Third, William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Trainer: Henrietta Knight.
Built for fences, he has made excellent progress during a light career to date and here stayed on best of all up the hill after an untimely error three out. Impressive winner of a bumper last season, he has travelled strongly in all his races and it is easy to envisage him returning to the Festival next year as one of the best novice chasers around.
Seventh, Irish Independent Arkle Trophy. Trainer: Nick Williams.
Still going well among the leaders when slipping over the second last, and losing all momentum. He finished pretty tired anyway, but the stiff finish always promised to raise questions for a horse whose stamina appears limited. His maiden success over fences in January had confirmed him very much at home round the sharp, flat track at Ludlow, and he looks an ideal type for Aintree.
Ninth, William Hill Handicap Chase. Trainer: Alan King.
Making only his fourth start over fences, and his first for this trainer, he was holding his own among some very experienced handicappers when misjudging the second last. That was that, but he had shown enough to revive the promise of his successful debut over fences at Chepstow over Christmas. Eighth in the champion bumper here in his youth, he has long had the physical look of a chaser and perhaps belated fulfilment awaits.
Winner, RSA Chase.
Trainer: Willie Mullins.
The immediate reaction to this performance was that he should be backed on the spot for next year's Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. We might, after all, have proved ready for a changing of the guard by the end of last week, but a new pinnacle from Kauto Star put that idea in sober context. This time next year, however, the John Smith's Grand National could be another story. Cooldine had this sewn up a long way out, and if Willie Mullins doubts whether he quite has the class of Florida Pearl – who won him this prize in 1998 – then he seems to have a great deal more stamina.
Fourth, Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Trainer: Edward O'Grady
Must have traded at microscopic odds in running as he cantered into the lead two out, but faltered on the climb to the post and only just salvaged the each-way money from what had been the gamble of the week. As a son of Montjeu he is entitled to quirks as well as class, but the raw ability is undeniable. Ridden with more restraint he may prove comfortable with any gallop, in any company – including the very best.
Fourth, Pertemps Final.
Trainer: David Pipe.
A tough week for his new stable, but definite signs of life on only his second start since changing hands last summer. He had shown nothing at the November meeting here, but that was true of many others in the yard at that time, and this time he charged home from off the pace under an amateur rider. He goes well on faster ground and, with more aggressive tactics, could pick up a decent prize this spring.
Fourth, JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Trainer: Alan Fleming.
Having been kept to sharp tracks – Huntingdon, Fakenham and Kempton – when impressive winner of all three previous starts, he cruised into contention two out only to fade on the punishing climb to the post. As such he looks tailor-made for Aintree. Already a fine advertisement for his emerging trainer, he could also prove interesting on the Flat, maybe round Chester.
Fifth, Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle. Trainer: Noel Meade.
A very peculiar race, one horse already in total control by the time many rivals finally seemed to find their stride, but one way or another this was a fine effort from one making only his fourth start over hurdles. Having closed with menacing ease, he ran out of gas on the hill, and will perhaps improve again on faster ground.
14th, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle. Trainer: David Pipe.
A smart handicapper on the Flat, he will surely pick up a good prize over hurdles sooner or later – not least given his proficiency on spring ground. Having been stifled previously this season by a quiet spell for his yard and then bad ground, he lost his footing when hampered at a critical stage and tired himself out trying to recover the lost ground.
Unseated rider, Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase. Trainer: Ferdy Murphy.
From a stable that has had great success at the Festival but experienced wretched luck at the meeting this time. His mishap in its final race just about summed things up – making headway from the rear when ejecting his rider three out. Quite where he would have finished is hard to say, but he is clearly dangerously handicapped, having been 5lb out of the weights here. He relishes fast ground and can surely win a race this spring.