November 20 – Exeter – Gidleigh Park – 65

An uncompetitive novices’ hurdle in terms of quality opposition but that shouldn’t detract from the fact the winner ended up clocking a very smart time and could turn out to be a very useful prospect. Range ensured the pace was sound from the outset and once joining forces with the front runner two out, he gradually pulled well clear in the closing stages. Never any stronger than he was at the finish, Harry Fry’s inmate left the impression he would be an even more potent force once racing beyond two miles further down the line and although it’s early days yet with him, he has the scope to develop into a graded horse sooner rather than later. Nice type.

November 21 – Hereford – Fiercely Proud – 66

Yet another well contested maiden early-season maiden hurdle that soundly run and it went the way of a new recruit who had shown useful form in bumpers last season. Although no match for the very best in the two big bumpers at Cheltenham and Aintree, he was still spoken about favourably by connections and on the evidence of this opening display, it’s easy to see why. Despite jumping a little stickily at several hurdles, he still had the engine to offset those mistakes and in the end, he powered his way to the line to score with any amount in hand. Where he goes next depends on how adventurous connections are in the short term but long term, there is no doubting the son of Iffraaj has the potential to be above average in this discipline.

November 23 – Market Rasen – The Same – 64

Just six went to post for this novices’ handicap chase but in keeping with many of its type during the early part of the campaign, it was a strongly run affair than produced a decent speed figure. The winner, nicely backed to make a winning chase debut, always travelled like the best horse in the field and in winning with a decent amount in hand, he looks well handicapped for the foreseeable future. Of the rest, Hall Lane shaped with plenty of promise on his chasing debut and connections of Alan King’s inmate should have plenty of fun with him at a fairly low level during the season.

November 24 – Ascot – Your Darling – 72

Competitive fare and once again Ben Pauling’s gelding proven what a decent horse he can be when everything falls his way. Settling nicely off a strong pace, the eight-year-old was noted always going well and when sent to the front three from home, it soon became a question of how far he was going to win. Best fresh, hopefully connections don’t fall into the trap of running again any time soon and if their patience can last out, his long-term aim of the Topham Chase at Aintree next spring can be more than just a pipe dream.

November 25 – Lingfield – Coachello – 98

A quality Class 2 seven furlong handicap and just as we have seen over jumps recently, another valuable prize that went over the Irish Sea. Held up off the strong early gallop, Gordon Elliott’s inmate was produced with a well-timed challenge to lead close home and in doing so, he posted a career high effort on the figures. 3-6 on the all-weather, it will be interesting to see whether connections keep him on this surface or send him out to Dubai for his winter holidays in a bid to repeat last year’s success over there.

November 25 – Punchestown – Favori De Champdou – 74

Easily the best three mile novice chase run this season either side of the Irish Sea and in a race where jumping determined the outcome, the winner prove the most efficient. While Flooring Porter was happy to waste energy and ground jumping out to his left, Gordon Elliott’s inmate was a good deal more tractable and by the time the two who dominated proceedings turned for home, it soon became apparent there was only going to be one result barring accidents. Good over the last two fences, the son of Saddler Maker went on to record a decent speed figure and while many were purring over the performance of Gaelic Warrior earlier on the card, it may pay to take just as much notice of this display than he was afforded in the post race chat. Long term, he appeals as a National Hunt Chase type.

November 25 – Haydock – Real Stone – 74

Dan Skelton’s gelding turned this race into a procession and even though he was heavily eased late on, he still ended up clocking a very smart speed figure. Well held on his previous start at Aintree, he looked a totally different proposition on this occasion and if he continues to progress in this fashion, he could easily take much higher rank over fences.

November 26 – Exeter – Moriko De Vassy – 68

Another very competitive novices’ handicap chase and the form looks particularly strong. Amrons Sage ensured there was no hiding place and Jane Williams’ inmate did really well to lower his colours, having been some way behind at halfway. Unfortunately, he was found to be lame after the race so we might have to wait to see him out again, but the race as a whole is worth following, especially the runner-up next time who made a fine introduction to the chasing ranks.