Envoi Allen and Le Cameleon provided the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead with another couple of winners during the last 24 hours. Gordon Elliott's Festival bumper winner made it three out of three over timber when winning the Grade 1 Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday. Stepping up to two and a half miles for the first time since his pointing career, Davy Russell's mount sat in behind Elixir D'Ainay before taking over after the second last. Pushed clear, he registered his third Grade 1 win by three and a half lengths and Elliott indicated afterwards that the Muhtathir gelding is likely to head straight to Cheltenham in March, although he will be given entries at Leopardstown's Dublin Racing Festival early next month. While no match for the winner, Longhouse Poet ran well in third and, given the fact he is a half-brother to a three miles plus winner, it is hoped he is given an entry in the Albert Bartlett NH at the Festival, as well as the Ballymore (his owner sponsors). Martin Brassil's charge kept on well after the last and left the impression he will be even better over further.
I was really pleased to see Le Cameleon get his head in front at the third attempt over hurdles at Chepstow on Monday. Nick Williams' youngster had run well at Ffos Las and Exeter (behind Sporting John) earlier this season and was well supported to lose his maiden tag at the Welsh venue. Despite racing keenly and his rider going for an impossible looking gap on the approach to the final hurdle, the Great Pretender gelding quickened up well in the testing ground after the last to win going away by a length and three quarters. Rated 115, he was conceding a stone to the runner-up John Betjeman and, considering he pulled for nearly a mile and a half, it was a decent performance. Very few get away with that on heavy ground at Chepstow. Provided he learns to settle, the five year old could prove very progressive during the second half of the campaign. His jumping has improved with each start, too.
The second division of the maiden hurdle was won by Beaufort West, who is featured in the Handicap Snips section of One Jump Ahead. Having his first start since disappointing in the Silver Trophy at the same track in October (86 days ago), the Getaway gelding had a wind operation in the interim and he justified strong market support in some style. Robbie Power's mount led after the second last and readily pulled away to win easing up by eight and a half lengths. Rated 127 beforehand, he is the type to keep improving because Colin Tizzard's six year old has only had half a dozen races over timber. While his best form is over two miles, he gives the impression he will stay further and it is worth remembering he finished runner-up in his Irish point before joining his current yard.
Nicky Richards continues in good form and, having unleashed a useful looking sort at Musselburgh on Friday in the shape of Elios D'Or, the Greystoke handler repeated the trick in the bumper at Ayr on Monday. Castle Rushen is a half-brother to stablemate and last week's winner Marown, and the Fame And Glory gelding was acquired for €90,000 as a three year old. Contesting the same bumper which his yard won twelve months earlier with Ribble Valley, Brian Hughes' mount travelled strongly before finding plenty for pressure inside the final furlong. Stretching clear late on, Castle Rushen was good value for his two and three quarters of a length win. Unlikely to be over raced this season, he is seemingly held in high regard and looks another nice prospect for Trevor Hemmings. These are exciting times for the Cumbrian trainer.
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