There were some smart performances at Cheltenham on Saturday and none more so than Editeur Du Gite's four lengths victory in the two miles handicap chase. Gary Moore's French gelding, who had won the Red Rum Chase at Aintree last spring, was a neck winner at the November meeting on the Old course. Raised seven pounds since, Niall Houlihan gave his mount another very positive ride jumping superbly before running on strongly to beat the useful Cheddleton. He is a fast improving young chaser who handled the slower ground but is considered even better on a sound surface. The Grand Annual Chase in March looks his obvious target in the spring and it is possible he is given a mid winter break. He is a brilliant jumper and is progressing at a rate of knots.
Guard Your Dreams is also rated 147 and he produced a career best by some margin when battling back to regain the advantage on the run-in to collect the Grade 2 International Hurdle. Successful over two and a half miles at the track in October, he was third next time behind Buzz in the Ascot Hurdle. Nigel Twiston-Davies' five year old is an admirably type and clearly improving but the fact he was good enough to win a recognised Champion Hurdle trial is a further indication that there is a distinct lack of talent in the two mile hurdle division in the UK.
Despite a couple of indifferent jumps, My Drogo wasn't hard pressed to win the two and a half miles novices' chase. Taking over at the ninth fence, the Grade 1 winning novice hurdler was never in danger of defeat thereafter only having to be pushed out for a seven lengths victory. There will doubtless be plenty of scribes rushing to knock his jumping but I wouldn't have any concerns about it come the spring. The Grade 2 Dipper Novices' Chase over the same C&D on New Year's Day was nominated as his next target. He is a top-class horse.
Sad news emerged after the Racing Post Gold Cup Chase that Dostal Phil had suffered a fatal injury having pulled up early on.
Having watched Kyntara through away a winning opportunity when making a mistake at the last at Warwick earlier in the week, Porticello did likewise in the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster. Previously unbeaten, the ex-French gelding is a strong stayer and with hindsight Jamie Moore may have been better employed to have made more use of the son of Sholokhov. Attempting to make all, he had his rivals in trouble after the second last but blundered and lost momentum at the final flight. That handed the advantage to ex-Flat racer Knight Salute who swept to the front. Porticello was gathered up and ran on strongly but couldn't reel in Milton Harris' winner. Beaten three parts of a length, he is a three miler chaser in the making who wants soft ground.
Due to the unseasonably dry weather during the Autumn and early winter, Willie Mullins has been slow to hit top gear but there have been signs of the last seven days that Ireland's champion trainer is set unleash a whole host of talent in the coming weeks. Blue Lord and Stattler were impressive winners on their chasing debuts at Fairyhouse scoring by an aggregate of eleven and a half lengths. The pair looked well above average. If you have a spare moment on Sunday, have at look at Mullins' entries at Naas on Thursday.
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