The Top 40 Prospects had a lean day on Saturday with Adjali being well beaten in the Finesse Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham, while the two runners in the Cleeve Hurdle failing to get to grips with the progressive Paisley Park. However, it may have been a different story if Brewin'Upastorm had stood up at the last in the Grade 2 novices' hurdle. Olly Murphy's stable star had dictated matters in the two and a half miles event and Richard Johnson hadn't asked for everything by the time he crashed out at the final flight. Birchdale took full advantage running out an easy winner.Reportedly none the worse, Brewin'Upastorm will head back to Cheltenham next month for the Ballymore NH, according to his trainer.
It was good to see Umndeni get off the mark over hurdles at Fontwell on Sunday. Philip Hobbs' gelding found two miles too sharp on his first couple of outings at Chepstow and Newbury before losing his rider at the start at the Sussex track less than a fortnight ago. Appreciating the step up to two miles three, the Balko gelding made all and wasn't hard pressed to score by five lengths. Perhaps something like the EBF Final at Sandown next month will suit him better than one of the novice events at the Cheltenham Festival.
Willie and Patrick Mullins have won the four mile chase at the Cheltenham Festival a couple of times and they appear to have another strong contender for the 2019 renewal in Ballyward. Fourth in the Albert Bartlett NH last spring, he finished a close second on his chasing bow at Punchestown. Contesting the Grade 3 novice over three miles, his jumping was much slicker and Ruby Walsh's mount bounded away to score by eleven lengths earning quotes of 5/1 and 6/1 for the National Hunt Chase. A thorough stayer, he appears to have all the ingredients necessary.
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