Navan maiden hurdle winner Bob Olinger made a seamless transition to Grade 1 company when readily landing the rescheduled Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle on Wednesday. Henry De Bromhead's highly regarded youngster jumped better than he had done on his previous start and made good headway turning for home. It soon became apparent his only danger was the unbeaten Willie Mullins trained runner Blue Lord, who had raced keenly early on. Rachel Blackmore's mount jumped the second last well and was soon in control. A bold leap at the final flight sealed his win as the six year old bounded clear to win by six and a half lengths. The Ballymore Novices' Hurdle looks his obvious target at the Cheltenham Festival and it would be no suprise to see the Robcour owned gelding head straight there because he doesn't need the practice. Promoted to joint favourite in some ante-post lists, Bob Olinger will be a major threat to the other market leader and Challow Hurdle winner Bravemansgame. Longer-term, he ought to develop into a formidable staying chaser.
While Bob Olinger provided the Top 40 Prospects with another winner and it wasn't a bad day for the Talking Trainers section in One Jump Ahead either. David Pipe nominated Gericault Roque (7/2) as his horse to follow for the season and the Montmartre gelding won at the first time of asking over hurdles at Plumpton on Wednesday. A former Irish pointer, he had stayed on to finish second in a bumper at Newton Abbot in late October. The five year old underwent wind surgery afterwards and he produced an improved display to lead on the run-in at the Sussex track. Fitted with a hood on both his races under Rules, he threatens to be even better when tackling two and a half miles later in the season. He is a useful prospect for the in-form Pond House team.
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