Mixedwave has become the first winner to be disqualified under the current whip rules after his rider Alex Edwards used his whip 16 times at Market Rasen last week – nine above the permitted level.

Regulations concerning the use of the whip underwent major changes earlier this year, with the numbers of strikes allowed in Flat and jumps races reduced to six and seven respectively.

A tougher penalty structure for those in breach was also introduced, including doubled suspensions for major races and disqualification in the most serious of cases.

The Pam Sly-trained Mixedwave was a 4-1 shot for Market Rasen’s Pertemps Network Handicap Chase on Thursday – and after making virtually all the running, clung on by a short-head from Post Chaise.

However, following the latest meeting of the Whip Review Committee, Edwards was found to have used his whip nine times above the permitted level of seven and “without giving his mount time to respond from approaching the third-last flight.”

Taking into account Edwards had used his whip more than four times above the permitted level, Mixedwave was disqualified, while Edwards will serve a 24-day suspension (December 12-23 and December 26-January 6), with one of these days to be spent receiving specialised coaching.

It is the first such disqualification since the rules were introduced, with 7,903 races staged under the rules as of November 26, according to the British Horseracing Authority.

A BHA spokesperson said: “Disqualification was introduced as the ultimate deterrent for overuse of the whip and there can be no excuse for exceeding the permitted level by nine uses.

“As well as extensive consultation and communication, jockeys were required to undertake online training modules which clearly set out the new rules prior to riding under them.

“The wide-ranging understanding of what may trigger a disqualification, and the steps taken by jockeys to adapt well to the new rules, is demonstrated by the fact that this is the first time in almost 8,000 races that the rule has been invoked following a winning ride.”

John McConnell’s Mahler Mission is reported in fine spirits for the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday and is the current favourite with the sponsors.

The seven-year-old made a pleasing return to action in the Colin Parker earlier in the month, finishing second over a trip bound to be insufficient for a proven stayer.

Crucially, his jumping was sound throughout the race, a reassuring sight after he fell two from home on his final start of last season when leading the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

McConnell reports the gelding to have fared well since his Carlisle run and, all being well, expects him to take up his engagement at Newbury – where he is currently the 7-1 favourite with sponsors Coral.

“He came out of Carlisle fine, we were delighted with the run there and this was always the next step for him,” he said.

“It’s just the final checks we’ve got to do, we’ll run a scope on him and if that’s all OK, then we’ll be there.”

Coral’s David Stevens commented: “This year’s Coral Gold Cup betting remains wide open, although punters have at least found a clear favourite for now, with the Irish raider Mahler Mission now a point shorter than Complete Unknown.”

Frost covers have been deployed at both Newcastle and Newbury as course officials do everything within their power to ensure this weekend’s high-profile fixtures beat the impending cold snap.

Newcastle is due to stage the biggest meeting of its jumps season on Saturday, with the brilliant Constitution Hill set to be the star of the show as he bids for back-to-back victories in the BetMGM Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

However, with temperatures in the north east due to dip below freezing every night ahead of raceday, clerk of the course Eloise Quayle appears more hopeful than confident that racing will go ahead.

She said: “We had the black, thick sheets down on the take-offs, landings and crossings yesterday and we’ve covered the rest of the track today.

“Temperatures are forecast to drop below zero every night from tonight now and I suppose the concern at the moment is that while the night temperatures are not massively cold, the day temperatures aren’t coming up overly high and they’re quite slow to rise.

“On Saturday, we’re not looking at getting above zero until around 11am, so we’re obviously going to be reviewing and checking the forecasts and hoping that will improve marginally at least.

“We’ll have to be very slick (on Saturday) because our first race is due off at 11.35am and you don’t want to lift the covers too early because if it is warm enough underneath, you don’t want to lift them and then it starts to freeze.

“It’s all fine margins at the minute and a bit of a balancing act, but I think we’ve done everything we can to keep that residual heat in the ground and there’s a great covering of grass.

“Hopefully, the forecast is forgiving, rather than being as brutal as it might be, but we’ll just have to see and keep our fingers crossed.”

Saturday’s Coral Gold Cup is the centrepiece of a scheduled two-day meeting further south at Newbury.

Conditions were perfectly raceable on Tuesday afternoon – but with frost forecast for the remainder of the week, clerk of the course George Hill is taking precautions.

He said: “We were frost-free this morning and had a nice drop of rain on Monday, but we’re due to get a bit colder heading towards the weekend, so we’ve covered the track for Friday and we’ll cover up again after racing on Friday ahead of Saturday.

“There are sub-zero temperatures forecast for later in the week, and there’s freezing fog around too, so we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.

“We were over 7C today with a nice bit of sunshine and we’ve got good grass cover, so that’s a positive – as the more grass there is the better when frost is around.

“It’s hard to imagine today that the frost is coming, but that’s what they’re saying, so we’ll be prepared either way.”

Officials at Kelso have called a precautionary inspection for 7.30am ahead of Wednesday’s card due to the threat of overnight snow and frost.

Harry Fry has confirmed that Love Envoi will tackle Constitution Hill in the BetMGM Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

A winner of eight of her 11 races under rules, she has been a credit to her connections for the past two seasons.

As a novice, Love Envoi won the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and last season she went out on her sword when taking on Honeysuckle in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, finishing a gallant runner-up.

While she faces a tall order on her return to action against the best hurdler in training, Fry feels it is the perfect place to get her started.

Conditions are currently cold in the North East but precautions have already been taken, with the track under cover.

“She’s all ready to get her season under way. Obviously, it’s going to be a very good race with a certain Constitution Hill set to line up but it’s a lovely starting point for us,” he told Newcastle racecourse.

“We’ve been happy with her since she came back into work and we’re looking forward to seeing her out.

“I was delighted when Noel (Fehily, who manages the syndicate which owns her) asked me to train her, her first season went great, she was unbeaten over here and only lost her unbeaten tag in Ireland, winning at the Cheltenham Festival.

“Last year, she picked up where she left off, added two more wins and was then a brilliant second to Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle.

“That’s what her season will be built around once more in March, but we are looking forward to seeing her out this weekend.”

Nick Alexander is keeping his fingers crossed that Shishkin lines up at Newcastle on Saturday to give him the best possible chance of bagging a second victory in the BetMGM Rehearsal Chase with Elvis Mail.

The Kinneston handler saddled stable stalwart Lake View Lad to land the prestigious handicap five years ago and has high hopes for his latest candidate, who made a successful start to his campaign when notching a fifth Kelso win in last month’s Edinburgh Gin Chase.

What complicates matters slightly in terms of this weekend’s race is the presence of Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin, who could make a swift reappearance under the welter burden of 12 stone after refusing to race in last Saturday’s 1965 Chase at Ascot.

If Shishkin does take his chance, Elvis Mail will carry just 10st 1lb, but if Henderson decides against sending his multiple Grade One winner to the North East, the weights will rise considerably, and it is not inconceivable that Elvis Mail himself could yet end up carrying top-weight.

“I’d love him to be running with 10st 1lb on his back. He’s well and ready to run again and he’d certainly be running if that was the case,” Alexander explained.

“If the top-weight doesn’t run and the next two (Ga Law and Datsalrightgino) were to run at Newbury and he was to end up with top-weight, then I wouldn’t be certain.

“He’ll probably run anyway. He won very nicely at Kelso, we were delighted with him and he’s been great since, so fingers crossed he’s still great on Saturday.”

Elvis Mail has won eight races in his career so far, with his five Kelso triumphs supplemented by a trio of wins at Ayr.

Alexander feels the nature of Gosforth Park should suit his charge just fine, adding: “He likes a galloping track and has run well at Doncaster.

“He doesn’t want holding ground, so he could do with them getting a snow shower or something, just to keep it on the wetter side. He likes decent ground as well, so he should be fine.

“I’m very much looking forward to running him.”

Impaire Et Passe is the star name among seven horses confirmed for the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The French import is four from four over obstacles since joining Willie Mullins, a record which includes a dominant victory over stablemate Gaelic Warrior in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The five-year-old is rated the biggest threat to the brilliant Constitution Hill by some bookmakers in this season’s Champion Hurdle market and he will be a warm order to make a successful start to his campaign this weekend.

Mullins could also saddle high-class mare Ashroe Diamond, while Gordon Elliott has a quartet of contenders in Beacon Edge, Irish Point, last year’s Hatton’s Grace hero Teahupoo and Zanahiyr.

Paul Gilligan’s recent Cheltenham scorer Buddy One completes the acceptors. The six-year-old faces a rise in class after scoring in handicap company in the Cotswolds two weeks ago, but Gilligan is contemplating rolling the dice.

He said: “We’ll make a decision on Friday morning, hopefully we’ll be going. He’s in super order and has come out of Cheltenham very, very well.

The first of three Grade Ones on a quality card is the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, for which nine promising youngster have stood their ground.

An Tobar looks a major player judged on an impressive debut under rules over the course and distance for Henry de Bromhead, who also has the promising Slade Steel.

Mullins has confirmed Bialystok and Horantzau D’airy, his brother Tom looks set to saddle Fascile Mode and Elliott could run Farren Glory, King Of Kingsfield and What’s Up Darling.

Encanto Bruno, trained by Gavin Cromwell, also warrants respect.

Seven go forward for the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase, including the Mullins-trained pair of I Am Maximus and Sharjah.

I Am Maximus won the Irish Grand National in the spring, but retains his novice status for the time being, as does the top-class hurdler Sharjah, who has made a smooth transition to fences with two comfortable victories.

Elliott has three to choose from, with American Mike, Favori De Champdou and Found A Fifty all engaged, while Cromwell fires a twin assault with Letsbeclearaboutit and Perceval Legallois.

The Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton is next on the agenda for Laura Morgan’s Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up Notlongtillmay.

The seven-year-old won his first three starts over fences last season before outrunning odds of 40-1 when second to Stage Star in the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having made a promising return when fourth at Prestbury Park in October, Notlongtillmay was well fancied for one of the season’s feature handicaps earlier this month – and while he was again no match for the impressive Stage Star, the Malinas gelding was comfortably best of the rest.

Morgan considered sending her stable star back to Cheltenham for next month’s December Gold Cup, but will instead keep her powder dry for the new year.

“He seems to have come out of the race well. He bumped into one a bit better than him, but he’s run really well and we’re all delighted to have a horse to take us to these big days,” she said.

“I entered him for the December race and then I pulled him out because I just thought I’d be too tempted to run him.

“He had a hard enough race, I felt, at Cheltenham, so I thought we’d maybe wait and go to Kempton for the Silviniaco Conti Chase on January 13.

“Whether we step him up in trip after Kempton, I’m a bit undecided on that. The Ryanair Chase, I would say, would be the plan.

“It’s so hard to find horses like this, even for the bigger trainers. It’s great for a small yard like ours to have a horse to go to the big days and be competitive as well.”

Morgan also saddled Whistleinthedark to finish eighth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

A progressive chaser last term, the eight-year-old is now being readied for a step up in trip.

Morgan added: “I thought he ran a lovely race, it was obviously his first run back and I don’t think he quite went on the track.

“I think we’ll probably keep him to a flat, galloping track in the future, but he ran well, especially after making a howler of a mistake four out – I don’t know how Kevin (Brogan) stayed on him, to be honest.

“I think he’ll go to Doncaster on December 16 for a 0-150 handicap chase over three miles. Hopefully he’ll go well, as I think he should be better over the longer trip.”

Fergal O’Brien’s Kamsinas could head in the direction of the Formby Novices’ Hurdle after a smart Graded success at Haydock on Saturday.

The six-year-old won first time out this season and then headed to Cheltenham for the Grade Two Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle last month, in which he finished second when beaten by a nice horse in Neil King’s Lookaway.

At Haydock, he was a 16-5 chance for the Betfair Racing Podcasts Newton Novices’ Hurdle, another Grade Two, and travelled in midfield for much of the contest under Paddy Brennan, while producing a neat round of jumping.

The bay then took up the lead three hurdles from home and held off all of his rivals to secure a pleasing length and a quarter success for owners Noel Fehily Racing.

“I was delighted with him, he did it very well and travelled and jumped beautifully,” O’Brien said.

“We were over the moon with him, fingers crossed he can keep going forward and progressing.

“He was very unlucky in his first bumper when he got brought down, then he came back and won a bumper.

“By the time he ran with a penalty, he’d been in a long time, but he won first time out this year. He was a bit unlucky at Cheltenham, he finished second and then went and won on Saturday, so he has been very consistent.”

The Grade One Formby Novices’ Hurdle, previously known as the Tolworth, is now up for discussion as its new location at Aintree is expected to suit the French-bred gelding.

“I’ve got to clarify it with Noel and David Crosse from Noel Fehily Racing, but it seems the obvious route,” O’Brien said of the race.

“With the Tolworth being moved to Aintree and Aintree being pretty similar to Haydock, it should suit.

“The timing is right, so it’s the obvious place.”

O’Brien has another promising hurdler on his hands in Crambo, third in the Betfair “Serial Winners” Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at the same Haydock meeting.

The six-year-old is a two-time bumper winner who has always looked to have a good deal of ability over hurdles too, having won four times over the obstacles before starting at Haydock.

Crambo was a 5-1 chance under Connor Brace and though the pair found themselves too far back to mount a winning challenge in the closing stages, the gelding still caught the eye when running on to finish strongly in third.

Discussions will now be had as to whether the bay contests more handicap contests or steps up to a Graded event on his next start.

“I was delighted with him, he tried very hard and just didn’t get any luck in running,” O’Brien said of the horse.

“It’s no surprise to be beaten by two well handicapped Irish horses, I’ve got to speak to the owners and decide if we try a Graded race or go down the handicap route.”

The Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival has been mentioned and is a viable target, with connections ultimately having to decide whether to take aim at the race this term or wait until next season.

O’Brien said: “I definitely think he’s up to it, it’s whether we are a year too soon or not. I need to discuss it with the owners and the lads in the yard and see where we think we should go.”

Thunder Rock is being prepared for the Virgin Bet December Gold Cup Handicap Chase next month, with Olly Murphy keen to have a crack at Cheltenham’s valuable pre-Christmas feature.

The seven-year-old won his first two outings over the larger obstacles before running with credit in some high-class events last term and impressed on his return to action at Carlisle with a victory over Mahler Mission in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase.

The runner-up is disputing favouritism for Saturday’s Coral Gold Cup at Newbury, with Murphy targeting handicap riches of his own at Cheltenham on December 16.

There is a prize-fund of £130,000 up for grabs in the showpiece event of Prestbury Park’s December Meeting and the Warren Chase handler is keen to take his chance while Thunder Rock is currently rated 146 over fences.

“He’s in good form and he’s being trained for the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham,” said Murphy.

“That’s the plan of action and it’s his turn to try to win at Cheltenham and we’re going to have a go at a really good handicap. He’s come out of Carlisle really well and he’s going to be trained for that race.

“It wasn’t a humungous entry so we’re going to have a go and it’s unbelievable prize-money. He actually ran really well over course and distance there in January in the Dipper, he’s in good form, we’ll go there fresh and we’re looking forward to running him.”

Murphy is also taking plenty of encouragement from the return to form of Strong Leader, who bounced back from disappointing in the Welsh Champion Hurdle to finish a gallant second to the improving Blueking D’Oroux in Ascot’s Coral Hurdle.

It was the first time the Grade One runner-up had competed over further than two miles and the trainer believes there will be more to come over intermediate and staying distances as the season progresses.

Murphy continued: “I would imagine you will see him over further in time and he probably didn’t jump as well as he can. Whether that has cost him the race or didn’t cost him the race, I don’t know but it certainly didn’t help his cause.

“I’m not sure where we will go yet and I haven’t spoken to his owners, but there are handicap options over Christmas, there’s the Relkeel Hurdle (Cheltenham, January 1) and there’s a two-and-a-half-mile Graded race at Lingfield over Winter Millions weekend in January.

“Those types of races will be on the cards and don’t be surprised if you see him over three miles before the end of the season. But I think we will see him improve an awful lot and we haven’t seen the finished article yet.

“He’s definitely a horse who wants a trip and two miles is far too sharp for him. I’m looking forward to making a plan for him and it will definitely be over middle distances or even further.”

An online fundraising auction in aid of Graham Lee has been set up, featuring plenty of interesting racing lots.

All monies raised will be managed by the Injured Jockeys Fund but go directly to the 47-year-old rider.

Bids can be placed on a number of experiences, including spending a morning on the gallops of trainers such as Paul Nicholls, Karl Burke, Harry Derham, Donald McCain and Fergal O’Brien.

Tours of several studs are also available, along with hospitality packages at racecourses like York, Newbury, Sedgefield and Stratford.

Perhaps the most popular of the lots, though, will be the chance to play a four-ball round of golf with Sir AP McCoy.

Grand National and Group One-winning jockey Lee suffered a serious injury at Newcastle earlier this month.

A JustGiving page established by Lee’s daughter has raised more than £162,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund, while a nomination to new stallion Paddington, provided by Coolmore, will be auctioned off by Tattersalls on December 4.

The latest auction set up in aid of Lee can be viewed via https://platform.nationalfundingscheme.org/GrahamLee

Gordon Elliot has stressed “everything is open” for Gerri Colombe as bookmakers took evasive action anticipating a Boxing Day appearance in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Following his winning return at Down Royal, Elliott had mentioned Leopardstown’s festive feature, the Savills Chase, or the Cotswold Chase on Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day card would be the destination for the next step on the seven-year-old’s path to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

But with both defending champion Bravemansgame and Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin fluffing their lines at Haydock and Ascot respectively over the weekend, the Cullentra House handler sent the King George market spinning when briefly suggesting a trip to Kempton was possible in an interview following the victory of Imagine at Punchestown on Sunday.

Gerri Colombe has since attracted significant support in the King George market, usurping Bravemansgame as the favourite with some layers.

However, speaking to the PA news agency on Monday, Elliott confirmed no decision has been made yet, with conditions nearer the time set to determine Gerri Colombe’s next move.

“Everything is still kind of up in the air and everything is open,” said Elliott.

“We’ve got the King George, Leopardstown and the race at Cheltenham. There’s no decision made, we will just wait to see what the ground is and make a decision nearer the time.

“We won’t know for two weeks what we are doing.”

When asked if the drama-filled events over the weekend make saddling a first King George runner since Don Cossack in 2015 more tempting, Elliott added: “To be honest, I just worry about my own horse, I don’t worry about anyone else.”

Don Cossack was a late faller when sent off 15-8 favourite for Kempton’s Christmas showpiece that year, before going on to taste Gold Cup glory the following March.

And the Robcour-owned Gerri Colombe is also currently disputing favouritism with Willie Mullins’ Galopin Des Champs at the head of the Gold Cup betting.

Stuart Crawford hopes there is more improvement to come from smart Haydock winner Park Annonciade.

The five-year-old began his hurdling career in the summer with two encouraging efforts at Sligo and Perth, missing out by just three quarters of a length on debut and then winning well next time out.

He returned in autumn after a short break and quickly regained the winning thread with an Ayr success that led him to Haydock on Saturday, where he carried bottom weight, which was assisted further by 5lb claimer Ben Bromley.

The same trainer and owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, were also represented in the race by Carnfunnock, but it was his less experienced stablemate who swept to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory as the 3-1 joint-favourite.

“We probably fancied the other horse more but he was just a bit rusty with his jumping on his first run of the season,” Crawford said.

“Park Annonciade had the advantage of a few runs, he’s been on the go over the summer and the drying ground was a big plus for him and he took advantage of being at the bottom of the weights.

“It was good that we could win with one runner anyway!”

The race was a step up to two miles and three furlongs for Park Annonciade and while Crawford predicts he will stay further in time, he is happy to move up only incrementally in the immediate future.

“Eventually, I imagine he’d be a horse that will run over a trip at some point in time but two, two and half miles at this stage will be far enough for him,” he said.

“I don’t know what the handicapper is going to do with him after that but he’s still going to struggle to get into the better races with the mark he’ll be on.

“We’ll let him progress, he’s a horse that has improved with racing and he’s taken a wee bit of time to come to himself, so hopefully there’s another day in him at some point.”

Of plans for Carnfunnock, the trainer added: “I imagine we’ll go for a similar type of race again, he was the one we were really going there for but it didn’t work out on the day for him.

“He’s come out of the run well and we’ll look for something a bit closer to Christmas.”

A late call will be made on Buddy One’s participation in Sunday’s Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, with Leopardstown’s Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle also an option for Paul Gilligan’s thriving hurdler.

Third to Iroko at the Cheltenham Festival in March before also going close at Aintree the following month, the six-year-old has continued to catch the eye in his recent outings, following up a taking victory at Galway by successfully stepping up to three miles at Cheltenham recently.

Having scored at Prestbury Park off a mark of 147, Gilligan believes Buddy One has done enough to warrant a shot in the big leagues and is preparing his progressive performer for Grade One action at either Fairyhouse this weekend or Leopardstown over the festive period.

“He’s 100 per cent and came out of his race at Cheltenham very, very well,” said Gilligan.

“Fairyhouse is still in the mix, we’re not 100 per cent sure yet. We’ll make a final decision Friday morning and it’s not finalised, but we’re hoping to go.

“It looks a race that may cut up between just Willie (Mullins) and Gordon (Elliott) and John (McConnell) might go as well. I would like to run him in it, but we will see closer to the weekend.

“The only reason he may not go there is it is only two weeks since Cheltenham and if he doesn’t go there, he will go for the Christmas Hurdle (at Leopardstown).”

Buddy One will have to take on some of the best hurdlers in Ireland wherever he makes his next start and his handler is well aware another career best may be required from his in-form gelding to make his mark in esteemed company.

“No matter where he goes now, he will be at the level where he will be taking on all these good horses,” continued Gilligan. “We’re at the level now where we can’t be skipping or avoiding.

“It’s great to have a horse like him and he was really good at Cheltenham I think, but he has got to step up if he is taking on horses like Willie’s Impaire Et Passe and Gordon’s Irish Point.

“We’re aware of that and it is not just a walk in the park now, he has to step up and hopefully he will do.”

Jockey Ray Dawson has been banned for six months after failing a drugs test at Bath on August 19.

The 30-year-old has a history of addiction problems and tested positive for cocaine after a drink and drug binge the previous night.

He has not ridden since August 24 and his suspension will be backdated until September 1.

Dawson appeared before a British Horseracing Authority Disciplinary panel on Monday, when he admitted he had relapsed one night, having spent the majority of the previous five years sober.

He enjoyed his best year in 2022 with 64 winners, which included Group Two victories in the Lowther on Zain Claudette and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on subsequent 1000 Guineas winner Mawj.

Paul Nolan says there will be no more ground excuses for Joyeux Machin as he contemplates a step up to Grade One company at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.

A two-time winner over hurdles last term, he has already banked plenty of chasing experience, racing four times over the larger obstacles and going close in a competitive Listed heat at Wexford earlier this month, where he found just Gordon Elliott’s Minella Crooner too good.

The six-year-old holds an entry for the Neville Hotels Novice Chase on December 29 and his handler believes he can no longer use deep ground as an excuse, having gone so close in testing conditions on his most recent outing.

“We looked a bit stupid the last day because we ran him on heavy ground,” said Nolan.

“After his two ‘PUs’ on heavy ground before and on the gallops after working him on heavy ground, it was basically a finding out mission (at Wexford) and we can’t blame ground anymore after his performance the other day, when I thought he was very unlucky and just missed the last.

“He was getting weight off the winner and on ratings he wasn’t too far wrong with the winner. There’s no point getting too carried away, but I definitely won’t be blaming ground anymore.”

Joyeux Machin’s long-term future appears to be over the larger obstacles, with Nolan having the trip to Dublin at Christmas at the forefront of his mind.

However, the handler would be open to reverting to hurdles if the opportunity presented itself, with a confidence boosting victory over timber seen as the perfect way to tee-up Joyeux Machin for his big-race festive assignment.

“I wouldn’t mind mixing things up with him,” continued Nolan. “We had him on the go during the summer for a couple of races and we won’t run him too often. His aim will be at Christmas where he is entered in the Grade One and we’ll see where we go.

“If there was a hurdle race in between that we thought may suit him, then I would love to win with him – and on that basis, if we have a look at the programme and there was a conditions hurdle that came up and he was in at a lovely weight, then I would have no problem going back over hurdles with him.

“We’ll have a chat with the owners and see what we do, but the Grade One will come under serious consideration, with the strong chance that Leopardstown won’t be that deep.”

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