Even without the loss of so many rival attractions, a degree of curiosity would have been guaranteed by the first race on the all-weather circuit at Lingfield yesterday. Brabazon, appearing for the first time in 892 days, was making his debut for Ireland's youngest trainer, Emmet Butterly, and ridden by a 16-year-old having his first ride under Rules. He was none the less backed at 25-1 earlier in the day, sent off 11-4 favourite for the amateurs' handicap, and proceeded to land the gamble in the snow by no fewer than 10 lengths.
Teenaged Freddie Mitchell came in for the mount only because the booked rider was held up by the weather, but has already had success on the pony racing circuit. "It's a lot different," he said of the new experience. "It's quieter – no one screams and swears!"
His father, Philip, won three big races in the US with Running Stag but this became a day to compare to his proudest as a trainer when another son, Jack, won a sprint handicap on South African Gold – as luck should have it, another spare ride.
The outlandish possibility, meanwhile, remains that Noel Fehily will resume riding in time for the meeting at Cheltenham next week, and certainly before his appointment with Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day. The wrist injury Fehily sustained at Newbury last Friday has now been formally diagnosed as a dislocation, rather than a fracture. "I saw the specialist, and he was over the moon with the wrist," Fehily said. "It's a massive relief, as it looked very bleak."
The suspension of jumping will go to a fifth day tomorrow should Wincanton fail to pass an inspection this morning. The card rescheduled for Fairyhouse, featuring the reappearance of Hurricane Fly and Mikael d'Haguenet, has been postponed again, to next Wednesday. An additional all-weather fixture has been scheduled for Kempton on Saturday.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Pilgrim Dancer (5.0 Kempton) Twice failed to get home in punishing conditions after a summer break, but signs of renewal under apprentice last time.
Dark Lane (4.30 Kempton) Finished best over the sharp 5f at Wolverhampton on his comeback, and this will suit better.
One to watch
Call Me A Legend (Alan King) Regrouped impressively for fourth after a mid-race mistake at Newbury last Friday.
Where the money's going
Grands Crus is 12-1 from 20-1 with William Hill for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Kempton 2.00 Daily Double; 2.30 Danzigs Grandchild; 3.00 Jo Boy; 3.30 Muntasib; 4.00 Dosti; 4.30 Dark Lane; 5.00 Cavitie; 5.30 Katy's Secret