The Email Service is enduring a sticky and frustrating spell at the moment with Vintage Clouds put firmly in his place by the mare Briery Belle on his chasing debut at Carlisle. Sue Smith's grey jumped satisfactorily and still held every chance two out but he was unable to go with Henry Daly's winner thereafter. Beaten eight lengths, he would ideally have liked softer ground but I was still disappointed with his effort. To add insult to injury, the Yorkshire trainer won the last two races on the card.
It was announced last night that triple Cheltenham Festival winner Vautour had broken a leg in a freak accident at home and had been put down. One of my all time favourite, he provided us with so many fantastic memories and is a huge loss to the jumping game. His victory in the JLT Novice Chase, in particular, stands out and it is just a pity we didn't get to see what he could have done in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup. Unfortunately, we will never know. However, he was a brilliant horse and I still maintain when he was at his best, he was the best horse in National Hunt racing during the last couple of seasons. He looked a class act the day he won his maiden hurdle at Navan in December 2013 and I will always remember his owner Rich Ricci telling me at the end of his novice chase campaign that Ruby Walsh had told him he was the best horse he had ridden since Kauto Star. There is no arguing with that.
While the Email Service has been stuttering, the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead are in good form with three more winners over the weekend. I was working at Aintree on Saturday and left the track thinking I had just seen a future star in Cruiseaway in the concluding bumper. Only a few days after Tom George had unleashed a similar type in Sumkindofking at Chepstow, the Stroud based handler repeated the dose with the gelded son of Oscar. Well supported beforehand, he was always cantering Adrian Heskin before pushed clear for a decisive success. The Top 40 and Tom George have two very exciting prospects on their hands.
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