Toby Lawes spent five years as assistant trainer to Nicky Henderson and the Surrey based handler is beginning to an impression of his own. This is his third season since taking out a licence and he has sent out 8 winners from only 33 runners this term. Indeed, the yard are 2 from 2 during 2022 following the victories of Nashville Nipper at Plumpton on Sunday and Irish import Ballyglass looked a smart recruit when winning on his British debut at Southwell on Monday.
Previously trained by Sam Curling in his home country, the Montmartre gelding is from the family of Blaklion and boasted some decent form for his former connections. Placed in all three bumpers, he was third on his debut at Ballinrobe in April - the two horses who beat him were Bronn and Howyabud who won maiden hurdles at Naas and Leopardstown over the Festive period. A length and a half runner-up at Roscommon in September, he chased home The Big Doyen who has won again since by fifteen lengths at Punchestown and is being saved for the Cheltenham Festival bumper in the spring. It is therefore no surprise that Ballyglass attracted plenty of interest at the Cheltenham November Sale being acquired for £60,000. Having his first start for Lawes at the Midlands track, he was still going strongly when hitting the front approaching the furlong marker before stretching away. Having run in four bumpers, it is likely he will contest a championship bumper in the spring before sent hurdling next Autumn. Every young trainer needs a flagship horse, Toby Lawes may have discovered his first one.
Paul Nicholls has indicated in the press that Bravemansgame is likely to contest the Grade 1 Festival Novices' Chase over three miles at the Cheltenham Festival but hasn't decided whether the unbeaten novice will have a prep run. The Champion trainer indicated he would have liked to aim the seven year old at Newbury's February meeting (12th February). Previously, there was a three miles novices chase which was won by the likes of Denman (2007), Diamond Harry (2010) and Smad Place (2014). However, those in charge elected to change it to a novices' handicap chase a few years ago - therefore the appeal of running Bravemansgame, who was rated 154 before the Kauto Star Novices' Chase, in such an event is lessened because he would be forced to carry top weight and concede huge amounts of weight to his limited number of rivals, who would be mostly out of the handicap in any case. The change is to ensure a bigger field size and more competitive race. The irony is the fact the meeting is labelled 'Super Saturday' designed to attract the best horses. And we wonder why the British horses can't compete against their Irish counterparts when it comes to the big races.
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