It was a good afternoon for the Top 40 Prospects in OJA on Tuesday with both Camprond (2/1) and Marown (11/8) winning within the space of around ten minutes at Taunton and Wetherby respectively. The former's victory brought up the 50 for the season. Philip Hobbs' french recruit had run well on his UK debut at Huntingdon but was bitterly disappointing at Sedgefield last time. The Lope De Vega gelding wore a hood at the Durham track and didn't appear to handle the testing ground. Given a break of 91 days, the five year old was back to form and won cosily by a length and a quarter despite a few novicey leaps in the process. Decent ground appears to be the key to him and he should be able to follow up during the spring, possibly in handicap company.
Regular readers will be aware that I have been a big fan of Marown for sometime and his connections have been adamant that the seven year old has been crying out for three miles and better ground. A winner at Ayr earlier in the season, he finally got the opportunity to show what he is capable of in the staying novices' chase at the A1 track. Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Messire Des Obeaux appeared to have all his rivals in trouble when taking charge down the backstraight on the final circuit. However, Nicky Richards' runner made headway before the hometurn and had the favourite's measure between the final two fences. Admittedly, Alan King's charge was pulled up after the last and found to be lame afterwards but it was still a good performance by Marown. Speaking to Brian Hughes afterwards, the plan remains the same - his seasonal target has been the valuable novices' handicap chase over three miles at Ayr next month (17th April). That event has been contested by future National winners Silver Birch (2004), Merigo beat Ballabriggs in 2008 and Auroras Encore collected it twelve months later. The Trevor Hemmings owned gelding still has some way to go but everything about him suggests he could be a Grand National contender one day. After all, he is from the family of the 1985 National winner Last Suspect.
Olly Murphy's string are in excellent form at present. Gordon Elliott's former assistant has sent out 10 winners from his last 44 runners (23%) during the past fortnight. He had a handful of runners on Wednesday and they finished 31121. Keep a close eye on his runners over the next few days.
I am continuing to work on Ahead On The Flat and the One Jump Ahead Grand National Update. The latter (£6.00) is available to purchase via the Publications section of the site.
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