Angels Breath was featured in the Top 40 Prospects last season and, having won a Grade 2 novice hurdle on his reappearance, Nicky Henderson's ex-pointer didn't progress as anticipated suffering defeats at Kempton, Cheltenham and Aintree in three subsequent starts. The grey returned to action over fences at Ascot on Friday and, similar, to last term, made a terrific start to his new vocation with an eight lengths win under Nico De Boinville. The Shantou gelding needs to build on this and prove he can sustain his form throughout the season. The Grade 2 Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day looks an obvious target. Before getting too carried away, I would suggest a note of caution. The front running First Flow was very aggressively ridden and was a spent force by the second last, while the winner's stablemate Birchdale produced a laboured display. On this evidence, it is easy to see why Nicky Henderson campaigned him over three miles last spring - he looked slow here. Therefore the race may not have taken a lot of winning and it could have fallen into Angels Breath's lap to an extent. Time will tell.
The former Champion trainer sent out a double on the day and he must have been pleased with Lust For Glory's reappearance run, too. Beaten a couple of lengths in the concluding two miles handicap hurdle, she was patiently ridden before making good late headway. Sold as part of the Grech and Parkin dispersal sale last spring for £235,000, she was acquired by Robert Waley-Cohen who, long-term, must be eyeing the new mares' chase at the Cheltenham Festival. A former winning Irish pointer, she wil be very much one to follow in mares' novice chases from now onwards. The daughter of Getaway will appreciate better ground than she encountered on Friday, too. She is one to note.
Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers in One Jump Ahead continue to produce the winners with Pure Bliss (7/1) the latest success story in the bumper at Ffos Las. A filly by Mount Nelson, she won her only start 'between the flags' for Denis Murphy before being acquired for €100,000 at the Punchestown Festival Sale in the spring. Contesting a mares' bumper at the Welsh track, Harry Fry's new recruit lead with over half a mile to travel before powering clear. Paul Nicholls' former assistant has unleashed two promising bumper mares this Autumn in her and Aintree scorer White Hart Lady.
I am working at Haydock for Racing TV on Saturday and it promises to be a tremendous afternoon of racing at the Merseyside track. The Betfair Chase, of course, takes centre stage. There may be only four runners but they are all Grade 1 winners and have won 36 races between them, with 7 at the highest level. The three trainers involved, namely Paul Nicholls (6 wins), Colin Tizzard (3) and Nigel Twiston-Davies (3), have won 12 of the 14 renewals of the race between them. There is also some excellent action at Ascot with the clash between Altior and Cyrname and, in Ireland, Laurina takes on Minella Indo in an intriguing beginners' chase at Gowran Park. At the same track, watch out for the third horse featured on page 147 of One Jump Ahead.
Finally, I am sure many readers will be aware that the Tote 10 to follow returns this winter for the first time in a number of years. One Jump Ahead has proved a useful aid over the years for the competition, so if you haven't already ordered a copy, please head to the Publications section of the site. The competition starts tomorrow week.
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