I am afraid the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury tomorrow has become something of a non event as far as the February Update is concerned with none of my selections being declared. Ante-post market leader Consul De Thaix reportedly knocked himself earlier in the week which ruled him out, while Gordon Elliott elected to keep both Desoto County and Sutton Place at home. Gordon appears to be going all out to win the trainers' championship in Ireland and is therefore not overly keen to bring too many horses over to the UK, with the exception of the spring Festivals. There is nobody more disappointed than me that the trio aren't lining up, especially Consul De Thaix because I am convinced there is a big handicap to be won with him off his mark of 140. Perhaps Nicky Henderson's charge will gain ample compensation in next month's County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Dan Skelton endured something of a lean spell during January but his string appear to be in much better form now. While Cosmos Des Obeaux could only finish third on his British debut at Bangor this afternoon, he is a horse to keep in mind for the remainder of the season. The five year old was a winner over hurdles at Auteuil before joining Paul Nicholls' former assistant. Beaten nine lengths behind Donald McCain's progressive winner Cousin Oscar in the two mile novices' hurdle, he will benefit from a step up in trip and the gelded son of Spanish Moon is one to bear in mind for the EBF Final at Sandown in mid March. He is open to plenty of improvement.
Next week I am heading to Newmarket to carry out a number of interviews with some of the country's leading trainers for the forthcoming edition of Ahead On The Flat. I will be speaking to Luca Cumani, James Fanshawe, William Haggas and Roger Varian amongst others.
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