Monday, 30 October 2017

Calett Mad 'just like Wholestone' says Daryl Jacob

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Jockey Daryl Jacob believes Saturday winner Calett Mad can follow in the footsteps of Wholestone, a dual-Grade winning staying hurdler.

Calett Mad won Cheltenham's Junior Jumpers Novices' Hurdle in stylish fashion on the weekend, winning by just under five lengths in the Cotswold. Wholestone won the same contest by a length.

He went on to win at Grade Two level twice, before finishing third in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival.

Nigel Twiston-Davies trains the pair, who also both wear the iconic green colours of Simon Munir & Isaac Souede.

“Calett Mad is a bit like Wholestone, who won this race last year and kept progressing," said Jacob after Saturday's win.

"I think this lad will hopefully do the very same, He has a big, galloping stride and seems to take horses out of their comfort zone very early.

“We got to a stage where it was going to be very, very difficult for him over fences, especially at Ayr when he produced a career-best and was just beaten. 

"He is only a young horse, so we decided to go down the Wholestone route.”

Calett Mad was a novice chaser last season, but is currently two from two since switching to hurdling. 

He has been impressive in his two victories, and bookmakers have priced him at 33-1 for Albert Bartlett glory.

Malcom Jefferson highlights Gold Cup ambitions with Old Roan runner-up Cloudy Dream

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Malcom Jefferson will now target another big race success for Cloudy Dream, following his second place finish in Aintree's Old Roan Chase.

The seven-year-old travelled strongly around the Lancashire track, but veteran Smad Place jumped the final fence a tad better and battled on to seal the Grade Two victory.

Cloudy Dream, who finished second in the Arkle at last year's Cheltenham Festival, could remain at the two-and-a-half distance for Cheltenham's Bet Victor Gold Cup at the Open Festival next month.

Oldgrangewood grabbed third spot for Dan Skelton, whilst favourite Shantou Village was pulled-up in the Old Roan, whilst Grade One winners God's Own and Tea For Two were unplaced.

“He ran a blinder. He’s settling down now and settled into the race and jumped well,” said the Yorkshire-based trainer talking after the race.

“He’s in the race at Cheltenham next month and he’ll probably go for that. I’m sure he’ll get three miles now he’s settling more in his races.

"I’m very happy with him. I’d liked to have won, but he’s come to Liverpool and run another good race.”

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Smad Place ran out a 12 length Hennessy winner three years ago

He is currently best priced at 14-1 for the feature handicap of the November meeting.

His long term future could be in the big handicaps, but ambitious Jefferson could attempt a Cheltenham Gold Cup bid with the Grade Two winning chaser. He is currently priced at 50-1.

Smad Place is still priced at 100-1 for the Gold Cup.

Elsewhere on Aintree's Sunday card On The Blind Side ran out an encouraging winner on his British debut.

Nicky Henderson's five-year-old, who was Tippin' Jimmy's NAP of the day, battled on for victory by just under a length.

Posh Trish, The Romford Pele and Bon Chic enjoyed wins, whilst Bag's Groove won a competitive handicap for Harry Fry.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Shantou Village can 'prove his class' in classy Old Roan match-up

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Neil Mulholland’s exciting Shantou Village is set to boost his Grade One claims, as he faces a highy-competitive field in Aintree’s Old Roan this afternoon.

The seven-year-old is four from five since switched to chasing, and the former Grade Two winning hurdler, who missed out on last year’s Cheltenham Festival, could be a classy chaser in the making.

“We’re really happy with him at the moment,” said the Wiltshire-based trainer.

“It looks a very competitive race, but it is his first start so we don’t know how he will get on.

“He’s been schooling very well, and we like him a lot. Hopefully he should run well for us, and we’re excited to get started with him this season.”

Paul Nicholls is hopeful Bouvreuil can step up from his promising handicapping form as he searches for a first Graded success.

“He ran some really nice races last year and I’m happy with him,” said the ten-time champion trainer.

“He’s got a nice low weight and he should like the good ground. He seems in great form and we’re hoping for a nice run.”

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Gary Moore has enjoyed nine winners in the last fortnight, boasting a 25% strike rate

Traffic Fluide hasn’t tasted victory in just under 20 months, but after a string of good efforts at the top level, confidence is high from Gary Moore.

“He seems in great order at home,” said the Sussex handler.

“He’s working really well and any more rain they get would be useful, as he loves a bit of cut in the ground. We couldn’t be happier with him going into the race, but ideally we want a bit of rain.

Connections insist last year’s winner Third Intention faces a tough ask of reclaiming his Grade Two prize. The ten-year-old hasn’t won since that victory.

“He won the race last year for us,” said Joe Tizzard, assistant to Colin.

“We know he goes well fresh and we have had this race in mind for him all summer. We are happy with him at home, and he seems to be going well at home.

“This is much more competitive than last year, so he needs to find a bit. He is back on the same mark he won it off last year, so hopefully he can run well.”

Hennessy and Cotswold Chase hero Smad Place is joined by Tea For Two, who won the Betway Bowl at this venue on his last start.

Former Champion and Melling Chase God’s Own makes his return to the track for Tom George. He finished third on his last outing at Punchestown last April.

Malcolm Jefferson's Cloudy Dream finished second in the Arkle and Aintree's Manifesto Novices' Chase before finally winning at this level at Ayr last time out.

Henry De Bromhead’s Devils Bride, Dan Skelton’s Oldgrangewood and Venetia Williams’s Aso complete the twelve-runner field. Ballybolley is a non-runner.

Showcase Day Two: Nigel Twiston-Davies in hat-trick heaven after Showdown spectacular

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Gloucestershire-based Nigel Twiston-Davies swooped a 156-1 treble as Cogry, Foxtail Hill and Calett Mad all won for the master of Grange Hill.

Former Scottish National runner-up Cogry, enhanced his credentials in top handicaps as he battled off Simplefarmpayment for a four length success.

He jumped well and deserves his chance in the Grand National next April, after a fantastic performance in the Cotswolds.

"He's jumped really well, it has all come together and he was pretty impressive today," added Twiston-Davies.

"We will think about the Grand National, but he's got (to find) a bit of improvement to get into that.

"We will look at the Ladbrokes Trophy and that is a very strong possibility."

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Foxtail Hill has now won twice at Cheltenham following his narrow win

In the two-mile Randox Health Handicap Chase Foxtail Hill battled off Paul Nicholls' Le Prezien to win by a neck. Last year's renewal was won by Fox Norton.

The Naunton-based trainer won the Junior Jumpers Novices' Hurdle last year with Wholestone, and Calett Mad picked up the three mile prize in a similar fashion.

The four-and-a-half length winner wasn't pressed two hard and earnt prices of 33-1 for the Albert Bartlett in March.

“I am delighted and it has all gone well. Cheltenham have done a wonderful job with decent ground, so that we can bring good horses here with no risk of injury," he added.

“I was surprised how easy Calett Mad won. He did have 3lb and should have won, but perhaps not in that manner.”

Thomas Campbell won the opening leg of trials leading up to the Pertemps Hurdle series. Nicky Henderson's five-year-old was well clear of second place Milrow.

Twobeelucky and Double Treasure both capitalised on poor performances from the favourites in their subsequent races, whilst bumper glory went to Fergal O'Brien's Herecomestheboom.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Showcase Day Two: Tom George and Singlefarmpayment target Cheltenham revenge

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Tom George is expecting Simplefarmpayment to pick up where he left off, as the handicapper returns to Cheltenham for the first time since his photo finish Festival defeat.

The seven-year-old ran out an impressive winner last December, before being brought down at that track a month later.

A favourite for the hotly-contested Ultima he battled on strongly towards the finish, only to lose out narrowly to David Pipe's Un Temps Pour Tout in a photo finish.

He' s rated 4lb higher for that narrow defeat and George is hoping for redemption at Cheltenham.

"He came back from his summer break looking good and we are happy with him at the moment," said the Gloucestershire-based trainer.

"We said we will take each step as it comes this season, depending on how the horse is, and see where we go.

"He progressed well last season and it will be interesting to see if he can carry that on this season."

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Philip Hobbs' popular chaser Balthazar King won this race in 2012 and 2013.

Neil Mulholland is expecting Doing Fine to have another good visit to Cheltenham.

The six-year-old ran out an impressive six length winner when last seen at this venue, and ran well over hurdles as a prep for this event.

“He ran very well for a lot of last year and he’s very consistent," said Mulholland.

“He really likes Cheltenham, and the ground should suit, hopefully he should make his presence felt”

Robinsfirth was travelling stronly when unseating rider Harry Cobden when last seen in January, On Fiddlers Green represents Henry De Bromhead.

Harry Fry saddles former Grade Two hero Henryville, whilst Cogry makes his first start since narrowly losing in the Scottish National.

The Gloucestershire challenge is strengthened by Kim Bailey's Sonneofpresenting and Fergal O'Brien's Perfect Candidate.

Bells 'N' Banjos, West Wizard, Lamb Or Cod, Tanit River and Minella Celebration also run.

Showcase Day Two: Alcala has a 'big chance' in novice finale

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Paul Nicholls is expecting Alcala to finish his novice career off with a victory as the prolific summer scorer heads the market in the Royal Gloucesteshire Hussar Novice Chase (4:20).

The progressive seven-year-old won five races in a row in the summer, including the season’s huge prize, Market Rasen’s Summer Plate.

His most recent assignment was expected to be the hardest when taking on the exceptional Finian’s Oscar, but an unfortunate slip up handed a victory to Colin Tizzard’s Festival-bound star.

He will no longer be a novice at the end of the month, and Nicholls is planning on getting one more prize.

“He was so unlucky at Chepstow last time when he was seeking to win his sixth chase on the bounce,” Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

“He was bowling along in the lead, jumping for fun and was full of running until he slipped and came down on the final bend.

“Finian's Oscar was left to pick up the pieces but he was some way behind when it happened and I felt he would have needed to sprout wings to catch Alcala.

“I was pleased and relieved to find that Alcala was fine afterwards and he continues to please at home.

“As he is only a novice until the end of this month it makes sense to let him take his chance in this valuable race where he is well treated by the conditions.

“He should have a big chance.”

Dan Skelton’s Two Taffs was an encouraging listed winner on his final run of the season at Ayr, where he defeated some good chasers in Scotland.

Nicky Henderson’s Cultivator, who finished eighth in Grade One novice hurdling company on his last start, makes his chasing debut.

Recent Uttoxeter winner Midnight Shot hopes to build on his encouraging win in the Midlands for Charlie Longsdon.

Tintern Theatre represents Nigel Twiston-Davies, whilst Jamie Snowden’s Double Treasure is seeking a hat-trick following his wins at Newton Abbot and Worcester.

Showcase Day One: North Hill Harvey, Slate House and Black Corton all star in curtain raising celebration

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Dan Skelton's North Hill Harvey has been shortened into 16-1 for the Arkle, following a resilient victory over hot favourite Sceau Royal on the opening day of the Showcase.

The former Greatwood Hurdle led the field all the way around the Cotswold track, jumping well and travelling strongly.

As Ballykin and Movewiththetimes dropped out of the race, Alan King's Sceau Royal creeped closer. A determined performance from Skelton's chasing debutant saw off the Champion Hurdle sixth, to win by a neck.

"I got it wrong last season and he was always going to be better over a fence, I am just delighted with that," said the Warwickshire-based trainer.

"If I had my time again I would have run him plenty more times last season and I won't make that mistake again. He jumped well bar the two downhill ones.

"I thought before jumping the last upsides a horse that ran in the Champion Hurdle, that on the sprint to the line there would be no disgrace in coming off second, but fair play, he stuck his nut down.

"He will come back here in November for the Arkle trial and we will plan it from there.

"Two miles over fences is his trip. When he gets beat he looks like he wants further but when he is on form, he looks like a two-miler."

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£260,000 purchase Slate House was an impressive winner in a maiden hurdle

Elsewhere on the card Black Corton landed the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase (3:10) under Byrony Frost.

Paul Nicholls' six-year-old beat favourite Fagan by ten lengths.

Slate House won impressively on his British debut for Colin Tizzard. A steady jumper, the former point-to-pointer looked a classy act when crusing to a three and a quarter length victory.

Other wins came for Brillare Momento, Master Dancer, What Happens Now and Bobble Emerald.

Showcase Day One: Slate House a 'very good prospect' ahead of British debut

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Connections are expecting expensive purchase Slate House to live up to his price tag, as the former point-to-pointer takes on seven rivals at Cheltenham.

On his second start he looked like a superstar when cruising, and effortlessly, powering home at Tatterstalls Farm to a ten length success.

He sold for £260,000 in the Cheltenham sales in March, and looks another exciting addition to the Tizzard's exceptional yard.

"He's a very nice horse who certainly cost a lot of money," said Joe Tizzard, assistant to Colin.

"His Irish point-to-point form is pretty decent and the form has worked out quite well.

"He's impressed us at home in his work, and he has done everything right and now he has to produce it on the track.

"It loves a lovely starting place for him, and he looks a very good horse for the season."

He is an even money favourite to strike in his first start in the UK.

Dans Le Vent is his closest rival in the betting. Jamie Snowden's four-year-old finished sixth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival before capping off the year with a bumper win at Ludlow.

He finished third on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon earlier this month.

Point Of Principle, who finished seventh in a Grade Two contest at Aintree in April, runs for Tim Vaughan. He was second on his first start over hurdles.

Dan Skelton's Gortroe Joe, Des Donovan's Cash In Mind are joined by Windshear, Cheer's Delboy and Fact Flow in the Cotswold.

Showcase Day One: Paul Nicholls and Alan King share confidence for novice clash

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Paul Nicholls expects Movewiththetimes to make a winning chasing debut, as he features in an exceptional race card in the opening day of the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham.

The Showcase meeting is the first raceday at Cheltenham this season, and we will have regular content to the build-up, and in, the Cheltenham Festival.

Movewiththetimes missed out on last year’s Supreme Novice Hurdle, capping off his season with a second place finish in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle.

The six-year-old remains a smart prospect now switched to the larger obstacles.

“Obviously he was a nice horse last year and he did very well,” Nicholls said.

“He won his bumper, then he won his first novice hurdle.

"We ran him at Cheltenham in November and it didn't work out, but he ran really well in the Betfair and was only beaten three-quarters of a length.

"He didn't make Cheltenham (in March) as he had a minor setback, but he is now fine. I hope he will be a really nice novice chaser.

"I think we start over the two, but he will probably get a little bit further. He looks a sound jumper and has been jumping nicely at home."

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Alan King's Sceau Royal won by four and a half lengths on his chasing debut

Sceau Royal, who made a winning debut over fences at Warwick a fortnight ago, looks the main danger. He finished sixth in last season’s Champion Hurdle for Alan King.

”Sceau Royal was a high-class hurdler last season and though not the biggest, he was very slick over his obstacles, and his schooling was again exemplary when we were preparing him for the switch,” King told his website.

“He jumped well at Warwick and had the scope to get from A-B when going a bit long at a couple of fences down the back, so tackling Cheltenham fences will be valuable experience if our Festival dream is to become reality.

“We won’t be overdoing things through the winter as he doesn’t want testing ground, but this looks a decent contest and he has the penalty to carry, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he copes with that and the step up in class.”

North Hill Harvey who won last year’s Greatwood Hurdle for Dan Skelton is another chasing debutant this afternoon.

Patrick Griffin’s Chitu has won three times over fences, including an impressive seven length victory at Towcester a fortnight ago.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballyhill and Colin Tizzard’s Mick Thonic take their place alongside outsider Presenting William.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Superstar Champion Bumper winner Fayonagh suffers fatal injury

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Connections are 'heartbroken' following news that Champion Bumper hero Fayonagh has suffered a shock fatal injury in training this afternoon.

Gordon Elliott's six-year-old established herself as the leading bumper horse last season, with impressive victories in her division at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festival.

She looked to have progressed even further this season, when cruising to a comfortable two-and-a-half length success on her novice hurdling debut at Fairyhouse.

She had been one of the shortest priced favourites at the next Festival in March 2018, with some bookmakers installing her as low as 3-1 to win the Mares' Novice Hurdle; whilst the Supreme and Neptune were also options to the super mare.

"I'm devastated to announce that Fayonagh broke a hind leg this morning while doing a routine piece of work under Davy Russell at Skryne gallops and had to be put-down," Elliott told his Betfair blog.

"As a dual Grade one winning mare she was an exceptional talent and the sky was the limit with her.

"Needless to say, we are all heartbroken and our thoughts are with the connections at this time."

Her Cheltenham success boosted popular amateur jockey Jamie Codd into the headlines, as the Irish rider steered her through plenty of traffic to come from last to first to land Champion Bumper glory.

The world of racing is saddened by the loss of Fayonagh, who undoubtedly had the potential to be an exceptional hurdler and chaser in time.

Alan King 'pleased' as Yanworth strengthens novice chasing credentials at Exeter

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Alan King reveals he was impressed as Yanworth made a winning debut over fences at Exeter yesterday.

The Christmas and Aintree Stayers Hurdle didn’t jump perfectly, and caused odds-on backers a scare when not fluent two from home, but Barry Geraghty pushed him clear of Sternrubin to win comfortably and almost effortlessly.

The bookmakers have since shortened him to 8-1 for the JLT Novices Chase at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

“It's job done and I'm pleased and relieved,” said the Barbury Castle-maestro.

“He was a little bit high over the first few fences, but they weren't going very quick and I thought he warmed to his task well.

"He put down at the second-last, but he'll learn from that and overall I'm quite happy with the way he managed to get to Sternrubin, who is race-fit and a pretty good horse as well, and beat him."

"I hadn't really at any targets looked beyond today, to be honest. I just wanted to get this out of the way.

"I think there's a novice chase back here on November 15 over two-mile-three, so we might look at that, but we'll see how he comes out of this and go from there."

JP McManus’ £100,000 purchase Onefortheroadtom established himself as an exciting novice hurdler for Harry Fry.

He battled hard to see off former Group Two winner Lalor to land the prize on his British debut; his only other run came when winning an Irish point-to-point.

"We were hopeful he would run well and Exeter is a nice place to start these novices off,” said the Dorset-based trainer.

"It's great he's made a winning start and hopefully he's a horse with a nice future. He's only a four-year-old so we're in no great rush with him.

“We'll just run him in another novice under a penalty and go from there."

Johnny Farrelly’s Gingili, Oliver Greenall’s Cave Top and Nigel Hawke’s Midnight Request won handicaps. Evan Williams landed his 23rd winner of the year with Market Road.

Volcano was an exciting bumper winner on the card, making his debut for Christian Williams and Richard Johnson.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Kempton and Aintree hero Yanworth begins novice chasing at Exeter

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Another key Cheltenham contender makes his return, as dual Grade One winner Yanworth will make his chase bow at Exeter tomorrow afternoon.

Alan King’s star enjoyed a fantastic hurdling campaign last season, winning five times including in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle and finished the year with a one length success in the Aintree Stayer’s Hurdle.

His sole defeat in the year came when seventh, and eventually disqualified, when sent off favourite the Champion Hurdle.

Expectations are high ahead of a season against some high-profile names in the novice chase division.

“I’ve spoken to Alan (King), and he’s really happy with him at home,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

“He’s schooled well and I’ve heard his jumping has been excellent at home, he comes here in great form.

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Yanworth finished second behind Yorkhill in the 2016 Neptune at the Festival 

“The track should suit him, and I wouldn’t be too worried about the ground.

“It’s a nice little race to start him off, and we’re hoping for a really good run.”

He is priced as low as 8-1 for the RSA Chase, where he could meet the likes of Death Duty, Monalee and Willie Mullins’ Festival winner Bacardys.

Ladbroke winner Sternrubin is the biggest danger to Yanworth, but on ratings he is still 20lb inferior according to official ratings.

Other runners include Muffins For Tea, Norphin, and Phobiaphiliac also feature alongside Harry Fry’s Behind Time.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Paul Nicholls' sends classy contenders in Kempton's listed double bid

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Paul Nicholls hopes Grade One winner San Benedeto can strengthen his grip on the Haldon Gold Cup, as he makes his seasonal return at Kempton this afternoon.

The five-year-old progressed through the spring winning four races, including Aintree’s Maghull Novice Chase where he won by a head.

His priority is Exeter’s Grade Two in a fortnight, which has been won by the likes of Cue Card, God’s Own and Nicholls’ own Vibrato Valtat.

“This is a prep race for the Haldon Gold Cup,” said the master of Ditcheat.

“He’s in good form and we are happy with him. He should like the ground and he’s run well at Kempton a few times now. He ran a few too many races towards the end of last season, and earnt his break. We will go back chasing with him, but this looks a good starting point for him. He should have a good chance.”

Old Guard currently heads the betting in the listed contest. The experienced six-year-old finished seventh when carrying top weight in last week’s Silver Trophy.

 “Old Guard ran quite tidily last week,” Nicholls added.

“Off top weight he ran well and I only put him in this race last week. He seems in good form, and he could run a nice race for us. It’s an ideal race for both of them now it has been reoffered.”

Dan Skelton’s Optimus Prime makes his first start since finishing second in the Swinton Hurdle.
Hint Of Mint, Miss Spent and Rayvin Black also feature.

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Paul Nicholls won the novice contest last year with Black Corton

Elsewhere in the Better Odds With Matchbook Novices’ Hurdle (3:15), a big performance is expected of Amour De Nuit who finished second in last week’s Persian War.

The improving five-year-old will benefit from the return to two miles, where he previously won a novice event last month.

“He seems in really good form,” said the ten-time champion trainer.

“He was second in the Persian War last week, and that run was encouraging. I think two miles suits him better than two and a half. He’s come out of that race well, and he should run a good race.”

Three-time seasonal winner Listen To The Man remains the main danger for Dan Skelton. He was last seen winning the Prelude at Market Rasen.

Last year’s second New Agenda and Harry Fry’s hurdling debutant Cockney Wren also take their chance.

Saturday Review: Popular hurdler The New One strikes in Welsh Champion Hurdle

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Nigel Twiston-Davies' The New One closed in on the £1 million prize money mark, after seeing off Clyne to land yesterday's feature jumps race, the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

The nine-year-old needs to pick up around £43k to reach the mark, and is now a winner in all seasonal bows.

With 5lb claimer Zak Baker on board, he led the field at Ffos Las before battling on well to deny Evan Williams' Clyne the prize by just under a length.

He handed his rival 8lbs but won rather well, and is now likely to target the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, a race he has won three times.

Elsewhere on the card Colin Tizzard's West Approach ran our a comfortable winner on his chasing debut.

The half-brother the exceptional King George winner Thistlecrack forged clear of a decent field to land the beginners chase prize by nine lengths.

An impressive winner on his only start in France, Gary Moore enjoyed success in Wales with Eragon De Chanay. The three-year-old won nicely in a juvenile hurdle by two-and-a-half lengths.

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Paul Nicholls' Capitaine made it two from two over chases yesterday

At Market Rasen, Capitaine was the high-profile winner on the race card as Paul Nicholls' five-year-old comfortably defeated a quality field by 22 lengths.

The five-year-old jumped really well on his second chase start under Harry Cobden, and the former Grade Two winner over hurdles last year may be a classy novice chaser to watch for the rest of the season.

He is now as 14-1 for the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jonjo O'Neill's Demon D'Aunou ran out an impressive winner on his British debut. The JP McManus-owned four-year-old cost £130,000 at last year's Cheltenham sales and looked like a exciting horse when cruising to victory.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Top novices Samcro and Death Duty installed Festival favourites, after Gordon Elliott enjoys Punchestown six-timer

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Gordon Elliott’s strengthened his grip on reclaiming the top trainer title at the Cheltenham Festival, as exciting prospects Samcro and Death Duty won impressively in a six-timer for Elliott at Punchestown.

Samcro was visually the most impressive winner of the day for Elliott, as his exciting novice opened his account over hurdles.

The five-year-old was hugely impressive winning by 15 lengths, and has since been shortened into 5-1 for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next year.

"Job done, we think he's a nice horse,” Elliott said after the race.

“Jack said it was pretty straightforward and he would have done as much at home on the gallop.

"He's relaxed and you could step him up in trip but he's got pace. He's a nice horse, it's hard to know how good he is but we like him and we think the world of him.

"It'll be steady, and he'll have one more run before Christmas I'd imagine.

"We'll have to look at something like the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. I've said it all along, I think he's quick enough for two miles and he has the stamina to stay and step out whenever you want.

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Death Duty fell at he final hurdle when well beaten in the Albert Bartlett in this year's Festival

Another of Elliott’s leading Festival hopes, Death Duty, was victorious on the card as he landed a first pattern prize over fences.

Sent off at odds-on he was a comfortable winner at Punchestown, beating closest rival Tout Est Permis by 11 lengths. He is now priced at 10-1 for the JLT, and 12-1 for the RSA, with his optimum trip still unknown.

"I've always thought the world of this horse,” added the Irishman.

“Last year I was of the opinion that he probably wanted three miles, but I'd say I might have been wrong, to be honest.

"He wasn't right in Cheltenham, so look we'll put a line through last year. He was always bought to be a chaser and chasing is his game. He's a horse to look forward to.

"I'd say he'll go for the Drinmore (at Fairyhouse) now and I'd say he'll go straight there."

Felix Desjy looked to be an exciting bumper horse, winning the finale by ten lengths. Whilst King’s Song, a 3-1 winner for Tippin’ Jimmy, Ben Dundee and Pallasator added to a dominant day for the master of Cullentra.

Yet Thursday also proved a good day for Noel Meade, who had two winners at the County Kildare venue.

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Road To Respect has been cut to 25-1 for Gold Cup glory following his encouraging Punchestown success.

2017 Cheltenham Festival hero Road To Respect fought off some tough competition to enhance his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims.

The former Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate winner stayed promiment before finishing strongly towards the finish to land Grade Three honours by just under two lengths for jockey Sean Flanagan.

He defeated outsider Kilcarry Bridge in second, followed by Melling and Ryanair runner-up Sub Lieutenant.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco could only finish fourth in the 3m1f event.

Lex Talionis was the other winner on the card for County Meath-based Meade.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Exciting Elliott duo Samcro and Death Duty lead quality Punchestown card

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Gordon Ellliot claims Samcro is a ‘star in the making’ as the exciting novice hurdler features in a star studded Punchestown Thursday card.

The five-year-old is currently unbeaten in four visits to the racecourse, winning a listed prize at Navan before capping off a solid bumper campaign with a 17 length triumph at Fairyhouse.

He remains one of Ireland’s most exciting prospects for the season ahead, and expectations are huge ahead of his hurdling debut in the Maiden Hurdle (2:05).

“Samcro was impressive when winning all three of his bumper starts last season,” Elliott told his website.

“He makes his debut over hurdles today and we definitely think he’s a star in the making. He’s been schooling well at home and looks a hard one to beat.”

Always thought to improve over obstacles, Elliott’s bullish comments haven’t gone unnoticed with bookmakers already installing Samcro as a 9-1 favourite for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle (formerly known as the Neptune). His odds of 1-5 today aren’t so appealing.

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Minella Rocco is another big name on the Punchestown card, he's priced at 16-1 for the Gold Cup and 20-1 for the Grand National

Elliott’s exciting novice chaser Death Duty seeks his second victory over fences in the Buck House Novice Chase (3:40).

The six-year-old, who was a Grade One winning hurdler last year, won by just under a length at Tipperary.

“He didn’t disappoint us when winning at Tipperary last time out,” said the master of Cullentra.

“He was almost travelling too well coming down to the last when he made a slight mistake but its all a learning curve for him.

“He came out of his race well and we are hoping for another big run from him today.”

Cheltenham Gold Cup second Minella Rocco also makes his racecourse return for Jonjo O’Neill, in the Irish Daily Star Chase (4:10).

The seven-year-old , who won the four mile National Hunt Chase at the Festival in 2016, chased home Sizing John in the feature race last year and targets a Grade Three prize on the card today.

Melling and Ryanair Chase second Sub Lieutenant is his main danger, whilst 2017 Festival winner Road To Respect and last year’s Lexus winner also take their chance.

Petit Mouchoir heads Arkle market after dominant debut display

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Henry De Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir is now the favourite for the Arkle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, after an impressive chasing debut victory at Punchestown yesterday.

The duel Grade One winner was both workmanlike and impressive on his first run since the Festival, travelling strongest and easily quickening past his ten rivals.

Helped by a strong round of jumping, he forged clear by seven lengths for Davy Russell to enjoy an easy debut success.

A winner of the Irish Champion and Ryanair Hurdle, the former Champion Hurdle looks one of the leading novice chasers for the season.

"You'd be nervous heading out on him as today was very important he did things right with the future in mind,” said winning jockey Davy Russell.

“Henry is a master at improving hurdlers to chasers and he looks to have done it again.

"Having run in a point that's a huge bonus, it gives them such a good grounding. We hadn't done that much schooling, two bits outside, though Henry does plenty himself. He gave him a pop yesterday and he was very good.

"The country is full of high-quality horses and he's one, it's a highly competitive sphere but I'm sure he'll hold his own."

He currently heads the Arkle antepost market, along with last season’s dominant Triumph winner Defi Du Seuil.

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Gordon Elliott enjoyed a double on the card with Cracking Smart and Campeador both winning

Cracking Smart, who was tipped to win by our sister site Tippin Jimmy, enjoyed a comfortable four length success in his maiden hurdle.

Elliott also oversaw Campeador defy a long absence to take a hurdle event, and he looks another smart prospect in the making.

JP McManus-owned Espoir D’Allen won tidily, as A Sizing Network also tasted victory for Gold Cup winning Sizing John’s connections.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Champion Hurdle third Petit Mouchoir makes anticipated chase bow

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Henry De Bromhead’s dual Grade One winner Petit Mouchoir can make a winning chasing debut as he takes on nine rivals at Punchestown today.

The six-year-old has won three times over hurdles, including top level success in Leopardstown’s Ryanair and Irish Champion Hurdle last season.

He was last seen finishing third in the Champion Hurdle, but has the frame and potential to be an excellent chaser.

"He seems good and we've been happy with him at home. He's schooled well and Punchestown is a nice place to start him off," said Bromhead.

His main target looks to be the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The bookmakers have currently priced him as a 12-1 second favourite, with impressive Triumph hero Defi Du Seuil heading the field.

This afternoon he is well fancied at 4-9 for debut glory, with his nearest market rival Brelade seeking improvement from his Gowran Park second.

Elswhere on the card Gordon Elliott’s exciting Cracking Smart makes his hurdles debut in the Maiden Hurdle (3:10) event.

The five-year-old was last seen winning a bumper contest at Fairyhouse by 13 lengths, prior to that he finished a close second behind a smart stable rival.

He’s always been the type to improve over hurdles, and even more so over fences, and expectations are high of a strong run from the improving Gigginstown prospect.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Tizzard targets Cheltenham after faultless Finian's chase debut victory

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Finian’s Oscar could be targeted towards Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting, after the dual Grade One winner made a winning chase bow at Chepstow.

The 1-3 shot jumped smoothly and travelled strongly throughout the contest, and was left clear when sole market rival Alcala slipped up before the closing stages.

He pulled clear of the remaining two runners in the field, to enjoy a comfortable eleven length success.

The option of the Royal Gloucestershire Novices Chase may be an option for the five-year-old. Last year it was won by Shantou Village.

“It is always nice to start with a win as it will do his confidence a lot of good," the Dorset trainer told the Racing Post.

“We’ve not really learned anything new about Finian’s Oscar and although he looked a bit ring-rusty in the early part of the race, he was closing up when Alcala unfortunately came down and then he has come home on his own.”

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Finian's Oscar gave jockey Bryan Cooper his first win since being retained by Alan and Ann Potts

"I’d not rule out going to Cheltenham with him at the end of the month, if he didn’t go to that meeting he’d be there for the November meeting.

“That’s where we want to end up with him in March so we’ve got to get the match practice into him and then we can pick and choose our races.

“He’s made the best possible start over fences and we can take everything from here.”

After his victory in South Wales bookmakers have shortened his price for the JLT from 8-1 to 6-1.

Elsewhere on the card, it was a brilliant day for Welsh trainer Evan Williams. The Glamorgan handler celebrated wins in the handicap with Silver Streak, before Court Minstrel enjoyed his first success in two years in the feature Silver Trophy.

He saw off Jedd O’Keeffe’S Sam Spiller and Paul Nicholls’ Peak To Peak in a tight finish.

Paul Nicholls recorded a novice hurdle double with Dynamite Dollars and If You Say Run, whilst 

Phillip Hobbs’ Rock The Kasbah ran out an easy winner at handicap level.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

'He could be a Gold Cup contender' - Big Festival hero joins top novices in excellent Chepstow card

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Aintree and Punchestown winner Sizing Codelco can prove his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims, as he attempts to overcome top weight in the Toteexacta Handicap Chase (4:45) at Chepstow this afternoon.

The eight-year-old stepped up from his unplaced Festival effort to win impressively by 13 lengths, in a listed handicap at the National meeting.

Despite a fair 11lb rise for his Lancashire romp, he continued his progression to win in Ireland only for the handicapper to add another 10lb on his back.

With his handicap mark so high, to win giving so much weight away would surely prove him as another classy chaser in the Tizzard camp.

“He’s a 160-rated horse for us who really came good in the spring,” said Tizzard.

“Whether he is good enough to give weight to all of those I don’t know, it’s a tough ask.

“If he won this then I’d have to think he’s a Gold Cup horse, if he gets beat then he’s a handicapper.

“He seems in good form, and I am looking forward to seeing where we are with him.”

Currently he is unfancied for the Festival’s most illustrious prize, with stable stars Thistlecrack, 
Native River and veteran Cue Card setting a high standard for the three-time chase winner.
Odds of 66-1 may shorten should he enjoy a victory in South Wales this afternoon.

Phillip Hobbs’ Rock The Kasbah leads the market at Chepstow. A Grade Two second last season, he makes his first start since finishing sixth in Sandown’s Bet365 Handicap (commonly named the Whitbread).

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballykan, Lucy Wadham’s Potters Legend and Alan King’s Label Des Obeaux also line up in the 2m7f handicap.

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Champion trainer seeking Paul Nicholls sends two strong novice hurdlers to South Wales

Elsewhere on the card Paul Nicholls is strongly represented in the two opening novice hurdles on the card.

Dynamite Dollars (1:55) has yet to win for the Ditcheat maestro, but finished well when sixth in a competitive Newbury bumper.

“While he didn't manage to win any of his three bumpers last season when he was a little backward he created a good impression in twice finishing third including a good run in a Listed event at Cheltenham on New Year's Day,” Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

“I watched him jump well during a schooling session round a French racecourse before we bought him.

“He is built like a proper National Hunt prospect, is fit and well, can only improve with experience and I am looking forward to him starting off over hurdles here. He will run well.”

He’ll take on Captain Simon, who is two from two, for Dan Skelton and Jonjo O’Neill’s expensive new recruit Fleminport.

Meanwhile If You Say Run (2:30) has been steadily improving for Nicholls. After a point-to-point win in Ireland, he won impressively on his British debut in a bumper at this track.

“She is a lovely mare who made the perfect to start to racing with an impressive victory in a point-to-point in Ireland despite some jumping errors,” he added.

“She displayed a smart turn of foot that day and didn't surprise us at all when making all the running on her debut for us in a bumper at Chepstow in the spring on her way to winning by 13 lengths.

“She’s a smart mare who is ready to go, has a nice turn of foot and will appreciate the good ground.”

Jonjo O’Neill’s Rosie McQueen and Rebecca Curtis’ Just A Thought are her main dangers.

Read thoughts ahead of Finian's Oscar's chasing debut here, and exclusive comments ahead of the Silver Trophy here.

Twiston-Davies expecting classy hurdler Wholestone to shine in Silver Trophy

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Nigel Twiston-Davies' Wholestone has plenty of options available, as the former Cheltenham Festival third takes on handicappers in Chepstow’s Totepool Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (4:10).

The six-year-old landed two Grade Two prizes last season as a novice, and capped off a good campaign with a place in the Albert Bartlett behind Penhill and Monalee.

He is on a good mark to take on some of the big handicap prizes just like Twiston-Davies’ winner in the race last season, Ballyoptic. But Wholestone also has  the option of going novice chasing.

"He was one of the top novices of last season and I think he’s been fairly weighted at 145,” said the Gloucestershire-based trainer to the Racing Post.

"I’m quite looking forward to it. He’s a good horse.

“After the Albert Bartlett we thought he had done enough for the season.

"We won this race with Ballyoptic last season, and we’ll try to do the same and then go onto the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby.

"We’ll be looking at long-distance trips, but if he didn’t win we might go chasing.”

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Former Gigginstown jockey Bryan Cooper takes the ride for Ann and Alan Potts' Alary at Chepstow

Alary makes his first start over hurdles in the UK for Colin Tizzard.

Since joining Tizzard’s Milborne Port setup, he’s been a tad disappointing when failing to finish on two starts at Haydock and Exeter.

He capped off last season with a sixth place finish in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, and he hopes to break his hurdles duck on the eighth attempt.

“His last run in the Ryanair was actually a very good run,” said the Dorset-based trainer.

“He didn’t look himself last year but over the summer he has improved a lot and he looks fantastic now!

“We’ve had horses in the past who have lost their way a little so we try running them over hurdles.

“It’s important to see how he gets on, on his chase mark he is very well handicapped and he’s in great form.”

“I don’t know where we are with him, but we will let the horse do the talking!”

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Former Grade One juvenile winner Le Rocher joins a number of top hurdlers at Chepstow this afternoon

Sam Spinner looked an exciting hurdler in the making when winning three races from four last season for Jedd O’Keeffe.

JP McManus is represented by Drumcliff and River Frost. The latter won well in a handicap at Kempton back in February before finishing ninth in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
Drumcliff was last seen being brought down at Punchestown five months ago for Harry Fry.

Away from the iconic green and yellow colours, Fry also saddles Bags Groove. The six-year-old won twice as a novice hurdler last season including a six length success at Taunton on his last start.

Paul Nicholls’ Peak To Peak and Peter Bowen’s Souriyan come here on the back of a two-timer, whilst Dan Skelton’s Whatduhavtoget is the only mare in the field. She may be more suited to races against her own sex.

Court Minstrel won this race back in 2015, but has a bit to prove following his most recent fourth place finish at Stratford last month.

Wishing And Hoping runs for Alan King, as Tom George is represented by Sumkindofking.
Le Rocher, Old Guard and Louis’ Vac Pouch all make their seasonal bow, whilst Milrow, Doesyourdogbite, Three Musketeers also feature.

Confidence in Finian's Oscar and Alcala high, ahead of Chepstow clash

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Colin Tizzard’s reports dual Grade One winner Finian’s Oscar in ‘great form’ ahead of his novice chase debut in Chepstow’s Totequadpot Novices' Chase (3:05).

The five-year-old is one of the countries’ leading novice chasing prospects. The two-time Grade One winner landed the Tolworth and Mersey Novice last season, before losing narrowly at Punchestown on his last start.

Bacardys defeated him in a photo finish in the Champion Novice, but has always been regarded as a horse to improve significantly as a chaser.

“This looks like a good starting race for him,” said Tizzard.

“We like taking some of our better horses to Chepstow, and we’ve had some winners there over the last few years.

“This is an ideal place to start him, and he looks and has schooled very well. The ground will be perfect for him as well.

“We have to go there pretty confident, and hopefully he can go on to better things this season.”

Finian’s Oscar was a notable absentee from the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, but bookmakers currently make him a leading fancy for novice chases in the March showcase next year.

He currently heads the JLT Novice market at 10-1, whilst the RSA could also be an option for him if Tizzard opts to up him in trip.

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Alcala is bidding to give trainer Paul Nicholls a sixth straight victory

Paul Nicholls believes Alcala can continue his impressive run of form against top class opposition.

The seven-year-old has won all of his last five outings, including an impressive performance when winning Market Rasen’s Summer Plate.

He’s looked like a brilliant novice in the making, and has a huge opportunity to prove his credentials against a proven top class prospect.

“He has been a revelation this summer, coming into his own by completing a five-timer over fences,” Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

“Alcala is a forward going, bold jumper with a huge engine and his confidence is sky high so hopefully he should win plenty more races.

“He still seems to be improving and is well suited by the conditions of this Listed event as he is top rated on official figures and has to give only 3lbs to Finian's Oscar who is making his debut over fences.

“While I have plenty of respect for Finian's Oscar I am hoping that Alcala's experience can prove crucial.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Tintern Theatre and Dan Skelton’s Aintree My Dream also take their place in the 2m3f contest.

Read connections thoughts ahead of the Silver Trophy here, and a 66-1 outsider hoping to boost his Gold Cup claims here.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Grade One winners Ballyoptic and Flying Angel lead strong Nigel Twiston-Davies Newton Abbot raid

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Nigel Twiston-Davies is hopeful he can land a Newton Abbot double, as he sends stable stars Ballyoptic and Flying Angel to Devon for their seasonal bows.

Ballyoptic landed Grade One honours at Aintree only 18 months ago, and enjoyed a good campaign over hurdles last season where he finished second in Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle.

He looked well on course to strike in Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle before falling on the penultimate obstacle, but failed to build on his encouraging start to the season.

At Cheltenham he finished fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle, and fifth to Yanworth in the Liverpool Hurdle.

“Ballyoptic heads the weights for the handicap hurdle from a mark of 157,” Twiston-Davies told his Facebook page.

“He is still down from a peak of 162, which he was a close up 4th of 15 in the G2 Cleve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January.

“That’s good form and he must have a very good chance under today’s conditions.

“Zac Baker rides and takes off what could be a valuable 5lbs.

He must overcome key rivals Paul Nicholls’ improving Winningtry and Harry Fry’s Whataknight.

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Flying Angel won the Manifesto Novices' Chase a length ahead of Arkle second Cloudy Dream

Flying Angel scored at the top level last term, and will take on some tough opposition in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Intermediate Chase (3:25).

The six-year-old landed Aintree’s Grade One novice event, but was disappointing when last seen pulling up a fortnight later at Ayr.

“Flying Angel is another who went well last term, added the Gloucestershire-handler.

“He won three chases including a Grade One at Aintree in April, but wasn’t his usual self at Ayr last time.

“He’s had some good time off and returns in good form with improvement to come. Jamie Bargary rides and the pair should go close.”

Nicholls duo Black Corton and Frodon are set to head the market for the race. The former won three races from four last season, and despite never racing in pattern company looks an improving type for the Ditcheat master.

Frodon won two Grade Two prizes last season, and made history when becoming only the second four-year-old to land Cheltenham’s December Gold Cup in 54 years.

Dan Skelton’s Knockgraffon and Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Tennesse also feature.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Leading novice Poli Roi seeks hurdling debut at Galway

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Gordon Elliott’s highly-regarded Poli Roi is set to enhance his Cheltenham credentials, as he makes his hurdling debut in Galway’s Mervue Maiden Hurdle (2:25).

The five-year-old built on his point-to-point success with a bumper win at Navan, where he quickened to deny nearest rival Impact Factor by two lengths.

He was well beaten by super stablemate Fayonagh, who won over hurdles on Saturday, when the pair met in Punchestown’s Champion Bumper finishing third.

Constantly regarded as a better horse over obstacles, he has been installed as a short price favourite for a debut victory.

“He had a pleasing start to his career when winning his bumper on his racecourse debut then going on to finish 3rd in a Grade 1 bumper at Punchestown,” said the Cullentra handler.

“He has his first run over hurdles today and has been schooling well at home so we expect a good run from him.”

His Cheltenham options remain open for Poli Roi, with an optimum trip still questionable. The antepost market currently have him as a 25-1 shot for the Albert Bartlett, Supreme and Neptune.

Unlike Fayonagh, he faces stiffer competition in this novice event. Willie Mullins’ Poet Power could be the main danger, he was an impressive bumper winner at this venue in July.

Fellow Gigginstown raider Trainwreck also makes his first start over hurdles. He finished second when last seen at Down Royal.

Adrian Maguire’s Gagas Horse and Noel Meade’s The Rory Story could also be dangers.

Poli Roi is expected to go off at Evs for the 2m2f event.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Jardine claims Golden Jeffrey one to follow throughout jumps season

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Iain Jardine has praised progressive hurdler Golden Jeffrey a ‘very exciting horse’ as he hopes to complete a hat-trick of novice wins

Wearing Jo Tracey's iconic green and black colours shared by Festival second Broadway Buffalo (pictured), he's won both his starts over hurdles including a dominant 15 length win at Perth a fortnight ago. 

Rated 71 on the flat, he won once on the flat at Musselburgh for Jardine and was also a bumper winner for the Scottish trainer.

Following his impressive win in Perth, he looks set to be a handicapper worth following through the jumps season.

He could go to Ayr seeking a third straight success on Thursday, whilst options of improving his 139 hurdles remain open throughout the coming weeks.

“He won his race really well and we were very happy with him,” said the Scottish trainer.

“He’s beginning to climb up the ladder now, and we will look to find another race for him. I’m not sure where will we take him next.

“We have to be patient with him, and will try and place him in the right sort of races.

“Everyone was happy and I am pleased for the owners too. They are really excited for the season ahead too.

“He’s a very exciting horse and I can’t wait to see him again as the season unfolds.”

If he continues to advance he may line-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, but he may need to improve a fair bit to play a serious role in the Grade One event.

His trainer Ian Jardine has enjoyed an exceptional season, winning a record 44 races on the flat, eight more than last season’s tally.

The dual-purposer who also won this season’s Ebor with Nakeeta, has already landed nine winners this season, just over half of last season’s tally.