CHEPSTOW’S first meeting of 2019 may have seemed low-key on the face of it, but some promising long-term prospects were revealed in a couple of races.

The novice hurdle, over two and a half miles, was one of those races. Dashel Drasher made all the running and won easily. He looks above average. The second, Tarada, is owned by Trevor Hemmings, many of whose horses are bought in the hope that they will become Grand National types. He was making his hurdling debut and ran like stamina would be his strong suit. The third, Walk In The Mill, won the Becher Chase over the Aintree fences last time out and was in a hurdle race for the very first time. Connections are aiming him at this year’s National and want to keep him fit while avoiding running over fences, not wanting to risk raising the weight he is allotted for Aintree.

Cloudy Glen, the winner of the two and a half mile handicap hurdle, completely outclassed his rivals. Although the official margin was two and a half lengths, if he hadn’t been eased down he could have won, unextended, by ten. The jockey was taking care of him, perhaps mindful of his entries at Leicester and Catterick tomorrow. He’s another owned by Hemmings. He was the second half of a double for Venetia Williams. After a quiet 2017/18 season by her standards, her Herefordshire yard is now in top form, with a 40% strike rate recently. Horses that ran below par last season are now well handicapped.

In an earlier race, Grace Harris’ Field Exhibition, a winner at Uttoxeter last month, finished third over a trip probably short of her best, but after five outings in six weeks she might be due for a break.

Ron Harris’ first winner of the new year was the hurdler Texan Nomad, at Wincanton on Saturday. The 20/1 shot had shown glimmers of ability before finishing ninth last time out over two miles three furlongs. Harris said he had been too keen in his races, and the fast pace this time had allowed him to settle. Dropping back to two miles also helped. It was Harris’ second National Hunt winner in 14 years of training. Texan Nomad could run again at Warwick on Saturday under a penalty.

Viola Park has done the stable proud recently, with form figures of 4212 since the beginning of December. The latest of those was a close second at Wolverhampton on Friday and he could turn out again at Kempton tonight.

Four winners from 13 runners since 30 December proves the David Evans stable is back in business after a terrible barren spell; their previous four winners took three months to achieve. Their 2018 total of 42 was accompanied, frustratingly, by 92 second places.

Kodiline, their latest success, ran on late and led in the final stride. His jockey, Katherine Begley, describes herself on Twitter as “apprentice and everything else” at the Evans yard. It was her third winner in her last four rides, so it’s been a very happy Christmas for her. Prior to that she had taken two years to accumulate 14 winners from over 200 mounts, but Josephine Gordon was 1-63 for the same length of time at the beginning of her career before it took off.

The Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape will have his next race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Trainer Colin Tizzard has a powerful squad to contest it, with stablemates Thistlecrack and Native River, the reigning champion, set to line up as well.