Top 40 entry Sporting John made it two wins from two starts over hurdles with an easy success at Exeter on Friday. Philip Hobbs' former Irish pointer had won over course and distance on his Rules debut last month and had no trouble following up under a penalty. Barry Geraghty positioned his mount to the fore throughout and, having jumped well, pulled away for a ready success. An eight lengths winner, the Getaway gelding did what he was entitled to in a field which lacked depth despite being large in numbers. The Minehead trainer is blessed with two exciting novice hurdle prospects in him and dual Grade 2 winner Thyme Hill. Both Sporting John's victories have been gained over two miles one on soft ground and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if his connections consider a tilt at the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown early in the New Year. That two miles event is invariably run on testing ground.
There was some decent action at Sandown Park and the card kicked off with a juvenile hurdle which was won in emphatic fashion by Goshen, who was also making it two out of two over timber. Highlight as a horse to follow in the November Update, the 88 rated Flat racer had won by twenty three lengths on his jumping bow at Fontwell in November. Adopting similar front running tactics here, Gary Moore's gelding jumped much better on this occasion and had his opponents in trouble before turning for home. The son of Authorized pulled further and further clear once in the homestraight and crossed the line thirty four lengths clear of Paul Nicholls' Thyme White. Goshen's sire has already produced one Triumph Hurdle winner in the shape of dual Grand National scorer Tiger Roll and it is distinctly possible this could be another. With that in mind, Moore is keen for Goshen to gain course experience at Prestbury Park and he is likely to contest the Grade 2 Finesse Hurdle on Trials day (25th January). One note of caution, he jumped badly to his right late on at Fontwell and Jamie Moore said at Sandown that he was much happier racing right-handed. His next run ought to be very revealing.
Enrilo (10/1) was Paul Nicholls' assistant Harry Derham's horse to follow in One Jump Ahead and the five year old won for the second time this season when taking the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle. The Buck's Boum gelding, who showed a good level of ability in bumpers, won on his hurdling debut at Wincanton in the Autumn but raced too freely next time at Ludlow. However, Enrilo was back to form at the Esher track producing a gutsy display to get the better of House Island on the run-in. A three parts of a length winner, the pair were clear of the rest. Very much one for the future, Enrilo doesn't strike me as a Cheltenham Festival winner this season but he has a bright future and will make a terrific chaser one day.
Tom Lacey's horses are in good form and Johnbb provided the Herefordshire handler with another winner. The Stowaway gelding was only having his second run over fences and was dropping back to two miles in the handicap chase. Third at Aintree on his reappearance over two and a half miles, the five year old was given a superb ride by Robbie Power. Creeping into contention, he produced a fine leap at the last before staying on strongly to win by three and a quarter lengths off a mark of 124. Even allowing for a rise in the ratings, he remains lightly raced and is progressive. His trainer feels a return to longer trips in due course will prove beneficial. Tom's horse to follow in OJA (see page 92) runs over the weekend and I will be disappointed - and so will he - if he doesn't go very close.
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