Despite wins for The Big Breakaway and Put The Kettle On on Sunday, it was a disappointing few days for the November Update. The underfoot conditions certainly didn't do Proschema any favours with Dan Skelton's runner in trouble some way from home in the Greatwood Hurdle, while Discorama raced too freely and didn't get home in the staying handicap chase. Once again, Paul Nolan's gelding didn't perform to his best on his second start of the season something I feared beforehand.
On a positive note, One Jump Ahead unearthed some very promising youngsters on Sunday, namely The Big Breakaway, Nassalam and Hollow Games. It was a good day, too, for the Top 40 Prospects with a short price double courtesy of The Big Breakaway and Fury Road who both look set for lucrative campaigns this winter and beyond.
I thought The Big Breakaway was awesome in the opening novices' chase. Colin Tizzard's gelding was withdrawn from an engagement at Newbury this month but with conditions in his favour, he made his fencing bow at the home of National Hunt racing. Jumping brilliantly throughout and gaining ground over his four opponents at the majority of the fences, he powered away after the second last to win by ten lengths. His jump at the third last epitomised his performance. Admittedly, he was in receipt of weight from inferior rivals but he proved a class part and looks every inch an RSA Chase contender. Indeed, I hope plenty of readers took the advice in One Jump Ahead and snapped up the 33/1 which was readily available in September/early October. The five year old is now as short as 6/1 and is likely to head to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase - a race his stable has won twice in the last four years. It is a long time since I have seen a novice jump as well as The Big Breakaway did on his first try over fences. He looks top-class.
Fury Road was also too good for his four opponents in a Grade 2 hurdle at Punchestown. Placed in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in the spring, Gordon Elliott's gelding jumped slickly and dominated from the outset under Jack Kennedy in the two miles five event. A winning margin three and a half lengths flattered the runner-up Dewcup, who was in receipt of nine pounds (rated a stone inferior). Despite getting in tight at the final flight, the six year old picked up well and won going away. A return to three miles will suit and one would imagine he will head to Leopardstown over Christmas for the Grade 1 Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle. The staying division looks wide open and it would be no surprise to see the Stowaway gelding develop into a major contender by next spring.
Nassalam looks another good addition to the French Revolution judged on his 59 lengths victory on his British debut at Fontwell. Contesting the same juvenile hurdle which stablemate Goshen won by 23 lengths twelve months earlier, the Dream Well gelding tracked compatriot Shentri for much of the contest before taking charge on the approach to the second last. Drawing clear, he won eased down and is clearly effective in testing conditions.
Noel and Valerie Moran have invested heavily in bloodstock during the last twelve months and they forked out £255,000 for the Irish point winner Hollow Games. Previously handled by James Doyle (also trained the sidelined dual Listed bumper winner Israel Champ), he made his Rules debut for Gordon Elliott in the concluding bumper at Punchestown on Sunday and ran out an easy seven lengths winner. The Beat Hollow gelding looked a strong stayer running on well inside the final quarter of a mile. Only four, he is likely to be kept to bumpers this term. Samcro won the same event four years ago.
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