Happy New Year to all contributors and subscribers to Mark Howard Publications Ltd, I hope it is a healthy and prosperous 2017.
It has certainly been a mixed twenty four hours for Dan Skelton. On Saturday, arguably his most promising horse suffered a serious injury when falling at the third last in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. The former Irish pointer hadn't jumped particularly fluently but was just starting to edge into contention when crashing out at the first hurdle in the home straight. Unfortunately, the injury he sustained will rule him out of this season and it remains to be seen when he will be back in action. It is a cruel blow because the gelding looked a horse of huge potential when bolting up on his reappearance at Aintree during the spring.
Cheltenham Festival winner Superb Story thankfully provided the stable with some joy at Musselburgh on New Year's Day. The former Charlie Mann's trained gelding hadn't been seen since pulling up in the Galway Hurdle during the summer. However, he invariably goes well fresh and defied top weight to win the valuable two mile handicap hurdle. Always prominent, Superb Story jumped well before staying on well after the last. The Champion Hurdle could be next, although he is thought likely to be given an entry in the County Hurdle once again.
It was a very good day for the Christmas Special with 3 more winners. Aside from Superb Story, Cap Soleil won the Listed bumper for four year olds at Cheltenham, while Declan Phelan's Irish Angle highlighted Next Destination as a horse to look out for. He won duly won the bumper at Fairyhouse on his Rules debut for Willie Mullins. As discussed, Declan's article has been terrific and he was unlucky with one of his other selections, namely White Arm. I think it is fair to say, today wasn't the day but don't give up on Tony Martin's horse because there is mileage in his rating.
Talking of the Christmas Special, the one horse leading bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley was most looking forward to seeing run this week was Messire des Obeaux (100/30), who won the aforementioned Challow Hurdle at Newbury yesterday. Anthony's selection came hot on the heels of Rich Ricci's winning selection, Montalbano, who won on his Irish debut at Leopardstown on Wednesday.
As regards the Top 40 Prospects over the last couple of days, Marten (5/1) and Redhotfillypeppers won on Saturday. There were disappointments, too, though including Atomix (big drifter and never looked like getting involved - his penultimate run behind Sam Spinner at Newcastle suggests he is much better than he showed at Musselburgh this afternoon) and Sumkindofking (didn't pick up after the second last and has plenty to prove now).
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