Following a couple of reversals in Ireland over the last few days, normal service resumed for the Top 40 Prospects on Saturday with Grey Dawning producing a terrific performance to win the Grade 2 Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick. The seven year old finished runner-up over two and a half miles at Cheltenham on his previous start and relished the return to three miles at his local track. Patiently ridden behind the front running Apple Away and Broadway Boy, the grey jumped superbly and was travelling strongly throughout under Harry Skelton. Making his challenge approaching the second last, he soon had the measure of the Scottish raider and readily pulled away to record a 14 lengths win. Connections suggested he could drop back to the intermediate trip for the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown (3rd February). It is hoped the Flemensfirth gelding is kept fresh and saved for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March. He is a cracking staying chaser in the making.
The Christmas Special continues to churm out the winners with two more at Kempton on Saturday. Kalif Du Berlais was highlighted in the French Revolution - Part III section - and Paul Nicholls' new recruit didn't disappoint on his UK debut. A fine looking four year old by Masked Marvel, he scored on his jumping bow for Guillaume Macaire at Compiegne in late October before being acquired by agent Anthony Bromley on behalf of John Hales. He jumped neatly and wasn't hard pressed to score by seven and a half lengths at the Sunbury venue. I contacted both Paul and Anthony and they used the words 'awesome' and 'weapon' to describe their latest future star. While the Triumph Hurdle may not be on the agenda, a return to Kempton for the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle (24th February) is a possibility.
Half an hour later, Gentle Slopes provided the Update with another success but only just. The former Milton Harris trained runner was having his first outing for Nicky Henderson in the two miles maiden hurdle and was backed as though defeat was out of the question. The seven year old travelled smoothly towards the head of affairs but had to be shaken up to withstand the late challenge of the 122 rated runner-up Junkanoo. A nose separated the pair with nearly four lengths back to the third. A good traveller, the winner is an interesting proposition for handicaps and will be suited by being held up in a well run event. He has more to offer.
One Jump Ahead also had a couple of winners at Fairyhouse, too, with Miss Manzor (6/4) winning the opening juvenile hurdle in convincing fashion. Featured in the French Revolution section, she had only finished seventh in a Grade 2 juvenile at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day on her Irish debut. However, a change in tactics and drop in class proved the key to Willie Mullins' runner and she made all and came home strongly to register a two and a quarter lengths win. She looks Boodles Juvenile Hurdle material.
Finally, Romeo Coolio gave Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers section yet another winner when scoring by a length and a quarter in the concluding bumper on his Rules debut. The Kayf Tara gelding had been sidelined for 307 days and was having his first outing for Gordon Elliott. Shaken up inside the final furlong and a half, he was value for more than the winning margin and is expected to improve considerably for this initial blow out. Subscribers to the November Update are on at fancy prices for the Cheltenham Festival - the five year old won't be seen again before March and those vouchers will help keep plenty of clients warm during those cold winter nights - including this week.
If you haven't ordered the remaining 3 Updates - February, Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National meeting - please head to the Publications section of the site.
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