Triple Grand National winning trainer Gordon Elliott sent 17 horses to Down Royal on Friday and Saturday and returned with 7 winners. Fury Road kicked things off with a facile victory in the two miles six maiden hurdle on Friday. The former pointer, who was featured in the Top 40 Prospects last season, had performed well in bumpers last winter but looked a different proposition over timber as he sauntered clear after the third last to win hard held by eighteen lengths. He looked every inch an Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle contender in the making.
Dual Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Samcro failed to fire in three runs last season but following a 307 days break and a wind operation, the Germany gelding was back to form on his chasing debut. Ridden by Keith Donoghue, he was neat and accurate at his fences and never looked like being beaten. With stablemate Dortmund Park under pressure at halfway, he admittedly had very little to beat but it was a case of job done. Elliott indicated afterwards the seven year old will head to Fairyhouse at the start of next month for the Grade 1 Drinmore Novices' Chase. That will tell us more.
Envoi Allen is also likely to be heading to Fairyhouse on the 1st December for the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novices' Hurdle. One of the stars of One Jump Ahead last year, the unbeaten Muhtathir gelding made a sparkling start to his hurdles career with a smooth six and a half lengths win in the two miles maiden hurdle at the Northern Ireland track on Saturday. Partnered by Davy Russell for the first time in public, he jumped slickly and sealed his win with a superb leap at the second last. The fact he was given a 'soft' lead in front from the outset allowed Russell to educate his charge but he looked a natural throughout. A Grade 1 winner in bumpers last season, it will be a surprise if he doesn't repeat the feat over hurdles.
One Jump Ahead had a productive day at Ascot on Saturday with Ecco (11/10), Diego Du Charmil (13/2) and Vinndication (2/1) all scoring. The first named is a progressive novice hurdler who defied his penalty having already scored at Wincanton this Autumn. Something like the Listed novices' hurdle at Haydock's Betfair Chase meeting (24th November) appeals as a likely target. A smart horse on the Flat in Germany, he is improving with each start.
Vinndication made it seven wins from nine career starts when capturing the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at the Berkshire track. Kim Bailey's charge came up short in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles and JLT Novice Chases last season but following a wind operation and a step up to three miles, the six year old returned to winning ways with a terrific performance. Always to the fore, he relished the longer distance and stayed on strongly to win by five lengths.
Looking back to the action on Friday, there were a couple of informative novice/beginners chases at Uttoxeter and Wetherby. The former Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Summerville Boy made a successful start to his fencing career at the former but I must admit I wasn't convinced with him as a future Arkle Trophy contender. His jumping let him down over timber at times and he was hardly foot perfect at the Midlands track. First Flow and Western Ryder got racing a long way from home and played into the hands of Johnny Burke's mount. He is likely to head to Cheltenham for the Grade 2 novice chase later this month but, if doesn't brush up his jumping, I will be surprised if he troubles either Al Dancer or Getaway Trump.
Sam Spinner made it two from two over the larger obstacles defying his penalty at Wetherby. Jedd O'Keeffe's stable star overcame an inadequate trip on his chasing bow last month and appreciated the return to three miles on Friday. However, he was inclined to get into close to a number of his fences and had a tendency to jump to his right. He is getting away with it at present but I suspect he will struggle once tackling a top-notch novice. The Grade 2 Towton Novices' Chase at the West Yorkshire track in early February may prove his best chance of Graded success this winter.
I am heading to Carlisle on Sunday for a terrific card with the Colin Parker Memorial Chase being the feature - during the last four years, Many Clouds (2014), Bristol De Mai (2016), Waiting Patiently (2017) and Cyrname (2018) have all lined up in the race. Lostintranslation is a Grade 1 winning novice chaser and he is using the two and a half miles Listed event as a stepping stone to the Betfair Chase at Haydock. Colin Tizzard's charge is conceding weight all round to his three opponents, which includes the horse featured on page 174 of One Jump Ahead. The undercard is equally attractive with a fascinating novices' hurdle to kick things off swiftly followed by an ultra competive novices' handicap chase - that is a cracker. Elsewhere on Sunday, look out for a couple of Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers - the first horse covered on page 166 and second one featured on page 167.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive