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THIS WEEK Wind rain and a fair amount of mud has been the order of play this week, but I don't think we can complain since it's the weather we've all been crying out for!  So finally there's some proper winter ground to race on and it's come just in time for one of our favourite weekends of the year, The Hennesy Gold Cup at Newbury, where we look forward to a great days racing and hopefully a good run for HWR too... REPORTS Zephyros Bleu finished 6th on his first chase start at Ffos Las last Friday.  He jumped off in a handy position under Gavin and took to his fences nicely.  It was the best he has travelled through a race yet, and although he over-jumped on the odd occasion, it was a very encouraging performance.  As the race developed Zeph was asked to close by Gavin and coming to the 4th last he looked to have every chance, but a tired mistake at the following fence ended his hopes.  It was a nice chase debut and he should really improve for the experience.  We will look to go 3m with him next time. Affaire D’Honneur was pulled up on his return to handicap company at Haydock on Saturday.  He jumped off in a nice position under Josh Moore, but you could see from an early stage he wasn’t handling the ground.  Josh tried to switch him wide going down the back straight to get him travelling but it didn’t help, he eventually pulled him up.  Affaire had handled testing ground in the Betfair Hurdle last year, but this was even more extreme than that.  As he is still a novice we have the option of switching back into a smaller race to give him some confidence which we may do next. Hoke Colburn finished an improved 5th at Hereford on Wednesday.  He raced upsides the leader under Harry Teal and produced a far tidier jumping display than on either of his other hurdle starts.  The switch to easier ground suited to, helping Hoke travel better through the contest.  They went steady for the first 3/4 of the race and when they quickened for home, he wasn’t able to go with the principals.  Harry gave him a strong ride though and he stayed on powerfully to almost grab 4th on the line.  It was another step in the right direction and we will wait to see what the handicapper does before making a plan. Vinnie Lewis finished an improved 3rd at Towcester on yesterday.  He jumped off in 3rd place under jockey Jerry McGrath and tracked the strong pace set by the leaders Markov and Chateau Robin.  Vinnie showed a great attitude at Ffos Las and he did so again here, travelling powerfully and jumping well.  The field got strung out coming up the hill for the final time and Vinnie stayed on nicely.  Thomas Shelby and Druids Folly were able to quicken up better than him but he stayed on well for 3rd.  We will look for another race like this before stepping up to 3m. Tutchec finished a staying on 6th on the same card yesterday.  There was a lot of pace on initially, so he settled near the rear.  James got him into a nice jumping rhythm and he clearly enjoyed the more galloping track.  He did make one mistake at the open ditch the 2nd time round and James did well to keep the partnership intact.  He didn’t have the speed to go with the leaders up the run in, but stayed on well to finish 6th.  He should gain confidence from this and we will look for a race over further on easier ground for him next. Later that day Ikraamm finished 11th on racecourse debut at Towcester.  He was slow away and found himself in last place turning away from the stands and it was difficult for him to get into contention from there.  He was on and off the bridle through the race and when the leaders quickened he wasn’t able to go with them.  He did stick his head down and stay on up the run in though.  We will now look for something on easier ground over further. ENTRIES Fou et Sage is set to make his 2nd start for the yard at Newbury tomorrow.  He ran very well at Wetherby last time out and now steps into open company for the first time.  This will be his 8th chase start, so he has plenty of experience, but is less exposed than the majority of his rivals here.  A bigger field with a strong pace should suit his high cruising speed and we can’t wait to see him out again.  If he can take a step forward from Wetherby he shouldn’t be too far away. Emerging Force was entered in the 3m Grade 2 at Newbury tomorrow, but isn’t running.  Instead the plan is to either run at Cheltenham or Doncaster in a couple of weeks time.  He is best when he’s fresh, so the extra 2 weeks should help him be at his best. Regal Gait is also entered at Newcastle tomorrow, but won’t run either.  He has lots of other options in the coming weeks and has come out of the Chelmsford race well.  Catterick on Wednesday will be his next entry. Sunday Royal is fresh and well after his unfortunate debut at Plumpton and is ready to go again.  He has schooled nicely since his run and will hold 3 entries over the next couple of weeks.  The first of those is at Southwell on Tuesday. Jack Bear will also be entered at Southwell on Tuesday, but will have a couple of other options too.  He has really sharpened up for his Plumpton run and a switch to a more conventional track should suit him. Salto Chisco was declared to run at Musselburgh yesterday before the meeting was abandoned.  He is in great form after his Fakenham win and holds an entry at Southwell on Tuesday.  If the ground isn’t suitable we may have to wait for another day with him. Star Tackle will be entered at Ffos Las on Wednesday and Chepstow the following week.  He ran well for a long way on debut for the yard and the race has worked out nicely, with 3 of the first 4 winning since.  He is a big horse who won’t be seen at his best till he jumps a fence, but has the ability to get competitive in novice hurdles. Passing du Moulin has really sharpened up for his bumper at Chepstow earlier in the month and will be aimed at another bumper next.  He is entered at Ffos Las on Wednesday and Chepstow on Saturday.  He is a huge horse with any amount of improvement in him physically and mentally. Ahraam will switch back to the flat at either Chelmsford or Wolverhampton next week.  He has run well on every flat start for us without getting his head in front.  Hopefully his time over hurdles has freshened him up and he can run a big race.  We know he can be competitive off this handicap mark. Until next week...