November 21 – Ludlow – Western Zephyr – 72

Charlie Longsdon’s gelding proved to be extremely well-backed beforehand and at no stage did the gamble look under threat. Always to the fore, the son of Westerner picked up the running four out and even though his main market rival, Brentford Hope, offered up some resistance in the home straight, he was unable to make his Flat speed count. Said to be a much calmer individual by his handler during the post-race chat, the five-year-old has the ability to take his game to another level.

November 25 – Newbury – Frere D’Armes – 73

Aucunrisque ensured this competitive novices’ handicap chase was run at a sound clip and, having raced handy throughout, Dan Skelton’s gelding was in the right place at the right to pounce once the front runner capitulated. Sadly for his connections, he suffered a nasty injury during the race and, as a result, he is likely to be off for some time. However, when he does return to the fray, he is one to keep on side in similar events. Of the vanquished, the third home, Datsalrightgino did more than enough to suggest he will be more than a potent force during the rest of the season, particularly when he is asked to step up in trip.

November 26 – Newcastle – Constitution Hill – 77

As the market suggested, Nicky Henderson’s star hurdler kicked off his season with a win, but the manner of the display was harder to predict even allowing for his brilliance as a novice. Jumping out to make all the running, something he’d not attempted before, the son of Blue Bresil got into a lovely rhythm at the head of affairs and when asked to turn the screw on his main rival, Epatante, the turn of foot his exhibited simply blew her away. Clearly as good as what the numbers suggested he was last season, the Champion Hurdle crown looks his for the taking even at this very early stage.

November 26 – Newbury – First Street – 75

Just short of top class as a novice last season, Nicky Henderson’s gelding faced a stiff task off top weight on his return to action, but that impost didn’t prevent him from scoring in pretty decisive fashion. Once again, seemingly well-suited by a strong gallop, the son of Golden Horn stayed on in typically game fashion in the closing stages and he was full value for his two-length victory. Obviously, life will be much more difficult from now on, but there is a good chance he will be asked to tackle Graded company on his next start and he certainly wouldn’t be out of place at a higher level based on this performance.

November 26 – Newbury – Le Milos – 77

An extremely competitive renewal of what is always a quality handicap and this year didn’t disappoint in terms of its finish between two relatively lightly-raced chasers. The winner, well backed to follow up his previous Bangor win proved equally effective on a much quicker surface and he could easily turn out to be a lively Grand National contender further down the line. The runner-up, for which there were also plenty of pre-race jitters regards the ground, ran a stormer in defeat and he, too, can be followed in all the big staying handicaps when there is plenty of give underfoot.

November 26 – Gowran – Classic Getaway – 71

What looked a classy beginners’ chase beforehand produced a clear-cut winner from the Willie Mullins stable, although not one the market necessarily predicted. Very much seen as the third string of the Closutton barn, the son of Getaway defied his 8-1 quotes with a performance of some quality and on the evidence of this display, the future looks bright for this lightly-raced type. Despite beaten fair and square on the day, runner-up Minella Cocooner deserves a special mention in the way he shaped on his first start over fences and on better ground, he can easily make up into a top-class novice over this sort of trip.