There were plenty of signs out of Happy Valley on Wednesday night that things are getting late in the day for black bookers, with an unusually high number of horses reported to have issues after racing.

The likely repeat runners for the remainder of this season are dwindling so it’s time to look further ahead with black bookers, to the early meetings of next season.

And one that definitely caught the eye was the David Hall-trained Ho Ho Horse, who finished fourth behind Sunny Dragon in the final event after not having the best luck in the run down the straight.

Now, let’s say up front this is a bad form race. Everything about it said the form will be highly unreliable as a guide to the future – a very bunched finish, an unusually high amount of interference and a slow overall time that was matched up with terrible sectional times. All red flags.

But that term “bad form race” doesn’t mean the horses in the race are rubbish, it does mean that where they finished and how they performed on this occasion should be dropped in the bin when you’re assessing them in their subsequent assignments.

So, considering all that, why is Ho Ho Horse a black booker out of the event?

Well, that is because his close-up fourth here may not have been a great performance in itself but was part of a path of improvement the three-year-old has been walking since he arrived. His improvement has been in small steps but happening consistently and, at the same time, he has been trickling down the ratings.

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Ho Ho Horse arrived too highly rated on a figure of 70 for moderate wins on synthetic tracks in Melbourne in his only two starts there over 1,200m, and hopefully he will drop a few more points in the summer review to see him start the next campaign in Class Four.

The gelding’s descent in the ratings and improved runs on the track should just about dovetail into him finding his form at the start of the new term when he drops a grade.