Readers of One Jump Ahead will be aware that Brian Ellison put forward a handful of unraced bumpers (page 167) to watch out for. Hackberry (5/4) was well backed when making a winning debut at Newcastle last month and stablemate Punxsutawney Phil (9/2) did likewise on Tuesday. A four year old by Shirocco, he is well bred and from a family his trainer knows well. Well backed beforehand, he travelled strongly under Ben Robinson and only had to be pushed out to beat Jomont by a length. Out of a four times winner on the Flat, he is a half-brother to Burn Some Dust and Nordic Combined. It would be no surprise to see Punxsutawney Phil run on the level at some stage - he is a decent dual prospect future.
The February Update includes an interview with the in-form Donald McCain and the Cheshire based handler sent out Mackenberg (5/6) to win one of the 'jumpers bumpers.' The Jukebox Jury gelding had won on his hurdles debut at Carlisle during the Autumn before getting bogged down in soft ground at both Wetherby and Aintree. A three and a half lengths winner at Gosforth Park, he took a few strides to engage top gear but was well on top at the death. Still considered raw, he is likely to contest another novice hurdle under a penalty next time.
The Skelton's sent out a brace and so, too, did my local trainer Jimmy Moffatt. Based at Cartmel, he sent 7 runners to Newcastle and they produced form figures of 1531303. Stable conditional Charlotte Jones, who originates from nearby Barrow in Furness, partnered all seven giving The Steward in particular, a fine ride. If you haven't seen the race, it is worth catching it on replay.
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