Springfield Fox (7/4), who is one of Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers in One Jump Ahead, won three times 'between the flags' in his native country before being bought privately to join Tom George. As predicted by Declan on page 171, the grey looked fairly ordinary over timber in three starts during the first half of this season earning a rating of 122. However, since sent chasing, he has proved a revelation winning two out of two. A twelve lengths winner at Chepstow at the end of last month, the seven year old made all and jumped brilliantly. It was a similar story at Exeter on Friday off a ten pounds higher mark. Overcoming a mistake at the first, he soon got into a rhythm and powered away in the homestraight to win by seventeen lengths. The Sagamix gelding holds an entry in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham but that would appear unlikely. Suited by testing conditions, he stays well and can win a decent prize one day. His jumping alone will almost certainly ensure that.
Bromley's Best Buys in OJA have also been in fine form of late and Grand Roi won his third race of the season and maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles. Nicky Henderson's four year old, who was a staying on fourth in a Listed bumper at Cheltenham on New Year's Day had scored by seven lengths on his jumping bow at Fakenham last time. The Spanish Moon gelding had no trouble defying a penalty at Warwick on Friday. An excellent jumper, Nicky Henderson's gelding looks a strong stayer and I am sure he would have won at Prestbury Park at the turn of the year under a more positive ride. There are more races to be won with him before he goes to the Doncaster Spring Sales as part of the Million In Mind partnership's dispersal. He will attract plenty of interest there, too.
Colin Tizzard has a powerful team of novice hurdlers and Lieutenant Rocco looks another, judged on his ready win under a penalty at the Midlands track in the opening two miles three event. The Shirocco gelding, who failed to win either of his two Irish points, had won by eleven lengths at Chepstow on his Rules debut last month and was always in control under Robbie Power. Even a mistake at the last couldn't halt him in his tracks as he beat the 132 rated Stick With Bill by nine lengths, in receipt of four pounds from the runner-up. Entered in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, it is worth noting both his hurdles wins have been gained on heavy ground and it is possible he needs such conditions to show his best. Either way, he will make a smashing novice chaser next winter.
Hopefully the weather won't interrupt the jump racing over the weekend. I will be back to update the Diary shortly. In the meantime, please head to the Publications section of the site if you haven't already ordered a copy of the One Jump Ahead Cheltenham Festival Update.
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