Despite hanging to his right after the final fence, O O Seven made a splendid start to his chasing career by winning the two and a half miles novice chase at Cheltenham's Open meeting. Nicky Henderson's gelding jumped well and appeared to be in control a long way from home. A ten lengths winner, he had disappointed on his two previous visits to Prestbury Park and I am still not convinced the track fully plays to his strengths. He is clearly a very good horse but I wouldn't be in a rush to back him for next March's Festival. If he gains a Grade 1 win this season, I would suggest it will be in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown in early February. Either way, he is a smart horse and it was a very good result for the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead.
Unfortunately, Ben Pauling's stable star Barters Hill pulled up with a circuit to run. It was later revealed that the gelding had slipped a tendon and will therefore missed the rest of the season. It is very disappointing news for his burgeoning yard because I know his trainer felt the six year old had never been better at home. I must confess I thought the rest of the card at Cheltenham was poor.
I thought Atomix ran much better in the opening novices' hurdle at Newcastle compared to his jumping bow at Uttoxeter last month. Peter Niven's charge appeared much happier jumping the conventional hurdles (padded ones at Uttoxeter) and held every chance. He will have no trouble winning races without being a star. Bestiarius, who was having first run for Nicky Richards having been transferred from Keith Reveley, was tapped for speed when the tempo lifted in the same event. The half-brother to Night In Milan will be a different proposition over an extra half a mile. It is only a matter of time before he goes one better.
Nando, from the same stable, could only finish fourth in the concluding bumper. Highly regarded, the four year old travelled well into the race but looked green when coming under pressure. It was almost as though he had stagefright. The experience won't have been lost on him and expect the Dai Jin gelding to improve signficantly next time.
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