November 16 – Market Rasen – Picks Lad – 70

The market rather foretold the outcome to this novices’ handicap chase as Harry Derham’s gelding duly confirmed he was a well treated performer on his debut for new connections. Setting his stall out from the start, the son of Westlake got into a lovely rhythm from the front and although hard pressed from three out, he maintained his advantage all the way to the line. Clocking a smart speed figure for a race of its kind, the seven-year-old looks to have a bright future in this sphere and even a mandatory penalty is unlikely to derail him next time.

November 17 – Cheltenham – Triple Trade – 72

Calico ensured this competitive two mile handicap chase was run at a sound pace and it played into the hands of Joe Tizzard’s inmate, who had run well over the same C&D previously. Too far back to reach the eventual winner at the Showcase meeting, the slower ground meant the son of Norse Dancer was always better positioned throughout and staying on best of all on the run-in, he readily got the better of the pace setter. An honest type who jumps and stay well, he could easily develop into a Grand Annual type at the Festival in March.

November 17 – Wolves – Al Rufaa – 98

As promised, we will keep you in the loop of all the best all-weather speed figures throughout the winter and this extended mile contest is one we recommend you follow. A breakaway group of four ensured this was run a very honest clip right from the outset – almost suicidal – and, as it panned out, it paid to race off the early gallop. The winner, noted going well throughout, was allowed to come through strongly at the business end and the way he hit the line suggested he still had more to offer. Up 7lb to a rating of 89, he has the potential to overcome his new mark providing he gets a similar gallop to run at.

November 18 – Cheltenham – Stage Star – 78

A strong renewal of this sought-after prize and one of the more unexposed members of the party turned in a performance of some class. Having already proven himself over the track at Grade 1 level, Paul Nicholl’s inmate was one of the likelier winners on paper but even so, his effort in totally dominating a quality field was one of the abiding memories of the three-day meeting. Despite a potentially race-ending mistake at the last fence, he galloped on strongly all the way to the line and his overall time figure backed up the view that he had put in a stellar display. At this stage he makes far more appeal than Allaho for the Ryanair – which is his long term target.

November 18 – Cheltenham – Buddy One – 71

One of the best backed horses of the three-day meeting, the gamble at no stage ever looked like not being landed and even though the winning margin was only a length at the line, it doesn’t do his superiority over his rival justice. The way he travelled throughout the well run contest suggested Paul Gilligan’s inmate was in a totally different league to the rest and it will be interesting to see what connections do with him next. The post-race chat intimated something like the Hatton’s Grace could be on the agenda and given his current form, he is certainly worth a shot. Long term, he could easily make into a genuine Stayers’ Hurdle contender, as he stays well and loves the track and there are definitely worse 33-1 shots at this stage.

November 19 – Cheltenham – Iberico Lord – 73

As it turned out, it was a good day for Nicky Henderson (we could have easily included Jonbon to this column) but it was this lightly-raced five-year-old who took centre stage, capturing a strong-looking renewal of the Greatwood Hurdle with a bit to spare. held up off the generous early gallop, the son of Cokoriko was produced with a perfectly timed challenge at the last and once meeting the hill, he stayed on in particularly  impressive fashion. An improving sort, the obvious target for him would seem the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot in December.