November 8 – Fairyhouse – Zarak The Brave – 65

A mixed bag so far regards juvenile hurdlers, but Willie Mullins’ gelding comes out much the best of the bunch we have seen so far courtesy of a quality display on his debut. A useful middle-distance stayer on the Flat in France, the 200k spent on him by new connections looks to be money well spent on the evidence of his opening gambit and his overall figure of 65 certainly puts a decent marker down in this division. There is also room for improvement as far as his jumping is concerned – which is a frightening prospect going forward – and it would come as no surprise if he were asked to tackle Graded company next time.

November 11 – Cheltenham – Hermes Allen – 64 

Not a great Grade 2 on paper, but nonetheless, it was won in pretty impressive style by a horse who rather surprised connections on his debut previously. Similar to Stratford, the son of Poliglote set his stall out from the outset, setting a good gallop, and at no stage did he look in danger of relinquishing the lead. Set to go to Newbury now for the Challow Hurdle, he might have a better chance of landing that prize than he would the Ballymore back at Cheltenham in March if the stats are anything to go by.

November 12 – Cheltenham – Banbridge – 73

Really good on his chase debut at Gowran, Joseph O’Brien’s gelding was even more impressive over these stiffer fences and he has certainly put the cat among the pigeons in this division based on his time figure. Winner of the boys’ race at last season’s festival, distances around the 2m4f mark seemed the logical choice for this campaign but such was the speed he showed over the minimum trip, he now gives connections plenty of options going forward. A sound jumper with a likeable attitude, he should continue make a big impact at the very highest level.

November 12 – Lingfield – Missed The Cut – 108

All the rage beforehand, George Boughey’s inmate gave his supporters a few anxious moments but ultimately he got the job done and, in doing so, he lowered the track record set by Alenquer in the last year’s renewal. Noted going well coming down the side of the track, it was at that point where Algiers kicked away from the front and got first run but with a powerful surge from the furlong pole, the son of Quality Road was able to reel in his prey. Out of an all-weather sire, he has various options during the Winter, either back here at the Surrey venue, the final itself at Newcastle or, on a bigger scale, there’s always Dubai if connections decided to bite the bullet.

November 12 – Naas – Jeremys Flame – 74

A certain amount of carnage rather spoilt what looked like being a good finish between the main players, but either way, it would be a brave man to suggest Gavin Cromwell’s mare wouldn’t have won anyway. As the winning time suggested, Gentleman Du Mee ensured the pace was strong and when he folded turning for home, it was the daughter of Jeremy who assumed command. Whether she can go on from this career-high effort is open to debate, but she is clearly very talented on her day and she will always be of interest in these small field conditions events.

November 13 – Cheltenham – I Like To Move It – 71

A competitive renewal of the Greatwood Hurdle that went the way of a horse who was one of the most unexposed members of the field. Runner-up in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last season, a performance that gave him a big shout on form, Nigel Twiston Davies’ gelding was ridden in the sort of fashion which suggested he was extremely fit and so it proved, as he maintained the strong gallop all the way up the hill. With the gambled-on Gin Coco a clear second and a big gap back to the rest, it’s safe to take a positive view of the form and both the front pair deserved to be followed accordingly.