With the Email Service selection running poorly having drifted badly before the off and ante-post selection Petit Mouchoir falling when still in front at the third last in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, I am afraid it was one of those days. The number of times it happens - you look forward to a day's racing and it proves a huge anti-climax. The selection at Newbury had reportedly worked very well in the lead up to the race but for whatever reason she was friendless in the market and ran accordingly. Having made good headway at the end of the backstraight, her effort soon petered out. I was told this evening that she has a wind problem (had undergone a breathing operation during the summer). It was a disappointing way to end the month but at least the service has shown a profit during November, similar to October.
Nobody knows where Petit Mouchoir would have finished but I would have been disappointed if he hadn't gone very close. Henry De Bromhead's gelding was ridden much more prominently under Bryan Cooper and I thought he was travelling strongly when hitting the deck. The same owner's Apple's Jade ran on well after the last but was unable to reel in Irving, who landed the Grade 1 prize for the second time. It is a case of what might have been.
On a positive note, Invitation Only, who I tipped ante-post at 33/1 (Albert Bartlett) and 25/1 (Neptune) in the Grand National Update last spring, maintained his unbeaten record with a two and three parts of a length win on his hurdles debut at Gowran. Rather like Punchestown last Sunday, the race was run in fog and, while his jumping wasn't fautless, he stayed on strongly after the last. Indeed, the way the Graham Wylie owned gelding powered away when challenged was the most impressive aspect of his display. I wouldn't be in a rush to underestimate the runner-up. Gordon Elliott's French recruit was receiving seven pounds and she had won 4 of her 6 races in France, plus she holds an entry in the Grade 1 Royal Bond NH. In other words, it was a more than satisfactory start to the season by Invitation Only. Expect him to step up in grade and distance next time. I wonder if something like the Lawlor's Hotel Novice Hurdle (formerly the Slaney Hurdle) at Naas in early January will come under consideration next.
Jenkins is another exciting novice hurdler for the Top 40 Prospects and Nicky Henderson's gelding overcame some sketchy jumping to win the opening two mile event at Newbury yesterday. The son of Azamour wasn't particularly fluent down the backstraight but he was good when he needed to be, namely at the second last and final flight. A smart bumper performer, he pulled clear after the last and looks a high-class novice hurdler in the making. I think he will be even better on a sounder surface because he has an abundance of speed. The runner-up Bags Groove will be winning when stepped up to two and a half miles plus, while the third Captain Forez is a terrific long-term prospect. Featured in Bromley's Best Buys, he has been working very well and looked as though he would take some pegging back jumping the third last. However, he is a staying chaser in the making and lacked the gears of Jenkins. The John Hales' owned gelding could be something special over fences.
Talking of promising youngsters, Ravenhill Road made it three out of three when winning the bumper at Doncaster on Friday. Brian Ellison's former Irish pointer had made a big impression on his Rules debut at Market Rasen last month and he had no trouble following up at Town Moor under a penalty. Once Kane Wood sent him to the front, he bounded clear. I text Brian last night and he said he is likely to go hurdling now.
Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers section produced Reigning Supreme (5/1) at Newbury yesterday. Ridden patiently by Barry Geraghty, he stayed on well after the last. His future lies over fences.
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