How good are Flemenstar and Overturn, both of whom made winning seasonal starts over fences?
The answer is potentially very, very smart and the pair must be followed throughout the rest of the jumps season.
Flemenstar, handled by the charismatic Peter Casey, won the Fortria Chase at Navan last Sunday when only 80 percent fit and running over a trip that was on the short side for this exciting peformer who did not go to Cheltenham last year. He will in 2013, but in which race?
Layers were quick to cut him from to 7/1 for the Gold Cup after an emphatic win against hardened two-mile chasers. The manner of his win was impressive and despite Casey's confidence, there has to be a doubt about him getting the Gold Cup trip of 3m2/12f. And that's why caution is urged before plunging in.
However, he'll have no trouble with 2m4f, the distance of the Ryanair Chase which looks a more suitable option. More will be known if Gold Cup favourite Sir Des Champs, unbeaten in seven races for Willie Mullins, including the Jewson Novices Chase at Cheltenham last year, takes on Flemenstar in the John Durkan Chase on December 9 at Punchestown.
I expect Flementstar to have Sir Des Champs's measure next month and that will make Casey's charge a firm favourite for whatever race he takes in next March. Just don't be surprised it's the Ryanair and not the Gold Cup.
Overturn, runner-up in last year's Champion Hurdle, has his first taste of the bigger fences at Sandown and while he was very hesitant over the first two obstacles and didn't have much to beat, the manner of his victory, will have warmed the heart of trainer Donald McCain who thinks the world of this fellow.
He's currently 8/1 second favourite for the Arkle Chase behind Simonsig and that's simply too good to miss. Each-way pays 1/4 the odds i.e. 2/1. Get in there now before his next outing later this month or early December. Victory then in similar style to last weekend, should see him promoted to number one in Cheltenham's ante-post market.