Unfortunately the selection in the Becher Chase could only finish fifth on Saturday but Achille ran well only to get tired after the third last. Beaten less than twenty five lengths, the grey jumped very well and I thought he was going to play a part in the finish after jumping the Canal turn. Whether the lack of a recent run proved to be his downfall is anyone's guess but it was a creditable performance and he gave us a run for our money - I hope readers managed to back him with those firms who were offering multiple places.
Despite the weather doing its best to spoil the day - it never stopped raining and there was a very strong wind throughout - it was an enjoyable day at Aintree with Protektorat providing the highlight in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase. Dan Skelton's young chaser tanked through the early stages of the race but it didn't prevent him from stretching clear in the homestraight to win by 25 lengths. It is fair to say the race fell apart with the likes of Imperial Aura and Tiger Roll failing to turn up, while previous winner Native River isn't the force of all. However, that should detract from the winner's performance and he deserves a crack at something like the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham or Denman Chase at Newbury in the New Year.
It was good to catch up with a few trainers during the day. I saw Tom Lacey who sent out Lossiemouth to win the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on the previous day. The Herefordshire trainer is contemplating aiming the six year old at either the Grade 1 Tolworth Novice Hurdle at the same venue, if the ground is testing, or the Grade 2 Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick in January - a race the stable won last year with Adrimel. Talking of Adrimel, don't be surprised to see him wearing headgear next time he appears over fences following his lethagic effort at Exeter during the same afternoon.
Unfortunately, Bombs Away incurred a nasty injury after finishing a close second in the opening novice hurdle. Olly Murphy's well bred gelding had created a favourable impression on his hurdles debut at Sandown last month and was strongly fancied to follow up under a penalty. Beaten a neck by debutant North Lodge, he was found to have been struck into and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers continued in superb form and he unleashed another couple of smart prospects courtesy of the Nicky Henderson trained pair Balco Coastal and Constitution Hill at Huntingdon and Sandown respectively over the weekend. The latter was particularly impressive in the two miles novice hurdle at the Esher track. In a race which the Seven Barrows team have now won six times in the last ten years, the Blue Bresil gelding bounded away after the last to beat previous winner Might I by fourteen lengths. It would be no surprise to see the four year old return next month for the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices' Hurdle with stablemate Jonbon pencilled in for the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot (17th December).
I hope readers of One Jump Ahead took the advice on page 172 regarding Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek Chase - if so, they were duly rewarded with a 12/1 winner. Paul Nicholls' fast improving chaser put behind a lacklustre reappearance at Exeter with a much more polished display as he defeated stablemate Hitman by five and a half lengths. Runner-up in the race twelve months earlier, the seven year old has learned to relax and has developed into a top-class two miler. Both Chacun Pour Soi and Nube Negra were disappointing - the former appears to be at his best in his home country, while the latter needs to be kept fresh and it is possible we won't see him again until next March.
On Sunday, Top 40 entry Dysart Dynamo looked a high-class prospect when scoring by nineteen lengths on his hurdles debut at Cork. A dual bumper winner last term, the Westerner gelding made all and jumped well. Powering clear after the third last, one suspects he will be aimed at a Graded contest over the Festive period. Time will tell what proves to be his optimum trip but he looks another top notcher.
David Pipe hasn't enjoyed much good fortune recently with Adagio finishing runner-up in the Greatwood Hurdle and Remastered crashing out at the fourth last in the Ladbrokes Trophy when going well. It was therefore pleasing to see Brinkley make a winning start to his fencing career at Huntingdon. The grey came under pressure a long way from home but kept responding and stayed on dourly to win the three miles novice chase by a length and a quarter. Don't be surprised if the Pond House team have their eye on the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham next spring. He will be even better on softer ground, too. David told me at Aintree that he is thinking of aiming the aforementioned Remastered at the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock (18th December).
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