Mark Howard Publications Ltd

2019 starts with a bang for Top 40 Prospects

01-January-2019 15:36
in General
by Admin

Following a lean last week of 2018 for the Top 40 Prospects, Midnight Shadow (8/1) ensured 2019 got off to a flying start with an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham. Sue Smith's Scottish Champion Hurdle winner appreciated the step up to two and a half miles at Aintree last time winning a handicap off a mark of 141. Raised five pounds since, this represented a marked rise in class but Danny Cook's mount was always jumping and travelling beautifully. The Midnight Legend gelding struck the front at the last before staying on strongly to beat last year's winner Wholestone by two and a quarter lengths. His racing style suggests he will stay three miles and it would be no surprise to see him return to Prestbury Park at the end of the month for the Cleeve Hurdle. The Stayers' Hurdle is wide open and the lightly raced six year old could emerge as a leading contender.

I was disappointed with Black Op's performance in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices' Chase earlier on the card. Tom George's gelding produced an indifferent round of jumping and didn't look quick enough. Beaten seven and a quarter lengths by Lostintranslation, who he beat at Aintree last spring, and Defi Du Seuil, the Sandmason gelding appears to be crying out for a step up to three miles. I also think he will benefit from slower ground. With hindsight, he should have taken up his engagement at Haydock two days earlier - it was a much easier assignment and the underfoot conditions were testing. Unlike Clare and Paul Rooney, his owner is keen to have as many runners at Cheltenham as possible.

Overall, it was an excellent start to the New Year for One Jump Ahead though with Cliffs of Dover (7/2), Extra Mag (11/10), Greaneteen (3/1), Knockgraffon (4/1), Jarveys Plate (12/1) and Midnight Shadow (8/1) all winning.


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