Colour Code for debut win
Kelso, Ludlow and Lingfield give punters plenty of opportunity today to boost their Christmas coffers with competitive cards before racing takes a three-day break. At Kelso, two promising young horses go to post for the opening Brian Hewitt Associates Novices' Hurdle.
Jimmy FitzGerald saddles Justin Mac, who looks an interesting prospect judged on his three starts in bumpers - winning two and finishing a good second to Skillwise in the other.
And his main market rival will be the superbly bred Colour Code - from the same family as top flight Flat performers Cezanne, Colorspin and Bella Colora - from Ann Swinbank's Richmond yard.
Colour Code won both his National Hunt Flat races in good style last season but is without a run since disappointing in the mud at York in early October. However, the stable is in good form and this five-year-old gelding will not lack fitness.
Mrs Swinbank understandably holds the chestnut in very high regard and this opinion can be endorsed further with a winning debut over timber for Colour Code, who can do Justin Mac for speed on the long run-in.
The Hurgill Lodge trainer can complete a double an hour later with Charming Admiral in the Mason Organisation Maiden Hurdle.
Following an encouraging debut, when around 10 lengths behind the useful French Holly in a well-contested event at Ayr on his hurdling debut, Charming Admiral disappointed last time in atrocious conditions at Hexham.
At the Tynedale track, the son of Shareef Dancer was ridden too forcefully given testing ground, leading from half-way to two out and weakening to finish third, beaten nine and a half lengths behind Bourbon Dynasty.
With better going expected at the Borders course, Charming Admiral can confirm his earlier promise with victory.
At Ludlow, Iamus is worth an interest to open his account over timber in the Tanners Claret Novice Hurdle. Trained on the Flat by David Barron, the four-year-old's best performance came when fourth in the Lincoln and, since joining David Nicholson, the son of Most Welcome has shown a fair aptitude to hurdling with two placed efforts.
On his most recent outing, the gelding, who takes a very strong hold, was restrained in the early stages and kept on well from two out to chase home the useful Pekay, albeit five lengths away.
Now that he has learned to settle, Iamus can win today's contest at the main expense of Road Racer, another fair performer on the level.