Hartur D'Oudairies looked a first class prospect when winning on his hurdles debut at Warwick on Wednesday. Featured in the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead, the four year old was a ready winner of a French bumper (form has worked out well) for Daniela Mele nearly a year ago before being snapped up by J.P.McManus. Given plenty of time to acclimatise, the Kapgarde gelding had impressed in his homework since joining Dan Skelton and was backed accordingly in the opening two miles maiden hurdle at the Midlands track. He settled well in midfield for the majority of the race before making smooth headway down the backstraight. Taking over at the last flight, he only had to be nudged clear to win hard held by four and a quarter lengths. I suspect it wasn't the deepest of races but it has been won by some useful sorts over the years, including Garde La Victoire (2013) and Yanworth (2015) and he was a class above his rivals. Dan Skelton suggested afterwards that the ex-French gelding will be kept low key for the time being. Longer-term, it will be interesting to see if he is steered towards the Cheltenham Festival. I suspect his owner will be keen to head down that route, while the trainer may prefer to adopt a similar approach to stablemate My Drogo last winter. Either way, he is another potential top notcher for the Top 40 Prospects - that is what One Jump Ahead is all about and there won't be any other publications who have featured Hartur D'Oudairies. It was a very satisfying result.
Hartur D'Oudairies' victory is further evidence that Team Skelton is building a formidable team of young horses and they are only going to get stronger in the coming years. Dan has gone down the French route in recent years and both this horse and In This World, who also won at Warwick recently, are two of the most exciting novice hurdlers in the UK at present.
The Top 40 doubled up half an hour later when Fontaine Collonges scored at the second of asking over fences in the mares' novices' handicap chase. Venetia Williams' six year old had run creditably over two miles on her chasing bow at Wetherby last month staying on at the death having been tapped for speed. Prominent throughout, she appreciated the step up to two and a half miles and, while it wasn't her rider's finest hour - he became embroiled in a duel from the outset - the ex-French filly got him out of trouble when rallying having been headed after the third last to regain the advantage on the run-in. A two and three quarters of a length victor, she scored off a mark of 115 and, even allowing for a four or five pounds rise, she is the sort to stay ahead of the handicapper. Indeed, expect Fontaine Collonges to progress again when tackling softer ground and even further. From the family of Grand National winner Neptune Collonges, she will stay three miles in time.
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