Gloucestershire trainers were amongst the winners on a day when Jumping took centre stage at Aintree and Wincanton over a foggy and ready-to-close flat turf season at Doncaster.
Tom George has started slowly by comparison with the past 2 years, but with his big guns now ready to race, the winners are beginning to flow. Whilst Black Op was a 4 1/2l 4th to Imperial Aura in Carlisle's Colin Parker Chase last weekend, Summerville Boy, who concluded last season with a close up 5th to Lisnager Oscar in the Stayers Hurdle, embarked on a new season in the style he'd like to continue, winning robustly by half a length in a valuable handicap at Aintree, over Ch'tibello.
Tom's stable has a finite capacity of around 80, far below many of his neighbours who have well over 100 to run. To that end, a pursuit of quality over quantity has always been the watchword, and it shows. Summerville Boy, winner of 5 of the 15 races he's run for the Down Farm team, personifies that quality, with 2 Grade I hurdles to his name as a novice and the Grade II Relkeel Hurdle last season. Put him in your list of staying hurdlers to follow.
Over 220 miles away in Somerset, another Gloucestershire trainer can do no wrong with any runner presently. Kim Bailey, one of two trainers not a mile from the course at Andoversford, and former clerk of the course, won a gripping Badger Beer Chase after a ride scraping the paint on the inner throughout from David Bass. Just getting up in thre last 100 yards, he continued a blistering run of form for Kim.
Alas, the latest lockdown has put paid to the enterprise of the Wheatland in ruinning an early Point-to-Point fixture in November. Provided we exit the lockdown as scheduled, there may yet be a further chance before Christmas, else the Harkaway at Chaddesley looks our best bet for seeing some Pointing action. As things stand, the only way you can watch any racing at all is on TV, but what you get to see is top drawer stuff.
STOP PRESS: Racing abandoned due to Virus concerns
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)