Cole Harden couldn't regain the Stayers' Hurdle crown which he won at Cheltenham in 2015 but he ran well to finish fourth for the second year running in a stronger renewal this week. Warren Greatrex got off the mark at the Festival with Cole Harden's success two years ago, and went close to another win there when Missed Approach finished second in Tuesday's National Hunt Chase at odds of 50/1, underlining that the stable is in a good spell of form at present. The Nipper showed quirks as well as plenty of ability in bumpers and has now won her last two starts over hurdles, impressive at Newcastle last time, and could bid for a hat-trick at Haydock on Wednesday.
Mark Johnston has fired in seven winners already this month at Lingfield, Kempton and Chelmsford and has prospects of further success with some potentially interesting runners at Newcastle next Wednesday. The consistent Sutter County won over five furlongs there last month before finishing second in a listed race over seven furlongs at Lingfield more recently, but the drop back to six for his first start in a handicap should suit. Isharah is a similarly reliable type who won twice at Newcastle over the winter and bids to get back to winning ways over two miles there after a good third at Wolverhampton last time.
Hampshire trainer Chris Gordon is having a remarkable run at present, with 11 winners from his last 16 runners, including a five-timer split between Plumpton and Stratford last Monday. One of those Plumpton winners, Starkie, capitalised on a much-reduced mark when bolting up by twenty lengths and he should make a bold bid to follow up under a penalty in the two-mile handicap chase at Southwell on Monday. Shalianzi had been running poorly over jumps but shaped well when third back on the Flat over two miles at Kempton last month before the stable hit its current purple patch, so it will be interesting to see how he goes if turned out for a similar event at the same track on Wednesday evening.