It was a blank day for followers of the Top 40 Prospects on Saturday. Gallyhill should have been suited by the step up to nearly two and a half miles at Ascot but I felt he was given an ordinary ride. Nicky Henderson's runner appeared to have his main rivals covered turning in but his jockey appeared to wait rather than kick for home. Forced to switch between the final two flights, he wasn't fluent at the last and Midnight River made the most of the opportunity. Beaten a length and a half, he was well clear of the third but one can't help feeling this was an opportunity lost. The Getaway gelding isn't ready for any fancy races this season but will make a cracking chaser next term. A big strapping six year old, he is built for fences.
I was disappointed Marown couldn't confirm the form with Galahad Quest at Haydock having finished eight lengths in front of Nick Williams' charge last time the pair met over course and distance in a Grade 2 novices' chase last month. Market rival Bold Plan spoilt his chance with a poor round of jumping and it looked a golden opportunity for the Trevor Hemmings owned gelding to regain the winning thread. He had every chance up the home straight but couldn't peg back the winner and was denied by two and a half lengths. His connections are adamant the Milan gelding wants drier ground and he will be seen to better advantage on a more galloping track.
Everglow could only finish third in the Pertemps qualifier at the Merseyside track and he is another who wants a stiffer track. Seventh in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last time, the step up to three miles was expected to suit but Philip Hobbs' novice got tapped for speed before keeping on. Beaten around ten lengths, he is handicapped to win more races but needs a proper test of stamina.
In the same event, Champagne Platinum was a horse highlighted in the February Update as one to consider for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival. Nicky Henderson's grey ran a race full of promise in second. James Bowen didn't subject the J.P.McManus owned gelding to a hard time but, having finished in the first six, he is now qualified for the final next month. This was an ideal prep and he won't be far away at the Festival having run well in the Kim Muir at the fixture twelve months ago.
Two other notable performances from Saturday which warrant a mention include Monmiral's victory in the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock. The ex-French gelding is now unbeaten in three starts for Paul Nicholls as he readily saw off the challenge of Nassalam, who had finished runner-up in Grade 1 company last time. A fine big four year old by Saint Des Saints, the Cheltenham Festival isn't on his agenda this year but it almost certainly will be next year. He is another whose future lies over fences and is a tremendous prospect. It was Team Ditcheat's fourth win in the race during the last six years.
Goshen got his career firmly back on track with a wide margin win in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. Gary Moore's five year old, who was so unfortunate in last season's Triumph Hurdle, had looked out of sorts in two runs on the Flat and in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December. However, the Authorized gelding was back to something approaching his best at the West Country track destroying Song For Someone by 22 lengths. The Champion Hurdle will be next and he will pose a major threat to both Epatante and Honeysuckle.
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