Friday December 1

Inevitably, tomorrow’s big race at Newbury will always be referred to by the professionals as the Hennessy – Ladbrokes have taken over sponsorship of the £250,000 staying chase which is the highlight of the jumping season at our local course – and, despite the fact that there will be no cognac thrown in should Label des Obeaux emulate Smad Place and bring the prize back to Barbury, Alan will be delighted if history repeats itself.

So how does Alan rate Label des Obeaux’s prospects? “He showed he had come on for his first run back when performing creditably against the King George favourite Might Bite at Sandown, but he needs to improve again so we schooled him in cheekpieces recently and they seemed to sharpen him up.

“My fear is that Label des Obeaux has too much weight. We always felt that Smad Place was on a handy mark, but this fellow has enough for a second season novice.”

Alan also suspects that Coeur de Lion, who runs in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle, is also in the grip of the handicapper. He added:”I reckon he has 10lb too much, but I do think stepping up in trip might bring about a bit of improvement and when the ground was so bad at Haydock last week we decided to wait for this. He ran as well as we could have hoped in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, where the race conditions were all against him.”

“We also run Dino Velvet in this race. He would have been placed in the Fred Winter at last season’s Cheltenham Festival but for that mistake at the top of the hill and I was happy enough with his comeback run at Chepstow. He had a slight setback after but seems fine now and he will appreciate this trip.

Cosmeapolitan lacks experience, having had the just one over hurdles so far, which he won here at Newbury last December and then missed the rest of the season with a stress fracture. He’s run ok on the Flat since so it will be good to get him back over jumps in the Listed Gerry Feilden Hurdle.”

We also have two runners at Doncaster, and Alan said:”Deyrann de Carjac is a lovely horse who had a stress fracture last winter, but he did really well physically through the summer and has schooled well. His bumper third at Chepstow is good form and he’s ready to start off over hurdles in the opener, while the consistent Lord Huntingdon will hopefully again be competitive in the handicap hurdle, as will Stylish Moment at Bangor. She showed promise first time out and ought to go well in the bumper.”