February 11 – Newbury – Zanza – 77

A bit of a shock in terms of ratings, but not so much when you consider the winner’s love affair with the Berkshire venue. Now 5-6 at Newbury, Philip Hobbs’ inmate proved much too strong for his rivals late on and he will have to be of some interest if connections decide to bring him back there for the Greatwood Handicap at the next meeting.

February 11 – Newbury – Aucunrisque – 72

A competitive renewal on paper beforehand, but as it turned out, there were only two likely to be involved in the finish from some way out and in the end, it was the front-running Chris Gordon-trained gelding who saw it out best. Given a great tactical ride by Nick Schofield, the son of No Risk At All was able to get a breather in on the home bend before kicking on again in the straight and although he was probably headed momentarily by the runner-up, he fought back well to keep the Irish raider at bay. On that note, Filey Bay deserves great credit despite just failing to land the gamble and he has to be of some interest for the County Hurdle following this display.

February 11 – Warwick – Hullnback – 70

Away from all the main action on Saturday, Fergal O’Brien’s gelding quietly went about his work in a rather no-frills fashion but in doing so, it’s worth pointing out his very useful time figure. Seemingly not out of third gear at any stage, he hit the line really hard to record a decent set of numbers for a novice and on this evidence, he wouldn’t look out of place should he be asked to line up in one of the races at the Cheltenham Festival.

February 11 – Naas – Magic Daze – 72

Deemed a match on paper beforehand, Henry De Bromhead’s mare got the better of the well-fancied Dinoblue in a battle after the last and in doing so, she put her credentials for the Mares Chase firmly in the shop window. Whether she’s quite good enough for the likes of Impervious and Allegorie De Vassy remains to be seen, but she does jump well and deserves to take her chance nonetheless.

February 12 – Navan – Churchstownwarrior – 69

Jonathon Sweeney’s gelding booked his ticket to the National Hunt Chase with a game success in this traditional stamina test and you can see him going well in that 3m6f event at the festival. Indeed, it wasn’t until the dying embers of the race at the Co Meath venue that he looked like beating Mahler Mission, so it’s more a question of if he’s good enough rather than stamina being an issue.

February 12 – Navan – Blazing Khal – 68

Not seen out since winning in emphatic style at Cheltenham last season, Charles Brynes’ gelding will now head back to Prestbury Park with a fighting chance of winning the Stayers’ Hurdle following his impressive success in this festival trial. Easy to back in the betting beforehand, the consensus was the son of Kalanisi would probably need the outing following a 428-day break, but as it turned out, his class got him home and that has to be a worry for many of his opponents come the big one in a month’s time. Sure to come on for this run and likely to be seen to better advantage over three miles, he rates a deserved favourite for the Stayers’ on balance.