Carlisle staged an excellent card on Sunday with the highlight being the Colin Parker Memorial Chase over two and a half miles. It signalled the return to action of the Malcolm Jefferson trained Waiting Patiently and the six year old didn't let his supporters down with a very polished display. Despite conceding six pounds, the Flemensfirth gelding proved too strong for another promising young chaser Belami Des Pictons scoring by two and a half lengths. The fact the pair pulled 32 lengths clear of the third, who is rated 144, speaks for itself. The winner is a tremendous jumper and he very readily brushed aside Venetia Williams' runner and it will be interesting to see where he heads next. Rather like his win at Haydock in Grade 2 company in January, he had to be driven out late on, although it could be argued Brian Hughes' mount was idling. The question remains over his optimum trip. Malcolm feels two miles will suit him best, although his owner Richard Collins thinks Waiting Patiently wants at least two and a half miles. I am not convinced he is crying out for two miles five on the New Course at Cheltenham in mid December (the old Tripleprint Gold Cup), which was mentioned afterwards. He is blessed with plenty of speed. Either way, he is a most exciting prospect for his connections and northern racing. The runner-up will win his share of races, too.
As discussed, Ben Pauling has his string in fantastic form at present with 7 winners in the last fortnight. Stable star Willoughby Court made a winning start to his chasing career at Huntingdon on Sunday, although it was hardly blemish free. Last season's Neptune Investments NH winner jumped repeatedly to his left on only his second race on a right-handed track and was forced to dig deep late on. A length and a quarter winner from Casablanca Mix and The Unit, he will need to step up markedly on this display if he is to make it back to back wins at the Festival next March. However, he will be seen to much better advantage when returning to a left-handed track and his win at the Cambridgeshire venue proved he is a horse with a hell of a big engine. To still win, despite jumping left and making mistakes, says plenty about his ability.
Indeed, the Pauling interview in One Jump Ahead has produced Hidden Glen (6/4), Linenhall (100/30), Carlos Du Fruitier (8/11), Equus Secretus (5/2), Willoughby Court (2/5) and Marten (9/4) during the past fortnight.
I was working at Wetherby on Saturday and the performance which impressed me most came from the unbeaten Kalashnikov (4/1) in the two miles novices' hurdle. Amy Murphy's gelding had won a bumper over the same course and distance in the spring and he produced a brilliant round of jumping on his hurdles bow at the weekend. The Kalanisi gelding is a full-brother to the same connections' five times winner Kalane (all wins on decent ground) and his trainer had expressed doubts about the testing ground beforehand. However, it proved no barrier as he bounded clear after the second last. I spoke to Amy afterwards and she said the gelding has always been a very good jumper and described him as a 'class horse.' He certainly looked it on Saturday and is very much one to follow. He was highlighted on page 128 of One Jump Ahead in the Stable Gossip section.
Ice Cool Champs may have failed to justify favouritism in the concluding two and a half miles handicap hurdle at the West Yorkshire venue but he remains a horse to keep in mind for later in the season. From the family of Shotgun Willy and Mini Sensation, he was only having his third run over timber on his handicap debut. Unsuited by the sedate early gallop, Philip Hobbs' charge was tapped for speed when the temp finally lifted before staying on well under Richard Johnson. Beaten around four lengths in third, I will be very surprised if he doesn't prove a fair bit better than his current mark of 122 before going chasing next season. The race has been won by the likes of Trustan Times (2012 off a mark of 134) and More of That (2013 off 130) in recent years and invariably unearthes a decent horse or two. Ice Cool Champs could fall into that bracket.
Espoir D'Allen (French Revolution) and Rapid Escape (Irish Pointers) look two promising youngsters featured in OJA who scored at Down Royal on Saturday. The former followed up his win at Punchestown with another convincing display and made it two out of two in juvenile hurdles since joining Gavin Cronwell. He looks smart and must be the best three year old hurdler we have seen so far this term.
I have started work on the first One Jump Ahead Update, which concentrates on the three day Cheltenham meeting (17th - 19th November). The Update will be sent out via email to clients on Thursday 16th. The price is £6 and can be purchased via the Publications section of the site.
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