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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

The Reel deal, a political comeback and circus acts star in our round-up

Highland Reel: bowing out in victory in Hong Kong
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Performance of the week

There were plenty of jumping performers to salute over the weekend but also a star of the Flat to wave farewell to as Highland Reel bowed out with one last demonstration of his endearing talent.

Europe has produced plenty of international trailblazers over the year but none who has raced so consistently at such a high level across four continents.

Had there been more fast ground to compete on nearer to home, who knows what Highland Reel could have added to his major European wins in the King George VI, Prince of Wales's Stakes and Coronation Cup.

But as he showed again at Sha Tin in beating Breeders' Cup Turf conqueror Talismanic, when he gets those conditions he was almost impossible to pass.

Comeback of the week

Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden are all smiles with Politologue

In terms of wins Paul Nicholls hasn't been anywhere but since Kauto Star, Master Minded, Denman and Big Buck's brought the curtain down on a golden era, he has been unable to match Nicky Henderson for star quality.

On Saturday, however, he enjoyed a glimpse of what he has been looking for, in the form of six-year-old in Politologue.

The Tingle Creek victory, under the teenage rider Harry Cobden, will fill the yard with confidence and raise hope that the pursuit of fresh young talent will continue to bear fruit.

Sunday is another day

Robbie Power and David Mullins are becoming frequent flyers to Britain and often travel more in expectation than hope.

Power at least did not return home empty-handed, having guided the promising Ainchean to victory in the first race at Sandown.

But having been preferred to Bryan Cooper, who had been unable to prove his fitness for Finian's Oscar and Fox Norton, he would have still gone home disappointed.

Mullins smacked the ground in frustration after he was unseated from Brain Power at the last fence in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase having set out to dominate, a tactic Nicky Henderson later suggested might not have suited the horse.

At least on Sunday there was a chance to move on as Power steered Sizing John to victory and Mullins enjoyed a bloodless success on Un De Sceaux.

They could run away to the circus

Gravity-defying now among the skills on Shane Shortall's CV

Former Hennessy Gold Cup winning rider Dan Fortt is now a circus performer and there were three examples of brilliant horsemanship shown this week.

Jack Kennedy made a miraculous recovery to stay on Robin Des Mana and even go on and win the race at Clonmel during the week and two more acrobats emerged this weekend.

At Wetherby Tony Kelly recovered from a crunching mistake from which he was nearly unseated by Captain Mowbray to steer the horse to victory, despite also losing his whip and irons.

And at Aintree, Shane Shortall was thrown over the neck of Grey Water but somehow managed to hold on to the horse before recovering to complete the race.

Quote of the week

"I'm sorry to use his name but he reminds me of Red Rum, although he's got a lot do to be anything like him!"
Nigel Twiston-Davies after Blaklion captured the Becher Chase at Aintree.

I'm sorry to use his name but he reminds me of Red Rum, although he's got a lot do to be anything like him
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