Nicholls shapes his plans to fit Bay's eccentric contours

Given that awards and judgements seem to be a natural feature of the turn of a year, surely the statisticians at the sport's ratings bible Timeform can take the opportunity to hand out a bit of justice with the removal of one of their pejorative gongs. For the past four seasons the symbol for unreliability – a periwig squiggle – has accompanied their annual essays on the classy but enigmatic Tidal Bay.

Somersby left flat-footed by revived Gauvain

Her best horse had been beaten again, and a wild, murky afternoon in the flatlands must have blended fairly seamlessly with her own emotional landscape. But Henrietta Knight did not have to seek far here yesterday to remember how it's an ill wind that blows no good. It was only five days previously, after all, that the horse who had just beaten Somersby dismayed his own connections with a fall at Sandown. Having duly avoided a hard race against Sizing Europe, Gauvain was able to rise from the canvas and win the Betfred Peterborough Chase – and, in the process, at least he confirmed Knight in her suspicion that Somersby nowadays requires a stiffer test of stamina.

Angel must show wings to prove sceptics wrong

Already disparaged as inferior to a crop that has barely begun its own journey to the same race, last season's novice chasers today vest their wounded pride in one who was himself damned with faint praise even when winning the RSA Chase. The success of Bostons Angel at Cheltenham last March was immediately dismissed as gutsy opportunism, the eventual protagonists having staggered up the hill as though abashed by their inferiority to rivals who had variously run below form, or failed to get round.

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Mullins deflated by Mikael's lacklustre display

This evening's champagne sparkle down Co Carlow way may just be tempered slightly by the more disappointing sound of a bubble bursting. Hurricane Fly gave Bagenalstown-based Willie Mullins, Ireland's champion trainer, plenty to celebrate at Leopardstown as he galloped to Champion Hurdle favouritism. But the performance yesterday at the Co Dublin track by one of the yard's putative stars, Mikael d'Haguenet, was as flat as tomorrow's dregs.

Pandorama hits top gear on road to the Gold Cup

Those of us who were depicting Pandorama as some sort of inexorable new force on the steeplechasing scene, before his first visit to Britain last month, were soon made to look rather silly.