It was good to see Top 40 Prospects entry If The Cap Fits (4/5) win the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday. Harry Fry's gelding had finished runner-up in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton a couple of weeks ago. Stepping up to two miles three, he showed a smart turn of foot after the final flight to reel the long time leader Rayvin Black and Old Guard. A length and a half winner, I don't think he was at his best over the weekend but it speaks volumes about his ability. It was a messy race with Oliver Sherwood's runner establishing a big lead, which he still held turning for home. Noel Fehily is reportedly keen to have a crack at the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day and, while Saturday's performance didn't suggest the gelding is crying out for a drop in trip, I wouldn't judge him on that effort. I felt the most positive aspect about his win was the way he jumped - he was much quicker and slicker over his obstacles. He remains a promising young hurdler with Grade 1 aspirations and the Milan gelding couldn't be in better hands. The Fry team have been terrific form with Black Mischief (6/1) and Jolly's Cracked It (7/1) also winning during the last few days.
Hazzaar (9/4) was highlighted as an unraced bumper horse to follow in the November Update and the Tom Lacey trained gelding duly obliged on his debut in the concluding bumper at Ascot on Saturday. Bought for €45,000 as a yearling, the son of Flemensfirth was strong in the market and he stayed on strongly to win by a couple of lengths under Noel Fehily. He looks a smashing prospect who hails from another very good stable.
The big race of the day was the Betfair Chase ay Haydock and Bristol De Mai made it successive victories in the Grade 1 contest. The grey had been ruled out of the Charlie Hall Chase earlier this month due to fast ground but Nigel Twiston-Davies let the ex-French gelding take his chance and it proved the correct decision as he ran out a four lengths winner. Now unbeaten in four visits to the Merseyside track, he handled the good ground with aplomb and provided his trainer with his third win in the race. Very good fresh, it remains to be seen whether the Saddler Maker gelding can replicate the performance in the King George Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Colin Tizzard was understandably pleased with both Native River and Thistlecrack who finished second and third respectively, but the disappointment of the race was undoubtedly Might Bite who dropped away tamely after the second last. A remote last of five, the nine year old made an early mistake and never jumped with his usual fluency. Nicky Henderson wondered whether last season's King George winner lost his confidence after that error. Is it possible he is still feeling the effects of two tough races in the spring at Cheltenham and Aintree? His next run ought to reveal all.
I have just been watching the weekly weather forecast on Countryfile and it looks like being a very wet week. The rain is finally all set to arrive. Watching the Troytown Chase at Navan this afternoon being run on good ground seemed bizarre. The jumps season is about to go up a gear........ at the end of November/early December.
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