December 6 РKempton РGreys Momument Р99 

It’s a shame the race was deprived of Positive Impact not completing the race due to injury but Simon & Ed Crisford’s gelding was responsible for a strong gallop prior to his exit at the two furlong pole. Whether he would have won but for going wrong is open to question but either way, the eventual winner would have shaken him up at the very least and the form as it stands still looks solid. Considering this was Ralph Beckett’s inmate’s first outing on the all-weather, this must go down as a positive outcome and further successes are likely based on the evidence of this effort.

December 7 – Southwell – Just Janet – 98

Every now and then there is a perfect storm that ends up providing an above average time for a relatively low grade handicap and this seven-furlong affair was a prime example. Both Soames Forsyte, and to a larger degree, Big R, ensured the pace was unusually strong and once they inevitably failed to keep up the tempo at the two furlong pole, it became a question of which of the closer were going to capitalise. As it turned out, David O’Meara’s filly was the chief beneficiary and that’s now the second time she has come to life at the Midland venue. Very strong at the line, she is one to keep on side when she returns to her happy hunting ground in future. Of the rest, runner-up Vondelpark is worth a mention the way he went through the contest and Sycamore did best of those held up in the rear, having ended up challenging on the wrong side of the track.

December 8 РSandown РDeafening Silence  Р65

A race with a decent history over the years and while this season’s renewal might not end up having any bearing on anything specific at the Cheltenham Festival, one that should pay to follow all the same. Insurrection ensured there was a reasonable gallop on from the outset and it looked like he was going to stay there until the confirmed stamina of the winner kicked in late on. The way Dan Skelton’s inmate saw out the trip suggested this 2m4f is the bottom end of his spectrum and he is definitely worth a shot over three miles at some stage this term.

December 9 – Aintree – Sonigino – 67

A decent card and the fact the last race on it turned to be the quickest says a lot for the quality shown by the winner. Having come out of a quality running of the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham, Paul Nicholls’ inmate had obvious form claims but either way, he still had to defy 12st in pretty testing conditions. The way he travelled before assuming command late on pointed towards a horse going places in a rush and in the long term, you could see him developing into a genuine Coral Cup contender for connections who live for having runners/winners at Cheltenham.

December 9 – Navan – Caldwell Potter – 71

Having been just touched off by the useful It’s For Me on his hurdling debut, Gordon Elliott’s inmate was very well backed to make amends and at no stage did he give his supporters any anxious moments. Visually impressive, his performance was backed up by a very smart time figure and even though connections tried to keep expectation levels low in the post-race chat, time may tell they might have to pitch him into Grade 1 company sooner than desired.

December 9 – Sandown – Spirit D’Aunou – 73

A strong race for the grade highlighted by a winning time four seconds quicker than the Grade 1 won by Not So Sleepy. Clearly revelling in the testing conditions, that’s the third time Gary Moore’s inmate has prevailed when the word ‘heavy’ has been in the going description and should we continue to have a wet winter, he is likely to repeat the dose at some stage.