The French Revolution feature in both One Jump Ahead and the Christmas Special unearthed two exciting juvenile hurdle prospects on Saturday and the pair hold an entry in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Solo had won by fifteen lengths at Auteuil in November on his second start for Guillaume Macaire. The son of Kapgarde was snapped up by Paul Nicholls shortly afterwards on behalf of owner Johnny De La Hey and he couldn't have made a bigger impression on his UK debut in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton. Sent off 6/4, he trounced his eight rivals by upwards of thirteen lengths producing a superb round of jumping before quickening away from the second last. He provided the champion trainer with his fifth win in the race and it evoked memories of Zarkandar who also won the Grade 2 contest on his British bow before lifting the Triumph Hurdle the following month. Solo looks another top notcher for Team Ditcheat.
Half an hour later in Ireland, Burning Victory (7/1) made the best possible start to her National Hunt career by winning a Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Lightly raced on the Flat in France, she was handled by Stephane Wattel winning one of her five races and contesting a Group 3 at Chantilly last summer. Purchased by Willie Mullins, she was one of four runners in the line-up for the head of Closutton and having overcome a mistake at the last, the daughter of Nathaniel stayed on well to beat Great Bear by two and a half lengths. While it is possible she will head to the Festival next month, there is also a chance she could be saved for another Graded prize back at Fairyhouse over Easter. Like Solo, she looks to have a bright future.
We have had to wait a while but Top 40 entry Ferny Hollow finally showed what he is capable of his third start under Rules at Fairyhouse. The former Irish pointer had raced too keenly on his first two starts finishing runner-up on each occasion and, while he was enthusiastic again here, he proved in a different league to the opposition winning hard held by four and a half lengths. Patrick Mullins invariably pushes his mounts out inside the final couple of furlongs but I suspect he was conscious the Festival bumper is only eighteen days away and he didn't want to subject the Westener gelding to a hard race. Willie Mullins is already responsible for the ante-post favourite in the Festival bumper with Appreciate It but, following this display by his stablemate, he may not have it all his own way. Provided he relaxes, Ferny Hollow could yet have a big say in the outcome. He is another lovely prospect for Cheveley Park Stud.
Talking of Paul Nicholls, I have fortunate once again to be invited to the Million In Mind open day at Ditcheat on Sunday week (1st March) and will therefore get a full rundown on the stable's Festival runners. I will include a report in the One Jump Ahead Cheltenham Festival Update. As in previous years, it promises to be a most enjoyable day.
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