Shanagh Bob (15/8) was purchased for 200,000gns at the Cheltenham Sale last year having won an Irish point-to-point a few days earlier. Twelve months later, the Mahler gelding returned to Prestbury Park and his second win over timber in the Grade 2 Bristol Novices' Hurdle in determined fashion. A seven lengths winner on his Rules debut at Plumpton last month, the Nicky Henderson trained runner appreciated the step up to three miles here staying on dourly to lead at the final flight. A length and a quarter victor, he is a crisp jumper who stays well. The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle over the same C&D in March is likely to be his main spring target and he is a fine long-term prospect for fences. Owned by Joe and Marie Donnelly, he was highlighted as a horse to follow in Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers article in One Jump Ahead.
The French Revolution section is slowly but surely coming good and Pacini (5/4) was the latest winner to emerge with a cosy success in the juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday. The Poet's Word gelding won his sole start on the Flat in his native country in April and has come a long way in a short space of time. Gordon Elliott's new recruit jumped poorly on his jumping bow at Punchestown in mid November and, while he fared better nine days later at the same track, he was a different proposition here. Given a positive ride by Jack Kennedy, the KTDA Racing (Keep The Dream Alive) owned runner jumped much more fluently and dominated from the outset making all. Stretching away after the last, he crossed the line six and a half lengths in front and could develop into a Boodles Juvenile Hurdle contender by the spring. Improving with racing, he lacks experience and can only get better. Elliott and his team have done a terrific job with him because he looked anything but a natural over obstacles a month ago.
It will be disappointing if the penultimate horse on page 147 of OJA doesn't go very close on Sunday. He is reportedly smart having shown all the right signs at home. I am heading to Carlisle on Sunday for Racing TV and hoping to catch up with a few people and gather some more information for the forthcoming edition of the Christmas Special, which will be published this time next week - I will confirm the date once the Christmas entries have been published. If you haven't ordered your copy, please head to the Publications section of the site.
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