THE festive action always throws up a number of surprises, good and bad.
Which big name stars delivered, who failed to land a blow and what does it mean for the rest of the season?
Team Skelton smashed in winners for fun at the King George meeting at Kempton.
Most big names would snap your hand off for one or two victories at one of the most competitive fixtures on the calendar, well team Skelton managed five.
And they weren't just your run of the mill handicaps either. Shan Blue looked top-class when jumping his rivals into submission in the Grade 1 Kauto Star.
Nube Negra downed the mighty Altior the following afternoon in the Desert Orchid, while Third Time Lucki is now as short as 14-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival after his win in the opening race of the meeting.
No wonder Dan and his brother jockey Harry are smiling. Those three winners alone would have paid for Christmas.
Newbury's Grade 1 Challow Hurdle has been one by some big names down the years.
In recent seasons alone Champ and Thyme Hill have come out on top.
But it was 2006 winner Denman who had trainer Paul Nicholls drawing comparisons with the latest name on the roll of honour – Bravemansgame.
He demolished a small but select field by a handsome ten lengths and jockey Harry Cobden has already nailed his colours to the mast, after he labelled him the best chance he has of a Festival winner.
And the best could yet be to come, with connections clearly thinking he will come into his own over fences next year and beyond. He's some prospect.
A Plus Tard
The Gold Cup division is yet to come alive this season, but Henry De Bromhead's star added his name to the shortlist with a memorable win in the Grade 1 Savills Chase.
It was his first go at the longer three mile trip, but he passed the test with flying colours getting up late in the day to deny Kemboy in a real post-Christmas cracker.
Amazingly he was as big as 66-1 for the Gold Cup prior to his win, but is now as small as 8-1 in some shops in the village.
Now that's what you call a turnaround.
Champion Hurdle Hopefuls
Now, where do you start? Plenty has been made of the weakness of the Champion Hurdle division in recent seasons.
But that looked set to change when Epatante sauntered home at the Festival last season.
And with Saint Roi and Abacadabras to come through this season, punters were beginning to lick their lips.
However, all three were stuffed like the turkey over Christmas and Saint Roi and Abacadabras especially look like they are back to the drawing board.
Epatante's blip can be forgiven, but all of a sudden the old favourites of Silver Streak, Sharjah and even Buveur D'Air appear better than those have given them credit for over the years.
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Christmas 2020 will go down as one to forget for Elliott.
Not only did he test positive for COVID prior to major meetings at Leopardstown and Limerick, a host of his big guns failed to fire.
Presenting Percy, Delta Work, Abacadabras, Fury Road and Sire Du Berlais were all beaten.
Only Triumph Hurdle favourite Zanahiyr kept his tall reputation in tact.
To add salt in to the wounds, Championship rival Willie Mullins needed a bigger boot to fit all his trophies in.
Elliott was miles ahead in the trainers' title prior to Christmas. But with Mullins scooping over £200,000 to Elliott's £60,000 that has all changed.
That's not what the doctor ordered.
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