October 17 – Pontefract – Poker Face – 101

Impressive on debut, he’s continued to progress and following a useful performance on the clock at Newcastle on his second start (96), he went up several notches at the Yorkshire venue. In what turned out to be a very strongly run race for the grade, it was noticeable he had little trouble handling the pace and then when asked to go and seal the deal late on, he found a smart change of gear in the conditions to score with plenty to spare. On a day where there was plenty of competitive action – mostly handicaps – his time figure stood out like a deacon and the numbers very much suggest he’s a horse of some potential. His backend sectionals were also on par with six-furlongs sprinters – which is always a good sign. Moreover, visually he looks extremely well built with loads of scope and it’s easy to see him making the step up to pattern company. He’s also seemingly versatile regards ground conditions.

October 18 – Kempton – Coppice – 90

A beautifully-bred sister to the 2018 Coventry Stakes winner Calyx was extremely well touted prior to making her debut and she duly justified all the pre-race hype with a performance of some substance. Noted going well just in behind the speed turning for home, she showed a smart turn of foot to pull clear of her rivals late on and in doing so she posted the quickest closing sectional (33.3) on the card. Clearly a very smart filly in the making, she is one to consider for top honours next season.

October 22 – Newbury – Mujtaba – 104

Quite an extraordinary performance in every aspect by a horse who finally delivered the goods after a season of frustrations. Strongly-supported for the Lincoln, William Haggas’ gelding ran no sort of race and the same comments applied to his effort in the Cambridgeshire when once again sent of favourite. This time, he was a totally different proposition, the only difference being the testing ground. Clearly appreciating the underfoot conditions, which was against the thoughts of his connections, the son of Dubawi can now be campaigned in a different fashion to before and he looks a potential star for next season over middle-distance trips with cut in the ground.

October 22 – Kelso – Sounds Russian – 66

The jump action went up several notches last weekend with the Showcase meeting providing most of the talking points, but arguably one of the best horses on show was Ruth Jefferson’s gelding in the feature at the Borders venue. Trying beyond three miles for the first time, the son of Sholokhov impressed with the way he went through the well-run affair and the way he found plenty for pressure after the last. The way he improved last season was notable and on this evidence, his rise up the ranks is far from over.

October 22 – Cheltenham – Shoot First – 67

Pertemps Qualifiers, by their very nature, can often be tepid affairs on the figures but this contest bucked the trend by producing a decent speed number. Well-backed beforehand, all the signs were there that Charles Byrnes’ gelding was going to be a major factor and so it proved, as he stayed on strongest of all up the hill. Likely to be put away for the festival itself back in March, he is very much one to keep on side.

October 23 – Aintree – Riders Onthe Storm – 71

A strong-looking renewal of this valuable prize on paper beforehand and it went the way of a horse resurrecting former glories. In-keeping with his yard’s fortunes last season, Richard Hobson’s gelding never really got going but he looked to be back to something like his best on the evidence of his reappearance. Jumping and travelling well throughout, he stayed on strongly in the latter stages to deny the class act of the race, Hitman, and if he can be kept sound, there is no reason why he couldn’t claim another big pot before the season ends.