Worcester staged a decent card on Wednesday with the novice events taking centre stage. The meeting opened with a five runner mares' novice chase and victory went the way of the Philip Hobbs trained Little River Bay. The homebred six year old was rated 132 over hurdles and she looks set to develop into an even better mare over fences, if her initial attempt is anything to go by. Partnered by Ben Jones for the first time, the daughter of Shirocco produced an excellent round of jumping before displaying a willing attitude after the last to get the better of the front running Nada To Prada. A length separated the pair with a further ten lengths back to the third. The runner-up also ran a fine race and it won't be long before Michael Scudamore's mare goes one better - she is arguably better on deeper ground and has enough speed to drop back to two miles in mares' events. I would take a positive view about the first two.
The finale was the other race of real interest. The two miles novices' hurdle was won by the smart bumper performer I Like To Move It but it wasn't as straightforward as his three and a quarter lengths victory suggests. The Trans Island gelding, who finished ninth in the Cheltenham Festival bumper last spring, didn't jump with much fluency and lost ground at a number of his hurdles. Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge will no doubt learn as he gains in experience and I also feel he will benefit from going over the conventional hurdles because he will be able to flatten them if he gets them wrong - it is much harder to do that over the 'mini fences' which both Worcester and Southwell have. There is little doubt the four year old possesses an engine but he needs to be slicker when stepping up in class. His trainer is likely to be keen to run him in the Grade 2 Sharp Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham (14th November) but I wonder if the Listed novice hurdle at Haydock (20th November) might be a better option.
There were a couple of noteworthy performances in behind. Hermes Boy was also making his jumping bow having shaped nicely in a bumper at Bangor during the spring. Jane Williams' four year old confirmed that promise when staying on strongly under a hand ride to fill second position behind I Like To Move It. The Diamond Boy gelding probably has enough speed to win a similar event but threatens to be even more effective over two and a half miles. I also liked the performance of the third Halo Des Obeaux who is definitely crying out for a step up in distance. Featured in the French Revolution section of One Jump Ahead, the Al Namix gelding had won his only start over hurdles at Auteuil in March and was therefore forced to concede ten pounds to the winner on his first run for Paul Nicholls. Not surprisingly, he was given a positive ride and the four year old repeatedly outjumped the favourite but couldn't cope with his turn of foot after the last. Only a novice until the end of the month, it is possible the champion trainer will decide to send Halo Des Obeaux over fences during the winter. Two and a half miles plus and fences will bring out the best in the grey.
It was another successful day for One Jump Ahead with the Talking Trainers section producing three winners, namely Little River Bay (16/5), Outlaw Peter (Evens) and Guernesey (14/1). In other news, for those who have a copy of OJA, the horse featured at the bottom of page 147 is owned by Kenny Alexander of Honeysuckle fame. The Scotsman has another potentially exciting filly on his hands.
If you still haven't ordered a copy, please head to the Publications section of the site. We currently only have 56 copies in stock but we are hoping to get another 100 from the printers early next week.
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