With Bangor abandoned, Monday’s column takes a look back at the weekend action and, as I’ve got a few days off, also a brief look through the entries for the week ahead.
I was at Haydock on Saturday, where the highlight was the return to winning ways of Melodic Rendezvous in the Champion Hurdle Trial. Jeremy Scott’s stable-star bounced back to defeat Ladbroke Hurdle runner-up Ptit Zig, picking up well in the testing ground, despite a fairly serious error two out.
The eight-year-old will need the ground to come up testing to enhance his chances in the Champion itself, though I feel the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f could be ideal for him later in the season – lets hope they get a clear run with him from now until the spring, as it was nice to see such enthusiastic connections in the winners’ enclosure.
Elsewhere on the card, Taquin Du Seuil didn’t end up having much to beat when coasting home in the Grade 2 novice chase and he is likely to head to Sandown for the Scilly Isles next; he is another who appears to relish heavy ground.
The Supreme Trial didn’t quite live up to the race many had expected either, with expensive British debutant Un Temps Pour Tout failing to pick up Zandy Man in the straight, with the French recruit looking in need of further – as he had done on the evidence of his native form (I did tweet this last week, so no after timing here!).
Meadowcroft Boy was the horse I was most interested in personally before the race and, having raced too keenly to do himself justice, he didn’t see his race out properly, but remains a smart prospect for the North and will surely win more races. He had settled much better at Carlisle on debut.
Once again, the Tom George-trained Wuff took the eye in the preliminaries ahead of the concluding novices’ hurdle; he is an imposing individual and, while I expected he would have handled the ‘fixed brush’ hurdles better, he picked up well after the last to collar Straidnahanna on the line. He was the second nice of winner of the week for connections, who saw their Stellar Notion score impressively at Newcastle and is very much another to monitor closely.
Back to the Haydock race and the runner-up is another youngster I am interested in, though there is a fear now that his workable looking handicap mark will have been blown. Be sure to check out his revised mark on Tuesday, as he has races in him.
The pair pulled 16 lengths clear and should both make their mark over fences next term, while further down the pack, put Voyage A New York (5th beaten 21 lengths) in to your notebook/tracker, as he is another strapping individual who should improve with a trip and a fence in time.
Elsewhere, Wuff’s owner Roger Brookhouse saw his silks carried to success by yet another promising novice hurdler, when Champagne West continued his progression by taking Ascot’s concluding contest. There is talk of him now being aimed at the Pertemps Final (won a qualifier the time before) at Cheltenham, so he is another to be interested in, once the revised ratings are published on Tuesday.
Over in Ireland, Sizing Gold finished tired behind National Hunt Chase bound Foxrock in the Grade 2 novice chase over 3m at Naas, but is certainly one I won’t be giving up on just yet. As he did on debut, he jumped for fun and travelled well in to the home straight before failing to see it out.
Having backed him for the RSA Chase, I’m hoping connections don’t start thinking about the JLT (formerly the Jewson) though that has to be an option. I believe he will flourish on decent ground and should have no problem seeing out the 3m trip on better going in the spring. After he won on debut, Henry De Bromhead stated he would have just the one more run before the Festival, so it will be interesting to see if they stick to that plan. Wherever he turns up at Cheltenham, I’m sure he will outrun his odds (25/1 for both contests at present).
Looking through the entries for the next few days, Hurricane Hollow was the first to catch the eye up at Wetherby on Tuesday in the opening juvenile maiden hurdle. Keith Dalgleish’s four-year-old won a Carlisle bumper in impressive fashion in October and was pulled-out of the Listed event at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
The Beat Hollow gelding takes rather an unorthodox route now, as you don’t get too many switching from bumpers to juvenile hurdles, but Runswick Royal was an example of how this can work last year – he won twice before finishing runner-up in the Grade 1 at Aintree, having run in a trio of bumpers beforehand.
Elsewhere on the same card, Desoto County and Legacy Gold (also entered in a mares’ event at Leicester) are engaged in the 2m novices’ hurdle. The former has smart bumper form, which ties in with the aforementioned pairing of Wuff and Stellar Notion, and was unlucky not to make a winning debut over timber at Haydock.
The latter, another Brookhouse owned novice, cost his current owner a small fortune, but looks a mare full of promise, judged on her Uttoxeter debut success – I wouldn’t be surprised if she headed to the Midlands, however, to take on her own sex.
Roger Brookhouse has yet another entrant here (honestly, I don’t know the owner and am not being paid to flag up his horses!) in the shape of Tiqris, though he holds plenty of entries throughout the week (also in at Southwell on Wednesday and both Doncaster & Huntingdon on Friday). The Midnight Legend gelding finished third behind Wilde Blue Yonder and Josses Hill in a couple of above-average maiden hurdles at Newbury and looks set to return to track just at the right time, with the Hobbs stable is enjoying a purple patch.
Friday’s winner for the column, Clever Cookie, is in at Catterick on Wednesday and, if the ground is deemed suitable (wants a decent surface ideally), Peter Niven may opt to run him under a 7lb penalty, depending on how the handicapper reacts to his Musselburgh success.
The pick of the midweek action comes from Gowran Park on Thursday, with the Thyestes Handicap Chase the feature contest. It could well be a big day for Willie Mullins and the Wylies, with Boston Bob engaged in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle and Black Hercules entered in the bumper.
The former is reportedly being aimed at the World Hurdle, though I had hoped he might revert to fences following the defection of Sir Des Champs for the season; I had concocted the plan that he could now head down the Gold Cup route and leave the World Hurdle door ajar for stable-mate and high-class mare, Annie Power.
Black Hercules has a tall reputation and is held in high regard at the stable; he could bid to maintain his 100% record and book his ticket to the Champion Bumper here.
On the domestic front, the most interesting entrant on the Warwick card for me is the Charlie Longsdon-trained Battle Born, in the concluding bumper.
Third in a decent Haydock event on debut (won by Desoto County with Wuff in second and subsequent winner Wolf Sword back in fourth) the son of Kayf Tara looks more than capable of winning one of these before too long.
I will be back on Saturday, in time for the return of the mighty Big Buck’s in the Cleeve Hurdle on Cheltenham’s Trials Day card, as well as the likely next sighting of Urban Hymn in the River Don at Doncaster – be sure to check out the weekend entries this evening or tomorrow, as I’ll not be about to Tweet my eye-catchers, as is usually the case
Good luck for the week!
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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Fellow Betrescue columnist and Bet Victor’s Charlie McCann says: “it really is a privilege to write the foreword for such an informative and well-researched publication, which continues to go from strength to strength.”
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