Today has a distinct end of season feel to proceedings on the Flat, so I thought I would take the opportunity to take a look back at what was a tremendous weekend of action.
On the level, the obvious highlights were yesterday’s sparkling performances at Longchamp of both Treve in the Arc and Moonlight Cloud in the Foret. Hopefully a few of you ignored my fears about the draw and luck in running to back the former; I must admit, I was kicking myself as she burst clear in the closing stages, despite having raced keenly and seen plenty of daylight throughout.
It was a stunning display and, if that wasn’t enough, the top-class five-year-old mare Moonlight Cloud, went on to make it a day to remember for the Head’s and Thierry Jarnet, showing a devastating turn of foot to go by Sprint Cup winner, Gordon Lord Byron, as if he were a handicapper.
Moving on to the jumps, which took another step forward this weekend, Bishops Road was the one to take from Friday’s card at Gowran Park. The Heron Island five-year-old had previously won a point-to-point and a bumper and looks a lovely long-term prospect. The first Gigginstown horse to be trained by Henry De Bromhead, he is already one to look forward to over fences next year.
De Bromhead’s stable-star Sizing Europe made a winning return to action at the same track on Saturday and the evergreen 11-year-old could now be in line for another crack at the 3m Champion Chase at Down Royal, provided the ground isn’t too bad.
On the domestic front, the most pleasing performance of the day came from the columns well-backed winner Hannibal The Great, who fairly bolted up in the opening novices’ hurdle at Fontwell.
Charlie Longsdon continues in top form and his five-year-old moved stylishly throughout, before effortlessly pulling 12 lengths clear after the last. He is another who will probably be one to follow over fences in time, but he looks capable of defying a penalty and connections may well opt to up him in class now. The novice hurdle at Cheltenham a week on Friday (won last year by The New One) maybe an option.
Former Galway Hurdle winner Rebel Fitz is another possible for that card, after completing the five-timer over fences at Tipperary yesterday. Mick Winters’ stable-star seems to be improving with each race over the larger obstacles and will set a stern test for the English novices there, given the invaluable experience he has gained.
In what looked a warm bumper on paper Wicklow Brave completed a hat-trick in the concluding contest on the same card and should make his mark over hurdles, while the runner-up Western Boy stayed on well and is another to note once jumping, especially once upped in trip.
The pick of the domestic action came from Uttoxeter, where there were several interesting novices on show. Firstly, one time classy bumper performer Ballyalton made up for lost time (injured after making his hurdles debut last November) by taking division one of the 2m maiden hurdle by 15 lengths, after which Ian Williams stated the Persian War could be next on his agenda, at Chepstow on the 26th.
The second division was won by Emma Lavelle’s Timesremembered who was making his British debut and he, too, did it fairly nicely. The five-year-old was able to dictate matters from the front, but kept on really well and will probably improve once stepping up in trip later in the season.
Lavelle completed a double later on the card, when her Le Bec made a really pleasing winning debut over fences, in what looked a warm novices’ chase. The Kempton novice hurdle winner looked to have the size and scope to improve for fences and certainly jumped well here, producing a performance that promises much for the future. He will want 3m in time and could well head to the Open meeting next month, according to his trainer.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14