Paul Nicholls dominated the action on Friday with 4 more winners from half a dozen runners. Henri The Second stayed on well to win the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown beating Henry's Friend by four and a quarter lengths. A Listed bumper winner last term, the Saddler Maker gelding had finished runner-up on his hurdles bow at Chepstow but made a big step forward here. Patiently ridden by Harry Cobden, he made his challenge on the outside before coming on strongly. The Grade 2 Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick (14th January) is likely to be his next port of call. Fences will bring out the best in him.
Grade 1 winning stablemate Gelino Bello made it two out of two over fences when beating sole rival City Chief in the staying novices' chase at Exeter. Forced to cut out his own running, he looked in control from halfway and, although he showed a tendency to jump to his right, the Saint Des Saints gelding pulled away to win by nearly thirty lengths. It is possible he will make a quick reappearance in the three miles Grade 2 novice chase at Doncaster next Saturday (10th December) because the champion trainer is keen to keep him and McFabulous apart. Nicholls has won the Town Moor prize four times in the last nine years.
The performance of the day belonged to Corrigeen Rock who produced a superb rounding of jumping to win the two miles handicap chase at Sandown. Lucinda Russell's former pointer had won at Kelso last time and was lining up here off a two pounds higher mark of 119. Making all, the Westerner gelding had his opposition in trouble along way from home and began to pull away approaching the second last. A seven lengths winner, he looks capable of bagging a decent two miles handicap this term.
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