Followers of One Jump Ahead and the November Update had a successful afternoon and it could have been even better. Springwell Bay (9/4) produced a smart performance under 12st to win the two miles five intermediate handicap hurdle for Jonjo O'Neill. Racing off a mark of 137, the ex-Irish gelding is particularly good when fresh and proved the point with a convincing one and a quarter lengths win under Jonjo jnr. Tried in Grade 1 company last term, it wil be interesting to see if he tested in something like the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle over the same C&D on New Year's Day.
Update selection Notlongtillmay (7/1) ran a cracker in the Paddy Power Gold Cup only finding dual Grade 1 winner Stage Star too good. Laura Morgan's runner jumped well and held every chance under Adam Wedge. Given a sniff when the winner lost his momentum with a mistake at the last, he was beaten four lengths and there were no excuses - it was an almost identical outcome to the Turners Novices' Chase. Paul Nicholls' winner became the first horse to land the prize on his seasonal reappearance since Annacotty in 2015. It was a terrific training performance and the Ryanair Chase at the Festival in March is likely to be his main spring target.
The one which got away was in the amateur riders' handicap chase. Read To Return (advised @ 7/1) the selection finished fifth but almost certainly would have won under a more enterprising ride. Tony Martin's runner was in rear for the majority of the race and still over 20 lengths behind the leaders jumping the third last. Finishing strongly, the six year old was beaten half a dozen lengths. If you haven't seen the race,watch the replay and judge for yourself but the stewards took a dim view banning the jockey for 20 days.
It was a good day for the Top 40 Prospects with 2 more winners, including Springt De La Mare (5/2) in the bumper at Navan. The No Risk At All gelding was forced to dig deep in the closing stages having travelled powerfully under Declan Lavery. Gavin Cromwell's four year old must possess a fair engine because there were some highly regarded opponents in behind. Well done to Declan Phelan for highlighting him - as I have said repeatedly, there isn't a better judge of Irish pointers in the business.
Favour And Fortune made it two from two over timber in the Introductory Hurdle at Wetherby with another smooth display. Alan King's gelding proved a class above the opposition and was value for more than the winning margin of three lengths. The Grade 1 Formby Novices' Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day looks an obvious target, although the Hemmings family also have Bowenspark who could be aimed at the two miles event. He is another exciting prospect.
Speaking to Donald McCain in the summer, the Grand National winning trainer was adamant the J.P.McManus owned Grain D'Oudairies was well handicapped and the lightly raced gelding made amends for an unfortunate defeat at Carlisle last month by going one better at Uttoxeter. Under a patient ride, the seven year old led close to score off a mark of 113. Not the easiest to train, he possesses plenty of ability and may prove best on flat tracks.
One Jump Ahead winners on Saturday included Booster Bob (4/6), Favour And Fortune (2/5), Findthetime (7/1), Grain D'Oudairies (5/4), Heltenham (4/6), Richmond Lake (7/4), Springt De La Mare (5/2), Springwell Bay (85/40) and Stage Star (4/1).
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