No Sour Grapes For Brunello

Fine Brunello (Timeform Rating h127p) – Finesse Juvenile Hurdle, Cheltenham, Saturday 26 January

Fakir d'Oudairies
Fakir d'Oudairies Picture: (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Fakir d’Oudairies landed a monster gamble when running away with the Finesse Juvenile Hurdle, establishing himself as ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle in six weeks’ time and rather denting the form claims of the best of the British-trained juveniles in the process. However, there were several eye-catchers (quite a long way in-behind), most notably Fakir d’Oudairies’ stablemate Fine Brunello.

Fine Brunello improved on his previous form over hurdles, suggesting more to come as well, his rider just doing enough to hold second after his stable companion had gone beyond recall. Having been held up, Fine Brunello travelled powerfully and made headway before two out, keeping on nicely on the run-in, just no match for the impressive winner. Fine Brunello is the type to progress further and will likely benefit from a return to 2¼m (raced over that trip at Auteuil for Guy Cherel). Joseph O’Brien, Ireland

Terrefort (Timeform Rating c158) – Cotswold Chase, Cheltenham, Saturday 26 January

As is ever the case when Bryony Frost partners a big-race Saturday winner, the media attention following the Cotswold Chase was centred around the Cheltenham Gold Cup-bound winning duo. However, while the winner Frodon and runner-up Elegant Escape are almost duty-bound for the ‘Blue Riband’ event, the third Terrefort has more options open to him.

Unlike at Sandown where his fencing went to pieces, Terrefort jumped soundly, and tanked along at the back of the field, before making headway before four out. He failed to quicken after the last, losing second in the final 100 yards, perhaps just being found out for fitness in the closing stages. He is likely to have more to offer after that, just his second start of the season after a strong novice campaign last term, and the Ryanair Chase (for which he is 25/1) makes as much appeal as the Gold Cup, though connections also have Top Notch for the shorter race. Further down the line, the Betway Bowl at Aintree would appear to be a good fit. Nicky Henderson

Forest des Aigles (Timeform Rating c132) – Trophy Handicap Chase, Cheltenham, Saturday 26 January

Two young, unexposed chasers fought out a thrilling finish to the Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Trophy Handicap Chase, pulling well clear of bang-in-form rivals, the runner-up Janika just edged out but deserving plenty of credit, conceding no less than 16 lb to the winner Siruh du Lac.

While the winner was on the pace throughout, and the runner-up was never far away, there were some eyecatchers in behind, notably the eventual seventh Forest des Aigles, who was held up last for most of the way. On the face of it he was below form after seven weeks off here, but the way the race panned out meant that he never looked likely to get competitive after a blunder at the twelfth, though he stuck to his task well enough having made some steady headway turning in (under hands and heels). His best form has come on much more testing ground than he faced on Saturday and he looks one to remain interested in when he’s granted a stiffer test of stamina. Lucinda Russell