December 18 – Plumpton – Goodwin – 66

A race in which trainer Chris Gordon has a fine record over the years – Aucunrisque the most notable – and based on the numbers from this season’s renewal, the Hampshire handler looks like he has another fine prospect in his care. Setting a good gallop from the outset, the son of Champs Elysees shuck off all but Junkanoo turning for home and although hard pressed by his nearest pursuer, he found the necessary requirements to maintain his advantage. Considerably quicker than all the other hurdle races on the card, both the winner and runner-up are worth keeping on side for the foreseeable future.

December 19 – Fakenham – West Warhorse – 65

Well beaten in a good race on the figures at Huntingdon previously, the son of Westerner was upped in trip in a bid to initiate a better result and as it panned out, he proved a total revelation. Making all the running at a solid pace, the five-year-old saw all his rivals fall by the wayside one by one and by the time he had turned for home, it just became a question of him negotiating the last. Despite being eased down close home, he still posted a smart overall time figure and now connections have established his ideal conditions, he can build on this success and strive to even greater heights.

December 20 – Newbury – Etalon – 65

A competitive handicap chase on paper beforehand but it turned out to be a bit of mismatch with Dan Skelton’s inmate proving he is by some way ahead of his mark over fences. Jumping accurately on his chase debut, he also travelled well throughout a strongly run affair and although he had to be kept up to his work late on, he left the impression there was a good deal more left in the tank if required. A horse with tons of scope, it would be a surprise if he wasn’t contesting something more meaningful sooner rather than later. Nice type.

December 22 – Ascot – Let It Rain – 63

Easily the best collection of horses in this division on show in this listed bumper and it produced a good winner. As you would anticipate with a field of this magnitude, a solid pace was the order of the day right from the start and rounding for home, their was only a handful who lay claim to capturing the prize. Staying on best of all, Dan Skelton’s filly pulled nicely clear of the solid guide to the form, Brechin Castle, and the overall time figure suggested it was a decent race of its kind.

December 23 – Ascot – Crambo – 70

A competitive renewal of this traditional pre-Christmas contest for the staying hurdlers and on the evidence of what was witnessed, it appears we have a new kid on the block in this category. Although beaten in a handicap at Haydock previously, Fergal O’Brien’s inmate had a profile to suggest he had the necessary qualities to step up to the plate if finding a shade more improvement and in a well run affair, that’s exactly how things transpired. Clocking a smart overall figure, its also worth pointing out his final circuit time was better than the two mile handicap that concluded the card which very much points towards him having the right sort of game to contend in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. At this stage, 10-1 seems reasonably good value for this talented three miler proving he is the best in this division.

December 23 – Ascot – Victtorino – 71

A winner over the same C&D at the November meeting, Venetia Williams’ inmate was bidding to repeat the dose on his return visit and despite the steadier of 12st, he proved equal to the task at hand. The way he stayed on in the final half a mile having looked in trouble leaving the abck straight suggests he has plenty of stamina and even his revised rating of 146 still doesn’t represent his true capabilities.