IT’S BEEN a hectic few days in in the world of racing in Britain and Ireland.
With the busy festive period almost over, it’s the perfect time to pick out a few eye-catching performances.
Let’s start with an obvious one, as Santini ran a lovely RSA trial when third in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The strapping six-year-old found things happening a shade quickly on good ground around Kempton.
But having looked well-beaten three out, he rallied and stayed on well for third, beaten just over three lengths.
He remains a leading contender for the RSA at Cheltenham in March, and odds of 4-1 still appeal.
On the same day, City Island ran out a ready winner of a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown.
His performance may well have gone under the radar, given the quality of action during the four-day Christmas Festival in Ireland.
But he looks a horse to follow, with Grand National-winning trainer Martin Brassil stating earlier in the year that he was the best horse through his hands for a long time.
It remains to be seen what sort of level he can reach, but he is an exciting prospect.
At Kempton on 27 December, Maquisard caught the eye when third in a 2m handicap hurdle.
He was having just his second start for Chris Gordon, having run well for second on the Flat on stable debut.
He travelled well and looked like going mighty close, but he dived left two out and made a mistake, which effectively cost him all chance.
The handicapper can’t be too harsh on him and he looks up to winning a similar race in the near future.
Five eyecatchers from the Festive period
Kauto Star Novices Chase: SANTINI – Ran a good RSA Chase trial at Kempton on Boxing Day
Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle: CITY ISLAND – Won easily and reported to be the best his trainer has had for ages
32Red Download The App Handicap Hurdle: MAQUISARD – Good third at Kempton and looks up to winning off his current mark
Savills Chase: ROAD TO RESPECT – Stumbled and lost ground at a crucial stage before keeping on well for third
Challow Hurdle: BREWIN’UPASTORM – Possibly undone by his inexperience in Grade 1 company and still has a bright future
Road To Respect was beaten in the Savills Chase, but he did his Cheltenham Gold Cup prospects no harm with a game third.
His chances in the 3m Grade 1 at Leopardstown suffered a major blow when he stumbled on the Flat and lost ground approaching three out.
The eventual winner Kemboy was allowed to dominate under a good ride, and he stretched clear after the last.
But Road To Respect picked up well again to finish a running-on third, and he would make greater appeal for the Festival showpiece at 14-1 than the current 6-1 on offer for Kemboy.
Another horse who has a bright future is Brewin’Upastorm.
Olly Murphy’s smart hurdler was thrown in at the deep end in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
It is usually a race won by a horse with experience, and Brewin’Upastorm’s lack of it worked against him.
He still kept on nicely to finish a close fourth, and he remains a horse of great potential.