There were a couple of very good first time out over fences performances on Wednesday with Crystal Glory outclassing his six opponents on his chasing debut at Hexham. Rated 136 over hurdles, the former Irish pointer jumped with aplomb throughout taking charge down the backstraight. The Fame And Glory gelding is likely to be kept low key for the time being with Nicky Richards expected to target him at another staying novice chaser under a penalty. The Grade 2 Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby (4th February) would appear a logical target in the New Year with Aintree (fourth in the Grade 1 Sefton NH last spring) rather than Cheltenham his main aim in the spring.
All eyes were on Jonbon's fencing bow at Warwick and the Grade 1 winning novice hurdler didn't disappoint taking the Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase by seven lengths. Nicky Henderson's gelding was handy throughout and his jumping was assured. Turning on the taps in the backstraight, he readily stretched away to set up a tilt at the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown (3rd December), a race the former champion trainer has won four times including with Altior in 2016. A seven lengths scorer, it was an excellent start to his chasing career and the bookmakers rightly shortened him for the Arkle Trophy in March. A rematch with old rival El Fabiolo is one to look forward to next spring.
Despite being put firmly in his place by the J.P.McManus owned winner, Monmiral shaped with lots of promise in second. The ex-French gelding, who was also a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler, jumped fluently but couldn't match Jonbon's speed. He still finished nine lengths in front of the 142 rated and former Greatwood Hurdle winner West Cork. Paul Nicholls is keen to have another crack at the winner at Sandown next month and is hoping for slower ground. As stated in One Jump Ahead, I expect Monmiral to be competing in the King George one day - he looks a stayer in the making and a very good one, too. There was nothing wrong with this performance.
However, the best result of the day on Wednesday as far as followers of One Jump Ahead are concerned was Ginny's Destiny's victory in the two miles five maiden hurdle. The half-brother to Grade 1 winner God's Own had only finished fourth on his hurdles debut at Aintree finding the track too sharp. Tom Lacey's charge improved considerably on that effort though when running on strongly to beat some well touted rivals by eight and a half lengths. There are plenty of options going forward for the six year old, including the Grade 2 Winter Novice Hurdle at Sandown (2nd December), the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury (31st December) or the Grade 2 Leamington Novice Hurdle over the same C&D (14th January). His yard won the last named event with Adrimel in 2021. Ginny's Destiny (18/1) was Tom Lacey's horse to follow in OJA, something his astute trainer was quick to point out to yours truly shortly afterwards.
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