French import Apple's Shakira made a sparkling British debut in the opening Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham winning by seventeen lengths. A full-sister to five times Grade 1 winner Apple's Jade, she won at Vichy during the spring for Emmanuel Clayeux before being purchased for a king's ransom by J.P.McManus. While she reportedly doesn't show a great deal at home, the three year old clearly saves it for the track and is now clear ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle next March. She looks a tremendous prospect and her victory was a great result for the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead. That is what the book is all about - unearthing stars of the future.
The other performance which really impressed me today was the chasing debut of Monalee at Punchestown. Henry De Bromhead's gelding was a smart novice hurdler last winter finishing second in the Albert Bartlett NH at the Cheltenham Festival. However, if his six lengths victory over the larger obstacles this afternoon is anything to go by, then the Milan gelding could be an even better chaser. Ridden by Davy Russell, his jumping was very accurate throughout and he quickened away after the final fence. Admittedly, his task was simplified by the early fall of Invitation Only but it was a terrific performance nevertheless. He looks every inch an RSA Chase contender.
Splash of Ginge caused a shock in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham providing Nigel Twiston-Davies with his fourth win in the race. A former Betfair Hurdle winner, the Tom Bellamy ridden gelding battled on gamely after the last to deny Starchitect. Ballyalton ran well in fourth considering the testing ground wouldn't have played to his strengths. However, one can't help thinking the whole complexion of the race changed halfway down the backstraight when Kylemore Lough lost his backlegs at the water jump. Having his first start for Harry Fry, the Grade 1 winning novice chaser raced and jumped enthusiastically before his mistake. He never recovered and was eventually pulled up. Once again, it begs the question what is the purpose of a water jump? They don't have them in Ireland and I can see why. They are supposed to provide a good spectacle. How can they when they are positioned down the backstraight at some tracks. It was a long way from home but I honestly believe that mistake cost Kylemore Lough victory. To my eyes, he looked a Grade 1 horse running against handicappers. Unfortunately, we will never know what would have happened.
With the exception of Apple's Shakira in the opener, it wasn't a great day for the Update, nor the Email Service. However, One Jump Ahead had another successful afternoon. Bromley's Best Buys highlighted Article Fifty (9/2) in the concluding bumper at Uttoxeter. A winning English pointer, he ran out a five lengths winner on his first start for Warren Greatrex (has trained 9 bumper winners at the Midlands track from 16 runners). The French Revolution section in OJA also had a couple of winners at Punchestown thanks to Mitchouka and Burrows Saint.
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