Minella Indo made a fine start to his second season over fences with a 25 lengths victory in the Grade 3 chase at Wexford on Monday. Henry De Bromhead's former Festival winner was unlucky not to add the RSA Chase to his CV last spring when caught close home by Champ. Off since, the lightly raced seven year old was reportedly short of peak fitness for his return to action and was forced to concede weight to market rival Milan Native, who had won earlier this month at Galway. The pair matched strides for much of the contest before Rachel Blackmore's mount took charge after the third last. This win sets him up nicely for races such as the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas with the Cheltenham Gold Cup his ultimate target. He will be a threat to all the top staying chasers on either side of the Irish Sea this winter and beyond.
On the same card, Andy Dufresne won at the first time of asking over fences in the two miles beginners' chase. A Grade 2 winner over timber last season, the Doyen gelding has always been viewed as a chaser in the making and, with the exception of the fourth last, his jumping was good and he was in complete control after the penultimate fence. A seven and a half lengths winner, Gordon Elliott believes two and a half miles will be his trip with the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse (29th November) a possible target.
Talking of the three times Grand National winning trainer, the stable are set to unleash a whole host of stars at Down Royal on Friday, judged on the entries which have been published. Elliott sent out 5 winners on the same card twelve months ago and will be seeking to do something similar this time around.
As discussed, I was working at Aintree on Sunday. It was frustrating to see Top 40 entry Killer Kane headed after the last in the opening two and a half miles maiden hurdle. Colin Tizzard's charge took over jumping the second last but the lack of a recent run appeared to be his undoing as he was headed inside the final hundred yards by a 50/1 outsider. His stablemate Ofalltheginjoints ran a similar race later on the card. Killer Kane will hopefully make amends next time.
I spoke to Olly Murphy during the afternoon and Gordon Elliott's former assistant revealed that he is likely to run Champagnesuperover at Stratford on Thursday and Brewin'upastorm in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle on Sunday. His Grade 1 winner Itchy Feet could only finish third in the Old Roan Chase and his trainer was rueing the fact they went steady in the two and a half miles contest. Beaten two and a half lengths, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the six year old try three miles at some stage.
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