It appears safe to assume that the handicapper was not able to raise Grey Dawning by enough for his relatively narrow success in the Ladbrokes Fanzone Handicap Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He travelled extremely well through the race and showed his greenness when push came to shove in the closing stages, although perhaps his jockey will feel he hit the front sooner than ideal.
Either way, he had to find more to renew his momentum once challenged after the final hurdle, but he eventually won with much more in hand than his winning margin might suggest, and his trainer will presumably find a nice handicap prize for him this season.
He was only raised to 129 after this comfortable success, and so the words of his trainer post-race are potentially even more interesting.
"You'd like to think he will be running outside of handicap company by the end of the season".
Handicaps Or Graded Race Next?
I notice that Grey Dawning has an entry in the Grade Two Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick on Saturday January 14, but this would not prevent his astute trainer from reverting back to handicaps with him, irrespective of where he finishes at Warwick.
In the early declarations, Ginny's Destiny is the highest-rated horse in the race off a mark of 133, and consequently, even if Grey Dawning happened to win that Grade 2 contest with a little bit in hand, he would still very likely be rated below 140 post-race.
Cheltenham Or Aintree?
A mark between 135-140 should still be enough to get him into the bottom of the handicap for either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham in March.
Alternatively, his trainer may elect to try him over three miles in the spring, in which case the three-mile handicap hurdle which is Aintree's opening race on Grand National day could come under consideration.
Wherever Grey Dawning turns up in March or April, he could well be another Dan Skelton horse holding a little bit up his sleeve from the handicapper.