March 3 – Leopardstown – Miss Gherkin – 62

A modest looking handicap by the track standards beforehand but it produced a surprisingly good speed figure for the grade. Clever Currency was the one who ensured the race was run at a sound clip and having tracked the pace going well turning for home, Peter Croke’s mare stayed on in taking style from the last. Clearly in the rudest of health based on this career high effort, the daughter of The Gurkha is one to keep on side for the foreseeable future.

March 4 – Leopardstown – Twoohthree – 64

On a day when the weather deteriorated as the card progressed, the first race was always going to be the beneficiary of racing on the better ground but even so, Gordon Elliott’s inmate still clocked a time figure of some note. Noted going well in behind the sound gallop set by Rath Gaul Boy, he picked up the running once he faded two out and from that point he readily drew clear to the tune of 27 lengths. A dual point winner with plenty of scope, the son of Jet Away can continue his rise up the ranks before embarking on what should turn out to be a lucrative chasing career.

March 5 – Thurles – Chosen Witness – 66

After several disappointing performances, Willie Mullins’ gelding finally delivered the promise he threatened since his bumper days and based on this effort, he should continue to progress. Still a little ignorant over his hurdles, he will need to become more proficient when he goes up in grade but ostensibly he is a chaser in the making, so it probably won’t be until then when we see the best of him.

March 9 – Sandown – Go Dante – 69

A typically competitive renewal of this traditional pre-Cheltenham handicap and it went the way of a horse who had featured prominently in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury previously. Always held in high regard, Olly Murphy’s inmate indicated the time before that a really big pot was well within his grasp and under favourable conditions he duly backed up that belief. Due to no bonus attached to winning this and any race at the Festival any longer, connections will probably leave Cheltenham and wait for Aintree with the son of Kayf Tara.

March 10 – Naas – Olympic Man – 61

Probably not the strongest of maiden hurdles but it was won in emphatic fashion by a horse who is held in the highest regard. Setting out with plenty of intent, Willie Mullins’ gelding soon had his rivals at full tilt and once turning for home, he maintained the heathy gallop all the way to the line. Without being fully extended, he clocked a decent speed figure – only just below the one posted by Fun Fun Fun (63) – and if he could improve in the jumping department, he would be recognised as an even greater force.

March 10 – Naas – Hartur D’Arc – 64

A race noted for its strong time compared to the one won by Grade 2 winner Tactical Move and usually a good sign when following a handicap long term. The way he jumped and travelled marked him down as a chaser with a bit in hand going forward and you could easily see Gavin Cromwell’s inmate tackling one of the big Nationals towards the back end of the season.