Leopardstown February 8th Yielding (Yielding to soft in places) PETITE PARISIENNE created something of a surprise when getting the better of Kalkir. However, there was no fluke about her success in a truly run race. She jumps for fun and looks sure to run well if sent for the Triumph Hurdle. Looking at RPR’s Kalkir ran just below his best. Sure to prove suited by a strong pace in the Triumph Hurdle, he will be thereabouts when it matters. NICHOLS CANYON jumped well to win the Grade One Deloitte Hurdle. A high-class horse on flat, he showed plenty of speed through the race. It was interesting to hear Mr Walsh suggesting he will stay as far as you like. Windsor Park deserves credit for an excellent effort. His jumping was less than fluent which, if rectified, would make him a serious candidate for his chosen race at Cheltenham. Alvisio Ville quickened clear on his hurdles debut at Leopardstown in December. He ran freely through the race, emptying out on the run-in. At present, he may prove best in a strongly run two-miles. Windsor Park’s stablechum Silver Concorde won the Festival Bumper last season. He disappointed in this race, leaving the impression he needs further than two and a half-miles. He enjoys good ground and thrives in the spring, suggesting we may see improvement when he returns to action. In the Flogas Novice Chase (Formerly the Dr P. J. Moriarty), Valseur Lido ran, based on RPR’s, 4lb below his best when second to APACHE STRONGHOLD. Prior to the race, paddock watchers felt he would improve for the run. APACHE STRONGHOLD won a compelling battle having looked beaten for much of the race. He will need to jump better at Cheltenham. Valseur Lido is bred to stay three-miles with his jumping and galloping ability setting a good standard. Adriana Des Mottes was far from disgraced in third. Kept to this grade, she should prove hard to beat against her own sex. In the Irish Hennessy, CARLINGFORD LOUGH ran on gamely to hold off fast improving Foxrock. The latter is best on soft ground while the former, whilst an admirable sort, he looks short of what is needed to win a normal Gold Cup. Despite looking just short of his best fitness-wise, last year’s Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere showed more dash in the Irish Hennessy, However, both RPR’s and TFR’s suggest those crossing the water need to improve if Silviniaco Conti runs to his best. I am of the opinion Boston Bob, in preparation for Cheltenham and the spring festivals received a considerate ride. Not put in the race until the latter stages, he looks one sure to enjoy the extra quarter of a mile at Prestbury Park. Newbury February 7th SOFT (Good to soft in places) QEWY won the opening novice event impressively. He jumps well, possessing both a turn of foot and a fair share of temperament. At present, it does not appear to affect his performance on the racecourse. One wonders if connections will bypass Cheltenham for Aintree, his speed would be a useful weapon at that track. Cardinal Walter looked and ran well deserving extra credit conceding 6lb. He too appears to enjoy flat tracks. Third home Royal Vacation should stay further, Bouvreuil looked well but may have needed this, while Poker School is one to note when sent handicapping. The fifth and sixth home won and finished second on their previous start suggesting the form is decent. CONEYGREE ran away with the Denman Chase leaving connections to face a decision over his race at the Festival. Whilst Timeform have him on 159p, the official handicapper rates him 166. He is 8lb behind Silviniaco Conti on OR’s and 9lb on RPR’s. With King’s Palace making harder work than was expected in a later race, it may prove prudent to head the way of the RSA (Last novice won in 1974). Good to soft or softer suits him best and he jumps for fun when making the pace. Houblon Des Obeaux finished second with RPR’s suggesting he ran 6lb below form. Unioniste was outpaced six fences from home before running on late. Given his age and official rating, it may prove prudent to postpone an assault the Grand National until 2016. Improving MR MOLE ran out a comfortable winner of the Game Spirit. His ability was never doubted by his trainer and he is now fulfilling that potential. Mr Mole (Best RPR 3lb behind Dodging Bullets) has a shout in the Champion Chase, though Festival atmosphere will test his temperament to the full. (Fell in the Grand Annual last year). Upsilon Bleu ran to form in second while Karinga Bay was unable to get competitive at any stage. Uxizandre’s fall at the last when beaten, looked on the cards following some hairy leaps on the way round. He looks likely to go for the Ryanair. Paddock-watchers felt Sire De Grugy would improve for the run Sire De Grugy. He made his jockey’s job onerous by running with the choke out. Making mistakes at the cross-fence and fourth last before he departed company with young Mr Moore at the next fence. Despite the mistakes, he left the impression he retains much, if not all of his ability. He will come on for the outing and not be written off. The Betfair Hurdle run, as is usually the case, at a decent pace produced something of a shock winner. Chieftain’s Choice took them along until falling at the fifth flight. VIOLET DANCER took over at the head of the field and from that point controlled matters. Leading all the way up the home straight, he was never seriously challenged. His promising young rider deserves plenty of credit. Cheltenian has had his problems, but ran a blinder in second, while Activial finished third, looking one that needs further these days. Horses that came from off the pace and still ran well include, Calipto, Jolly’s Cracked It (Good run from a novice that needs to brush up his jumping), On Tour (May need further), Arzal (Badly hampered in back straight before running on strongly), Balgarry and Wicklow Brave. Fascino Rustico was not completely done with when falling at the second last. KINGS PALACE ran out a comfortable winner of the novices chase. He made mistakes the open ditch in the straight on both circuits. However, overall it was a pleasing prep though his RPR was 5lb below his best. Vivaldi Collonges stuck to his guns looking an out and out stayer. His jumping was better than on his chasing debut, while he galloped all the way to the finish. Should they clash in the RSA, both Coneygree and Kings Palace like to make the pace, which would provide for a great spectacle. The Listed Bumper went to BARTERS HILL who completed a hat-trick of wins. A fast improving sort, he is built to be a chaser for the future. Buveur D’Air is closely related to Punchestowns. He won two AQPS Bumpers in the French provinces in late summer/autumn. A well-made sort, he looked fit and ready. Making headway all the way up the straight, he looked sure to go past BARTERS HILL in the final furlongs However, the winner showed guts and determination to concede 10lb to the runner-up. Altior bolted up at Market Rasen on his debut. He is bred for speed and stamina (Dam Hurdle/Bumper winner). The third home, Altior looked ready for action. Unfortunately, he was poorly placed when the race began in earnest. Fourth was Final Nudge. He should do well over hurdles when faced upped two and a half-miles. February 6th Kempton Park Chase – GOOD TO SOFT (Soft in places) Hurdles – SOFT (Good to soft in places) West Wizard let his supporters down again. Sent off an odds-on favourite for the third time the longer trip was expected to suit. However, having jumped well the distress signals went out between the last two hurdles. Try as he might, he could not close the gap on Jonjo’s exciting newcomer MINELLA ROCCO. An expensive purchase from the Brightwells Sales, following an impressive Irish-Point win, he won comfortably and looks a decent long-term prospect. West Wizard is a magnificent looking horse built to be a chaser. However, he is finishing off his races like a horse with a breathing problem. Ludlow winner Scorpiancer finished third giving the form a solid look. NEWSWORTHY ran out a hard fought winner of the first Bumper. He looked very fit and may need time to get over this. Second home, Midnight Cowboy proved green in the preliminaries. Nevertheless, he ran a highly promising race in second. Third placed Bilzic and Kayf Adventure ran well; they are two to note. OK CORRAL looked in good condition prior to the race. He matched his looks with a likeable win in the second Bumper on the card. He won with something to spare looking above average. Second home came the well-touted High Bridge. He tried had but was unable to match the winners speed. Likely to prove at his best on good ground he can find a similar event. Well-touted The Unit finished third. He will improve for time and experience. Expedite is a decent looking sort that is sure to come on a bundle for his fifth place. CHELTENHAM AND BEYOND – grahamrichardsonline.co.uk