THE rescheduled John Durkan Chase may see the seasonal debut of Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs when victory will be expected, although the query about the extended three-mile and two-furlong trip will remain.

Of those which have run this season and have proven stamina, the performance of Protektorat in the Betfair Chase stands out on my figures.

The proximity of Eldorado Allen in second may detract from the form for some although the positive was the split-screen comparison with Hitman, which highlighted Dan Skelton’s gelding was 20 lengths superior on the day.

The King George on St Stephen’s Day will be a good barometer of the events on Merseyside in November as Eldorado Allen and Hitman take on Bravemansgame, who should have his ideal conditions.

The other performances of note this season are L’Homme Presse in the Rehearsal Chase and Noble Yeats in the Many Clouds Chase. Of the two, I was more convinced by the latter as he simply flew home from the second last to win going away.

The victory of Venetia Williams’ gelding was less convincing although improvement is likely as last season’s Brown Advisory Chase winner was given a considerate opening ride by Charlie Deutsch.

Top Chase Rating this season

Horse Track Date Rating

Protektorat Haydock Sat-19-November 176

Eldorado Allen Haydock Sat-19-November 165

Noble Yeats Aintree Sat-03-December 165

Ahoy Senor Aintree Sat-03-December 163

Bravemansgame Wetherby Sat-29-October 162

Frodon Haydock Sat-19-November 158

L’Homme Presse Newcastle Sat-26-November 154

Galvin Punchestown Wed-12-October 153

Novice chasers

The market for the staying novices has yet to develop, albeit Classic Getaway impressed at Gowran Park when beating his stable companion Minella Cocooner.

The Cheveley Park-owned six-year-old appeals as a staying chaser and it will be interesting to see if he can confirm the form on better ground.

At an intermediate distance, Mighty Potter and Banbridge have already excelled with the former possessing the ability to run much quicker as his jumping becomes more of an asset at a faster pace. Banbridge was quicker at Cheltenham before being undone by the ground in Mighty Potter’s Drinmore success.

Jonbon rightly heads the Arkle market as his two chase wins to date have been spectacular. Exhibiting a blend of foot-perfect jumping and finishing speed has ensured he has readily dismissed his rivals with consummate ease.

Of the other novice chasers to have run this season, Kilcruit impressed at Punchestown and looks a happier horse at this stage of the season compared to last.

Top Novice Chase Ratings this season

Horse Track Date Rating

Jonbon Sandown Sat-03-December 164

Mighty Potter Fairyhouse Sun-04-December 161

Banbridge Cheltenham Sat-12-November 160

Frere D’Armes Newbury Fri-25-November 153

Aucunrisque Newbury Fri-25-November 151

Datsalrightgino Newbury Fri-25-November 151

Adamantly Chosen Punchestown Wed-12-October 151

Champion Hurdle

For many the Champion Hurdle is an open and shut case and, while my ratings this season agree, I would suggest there is scope for improvement in State Man while, as documented last week, Honeysuckle will be better judged when racing back over two miles on good ground.

Top Hurdle Ratings this season

Horse Track Date Rating

Constitution Hill Newcastle Sat-26-November 166

First Street Newbury Sat-26-November 155

State Man Punchestown Sun-20-November 155

Knappers Hill Wincanton Sat-05-November 153

Sceau Royal Kempton Sun-16-October 153

Novice hurdlers

The best of the novices on the clock in Ireland so far this season contested the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse.

However, if they are to be winning the opening race at the Festival in March, they will have to beat Facile Vega.

The Champion Bumper hero of last season was only average on the clock at Punchestown, albeit he hurdled fluently and finished powerfully.

It will be interesting to see which trainers decide to step up in trip and take in the Ballymore Hurdle.

Marine Nationale certainly gave the impression he would not be inconvenienced by moving up in trip as he overcame adversity to win the Grade 1 at Fairyhouse.

Of the Royal Bond field, Champ Kiely looks the out-and-out two-mile opposition to his stable companion.

There are some talented mares in the novice ranks with the pick of them Nicky Henderson’s Luccia.

To rate so highly on her hurdles debut is an achievement and, although she would have a small amount to find with Grivetina, I have no doubt she will improve past Paul Nicholls’s four-year-old with experience.

Ashroe Diamond adds the Royal Bond form to the mix and would look the number one for the mares’ novice from Closutton

As portrayed in this week’s column Hiddenvalley Lake looks an early candidate for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, for which he was cut to 8/1 following Sunday’s romp.

Top Novice Hurdle Ratings This Season

Horse Track Date Rating

Marine Nationale Fairyhouse 04-Dec 161

Irish Point Fairyhouse 04-Dec 161

Ashroe Diamond Fairyhouse 04-Dec 157

Champ Kiely Fairyhouse 04-Dec 157

Grivetana Newbury 26-Nov 152

Gaelic Warrior Tramore 06-Dec 151

Luccia Newbury 26-Nov 151