There was some intriguing action at both Kelso and Uttoxeter on Sunday with the Talking Trainers section in One Jump Ahead having a tremendous day with six winners, namely Bois Guillbert (4/1), Cadell (7/2), Asta La Pasta (6/4), Booster Bob (5/6), Chasing Fire (18/5) and Yes Day (6/1).
Arguably the most interesting race of the day was the two miles novice chase at Uttoxeter. Unfortunately, the race was marred by the fatal injury suffered by last year's Greatwood Hurdle winner I Like To Move It who was quickly pulled up after the last fence. Chasing Fire, who had looked so promising until disappointing twice at Cheltenham in the spring, took full advantage and held off the late challenge of Pembroke to prevail by a length. Olly Murphy's winner had jumped better than the Twiston-Davies runner and is likely to have prevailed in any case. Hopefully, the Maxios gelding will start to realise the potential he showed for much of last term, whilst it won't be long before the runner-up goes one better.
Dan Skelton, trainer of Pembroke, was responsible for the opening winner at the Midlands track with Asta La Pasta staying on strongly after the last to take division one of the two mile maiden hurdle. Asta La Pasta is an impeccably bred gelded son of Walk In The Park being out of the high-class staying mare Asian Maze. An easy bumper winner at Market Rasen in February, the five year old was forced to dig deep to get passed Brook Bay - the runner-up is one of Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers in OJA (11/1). Two and a half lengths separated the pair with a further five lengths back to the third. The winner is bred to be even better over further.
As discussed, Lucinda Russell has her team in excellent form and following her treble at Hexham on Friday, the Kinross yard sent out another couple of winners at Kelso, namely Bois Guillbert and Cadell. Both youngsters are very much horses for the future. I was working for Racing TV at Aintree in the spring when the latter finished runner-up in a point-to-point bumper. Owned by Ronnie Bartlett, of Simonsig fame, the five year old relished the step up to middle distances on his hurdles debut running on well after the last to win the two miles five novice hurdle by nearly four lengths. Like so many from the yard, his long-term future lies over fences and further improvement will be forthcoming over three miles in due course.
The performance of day came from Tommy's Oscar in the Simply Ned Handicap Chase. Ann and Ian Hamilton's pride and joy defied a mark of 152 and top weight of twelve stone before streaking away on the run-in under Sean Quinlan. A dual Grade 2 winner, the eight year old hadn't been seen since suffering an injury shortly after his surprise defeat at Carlisle in March. However, he returned in tip-top order with a tremendous weight carrying effort beating Cedar Hill by six and a half lengths. A return to Graded company is likely to be next.
On Monday, I will resume my assessment of the Talking Trainers section in One Jump Ahead starting with the in-form Olly Murphy, who had a double at Uttoxeter on Sunday and has produced 7 winners from 19 runners (37%) during the last fortnight.
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