It is probably fair to say Elle Est Belle hadn't quite lived up to expectations over hurdles thus far following her excellent season in bumpers last term. Placed at both Cheltenham and Aintree last spring, Dan Skelton's six year old won a Listed hurdle at Newbury's Winter Festival in November but was put in her place in the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot next time. The original plan was to aim the daughter of Fame And Glory at the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury this weekend but, as discussed, the drying conditions ruled her out. Instead she was steered towards the Listed Sidney Banks Memorial Novice Hurdle at Huntingdon and the decision was vindicated as she gained a last gasp victory heading longtime leader Gentleman At Arms close home. The step up in distance certainly played to her strengths and she showed a good attitude to get the better of Stuart Edmonds' runner. Her trainer indicated afterwards that, while she holds an entry in the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, she is more likely to contest the Grade 1 two and a half miles novice hurdle at Aintree.
Switching codes, I am currently working on the forthcoming edition of Ahead On The Flat and planning my annual trip to Newmarket next week. I will keep readers informed of those yards I have visited on my return.
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