Timefrom: 3 things we learned from the racing weekend

Some of the big names were out to play!

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Kalashnikov unlucky in defeat

We are only in December but the handicap won by Oldgrangewood at Newbury on Friday is a contender for most thrilling handicap of the season. However, for all it was Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old who won the crown – very much down to a ride of brilliance from Harry Skelton – it was the runner-up, Kalashnikov, who emerged with his reputation enhanced.

Indeed, he has started his second season over fences with back-to-back handicap defeats, yet the quality of both performances, especially this one, were those of a youngster whose time in such races is coming to a close, everything about him screaming bona fide open graded chaser.

Kalashnikov was produced to edge ahead from three out, and worked hard to see off his determined old rival Glen Forsa only to be collared on the line by one of very few who’d even threatened to get into it from the back, too late to respond by the time he was claimed, a massive display from such a lofty mark; he’s one to keep on side.

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Samcro still a top-class prospect

It was an intriguing renewal of the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday that was building to a crescendo only for Samcro to fall when going best upsides the bold-jumping Fakir d’Oudaries at the second last.

Fakir d’Oudaries was in receipt of a healthy weight-for-age allowance (8lb) and was notably out jumping Samcro at each fence, and he already looks a much better chaser than he was a hurdler, but whether he would have held off the challenge of Samcro in the closing stages remains up for debate.

Samcro is still the top-class prospect he looked as a novice hurdler if this performance is anything to go by, unable to match the winner’s spectacular round of jumping but still having that rival firmly in his cross hairs when unshipping his incandescent rider late on.

The pair of them had pulled a long way clear of the remainder from three out, and it is form that should be viewed positively, Samcro still open to significant improvement in this sphere and will remain of plenty of interest, assuming he’s none the worse for this experience.

Honeysuckle

De Bromhead eyeing Cheltenham Festival prize with Honeysuckle

A smart if less than vintage renewal of the Hatton’s Grace that signalled both the end of an era and the dawning of a new one, with the up-and-coming Honeysuckle routing her rivals in the style of one looking sure to achieve more top-level successes over the coming months/seasons, whilst also adding to the recent success that mares have enjoyed in the race (5 wins from the last 9 renewals).

Honeysuckle took her form to a new level – and landed some nice bets in the process – with yet another impressive win, stretching her unbeaten record under Rules to six.

She will continue to be hard to beat, with connections reportedly keen to test her effectiveness on a left-handed track before the Cheltenham Festival, where she heads the market for the Mares’ Hurdle and is as short as 6/4 for the Champion Hurdle.

Find a full range of betting on all these races over on paddypower.com

* All odds correct at time of posting.