After conditional jockey Jamie Goldstein, 22, had galvanised a winning run through the Newbury mud from King’s Road in Saturday’s Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies immediately flagged Chepstow’s Welsh National on December 27 as the next objective.

“This horse can win any race in heavy ground,” declared Twiston-Davies, whose Beau is still on course for the King George V1 Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, despite being pulled up. Conditions for the Welsh National are likely to be ideal for King’s Road.

But don’t get too excited about the Cheltenham Gold Cup because ever sinceCheltenham has improved its drainage system, the ground is invariably fast for the Festival. Twiston-Davies still believes that Beau has a Gold Cup in him.

Tim Easterby was delighted with brilliant Barton’s re-introduction following tendon problems in Saturday’s Pertemps Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

“He seems to be fine after that and will probably run in the Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on 9 December,” said trainer Easterby.

In-form jockey Tony Dobbin, who has taken over on Barton from retired LorcanWyer, reported: “He’ll improve for the race. He felt great, travelled well and jumped great. He could be anything.”

Barton is 12-1 for the Champion Hurdle. Was this a wake-up call for triple Champion Hurdler Istabraq?

When asked what was next for Shotgun Willy, following an impressive win at Newbury on Friday, Paul Nicholls replied: “It’s a question of what we do with him between now and the 2002 Cheltenham Gold Cup.” Nicholls believes Shotgun Willy could go right to the top.

He is just one of a handsome bunch of three-mile novice chasers around at the moment. They include Saturday’s Newbury winner Bacchanal, first fence faller Ask The Natives, Haydock hero Crocadee and Behrajan.

Already Cheltenham’s Royal & SunAlliance Chase for burgeoning three-milers in March is looking extra spicy.