Saturday afternoon was a particularly satisfying one for leading owners Rich and Susannah Ricci with Royale Pagaille getting the better of Bravemansgame in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock. The nine year old was registering his fourth win at the Merseyside track and going one better than he did a couple of years ago behind A Plus Tard. The ex-French gelding was having his first start since falling in the Irish National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday and it was seventh run in the highest company. Venetia Williams' runner started to the better of the warm favourite early in the homestraight before staying on strongly to register a six and a half lengths victory. Bravemansgame was a tired horse crossing the line and it will take all of Paul Nicholls' skill and expertise to get him back to his best for the King George in 31 days - he looked flat here.
Earlier in the day, the Ricci's must have enjoyed watching Gaelic Warrior's stoll round in the beginners chase at Punchestown. A Grade 1 winning novice hurdler, the five year old destroyed the opposition in the two miles three event. Taking over after four fences, Paul Townend's mount pulled further and further clear before winning eased down by 15 lengths. Willie Mullins' runner stays three miles well but isn't devoid of speed either with the Grade 1 novice chase at Limerick on St Stephen's Day looking an obvious target over the Festive period. It will be interesting to see how he performs on a left-handed track in future given his preference to shift to his right over hurdles. Either way, he is an oustanding prospect who would have featured in the Top 40 Prospects of OJA once again but connections had indicated the Maxios gelding was staying over timber during the summer.
The Top 40 were amongst the winners on Saturday though with Grey Dawning producing a breathtaking round of jumping in the Graduation chase at Haydock. Dan Skelton's gelding had looked in need of the outing on his chasing bow at Exeter this month and clearly took a marked step forward here. Given a positive ride, the grey had his rivals in trouble leaving the back before galloping on relentlessly over the last few fences to beat the 156 rated Gaillard Du Mesnil by nearly ten lengths. With a preference to racing left-handed, the six year old is expected to head to Warwick in January for a Grade 2 novices' chase over three miles. It will take a good one to beat him there.
There is every reason to believe Saint Segal would have provided the Top 40 with another winner but for falling at the last when in front in the valuable Hurst Park Handicap Chase at Ascot. Much too keen on his reappearance over the same C&D earlier this month, Jane Williams' runner was held up on this occasion and everything went smoothly until after the last. David Noonan's mount jumped well saving ground on the inside before striking the front between the last two obstacles. A length when landing over the final fence, the French bred failed to get his landing gear out and crumpled on landing. Similar to Crebilly at Cheltenham last weekend, it was a sickener. Hopefully, the five year old will get his just desserts in somthing like the Grand Annual Chase at the Festival in March. He deserves a big one after this.
In total, there were 11 winners in One Jump Ahead on Saturday, including Regent's Stroll (7/4) who was another of Paul Nicholls 10 unraced bumper horses to follow. The Walk In The Park gelding, who cost £175,000 last year, made a successful start to his career when winning the concluding bumper at Ascot by two and a half lengths from the well touted Tradecraft. The four year old has a bright future.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive