kind of numbers only a horse of the very highest class can achieve and he is one worth consideration for the Sheema Classic out in the desert, mooted to be his next assignment. The same applies to the runner-up, Lord North, who did his Dubai Turf claims no harm either.