March 11 – Exeter – Operation Manna – 63

Not a bad little maiden hurdle and it went the way of an improving novice who just seems to be getting the gist of what’s required. After travelling nicely in behind the pace, it took him a while to finally get the better of Light Em Up Nigel, but with the pair well clear and the time figure good, his performance can be rated a good deal better than the bare result suggests.

March 12 – Sandown – Surprise Package – 74

Unsurprisingly a fast time for a race of this nature and the fact the winner could only finish ninth in a similar contest over in Ireland probably sums up the difference between the NH scene either side of the water. Peter Fahey’s gelding didn’t appear to be thrown in heading into the race, but he ended up making a mockery of his mark, and in doing so, he put himself firmly in the shop window for the County Hurdle – presuming he gets a run.

March 12 – Navan – Sizing Pottsie – 70

A return to form for the winner who once again proved that two miles in testing ground suits him best. Likely to go to either Fairyhouse or Punchestown, Jessica Harrington’s gelding can hold his own against similar opposition. A special mention also goes out to runner-up Master McShee who left the impression two miles is just on the sharp side for him nowadays and he will come into his own when back up in trip.

March 13 – Naas – Diol Ker – 70

A competitive renewal of the Leinster National and it went the way of a horse who finally got his act together over fences. Prone to errors in the past, Noel Meade’s gelding was pretty faultless over this three-mile test and he stayed on strongly to repel the persistent challenge of Ronald Pump. Something like the Irish National will suit him further down the line.

March 13 – Warwick – Ernest Gray – 61

A rare strongly run bumper and Alan King’s gelding could not have been any more impressive in beating his six rivals with tons to spare. Picked up for 105k after winner a Punchestown bumper, that price tag looks extremely good business on the evidence of this performance and it would come as no surprise to see him line up for the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in a month’s time. Nice prospect.