December 26 – Kempton – Bravemansgame – 81

As per usual, Frodon ensured this Grade 1 was run at a sound clip and, having been kept on wide – maybe to pursue slightly better ground – Paul Nicholls’ gelding gave his stable a remarkable 13th win in the race. The big question is now, can he replicate the same level of form at Cheltenham in March – something he hasn’t yet manage to achieve. Either way, he will now head straight there and the better the ground, the better his chance.

December 26 – Leopardstown – High Definition – 70

Parmenion was all the rage beforehand, but he had to settle for a minor role behind a horse who made a pleasing start to life over hurdles. Despite giving the impression he didn’t look a natural over his obstacles and losing ground jumping to his right, Joseph O’Brien’s gelding still had the class to win going away in the closing stages and this performance has to go down as a pretty decent start no matter which way you slice it. Obviously, he will have to improve in several departments, but there is no doubting the engine under the bonnet and it surely won’t be too long before he is tackling Graded company.

December 26 – Leopardstown – Saint Roi – 71

Having been beaten by Fil D’Or on his chasing debut at Navan, Willie Mullins’ inmate found the necessary improvement to enable him to turn around the form with his old rival and, in doing so, he gave himself plenty of options going forward. Settling much better than he did in his formative years, it would come as no surprise if he were to head back to the Dublin track for the Irish Arkle before connections made a final decision on his destination at the Cheltenham festival. Given that his owner has Jonbon as his chief player in the two mile division and his trainer has the likes of El Fabiolo and Appreciate It, to name but two, it would come as little surprise to see the son of Coastal Path stepped up in trip and tackle the Turners over 2m4f in March. 14-1 NRNB with Hills for that event is well worth taking.

December 27 – Leopardstown – Blue Lord – 73

A winner of the Clonmel Oil Chase over 2m4f on his seasonal bow, Willie Mullins’ inmate proved his versatility by taking this Grade 1 prize over the minimum trip in some style and now all roads will now surely lead towards the Champion Chase. Suffering his only defeat in seven starts over fences in the Arkle at Cheltenham last year, the son of Blue Bresil seems a more streetwise character nowadays and he rates a strong second string for the Closutton handler to have.

On the same card, Facile Vega enhanced his Supreme Novices’ credentials with a tremendous display and in doing so, he posted a speed figure of 72, which takes him towards the top of the tree in his division.

December 27 – Limerick – Favori De Champdou – 75

Just the five runners sent to post for this grade 2 contest, but Letsbeclearaboutit made sure there was no hiding place. Sitting just off the front runner, Gordon Elliott’s inmate eventually got on top just after the second last and from that point onwards he stayed on strongly all the way to the line. On this evidence, he looks tailor made for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival and if he were to get his favoured soft ground come the day, he should end up having a large say in the final outcome given how well he stays.

December 28 – Leopardstown – Conflated – 79

The late withdrawal of A Plus Tard took away plenty of interest in this Grade 1 but that said, the winner still posted a time figure worthy of note. The way he jumped and travelled throughout suggested he’s improved from last season and he looks on course to repeat last year’s success in the Irish Gold Cup back over the same C&D in February.

December 29 – Leopardstown – Gaillard Du Mesnil – 75

Unfortunately we lost Three Stripe Life during the middle part of this Grade 1 chase but even without his main market rival, Willie Mullins’ grey still ended up posting one of his fastest times so far to date. Third in last season’s Brown Advisory, he could still go down that route being a second season novice, but the chances are he will end up in the National Hunt Chase where his confirmed stamina against less experienced rivals will count for plenty.

Later on the same card, make a not of Fascile Mode who clocked the fastest speed figure of any bumper horse so far this season (68) and it would come as no surprise if he were donning different colours the next time we see him.

December 29 – Doncaster – Haddex Des Obeaux – 72

Gary Moore’s gelding, a keen-going front runner, found the drop back in trip and better ground far more suitable than previously and he maintained a tremendous gallop despite going off pretty hard. Clearly he has a big engine and if he can be found a similar race with a relatively small field – where he can dominate – he should be more than capable of repeating the dose.